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Sustainable Success in Fitness Franchising Comes Down To 3C’s – Convenience, Community, and Culture

In an era where wellness and health have taken centre stage, fitness franchising, one of the major industries hit by the pandemic and forced to adapt to survive, has emerged as a robust and thriving industry. However, as the fitness industry has grown, so too has the competition, and in order for a franchise fitness brand to not just survive, but throve, it needs to adapt to what people want more now than ever before.

A cornerstone of this success is the strategic focus on three key elements: Convenience, Community, and Culture.

Successful franchise gyms and health clubs not only naturally attract members but they know how to actively create long-lasting loyalty. As they say, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon in business, but this is where the hard work really pays off.

 

1. Convenience: Where and When You Want It

Convenience is the golden ticket in today’s fast-paced world where people yearn for flexibility with fitness solutions that seamlessly integrate into their daily lives. Embracing this need by offering members the ability to participate when and where they desire is a key to success. Whether it’s a session at the gym, a virtual class at home, or a visit to any franchise location across the country, the modern fitness franchise provides a seamless experience. That’s a challenge for many current models and something worth investigating if you want to survive and thrive in a highly competitive space.

Sonny Ivanovic, who started one of the first F45 Studios in Mooloolaba in 2014 has seen a massive shift by the franchisor to listen more to the franchisees who are at the coal face and understand exactly what customers want. “it’s all about authenticity’, he says, “people are looking for more than just a cut price deal, they want to align themselves with the product”.

F45 has had its difficulties but now with new ownership at the top, Sonny is feeling very positive about the future. “HQ is definitely listening to the franchisees more now than ever before, we have a franchise council now and programming that represents the market demand”. This includes scheduling more resistance training, heavier weights and a strength pack of programs to cater to demand for a flexible product.

Franchises who have embraced the holistic approach to wellness, recognising that health isn’t just about getting up a sweat or lifting weights and offering a range of services under a single membership umbrella have a solid foundation for growth. This not only appeals to those looking for a comprehensive approach to well-being is adds to the range of services you can offer, incorporating physical fitness, nutrition guidance, mental wellness, and more, all under the same brand.

 

2. Community: More Than Just a Workout Buddy

A vibrant community is the beating heart of any successful fitness franchise. While individual goals and preferences may vary, the shared desire for connection and belonging remains constant. Franchises who cater to a diverse range of needs and personalities, whether members come for the intense workouts, a relaxing cup of coffee, or engaging conversations. When you can make the franchise become a place where members feel part of something bigger than themselves, you create a community they can connect with. The secret of course is to decide what sort of community you want to foster, so you naturally attract exactly the right audience, those who want what you have.

 

Sonny says “sustainable success is about having a team who live the brand, not just a gimmick to attract clients.” He knows that the brand focus is on creating a safe space with good programming and great coaching is the key. “People are definitely looking at more than just the cost of membership, they want to know exactly what they are going to get out of it and community and connection is a massive payoff for them.”
A vital aspect of community-building any fitness franchise involves personalisation. More than just remembering their name when they arrive, members want to feel valued as individuals, not just as part of a crowd. Successful franchises allow a bit of flexibility in their programs, enabling trainers to tailor services to cater to specific needs. This individual touch creates a sense of investment and trust, strengthening the bond between the member and the franchise brand, making them even more loyal.

 

3. Culture: Where Loyalty Finds Its Home

Building a strong culture is the cornerstone of enduring success in fitness franchising. A gym membership isn’t just a transaction—it’s an experience, a lifestyle, even a family. The analogy of joining a cult holds true here; true-blue members stay loyal through thick and thin. Referral marketing thrives when a culture is so enticing that members can’t wait to bring their friends and family along for the ride.
As an owner of no less than six F45 studios over the years, currently operating out of Birtinya on the Sunshine Coast and the new Airlie Beach studio, Sonny is adamant that the owner has to set the tone for the franchise. “It all comes from the top down and members like to know the owner, regardless of the franchise brand.” Far from the concept of relying on the franchise brand to create the culture, he believes franchisees play a massive part in driving the connection, “active owners who participate in the running of the gym, with career pathways for the coaches, set an example for the entire operation.”

The essence of creating a culture is inextricably tied to the atmosphere a franchise creates. It’s not just about the machines and the music; it’s about the relationships forged, the memories made, and the progress celebrated. Encouraging members to meet, connect, engage, and develop friendships goes beyond the workout. It’s about nurturing an environment where individuals feel at home, accepted, and encouraged.

 

Injecting Energy and Personality: The Leader’s Role

In the competitive world of fitness franchising, leadership isn’t confined to running a business—it’s about living and breathing the brand. Injecting your energy and personality into the franchise elevates it from a mere establishment to a movement. When members witness leaders who embody the values they stand for, they feel inspired to do the same. The leaders become role models, shaping the culture and setting the tone for the entire community.
Franchise head offices would do well to embrace the flexibility and function of their franchisees to drive sustainable success, adding the all important fourth C of communication. Inviting active participation in decision making, with open channels for communication and feedback on programming, marketing and management from those owners who are invested in the success of their business as well as the longevity of the brand.The triumvirate of Convenience, Community, and Culture is the strongest foundation which successful fitness franchising is built. Add great communication to the trio and these elements help you transcend the boundaries of a traditional fitness brand and elevate it to a space of inspiration, camaraderie, and flexible, functional, holistic well-being. By embracing these principles and injecting passion and personality, franchise owners can lead their businesses to greater heights, and help deliver that all important lifeblood for the business – referrals, recommendations and 5 star reviews!

 

 

Lauren Clemett is a Keynote speaker, International award-winning Neurobranding specialist and best selling author with over 25 years brand management experience. In an overwhelming world, Lauren shares how to turn distraction into attraction, so your teams can lead with direction, purpose and meaning. She makes magnetic leadership a walk in the park!