Multi-Unit Franchisee Magazine Issue IV, 2016 - Page 48

AT H L E T E S I N F R A N C H I S I N G PERSONAL First job: Burger King. Formative influences/events: My dad owned his own construction company and was a big influence. Key accomplishments: NFL playoff win versus the Steelers in 2007 and becoming a business owner. What’s your passion in business? To grow Jacksonville out into a major enterprise. My passion also lies in the fitness industry. It was the perfect transition for me. I’ve always been in the fitness industry and I figured opening a gym is a better way to give back to the community than a restaurant or fastfood place. Biggest current challenge: Marketing has been a big challenge. One of my locations is kind of out of the market and not close to other Retro Fitness gyms. Not everyone knows about Retro Fitness, so I’ve been marketing like crazy. It costs a lot of money just to market so people know who you are, as opposed to people knowing who you are and coming in to sign up. How do you balance life and work? Family always comes first. Don’t bring work home, keep it separate. Next big goal: Getting more Retro Fitness gyms open. Favorite movie: “The BeastMaster.” First turning point in your career: I’m still on the uphill slope and haven’t really had my turning point as a franchisee yet. What do most people not know about you? I have a green thumb. I love planting flowers. Best business decision: Having a business-savvy wife. She handles a lot of the administrative work, while I’m more about morale, concepts, ideas, etc. Pet peeve: Not looking someone in the eyes when talking. Guilty pleasure: Any and all food, especially Thai and ice cream. Favorite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Hardest lesson learned: Opening two gyms at the same time. What did you want to be when you grew up? A football player in the NFL. Work week: Five days a week. I’m supporting my staff at both clubs. Last vacation: Disney World. Exercise/workout: I usually get a workout in before I start the work day. Person I’d most like to have lunch with: My mom. She passed away from breast cancer when I was 16. Best advice you ever got: Never be anxious for anything. forced him to hang up his cleats. Operating his own business was always his post-football goal, he says, “But it had to be the right opportunity.” When h is adviser brought him the Retro Fitness option, he immediately liked what he saw. The fitness segment is hot—and though it’s highly competitive, Garrard was sold on Retro Fitness and signed on. He’s opened two locations in the Jacksonville area with a third coming soon. Garrard and his wife Mary live in Jacksonville and are active in the daily operations of the gyms. They are also busy raising three children. Beyond the financial motivation, operating gyms made sense because, he says, “I work out every day anyway.” Working out and helping others attain their health and fitness goals has become a passion for Garrard, who says opening his own gyms was a natural progression both personally and professionally. The Retro Fitness model allows the Garrards a flexibility that’s important to them as parents. “It’s given me the chance to be home more and see my children growing up,” he says. That’s very different from life on the road in the NFL. Garrard is careful to point out that although there are some similarities to leading a football team and leading a business, he didn’t come into franchis- MANAGEMENT Business philosophy: You get out what you put in. Management method or style: Positivity. Greatest challenge: Having two gyms so early in my business career. Having to juggle two different franchises is hard. You want to spend enough time at both and give each of them 100 percent, and it’s tricky to balance them. How do others describe you? An easygoing, nice guy. One thing I’m looking to do better: Know the numbers. How I give my team room to innovate and experiment: Meet once a week and ask if anything new is on their minds. How close are you to operations? Another area I want to get better at. What are the two most important things you rely on from your franchisor? Everything. What I need from vendors: To continue to be innovators and come out with new items. The fitness industry depends on that—people want something new that challenges them in a new way. Also, when something goes wrong, I need my vendor to respond quickly and efficiently. 46 Have you changed your marketing strategy in response to the economy? How? It’s always changing and becoming more social media based. How is social media affecting your business? Greatly. We learn more about social media every day because it is so huge, especially in Jacksonville, where we’re seeing a lot of change from print to digital. Everyone has a device in their hands. You need to target to them right, and you do this by using social media. How do you hire and fire? My general manager handles HR-related issues. How do you train and retain? My GM handles this as well. How do you deal with problem employees? My GM handles this. He was recommended to me by Retro corporate and does a great job. Everyone has a smile on their face when I’m in the gym, so I really count on my GM to keep me in the loop about what is really going on. Fastest way into my doghouse: Missing work or being late repeatedly. MULTI-UNIT FRANCHISEE IS S UE IV, 2016 muf4_profile_garrard(44,46,48).indd 46 10/6/16 5:07 PM