Don Powers is playing a lot less golf these days.
The President and CEO of Fitness Machine Technicians, a franchise specializing in the maintenance and repair of equipment for commercial exercise facilities and home gyms, said he made it out to the course four times a week last year. This year, the busy head of the growing brand has only golfed four times all summer.
But he’s okay with putting off those frequent tee times for a while.
“It's been exciting to watch this company go from an infant, watching it crawl, and now seeing it start to walk and get ready to run. We are confident that this thing is going to fly. It’s almost surreal,” said Powers.
Powers, who has been in the fitness industry for nearly 35 years, expects to have 10 franchisees and 15-16 territories open across seven states by the end of September. The buzz around Fitness Machine Technicians is such that the company has had weeks with Discovery Days every single day. The opportunity is attracting what Powers calls “a white collar with a hint of a blue” – men and women from corporate America who feel burned out from the rat race and want to become their own boss. Behind the company’s low-investment franchise offering, a quick ramp up to opening and a model that supports either owner-operators or semi-absentee ownership with hands-on, expert guidance, Powers sees potential to grow the system to 150-to-175 units in the next five-to-six years.
“We are really focused on providing support for the technician in our franchisees’ territories. We give them the basics in the first two weeks of training. Their technicians ride with our guys for two weeks and we certify them. As long as they are mechanically inclined, we can teach them the rest. Then, we are able to use FaceTime to support technicians who encounter any problems they aren’t able to figure out on their own,” said Powers.
While this is Powers’ first foray into the franchise industry, he is no stranger to the fitness industry. Prior to Fitness Machine Technicians, Powers owned and operated five exercise equipment retail stores that served both commercial and residential clients. He entered the service industry after buying a small mom and pop shop and, priding himself on learning all the ins-and-outs of a business first, threw a tool bag on his back and started servicing equipment himself – taking the first-hand learnings to help grow his business.
Five years later he decided to explore the franchise model as a way to continue his growth.
“I went to the International Franchise Association convention and sitting right next to me was Steve Beagelman. I told him what I wanted to do and he said he could absolutely help me. I told him I didn’t want to ramp up too fast. My target market at the time was blue collar because I wanted to give back to the community and give blue collar guys the opportunity to own their own company. Nice people were coming in but they were asking me the wrong questions. It took me about two years to figure out the right way to do things. I called Steve back in and asked him to tell me what to do in order to make it successful. I wouldn’t be here without Steve and his company. They are terrific,” said Powers.
With the help of Beagelman and the SMB Franchise Advisors team, Fitness Machine Technicians put together a board, rebranded the company and then brought on Pinnacle and FranNet to help sell the concept.
“It’s a really unique concept,” said Beagelman. “When I first met Don and talked to him, I realized I had an elliptical that just collects dust in my basement. For just 95 bucks, they came to my house, fixed it, and I’m using it now. People don’t know how to fix those things, so there’s definitely a market there.”
Beagelman said that Fitness Machine Technicians have sold 10 franchise agreements in just two and a half months. The company also boasts a 99% retention rate for clients, an incredible number for the fitness repair industry.
“I’m super excited about the brand. It’s a low investment concept. People can get into it easily. You can hire technicians. The fact that it’s home-based, or that you can get a small office – you don’t need a retail store. You can get into business quickly,” said Beagelman.
The brand also has a mix of business with corporations as the largest customer (including fitness facilities managed by an outsourced third party), apartments second, followed by colleges and schools, health clubs and condominiums. Powers said his goal is that each franchisee who joins Fitness Machine Technicians have the ability to make more than $1-million in gross sales.
With the first franchised territory opening in July and now franchisees open in Atlanta, Charlotte and Raleigh, Powers is excited for the future.
“Someday, a doctor somewhere will come up with a pill that will let you lose 30 pounds – but for now, we all want to stay fit and people are using exercise equipment more and more. It’s a business that’s going to be here for a long, long time. Heck, George Jetson was walking on a treadmill in space. So, it’ll be around for a while,” Powers laughed.