By Peter Saunders
You don’t need a business degree to become a franchisee. Franchising has become the world’s most successful business model because it takes people from all walks of life and gives them the tools they need to become their own boss, often in an entirely new field. Considering your talents, skills and life experience, you’ve probably already got a lot to be confident about as you prepare for your franchise journey.
Still have any doubts? Maybe the nature of your career so far has been very different from the franchise you hope to buy? In ‘You’ve Got What It Takes,’ we show you how your work experience—and any other type of experience, for that matter—can be applied in a franchise setting.
What he does:
Wayne Sato owns three Snap Fitness locations across Winnipeg and recently won the Founder’s Award, the highest honour in the franchise system, which has only been given out four times in the company’s history.
When he joined Snap in 2008, however, he would become one of the first franchisees anywhere in Canada. He needed to feel confident about the new venture, which differed greatly from his successful career in the commercial real estate sector.
“The franchisor had a great model and blueprint for setting up the business,” he says. “After about six months of conference calls, I cautiously bought in. Fortunately, it was instant hit. We were profitable after the first six months!”
His first franchise was located in an upper-middle-class neighbourhood in a southwest suburb of Winnipeg. It resonated with the local community right away, signing up nearly 200 memberships before even opening.
“We did a pre-opening marketing campaign, for which the franchisor had a detailed program,” Wayne explains.
The business appealed to him for several reasons. For one, fitness clubs offered a certain consistency of market demand amidst a changing retail landscape. For another, they provided direct health benefits to their customers. And finally, it would be feasible for Wayne to manage his franchise while still working his day job.
“I’d previously been involved in a restaurant as a co-owner, which really opened my eyes to the issues you can encounter in a competitive market,” he says. “The profits were okay, but I wanted less ‘sweat equity’ and more of a hands-off management style. With Snap, a lot of the business is handled by the franchisor and, while the top-producing clubs are certainly not hands-off, the key is to have the right employees in place. We have young, energetic, highly motivated staff come in to work with a smile every day. They know they’re making a difference in people’s lives.”
So, after an early phase of controlling day-to-day operations and understanding the business model more fully, Wayne says he actively shared a lot of his responsibility with the managers of each club, empowering them to make their own decisions, not just follow orders.