A FITNESS PROGRAM FOR YOUR BUSINESS
Whether you are in the health and fitness industry or another sector, the fitness of your business is critical to
Is your business a lean, mean fighting machine? Or is it moribund, carrying inherited weight that is the result of years of operational history? Big companies struggle to make the quick strategic changes that will make them more competitive. Because of their size and the number of employees, it’s often like trying to turn the Titanic –
it’s slow, ponderous and often not enough change in time to avoid a disaster. But franchises, while they may be big, have a distinct advantage in that if the Head Office team get the strategies and settings right, then it’s easier for their franchisees who are usually small, nimble businesses, to quickly make the required changes.
What are the areas you can address to build a fighting fit business? We asked some franchisors for their thoughts.
When you are talking about balance sheets, measuring your financial fitness is a specialised job and having a partnership with a good accountant is a must. Having said that, it’s also important that, as a business owner, you know how to read a balance sheet so that you have clear visibility of your financial position at any given time, and therefore can make informed decisions.
When you are considering the financial fitness of your franchisees, it is more about providing the tools, the software, to allow them to run the most efficient business they can.
Scott Enno, CEO of Flooring Extra explains what they provide to their franchisees.
“We provide our franchisees with the specific software that manages their jobs and helps them be agile and informed in all the areas that impact on their financial success. It’s a system that manages day to day sales in a way that lets them quote accurately. There are a lot of materials and inputs into making a sale – as well as installation. Our software lets them see what’s in store, track stock, keep on top of margins and job-related costs so there is no erosion of their profit. With so many variables in a job, it was our biggest challenge.”
Scott explains that the heart of the Flooring Extra offer to franchisees is all about reducing the capital required to successfully operate a specialist flooring store. “We have taken away the requirement for them to carry inventory and we have worked with our suppliers to provide what they need on a Just In Time (JIT) basis. This means that no money is tied up in inventory.”
“It’s providing the tools that help our franchisees make informed business decisions that will build their financial success.”
There’s so much involved in having an operationally fit business, e.g. from the experienced people you hire to the equipment you buy, the intelligent processes you implement, the premises you operate
from, the software that drives so many critical functions, your operating manuals, your policies and your procedures.
Beth Poklington, Head of Retail Operations at Forty Winks, draws a good fitness analogy when it comes to operations. “You don’t go for one run and expect to be fit. You have a routine around your fitness, consistently monitoring and measuring it. The same with business fitness. You need to understand where your business is and where you want it to be. You need to understand all the key components of your business, and work out what are the key levers that are going to build your operational fitness. Just as you would plug in your weight, age and fitness to find the next goal, so you take into account where
the business is now. Then you need to set your milestones and review them regularly and that might be daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly or annually.”
Beth emphasises how important it is to be frequently checking in with your franchisees to ensure they are operationally fit, that they understand the goals that are being set and how meeting them will build their
business. “Have a monthly dashboard with the key drivers sent to every franchisee.
Catch up with them regularly, whether that’s in person, over zoom or the phone. Conferences are really important – they are about networking, sharing information and intelligence gathering. Taking stock of
where everyone is on their operational fitness journey.”
“Your next milestone met is unlikely to be your end goal, but it’s important to celebrate it and then look forward to your next target.” Innovative Fitness Innovation is what gives businesses a competitive edge. It’s what takes them to the next level, it’s what makes them a leader, not a follower. But in the last 20
months, innovation has often been the key to survival. Not all innovation has to be a blindingly
fabulous new concept, discovery or invention. Innovation can be as simple as just re-thinking how you deliver your services. Or looking at the barriers to people becoming your customers, and removing
Ben Fletcher, CEO of Listen To Your Body (LTYB), a physical fitness franchise, has worked hard to be innovative in a crowded sector. “We’ve tried to create a model that is unbelievably user friendly and one of the most important things we’ve done is break down that barrier to entry – no contracts, no joining fees, no exit fees, and no debit fees makes the decision-making process so much easier.
I learned a long time ago that people hold back from starting at a gym because they are scared of the sales pitch. We have a one off six week “kickstarter” program to get people out of a rut, to form a fitness habit. Obviously, we charge for this, but if people don’t get the three sessions in a week, we recredit them the sessions into their account so they haven’t lost their money.”
LTYB makes it easy for people to come to a class. Members can book online 24/7 through an app. In fact, clients can book up to one second before the start time of a session – as long as the class isn’t full. There
are no contracts, no debit fees, no contracts and “no barriers to entry.”
Creating their own training academy for their fitness providers was another initiative. “We partnered with an education institute and this gives our owners and staff 57 courses a year they can access.”
A simple thing like not having any mirrors in LTYB was another simple yet innovative touch. “We provide a judgement free environment,” Scott explains. “And another way we differentiate ourselves.”
A strong memorable brand, with a good reputation, is gold when it comes to business fitness. It’s also critical if you are going to attract franchisees.
Jodi Murray-Freedman, General Manager, Marketing of Bakers Delight explains. “When people buy into a franchise business, they want a brand they know and trust and have a connection to. Bakers Delight is an
Aussie icon brand that has been built over 40+ years of consistency from a store look and feel, logo iconography, product mix and communications tone of voice.”
Bakers Delight manage all of the national marketing communications but at a local bakery level, they have an online resource – a Local Marketing hub – where franchisees can download print and social assets and can customise them with their bakery details or bespoke offer.
When asked about how often she thought a brand should be refreshed, Jodi replied “I personally believe it’s more important for a brand to stay relevant than refreshed, and you can’t put a time frame on how often, as every brand is different, in different life stages and customer engagement cycles. Our logo was updated 18 months ago where the decision was made to remove the wheat sheaf and clean up the font, to contemporise the brand without losing our heritage – we didn’t want to change it too much, it had to be still recognisable as the Bakers Delight people know and love.”
She added “We are revitalising our brand this year with the launch of our new digital initiatives – our digital loyalty program ‘Dough Getters’ and online ordering, both of which are about engaging with a younger demographic and setting us up for future success.”
It’s continually monitoring your business, understanding its challenges, building on its strengths and always being willing to experiment – to innovate – that will keep your business in fighting fit shape.
Corina Vucic is the Director of FC Business Solutions. With over 20 years in the franchise industry, and extensive operational and management experience, she works closely with leaders to take their business to the next level. Whatever their goals, Corina coaches, mentors and supports business owners and executives to maximise success and minimise risk for long-term business prosperity and security.