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The Great Franchisee: Kate Kelleher, BeBalanced Hormone Weight Loss Centers, Pittsburgh

Kelleher climbed Mt. Everest without losing a pound. BeBalanced helped her realize why. Now, she’s a multi-unit franchisee with the fast-growing weight loss concept.

By Carson McQuillan1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSOREDUpdated 5:17PM 02/01/22

In 2016, Kate Kelleher trekked more than 150 miles to Mt. Everest’s base camp, and she did so without shedding a pound. That’s when she first realized that her weight was not tied exclusively to her diet and exercise habits. When she discovered BeBalanced Hormone Weight Loss Centers, she learned why. The 25-unit health and wellness franchise offers an innovative and effective approach to weight loss and overall health that targets and rectifies hormone imbalances through an all-natural and non-medical approach. 

Kelleher’s experience with the brand was so successful, she decided to invest. Now, Kelleher is a multi-unit franchisee with BeBalanced, operating three locations in the Greater Pittsburgh area.

1851 Franchise: Tell us your story – what did you do before franchising?

Kate Kelleher: I’m originally from Massachusetts and went to The University of Massachusetts Amherst where I received a BBA in finance. I  worked in corporate America for around 25 years. My career has spanned a variety of industries, including Medical Equipment, Financial Services and Education. With leadership positions in general management,  P&L ownership, program & product development, my passion lies in early-stage growth ventures. I have lived and worked in a number of states and overseas in Asia.   My husband’s position as an environmental engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon moved our family out to Pittsburgh around 20 years ago.

1851: How did you initially find out about franchising? 

Kelleher: When I first started looking into businesses I might want to own, I looked at small companies. I really wasn’t all that interested in franchising, to be honest. I researched about 20 different businesses but none really spoke to me until I looked into BeBalanced.

1851: Why did you choose franchising over starting your own business?

Kelleher: I’m a finance person by trait. I looked at the numbers and the failure rate for starting one’s own business is extremely high. About 80% of new businesses fail within the first five years of opening. However, when I looked into franchising, it was the exact opposite. 

There are thousands of good ideas out there, but the execution of those good ideas is what makes or breaks a business. The success rate of franchising is much higher than opening my own business, so it made sense for me to pursue buying into a franchise. 

1851: What types of brands did you look at?

Kelleher: Once I decided to pursue franchising, I started looking at the different types of franchises opportunities available, comparing them to a list of criteria a franchise brand needed to meet.  My criteria included a product that could make a difference in the local community, an early-stage growth opportunity, health/wellness focus, franchisor support and vision for the organization and I wanted to see a profit in year two. 

1851: Why did you choose BeBalanced?  What excited you most about the potential?

Kelleher: Like many women over the age of 40, I struggled with stubborn weight and menopausal symptoms despite working out intensely six days a week and carefully watching calories. In fact, with my husband and oldest daughter, I climbed to the base camp of Mt. Everest in 2016.  My Fitbit recorded 150 miles on that trek and I didn’t lose a pound. So frustrating. 

Intuitively, I knew something had to be off but wasn’t sure where to go. The foundation of BeBalanced is the fact that chronic stress can wreak havoc on hormones, which will then impact blood sugar and other key hormones. BeBalanced offers natural and holistic solutions that address key issues for women and educates them on how daily stressors can impact our hormone balance. I actually went on the program myself before purchasing the first of my three locations and not only have I lost 30 pounds since starting, but I’ve been sleeping better than I have in years, no longer need blood pressure medications and the hot flashes/night sweats are gone. I am not unique (75% of women experience menopausal symptoms) and I knew the success other women could see and therefore, knew this was a brand I could grow with.

I wanted to invest in a brand that made a difference. It needed to meet a need in the local community that was not previously serviced and that’s exactly what I found with BeBalanced. I like change and growth, and I wasn’t looking to just be a number to the brand. I spoke with other BeBalanced franchisees and they really believed in the product and program. BeBalanced is unique and speaks to a group of people that are usually told that “weight gain is something that happens as they get older” and/or “they need to learn to live with “inevitable” symptoms of aging” or worse still “the only answer is a prescription.” Throughout the medical, nutritional and fitness industries, addressing hormone balance naturally is a need that hasn’t been met and I’m thrilled to bring BeBalanced to my local community.

1851: What are your dreams with the business? What does the future look like?

Kelleher: My dream with the business is to help other women in the community feel healthier and happier with natural solutions to real problems. And making those solutions easily and readily accessible to the women we serve.  

Prior to the pandemic crisis, we locally had been expanding our operations to be available online for products and virtual appointments with support from our dedicated team.  We are currently operating at 60-70% of our client appointments being taken virtually. With the demands on most women, we are positioned well for flexibility and accessibility for the women we serve. 

Despite the economic environment since March of 2020, our Pittsburgh locations have experienced significant growth.  With the stress that most people have experienced throughout 2020/2021, and the impact that stress has on hormone balance, we are positioned even stronger to help our communities improve their wellness in the coming years. 

1851: What value do you see your business providing to Pittsburgh?

Kelleher: What excites me most is the hope we provide at BeBalanced. Most of the women that come to us, they’ve tried almost everything to lose weight and feel better. They’re actively trying to count calories, exercising intensely and changing their lifestyle to feel better. We help them holistically address balancing key hormones which unlocks their ability to meet their wellness goals.  Being a part of their journey from the initial consult to implementing the program and watching it come to fruition is a gift. When people start getting their lives back,  sleeping again, feeling like themselves again, the residual impact is huge on the women we serve and their families in particular. Offering women in the community a non-medical approach to balancing sex and stress hormones while giving the body the building blocks to create necessary hormones naturally is something that impacts the clients we work with directly and those they live and work with in positive, educational manner. 

When I saw the opportunity to bring BeBalanced centers to the Pittsburgh area, I knew we had a unique opportunity to help women feel healthier and happier. 

1851: What advice would you have for others looking at buying a franchise?

Kelleher: There are questions you need to ask when looking to buy a franchise: Is there a market need for what you’re doing? Without a market need, a new business, franchise or not, will not be successful. Does the business resonate for you? Do you understand the product? If you can understand the product behind the brand, you can understand the potential. And lastly, do you understand how you want to operate your franchise? 

I knew going in that I was going to have multiple locations. I know what my strengths and weaknesses are and I’m only hiring for people who can make up for my weaknesses. I don’t hire to mirror me. I knew with multiple locations, I couldn't do it all. I need people who can interface with clients and help them. If you’re looking for only one location, you really can't afford to have an owner who is not an operator so you need to ask yourself, is this something I can operate? You need to know what you want out of the business and what you want your lifestyle to look like.

1851: What do you do in your personal time?

Kelleher: As I mentioned, I’ve lived in Pittsburgh, PA for about 20 years and my husband is a professor at Carnegie Mellon. We have two wonderful girls together and love spending time together as a family. We truly enjoy anything outdoors; skiing, hiking and bike riding are some of our favorite activities. In a normal year, we love to travel anywhere. Some of our favorite locations include Mt. Everest - Nepal, Tanzania-Africa, Jackson Hole Wyoming, Machu Pichu- Peru, the Galapagos, Northern California and anywhere in France and Portugal.

My youngest daughter currently has a giant map of the world on the wall and pins everywhere she wants us to go once traveling is safe again. She has us contemplating The Great Wall of China, Surfing in South Africa, Adventure travel in New Zealand and the Northern Lights in Iceland. Only time will tell where we’re off to next.

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.