Any operator with a single health club location will face an important decision: whether or not to expand. Expanding to multiple locations is the next big step for any club and presents many new opportunities — but the step shouldn’t be taken without first weighing the risks involved.
There are two distinct options when expanding from your initial club: in-house expansion or franchising. When growing any brand, picking your plan for expansion and sticking to it is important, no matter how many variables change along the way.
“What really is prudent is to develop a strategy on how you’re going to grow the business, and then adhere to it,” said Tom O’Keefe, the president of Regymen Fitness. “Once you open, there’s an industry buzz that’s created, and you’re going to get interest from a lot of different parts of the country.”
It might be tempting to take on a franchising opportunity, but it might not be the best move if your business model is more conducive to an in-house expansion. Staying true to your original vision, as long as it’s grounded, is important.
But whether you choose to expand internally or franchising, picking a good location for any new facilities is critical, according to Navan.
“We’ve learned one of the most important things we can do for growing this franchise is identifying the right real estate,” said EK Navan, the COO of Regymen Fitness. “The spot we pick is the spot that’s going to work right now and still work five to seven years in the future.”
According to O’Keefe, this process is much smoother when you do your research. “We do a pre-market optimization so we know before we enter a market how many possible locations could exist and where they should be,” he explained.
It’s important to maintain the same brand standards and member experience you established in your original club. The design of new facilities plays a big role in helping a great experience translate to a new market.
“We put a lot of emphasis on the design of our locations,” said Navan. “That’s everything from the lighting to the sound to the layout of the workout room.”
At Regymen, each new studio is designed with the franchisee in mind. “What makes us so unique for future franchise growth is when we set one of our studios up, it’s very fluid and very easy to transition from program A to program B,” said Navan.
The very fluid design of Regymen’s studios makes a variety of workouts more accessible for members, as well. It’s all part of creating a great member experience in every new location, in-house or franchised.
But for Navan, O’Keefe and Regymen, the best way to set up for long-term success is to study industry trends and remain adaptable. “We’re trying to stay five years ahead of the trends,” said Navan. “Right now, we have our three primary programs, but we understand we’re going to continue to have to refine those. And as industry trends change, we’ll be able to change.”