One of the most important things to consider when opening a franchise is where your business will be located. Sure, many new businesses and start-ups these days can happily live in the virtual world and, as technology progresses, working like this will become easier. Certain products and businesses will always need a physical, brick-and-mortar presence, though, and F45 Training is definitely one of them.
At F45, we embrace innovation and change. We’re constantly looking for ways to use digital platforms, social media, and technology to extend our member experience outside the studio and add value beyond our workouts. That being said, the real, physical interaction between our members and coaches is what sets F45 apart from our competitors and gives us a real in-market advantage.
It’s not just a matter of getting members and coaches in a room and telling them it's go-time. Everything at F45—from the way our workouts are planned and delivered to the set-up of our studios—has been designed to ensure high-quality social interaction and a real and tangible sense of community.
This makes the right choice of location vital, and there are many factors that need to be considered. To get the location right, you have to do your homework—combine data and factual information with experiential know-how and on-the-ground knowledge. Here are some tips for choosing your F45 studio location:
Start with the basics.
A real strength of F45 is the fact that you don't need loads of space, fancy equipment and a massive staff. You'll still need enough floor space for each workout, suitable restrooms, lockers and, ideally, space for people to socialize before and after the workout. Get these things right and you’ll be off to a good start. If these things aren’t in place, no amount of great parking and foot traffic will make members want to keep coming back for more.
Explore the neighborhood.
Take some time to physically explore the surrounding area of your potential location. Check for any competitor business offerings and, if there are some present, check to see where they’ve situated themselves and what’s working for them.
While you might think that a nearby rival might be bad for business, traditional big box gyms and other fitness clubs can actually be a great source of new members – often all you need to do is get them into your studio to show them the F45 difference.
Other questions you should be asking are: Who is most likely to visit your studio? Who lives in the area? Will most members be arriving by car or public transport? Is your site visible to passers-by? What is the traffic around the location like during the hours your studio will be the busiest?
F45 is open to everyone, regardless of age or fitness level, but a predominantly corporate member base will require a different approach than an audience of students or young families. Get out there—talk to real people and listen to what they have to say. Experience is a great teacher and will help you make the right decision.
Crunch the numbers.
Once you’ve spent some time on the ground, it’s time to do some research. Consider things like population density, income levels, planned construction for new housing or roadworks, and property/rental price trends. Consider past and predictive data, and be aware that areas change over time. What might seem like a poor location now could be fantastic later on (or vice versa).
You should also contact the franchisor and try to get as much information as possible, based on what has and hasn’t worked for other franchisees in the network. With 1,800 studios across 45+ countries, F45 has a wealth of data and experience to share. You’ll be sure to find a similar location and situation to pretty much any scenario you might be considering.
At F45, we constantly evaluate our business and the industry we operate in to better understand and tap into trends and opportunities. It means we have a clear view on what will work for prospective franchisees and existing business partners looking to get the most value out of their studios. We also recommend that you talk to existing franchisees as much as possible—they might give you some insight on what makes a location hot or not.
Consider using a broker.
A good local property broker can also be a valuable resource. They will understand their community's trends and areas that meet your business requirements. They should also know what is currently up for lease or purchase, as well as anything that might soon be available and could be a good fit for your needs. Local brokers will also have more knowledge of current pricing, other deals that have been negotiated, and might even boast good relationships with landlords in the area.
Learn from the mistakes of others.
Because it beats learning from your own, right? As markets and areas change, old franchises are often replaced with new ones. If you can, try and find historical business that have come and gone in the area and work to understand why they didn’t make it.
The failure of another fitness business doesn’t mean an F45 Training studio in the same location won’t be successful. Instead, it will give you a good idea of what type of customers the business attracted, pros and cons of the physical space, and how to market your F45 studio optimally.
As aforementioned, your F45 Training studio doesn’t need too much equipment and floor space to get it up and running, but building and renovations are always expensive. Be careful of a space you think could work with a couple of “minor” builds and tweaks.
The most vulnerable time for a new franchise is often when the business is in its infancy and consistent cash flow can be tricky to secure. If you over-invest in your location, it will put you under huge pressure at a time when you need to run your studio as efficiently as possible.
Picking a location that doesn’t require a ton of upfront investment means that you'll have capital available to cope with any unforeseen issues.
Stress first, laugh later.
The bottom line is that the more research you do upfront (both on the ground and via collected data), the better your chance of not only picking the right location for your franchise, but also understanding how to successfully market and run your F45 studio.