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How Eat the Frog Fitness Is Focusing on the Positive During These Difficult Times

Fred Macciocchi, a regional developer for the fitness brand in Florida, weighs in on how COVID-19 will shape the future of franchising.

While no one can know for certain how COVID-19 will permanently change the ways in which businesses operate, it’s clear that every industry will be impacted. 1851 Franchise is connecting with concepts across all industries to learn more about how they’re not only surviving the current pandemic, but preparing to reopen on the other side of the crisis.

One of those brands is Eat the Frog Fitness. Right now, the fitness franchise has 16 locations open and 51 scheduled to open their doors by the end of 2020—although that might change depending on how states recover post-coronavirus. According to Fred Macciocchi, a regional developer for the brand in Florida, the impact of the pandemic made itself clear very quickly when it first came to the U.S.

“The first wave came quickly,” he said. “In Florida, we went from [COVID-19] not really being in the state, to having a few cases to being shut down within a week.”

When the shutdowns began, Eat the Frog Fitness acted quickly to provide support for franchisees whether their doors were open yet or not. That support includes lease negotiations, build-out help and counseling on financial relief.

Beyond supporting its franchise owners during the crisis, Eat the Frog Fitness also realized that it needed to make changes to its model in order to prepare for what customers will expect from their fitness facilities in a post-coronavirus society.

“We’re changing our class schedules to allow more time in between to mitigate the crowds and provide more time for cleaning,” Macciocchi said. “We’re also going to do deep cleanings more frequently. For example, in addition to having members wipe down their equipment, we’re also going to have coaches and cleaning staff sanitizing. We’re looking at everything we can do from modifying floor plans to alternating the equipment being used in order to minimize risk.”

Using this time to reevaluate its business model has been beneficial for Eat the Frog Fitness. Macciocchi notes that while the current situation is far from ideal, there are ways to turn this into an opportunity for improvement.

“One positive improvement that will come from this is enhanced cleanliness, he said. “There’s going to be more awareness of personal space through social distancing, and there will be an emphasis on prevention of illness. All of these things are now being highlighted. Even things like drinking fountains need to be rethought — [COVID-19] is making us look at every aspect of the business from a design, layout and traffic standpoint.”

Macciocchi is also optimistic about the future of franchising in general. While gyms are temporarily closed, franchise development activity is still continuing for Eat the Frog Fitness — in Florida alone, the brand has signed deals with several multi-unit owners in the past several weeks. 

“There’s going to be an absolute franchise boom because there will be people that were displaced from their careers who realize that they need to take control of their own lives and want to be their own boss so as not to risk getting laid off again in the future,” Macciocchi said. “There’s never been a better opportunity or time to consider starting your own business than right now.”