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How To Start a Gym Franchise in 8 Steps

Are you thinking of starting a gym franchise? Here's an overview of the steps you need to take to make it happen.

James Plata
January 26, 2022
TLDR;
Are you thinking of starting a gym franchise? Here's an overview of the steps you need to take to make it happen.

Since many market strategies of the fitness industry have already been tried and proven, gym franchises are a great business opportunity. This is an option for individuals who have always wanted to go into their own business in the fitness industry but didn't want to go solo. When going into the gym franchise, there is already provision for ongoing support in regards to finances and an already made model.

In a nutshell, you have greater access to all the support you would need when starting a business because the foundation has been laid. All the underground work has been done to put together a loyal and solid audience or fanbase. Technically, all the heavy-lifting has been done and proper awareness has been created.

Just like how diverse the fitness industry is, its franchise varies massively as well. Regardless of what you may be genuinely passionate about, there is always something you can find that would suit your style.

The fitness industry is extremely fast-paced. The good news is, the booming and growing stages are not slowing down, and they are not expected to even in the next decade. This means there is a door left open for great business opportunities. The best part of going into the gym franchise industry is that you don't have to spend years building a brand from the ground up before capitalizing on it. Although you must understand that this is not going to be entirely rosy, there are potential restrictions that follow your decision to own a franchise in the fitness industry. As long as you understand this, you're ready for business.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Before going into the gym franchise, it is important that you properly weigh both pros and cons of the business. This would give you more insights and understanding while broadening your knowledge and preparing you for the journey ahead. Also, after considering the benefits and drawbacks, you'll be certain if the gym franchise is the right choice for you.

Here are some of the highlighted advantages of owning a gym franchise;

  • Provided support system: This is a big advantage, especially if you are new to the business. An ongoing support system and training have been made ready for you, and you have someone or people who would guide you through the process. This support includes financial assistance because you won't be going into business alone. So, if you have always wanted to own a business but got discouraged by the building process, this is your best bet.
  • Recognition and awareness: Just like with other franchises, a gym franchise is popularly known and recognized for its successful history. This means most or all of the marketing for the entire franchise is already handled. This is unlike starting your business from the ground up, where you have to invest and devote a lot of time and resources to the marketing department. With a franchise, all the necessary promotion has been done, and the attention of a solid fanbase has been acquired.
  • Profits: When compared, a franchise business gets higher profits than a non-franchise business. The reason behind this is obvious. A Franchise business already has an already established customer base, so it's much easier to make high profits.

While a franchise offers a great opportunity for you to skip several building stages, there are also some downsides you should consider.

Below are some disadvantages of owning a gym franchise:

  • High initial investment and ongoing cost: Starting a gym franchise comes at a high price. Unfortunately, even if you are solidly interested in getting into it, finances have a way of holding you back if you are not properly prepared. In addition to this, there is also an ongoing cost for which you would be responsible.
  • Zero Independence: As highlighted in the list of benefits, you won't be going into business all by yourself, and while this is good, it is a drawback as well. Joining a franchise automatically keeps you under your franchisor as an employee. Your franchisor makes the final decisions in all departments and aspects, including strategies that should and should not be executed, Interior and exterior decor, location, and more. This means if you've always wanted something truly born out of your style, you would most likely be having a hard time.

How To Start a Gym Franchise in 8 Steps

1. Research

After weighing the advantages and disadvantages of owning a gym franchise and you are certain you're willing and prepared to take the step, it is also important that you take your time to consider available gym franchise options and decide on which one you will be investing both your time and money on.

First, research. This is the first step after you decide to enter the fitness franchise industry. Do proper research on different gym establishments so you can find potential opportunities. There are numerous gym franchises to choose from, and so you have to take your time and carefully decide which brand suits you. After deciding on one, begin a deeper dive on the franchise. Comb through their website, review sites, and ask current franchise owners on their experience with the brand.

2. Go Through Franchise Requirements

This mostly involves a personal analysis. The reputation of a brand is directly affected by how much the franchises have failed or succeeded. Hence, the need for certain requirements to be set up by franchisors.

To ensure the qualification of all franchisees, franchisors generally set minimum requirements that differ significantly from one franchise to the other. Nevertheless, you can risk not being qualified if you are not prepared professionally and financially.

Liquid assets, management experience, and credit score are examples of factors that are taken into consideration.

It is only right that you access your personal and management skills as it would help you identify a suitable brand based on your skillset.

3. Make Contact with Your Choice of Gym Franchise

After finding the online community of your preferred gym franchise, if you have more questions or are unclear about certain things, you can request more information. Otherwise, you can go ahead and apply . Either way, more information, and details will be provided to you by the franchisor so you can learn more about the business.

During the interview with your franchisor, you will both be ensuring a mutual fit, so this means you get to interview your franchisor, and you will be interviewed.

After the application and interview, franchisor will share the franchise agreement. This is a document that includes the FDD (Franchise Disclosure Document). The FDD is a document that states, in clear terms, the responsibilities of you and your franchisor throughout the business relationship. Ensure you do not review this document alone. Go through it carefully with your attorney. If the terms are fair and good, you can proceed to sign the document.

4. Put Down Your Business Plan

Even though most of the business details would be prescribed and finalized by your franchisor, you will still need to write a business plan. This helps you familiarize yourself with your goals and track your achievements.

When writing a business plan, it is necessary to go through a marketing analysis. This analysis is concerned with the general fitness market and the market of your competitors. This would assist you in identifying the needs of the general market and how your competitors may or may not have attended to those needs.

Your business plan should contain details like hiring, expected costs, financial projections, the role you will be playing in the franchise, and a host of other necessary information.

5. Secure and Finalize Finances

There is no exact amount set generally when joining a gym franchise. Finances vary, and it depends majorly on the particular brand you decide to join. Also, the financial assistance you will be getting from your franchisor isn't going to be the same with other gym franchises.

Aside from the initial startup costs, you might also consider how you'll access additional capital. It's always a good idea to have access to extra capital, even if you don't expect to draw from it.

6. Business Location

The location of the gym plays a crucial role in the growth of your business. Be sure to choose a location that is convenient and easily accessible. This isn't general for all businesses, which is why you need to properly study the data of your target membership. This analysis will help you determine what would be convenient for a greater percentage of them and how to make this convenience accessible.

For most people who go to the gym, a location that is either close to work or home is the best. To put your business in the center of their needs, studying the demographics of your chosen areas is essential. The autonomy given by franchisors on the decision-making process in regards to location differs. This means while some franchisors will give you more autonomy, some others would have specific requirements or even choose the location themselves. So, whether building your gym from the start or you are utilizing an already existing structure, be sure to consider location requirements for your choice of gym franchise.

7. Obtain Operation Permits and Licenses

To properly operate a business, approval through permits and licenses is required. Permits for health, renovation, and safety are examples. Some areas require permits and licenses before the gym can receive and set up equipment. Additional permits may be included, and this would mostly be determined by the convenience your gym would be offering. Gaining approval would require your establishment to be subjected to tests and inspections.

8. Build Your Team

As soon as you have an ideal location and all the necessary approval has been obtained, the next step is to begin hiring so you can begin operations.

Ideally, you would need to assign different duties to different staff; a manager, a receptionist, trainers, cleaners, and more.

You will need a good number of employees to run shifts since gyms are usually up and running for twenty-four hours every day.

While starting a gym franchise is an exceedingly rewarding business opportunity, it requires upfront capital and a strong-willed person to go through the journey successfully. Since the base has been set already with available support and an established brand name, you have to take your time and bring your A-game into the business because you have a huge responsibility, and you play a major role in bringing more success to the brand.

With in-depth research and careful planning, you not only choose the right brand but also automatically equip yourself for future challenges and wins.

James Plata

James Plata is the Marketing Director at PushPress, a fitness-nut and hoarder of all gadgets. He brings 10+ years of experience in startup tech and fitness to help gym owners rebel against useless and overpriced software.

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