Franchise Tip #8: In site selection for non-food franchises, some general rules apply, but there can be some differences from food service depending on the business.
We have already gone over some of the general rules for site selection in Franchise Tip #7 that could apply to all franchises. We concentrated on food service. But there are all kinds of franchise businesses and some might require a different approach.
Fitness franchises in general require large spaces that can accommodate not only large numbers of members but the equipment necessary for them to do their workouts. Large spaces might need to be divided into separate areas, especially if group classes are part of the services offered.
Many fitness franchisees note that people like to go to a gym immediately before or after work, so a location in a residential area that’s convenient for people commuting to and from their job might be an important consideration.
And unless your business is very gender specific, avoid having any pre-conceived notions about who might be using the facility. John Rotche is president of TITLE Boxing Club, a franchise that some might think would appeal mostly to men. However, 75 percent of TITLE Boxing Club members are women who are attracted by the calorie-burning, self-defense aspect of the workout, Rotche said.
Site location is important in catering to that demographic. Locating near a retailer such as Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, or a major grocery chain is preferable. And because TITLE Boxing Club is a destination for group classes, easy access is crucial along with plenty of parking, he said. “It’s kind of like church: people all show up at once and they all leave at once.”
Blo Blow Dry Bar is a franchise that caters almost exclusively to women and that is important to keep in mind when choosing a location for a new unit, says COO Paul Spindler. Downtown or midtown locations are ideal in an urban area. “The more women you have walking by on their way to work, lunch, to the gym, or to a meeting, the better. Suburban locations require that we here at corporate and the franchisee work harder to make sure (the location) makes sense.”
In suburban areas, the company prefers to be part of a cluster of businesses where women might congregate, such as restaurants, other beauty salons, health stores, and fitness facilities, he said. For Athena Boyd, a Blo Blow Dry Bar franchisee in Austin, Texas, it was also important that her locations had plenty of parking space because residents of Austin travel primarily by car, not by public transit.
On the other hand, Sport Clips is a salon that caters strictly to men. Alex Howson owns 14 Sport Clips franchises in the Chicago and St. Louis areas and he would list site selection among his best practices for success. He follows a six-point play of his own when picking out a new spot for a store. Among the conditions he studies are demographics, surrounding shopping destinations, high traffic, good visibility for the store, ample parking, and ease of access for customers.
He looks for family-oriented communities of middle income or above and he tries to be near a major anchor store, such as Wal-Mart or Target; or a cluster of stores that attract diverse customers, such as Starbucks, Panera Bread, and Buffalo Wild Wings.
Knowing who your customer is and where they are likely to shop is an important part of making the right decision.