The fitness franchise industry has been gaining momentum and industry players from all franchise sectors are taking note. As a former executive from the quick-service and fast-casual restaurant space, I've seen firsthand the restaurant franchise industry's migration to the fitness and wellness space. I made the transition from restaurant franchising to the fitness and wellness sector this past year, and have seen the migration momentum continue to build as many restaurant franchise owners are also making the switch from multi-unit restaurant operators to multi-unit fitness studios.
So, why are we seeing restaurant franchise owners move to the fitness space? And what is it about fitness and wellness that makes franchising in that segment an attractive investment opportunity? When comparing the fast-growing fitness sector to the very saturated restaurant space, consider the following four insights:
ONE SOURCE OF TRUTH
One of the biggest differences in fitness and restaurant franchising is that the business model in the fitness space is less complicated. In fitness, there is room for owner-operated or manager-run models, and in both scenarios, you are dealing with less staff, no food handling issues and very limited inventory compared to restaurants. Fitness franchise owners can scale to multi-units and, instead of operating one restaurant with 50 staff members, may have five units with 30 total employees. However, that's not to say fitness is easy by any means, as you still have to be consistent every day, provide an exceptional customer experience and serve your customers just like in the restaurant business.
LOWER INVESTMENT COSTS, FEWER BARRIERS TO ENTRY
The simpler business model and generally lower buildout costs means a lower cost of entry to get started as a franchise owner in the fitness space. Restaurant franchises comparatively are more expensive, which has helped contribute to the restaurant sector being dominated by highly capitalized ownership groups. There is naturally more flexibility in fitness because small business owners can afford entry and the business model can be attractive for both mid-size and large multi-unit groups.
MORE STABILITY, LESS DISRUPTION
If you look at the restaurant industry, there are some serious disruptions that have emerged that can rapidly erode profits without major changes to the business model. These include third-party delivery services and rising minimum wage laws...