Ben Midgley is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Crunch Franchise. Since 2010, he has led the creation and development of Crunch Franchise into the fastest launch of any full size franchise in the history of the fitness industry. Ben previously held the position of Executive Vice President at Planet Fitness where he modified all aspects of franchise sales and development including improving franchise unit sales by 150% of total network volume and accelerated openings by 70%. Previous to this, he was the Senior Director of Corporate Sales for 24 Hour Fitness where he oversaw a department with $120 million in annual revenue, 40 Corporate Sales Managers and 5,000 corporate accounts. Ben is also the co-author of Golden Circle Secrets, which was the #1 Sales Management and #1 Customer Service book on Amazon.com. He has been an international presenter in the fitness Industry, a member of the IHRSA Institute Faculty, and is a regular contributor to industry publications.Please answer the following questions:
1. Tell us about the Crunch Fitness concept. Crunch Franchise is the most competitive and progressive model in the fitness industry. It encompasses all of the most attractive features that health conscious consumers are looking for, without adding extras that the majority of members don’t frequently use and elevates the expense of the membership. Our clubs include the latest in fitness equipment, a full schedule of proprietary group fitness classes, functional training areas with custom designed equipment, expert personal trainers, tanning booths, hydro massage beds, and child care (at participating locations) – all in a fun and entertaining environment rooted in our original philosophy of No Judgments and all for $9.95 - $19.95 a month.
2. How and when did you become involved with Crunch Fitness?. Crunch has been a long standing brand in the fitness industry for over 25 years now. The brand originated in New York and expanded to other metropolitan markets, namely Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco. About 5 years ago, I was asked if I would be interested in creating a franchise company with the Crunch brand. I whole-heartedly agreed as I had known of Crunch for many years and knew that the strength of the brand would be a great asset in starting the franchise company. So we launched the business but in a separate segment of the industry – the high value / low price segment – which is the fastest growing aspect of the fitness industry.
3. What was your background prior to joining Crunch Fitness? I have been in the fitness industry for 25 years. I began my career cleaning machines at a Gold’s Gym in Santa Barbara and worked my way up through club and management positions within the industry including President and CEO of the top two franchises in the industry.
4. What are some of the advantages in being a Crunch Fitness franchisee? I would say the biggest advantage to being a franchisee in our network is that you are joining a very tight knit group of comparatively very few franchisees compared to other brands. Our motto is ‘stay small to grow big.” We intentionally limit our number of franchisee partners and focus on multi unit ownership. Our average franchisee owns 10 units. This allows us to maintain very close relationships with all of our owners and have regular detailed interaction with what is going on at the store level.
5. Who is your ideal franchisee? Someone who is committed to a great customer service experience for every member that walks in their door. Someone who loves the positive effect fitness can have on someone’s life and of course someone who has as much passion for the business as we do.
6. Tell us a little about the fitness Market? The fitness industry is dynamic, fun and HUGE! We are a $28 billion dollar industry just in the U.S. Only about 15-17% of all Americans have a health club membership served by roughly 25,000 health & fitness studios. Compare that to the fast food industry where there are over 300,000 restaurants serving the same amount of consumers. Our industry is very fun, you never need to wear a suit and your customers are always happier when they leave the club after some good exercise. On top of that the industry is always evolving – new fun and engaging activities are always coming around and Crunch stays on the forefront of all the hottest trends.
7. What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise? Providing great support and brand protection while responding to what your franchisees tell you they need. It is an important balance as the franchisor needs to have a strongly defined model and maintain tough brand standards (as that benefits everyone) yet you need to respond to regional differences in the market and franchisee needs all at the same time. This falls back on our “stay smaller to grow bigger” philosophy. By doing this it is so much easier for us to reach out to franchisees and regularly hear what they need to grow and be successful.
8. Do you have a mentor and is there someone you use for inspiration? I have many mentors in business and in life. Far too many to mention but needless to say, no one grows up and does it all alone. Hopefully I can provide the same sort of support to the next generation that was afforded to me through the generosity of my mentors.
9. What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise? Take your time in deciding. Make sure you have a passion for the industry you choose. And meet the CEO & Executive Team before you buy. I don’t care how big the franchise company is – if the CEO & Executive Team are too busy to meet with a new franchisee, then you know what to expect.
10. In your opinion, why do you think that Crunch Fitness would be a great opportunity for someone? All of the above and we are working on improving everything we can every day.