(Ambrosio’s note: I thoroughly enjoyed my entire interview with Maris Brennan that I didn’t want to edit out any portion just to get it down to a more reasonable length. That’s why I’ve decided to split the interview into 2 parts (a first!) and will post the second part tomorrow.
As someone who is constantly looking at various franchise opportunities, I appreciate hearing both the ups and downs of franchise ownership, yet at the same time, I want to feel inspired and motivated to go after a dream. Maris is the real deal — she is candid, smart, and adept at juggling all her different roles! She is a wife, a mother to 3 young boys, and owner of 3 Snap Fitness clubs, the first of which she opened in 2007.
Whether or not you are interested in a Snap Fitness franchise, I highly recommend that you check out this interview. There’s a lot of good advice here. Thank you Maris for this terrific interview!)
Let’s Take a Closer Look at the Average Member Numbers, Projected Revenues and Projected Earnings for Snap Fitness Clubs. Click here.
1. Can you tell us about your work background prior to becoming a franchisee of Snap Fitness?
For almost 8 years before I purchased my first Snap Fitness, I was a stay at home parent for my 3 boys (now ages 6, 10, and11). I am still a full time parent, but I have added business owner to my list of titles along with personal shopper, chauffeur, tutor, chef, and caretaker!
My career prior to kids was primarily in the non-profit arena. I worked for the Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau in the communities I lived in. I primarily worked as a promoter of our Chamber to local businesses and later as spokesperson to travel agents from all over the US to get them to come see what we had to offer to tourists.
2. What other franchise concepts did you consider and what made you choose Snap Fitness?
I actually didn’t consider any other franchises. I was not actively looking to go back to work yet, but was thinking about what part time position I would like that would be a good fit financially and time wise for my busy family.
My brother, Ryan Lothian, was looking at several different franchise companies and was using me as a devil’s advocate to pick apart the business plans. I liked the Snap plan so much, and the need in my community for a fitness center was so great, that it was like a puzzle putting itself together for me.
I purchased one, thinking it would be a good part time income for me that I could work on as time allowed around my husband’s work schedule. After seeing the first one take off, my husband and I decided to purchase 3 more and grow the business as the children grew.
Ryan also ended up purchasing a 3 pack and now has 2 Snaps open and 1 opening this fall. I have 3 open and one more left to develop at some point in the future.
3. What is a typical day like in your life as a franchisee?
As a mother of 3 and an owner of 3 gyms, I don’t honestly have a typical day! Owning a facility that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week really opens up my work day. Some days I am in pretty much 9 to 5. Some days I am not in at all. Some days I work from the time I get up in the morning until the time I go to bed at night with my Snap work and my family work mixing together to make sure everything gets done for everyone.
My youngest son is jokingly called my Junior Associate. He tags along with me from time to time to the gyms and meetings when he is not in school or at friends. I have also been known to answer emails from the bleachers in between innings of my middle son’s baseball games.
I have a great General Manager that does most of the day to day work for my facilities. I am primarily responsible for the “big picture” work. Budgeting, marketing plans, staffing, corporate sales, site development, and so on. I have a home office and work as I have down time from the needs of my family or as deadlines approach.
I do try to make sure I am in each facility at least once a week to check on things and say hello to the members. I do not believe a successful franchise owner can do it absentee. You have to be involved and approachable to your staff and members.
4. Can you name 3 specific things that you’ve done for your business that have produced the greatest results?
The best advice I can give to other Snap owners (and other business owners in general) is to know your product and know your market. You cannot promote something you don’t understand or believe in, and you can’t sell to someone if you don’t know what they want to buy. More specifically, here are three things I have done and recommend doing as soon as you open the door:
Get involved in the communities you work in. A big part of my job is working on things not directly related to Snap. I am on the board of my local Chamber of Commerce. I go to women’s luncheons. I speak at elementary schools to kick off fitness campaigns. A portion of my marketing budget is designated for the local high school sports funds and other community-based charities. We are known not only as the community’s leading fitness professionals but also as people who care about our community.
Get to know your members. Know their names, their goals, their strengths, and weaknesses. Celebrate their successes with them and help them through the rough patches. Creating a positive working atmosphere for your members is essential to their success and your retention rates. They need to know that you see their hard work. Members who feel like they are part of a team will refer their friends and co-workers. People who know that their success is due in part to the help and support they get from the staff of their gym will not leave for a cheaper alternative.
Spend time learning your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Snap Fitness has a very strong marketing model with a lot of great tools. To really use those tools to your best advantage, you need to know what your competitors are selling and where their weaknesses are. Your prospects are checking out your competitors. You need to know what they will see, how they will be spoken to, and how to best present your company to make them choose you.
Check out the second installment of my exclusive interview with Maris Brennan.