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From Corporate World To Multi-Unit KidStrong Franchise Owners

by | Nov 20, 2023 | Podcast

FM 5 | KidStrong Franchise

 

Jasmine and Xan Carr got an early look at KidStrong before it skyrocketed and sold 400 units. Interestingly, when they heard about it, the KidStrong business model was being prototyped and hadn’t been franchised yet. They knew it was unique and special. When KidStrong began expanding through franchising, they eagerly joined as Area Developers. They left their W2 jobs, moved their young family to Louisiana, and started building their KidStrong business.

Today, Jasmine and Xan have five KidStrong locations open with plans to open many more throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

During this episode, they share their journey of building a successful multi-unit operation and share some insights into getting in early with an emerging franchise.

Listen to the podcast here

 

From Corporate World To Multi-Unit KidStrong Franchise Owners

I am joined by a brand that a lot of people talk about that came out of nowhere a few years ago. I am joined by multi-unit operators of KidStrong, Jasmine and Xan Carr. Welcome to the show. I’m glad you guys can make it.

Thanks for having us.

We’re excited to be here. 

You guys are down in Louisiana, right? That’s the home base for your multi-unit operation.

Yes. That’s correct. 

Were you guys from Louisiana originally?

I was born and raised in Louisiana. Xan was born and raised in Mississippi. We met here in Louisiana, and then together, we relocated to Dallas, Texas when we got married.

You guys were doing the corporate thing in Dallas before KidStrong?

That’s correct. I was in the healthcare sector. Xan was in marketing and business development.

I don’t want to dive into it too much yet but I was in the world of marketing and business development. That is what paved the path to meeting the CEO and Founder of KidStrong.

How did that connection happen?

Quite a few years back, I was involved in launching a very well-known boutique fitness brand. We were building them out across the area of North Texas. My paths crossed with Matt Sharp, the Founder and CEO of KidStrong. He reached out to me one day and said, “I know with your background in marketing and also being a father of young kids, I want to run this idea by you. I’m working on this concept in the back room of one of my CrossFit boxes in the middle of Kentucky. It’s this program for kids.” He ran it by me immediately. I was sold. I know Jasmine wants to tell the story from there, but it was super exciting. I came running through the front door home. I was like, “Jasmine, I have something to tell you.”

I have never seen him that excited about something. He came home. I was sitting on the floor with our two kids. I was pregnant with twins at that time. He was like, “I talked to this guy named Matt today. He and his wife are doing this thing with kids out of Kentucky. I can’t really explain it, but we’re going to get behind them and support them. There is nothing like this out there right now. If our kids need it, I can’t even imagine how many parents are looking for something like this for their kids.”

I was like, “We’re going to get behind people and support them and we don’t know who they are. You’ve had a single phone conversation with them and they live halfway across the country. You can’t even explain this concept to me. I don’t think that’s going to happen. That’s not reality.” He is very persistent. You guys will learn about that through this call. He spent quite a long time trying to convince me that was a good idea.

I grew up in Corporate America. I thought retirement was a 401(k) savings. I had no plans to diversify in any single aspect anytime soon, but he was different from me. I knew that from the first moment I met him. He was always talking about being his own boss, setting his own schedule, not reporting to anyone, doing his own thing, and doing things his own way. Me being in Corporate America, that’s not what I was used to. I was like, “You do you and I’ll be over here.” Over time, he started convincing me that there is a change in direction for us that makes sense.

He surprised me. Another two months later. he was like, “Matt and Megin are going to come to stay with us in our house this weekend.” We had moved into a new home. He was like, “They’re going to come stay with us. They want to get to know us. They want to talk us through what they’ve been working on.” They came and spent a weekend with us with their kids. They brought their kids with them. We got to know the family. Over the course of the next year, we spent time talking with them almost on a weekly basis, learning what their plans were and what their vision was.

The next time they came down, about a year later, Xan had lined up, and this is how persistent he is, a team of investors to invest in the first Texas location. He found real estate for them to look at. Over the course of that year, he was working on me to say, “KidStrong is our future,” but he was also working on them to say, “Frisco is your future. You guys need to move here. This is where you need to be to open up your next location.” After that second visit with us, they went home, packed up, listed their house, and relocated.

They relocated to Texas to the Frisco area.

Correct.

You are persistent, Xan.

I had to be. The hardest conversation in the beginning was when talking to some of my colleagues who became investors, it was pitching an idea of something that didn’t really completely exist. I knew if they got a chance to talk to Matt and Megin Sharp, which both of them are very dynamic and inspirational people, they could sell them on the idea. I’m a connector. I like to bring people together. That’s what happened here. It was a perfect situation and a perfect storm. I had the right team of people who were willing to get behind it from a financial perspective.

FM 5 | KidStrong Franchise

KidStrong Franchise: It was a perfect situation: the perfect storm with the right team of people who were willing to get behind it from a financial perspective.

 

That’s amazing. You guys learned about KidStrong when it was an idea. Was it even a franchise when you first heard about it?

It was not.

It was not even called KidStrong when we first got involved with it. That came a little bit further down the road.

Fast forward, the founders moved down to Frisco. You helped them find some investors. Was that the first location that was opened as the prototype of the model?

That was the first freestanding location. The flagship location is in Lexington, Kentucky. Frisco was the first freestanding. There were several iterations past that. It started with a single-floor model. They moved to a two-floor model. The really cool thing about it was when the first location in Texas opened, we put all four kids in. Our oldest was 5, our middle was 3, and then our twins were 18 months at the time. What we saw through our kids in a very short period of time from a physical growth perspective was pretty phenomenal.

We would like to think that our kids are athletic. All parents want their kids to be athletically inclined and be able to keep up on the playground and things like that. We thought that about our five-year-old. We put them in KidStrong and were like, “Your speed, agility, balance, and everything needs some work.” Fast forwarding to where we are, our twins, when they were five, were able to climb a rope from the bottom to the top. At four, they were crossing the monkey bars. At three, they were riding a bike without training wheels. That’s because they grew up in the program. It helped advance their physical literacy. Not only that, but what we took home from their classes was pretty cool, too. We were incorporating some of the teachings and some of the things that we learned through KidStrong.

One of our twins was an early walker. One thing that we learned with KidStrong is that’s not necessarily a good thing. Parents lean on that as being, “My child is so advanced. He’s walking so early.” It is setting them back a little bit because they need that coordination of the left and right movement with their hands and legs moving at the same time. That’s something I would not have known through KidStrong. We were able to practice even with an eighteen-month-old, crawling and making it fun at home for them because I knew that was working their brain the way it needed to. That was helping their body grow the way that it needed to. We were learning a lot, incorporating that stuff into our personal lives at home, too.

That’s amazing. I didn’t realize there were that much science and developmental aspects with kids behind it. Where did all of that come from? Was it the founders who had a background in this?

Megin has a background in Physical Education. She was a PE teacher for school and Matt has a background in tech, programming, and everything like that. What’s really cool about it is that KidStrong attracts good people to be in their HQ team or work in their centers. The programming was designed by OTs, physical therapists, pediatricians, CPTs, and teachers.

Matt and Megin started surrounding themselves with experts in child development. You see that throughout KidStrong. In our programming, we still have the support of advisors that has all of that background. They’re looking at, “What kids should be able to do? How do we advance them? What are the milestones that we’re looking at from a growth mindset perspective? What do we want to focus on? What’s missing in kids that are leaving high school today that we can start working on?”

Public speaking is a big piece of that for us. When you think about public speaking, it’s about standing up in front of an audience of people. It’s not just that. It’s about being able to raise your hand in a classroom and answer a question that a teacher is asking. A lot of kids are very nervous to do that.  KidStrong works on that skill in our class month after month. Our kids that go through KidStrong have no problem raising their hands in class, being the center of attention, and being called on and speaking up in front of their peers. 

When you think about public speaking, it's really about standing up in front of an audience of people. Click To Tweet

A lot of times, when people hear the name KidStrong, they think it’s a gem for kids. It’s whole child development. It’s not just the athletic skills, but it’s helping them win at life in all aspects.

It’s pretty cool, too, if we look at testimonials that come from parents. The biggest testimonial that we get is the increased confidence that kids have through the program. It starts with that physical literacy. When we’re building that up, the confidence starts to pull up as well. Kids start thinking, “If I can’t do it yet, I know what I have to do to try to get there.” That starts that goal setting for them. It’s a really cool cycle. 

I feel embarrassed saying this. We were talking about earlier offline how I have twins that are ten years old, a boy and a girl. Our son has had some developmental delays. One of them is apraxia. It’s a speech thing, but it also affects his whole body, his coordination, and everything. For a long time, we found that the trampoline parks have been a good place for him to go to exercise the body in a way that you can’t necessarily do every day, but there was nothing. There was nothing like KidStrong available when he was coming up at the time. I can see it. I feel embarrassed saying this. I had never heard of physical literacy. I’d never heard that term before, but it makes a ton of sense.

I had not either in KidStrong, but it makes a lot of sense when you start thinking about the developmental needs of kids and how they need to be able to move their body to avoid injury in the future or to be able to do all the things that kids need to be able to do. 

In the adult fitness space, we always say movement is medicine. Being able to then apply that theory with children, knowing that they’re able to retain that knowledge, and seeing it firsthand and seeing how much they’re able to grow in a very short period of time proves that saying is true.

It’s a cool concept. When did you guys get involved as franchisees?

As soon as that first location opened in Texas, Xan said, “We’re going to start franchising this.” It still was not a franchise concept at that point. I was like, “It’s not a franchise concept. Slow your roll.” I was still in Corporate America. While I was in Corporate America, and I did like it for a very long time and I spent sixteen years there, we got to a point where it did not fit with our work-life balance and what we wanted for our family.

Right when that first location opened, he started talking about franchising. It took him about two years to work on me to get me to the point that I was like, “Yes.” I hit that wall. I was commuting three hours a day. I was missing a lot of time at home. We did not want that for our family. We signed on to be developers before FDD existed. That’s how much we believed in KidStrong. Louisiana was home for me. When we signed on, we said, “We want to take this home. We want the program that we love for our kids to come home with us to the communities that we love,” so we brought it home to Louisiana. We also started developing Alabama.

FM 5 | KidStrong Franchise

KidStrong Franchise: We’re very passionate about the brand. We truly believe in what we are capable of delivering, on what the programming can do for families and communities.

 

Initially, we committed to the state of Louisiana. Along the way, we had the opportunity to acquire the majority of Alabama. We’re wrapping up the deal with Mississippi. Early on, we had Atlanta, Georgia as well, but we were blessed to have the opportunity to part ways with that and sell to private equity early on.

You guys sold to private equity. I know who he sold to. It ends with a five.

It was in the Atlanta market.

That’s awesome. You guys got involved before they had formally started franchising. How many locations had opened at the time that you guys made the decision to get involved?

We were number 7 to open, so they had 6 locations. There were two other developers that signed on right before us before there was an FDD. They were ahead in their development schedule than we were because Xan was still working on me to leave Corporate American and go all in on KidStrong. We were the third group to sign on. After us, that’s when the FDD came about and everyone else fell in under there. We opened our first location in September 2020, so right after the COVID shutdown.

There are a couple of things we can unpack there. You had the advantage. You knew the founders. You worked with them for a couple of years. You had seen it firsthand and been involved in helping them expand, mold, and evolve their concept. Xan, at what point were you like, “This is it. I believe in the idea,” but sometimes, when you believe in the idea, there has to be a financial reality to make it worth it. At what point were you like, “I know this is it.”

I had seen what other brands in the adult boutique were accomplishing. During that time, there was the massive expansion of Orangetheory, F45, and so many of these other great brands. I was seeing what that was doing and knowing that in the kids’ space, that potentially could be KidStrong. Also, we did tons of research. We knew that what somewhat existed in space was started many years ago and it never evolved over time. We knew that this would be the next big thing based on our experience and based on what we know about the market.

The financial piece, like with any other investment, comes with a certain level of risk, for sure. For me and Jasmine, we’d worked really hard to save up money over many years in 401(k)s and all this other stuff. People would be telling me I was crazy or that we were crazy. They were like, “You don’t pull from your 401(k) until you’re ready to retire,” but we believed in this enough that we knew that our money would be in good hands. We took that risk. We’re very blessed that it has certainly paid off, but it’s not done. There are 100 locations coming up soon and hundreds more in the near future.

Don't pull from your 401k until you're ready to retire. Click To Tweet

You guys opened your first one in September 2020. COVID, I would imagine, was still affecting the business at some point, right?

That’s correct. COVID was affecting the business. When we opened our doors, the COVID shutdown hadn’t passed. Kids were back in school, but there were still a lot of restrictions. Youth sports were shut down for a long time after that point. There was social distancing in schools. Kids were eating lunch in their classrooms and things like that. There wasn’t a lot of opportunity for the physical movement that kids needed and the socialization that they needed.

When we opened our doors, parents found us as a resource to allow their kids to get all that physical movement out and get their kids out of the house, but also have their kids socialize with other kids and parents be able to socialize in the lobby with other parents. It was a very nice space for families to come together and remember what it was like a little bit before everything got crazy for them.

We were asked this often. When people find out when we opened KidStrong Prairieville, which is a suburb of Baton Rouge, during the height of all things COVID, they’re like, “That must have really hurt your business.” For us, it didn’t. Honestly, it gave us a chance to take a breath, breathe, start the planning process, and create a strategy of, “When this world reopens, what are we going to do? How are we going to crush all these things that we’re going to put in place?” For us, we took advantage of the pandemic. Our businesses have thrived because of that.

I would say so because you got a few more open since then, right?

That’s correct. We have five open. We signed the lease for number six. The LOI is out for number 7 and he’s still looking at more spaces for 8 and 9. It’s full steam ahead for us. 

After you got your first one open in a weird place in the world, it sounds like it was a positive thing for your business as a place for families and kids to come to maybe get back to normalcy and feel normalcy for a little bit. You were doing some planning, strategy, and a lot of thought into planning your expansion. Was there anything that happened during that brainstorming phase or time that you look back on and you’re like, “We can point to that time when we chilled out and said, “Let’s take a hard look at all this with all this stuff that’s going on in the world.” Was there anything that you guys look back and you’re like, “That was the time that this happened that then led to this and led to us having 5, 6, 7, and 8 locations on the horizon.”

If I’m pointing to anything specific, it was the team building that we did during that time. What I mean by that is in order to scale, you have to have a team that is prepared to scale. Our experience with KidStrong prior to moving to Louisiana and the fact that our kids grew up in the program, they were trained by the best of the best coaches in GFW who are hired and trained by Matt and Megin Sharp. We knew exactly what we were looking for. The bar for us was extremely high on who we were going to bring to our team and who we were going to bring in as coaches.

To scale, you have to have a team that is prepared to scale. Click To Tweet

It’s pretty cool because we didn’t have a KidStrong open in Louisiana. We knew who we were looking for but we really didn’t know how to measure them up against what we knew we needed unless we could see them perform with our kids. We ended up hosting auditions in a park. Our kids were trained by the best so they knew exactly what good coaching looked like.

After the end of an audition, we would talk with the kids about the strengths of the coach that they met with. We’d ask them questions days after that audition to see if they still remembered the name of the coach, still remembered what that coach took them through as far as the warmup goes, and what stood out to them.

While they were working with the kids, we were sitting back and assessing their command presence and ability to perform and engage the parents. A big part of KidStrong is their ability to teach the kids, mentor the kids, and things like that. We picked our kids’ brains after that. It’s pretty cool because the first two hires that we made during that time became our regional team members. They’ve been able to open that first location and grow with us as we’ve grown and expanded. 

Your kids have a pretty good nose for talent, huh?

Correct. 

That’s awesome. That’s so smart, though. As you were building your team and as you are expanding your team, do you hire on attitude? Do you look for specific things in people’s backgrounds or any kind of specific experience? Do you still hold auditions like that? How have you gone about building your team since then?

If we’re opening in a new market and there’s not a KidStrong around, we will host auditions. If we have a KidStrong around, then we’ll have them come in, watch classes, and train them on the floor in an existing center.

We do things based on what we call KidStrong Coach DNA or KidStrong Director DNA. There are certain qualities that we look for. For us at least, we don’t want to hire all of our coaches to be exactly the same. Otherwise, that’s going to be a little boring. You want someone who’s going to be a performer, a leader, or a teacher. They’re from different backgrounds.

One thing you’ll hear us say a lot is that we don’t hire just to hire. We truly look for the best of the best, people that we know we can give the tools and the training to, but ultimately, there’s something unique about them. That’s why we call them a unicorn. That’s what we’re looking for. It’s something that is very special and that separates them from every other applicant that comes through the front door.

To expand on that, one of KidStrong’s core values is we’re a who-first company. If we can find an individual who is passionate about the brand and really believes in the mission, we can find a good spot on the team for them. Matt Sharp says it all the time. It is more important to hire right than train. You can give all the training that you need to someone, but if they are not the right person and they’re not passionate about the job, they’re not going to perform to the best of their abilities in that role.

We look for people who align with the mission, and then we find the right place on the team for them. It makes that training a whole lot easier because they’re doing something that they love and they want to continue learning. Once they’re trained up, then it’s all about supporting them and trusting them through the process.

When I pivoted from Corporate America, healthcare, and everything, I pivoted 100% into KidStrong. I left that space. One of my biggest fears in completely changing industries and going out on our own was not being able to support the team. I was not going to let that be a deterrent. I was never going to allow myself to use that excuse of, “I can’t help you.” I made sure that I went through coach training. I went through center director training. I ran our first location as Center Director for six months. I put myself in every single position that we had and learned the role. That way, if there is ever a need, my team knows they can pick up the phone and call me.

The direct opposite of being an absentee owner is what she did. She went 100% in.

You guys are the definition of all-in. You relocated your family for an emerging brand. You could validate that you thought it was becoming what it could be, but still, you got in really early. You relocated the family, a young family, and here you are three years later, right?

Yes.

It has been fun. 

You guys opened your first location in September 2020. You have five locations with a lease and at least the sixth and others in the process. You guys have been opening every six months. Is there any insight, looking back, that you can offer somebody who’s thinking about getting into the multi-unit franchise world as you guys have expanded to 5 locations in about 3 years? Is there a strategy there or is it like, “We know we want to be in these markets. If there’s a good lease that pops up, we’re willing to take it down.” Is there any thought in terms of how you guys have gone from the single location to the multi-unit side of things?

You can’t wing it in the space, especially with development timelines and everything like that. There is a strategy associated with it. It’s a partnership. Xan is really focused on real estate site selection and going through that entire process. I lead the day-to-day operations for the centers that are either in presale and/or that are open. With his marketing and business development background, he focuses on that for the entire space for us. It’s all about partnership.

We have to keep moving forward. We don’t want anyone to beat us to market. We don’t want any other concept that could emerge to try to beat us to market. You’ve probably heard this in our voices. We’re very passionate about the brand. We truly believe in what we are capable of delivering and what the programming can do for families and the communities that we’re opening in. We want to make sure that we get there first.

There is certainly a strategy behind the locations that we’re picking and all that. For people who are thinking about doing multi-unit development and all that and who have never gone down the path of the franchise, one of the things I could ask most about, too, is the finance side of things. If it’s an emerging brand, these people need to know that they may struggle to find the entity that will loan them the money. They’re like, “What does that mean? How are you going to come up with the capital?”

To open a KidStrong, you may need maybe $500,000. We try and figure that out. For more established brands, I realized, you can go out and take out an SBA and this and that. With a fast-growing emerging brand like KidStrong, certainly, those have been the challenges of saying, “We can go sign a lease, but where’s the money coming from?” We have to figure that out, too.

That’s all the things that we have had to figure out along the way being first-time franchise owners. We were like, “The financial piece, we got that figured out. Now, how do we build out a center and work with architects and contractors? What do we do about that?” It’s then like, “Now that we’ve got that done, how do we start running pre-sale, market our own business, and everything like that?” While we had backgrounds in marketing, operations, and things like that, there was a lot of new territory for us, but we surrounded ourselves with mentors. They’re people who have done it before and people who have experienced it and lived it. We leaned on them to help guide us along the way.

We surround ourselves with mentors. People who have done it before, people who have experienced it, who have lived it, and just leaned on them to help guide us along the way. Click To Tweet

We were drinking from a fire hose, especially with that first location that we opened, but we learned a lot with that first location. I’ve heard the phrase, “You cut your teeth on your first location.” You apply that knowledge to your second location and third location. We’re still learning. We have five open, but we’re learning new things all the time about how to make our businesses perform better and how to prepare ourselves better for the next location that comes on board.

Through that, over time, with KidStrong’s growth and evolution, they’ve been able to support us in different ways as well as they’re growing as a brand. That’s been a really cool thing to witness. When we had those first conversations with Matt and Megin, they were training 30, 40, to 50 kids in the back of a box in Kentucky. We’re training 40,000-plus kids across the country in Canada. It’s been cool to see the evolution of KidStrong. The continuation of innovation that KidStrong is putting out there is pretty cool.

It’s evolving. It evolves every day. Matt and I were texting about things I’m seeing, like positive change. The word change scares a lot of people, but that’s the thing about KidStrong. It’s constantly changing and constantly evolving. That’s amazing. As we scale to 100 plus very soon not just on a national but an international level, you have to have that team in place and be able to support that level of change.

At some point during the growth, the Orangetheory franchise owners got wind of KidStrong. Wasn’t there a mini-wave of folks who have had success in the OTF system that started to come into KidStrong?

I could say this. It was some initial posts that we were doing on probably LinkedIn and stuff. I was already connected to that brand. I was involved with that brand for quite some time.

You were involved with OTF before? I didn’t realize that.

Yeah. I was part of the management group that launched Orangetheory in North Texas. When I left that, I went into consulting with a lot of other brands mainly through LinkedIn. KidStrong HQ was posting and saying, “We’re growing.” They would tag me and a few other people. A lot of my connections and a lot of my colleagues would see it. They were like, “I have to know.” Some of the big names in the world of OTF, some of the largest developers, have since come on board with KidStrong. That’s been super exciting.

It says a lot. I see OTF as a little bit of a unicorn in terms of what happened to that brand over a 15-year run becoming a billion-dollar brand in 13 years or something like that.

It was amazing what they accomplished. The first one we opened was number 129. Now there are 2,000 locations or something.

It’s wild. They’re a total unicorn. You then have the L5 connection, too, that came in and got involved with KidStrong corporate. They also operate a bunch of Orangetheorys around the country. Your background in Orangetheory, Xan, is funny to watch. You know it well. Was KidStrong ready for big-time experienced operators? I say that Orangeyheory franchise operators are a little spoiled to some degree with everything about that business. To some degree, they didn’t have to work for it. There are not a lot of businesses that can rival an OTF. Did you see they were ready for those kinds of operators to come into the system and open locations?

It’s interesting. Both Jasmine and I are on some national committees for KidStrong. One is called the FAC. There’s the MAC on the marketing side. We’re constantly talking to other franchisees. Many of them, whether they come from Orangetheory or other brands, we do have to remind them that we’re still a young brand. The 100th location hasn’t even opened yet.

Many of them came aboard with Orangetheory after it was more of an established brand. That’s something to remember where we are in the growth process as a young brand. Those who were involved with Orangetheory pretty early on remember that there were a lot of challenges. There were a lot of hiccups. Orangetheory, even HQ, it wasn’t like it is now, which is this major hub down in Fort Lauderdale of some amazing people. Back then, it was super small.

It is reminding other franchisees that we’re still a growing brand. KidStrong HQ has added some amazing people to their HQ team, which is so much fun for us to be able to see. As Jasmine said earlier, in the beginning, it was me, Jasmine, then Matt and Megin Sharp, and maybe 2 or 3 other people. Every single Wednesday night for weeks, we would meet over Zoom at 8:00 PM. That was KidStrong HQ. That was it. I don’t even know how many employees they have. They have put in the infrastructure and the team to support this level of growth.

Did the founders think that the chances of KidStrong becoming what it is was a real thing?

Yes.

You guys believed in it.

I don’t know if I should even say this, but Matt and I had a call and he painted his vision for me. This was after we had launched Frisco. He painted his vision. At that time, he had the flagship in Lexington, then you had Frisco, Texas. He painted the picture and said, “This is the plan.”

If we think back on what Matt said during those early conversations about what his vision was and where it is now, he has checked all of those boxes. It’s been really cool to see that vision from someone like that come all the way to fruition and know that it’s going to continue to evolve and grow. Support kids and the community is amazing.

In the last text he sent me, he said, “We’re getting started.” That’s how we left off. We were texting about some really good things and he was like, “We’re getting started.” There are big things to come, for sure. 

It’s always interesting in the emerging franchise world. Every brand, when they start to franchise, they’re like, “We’re going to become a national player. We’re going to have hundreds of locations.” They all say it. What it takes to get there is not an overnight thing. It’s a multi-year thing. It starts at the top with the leadership. It starts with the business model, but then, it’s the people behind the brand. It’s those early franchisees, too, that can make such a difference in the trajectory of how the organization successfully expands via franchising. It’s always this crazy statistic that I’ve heard. I’ve heard 16% of the 3,000-plus franchise concepts, and this includes food, ever get to over 100 locations open. That’s wild when you think about it. It’s 600 and change of concepts.

Something they did early on super smart, and we’ve never really talked about this, is instead of selling onesies and twosies, like single units, in the very beginning, they were only doing area developer-type rights. They’re like, “I’m not going to sell you one location. You’re going to have to buy an entire state or entire region,” or something like that. Looking back on it has helped instead of selling the onesies and twosies. We all know many other brands that they’ll sell you a single unit like that. Looking back, that was a huge play that they did.

Why do you think that area of development strategy from the get-go was a good thing for their long-term growth?

One is brand consistency, for sure. They were able to attract some big names in the world of franchise.

They were people who had experience in the world of franchise.

I know we’ve talked about Orangetheory, but not just guys from Orangetheory. These are some heavy hitters that are involved with many other franchise brands.

When you say area developer, are you recruiting other franchisees within your states or you guys are the franchisees? You bought the rights to develop the states.

We bought the rights. Orangetheory does AR or Area Representative Model. For us, we own the rights and we also have to develop what we signed to develop for that region.

That’s interesting. What was it about the AD opportunity coupled with the KidStrong opportunity that you felt they were able to recruit folks like yourself to sign up for ADs and also get in some other talented folks to help set the foundation for the early days within the organization? Was it maybe ADs are a unique concept and the ADs aren’t that common to come by in terms of being able to take down a big area to control the rights to?

Not necessarily. I don’t know if we could speak to all of that, but Xan made a good point when he talked about brand consistency. That was something that Matt was very protective over, and rightfully so. This is his and Megin’s baby. They wanted to make sure, especially with these first 100 locations, that the level of service at each location is consistent and the same. If you come to a KidStrong in Prairieville, Louisiana, you should be able to get the same service in Miami, Florida, or in McKinney, Texas.

They wanted to make sure that the level of consistency, the level of coaching, and the looks and feel of each location were the same. They really did a nice job building up their brand playbook and then protecting it well, too. By doing the area developer model, they attracted the right developers who would also be very protective of the brand.

These individuals also come with the financial resources. They have more access to capital than you would see with some of the onesies and twosie-type deals that we’ve seen other brands go about doing. With the emerging brand, coming up with that capital and finding how to finance these locations early on was a little bit of a struggle. You have to know how to navigate around that. A lot of the larger developers that came on board early on already knew how to do it.

How those first few franchisees perform defines the trajectory that that franchise company’s long-term growth that we’ll see or not see. There’s a lot of wisdom in that. Did Matt and his wife have franchising experience prior at all or was this their first foray into the franchise world?

Matt and Megin owned some pretty successful CrossFit locations. I know that’s not a franchise, but they had some CrossFit locations throughout Kentucky. I don’t want to say this without knowing for sure, but they were probably the most successful CrossFit locations in the whole state of Kentucky. Another company he had founded, that particular company was a vendor to many franchise brands out there, so he was certainly familiar with the space. He had the chance to have a lot of great meetings with some big names in the world of franchise. I remember I would get different calls from him saying, “You won’t believe who I’m about to go meet with.” He was able to get in and meet with a lot of great people to mentor him throughout this journey.

He and Megin have always positioned themselves as students, so they’re constantly learning and hungry for more information. They surround themselves with people who will teach them something new or give them new information so they can then take that to their business and grow their business. They also are good at attracting really strong talent. They brought in a lot of people on their HQ team. I don’t remember who it was, but I’ve seen it before where you have to hire someone who’s smarter than you. I’m not saying that they’re bringing in a whole bunch of people smarter than them.

They’re humble.

Exactly. They’re very humble. They’re bringing in the right level of finance support, the right level of marketing, support, and the right level of operational support on their HQ team that can then support the franchisees.

That’s cool. They sound like great leaders of the company. Let’s go back to you guys. I have a couple more questions for you here. Long-term, what’s the grand plan for you guys? Not only do you have a successful multi-unit operation, but you have a successful multi-unit and multi-state operation. What does the grand plan look like?

As we’re continuing to develop KidStrong locations, we’re also looking for other diversification opportunities. Our main goal and our sights are set on continuing to develop our location. We’ve got the next couple coming on board in Louisiana. We’re going to start developing Mississippi. We’re going to finalize our development schedule in Alabama. From there, we want to build up those centers and build up those teams.

For us and KidStrong in particular, it’s never really been about the money. I know that sounds a little cliché, but we had a goal, and our goal is to reach thousands of kids across the Deep South. We all know the statistics that are in place in a lot of Southern states about obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Our goal is to get more kids moving and to be able to provide KidStrong to thousands of kids.

We know that the money will come. Money will happen if you’re passionate about something usually, but that was never our motivating factor for this. We are nowhere near done yet with the number of KidStrongs that we’re going to open. One day, we’ll get to that point and then we can decide the next steps. As Jasmine mentioned, we are actively also looking at other things to invest in and other businesses.

Like any good entrepreneur would, right?

That’s right.

Some of which will complement what we’re doing with KidStrong. There are a lot of fun things in the works.

Congratulations. What you guys have built and are building and some of the life changes you had to make to move to Louisiana from Texas, leave the corporate world behind, and bet on KidStrong but mainly yourselves to build this is amazing. Congratulations.

Thank you.

Thanks. 

I appreciate you guys coming on here and talking a little bit more about your journey and your story. There are a lot of nuggets in your story that aspiring franchisees, aspiring entrepreneurs, or current franchisees that are thinking about scaling through the multi-unit strategy, there’s a lot of wisdom in here. Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share before we wrap it up?

For anyone who is considering a franchise business, making sure that you surround yourself with those who will support you is a big key. Bite the bullet. It’s fun. It’s easy to talk yourself out of it, but it’s a lot of fun to go with your gut and follow your instincts. I’m glad I followed.

It only took Xan two years, right, to get you on board?

That’s right.

That’s awesome. 

For us, I was lucky enough to have a really good mentor who was in the franchise space and was launching a bunch of franchises throughout Dallas. I was a sponge. I learned so much from him. That’s what I would encourage other people to do. Find someone that you can learn from. Learn from their successes and from their mistakes. Be that sponge and absorb as much knowledge as you can.

If you ask them, they’ll help you. Most people will help you if you ask, “Can I buy you coffee and pick your brain a little bit?”

Jazz and I would love that. We love it when people reach out for that reason, to say, “Can I run this by you? I’m thinking about getting involved with XYZ business or whatever. Can I pick your brain for five minutes?” We’d love it. That’s what we’re here for. It is to support others.

On that note, if somebody wants to get in touch with you, what’s the best way for anybody who’s reading or anybody who has kids in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi, who wants to put their kids in your programs? What’s the best way to get in touch with you guys?

Outside of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, go to the KidStrong website and find the nearest location, too. I’m sure any of the franchisees would be willing to talk with you. Reach out to the corporate team. If you’re interested in KidStrong, you can go to the website and click on Own A KidStrong and learn more about that opportunity as well.

Good stuff. I’ll let you guys get back to it. Thanks again for coming on here and talking.

Thank you.

Thank you. 

I’ll see you guys. 

Bye.

 

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