The first time she met me, Allison told me, “You need a better website. I talked to 20 franchise attorneys before I found you.”
Allison owned two successful Pilates Studios at the time, but wanted to franchise. I tried to supply my expertise:
I told her, “Charge your franchisees a 6% royalty, and a 2% Ad Fund right off the bat.”
I was focused on HER success.
But, Allison was focused on the success of the Franchisees.
“Let’s charge 2% . . . but not collect it until they are profitable. I’m not sure about the Ad Fund.”
This dynamic continued, with Allison finding and training Franchisees, and making sure there was a strong cultural fit. She would pull a signed franchise agreement out of the trunk of her BMW convertible, bent, wrinkled, with some wine stains. “We signed that in the Spa.” She told me, “I’m not sure about the BMW.” After a few long walks in the Torrey Pines Reserve, she ditched the BMW. “Not me.” She bought a Subaru.
I continued to advise her, file the wine-stained paperwork, and help her as she expanded. 15 Franchisees. 20 Franchisees. Area rights to Colorado. Multi-Unit Developers.
I would file the paperwork, because Club Pilates did not have an office. I became convinced that Allison’s success was due to the fact that she had never worked a day in corporate America. She didn’t know that you were supposed to rent an office, hire a secretary, have overhead and staff. She didn’t know that you were supposed to use Docusign for a joyless contract signing, instead of signing during a Spa Day.
Club Pilates expanded and grew (and finally got an office, overhead and staff).
At about 75 Franchisees, Allison had peaked . (About 1 in 100 reach that level). Allison knew that she knew what she didn’t know. For her child to grow, for Club Pilates to reach the next level, she had to have humility. Humbleness. She had to sell.
Which was a sad day for me. But, I was honored to be a part of the success and to watch how Allison successfully embarked on a venture (franchising) where she knew nothing and nobody, and created her own blueprint. She built the brand with her own culture and accountability. By focusing on her franchisees and instructors, and not herself, she ensured success for everyone.