Warning signs and red flags to look for when seeking out a fitness franchise opportunity.
You have decided to invest in a fitness franchise opportunity. When doing your initial research it is important to be on the lookout for warning signs and red flags that indicate the fitness franchise may not be a good partner. Being prepared with a list of things that may indicate poor support from a franchisor can save you time, money and the disappointment of partnering with a company that is not going to support you.
Lack of communication
When contacting a franchise to request information the speed and length of the communications they send back to you may be the first red flag that they are not a good partner. If it takes 3 weeks to get information to you, or if the information is not what you requested, get out! The inability to provide adequate service to a prospective franchisee is the first of many signs the franchise is not a good one to partner with.
Poor customer service from franchisor
When considering your fitness franchise opportunity you will likely have many interactions with the franchisor. If you are receiving poor customer service during the investigation phase of starting your fitness franchise then you should stop considering that company. It is important to a franchise to get new franchisees this is one of the areas that their customer service should excel. If it is not excelling it is an indicator that their support systems will also function poorly. The last thing that you need when opening a new franchise is poor support from the franchisor.
Unwillingness to disclose important information
If important features of how the franchise operates are “only disclosed after you sign” then you should turn around and walk away. The important features should be a selling point for the franchise. If they cannot tell you how their marketing strategy will benefit you prior to signing a contract it is most likely that they have an inadequate marketing strategy. If they don’t want to disclose information you should not sign with that franchise!
Other owners express disappointment
Do some investigation and speak to other owners. A good franchise should have references that prove they are a good partner. If there is no open source of owners that you can speak with it may be a sign that this franchise does not treat the franchisee well. If you cannot talk to at least 2 or 3 owners prior to signing a contract you may want to consider signing with a different franchise.
Worse than not being able to speak with franchisees is when multiple franchisees express regret at franchising with the company. If you consistently hear that their support is inadequate or that they have unrealistic operating expectations then this is a red flag. Do not partner with someone who consistently disappoints.
When visiting a location of the franchise you receive poor service
Do not franchise with a company that has poor service at their other locations. When you share a name with another independent location, their service is a reflection on your business. This is more than true if you are creating a second location within the same city. People will automatically associate the first stores reputation with your store. Poor customer service at another location is an indication of the performance capability the fitness franchise opportunity has.
Other locations are run down or shabby
If other locations of the fitness franchise have poor quality equipment or are in poor locations this is likely an indicator that the franchise has poor equipment and real estate support. Equipment and location are two factors that can make a fitness franchise successful. If the franchisor is not providing quality support in these areas for one location, they probably won’t provide it to your location.
Poor customer reviews on the internet
A poor reputation on the internet is a red flag. One of the reasons to franchise is the brand recognition. You don’t want to open your doors with a negative reputation. That is equivalent to handicapping your business from day one. Selecting a fitness franchise opportunity with a good reputation is vital to your success.
Complaints to the BBB
An overabundance of complaints to the Better Business Bureau is an indication that policies and procedures of the franchise are not fair. The last thing a new business needs is to have their hands tied when trying to provide service to its customers. The ability to treat customers fairly will be an indicator of your success level. Also a company that has a large list of complaints at the BBB is probably going to have a negative reputation.
Unavailability of information when searching
The lack of information available is another strong sign that you should not partner with a franchisor. If you search their name and only have 1 or two results out of a franchise with 100 locations then their marketing is not up to par. Marketing is essential for any fitness franchise opportunity to turn into a successful business venture. The lack of marketing is a recipe for a failed franchise. When searching for locations of the prospective fitness franchise it is better to have an overabundance of results then none at all. More results means that the franchise is taking a serious look at marketing.
No utilization of social networking
Not utilizing social networks is equivalent to cutting out an entire portion of your available market. Social networking is a free asset in the marketing arena. If the fitness franchise opportunity you are considering does not properly utilize sites like Facebook and Linkedin then it is not a franchise that you should consider partnering with.
Choosing a fitness franchise that has shown no signs of poor support will ensure that your franchise is a success. The level of support provided by the franchisor is often the reason that a franchise is successful. The reputation of the franchise is just as important as the level of support that they provide. Do not partner with a company that already has a negative reputation. With a strong list of warning signs and red flags you will be better able to determine if the franchise is a good choice.