1. How long have you been a Franchisee?
We opened our franchise gym on February 8, 2014. We have a full time manager, 1 full time trainer and 2 part time trainers.
2. What did you do before you bought this franchise?
I have been a youth worker, pastor, military chaplain and running coach
3. How long had you been doing that?
I had been involved in church related ministry positions for 30 years prior to opening a gym.
4. Why did you decide to go into business for yourself?
I have long wanted to use my accumulated skills, knowledge and passion in a family business. I was also motivated to turn a passion (fitness) into a career.
5. What was you main criteria in looking for a business?
I wanted something that I had a significant experience, knowledge and skills in. I also wanted a business I was passionate about.
6. What other businesses or franchises did you look at? Why?
I looked at the main 24/7 franchises and was awarded a territory with one of them, but I withdrew my application due to a feeling that I was dealing with a large machine that could potentially spit me out the other end.
7. How did you find out about your franchise, and why choose this over anything else?
I researched as much as I could online. I eventually chose Stepz because the the personal connection between myself and Director after first enquiring. I also chose Stepz because it was a smaller, younger franchise that I felt that I could grow with and make a contribution to.
8. How long did the decision making process take from deciding you wanted to be self-employed to your first day in business?
It took me 8 years of research and building up the courage.
9. How did you research this franchise?
I chose this franchise after first meeting one of the Directors at a Stepz gym and talking to other owners.
10. What were your biggest challenges in your first 3 months?
The biggest challenge was dealing with complications before opening day with fit out and finances.
11. What are your biggest challenges now?
The biggest challenge I have now is how to keep members happy in an increasingly full gym with limited space. If I could have had a crystal ball when I first chose my floor space (and more courage) I would have chosen a much bigger size gym. Attracting members at low prices is easier than keeping people.
12. What has been your biggest achievement to date in this business?
The thing that makes me most satisfied is the culture of the gym we have built. As an owner I work in the gym every day and I have tried hard to create a friendly, welcoming place for members to come to each day, with first class staff. Growing fast and continuing our growth has been an achievement but I will check back on that achievement in another years time to see if we have been successful in maintaining an exceptionally low attrition rate.
13. What are your plans for growth and expansion?
I would like to maximize our earning potential from training so that we have two key streams of income: membership and training. I want our gym to be more than a room full of air conditioned equipment, I want it to be a place where peoples lives are turned around for the better.
14. What do you like most about this franchise?
I appreciate the flexibility we have and the capacity to sit down and talk honestly with the Directors.
15. What do you enjoy doing in your spare times? (i.e. Hobbies/interest, etc…)
I am a competitive age group long distance runner, I love following the Broncos and Suns with my wife, and I’m addicted to coffee.
16. How does running your own business impact on this?
When you first start up you work long hours and you need to be prepared for this. At some point after starting you need to draw your boundaries and take time off to ensure you are investing adequately in family and your own health.
17. What has been your biggest achievement or most remarkable experience with your hobby/interest?
My most meaningful achievement was earning a silver medal classification at the Comrades Marathon 90km in 2012 (sub 7:30hours) – something I thought I’d never achieve.
18. Now that you’ve bought a franchise, what would you have done differently in hindsight?
I bought a franchise because I didn’t have the knowledge I have now, so there’s little I would change. For my second gym I will change a lot, but that is only because what I have learned.
19. What would be your advice to a potential franchisee?
Research as much as you can. I worked in a job that took me all over Australia and during that time (4 years) I belonged to a major 24/7 franchise. I studied every gym I went into to build up a picture of what worked and what didn’t. The main lesson I learned was that if you as owner do not show up in your gym regularly the care factor of the people that work for you won’t be as high. Another key piece of advice is to pay top dollar and recruit a first class manager with great admin & people skills and provide enough incentive so that they can be rewarded for great performance. In this industry if you pay peanuts you may just get monkeys. Lastly, pitch your gym to your average person and try not to acquire the kind of gym member who intimidates others. Most of your money will come from your average person, not the gym rats who want to throw their weight around (and yours too!). Limit your weights, control excessive behavior, and insist on a culture whereby people respect that others are present. Waling into a gym for your average person in intimidating enough without having people in your weights section who make it hard for people to venture there.
Stan Owns – Stepz Fitness Cashmere
Over 2 years
Amanda and I are the Franchisees for Stepz Fitness Toowong. We have only one employee who is the Club Manager. We have two Personal Trainers who assist the manager, be that cleaning, signing up new members. Our customers come from two main groups, residents of Toowong mainly comprising of University Students and secondly people who work in Toowong but live elsewhere.
Amanda and I are both Dental Technicians.
Over 20 years
Amanda and I for many years had been considering options for opening our own business when the opportunity arose.
A business that could provide a work life balance and be profitable.
Businesses -Dental Laboratories, Café coffee shops
Franchises – MYO, Coffee Club, Boost Juice, Subway and Jetts Gyms
We were looking at a business we had a background in or a Franchisee where there was a set structure in place with support and guidance.
We were introduced to the franchise by a friend. The business model appealed to us as it was fairly straight forward. The location was close to where we lived and in a prime position. After meeting the franchisors we felt comfortable taking on the business venture as they were open in providing information and support.
1.We had previously looked into other 24/7 gyms and we were familiar with the business model.
2. We prepared a detailed business plan including looking at the P&L statements of the already established Stepz gyms.
3. We conducted Legal searches on the Directors of the Company and had legal and accounting advice.
4. We spoke to a Franchisee of another Stepz Gym.
Initially long days of promotions in the local area and signing up members.
Keeping our members and maintaining our growth.
Running at a profit from doors opening. Achieving our membership benchmarks ahead of time.
To reach maximum membership capacity before our first anniversary of doors opening. Then maintaining memberships at capacity.
Open a second gym.
It is a relatively simple business to operate and allows us to work in a fulltime jobs outside the business yet gives us time to spend with our children.
Cycling, Using the gym, Spending time with our Children, Eating out at restaurants enjoying good food and wine with friends.
Minimally, if somewhat it complements our interests.
Cycling – riding with Lance Armstrong and Robbie McEwan.
Apart from some minor incidentals, we were happy how things progressed.
Do your homework, Seek out as many people as you can who are familiar with the franchise and the business model and listen to their advice.
Have a goal in mind, Research the franchise, then ask yourself is this the vehicle that can take you to your goal.
Simon & Amanda Own – Stepz Fitness Toowong
About 4 years. My business provides a 24 hour gym to our members as well as a place for our personal training staff to run their business from and train their clients at. The only staff member besides the personal trainers is the club manager, and I fulfill that role myself.
I ran the club as manager for approximately 12 months before purchasing the club. Before that I had several years experience running my own personal training business. Prior to that I was a computer programmer.
Personal training approximately 2 years and computer programming approximately 1 year.
After being lucky enough to have the opportunity presented to me by the franchisors it gave me a whole new perspective on how to earn a living and investing through owning a business. I liked the idea of not only earning money as a ‘job’ but also the growth of the business as an investment and the challenges it presented.
I had not particularly thought of owning a franchised business up until this opportunity, however I knew it would have to be something I could be passionate about and that held my professional interest as well as promoted a healthier lifestyle – lessons I had learn from my previous career.
I researched a few other franchises with similar business models but that was more of an analytical comparison before purchasing this franchise.
I had seen several other branded 24 hour fitness chains and was aware of the impact they were beginning to have on more classic style gyms as I was working at them. I wanted a change from the place I was doing personal training up and decided to apply with Stepz.
In terms of becoming a franchisee, it was a turnaround time of a few months to go through the decision making process, organize funds, legal documents etc.
I had worked here as manager for 12 months before purchasing it so I had a pretty good idea of the inner workings of the business.
The learning curve from running a small PT based business to something on such a different and larger scale was pretty immense. Managing the money coming in and out of the business was something I had not really experienced before and it became a great challenge to see where income could be boosted and outgoings minimized. Member retention was and is still one of the big ongoing challenges.
Apart from that mentioned above, in the current market I find it challenging coming up with new and different ways to reach our target market regarding promotions, member sign ups and trying to get ourselves across over the competition. It is an ongoing challenge to try to do my part to get our brand a known ‘household’ name.
I still consider purchasing and opening my first business at the age I was a big achievement considering my circumstances at the time.
At this particular gym, I am getting a section re-floored and expanding the weights area to offer more free weights and power racks to draw more members from classic style gyms who offer this. It will also facilitate having more members at once on the free weights area of the gym.
I think the general atmosphere in the gym is great. It is so different in a positive way to so many other gyms. I know this is often a reflection of the staff, but they are often influenced by their own satisfaction of their workplace. Stepz provides a great atmosphere for happy staff and members. The atmosphere between franchisees is great, and there is always support to be had from them. I feel like that for example if I am running low on access cards I can borrow a box.
Some of my favorite pastimes are fitness based which helps in this industry! I enjoy rock climbing, boating/fishing, motor bike riding and weight training. I love reading-whether traditionally or audio books, I’m also a bit of a film buff and rarely go a week without seeing new flick at the cinemas.
Unfortunately being an owner/manager and doing personal training it left me very little time for a lot of hobbies, but as I have been in this role longer and am training some of the personal trainers here to help with and take over some of the rolls in the business I’m working on the work/play balance and hopefully bringing it up to something more enjoyable. Its not so much of a problem for me though as I enjoy my work.
Having the means to go out and buy my first nice cruiser motorbike and riding it off the lot.
Nothing I am really happy and satisfied with the choices I have made.
Do your research, ensure you know or learn the inner workings of your business and make sure that you are motivated and passionate about the industry and the business itself.