Fitness boom spurs muscular growth for Burn Boot Camp
Fitness is hot. Former minor-league pitcher Devan Kline and his wife, Morgan, opened their first Burn Boot Camp in 2012 and started franchising in 2015. Providing fitness training mainly for women, Cornelius-based Burn now has more than 185 locations including 37 in North Carolina. It employs 51 people at its headquarters and 2,500 full- and part-time employees nationally. Unlimited group sessions cost about $150 a month, Forbes reported in December. We asked Jolene Purchia, the company’s vice president of franchise development, to discuss the business. Comments were edited for clarity.
How come Burn is growing so fast?
Burn’s foundation is rooted in community and it resonates in every aspect of our business. It begins with our headquarters culture involving an extremely passionate group dedicated to our mission of empowering women globally and igniting a global health transformation. This zest transcends to our franchise partners, their staff, and ultimately to our clients. Our clients become raving fans of our community and our mission and ultimately many decide to pursue their passion by becoming a franchise partner. It’s this wonderful sphere of nurturing that enables us to grow at an exponential rate.
Is there a danger in such rapid growth?
With any exploding business, challenges and hurdles present themselves. We have been fortunate to staff accordingly at the headquarters level and create systems, processes, and departments to better serve our franchise partners, their staff, and our clients.
Why was Charlotte a good place to build the business?
While Devan was formulating his business plan and learning HTML code, his then fiancé was transferred to Charlotte during her time in corporate America. Devan followed Morgan to Charlotte. Neither had family or friends in the area. Together, they pounded the pavement, embraced the community in a big way, and started their journey training clients in a parking lot. Many of those clients from 2012 are still Burn clients to this day. We have 14 locations in the Charlotte metro area.
What sets Burn apart from rivals?
First and foremost, we are an organization focused on celebrating and empowering women. Our main focus is on people first, not technology. This resonates throughout the entirety of Burn Nation and creates a stronghold in our culture. We offer more value than any other boutique fitness concept on the market today. From an investment standpoint, Burn offers a low upfront investment with prime territories still available throughout the U.S. and Canada. The level of support our franchise partners receive is second to none in the industry and we have a highly engaged CEO who is actively engaged in every aspect of the business. We don’t require you to purchase very expensive gym equipment that needs constant maintenance. Rather, our model remains fluid based on industry trends.
Is your average gross revenue of $460,000 per unit and total annual revenue increasing?
We’re ecstatic to say our growth has trended upwards, yes. We closed 2018 with approximately $60 million in annual revenue. We are trending to hit $100 million by the end of 2019.
What is the typical profile of your franchisees?
A large majority started as clients and raving fans of our brand before reaching out about franchise opportunities. They are comprised of entrepreneurs, engineers, former corporate America employees, sales and marketing professionals; to name a few!
Are you avoiding multi-unit operators or is that still possible?
A large majority of our franchise partners are multi-unit owners. We welcome the opportunity to grow and partner with our owners that are thriving and successful and want to expand their budding empires.
Do you discourage men from joining?
We do not discourage men from joining, albeit our primary focus is on women. Men have the opportunity to attend several co-ed camps typically later in early morning or evening or during Saturday co-ed camp times.
The desire for fitness is clearly ramping up, but do the statistics bear out that more Americans are actually getting more fit?
Burn’s mission is to bridge the gap between the desire for fitness and those actually getting fit. As Devan says, “The culture of fitness as it stands today is completely broken. Nearly 70% of us are overweight or obese, and nearly 20% of children. Yet, gyms and trainers are literally everywhere. Clearly the message we are sending as an industry isn’t resonating deep into our society. Only 16% of people belong to a gym or gym equivalent and my theory is because our industry is overlooking the underdogs. Fitness is focused on lose weight fast and the next flat belly diet by showing unrealistic body types that discourage the other 84% of people who actually need our help further into an emotional recession.
We are different because we don’t follow trends, we set them. We stand as a beacon of empowerment, inspiration, and transformation for the many, not the few.”