Business Owner Spotlight - Fitstop Cairns (Opening Record!)
Josephine and Braydon, the proud owners of Fitstop Cairns, are an absolute force to be reckoned with. If packing up their entire lives in Melbourne and moving to Cairns to open their own Fitstop wasn’t enough, they absolutely smashed records as Fitstop’s strongest opening yet! So, it’s safe to say with their community of over 300 Fitstoppers (and counting), getting used to the lifestyle change and nurturing their newfound business - they’re well ahead of the game and have achieved goals they never dreamed of.
We hope you take a thing or two away from this incredibly powerful and insightful duo - who knows, maybe you’ll be the one to smash their record? Well, with their sights already set on their second Fitstop location (something they secured prior to opening their first location), we’ve got a feeling they’ll continue to chase some seriously impressive results!
1. Outside of owning your own Fitstop, what is your background?
I (Braydon) have been in software sales for 12 years working as an Account Executive managing B2B sales engagements to procure software solutions to solve business challenges. Josephine was working in the real estate industry for the past few years working in both sales and property management for real estate agencies and also builders.
2. How did your journey with Fitstop begin?
We had been exploring the possibility of buying into a gym franchise for a couple of years as health and fitness is a passion for both of us. We had progressed quite far down the road with another franchise when we came across Fitstop. We did a lot of research and then met with a Melbourne based franchisee Mark (a legend) for an extremely pleasant initial conversation. From there we quickly realised that Fitstop held a lot of our values and we loved the training methodology which is an ideal mix of strength and cardio, and the company culture was very open and inclusive. Jo started training there regularly and I watched from the sidelines with jealousy whilst recovering from hip surgery! It just felt right to us and we knew this was a business that we could do well in and also feel passionate about.
3. What inspired you to move from Melbourne and bring Fitstop to life in the beautiful Cairns, Queensland?
When I hit the 5 year anniversary of moving to Melbourne I decided that within the next 5 years I wanted to move somewhere new and at the time I was thinking Brisbane. Jo and I were a new couple at that point but it was something we increasingly talked about and realised we were both very open to it and regularly discussed where we might move to next. We loved going for holidays in Cairns and thought it would be a really wonderful place to live but never thought it would be possible due to the remoteness. My software sales job was dependent on me being in one of the big cities (pre-covid). So it was like a "one day we might" type dream. After we decided we wanted to open a Fitstop we realised that there were no Fitstops in Cairns and we could actually be the first to open there. We went back and forth on this for 3-4 months changing our mind from Cairns back to Melbourne, almost signing a lease in Melbourne, and then deciding to back ourselves, be brave, and chase a dream.
Bec was extremely patient and supportive during this time. There was no pushiness or high pressure sales tactics. She was genuine and wanted to support us in making the decision that was right for us - just another reason why Fitstop felt so right.
4. What has your key focus been as you enter your first couple of months of operation and welcoming your community?
Member experience is number 1. We have prioritised this from day 1 and we want to be constantly improving in everything we do. We want members to feel great when they come to Fitstop Cairns. We want this to be the highlight of their day, so, we have been big on encouraging member feedback and providing transparency around decision making so that members know that they actually have a say into how this community is managed and where we should improve. After this our biggest focus is building the right team which will take some time and mastering all the brilliant basics of operational excellence.
5. Are there certain things you can pinpoint as contributing to your huge, record-breaking opening success?
Firstly, I think the Fitstop brand has now established a very strong presence in the market and the overwhelming perception that people have is very positive. They did a brilliant job in increasing local awareness via social online channels ensuring we had a lot of leads coming through. Jo and I worked hard to build our local social network quickly so that we could get the word out joining a local running group and meeting with different business owners. We also had a feature in the local newspaper. I think the market in Cairns was ready for disruption with a fitness product that sits in the goldilocks zone between extreme training like crossfit with significant amounts of heavy lifting and the lighter, easier group fitness offerings which are heavily cardio based.
Jo and I had a goal to open with 300 members and with our combined sales experience we knew how to effectively capitalise on the opportunity and close as many leads as possible. Our plan was that one person (me) would be responsible for absolutely everything related to opening the gym i.e. contracts, fit out, interviews, finances and payments etc which would then free up the other person (Jo) to be entirely dedicated to calling all leads. She aimed to call leads within 5 minutes of them coming through as well and spent all day every day for weeks entirely focussed on calling and signing leads and managing the instagram account. Our plan certainly worked because we opened with 304 members and it’s because we capitalised on the immense opportunity that presented itself.
6. How have you found the pre-opening support from Fitstop?
Fitstop has been a very supportive company to work with. From our very first interaction we found people to be very approachable and willing to help. There are plenty of resources provided by Fitstop to make the process of opening a fitness business considerably easier than if you were to do it on your own including a step by step opening guide, weekly calls with the head office team, and leasing assistance. Fitstop is so committed to constant improvement which aligns perfectly with our values.
7. What has been the biggest thing you’ve learnt about yourself in the process of opening your own Fitstop?
Jo and I have learned that we are a great team and work really well together formulating a plan, dividing tasks based on our skills sets and then conquering those tasks and revising afterwards to figure out our next move. This was certainly a key ingredient to our successful opening - we leveraged our strengths and worked together on a plan. We have also learned to deal with stress and work well under pressure and to stay calm when things don't go to plan which is an important life skill to have!
8. What are you most excited about as you enter this new stage of Fitstop business ownership?
We are extremely excited about moving into a new line of work which is something we are truly passionate about. We are excited about owning and running our own businesses and creating our own path forward. We are excited about meeting so many new people in our community and constantly working on creating a community that is wonderful to be part of. We are excited about where the Fitstop brand is going and how it will keep improving and adapting. Finally, we are excited about growing with Fitstop and opening additional franchises having recently signed on for our second territory.
9. What is your biggest piece of advice for someone looking to open their own Fitstop?
To do well in this business you need to be actively involved getting to know members and leading from the front and clearly showing genuine passion and belief in what Fitstop is working to achieve and that is changing lives through health, fitness, and community. Be willing to step well outside of your comfort zone because you will very likely have to in numerous ways whether it's cold calling leads, reaching out to other businesses to establish B2B partnerships, spending more money than you've ever spent before (to open the location), pushing yourself to be more friendly and open so that you get to know members, public speaking at bootcamps and open day etc. There will be many things that aren't natural or comfortable for many people so you need to be prepared to be brave and allow for personal growth and transformation. And I'll add that it is all totally worth it!
To find out more about fitstop franchising, download your free information pack at fitstop.com/franchise!