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Health Club Management

Health Club Management

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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
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Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

Never say no

Ray Algar reports on the remarkable health club that’s been giving back to its community for 26 years

Published in Health Club Management 2014 issue 11
Franco’s Club donates the use of its facilities to local special needs children
Franco’s Club donates the use of its facilities to local special needs children

Last month, I discussed how for-profit business TOMS (www.TOMS.com) was leveraging the power of generosity through its ‘one-for-one’ business model, to compete in the fiercely competitive shoe and eyewear industries (see HCM Oct 14, p46). This month, I want to share the story of how Franco’s Athletic Club, located in the US state of Louisiana, is using generosity to become one of the world’s most admired health clubs.

Community engagement
I first met Sandy Franco, one of the co-owners, when she was presenting at the 2013 IHRSA European Congress in Madrid. Her message was a simple one: invest in your community and the community will invest in your club. Sandy and Ron, her husband, have pursued this strategy for 26 years.

The Francos acquired the 2,600sq m (28,000sq ft) racquetball and social facility, originally known as the Bon Temps Club, in 1988. Two years after the acquisition, their world fell apart when their two-year-old daughter was diagnosed with cancer.

The Francos had already made a big impression in the small city of Mandeville and received an outpouring of support – even from people they had never met. As Sandy recalls: “Friends, family, members and the wider community rose up and supported us. They were writing us letters, they were supporting us, they pretty much carried us through this time and it’s something we’ll never forget. It wasn’t a conscious thing when we said ‘let’s start being community players’ – we feel an obligation. They were there for us and we want to be there for them.

“Our precious daughter, thank God, has grown to become a vibrant young woman, but we’re constantly striving to fulfil the promise we made at that time – to give back to the community that gave so much to our family.”

For the past 26 years, the Francos have therefore been reciprocating: the more their club has grown, the more they give. Today, Franco’s has grown to more than 23,225sq m (250,000sq ft) of indoor and outdoor space for fitness, sports and recreation, with approximately 15,000 members.

Creating long-term value
When it comes to requests from charities, schools and community groups, the Franco mantra is, and always has been: ‘Never say no.’ Why so generous?

Crucially, they do not see these requests through the lens of random acts of charity, but as investing in a community that creates long-term value for their business. “We believe that, by giving back to our community, we have grown our facility and our membership,” says Sandy.

Of course, saying yes doesn’t always mean writing a cheque – it also includes offering the club’s courts and studio space to schools, dance clubs and sports teams, and donating use of the pools for mental and physical stimulation therapy for special needs children.

Sometimes the club just needs to act as the catalyst and mobilise its army of members, employees and supporters. A recent demonstration of this compassionate activism involved fundraising for a local cancer centre: organising a gala dinner for the first time, the club set itself a target of selling 300 tickets and raising US$75,000, but instead sold 500 tickets and raised US$185,000. Will this drive short-term membership sales? Probably not, but the club’s reputation has just been given a steroid-like boost.

Franco’s has now raised more than US$1.5m for a wide range of non-profit organisations and donated significantly more from in-kind use of its facilities.

Respecting your club’s ethos
During Sandy’s Madrid presentation, she shared the story of the time Franco’s was looking to expand into a second site, explaining that they faced tough competition from a much larger national chain seeking the same property.

The property landlord couldn’t decide between the two businesses, so a representative visited Franco’s to better understand its operating philosophy. A tipping point came when, during the visit, he was captivated by a studio class for local children with special needs. Franco’s was awarded the lease to operate the new club, leaving the larger rival with a far stronger balance sheet surprised and perplexed.

Sandy summed it up: “People who appreciate your efforts will want to be a part of your club and to do business with you.”

Beating the odds
Something remarkable is occurring in the Franco’s catchment area where, according to a local report in 2009, more than 26 per cent of the population belonged to a health club. The US national average at the time was 14 per cent, not to mention the fact that Louisiana as a whole has the sixth highest adult obesity rate in the United States (source: The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America).

So what’s driving this remarkable level of engagement? I’m not sure I know, but what is clear is that the team at Franco’s have spent the past 26 years getting out of their club and into their community.

GYMTOPIA – A PLACE WHERE CLUBS DO SOCIAL GOOD

Gymtopia was conceived by founder and chief engagement officer Ray Algar, who believes the global health and fitness industry has enormous influence and potential to do good in the world, beyond its immediate customers. The idea of Gymtopia is simple: to curate and spread remarkable stories in which the fitness industry uses its influence to reach out and support an external community in need. It was created with the generous support of five organisations: Companhia Athletica, Gantner Technologies, Les Mills, Retention Management and The Gym Group. Gymtopia received an Outstanding Achievement Award in
the ukactive Matrix Flame Awards 2014.

Read more stories and submit your own: www.Gymtopia.org

Ray Algar
Ray Algar

WHAT’S YOUR LEGACY?

Each year, IHRSA selects one club from across the US to receive its Outstanding Community Service Award. The award is presented to a club committed to making a difference in, and beyond, its community.

Franco’s was the deserved recipient of the award in 2013, but it was Ron Franco’s comments during the acceptance video that revealed their driving motivation: “Everyone in life wants to leave a legacy. I think getting involved in the community, doing good things for your community, reaching people, touching lives – that’s a legacy you want to leave. It’s not how much money or how many clubs you have, but the effect you have had on people.”

So how would you sum up the legacy of your business over the past five to 10 years – and more importantly, what’s the core story that others are saying about your brand right now?

Leaving a legacy: The Francos
Leaving a legacy: The Francos

IN A NUTSHELL

Project by: Franco’s Athletic Club
Website: myfrancos.com
Project status: Ongoing and long-term
Charity supported: Various
Impact: US
Gymtopia keywords: Clothing & Shelter, Education, Food & Nutrition,
Health & Wellbeing, Helping Children, Medical Research

If you would like to get each issue of HCM magazine sent direct to you for FREE, plus the weekly HCM ezine, sign up now!
500 tickets were sold for a recent fundraising gala dinner, raising US$185,000 for charity – more than double the target
500 tickets were sold for a recent fundraising gala dinner, raising US$185,000 for charity – more than double the target
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/819558_968008.jpg
Ray Algar reports on the remarkable health club in the US that’s been giving back to its community for 26 years
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features

Never say no

Ray Algar reports on the remarkable health club that’s been giving back to its community for 26 years

Published in Health Club Management 2014 issue 11
Franco’s Club donates the use of its facilities to local special needs children
Franco’s Club donates the use of its facilities to local special needs children

Last month, I discussed how for-profit business TOMS (www.TOMS.com) was leveraging the power of generosity through its ‘one-for-one’ business model, to compete in the fiercely competitive shoe and eyewear industries (see HCM Oct 14, p46). This month, I want to share the story of how Franco’s Athletic Club, located in the US state of Louisiana, is using generosity to become one of the world’s most admired health clubs.

Community engagement
I first met Sandy Franco, one of the co-owners, when she was presenting at the 2013 IHRSA European Congress in Madrid. Her message was a simple one: invest in your community and the community will invest in your club. Sandy and Ron, her husband, have pursued this strategy for 26 years.

The Francos acquired the 2,600sq m (28,000sq ft) racquetball and social facility, originally known as the Bon Temps Club, in 1988. Two years after the acquisition, their world fell apart when their two-year-old daughter was diagnosed with cancer.

The Francos had already made a big impression in the small city of Mandeville and received an outpouring of support – even from people they had never met. As Sandy recalls: “Friends, family, members and the wider community rose up and supported us. They were writing us letters, they were supporting us, they pretty much carried us through this time and it’s something we’ll never forget. It wasn’t a conscious thing when we said ‘let’s start being community players’ – we feel an obligation. They were there for us and we want to be there for them.

“Our precious daughter, thank God, has grown to become a vibrant young woman, but we’re constantly striving to fulfil the promise we made at that time – to give back to the community that gave so much to our family.”

For the past 26 years, the Francos have therefore been reciprocating: the more their club has grown, the more they give. Today, Franco’s has grown to more than 23,225sq m (250,000sq ft) of indoor and outdoor space for fitness, sports and recreation, with approximately 15,000 members.

Creating long-term value
When it comes to requests from charities, schools and community groups, the Franco mantra is, and always has been: ‘Never say no.’ Why so generous?

Crucially, they do not see these requests through the lens of random acts of charity, but as investing in a community that creates long-term value for their business. “We believe that, by giving back to our community, we have grown our facility and our membership,” says Sandy.

Of course, saying yes doesn’t always mean writing a cheque – it also includes offering the club’s courts and studio space to schools, dance clubs and sports teams, and donating use of the pools for mental and physical stimulation therapy for special needs children.

Sometimes the club just needs to act as the catalyst and mobilise its army of members, employees and supporters. A recent demonstration of this compassionate activism involved fundraising for a local cancer centre: organising a gala dinner for the first time, the club set itself a target of selling 300 tickets and raising US$75,000, but instead sold 500 tickets and raised US$185,000. Will this drive short-term membership sales? Probably not, but the club’s reputation has just been given a steroid-like boost.

Franco’s has now raised more than US$1.5m for a wide range of non-profit organisations and donated significantly more from in-kind use of its facilities.

Respecting your club’s ethos
During Sandy’s Madrid presentation, she shared the story of the time Franco’s was looking to expand into a second site, explaining that they faced tough competition from a much larger national chain seeking the same property.

The property landlord couldn’t decide between the two businesses, so a representative visited Franco’s to better understand its operating philosophy. A tipping point came when, during the visit, he was captivated by a studio class for local children with special needs. Franco’s was awarded the lease to operate the new club, leaving the larger rival with a far stronger balance sheet surprised and perplexed.

Sandy summed it up: “People who appreciate your efforts will want to be a part of your club and to do business with you.”

Beating the odds
Something remarkable is occurring in the Franco’s catchment area where, according to a local report in 2009, more than 26 per cent of the population belonged to a health club. The US national average at the time was 14 per cent, not to mention the fact that Louisiana as a whole has the sixth highest adult obesity rate in the United States (source: The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America).

So what’s driving this remarkable level of engagement? I’m not sure I know, but what is clear is that the team at Franco’s have spent the past 26 years getting out of their club and into their community.

GYMTOPIA – A PLACE WHERE CLUBS DO SOCIAL GOOD

Gymtopia was conceived by founder and chief engagement officer Ray Algar, who believes the global health and fitness industry has enormous influence and potential to do good in the world, beyond its immediate customers. The idea of Gymtopia is simple: to curate and spread remarkable stories in which the fitness industry uses its influence to reach out and support an external community in need. It was created with the generous support of five organisations: Companhia Athletica, Gantner Technologies, Les Mills, Retention Management and The Gym Group. Gymtopia received an Outstanding Achievement Award in
the ukactive Matrix Flame Awards 2014.

Read more stories and submit your own: www.Gymtopia.org

Ray Algar
Ray Algar

WHAT’S YOUR LEGACY?

Each year, IHRSA selects one club from across the US to receive its Outstanding Community Service Award. The award is presented to a club committed to making a difference in, and beyond, its community.

Franco’s was the deserved recipient of the award in 2013, but it was Ron Franco’s comments during the acceptance video that revealed their driving motivation: “Everyone in life wants to leave a legacy. I think getting involved in the community, doing good things for your community, reaching people, touching lives – that’s a legacy you want to leave. It’s not how much money or how many clubs you have, but the effect you have had on people.”

So how would you sum up the legacy of your business over the past five to 10 years – and more importantly, what’s the core story that others are saying about your brand right now?

Leaving a legacy: The Francos
Leaving a legacy: The Francos

IN A NUTSHELL

Project by: Franco’s Athletic Club
Website: myfrancos.com
Project status: Ongoing and long-term
Charity supported: Various
Impact: US
Gymtopia keywords: Clothing & Shelter, Education, Food & Nutrition,
Health & Wellbeing, Helping Children, Medical Research

If you would like to get each issue of HCM magazine sent direct to you for FREE, plus the weekly HCM ezine, sign up now!
500 tickets were sold for a recent fundraising gala dinner, raising US$185,000 for charity – more than double the target
500 tickets were sold for a recent fundraising gala dinner, raising US$185,000 for charity – more than double the target
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/819558_968008.jpg
Ray Algar reports on the remarkable health club in the US that’s been giving back to its community for 26 years
Latest News
The hospitality and attractions sectors will benefit from a temporary cut to VAT as part ...
Latest News
The UK's fitness industry can finally get back to business on Saturday 25 July, following ...
Latest News
HCM understands a decision on reopening dates for gyms and also for spas will be ...
Latest News
Interest in gym reopening in England is reaching fever pitch, with an announcement expected any ...
Latest News
Exercising increases levels of a protein hormone secreted by the bones which has a powerful ...
Latest News
A free-to-access training platform has launched to help the sport and fitness workforce confidently return ...
Latest News
Glasgow Life, which runs leisure and culture facilities on behalf of Glasgow City Council, has ...
Latest News
Fitness equipment firm Nautilus Inc is looking for a buyer for its commercial equipment brand ...
Latest News
Technogym has announced the launch of live streaming and on-demand classes. The new content will ...
Latest News
A number of gym operators are concerned that local lockdowns could come into effect in ...
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: EGYM presents Corona Gym Solution, for the successful re-opening of fitness studios
Finally, the time has come: fitness and health facilities around the globe are gradually resuming operations.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Fisikal chosen as tech partner for ‘JP4’; new health app from fitness expert, Jessie Pavelka
Fitness expert and television host, Jessie Pavelka has collaborated with Fisikal, experts in digital management solutions, to create the new JP4 app, a premium 12-week personal health and fitness transformation programme that takes the user on a journey of change through four key elements of health.
Video Gallery
Temple Gym - Nautilus Equipment
Core Health & Fitness
Temple Gym - Nautilus Equipment Read more
More videos:
Company profiles
Company profile: Safe Space Lockers
Safe Space have over 25 years of experience in the UK leisure and fitness industry, ...
Company profiles
Company profile: TRX Training UK
TRX provides world-class functional training by offering quality equipment, effective workouts and world-class education capable ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: Trade associations
Skincare
Comfort Zone - Davines S.p.A: Skincare
Independent service & maintenance
Servicesport UK Limited: Independent service & maintenance
Whole body cryotherapy
Zimmer MedizinSysteme GmbH / icelab: Whole body cryotherapy
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Fitness equipment
TRX Training: Fitness equipment
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Exercise equipment
Technogym: Exercise equipment
Direct debit solutions
Harlands Group: Direct debit solutions
Management software
Fisikal: Management software
Property & Tenders
Greywell, Hampshire
Barnsgrove Health and Wellness Club
Property & Tenders
Derby City Council
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2020
Loews Coronado Bay Resort, Coronado, United States
Diary dates
22-23 Sep 2020
Heythrop Park, United Kingdom
Diary dates
17-23 Oct 2020
Pinggu, Beijing, China
Diary dates
27-30 Oct 2020
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
03-06 Nov 2020
Online,
Diary dates
27-28 Nov 2020
Athena, Leicester, United Kingdom
Diary dates
23-26 Feb 2021
IFEMA, Madrid, Spain
Diary dates
03-04 Mar 2021
NEC, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Diary dates
03-06 Jun 2021
Expo Centre & Riviera di Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
16-17 Jun 2021
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
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