As the economy starts to turn around, there’s been lots of talk about whether consumers will ever go back to spending the way they used to. Certainly, many people have grown used to spending less and have found lower-cost ways to do things they used to do. And even if some consumers start spending freely, others are likely to stick to their cost-cutting ways. Smart franchisors won’t fight against this trend, but will figure out how they can take advantage of it to develop new products, new services and even new franchise concepts.
Consider Koko FitClub, a new franchise company recently spotlighted by the Boston Globe. At a time when more Americans are turning their backs on costly fitness clubs and seeking lower-cost options, the Rockland, Massachusetts-based company is offering just that with a virtual personal trainer.
Members of Koko’s nine locations plug a USB device that stores their information into the Smarttrainer workout machines. The machine greets them with a customized workout; a personal trainer’s recorded voice coaches them through the steps as they follow along on the LCD screen to make sure they’re working at the right pace.
Koko’s goal is to capture customers who don’t want to spend $50 an hour on a personal trainer but are willing to spend $59 a month on a personalized workout. The company offers a middle ground between joining a full-scale gym and doing a workout completely on your own using a tool like Nintendo’s Wii Fit.
Koko’s isn’t the only fitness franchise taking advantage of this trend. There are also do-it yourself gyms like Anytime Fitness, where members can access a gym 24 hours and work out on their own (no staff), and Get in Shape for Women, where women work out with personal trainers in a group to cut the cost of each session. But I think Koko is pretty smart — it’s combining Americans’ love of video games, their desire to get in shape and their need to conserve cash. So far, Koko has sold 90 franchises.
If you’re considering franchising your business — or looking for a franchise to buy — do as the founders of Koko did and look at the current trends in your industry and how they’re likely to play out. What are consumers in your space already doing or buying? Are they likely to continue, or are their behaviors likely to change? Can you offer them a faster, easier, cheaper or simpler option to what they’re currently purchasing?
Every successful franchise has succeeded by offering consumers something they need and doing it differently from — and better than — the competition. Ask yourself how your franchise can do the same, and you’ll have the makings of your own success.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva on Twitter at Twitter.com/Rieva. Visit SmallBizDaily.com to read more of Rieva’s insights on small business and to buy her newest book, Marketing 101: Quick Tips for Marketing Your Business.