Franchise or Independent Business: Which Is Best for You?

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May 24, 2021
how to start a fitness franchise

One of the most tempting reasons to pursue business ownership is to have the chance be your own boss. In fact, 26% of entrepreneurs say their biggest motivation for starting their own business was the idea of being their own boss, while 23% wanted to pursue their passion.  Many of our own franchisees were eager to learn how to start a fitness business to accomplish both of these goals.

2018 study from Vistaprint found, however, that the top five barriers to starting a business are financial concerns, lack of access to funding/finance, fear of failure, high level of stress and lack of confidence. Business ownership isn’t suited for everyone, but the stability, flexibility and opportunities that come with taking complete ownership of your career can be exhilarating. 

Luckily, franchising is a wonderful option for aspiring business owners who don’t want to go it alone. It doesn’t have to be daunting – and here’s why. 

5 Key Benefits of a Franchise vs. Your Own Business (Sole Proprietorship)

Proven processes and systems 

A major difference between a franchise vs. sole proprietorship is that franchising gives you access to reliable business systems. There are franchises out there built on years, even decades, of success due to the established systems, management training and operating principles in place. While starting your own business can be an exciting adventure, it doesn’t come with a roadmap or proven operations playbook that you can typically expect from an established franchise.

Dedicated training and support

One of the biggest advantages of franchising over independent business ownership is the training and support you’re met with as soon as you sign the dotted line. In some franchise networks, new franchisees can expect a training program and pre-opening, grand opening and ongoing support. But remember – not all opportunities are equal!

BODYBAR Pilates franchisees have a robust training and support program that shows them how to start a fitness business and includes a digital operations manual and training modules, site selection, staffing and comprehensive marketing support to help quickly establish and grow a business. Learn about our franchise opportunities here.

The backing of an experienced team

As we like to say in the franchising industry, you get to go into business for yourself, not by yourself! For those who are on the fence between buying a franchise or starting a business alone, this is often a tipping point toward the franchising option. 

When you invest in a franchise, you’re investing in a team that’s dedicated to ensuring your success. At BODYBAR, for example, you get access to a seasoned franchise executive team with deep expertise in how to start a fitness business and developing multiple global fitness franchise brands. And, we have skin in the game – BODYBAR CEO Matt McCollum and COO Kamille McCollum own three BODYBAR studios!

Flexible ownership 

Depending on the nature of the business and industry, there are plenty of franchise ownership opportunities out there that are built to fit your lifestyle – or support the life you want to lead. 

At BODYBAR, for example, we offer owner/operator opportunities for those who desire to manage all operations, hire, train and lead team members and promote community involvement. Or, we also offer semi-absentee ownership opportunities for those who still desire to be involved in the community and build a local network, but want to employ a manager to oversee day-to-day operations. 

Strong financial opportunity

There are many sound financial reasons to choose franchising vs. owning alone. Starting your own business can cost a lot of time, stress and unknown funds in order to launch, build a customer base and establish your brand. A franchise, on the other hand, comes with set startup costs, proven processes to get you up and running, and brand recognition. These advantages will help you bypass many of the obstacles and guesswork that new business owners can face right out of the gate. 

While there are expenses that franchise owners are generally responsible for, such as rent, utilities and staff expenses, these are all costs that you’ll have a clear picture of as you decide to become a franchise owner.

Of course, at the end of the day, nothing is more important than the bottom line. When it comes to revenue, franchise owners usually keep a significant percentage of the gross margin from every business transaction, and a smaller remainder goes to the franchisor. At BODYBAR, our system-average gross sales total is $566K*. Owner/operators can expect profitability within three to six months, with an anticipated return on total investment in less than three years. 

So, Should I Buy a Franchise or Start My Own Business?

There are pros and cons to both options. Pursue the opportunity that best fits your lifestyle and business goals. If you want less risk and more structure, franchising is likely a solid option. After all, the franchise success rate is about 8% higher than the independent business success rate over a two-year period. On the other hand, if you want full control of branding and product/service offerings, consider starting a business on your own. 

Interested in learning how to start a fitness business and becoming a BODYBAR Boss? Learn more about our Pilates franchise opportunities today.

* As of 2019 FDD