Snap Fitness is a fast-growing franchisor of compact, state-of-the-art 24/7 fitness centers worldwide. Founded in 2003, and franchising since 2004, Snap Fitness offers the best cardio and strength-training fitness equipment, 24 hour gym access, introductory fitness programs, and a host of other services designed to help get customers results.
The concept for Snap Fitness is a product of the mind of CEO Peter Taunton. Before founding the brand, Taunton owned and operated five America’s Fitness Centers in Minnesota. He sold those clubs in order to spend more time with his family and pursue new aspirations in the fitness industry.
“It was in that process I thought about my larger, full-service clubs and I realized that my swimming pools, racquet ball course and group fitness rooms sat empty most of the day,” he explains. “I thought there was probably a smaller, more efficient way to offer fitness to the general public than what is currently being done.”
That train of thought gave birth to Snap Fitness – where the clubs are smaller in terms of size, and more centrally located. “My whole premise behind a smaller footprint is it gave me greater flexibility to position my facilities in areas where people live,” Taunton says.
Finding time to exercise can be challenging at times, which is why Snap Fitness strategically locates each store within a half-mile or mile of residential areas. “When you use it more, the value is there and you don’t quit,” he says.
People come to Snap Fitness because the stores have everything a person needs to get into shape. Taunton’s mission is to bring exercise to the families across America. “People love the fact that our facilities offer a great product at an affordable rate.”
It is not just customers that love Snap Fitness – it’s employees too. “When you’re a full-time employee, you spend a lot of time at your place of work. I like to create a comfortable environment that is very cohesive. I’d like to believe the employees all get along, but I don’t micro-manage them,” Taunton says. “I give them a level of responsibility where they feel like they could own the projects they’re working on.”
“I’m very fortunate as the founder and owner of the company to have surrounded myself with a great cast of employees,” he adds.
Snap Fitness has close to 1,350 locations worldwide in eight countries. 1,000 of them are based in the United States.
A franchise of freedom
What makes Snap Fitness an exciting franchise opportunity is the freedom they offer entrepreneurs. With Snap Fitness, owners have the flexibility to choose their hours, Taunton says.
“Though we encourage our franchise owners to spend a lot of time in the stores because the members want to see them, the good news is if you have to go out for a couple hours, it’s not going to affect the business.”
“What franchisees really love about our concept is the freedom that it gives them – they do have the ability to leave in the afternoon if they’ve got an appointment or to go their son’s baseball game – and their business is still open for operating,” Taunton explains. “It doesn’t affect the membership base at all.”
Another thing that makes Snap Fitness an excellent franchise is the fact that they offer a turnkey solution. When a franchisee asks for information regarding their concept, they are provided with a complete sales package, which tells them everything about the business.
“I want my candidate to have a very clear understanding of what it means to own a Snap Fitness facility in today’s environment,” Taunton says. “I want them to understand that we have the training process down pat, where a majority of our franchisees have no industry experience at all.”
Snap Fitness offers franchisee training at Snap University, located at their corporate office. Every new franchisee attends the school for a week of training. From there, owners have various additional tools at their disposal, such as software to monitor and track their business.
“We make it easily accessible for them to go online to the franchisee portal and access all kinds of material to help them better run and manage their business,” Taunton says. “Tools like that bring flexibility to our owners and help compel them to want to be a part of the franchise.”
Another compelling advantage is the brand’s low failure rate – less than four per cent of their stores fail annually. “That’s a testament and validation to the success of our brand and the support we give our franchisees,” Taunton says.
At Snap Fitness, they’re actively involved in their communities. When they open new stores, it’s common for the organization to sponsor little-league sports teams or different social functions. The smaller the community, the more important their involvement is, Taunton says.
“A lot of small communities don’t have a lot of thriving businesses and they have to rely on each other to make that community a shopping destination,” he says. “It’s an important part of showing your commitment to that community as a business owner.”
Disciplined and relevant
As for what’s next, Snap Fitness is continually opening new stores domestically and internationally – between five and 15 new locations every month. In 2011, the brand opened more than 150 clubs worldwide. A few years from now, Taunton sees the company with 1,500 to 1,600 locations and growing. “Every year we add about 100 to 150 new stores to our mix and that’s good growth,” he says.
The brand’s growth is strong and steady, but Taunton clarifies they are not in any rush. “It’s not a race for us,” he says. “We’re very disciplined in our movements toward expansion. We continue to grow, but more importantly we want to continue to stay relevant with our customers’ needs and expectations.”
“At the end of the day, the members that come into our clubs want results. It’s up to us to help design a program that’s going to yield a result they’re looking for,” he concludes. “You have to have a product people want. When you’re able to accomplish that, then you’re going to have a franchise system that will succeed.”