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Taking your club worldwide is a huge step. But it can be a rewarding one, if you have the correct infrastructure in place to make the move successful.
Founded in 2003 by Peter Taunton, Snap Fitness got its start in the U.S. in Minnesota. But since, it has expanded internationally, and can now be found in Australia, Canada, Egypt, India, the United Kingdom and beyond.
Here, Steele Smiley, the chief developing officer for Snap Fitness, discussed the process of going international.
CS: How did you decide it was time to take Snap Fitness international?
SS: For us, having reached critical mass in the U.S. with over 1,000 units, it just made sense for us to expand internationally. Ultimately, when you phone is ringing off the hook with people around the world who want to experience your brand, that’s a clear sign.
CS: How do you decide on what international markets to move into?
SS: There’s really two ways to do it. Number one, you take wherever you have interest. Number two, you’re very strategic about where you go. For us, we took the latter approach. We did a study of the rest of the world and where our brand would perform. The good news is for us, our brand has performed in every country that we’ve entered into, so it certainly has worked out well for us.
CS: What challenges are there of going international?
SS: The largest challenge in expanding internationally is understanding the unique cultures of all the people, and also building the infrastructure required to support the right type of franchisee and mastership base. It’s easy to learn the cultural piece, but it takes a lot more work to build the international operations to scale appropriately.
CS: How did you overcome this challenge?
SS: For us it just took time. We had to really map out and be strategic about where we placed our human capital and where we wanted to support it. But ultimately, if you do not have the right support to provide the training and everything that goes along with opening a Snap Fitness across the world, then it’s not going to work. For us, we’ve chosen to be very strategic about the markets that we’ve entered and strategic about the people that we have managing those markets.
Steele Smiley’s 6 Steps to International Expansion
1. Make sure your brand will work internationally.
2. Be strategic about the markets you want to enter.
3. Have an adequate team in place to support your partners.
4. Plan time to visit the countries you’re entering.
5. Build a budget for legal work, including trademark rights.
6. Be patient. International success doesn’t happen overnight.