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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
As veterans of the health industry, Jesse and Cori Reisch knew that they wanted to enter the fitness industry when they began looking into franchising. Opening a fitness franchise would allow the couple to help others while getting a crash course in entrepreneurship. Welcyon, Fitness After 50 brought something new to the fitness industry: a franchise geared to the needs of older people who might not feel comfortable in the average gym. Here's what Jesse and Cori have learned about entrepreneurship since opening their Welcyon location two years ago.
Name: Jesse and Cori Reisch
Franchise owned: Welcyon, Fitness After 50 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota
How long have you owned a franchise?
Since September 2012.
As aspiring entrepreneurs, we wanted to start a business with a proven track record and security, and franchising was the best option. Owning a franchise is based on an already existing business model that, in most cases, has worked successfully for other entrepreneurial individuals.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
After college, we both worked in the health industry, performing personal training and cardiac rehab. We left the health industry for independent sales positions, looking for more freedom and the ability to determine our own success. Immediately before becoming franchise owners, Jesse held a regional sales manager position, responsible for training and leading a team of agents. At that time, Cori was a full-time mom of our two young children.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
When we began our search for starting a new business, we knew we wanted to be in the fitness industry, coaching and leading people to healthier lifestyles. Our interest in Welcyon was reinforced after meeting with co-founders, Tom and Suzy Boerboom. Their emphasis on servant leadership and passion about Welcyon’s mission aligned with the values and mission we wanted to carry out in our own business. We could also tell they were going to truly care about our success.
Plus, let's face it, traditional gyms are often overcrowded, underserviced and overwhelming to older adults. We wanted to become part of something where people who are normally intimidated by gyms could feel comfortable and get an effective workout. Welcyon offers just that by including things like hands-on supervision, interactive user-friendly equipment and customized workouts in a welcoming environment. We knew that Welcyon's turn-key model could really be a game changer in the fitness industry. We were right.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
We estimate we made an investment of about $200,000 before we were officially open for business. Key items included build out, equipment, furniture and fixtures, grand opening marketing and working capital.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
Prior to becoming franchise owners, we worked closely with our local Small Business Administration (SBA) office and sought professional advice from our accountant and lawyer. The SBA was a tremendous help in preparing to approach the bank for financing, including creating the business plan and pro-forma. We also conducted independent online research and received notable guidance directly from Welcyon co-founders Tom and Suzy Boerboom.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Marketing is an integral dynamic in the success of any business. It has, however, also provided the most unexpected challenges. We underestimated the time, effort and process required to determine the best marketing source for our specific service in our specific area. Marketing requires a closely monitored balance of risk and reward. However, we are certainly not alone in figuring this out. We do get marketing support from the corporate office which helps to take the mystery and guesswork out of a lot of the process.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
It is important to possess great passion and belief in the service or product you offer. Passion leads to enthusiasm and it provides the meaning behind the work that at times, may engulf almost all of your time.
There will be obstacles. Remember your mission and never give up. Be persistent and you will achieve the success others dream about. Plan your work, and then work your plan. For us, our passion and enthusiasm are re-energized by the personal reward we get from the lives that we change. When the success stories walk through our front door every day, it helps remind us we are in this for more than just a balance sheet.
What's next for you and your business?
As a leader in the fitness industry at a fairly early stage, Welcyon has the potential for exciting growth! We look forward to expanding our locations and being a part of Welcyon's continued success.