USA born fitness franchise Snap Fitness has taken a global approach since it first started franchising in 2004. Breaking into over 25 markets, and opening over 2000 clubs, it’s clear Snap Fitness have perfected their international franchise formula.
We speak to CEO of Snap Fitness UK & Ireland, Isaac Bunchanan, on how they have managed to successfully settle down in the UK, and what their experience has been when adapting to the UK market.
Can you give us a brief history into Snap Fitness and its journey into the UK?
Snap Fitness UK didn’t really get started until late 2015. Our ownership group is Australian, so we had identified the potential of the brand from knowing its success over there first. We spent a significant amount of time analysing and researching the potential differences and barriers in the UK, before opening our first test club in late 2015. As well as being a 24 hour gym, our aim was to promote an early focus on group fitness and functional training, whilst also putting a large focus on free weight training, which we are known for in Australia.
The time we spent in 2015 tailoring the offering to the UK market paid off and early club results were fantastic. In 2016 we signed our first group of franchisees and opened 15 clubs, the rest as they say is history.
Have there been any particularly challenging experiences when adapting Snap Fitness to the UK market? Have there been any compromises?
Snap Fitness is a convivence model. Our focus is to be located close to where you live or work, with smaller training environments (average 6,500sf) and with less total members. This means our members get more touch points with fitness professionals, have fewer people in the gym to compete with and more space to get their workout done.
The UK market has become used to big box budget gyms and it is an ongoing challenge to get the market to understand that even though we are smaller in size, we are just as well equipped, if not more so than some of our competitors. Consumers assume big clubs offer a bigger range of equipment and will therefore be able to get a better workout in, but in reality it’s often the opposite with budget gyms having 5,000 plus members vs our 1,300.
Snap Fitness clubs have some of the largest variety of equipment available and you aren’t fighting thousands of people to use it.
What markets do you think may be particularly hard for Snap Fitness to crack and why?
I think the European market as a whole is a challenge to tackle. The language barrier is one thing but competition for leasehold space is fierce and in older cities, the cost of bringing the units up to a Snap Fitness standard can be expensive and puts pressure on the model.
Snap Fitness is present in over 25 countries, how does Snap ensure their values and brand is maintained and upheld?
Being a franchise, the culture of each country is really down to the Master Franchise that operates the region. Snap Fitness is lucky to have amazing franchise and master franchise partners that take the ethos of Snap Fitness around the world. We meet regularly to learn from each other’s markets and take back to our regions what we think can add value to the business and our members.
The bfa will be connecting the biggest brands in franchising, franchisee entrepreneurs and international franchising experts with the flagship event, Superbrand.
Taking place on May 13th at the iconic Institute of Engineering & Technology in London, Superbrand will contain a number of keynote speakers and breakout zones designed to accelerate your global aspirations and arm you with the advice and guidance to make this a reality. Visit: https://www.thebfa.org/events/superbrand/ for information.