Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email email@example.com.
For Jordan Black, running a fitness franchise is very similar to playing in the NFL. According to the former professional football player, corporate team members are coaches, serving up a game plan for franchisees. Meanwhile, franchisees are responsible for using the corporate playbook to implement ideas and find success in the industry. Snap Fitness is Black's all-star team: successful and consistently on the list of top-rated franchises.
Here's how Black decided to bring his A-game to franchising after leaving the NFL.
Name: Jordan Black
Franchise owned (location): Snap Fitness in Missouri City, Texas
How long have you owned a franchise?
Just over a year. We had our grand opening Oct. 5, 2013.
When you go the franchise route, there is already an established brand associated with the name as opposed to opening up a generic gym. Being someone who has not developed a reputation in the fitness industry, I thought it was a better idea to open a franchise and start there.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I played in the NFL for about 10 years. I began with Kansas City Chiefs then played with the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars. I finished in 2012 with the Washington Redskins. This really is a new beginning for me. I am 12 years out of college and this has been my first endeavor in the business world.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I went with Snap Fitness because it was simple. Simple, especially in business, is going to be the best solution. There is not a lot of overhead and as long as you pick a location where you can keep your rent payments low, you will make money.
I’ve found the NFL to be very similar to the fitness industry. Like a storied team in the sport, Snap Fitness is a company that has been successful and is consistently on the list of top-rated franchises. The Snap Fitness team members are coaches, and they have pulled together a great game plan. It is up to me to implement some of their ideas and use their playbook to be successful.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
Including the franchise fee of $15,000, I probably spent between $300,000 and $400,000 before I opened because I wanted the best equipment available.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I tried to do a lot of my own research and wanted to approach other people in the industry. I have some friends who are doing similar things to what I’m doing, so I relied on them for some guidance. Snap Fitness also has people in place that are happy to help with any questions you have. Plus, you can always talk to other Snap Fitness franchise owners.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
I made a few hiring mistakes early on; finding the right employees was a challenge. Sometimes, especially early on, you feel like you just need somebody to work. I would encourage anyone, regardless of what the role is, to check out his or her employees. Owners should make sure the group they have working for them reflects their standards and work ethic. Background checks, research and references are easy ways to do so.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Once you are up and running, the first five or six months can be tough. Regardless of the type of franchise, owners shouldn’t expect to make money for at least six months. They should prepare for that and have money set aside to operate before the business can sustain itself. The good thing about Snap Fitness is you can start to make profit quickly.
Another piece of advice I have is that you have to make sure the client comes first. If you take care of them, they will be loyal to your business and the money will follow.
What’s next for you and your business?
Currently I am working on an expansion of my club, which is 5,000 square feet. We’re going to add 2,000 – 3,000 square feet to accommodate specialized training such as mixed martial arts (MMA) classes and CrossFit-type programs.
I want trainers to specialize in certain skill sets. I have one that is a weight-loss guru and another that is a MMA fighter. With our expansion, we can offer everything a big box gym does in a more convenient location.