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Franchise watch: the market is ready for fit20

Franchise watch: the market is ready for fit20

“fit20 is not ego-driven; it’s a tribal franchise,” says Walter Vendel, CEO of fit20

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When and why did you start fit20?
WV: After 20 years of working in the IT, I was ready for a new challenge, something completely different. I always had a passion for sports – I enjoyed running, fitness and doing aikido – but after stumbling across a book called Power of 10, I was intrigued. At first, I questioned and doubted its incredible promise, but after elaborate discussions with a knowledgeable physiotherapist, the whole high intensity training protocol (HIT) started to make more sense to me.

I started our first pilot studio in 2005. It was located in a rather rural part of the Netherlands. It was pretty challenging! But I thought: ‘If we can make it work here, then we’ll know for sure that there’s a market for this out there’.

Within a year we had it up and running, and we started to see amazing results with our clients. There were so many broad ranging benefits: clients lost weight (metabolism improved); positive changes in general fitness levels; aches and pains that so-called belong to ageing disappeared; energy levels lifted significantly, and more.

I became convinced that this was a business proposition with a huge potential that I wanted to pursue. I honestly believe that our 20-minute formula is the most time-efficient personal training solution on the market. Customer retention is a huge problem in the fitness industry and we have a great retention record because of the genuine personal attention that we give to our clients. People are extremely busy and want to get the most out of their 20-minute work-out so they can live a happy, fulfilling life. That’s how we came to the name ‘fit20’.

Getting fit in just 20 minutes a week is obviously a provocative statement but it works wonders – people question it, we offer a free trial, they experience it in their own body, then sign up and become fans within a few months.

What made you turn to the franchising model for fit20?
WV: I started to ponder what the most suitable business model would be for scaling up. I realised that unless there are business owners operating their own studios, it’s hard to ensure the necessary drive to get through the ups and downs that go with running a startup business. The more I looked into franchising as a growth model, the more keen and enthusiastic I became.

When we opened our first fit20 franchise studio in 2009, we were quite nervous and excited. However, it proved to be a great choice, as we’ve grown really fast over the years in spite of the economic downturn that followed! The good thing is that we operated our pilot studio for four years before we started to franchise, which allowed us to have well-tested and established systems in place. We understood the process, how to develop our personal trainers and we wrote a handbook and training manual.

Today, we have opened 143 studios in eight different countries. In the Netherlands, we have 123 studios, as we wanted to establish our business in our own country first. In 2015 we started our international expansion in Belgium and then opened in the U.K., Qatar, New Zealand, the U.S., Germany and France. We have also just signed up a master franchisee for Sweden and we’re currently training their team.

Why should you become a fit20 (master) franchisee?
WV: There are two kinds of fit20 franchisees: single-studio owners and multi-studio owners. Typically, our single-studio owner loves to change people’s lives by virtue of the fit20 training. They can accomplish that by running one studio and can do it well with up to 300 clients, with a good earning model once you hit 200 clients. You only need to bring in $20,000 to obtain a bank loan for the remaining investment to open a fit20 studio.

A multi-studio owner is a different ballgame. We prefer it when this individual comes from outside the fitness industry – they’re usually people who enjoy fitness and sport but haven’t done it as a job. They will see the fit20 franchise and enjoy our vision and mission, plus the fact that it’s all formatted, and all they need to do is focus on the execution – and that’s the beauty of franchising. Your business takes off immediately after opening a studio.

“We have a great retention record because of the genuine personal attention that we give to our clients”

We support our franchisees in every way, as we’re aware that being a franchise owner can be quite stressful initially. If they’ve only been employed during their life so far, it’s a radical change to become a business owner. Among the training and support, we offer is our fit20 Academy, which is on and offline training and covers all aspects of training and building a business – and it is available for all their future employees.

Franchisees-in-training have to be present for 40 hours in other studios to get on-the-job training, and then spend six days in our headquarters. We train them in how to work with our software systems, marketing strategy and more. Then there are follow-up sessions during the first and second year. When their studio has opened, we not only assist with the initial ‘big bang’ marketing plan but we provide continuous marketing support after that. We help them to grow their membership up to 120 clients in the first year.

The plan is all there for them, they just need to execute it. There’s continuous feedback within the first year, and our business developers have regular communication with franchisees. Once a week we share our learning points with all of our franchisees through email. When one of the franchisees comes up with a great idea, we’ll alert all of our franchisees so they can copy it and apply a good idea to grow their business – fit20 is not ego-driven; it’s a tribal franchise!

I am convinced that high intensity training like what fit20 will become the way to stay fit and healthy in a demanding world. Especially for people over 40, but also for those younger than that who have to juggle raising a family and pursuing a demanding career. There is a lot of interest in other EU countries and Asia in fit20. The market is ready for fit20. Should anyone reading this consider franchising within an innovative, modern health and fitness formula, now would be an excellent time to get on board with us and start your own studio or even launch fit20 in your country.

AT A GLANCE

Name of franchise: fit20
Established: 2009
Number of franchised outlets: 140
Location of units: NL, USA, UK, Germany, France, Belgium, Sweden, Qatar, New Zealand
Investment range: $80,000 - $100,000
Minimum required capital: $25,000
Contact: addewaard@fit20.com or +31618194364

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