Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email email@example.com.
Lauren Fike loved many aspects of her job in commercial real estate. However, while Fike enjoyed the challenges of her work and the relationships she built, she felt her life was out of balance. She needed a career that inspired as much passion as her love for health and fitness – and didn't force her to work seven days a week. For Fike, Pure Barre is just that. Here's what she's learned as a franchisee.
Name: Lauren Fike
Franchise owned: Pure Barre in San Francisco
How long have you owned a franchise?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. However, buying into a franchise provided me with the necessary back-end support and infrastructure while allowing me to operate on an individual level. As a young girl, watching my father start his company inspired me to do the same. He had a work hard, play hard mentality that I respected. Most importantly, he always made time for his family. He truly loved what he did; he helped people and their companies. I saw his passion and knew that I wanted to own my own business, doing something that I loved. Franchising allowed me to fulfill my dream of running my own company without the start-up risk and stress.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I was working in commercial real estate for a private equity group. While I loved the challenges, relationships, security and tangibility of the field, my life was out of balance. I was working seven days a week, had minimal time for family and friends, and, most importantly, knew that this career was something that wouldn’t continue to get me out of bed in the morning. I was hungry to find a career that could match my passion for health and fitness. Playing collegiate soccer as a Division 1 athlete sparked my interest in nutrition and fitness at a very important time in my life.
I knew that I wanted to help people; however, I wasn’t sure what career path to choose. Pure Barre was the answer. It paralleled all of the great aspects of commercial real estate that I loved (challenges, relationships, tangibility), but one thing has been different. I have been able to help people in their day-to-day lives feel healthier, stronger and more confident for the first time in my professional career.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I wanted to be a part of a brand with a respectable national reputation. I tried several other barre techniques before discovering Pure Barre. It was the first group exercise class I found that was low impact, upbeat, and delivered results that have transformed my body, as well as helping to grow my confidence. Those results and the sense of community I felt at Pure Barre acted as an internal catalyst to kick-start my lifelong dreams of owning my own business and sharing my personal Pure Barre experience with the rest of San Francisco.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
I spent around $200,000 ($44,000 franchise fee, $143,000 leasehold improvements, fixtures, equipment, and $9,000 attorney, brokerage and architect fees).
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I received fantastic advice from other Pure Barre owner/operators. There is a strong community of owners who all work together and support each other with the same goal of spreading the Pure Barre experience across the United States. My father provided me the inspiration to be a business owner, as he’s owned his own company for the past 30 years. The biggest piece of advice he gave me was “to always treat your employees with the utmost respect, take care of their needs, and in return you’ll receive their loyalty.” In 30 years, not a single person has left his company.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
The most unexpected challenge was finding a team of teachers and front desk staff that shared the same passion and vision that I did. Once I found people that had the passion, I also had to find the personalities that would mesh together to make a great team. If you have one rotten apple the whole bunch becomes spoiled, so finding positive attitudes and people that had a strong desire to be at the studio was key. After nine months in business, our core team is still together.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
You are only as strong as your weakest employee. Hire slowly and be patient. The franchise gives you all the tools to run a successful business; however, it’s how you implement them that separates an average owner from a great one.
What’s next for you and your business?
I plan to grow my community of Pure Barre members in West Portal and open a second location in San Francisco.