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FranDev Players: Scott Wendrych, CDO of FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers

Scott Wendrych has a passion for small-business and franchise development that has seen him help two brands more than triple in size. Now he’s working with FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers to empower fitness industry owner/operators.

By his own estimation, Scott Wendrych led a “fairly typical” corporate career until a family decision pushed him towards entrepreneurship. From there, he encountered one of the biggest inspirations in his career: a man named Jim Abrams, the founder of FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers, the 400-plus unit physical therapy franchise, as well as several other franchises. 

FYZICAL empowers its franchisees by giving them the framework and training required to run a thriving physical therapy business. For FYZICAL, that means taking a great personal trainer and turning them into a great business owner. The brand uses state-of-the-art technology to improve people's lives while offering a number of revenue streams to franchisees. 

1851 caught up with Wendrych to talk franchising, the pandemic and what corporations are getting wrong in franchise development.

1851 Franchise: Tell us about FYZICAL.

Scott Wendrych: FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers is the largest physical therapy franchise in the world. We have more than 400 open locations across the U.S. Our primary services are traditional orthopedic physical therapy and a proprietary and very unique balance therapy service at our locations. It’s unique to us and was developed by our team internally. It works for all types of patients who have balance and inner ear disturbances, like vertigo. Millions of people with those issues go untreated because they don’t realize it’s treatable.

We also offer several cash-based services, including audiology services, hearing aid sales, custom orthotics and custom wellness based services. 

The company itself was founded by a guy named Jim Abrams, a pioneer in franchising. He previously founded three other concepts: One Hour Heating, Mister Sparky Electric, and Ben Franklin Plumbing. He noticed in those businesses, you have operators who own their own business and they’re great at their craft, but they have zero business training. They don’t know how to market or track metrics or processes. Jim’s genius was putting the process in place to help private practice owners be much more profitable.

We work with a variety of different types of franchisees. Some own their own practice and want to convert to FYZICAL, some don’t own a business but want a FYZICAL franchise, and other entrepreneurs want to be in the medical space but don’t have any medical experience. 

1851: How did you get into franchising?

Wendrych: I had come out of a fairly typical corporate career in operations for manufacturing management. When I moved back to Colorado, my wife decided to get into business, so we explored franchising. I became a franchisee at a different franchise brand, and I discovered I had a love of small business and a passion for franchising. 

I was offered a position to work for the franchisor, so I took it. I learned everything about franchising from the inside. I took that brand from around 70 locations to over 400 and launched a second brand called Elements Massage, which I helped grow to over 300 locations. Most of my time has been spent in the development role doing franchise sales or helping with real estate deals. 

1851: Are there any keys to consistent franchise growth?

First and foremost, you need to have a clear understanding of who you’re trying to bring on as a franchisee and who your ideal franchisee is. That could be an owner/operator, an entrepreneur, or a business person with a corporate background. Once you understand that, understand the target markets you’re trying to develop in. It’s easy to grow and develop if you have a plan around where you do and don’t want to grow. That leads to the ability to be very targeted with your marketing and reaching out to franchise candidates and how you’re going about getting those people to pay attention. 

You need to have a well-defined process — a documented process with step one, step two, all the way through signing. It needs video and other types of collateral to walk the franchisee through how you’re gonna make money or how you’re gonna get customers or patients. The process is very important. You need consistent follow-up with people who reach out to you.

So often what happens is, you get leads coming in but your sales team isn’t organized and won’t do proper outreach. You need good reporting to find out how many leads you're getting, what kind of leads and how much you are spending for those. Look at your lead-to-close ratio, and really monitor those kinds of metrics for your sales team. If you do those things, you're going to always have consistent growth. 

1851: What are the biggest hurdles to successful franchise growth right now?

Wendrych: The biggest hurdle is just uncertainty and how emotional people are right now. Uncertainty around the labor market, uncertainty with the new administration — those are always things that weigh on people’s minds and cause them to pause. Consumer confidence, I would say, is a hurdle. 

As it pertains to a franchising perspective overall, I think it’s the ability to build and then manage a really good sales team that represents the biggest hurdle. You’ve got to have the right type of salespeople, and then you have to coach them and manage them properly. If you can do that and incentivize them well, then you’ve cleared your biggest hurdle because that’s the tip of the spear that sells your franchises. 

1851: How did the COVID crisis affect franchise growth opportunities?

Wendrych: I would say that for for many kinds of brands, especially in industries that are shut down, at the unit level it’s really causing prospective franchisees to pause and reassess what kind of model they want to be in and what’s important to them and the viability of that business when there are downturns in the market.

For FZYICAL, we’re blessed that we’re in a medical service because almost every single location was able to stay open as an essential medical service. We did see a dip in top-line revenue, but the bounce back was incredibly fast. Once we got into September, the majority of our locations were back at 85% of the revenue plan. 

1851: Are there any common mistakes you see franchisors making when trying to grow?

Wendrych: There’s two: The first one goes back to not having a defined process that their sales team is following on a consistent basis. The second one is inconsistent follow up with inbound lead or lack of follow up with inbound leads .

And a possible third one is the opposite: Franchisors will grow too quickly, and they will sell to unqualified franchisees. They’ll sell franchises to anybody or they’ll do multi-unit franchise sales to people who are not equipped to open units. They might get one open but they can’t open the others. So then the franchisor is not built operationally for the massive amount of sales they’ve done, and the locations that do open get off to a poor start and don’t ramp properly, and that’s very difficult to recover from. 

1851: What are your biggest goals and plans for 2021?

Wendrych: The biggest goals and plans we have for 2021 are really twofold. First of all, it’s to make FYZICAL a very recognized name in the franchise world. We’re putting a lot of effort behind marketing in more publications that are widely read in the industry like Franchise Times, making FYZICAL a household name. We’re highlighting the opportunity and focusing on entrepreneur partnerships to build the system properly. 

Then we want to bring on several master franchisors to help build the brand at the ground level. A master franchisor is somebody that purchases a large territory, say Dallas, and then they either open locations themselves or they well sublicense and assist those people to open locations.