Interview with Peter Tauton - CEO of Snap Fitness


Jan 21, 2011

In 2003, Peter Taunton had a vision to give consumers a fast, convenient and affordable workout alternative to traditional "big box" health clubs and entrepreneurs a practical model to run their own business. The result was Snap Fitness, a fitness franchise featuring the same great equipment and workout experience as full service clubs, in locations close to home with no contracts and access 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Roughly six years later, and he has grown the company into the world’s fastest growing fitness franchise, with nearly 2,200 locations open and under development in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, India and the United Kingdom. While the company has continued to grow through the years, Peter’s commitment to providing both members and franchise owners with new tools and programs to help them achieve results.

In 2010, Peter was named Ernst & Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Year,” in recognition of his vision and dedication to making Snap Fitness the industry leader for compact, state-of-the-art fitness franchises worldwide.
Before founding Snap Fitness, Peter owned and operated five America's Fitness Centers in Minnesota. He continued to build and expand the business over the next 10 years, adding four fitness centers to the chain, before ultimately deciding to sell his clubs in order to spend more time with his family and pursue new aspirations in the fitness industry.

When he's not running his business, Peter spends much of his time with his wife Kristin and children Max, Sunny and Beau. A professional racquetball competitor for eight years - partnering with identical twin Paul - he was once ranked 2nd nationally. He enjoys golfing, travel and giving back to the local community.

BeTheBoss - What is the Snap Fitness franchise opportunity all about?

Peter Tauton – Snap Fitness is the fast, convenient and affordable workout alternative to traditional “big box” health clubs. We offer no contracts and 24/7 access to all of our locations, providing high-quality workouts in a clean, comfortable environment. For entrepreneurs, we provide a proven, turnkey business model that is easy to own, easy to manage and easy to market. In 2009, Entrepreneur Magazine listed Snap Fitness as the top fitness franchise in North America, and one of the top 5 best new franchises overall. Best of all, 60 percent of our franchisees are semi-absentee owners, allowing you to keep your day job.

BTB - Who is your ideal candidate for a Snap Fitness franchise?

PT - Our turnkey systems make it easy for anyone to become a Snap Fitness franchise owner, regardless of past fitness or franchising experience. Or year-round training and support will provide all the tools you need to become a successful business owner; all you have to do is follow the system.

BTB - What type of training and support do you offer Snap Fitness franchisees?

PT - Pre-grand opening training at Snap Fitness corporate headquarters. Continuing education through online newsletter, webinars and phone conferences. Additionally, each club has a dedicated Franchise Account Manager who serves as their direct line to the corporate office, allowing them to get help and information on everything from marketing and sales to operations.

BTB - What are some of the advantages in being a Snap Fitness franchisee?

PT - Our clubs appeal to men, women and families in equal numbers. The competitive advantage lies in the fact that we are giving customers exactly what they want: quality, value and convenience at a more affordable cost than larger, full-service health clubs.

BTB - Are you a member of any Associations?

PT – Yes, we are members of both the Canadian Franchise Association and the International Franchise Association.

BTB - Tell us a little about the fitness industry market?

PT - Fitness is in. The percentage of people belonging to health clubs has doubled over the past 20 years. More growth is expected, fueled by an aging Baby Boomer generation in search of eternal youth and the reality that regular exercise can prevent or control diseases that are driving health care costs relentlessly upward.
Economically, the industry has proven to be recession-proof, averaging an 8% annual growth rate since the early 1990s.
The health club industry's fastest-growing segment is the 24/7 express fitness segment - and Snap Fitness is the segment's leader.
BTB - How successful is your company today and what are your future growth plans?

PT – We currently have 2,200 locations sold worldwide, with clubs in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, India, Australia, New Zealand and the U.K. We plan to open sell 200-300 new locations in 2011, and have no plans of slowing down in the near future. Additionally, we are introducing new programs and products, designed to give members more value for their money while creating new revenue streams for our franchise owners.

BTB - What are your franchisees saying about the business?

PT – Our franchisees are happy with the level of support they receive from our corporate office, both with their marketing and day-to-day operations. Additionally, they are excited to see Snap Fitness looking towards the future and continuing to grow both upward as well as outward to support the long-term success of our owners as a whole.

BTB - What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?

PT– The three biggest tips I would give to someone looking to acquire a franchise would be examine the infrastructure, in order to make sure the company is set-up for sustainable, long-term success; identify trends vs. fads in order to ensure that you’re investing in a concept with longevity as opposed to a hot-today-not-tomorrow fad of the moment; and find a concept that motivates you. If you’re not motivated to get up every morning and really actively work to make your franchise a success, it probably isn’t the right concept for you.

BTB - In your opinion, why do you think that Snap Fitness would be a great opportunity for someone?

PT – Snap Fitness is a great opportunity for any entrepreneur looking to partner with a leader in their industry. Additionally, our business model is perfect for anyone who wants to keep the security of their full-time job, own a semi-absentee ownership business with as few as 1-3 employees, open multiple units and get involved with a healthy concept at an extremely affordable investment level.