Barry J. French, CEO of Traq Ltd sat down with Franchise Gator to discuss the opportunity available with TRAQ 3D Fitness.
How was TRAQ 3D Fitness originally conceived and started?
Traq Ltd's founders are recognized leaders in the use of computer simulation ("interactive exercise") for the enhancement of health, physical performance and fitness. The product of our development efforts, TRAZER, has been successful in such demanding applications as healthcare, education (kinesthetic learning), fitness and performance enhancement. This success led to the evolution of the TRAQ 3D Fitness business model, which marries technology and functional training. 12 U.S. patents protect the TRAZER product.
What was your original vision for TRAQ 3D Fitness? How has that changed over time?
TRAZER's early successes in the delivery of personal training services, in both the fitness and medical arenas, led to a concept that focused solely on the technology. Our prototype sites at the world-renowned Fontainebleau Resort and at TRAQ 3D Performance Institute in Avon, Ohio, served to refine the business model, which is a high value, results driven product that can be delivered to 24 or more fitness clients in a relatively small space.
What do you believe is the single most important factor when choosing a franchise?
First it must present a commercially-viable business opportunity. Does the global opportunity offer the franchisee a meaningful ROI considering the risks associated with any business.
Why should someone choose TRAQ 3D Fitness over other similar franchises?
In his book "Purple Cow", Seth Godin states that "... business must be remarkable enough for people to pay attention...to actually care. " He writes about transforming a business by being remarkable. Few, in any, fitness franchises are "remarkable"... the preponderance of such offerings are essentially identical. And the reported ROI is typically pedestrian considering the investment. TRAZER-driven programs are clearly differentiated, with patented interactive game-like exercise that works more muscle groups and burns more calories than any competing offering. And TRAQ's Personalized Fitness programs, combining this leading edge technology with other functional training commands reasonable client fees. The TRAZER patents protect you from other like businesses opening in your territory.
And it is important to note that the cost of establishing a TRAQ 3D Fitness franchise is typically no more expensive than that of fitness franchises using ubiquitous conventional equipment.
What makes your industry attractive?
The U.S. fitness industry is reported to be a nearly $20 billion industry, with health club memberships approaching 45 million. With skyrocketing obesity and the associated health issues associated with inactivity, the future for fitness franchises is very bright.
What types of qualities do you look for in potential franchisees?
Experience in the fitness or healthcare fields is not a prerequisite for TRAQ success; TRAZER computer-controlled programs in combination with our customized administrative software greatly simplify the delivery of TRAQ services. The ideal TRAQ candidate will have sound business skills, high energy and a dedication to running a profitable business.
Numerous factors are considered to determine whether a candidate for TRAQ purchase has a suitable financial position: your liquid assets and a credit score in the range of 700 can be considered guidelines. Our financing partners will be happy to assist you in assessing your position.
What do your franchise fees and royalties cover?
- Exclusive Operating Territory
- Site Selection Assistance - Our real estate consultants are effective tenant advocates
- Facility Configurations & Design Assistance - We've retained an award-winning architectural firm to provide facility layout and design drawings, initial equipment layout, build-out specifications, etc.
- Financing - We have established relationships with national leasing companies and banking institutions to assist with funding.
- Marketing and Design - We provide a customizable library of marketing materials
- New TRAZER Software Upgrades - To keep the TRAZER experience fresh and exciting for members. TRAZER is a web-based technology; updates are automatic.
- Access to normative and elite data bases and online technical support.
- Facility/Membership Administration PC and Software to create and manage a client database, schedule and print reports.
- Extended Hardware Warranty
- Use of Patented Technologies
- Business and Operational Training - comprehensive training regarding the operation of your TRAQ site.
How do territories work for your franchisees?
An exclusive territory comprises a minimum population of 50,000 prospects for TRAQ membership. The size of the exclusive territory is flexible, as it is our goal to comprise sufficient potential to ensure a profitable site.
Why has your franchise model been successful?
Our site owners are very motivated to succeed, and the program offered is quite unique. Their clients cannot replicate this style of training elsewhere, and have found it to be both effective and addictive. Thus, the sites tend to retain their clients for longer than is typical. In addition, the personalized training format, using the technology-based TRAZER for automated delivery of services and real time feedback of performance measures allows 1 or 2 trainers to manage up to 24 clients at one time, keeping the overhead low. Your clients get a highly efficient, results-driven workout.
Where do you see TRAQ 3D Fitness in 5 years and 10 years?
It is our belief that interactive 3-dimensional fitness machines are the future of performance-fitness. The younger generations are dependent on (and addicted to) interactive technologies. Treadmills and stationary bikes et al are their parents' means of exercising, not necessarily theirs. We project significant growth over the next 1 to 3 years and beyond for applications of our patented exercise technologies.
What is your favorite advice for new franchisees to help them succeed?
Diligently apply yourself during the TRAQ training process.
What would you tell potential franchisees that may be nervous about the financial burdens of starting a franchise?
Nervousness is a sign of maturity when undertaking the purchase of any business. The franchisee must have sufficient financial reserves for the initial start-up period.
On average, how long does it take to start a new franchise from the franchisees point of view?
Approximately 4 - 6 months, though this estimate will obviously vary based on a number of variables.
What was your background and experience before founding TRAQ 3D Fitness?
I'm the inventor of technologies/products using computer-based simulation for applications in healthcare, fitness and performance. In 2006, we established a TRAQ 3D "lab" at the Cleveland Clinic satellite hospital in Westlake, OH. For almost 2 years, we worked with athletes, fitness clients, rehabilitation clients, kids with special needs, including obesity, Alzheimer patients, and more - a very broad sampling of the population. In October of 2008, we opened this facility "to the public," and were at maximum capacity within a few weeks.
We sold the site to our operators in the spring of 2009, who moved it to a warehouse within a few months in order to accommodate their client load. It is now our highly successful sports performance model. During the same time period, one of our operators partnered with the Fontainebleau Resort in South Beach, and installed a prototype TRAQ 3D Fitness at the gym there. Our TRAZER Team there has been instrumental in developing programming for the personalized fitness model that you will use in your TRAQ 3D Fitness facility.