CKO Kickboxing may have started as one man’s dream in 1997, in Hoboken, NJ, but that man, Joe Andreula, has started making a name for himself with his franchised concept, especially during the past year. That’s when CKO Kickboxing kicked up its marketing campaign with an eye toward growth beyond its current base in New Jersey and New York.

This year so far, the company has opened four more franchised locations—San Diego; Augusta, NJ; Franklin, NJ; Great Kills, NY; and Jacksonville, NC. As of May 2012, the company had 23 open locations, including four company-owned. Eight more franchises are under development.

Many of the franchisees are former members who believed in the concept enough to buy a franchise. All of the franchisees who have opened locations so far this year were former members, and three of the four locations are owned by franchisees opening their second location.

The company is getting registered in every state in anticipation of further growth, particularly in its new target markets of California, North Carolina and Washington state.

“The company has had steady growth and really wasn’t set up to grow outside—it was growing organically,” says Rich Rosso, director of business development. “Now, we are being more aggressive about our marketing, and we are seeing a great interest in the concept. We are now positioned to take the company to the next level. Our stores are doing excellent out there.”

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Andreula runs the company-owned locations, which he says is a benefit to franchisees.

“I know this business inside and out,” Andreula says. “I’ve been advised to give up my gyms and just run the franchise, but I refuse to. They relate to me as a club owner. I’m someone who is doing it. So when they call, I know what they are talking about. I’m not rusty. I know what they mean when they say they are having a problem with this class or orientation.”

Andreula shares his wisdom in a weekly coaching call in which all franchisees can ask questions and share what they are doing. New franchisees get even more coaching. Andreula says that “coachability” is one of the key things he looks for in a franchisee.

On top of this, CKO Kickboxing looks for franchisees who are believers in fitness, even if they are not athletes, Rosso says.

“The only way CKO was going to grow successfully is if we match our concept to the right prospect,” Rosso says. “First, you have to qualify someone financially because if they can’t ever afford to be in the business, they are not going to work out. But personality and passion are very important in this concept.”

At a Glance

  • Company: CKO Kickboxing, Hoboken, NJ
  • Owner: Joseph Andreula
  • Founded: 1997
  • Franchising began: 2007
  • Open locations as of May 2012: 23
  • Franchises under development as of May 2012: 8
  • 2010 revenue: $347,291
  • 2011 revenue: N/A
  • First quarter 2012 revenue: N/A
  • Average start-up costs: $97,890-$306,900
  • Initial franchise fee: $25,000
  • Continuing service fee: 7% of gross revenues
  • Target demographic: Adults, but also offers classes for children
  • Average number of members per club: 800
  • Average membership dues: $59-$100
  • Average personal training fee: $75 per hour
  • Average facility size: 1,000 to 10,000 square feet
  • Type of equipment: Average of 60-70 heavy bags and some weight equipment