Franchise Success! Interview with Kellen Lake – Owner of Just You Fitness in Winston-Salem

Kellen Lake

Just You Fitness’s home-based personal training franchise is continuing to grow and change lives. Their unique business model gives fitness professionals the ability to run a personal training studio from their own home. Clients are attracted to their non-intimidating, private atmosphere. Their new franchise concept has grown from 1 to 4 locations in the last 13 months and continues to help more and more people reach their health and fitness goals.

Franchisee Kellen Lake shares why he chose Just You Fitness and offers advice for entrepreneurs looking to open a franchise.

HBM: Share your background. Did you have a previous career before becoming a franchisee?

Lake: “Well, I have a unique and crazy story. I will try to keep this brief, fingers crossed. I had a couple different careers and my background is really unique.

When I graduated from college I moved to South Korea where I taught English for a year. Upon leaving Korea, I decided I wanted to be in the military so I attended Officer Candidate School with Marines (best worst experience of my life) and later Officer Development School with the Navy to be a Chaplain.

My wife and I were not super excited about my career prospects in the Navy and what that meant for our family. As such, I started looking for teaching jobs. I was hired at The North Carolina Leadership Academy as a PE teacher and strength and conditioning coach. Five short months later, I was approached to be the Assistant Principal and Athletic Director. I accepted and I held those positions for three and a half years.

About two years in, I knew this wasn’t a career that I wanted to keep doing. The money was good, but the lifestyle and the hours were terrible for me personally. It was about at this time I saw an advertisement for Just You Fitness.”

HBM: What inspired you to join Just You Fitness as a franchise owner?

Lake: “I became inspired to join Just You Fitness as a franchise owner because of JP Zengerle, the founder of Just You Fitness. I did some research and talked to JP,  it seemed like it was a great opportunity for me, it seemed to really play to my strengths as well as allow me the flexibility to set my schedule and earn what I was truly worth.  Plus, JP was super honest and upfront about everything. Maybe even too honest lol, but that was one of the primary reasons I ended up signing on. My wife and I drove down to see JP’s Private Personal Training Studio and I knew it was for me. So, after about a year of planning and saving, I became a Just You Fitness Franchisee.”

HBM: What are the biggest factors that have contributed to your early success?

Lake: “There are a few things that have allowed me to be so successful so early with Just You Fitness.

The first is, Just You Fitness Search Engine Optimization system (SEO). Within 3 month of joining, I was ranked on the first page of Google. As a direct result of being ranked in the top of Google, I now have 5 clients, which equals about $2,500.00 monthly. The real awesome part of this system is it required absolutely zero from me.

The second is, I have awesome clients that love to write reviews on Google and Facebook. These reviews show their friends and others that I am liked and trusted. As you know, private personal training is a big financial investment. So if you have 15 to 20 reviews stating that the investment is more than worth it, it helps immensely.

The third is, personality, charisma, and empathy. I don’t care what anyone says, you need to be personal, you need to have charisma to inspire people, and you must be empathic so that your clients know you care. As a personal trainer you need to be a counsel, confidant, and cheerleader. Those are skills that you can develop (to a point), but I was blessed with lots of opportunities, education, and have an innate God given desire to help, care, and inspire others. My clients often refer to me as a drug; they have to see me to get their fix.”

HBM: What are some of the benefits of being a Just You Fitness franchise owner?

Lake: “There are a number of benefits of being a Just You Fitness franchise owner that heavily influenced my decision.

I am able to work from home, doing what I love, helping people. I found this model both unique and revolutionary, with the added bonus of being a proven concept thanks to JP’s hard work. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the low startup cost. For the cost of buying a car, I got the opportunity to have my dream life! I almost feel like Cinderella, lol…minus the dress. The business support JP offers is also great! He has hired experienced experts in Marketing, Business, Technology, etc to make sure you are successful.”

Kellen Lake

HBM: What makes Just You Fitness stand out from competitors?

Lake: “When I was looking into different fitness franchises (Fit Body Boot Camp, 9 Round, Gym Guyz, and several others) there were several things that made Just You Fitness stand out.The low, and I mean low cost of starting up verse these competitors, like I said earlier, for the cost of buying a car I became a business owner! Next to no overhead! It still amazes me that my only overhead is my house mortgage, which I would have to pay regardless. Another thing that really made my decision easier was the royalty structure of Just You Fitness verses its competitors. It’s currently a flat rate of $349.00 a month, which is only about 3% of my gross income. Every other franchise listed above was going to cost me at least double that.

Looking back over the last 5 months since I opened, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. My current gross income is just over $6,000 a month, which is about three times as much as I made as a teacher, and twice as much as I made as an Assistant Principal and Athletic Director. My best month ever was just over $8,000.00. I am projected to do over $10,000.00 in January…crazy. Never would have believed it, expect I am living it. Plus, my life is way better and I absolutely love what I’m doing.

I get to be a Personal Trainer, which I thought was a pipe dream. I get to work at home, which I also thought was pipe dream. I am working way less than ever before; maybe 25 hours a week and I have more money and time than ever before. I feel extremely blessed.”

HBM: Do you have advice for entrepreneurs looking to break into the franchise industry?

Lake: “If you are an inspiring entrepreneur and are looking to break into the franchise industry I would suggest you do the following.

1. Talk to the owner! Yes, you will need to talk to their sales people at first, but once you get serious, I strongly suggest you talk to the owner and make sure she or he is someone you can work with and more importantly trust.

2. Visit the nearest location and talk with a franchisee, or at least call a franchisee. You need to discover what a day in the life really looks like. That is why Beth and I drove down and spent a day at JP’s Studio. Shoot, if you are interested in Just You Fitness contact me Kellen@justyoufitness.com , I would love to help you out.

3. Ask tons of questions! This is a HUGE step. Ask any and all questions. This was my “short” list of questions. I have another three pages if you are interested.

How long have you been in business? What did you do before becoming a franchise owner?

a. How is the service or product the franchise offers?
b. What’s a typical day like as a franchisee?
c. What’s different about your day as an owner once you’re established?
d. How many hours a day and week do you work? Is it the same once established and are you able to feel comfortable that the business runs while you’re away?
e. What’s the best part of owning this franchise?
f. What’s the most difficult part of owning this type of franchise?
g. How long did it take for the business to break even? (also verify if this included taking a personal salary)
h. What should a franchisee expect to do in revenue on average 1 year, 3 years and 5 years into the business?
i. What are the profit margins for the business after 3 years? (I encourage you not to be afraid to ask these questions. Remember they also were in your shoes and also had the same questions.  You’ll never get an answer to the question never asked.)
j. What should I expect to spend to get the business open? Are the franchisors’ projected start-up costs accurate?
k. What would you say are the 2 common issues franchisees have regarding this type of franchise?
l. How was training by the franchise? We’re you prepared day one to open for business? What’s the follow up training like and support?
m. What didn’t you learn in training from the franchise that you had to learn yourself?
n. What is the franchise support like?
o. How is the franchisor to work with when you have problems specific to your franchise or need support?
p. Are there any expenses you weren’t aware of when opening? Have the franchise royalties and any other expenses stayed consistent or do they continually go up?
q. How much do you spend on advertising and marketing? Does the franchise drive much business from branded advertising?
r. Would you personally buy the franchise again or would you consider another option? Why?
s. Would you recommend I purchase the franchise or consider a different type of business after speaking with me? Any parting advice before we hang up?

4. Make a decision! Once you have the information, do something! Either buy, or move on. The biggest lesson I learned at Officer Candidate School was not making a decision was a decision. Don’t let fear paralyze you!

Ironically, fear was the biggest hurdle I had to overcome. However, once I met JP and experienced his studio, I knew this was for me. Another hurdle, which really wasn’t a hurdle, was coming up with the initial low investment. But even then, JP had connections.

All the above being said, I am so happy I chose Just You Fitness and as I always tell my clients…Go be awesome!”

To learn more about becoming a Just You Fitness franchisee, visit justyoufitness.com.

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