As Matthew Cicci nears opening of his franchised studio, he sits down for a Q&A with a franchisee who has opened her studio to see what life on the other side is like.
Matthew Cicci gets insights on what it's like to be a franchisee after you've hit the "start" button. (Photo by Thinkstock.)
With a whole host of administrative functions piling up behind the scenes as I work to open my franchise, I am starting to feel like the finish line keeps getting moved just a little farther back each day. The more items that get checked off the project list, the more that list seems to grow.
I thought this would be as good a time as any to reach out to a current franchise owner and see what life is like on the other side of pre-sales. So I got in touch with Lisa Peterson, a former colleague and accomplished franchise owner.
Peterson is an indefatigable dynamo. A five-foot firecracker with a smile so bright it makes the Phillips Company jealous. Once upon a time she was a personal training client and believed that she could do better. So she and her trainer bought a personal training franchise, worked until they couldn't stand up straight and then worked some more. They opened a second location, then became area directors and eventually purchased the group training concept from that same franchisor.
I was fortunate enough to work with Peterson and her partner for a short period of time, and I learned an important lesson about our business: experience means everything. Peterson has created an environment so special that sometimes her clients spend an hour at her studio and forget to work out. Walking into one of her locations is like walking into your own surprise party. It's electric, it's fun and it's the best part of your day — and all of this in New Jersey.
I decided to catch up with Peterson and get some insight on what it's like to be six months in on a new franchise. Here is what she said.
Q: What is one thing about franchising that most people probably do not know?
Peterson: The one thing I learned is just how big the support system can be if you reach out. The connections you make and the different ideas are endless if you reach out to other owners.
Q: What have you learned over the course of your franchise career?
Peterson: What I've learned is to reach out when I need help. Yes, my business is my own, but there are times where advice or resources are needed and that's why I chose to be in a franchise in the first place, so why not utilize them as much as possible?
Q: What made you decide to expand your business from personal training studios to group ex studios?
Peterson: I wanted to be able to offer all solutions to clients, so whether their need is one to one, small group or large group, I am now a total solution for anyone that wants to work out.
Q: Can you explain the work-life balance of a franchise owner?
Peterson: The work life balance is like any other small business. It's a lot of work and a lot of hours in the beginning. Hopefully, you set yourself up with an incredible staff that allows you to step away from the day to day. The point is to be able to work on your business growing it and not in your business training.
Q: Would you recommend franchising to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Peterson: I would. Never once did I think that I could do this alone, maybe I shouldn't be in a franchise, so that I bought multiples. The benefits of the support and marketing far outweigh anything else.
Matthew Cicci is a freelance fitness writer and small business owner in the Chicago area. With more than 15 years of experience in the health and fitness industry, Cicci has operated businesses in the not-for-profit, commercial, private, franchise and residential fitness environments in the New York market. Cicci has held several industry-wide certifications, has a bachelor's of science degree in management and studied under the master's program for exercise science at Syracuse University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.