Live Your Dream – Licensing or Franchising: Get the Facts to Grow Your Business
As the fitness industry is finding its way back from the pandemic, it might seem too soon to be talking about growing and scaling your business. The truth is, though, now is the time to plan for the next stage of your business as you grow and expand your brand.
Lori Patterson is there to help. She’s a U.S. Army veteran, with 36 years’ experience in the fitness industry, and a mom of three—she does it all. Lori is also the CEO of VicteliB and creator of the nationwide group personal training program, Boot Camp Challenge®. While owning and operating a fitness business for the last two decades, Lori has become an expert on fitness entrepreneurship and group training programs.
In this Live Your Dream webinar recap, Lori teaches us how to scale and grow your business—even during these crazy times. According to Lori, there are 3 ways to grow your business:
Lori covers the benefits and obstacles of licensing and franchising your business, so you know the best option for you. She also tells you how to make the most of your virtual services, including how to manage your team and build your brand.
What’s the first step?
Lori wants you to be really clear on your “why”. Know your vision and be self-aware before you start to plan a strategy or choose your path. As we’ve seen, pivoting your business is essential and you may need to fall back on your “why” to keep your business in the green.
A word to the wise here: Lori stresses the importance of getting a lawyer to protect yourself and get your dream started off on the right foot.
Franchising is when you take your business and allow someone to buy that from you, using everything you’ve created (e.g., logo, standard operating procedures, business model).
What are some of the reasons you might make this choice? Lori lays out a few of the benefits of this model:
- Brand growth: Get more locations to get your name out there. This is an amazing way to grow your brand with less work and fewer expenses on your end.
- Minimal investment: You’ve already made the initial investment, now it’s someone else’s turn. The franchisee pays you for your business model, they pay for the building, the staff, and everything else. In other words, you grow your brand without lifting another finger.
- Buying power: As a franchisor expanding your business, you’ll earn the credibility to have improved buying power. You’ll get better deals on equipment, faster service, and be able to offer your clients a higher standard of service.
- Skin in the game: Your franchisees have “skin in the game.” They’ve invested in you, so they are highly motivated to succeed, caring about your brand, and growing your business.
This is a great choice because you dictate how they run their business. They follow your rules, use your software of choice, and do everything they can to continue to build the name you’ve already made for yourself.
Obstacles with franchising
Your franchisees are a representation of your brand, so you want to be sure they are conducting themselves the way you’d like them to. There’s always a risk that your brand is tarnished if they’re not the right fit. Lori stresses, “It’s quality over quantity here.”
This one’s a little less complicated: you allow someone to pay you for your registered trademark, product, service or program, rather than your actual business. Lori used the example of her Boot Camp Challenge®, which other businesses were able to offer as part of their services once they purchased her trademark.
This is also a little less legally complicated because you don’t need to go through the same rigorous process each time you sell a license, like you do with a franchise.
Obstacles with licensing
This option offers the same perks as franchising (minimal investment, buying power, and skin in the game), but there are a few possible drawbacks, too:
- Tarnishing your reputation and damaging your brand is still a concern, but more important is that you have less control.
- Once you sell the trademark, they’re free to run their business as they see fit.
- You can offer suggestions, but you’re not in control, and watching someone do things differently can be tricky for business owners.
Grow your business outside
After covering these “traditional” strategies, Lori gives us the lowdown on an alternative way to grow your business right now: by going outside! Lori shared a story about a brick-and-mortar company that moved to an alternative (outdoor) location when their studio was shut down. It’s this kind of thinking that’ll have your business booming.
As Lori points out, “now is not the time to close our doors, it’s time to fight to stay alive and grow your business.” In a cold climate? Find heaters and find a way, she suggests.
This model offers a few different advantages, like:
- Revenue: Here’s a brand new revenue stream your clients will love. You might even decide to keep it once your indoor capacity increases.
- Serve your trainers: Keep your trainers busy and working for your business. Your team has struggled through COVID-19 too, so this is a great way to get them back to work and reconnecting with your community.
- Serve your community: Call your clients and get them back. Help them achieve their mental and physical goals by offering them what they need.
Obstacles with going outside
This model also poses some challenges, of course. The greatest obstacle is the learning curve. If this is your first venture outside, issues like bathroom facilities, inclement weather, permits, and insurance could seem insurmountable. But you’ve already pivoted, so you know you can do it.
“We are all in a learning curve these days,” advises Lori, saying that this is an opportunity to build revenue and pay your bills that you don’t want to miss out on.
At this stage in the game, you’ve probably added a virtual component to your business model. Lori points out that this has been so successful because “the customer was ready.” Now’s the time to take your business online with livestreaming—at the same time as everything else you’re doing.
The best part is that this is a revenue stream that can work on its own, or as an add-on to your usual services. It’s a fantastic way to stay connected with your community and provide accountability for your clients as if you were live in-studio. You can also record workouts to make them available later or charge for them as part of your on-demand library—another revenue stream and opportunity for growth!
Obstacles with going virtual
Lori briefly covers some of the challenges you might face with this model and how she’s overcome these issues in her business:
- Wifi: You might be outside where wifi is weak, but you can use tricks like hot-spotting to get the job done. “Train like you fight” is her advice, which means that you test, test, test. Go out to the location you’ve chosen at the time you plan to hold the class to look at the light, check the wifi, and solve any potential issues before they happen live.
- Learning curve: Not tech savvy? You’re not alone. Your community is learning with you, so they will support your efforts.
- Added value: Be careful to make the value clear. If you’ve decided to charge the same for a livestream as you do for an in-person class, the value needs to be clear to your community for this to become a viable revenue stream and to keep your loyal clients.
How to manage your team
Once you’ve decided the best way to grow your business, it’s time to decide on the best way to manage your team. From franchisees to licensees to trainers, they’re crucial to the success of your business. Lori shares 3 steps to successfully managing your team for growth:
- Share your vision: Tell your team your “why” and make sure everyone knows your mission. You’re all working towards the same goals, so you need to be on the same page.
- Stay connected: Stay in touch on a regular basis so they stay updated. Find out the best way to communicate with each person on your team and use the way they prefer to make sure you are serving them in the way that they need. Do one-on-one calls, touch base, find out about their goals, and follow up to see how you can help.
- Create a community: Finding that connection together is important! Lori recommends starting a Facebook group. Go live in the group, start discussion, and have conversations “face-to-face,” so that the lines of communication stay open.
Is your brand at its best?
Lori wraps up with the final step in your growth process. Once you’ve decided on your model, consulted your legal team and are managing your staff, make sure your brand is looking its best. Here’s how to make that happen:
- Keep it uniform: Branding equals consistency. Make sure all of your platforms look the same. Your logos and messaging should be consistent on all fronts, whether it’s your website, social media, or any other communication.
- Make your messaging clear: Match your marketing to your business. Hosting group sessions? Feature images that represent what you’re offering, show your clientele, and make it clear what your business is all about.
- Create your own content: Be yourself. Know who you’re trying to attract and use real clients and real classes in your marketing. This is the only way prospective clients know what to expect and they’ll start to build a connection with your business.
Lori stresses the importance of telling your story. Be authentic. Know your target audience and relate to them with genuine content. Don’t worry about what your competition is doing— know your community enough to know what parts of your business will resonate with them.
Time to expand your business!
Lori’s expertise has been built on years of learning, making mistakes, and “working out all the kinks,” so she can share her knowledge to help fitness businesses grow, even in times like these.
“I have a lot of customers who are loving the remote access for the convenience factor,” says Lori. “Humans need connection though, we’ll be back in a room together, it just might take years for people to get there.”
The bottom line is that there’s no time like the present to focus on growing and scaling your business, and building on your passion to live the life of your dreams.
With Lori’s tips and tricks, along with the expert tools from WellnessLiving, you can take your businesses to the next level. From our Zoom integration, to FitVID on Demand for your online services, to our staff and client apps for efficiency and so much more, we can help! Learn more about the features we offer by booking a no-commitment demo with WellnessLiving today.