TIPS FOR EMERGING FRANCHISE BRANDS

Franchise Development

By Matt McCollum, BODYBAR Pilates

Interested in taking the leap into franchising your brand? The CEO of BODYBAR Pilates shares his experience.

As an emerging franchise brand, we have learned quite a bit since BODYBAR Pilates (BODYBAR) was founded. And while there were a number of triumphs — and obstacles — along the way, each provided us with excellent learning opportunities and have better prepared us to move forward in BODYBAR’s growth with confidence. Starting a franchise is never easy, but the reward is extremely worthwhile as it allows you the opportunity to help others reach their entrepreneurial dreams while growing your business.

For brands that are interested in franchising their concept, there are several things to consider that will help set you, your team and the business up for success. In the article below, I share a bit more about our experience launching BODYBAR’s franchise initiative and the advice I would offer other entrepreneurs who want to take the leap into franchising.

Getting Started

BODYBAR Pilates was founded in 2012, but my wife Kamille and I first joined the company in 2015 as franchisees. We really believed in and had a passion for the concept, which played a large role in the success we had with our first studio. And because of that success, BODYBAR’s ownership approached us about taking over executive leadership of the company, which we did in June of 2019. From the time we took over, our focus has been on growing the company through franchising.

The decision on whether or not to franchise certainly depends on the brand. If your concept doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar location, it takes quite a bit less capital for franchisees to get going, so it makes the process a bit easier. Beyond that, it depends on your mission and goal. At BODYBAR, our goal is to empower other entrepreneurs to change their future and build something of value for themselves and their family. That’s important to us because at some point, we all want to be able to step back and enjoy something good. Being able to find people that understand the value in that and are aligned with your mission is crucial, but if that is your goal, then franchising may make sense for your brand.

Advice for Emerging Brands

My advice for brands who are looking to get in the world of franchising? Do. Your. Research. Our main goal when taking over executive leadership of BODYBAR was to grow through franchising. But before diving in head first, we attended conferences, found out who the key players were in the industry and made an effort to understand the best structure for a franchising organization. From there, we identified the best vendor partners and began growing our home office (or as I like to refer to it, the franchise service center) to ensure we were in the best position to get going quickly once we actually hit the go button. We knew that if we didn’t put in the work before launching franchising efforts, we’d be chasing our tails later just to stay alive.

My advice for brands who are looking to get in the world of franchising? Do. Your. Research.

And while planning and preparation were extremely important, we also had to be flexible and comfortable with change. You must understand that whatever business plan you build will most likely not go according to plan and circumstances beyond your control — like a global pandemic — might hinder you from getting things done. You have to be prepared to go with the flow and at the end of the day, what is meant to be will be. 

Doing your homework and cultivating a strong internal team are essential pieces of the puzzle that can truly drive growth.

From there, you also have to look to your internal community. The people you have in your company will make or break your brand, especially when you’re just getting started. In franchising, much of what we do is centered around supporting our franchisees. In the early stages, it’s essential to have people that are capable and willing to wear different hats in order to help you progress to the next phase of development. You must be clear about what milestones are set for the company and provide support for your team to reach those goals. At BODYBAR, we’ve sought out amazing people and built a community of trust that has truly made the brand what it is today. I run ideas by everyone as often as possible for feedback, and if the response is negative, we collectively go back to the drawing board.

Getting that input in the early phases of the company sets the tone for both franchisees and the internal team — it’s these different perspectives that make a brand stand out.

When push comes to shove, it is important to revisit what brought you to franchising in the first place, particularly in the early stages of a brand’s development when things inevitably don’t go to plan. Ultimately, we all like to feel as though we are doing something good, and franchising allows entrepreneurs to build something of value while delivering on a unified mission. From a corporate standpoint, this means that as a brand you are able to leverage thought leadership from a wide assortment of franchisees with different skills and backgrounds, which helps the whole system to flourish.

The Bottom Line 

Franchising is not easy and it isn’t for everyone, but when you have a clear vision in mind of what you want your brand to be it can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Doing your homework and cultivating a strong internal team are essential pieces of the puzzle that can truly drive growth. But when things inevitably go off-plan, refocusing on the reason why you decided to build a franchise will always help you find your way.

Matt McCollum is the CEO of BODYBAR Pilates. For more information and franchise opportunities for International Franchise Association (IFA) franchisor member BODYBAR Pilates, visit franchise.org/franchise-opportunities/bodybar-pilates.