Fitness is big business. With rising rates of obesity and increased focus on health and wellness, the demand for gyms and fitness centres continues to grow; for entrepreneurs and investors looking to capitalise on this growing industry, purchasing a gym franchise may offer an appealing business opportunity. This article explores the benefits and considerations when investing in a gym franchise for sale.
The Growing Fitness Industry
The global fitness industry was valued at $96 billion in 2021 and is projected to grow to $138 billion by 2026. Driving this growth is rising disposable income, increased health awareness, and a desire for the social and community aspects of group fitness classes and gym memberships. While boutique fitness studios and digital home workouts compete for market share, traditional big-box gyms dominate the industry.
With so much room for growth, the fitness industry offers an attractive opportunity for franchisees and investors. The gym franchise business model allows entrepreneurs to capitalise on the industry’s growth while benefiting from an established franchise’s brand recognition, systems, and support.
Benefits of Owning a Gym Franchise
Purchasing a gym franchise comes with several advantages over starting an independent gym.
Established Brand and Systems
Most gym franchise brands have strong name recognition and an established member base. By leveraging the franchise brand and systems, new franchisees can attract members more efficiently than an independent startup gym. Franchises also provide training and support for using their techniques to maximise operational efficiency.
Business Model Optimization
Successful gym franchises have optimised their business model over years of operation. Franchisees can adopt proven gym layouts, equipment recommendations, membership options, staff training, and marketing techniques. Leveraging these tested systems helps new franchisees avoid costly trial-and-error.
Gym franchises provide their franchisees with varying degrees of ongoing support. This may include assistance with site selection, lease negotiation, equipment sourcing, gym design, staff training, marketing, and more. Franchisors have a vested interest in helping new gyms succeed.
Lenders and investors view franchise businesses as lower risk than independent startups. Gym franchises with strong brand recognition can access favourable financing terms that may not be available to independent gyms.
Successful franchisors constantly refine their systems and processes. Franchisees benefit from these innovations over time. For example, the franchisor tests new technology integrations, equipment, class formats, and marketing tactics before being implemented chain-wide.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Gym Franchise
While gym franchises offer many advantages, they require careful research and consideration. Prospective franchisees should look at the following factors:
Franchisor Reputation and Support Model
The franchisor’s reputation, business practices, leadership, and culture are critical factors. Review their litigation history, talk to existing franchisees, and evaluate the commitment to franchisee success. Also, assess the franchisor’s ongoing support model. What training, technology, and assistance do they provide?
Review estimated startup costs, capital requirements, membership fees, and revenue projections. Account for ongoing royalties and marketing fees. Validate assumptions with existing franchisees. Ensure the unit economics align with your goals and risk tolerance.
Research the target geographic territory from demographic, competitive, and real estate perspectives. Factor in population density, household income, age distribution, competing gyms, zoning, and leasing dynamics. These can significantly impact the viability of a specific gym location.
Required Capabilities and Resources
Owning and operating a gym franchise requires specific capabilities like sales, marketing, team management, and finance. Assess your strengths and limitations. Determine if you need a business partner or can hire for specific skills. Also, evaluate the required capital and financing options.
Expected Personal Involvement
Understand the franchisor’s expectations for franchisees, especially in a gym’s early stages. This includes training requirements, onsite time commitments, local marketing efforts, and general “hands-on” involvement. Ensure you can meet expectations.
Brand Values and Culture
Make sure the franchisor’s brand identity and culture align with your values. As a franchise owner, your gym will represent the brand. Factors like pricing, gym culture, and target demographics are worth considering.
Finding the Right Gym Franchise Opportunity
Performing due diligence is crucial when exploring specific gym franchise opportunities for sale.
Here are some tips for finding the right option:
- Research established gym franchises to create a target list. Assess their financial stability, unit growth, pricing, and brand reputation.
- Use a broker to access opportunities, especially “resale” franchises where an existing owner sells. Brokers have access to unadvertised options.
- Evaluate Item 19 of a franchise’s Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD). It provides detailed financial performance representations.
- Speak with multiple existing franchisees to gain insights about unit economics, franchisor support, and overall satisfaction.
- Hire an attorney to review the FDD and franchise agreement. Ensure you understand all terms, obligations, and limitations.
- Consider attending a franchise trade show to connect with potential franchisors and franchisees.
- Assess options against your business goals, personal skills, and financial resources. Avoid getting emotionally attached to a “brand name.”
The Bottom Line
Gym franchises can be an appealing investment for entering the growing fitness industry. The brand recognition, optimised systems, and ongoing support of an established franchisor provide advantages over starting an independent gym franchise for sale. However, identifying the right franchise brand and opportunity requires thorough due diligence. Evaluate financial projections, franchisor reputation, required capabilities, geographic dynamics, and brand culture when exploring gym franchise opportunities for sale. With proper analysis and selection, a gym franchise investment can yield strong financial returns while benefiting your local community.