Creating a Community within Your Franchise
“Fitness is the avenue through which I was able to tackle all of my life's challenges. In the gym I learned patience, dedication and perseverance. I learned that little progress is still progress! I reshaped my whole outlook on life by relating it to how I tackled my workouts. Now, my mission in life is to pass it on to anyone who cares to listen.” - Isaac Vaisberg, Sasquatch Strength.
How have fitness communities been tested through the pandemic and what do you think the future holds for fitness franchises?
Over 15% of all fitness facilities across the US have closed their doors permanently. Thousands of people have lost their jobs, or worse: the dreams they have built over years of hard work and struggle.
But the good news is that the fitness industry is positioned to be one of the fastest rebounding services in the United States this year. The culmination of a large number of concepts closing their doors permanently, coupled with a pent-up demand for our services because of the last twelve months of sporadic availability, mean there will be a staggering demand for what we do in 2021. We are at a crossroads in the industry. The concepts that are brave enough to move forward with development will stand to reap the benefits, all the while helping to create jobs, support their local communities, and build a legacy.
While I am saddened by the state of the industry as a whole, I am immensely proud of what Sasquatch Strength has been able to accomplish during this crisis.
Over the last year, we have had zero COVID-related layoffs, retained 95% of our membership across two rounds of closures, opened a new franchisee-owned location in Bellevue, Washington, and are positioned to open up at least two more franchise locations this year.
How did you maintain a strong franchise business through such difficult times?
At the onset of COVID, my team and I had more questions than answers. Will we have to shut down? For how long? How will we keep our members safe upon reopening? Given the onslaught of questions and fears, we pledged to make all decisions based on our core values. We sent a company-wide memo making three promises:
1) We will bring value to customers by any means necessary. All staff will be transitioned to remote positions, offering remote classes to members, running virtual happy hours, and keeping the community alive.
2) We will support our staff by any means necessary. No one will be furloughed, laid off or have their hours or pay reduced.
3) We will be standing and stronger when COVID is a distant memory. When we outlined our course of action to our members, we were flooded with messages of support and admiration. They saw that we put them first, so they were willing to fight to keep us standing strong. Throughout closures we maintained 95% of our members across our franchise systems, grew our membership explosively once we were allowed to reopen, and our company and unit level culture has never been stronger. In times of struggle, never underestimate what taking care of your people can do.
What has Sasquatch Strength done to ensure that members still felt like they were a part of the community, even when they couldn’t visit the franchise in-person?
For our members, we made a commitment to scaling our online services so they would feel like they had just as many options as when we were open. We quickly launched upwards of 80 digital classes per week, zoom happy hours and specialty classes and assigned each of our coaches a group of members to check in on regularly. Our members missed the gym, but they were happy that they were able to stay connected to their community.
Internally, we focused on tightening up our systems and introducing new technology. We struck a partnership with MindBody Online to create an enterprise level platform for Sasquatch Strength. We finalized our partnership with FranMetrics to bring a whole new level of unit level analytics to our systems, and even implemented a new piece of personality assessment technology to help our franchisees better assess their new hires and manage their employees.
What should someone know before buying a fitness franchise?
People need fitness now more than ever. More specifically, they need passionate education on health and wellness. Companies like ours are fighting every day to make sure we stay healthy and we stay human. It is an uphill battle, but for those wanting more than just a paycheck at the end of the week, getting into the fitness industry is the most rewarding experience I can suggest.
Isaac Vaisberg founded Sasquatch Strength, a fitness concept focusing on educating members for life. Sasquatch Strength prides itself on unique fitness programs that are personalized to help members reach their goals. For more information, visit www.franchise.sasquatchstrength.com.