In 2001, I had an “a ha” moment and created what is now know as Stroller Strides. I created a fitness class where moms could workout with their babies in the stroller. It afforded me the opportunity to work with my baby by my side. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who desired a career that was supportive of motherhood, because within months, we had requests from all over the country to start classes.
I felt so blessed to have a career that felt so great and gave back so much to my life. I wanted to share it with other moms who also had a passion for fitness and motherhood. So, in my second year of business, we sold 10 franchises. There was interest for many more but I needed to see if it would work out in hot places like Arizona and Texas and cold places like New Jersey (and beautiful places like Hawaii). And it did. We learned a ton about the different needs of our franchisees based on their experience and their territory. But one thing remained the same, the interest from clients to workout, have fun with their baby and meet other new moms.
As my own children grew up, so has our business. Besides our Stroller Strides classes, we now have Fit4Baby (our prenatal exercise class) and Body Back (our fitness class for women at any stage of motherhood). Our brand is now known as FIT4MOM. Our franchise business has also grown up. When we started, we simply gave the moms the fitness equipment along with an operations manual to teach the classes. The tools and support have become far more sophisticated now, with websites, intranet, conferences and more.
When you are a franchisor, you have one goal. That is to have successful franchisees. When they are successful, we are successful. Here are 5 tips that have helped us grow one of the fastest growing franchises in the country:
- Get the right people on the bus. In the beginning, we probably brought on every franchisee who wanted to buy. We now know that their desire to be on our team is not enough to make them successful. We are much better now at making sure that our candidates understand the business they are getting in to and have the resources and personality necessary to represent our brand. Bringing on the wrong franchisee is costly to your brand and to the experience of your clients.
- Train them right. For many franchisees, this is their first time operating a business. It is downright overwhelming. It is not enough to throw an Operating Manual at them. It’s the parts of the business that they don’t want to do that you most need to help them with. Our new systems are all available online and can guide them through each step of the business. Our franchise support team serves as coaches to get them to a win.
- Capitalize On Your Synergy – One of the best parts of being part of a franchise is getting to learn from everyone’s experiences. Our FIT4MOM franchisees are everything from accountants to attorneys, artists to stay at home moms. Each of whom contribute unbelievable advice and experience to the brand. Give your franchisees a place to share best practices.
- Create Partners With Purpose – Our franchisees get to benefit from amazing partnerships that we have put together. Our partners share the common goal of raising healthy moms. There is amazing synergy in all of our relationships. These partnerships benefit the franchisees in marketing, samples, give aways and more!
- Be In Their Shoes – Most franchisors started in the business that they now franchise out. But franchising is very different from the actual business that you run. It’s important that the franchisor continue to “be in the shoes” of their franchisees. How do we do this? We have kept running some corporate locations so that we can experience what they are experiencing. This also serves as a great beta test for new programs. Get it right on your own location before you share it with your franchisees. Another way to do this is through your Franchisee Advisory Council. Our FAC is run by our franchisees for our franchisees. They serve as a liaison so we know what issues are of importance to them.
Franchising is an amazing way to grow your brand. Just make sure you have a good foundation to build upon. To build a great brand, you need a system that continually grows your business and provides your franchisees a way to have a profitable and fulfilling model.
About the Author
Lisa Druxman is the founder of the country’s largest fitness program for moms, which include Stroller Strides®, Fit4Baby®, Body Back® and Stroller Barre®. All of her programs give women strength, at any stage of motherhood. Her clients nationwide trust her advice on products, services and lifestyle. She has been voted as one of “America’s Favorite Mom’s” and is committed to helping moms live a healthy life.