By Jordan Whitehouse
Back in the mid-2000s, Leigh and Tim Ostiguy were working in Alberta’s oil fields, and life was, as Leigh puts it, “really overwhelming.” The couple’s jobs were becoming ever-more stressful; Tim’s sometimes kepthim away from home for weeks at a time. With a blended family of eight active kids, it’s not surprising that they wanted a change. “We knew that we wanted to be entrepreneurs and that we wanted to pursue something in the health industry, but we weren’t sure what it would be,” says Leigh.
After a rigorous search, they eventually found Snap Fitness, a fitness franchise that was approaching more than 1,000 gyms worldwide at the time. “For us, the concept seemed exactly what we were looking for, because the process in becoming an owner was so simple, it made sense to us,” says Leigh. “Plus, they already had many successful franchises, they had a proven track record, so we realized this business is working.”
Leigh and Tim opened their first Snap Fitness in Sylvan Lake, Alberta, in January 2009, followed by their second that spring in nearby Lacombe, and eventually two more in Red Deer. When theylaunched their first clubs, they had about 300 to 400 members per club. Seven years and two more clubs later – including the Sylvan Lake location that recently grew from 3,000 square feet to more than 5,000 – they have more than 2,100 memberships and 2,700 members at the four locations.
Snap Fitness offers no-frills gyms with great customer service in clean, 24/7 facilities close to home. There are now about 2,000 locations built or in development in more than 18 countries, including 86 gyms in Canada’s four western provinces and Ontario.
A huge part of Snap Fitness’s success has been its process for new franchisees, which Leigh Ostiguy says is “simple, streamlined, and not stressful at all.”
Once a new franchisee is on board, a streamlined plan is put in motion that walks them through the entire process, from the day they sign the agreement to the day they open the club. And right with them is an individually-assigned concierge (aka “Brand Performance Specialist”) whose job it is to support them and move them through the process.
It certainly worked for Leigh and Tim Ostiguy. “They helped with everything, from securing the location to setting up funding,” says Leigh. “They also had all of their vendors in place, so the decisions were simplified, and it was low stress because it was like, ‘Here is what you need to do, and here’s how you make the decisions.’ They really do have turn-key systems in place.”
By the way, that concierge – for the Ostiguys, a man named Marc – doesn’t leave them high and dry once the club doors are open. “He’s our go-to-guy, and we can connect with him on a daily basis to get anything we need,” says Leigh. “He’ll point us in the right direction to help get us the right answer, whether it’s IT or marketing or whatever.”
Those stressful, unsatisfying days in Alberta’s oil fields are long behind them. “Snap Fitness changed my family’s life, it really did,” says Leigh. “Not only has ownership allowed my husband and me to spend more time at home with our family, but it’s allowed me to live a healthier lifestyle, as well, and make a difference in people’s lives. And that’s probably the most important part: it’s just very positive and uplifting to be part of the health industry.”
Adapted from the July/August 2016 issue of FranchiseCanada. Check out the current issue of FranchiseCanada, on newsstands now, or you can order your subscription by calling 1-800-665-4232 ext. 224.