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(Ambrosio’s note: It’s an honor to land this exclusive interview with the Founder and CEO of Snap Fitness Peter Taunton, who was named “Entrepreneur of the Year” by Ernst & Young in 2010. I know that the fitness franchise category is one of the most popular among readers of my blog, so it’s my pleasure to share with you the story of Peter Taunton and Snap Fitness.)
Peter Taunton was a long-time owner of 6 big-box health clubs, prior to founding Snap Fitness in 2003. Peter has 28 years of fitness industry experience.
Let’s Take a Closer Look at the Average Member Numbers, Projected Revenues and Projected Earnings for Snap Fitness Clubs. Click here.
For years, I owned and operated big-box health clubs, complete with swimming pools, racquetball courts, etc. After I sold those clubs, I took a step back and realized that what members were really looking for was quality and convenience.
At that point, I decided to experiment with a more compact model, that didn’t include the amenities that members weren’t really utilizing as much, and opened a handful of test clubs in rural Minnesota. Once they performed well financially, I recognized that this was a concept that could work in a variety of markets, and ultimately lead me to start Snap Fitness.
2.) Why should someone interested in owning his or her own business consider a fitness franchise?
In a word: support. The support you receive from the day you sign your franchise agreement to the day you open your club and beyond is far greater when you partner with an established franchise partner like Snap Fitness.
As a franchisor, our number one priority is to help the franchisee become successful. That’s why we assist with everything from site selection, lease negotiation and buildout, to ongoing marketing and operational support and year-round training to boost your performance.
In addition, partnering with an established fitness franchise provides you with brand recognition, which is invaluable when it comes to opening a new business. Think about it like this: you can make the greatest hamburger in the history of hamburgers, but you open “Tom’s Burgers” next door to McDonald’s, who do you think people are going to gravitate towards?
Brand consistency goes a long way in creating long-term success for your business, and that’s the kind of assistance you can only get from partnering with a successful franchise system.
3.) What sets Snap Fitness apart from your competitors in the fitness franchise industry?
I would say it’s a combination of value and support. Our position with members is to offer the most value for their money, while providing the results they’re looking for.
The same goes for our franchise owners. We provide the one-on-one franchisee support and year-round systems and programs, designed to help make their business successful. Plus, our flat-rate low monthly royalties ($449/month) allow the club to keep more money. After all, they made it, why shouldn’t they keep it?
Additionally, you won’t find any other fitness franchise that offers the same level of assistance, including:
- Site selection assistance, including demographic studies and lease negotiation
- Dedicated in-house representative to help you plan, design, and build-out your club
- Pre-negotiated deep discounts and extended warranties with approved vendor
- Automated member billing and collection with direct deposit into your account
- Remote, web-based video surveillance of your club from your computer
- Private website with news, best practices, marketing tools, and company store
- Pre-opening training, year-round marketing support, individual corporate franchise assistance
- Fully integrated marketing support, including unique year-round campaigns and corporate-created website
4.) What qualities are you looking for in a prospective franchisee?
The beauty of Snap Fitness is that our turnkey systems make it easy for anyone to become a successful franchise owner, regardless of past fitness or franchising experience. Our year-round training and support will provide all the tools you need to become a successful business owner; all you have to do is follow the system!
While our model has proven successful in both small rural markets and major urban metros, this is a neighborhood driven business that thrives in mid-sized suburbs. Our customer base comes from a 2-4 mile radius that surrounds the club.
6.) Based on your observations, what concrete steps do your most successful franchisees take in order to build and grow their businesses?
When it comes to long-term success, one of the most commonly shared attributes of our franchisees is the ability to engage their members. What I mean by that is creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere for members, and letting them know that you’re there to support them.
From the day the member signs up, we offer a free fitness consultation and equipment orientation with a trainer, to help get them started on the right foot and on the path to better results. From there, it’s about checking-in, creating a personal connection and following up to remind that member how you can help them achieve their goals.
7.) What kind of ongoing support do you extend to your franchisees to help them become more successful?
All new franchisees receive four days of pre-grand opening training at Snap Fitness corporate headquarters, along with continuing education opportunities through online newsletters, webinars, and phone conferences.
Additionally, each club has a dedicated Franchise Account Manager who serves as their direct line to the corporate office, allowing them to get help and information on everything from marketing and sales to operations.
Lastly, we offer several in-person training opportunities throughout the year, including our all-franchisee annual convention and smaller regional training sessions held all across the U.S. and Canada, free of charge for franchise owners.
8.) What would you tell a prospective franchisee who wants to know about the profit potential of a Snap Fitness franchise?
The fitness industry is a $30 billion industry that is growing rapidly and as the industry consolidates away from mom and pop operators to national brands, Snap Fitness is perfectly positioned to capitalize on the shifting market share.
Additionally, franchise owners have the ability to maintain the security of their full-time job, as our model allows for semi-absentee ownership.
These factors, combined with the ability to open multiple units and our low initial investment are the perfect formula for rapid break-even and a huge return on investment.
I’m still very involved in the day-to-day operations of the company, and I’m constantly looking for new ways to provide both our members with the best value for their money, while creating new profit streams for our franchise owners.
I’m very excited about the future of Snap Fitness, as we’re poised for heavy domestic and international growth this year, and my daily responsibilities involve working with our close-knit office staff to ensure that our business continues to flourish.
10.) Is there anything else that you’d like to share with us about Snap Fitness?
We’re dedicated to staying ahead of the curve when it comes to member and franchisee satisfaction. With the introduction of new programs and technology like our easyFIT program, we’re finding new ways to reinforce our position as the number one franchise in fitness.