Uncovering the perfect spot: The power of a 10/10 franchise location

2022 saw the fifth consecutive year of declining high street vacancy rates, reaching 13.8% by year-end

Uncovering the perfect spot: The power of a 10/10 franchise location

2022 saw the fifth consecutive year of declining high street vacancy rates, reaching 13.8% by year-end*. As demand for prime locations intensifies, Bill Painter, Director of Development at Snap Fitness, insists on securing nothing less than a perfect 10/10 location.

“The foundation of a successful franchise business is choosing the right location from the outset. Our goal is to set our franchisees on the path to profitability, and a critical component of that is selecting the ideal site,” says Bill. “At Snap Fitness, we take the necessary time to find the perfect location, which demonstrates to our franchisees that we’re committed to their success – fulfilling our ‘One Team’ ethos.” In this article, Bill explains why brick-and-mortar franchisees should only consider launching in locations that earn top marks.

A thoughtful approach

Your franchisor should provide support in identifying the perfect location for your business. From the initial search to finalising the lease, it is crucial to take advantage of the expertise your franchise support team offers. A candid discussion about ‘could you open’ versus ‘should you open’ is essential during the early stages of location scouting.

Consider factors like your competitive advantage and practical elements, such as customer parking, to maximise your chances of long-term success. Selecting a franchise location is a thoughtful process that, based on our 20 years of experience, involves several steps we consistently follow while collaborating closely with franchisees.

The location of your franchise will likely be a significant aspect of your investment portfolio for years to come. That is why we take the property selection process so seriously. Your franchisor should encourage you to research any upcoming changes in the area to anticipate market fluctuations and incorporate them into your business planning.

Location, location, location

It is crucial to examine the local area of your franchise location to determine its accessibility to potential customers. For a 24-7 gym like Snap Fitness, retail parks with frequent multi-weekly use or locations near major stores like Tesco are ideal, as are those with access to high street or free parking.

However, we are always learning and have discovered that launching franchise locations in smaller towns often overlooked by larger chains can be successful. For example, our most successful club is on a bustling city high street with no parking access. Instead, we targeted the 110,000 people within a 7-minute walk of the club – it is all about tailoring your plan to the specific area.

As a franchise that depends on a growing membership base, we also consider local demographics and competitor analysis when reviewing locations. It is essential to be informed about areas already served by similar businesses and their customer satisfaction levels. Can you offer something new to the area? Is your unique selling proposition enough to help you stand out? Conduct thorough research on the local market and customer demographics before investing in a location.

Adaptability is key

A successful franchise model often embraces adaptability, allowing it to utilise various commercial spaces and create opportunities in markets ranging from small communities of 10,000 people to larger cities. Being flexible in your site requirements opens the door to more unique locations, such as renovated churches and warehouses. For instance, we are currently considering launching a club in a former art-deco cinema, prioritising unit-level economics over merely seeking the cheapest option. Unconventional buildings can work as long as you have done your homework, and partnering with a franchisor with the vision to adapt to sites that still make financial sense can be a rewarding business relationship.

Embracing adaptability can lead to exciting opportunities, so be open to evaluating unconventional or distinctive locations. Not only will this offer unique features not found in other franchises in your sector, but it also enables you to become more familiar with your chosen franchise model by leveraging its unique characteristics. It is essential that your franchisor can adapt to unusual floorplans – at Snap Fitness, we prefer large, open spaces, allowing our architects and equipment partners to design spacious gyms with distinctive layouts tailored to each location.

Ultimately, the primary challenge to our growth is finding that perfect 10/10 location. This search takes time, which can slow down expansion for our franchisees and the Snap Fitness brand. However, as the saying goes, slow and steady wins the race.

*Local Data Company, 2022, Fewer vacant stores by end of 2022.

Bill Painter
Bill Painter