Can the model be franchised? Are your margins large enough such that a franchisee will be able to make a profit AND pay your franchise fees?
If you go down the franchise route, you will be changing the nature of your business from being a gym operator to being a franchisor, or seller of business systems.
Do you have your systems perfected to the point where someone will pay for them?
Do you have the resources to start supporting the needs of franchisees? What kinds of needs will they have? Coaching, support, etc. They will be expecting innovation in marketing and product delivery from you.
Are you prepared to sell off your existing locations as franchises and focus solely on this new business model for yourself?
In 2007 I owned a small business with a partner and faced the same question you are now. In the end we decided to sell our operating company and sell the IP within our systems in a 'do it yourself business kit.' It's worked brilliantly because we required no further investment but get a cash flow from the materials.
If you'd like an idea of how to format an attractive franchise opportunity. I recommend my recent book Franchise Warnings. Available from Amazon.
I've worked with a number of businesses that expanded into a few locations, and then felt that it was time to create a franchise. Using a franchising model as a vehicle to growth is often enticing. The owner should think about end goals, and whether a franchise can actually fulfill them. Take the time to assess the energy it takes to establish a franchise, and then ask whether once transformed into a franchise the business, and owner will still thrive.
Some initial questions to ask:
1) Is my business attractive enough to actually "sell", as a franchise.
1a.) Are you ready to standardize the business model (operations, products, etc.), and after that transformation, will it still be differentiated enough to be attractive?
2) Are you ready to step away from the day to day business operations to dedicate your energy into launching and managing the franchise? (often the diversion of efforts can be very taxing on the existing business).
2a.) Do you want to be in the business of running the kind of specific operation you have, or selling and managing franchises, which is often a switch owners don't consider (and later regret because they really enjoyed the hands-on day to day experience of the way it used to be).
3) What are the advantages/disadvantages of a franchise vs. the alternatives (i.e. partnerships, etc.) ?
4) What are your ultimate goals, and how exactly will franchising accomplish them?
How do you currently run your 6 locations and maintain 100% secure that things are done properly? Those same procedures need to apply for a partnership. Personally I would not look for a franchise as it might be too heavy to run, but a partnership with the right chain might be helpful.
However it starts with the win-win question: what is it that you have to offer to your partner and what has your potential partner to offer to you that creates a win-win for both of you? Answer that question and every partnership conversation will become easier.
How things are done is part of the ongoing discussion and can be secured in a contract. As part of the partnership you can decide to license out your intellectual property or way of working that makes your gym unique.
Possibly. I would need to know a lot more to give you a better answer.
Some things to think about:
1. Have you created an operations manual?
After opening several locations-you should have a good idea on what the processes are from beginning to end regarding choosing a location, building it out, and getting everything in place for the Grand Opening.
2. Do you have the funding to do this?
Don't fall for the, "You only need a franchise attorney to write up your franchise documents" type of advice. You need it all. Legal, marketing, operating manuals, software, new franchise sales processes...and that's only the tip of the iceberg.
3. Are you ready for your role to change almost 100%/
You will be doing mostly different stuff if you become a franchisor. You won't be involved in the day to day things as much. You are going to be selling and supporting franchises. Big stuff.
If your concept is different-I mean REALLY different, and you have the time and the money, you may have a shot at creating a great franchise.
The Franchise King®
It's perhaps a good question but there are other more important questions only you can answer. Where is your business going under your ownership? Is there something that makes it unique that will attract more customers and be attractive to a partner or franchisee? Have you done cost and time analyses? What does your business plan suggest? What help would you need to get to the next level and what would that cost? And many more questions. Now...where do you want to go?
First, congratulations on developing your business to the current size - you should be proud of your accomplishment(s).
I have a # of questions for you before I provide my input.
- how long have you been operating?
- to get to 6 units - how long between expansion - opening new units?
- is the profit margin consistent between the 6 units?
- what did you use for your site selection?
- do you have solid systems/processes in place (sales/marketing/operations/recruitment/training/support/accounting)?
Service concepts are the most easy to franchise. Even if you are not the first to market with your concept - you can still create a successful company. I have founded 2 different franchise systems - and helped other clients launch their franchise models. I have been a franchisee, Master Franchise, Area Developer and Franchisor (35 years in franchising).
To be successful - you need to have solid "systems/processes". You cannot be fixing the airplane while you are flying it. Before going down the road of franchising - have you run the #'s (growth plans) - as to where you feel you can be in 3/5/7 years? Have you considered how you will bring on new prospective franchisees (broker vs non-broker).
Have you registered your mark? Have you thought of developing your Operations manuals - and what the training program would look like>
Are you prepared to become and "Administration" business? Once you start adding units - you will start to distance yourself from the core business?
Have you developed the "Vivid Vision" - what does your current (non-franchised) business look like in 3 years? Adding more units? Have you done a SWOT Analysis - looking at areas to capitalize on, shore up, invest in and how to handle threats to your brand?
Feel free to reach out to me - I would enjoy speaking to you about your concept and answer any follow-up questions you may have. Business # is 770.448.1616 or visit my website at: www.nextstepssystems.com