When Neal Smith first joined the LA Weight Loss Centers franchise system, he intended to operate two centers in Birmingham, Alabama. While his customers were slimming down, business was bulking up. Four years later, Smith has a chain of 17 weight-loss centers and plans to open another 15 locations in the next year. "We've had more success than I ever dreamed of," says Smith, 47. "We decided to keep growing as long as it made sense. And it's still making sense."
On the marketing end, Smith's goal is to spread the word about LA Weight Loss Centers to its client base, primarily working mothers. "We try to reach the working woman wherever she is," he says.
These tactics seem to be working for Smith, who previously worked with another weight-loss system and owned discount stores. He projects sales of $15 million for 2003 and sees more growth on the horizon. "The market's there. Consumers want to be health-conscious-they just don't know how," he says. "We fill that niche."