Being a franchisee offers its own set of challenges that is unique from those encountered on a daily basis by the people at the top tier. But what if you’re wearing both hats at the same time? That is what Bryce Henson does every day as the Vice President of Fit Body Boot Camp as well as the owner of three of its locations. In this conversation with Cameron Herold, he describes what it looks like to be second-in-command at the world’s fastest-growing indoor fitness boot camp franchise while getting boots on the ground as a franchisee. He also shares how the company has struggled and adapted as a franchise, what franchisors do well that a typical business can benefit from, and what other secrets he learned in the trade that other companies can use in their daily operations.
Bryce Henson is the Vice President of Fit Body Boot Camp, the world’s fastest-growing fitness boot camp franchise. Having over ten plus years of experience in the fitness industry and owning three Fit Body Boot Camp locations, his passion is spreading fitness to the world in addition to mentoring fitness professionals on how to grow their businesses and change more lives in their local communities. Bryce also co-leads Fit Body Boot Camp Mastermind Group, an exclusive coaching group for high performing fitness professionals. Bryce was born in Atlanta, Georgia, grew up in Michigan and has spent most of his adult life in California. He’s a graduate of Michigan State University and speaks Brazilian and Portuguese fluently, having lived in Brazil. He also enjoys world travel and is a fitness expert, coach, author, and inspirational leader. How are you doing? It’s good to have you on the show.
Likewise, Cameron. How are you doing?
I’m good. It’s nice to see you again. You and I met a few years ago at a mastermind event with the CEO and partner of your business, Bedros. How long have you been with Fit Body?
In the franchise and the leadership team, I’ve been the Vice President now for a few years. June of 2018 was when I came on board in that capacity. Rewind the clock when I first was introduced and basically took the leap of faith within Fit Body Boot Camp was mid-2012. It’s been over a couple of years that I’ve been affiliated with the brand.
What was it that got you to go full-time and to join the head office to be on the franchisor side?
It was a combination of a few things. It’s being in mastermind rooms and coaching rooms of our CEO and Founder Bedros Keuilian who as you alluded to, a partner of mine, was also a mentor and business coach. Spending six years with him, taking action on his coaching development relationship, having success, being a multi-location owner was a bit of the right place and right time with my success and the relationship that we developed. He knew that the franchise was growing, and it needed someone to help him on the leadership front and be his right-hand guy.
He proactively reached out to me and he always gives me a hard time because it wasn’t an immediate, yes. As all hard-charging type-A entrepreneurs are, I had my head down and a plan in place but over a few months, we dialogued and talked about the position. It seemed to me after quite a few exchanges that I can make a bigger impact, I can help more people and have more significance and contribution at the franchise level.
I’ve been asked a lot over the years if a franchisee is an entrepreneur. I know the direction you’re going to go with this. What would you say on that one?
I would say it’s training wheels. Our founder has a different viewpoint on it. I’m not going to give you a direct answer because a franchisee has entrepreneurial tendencies, wishes, wants and desires, but also still wants that support paint-by-numbers done for you system. There’s somewhere in the gray zone there.
They’re entrepreneurs in that they’ve started a company, they’re responsible for other people’s wages, and they’re not guaranteed anything. It’s a result of them following systems, building something, and scaling. The training wheels are there with the guidelines, but you can buy a franchise and be horribly unsuccessful or be horribly successful, and it comes down to your execution of the systems and the people.
You’ve got to be willing to be coachable. Also having a passion and desire to execute, implement whatever business model that you’re against. What I see now is especially pre-COVID, as the fitness industry has taken off with the correlation of our world economy in the last decades. In the last few years, a lot of people were not in fitness but saw the opportunity and the numbers jumped in. I would still say that in our specific industry, people that typically do the best are ones that have training experience in the past and/or a love or a passion for it because they’re able to execute in your words, the systems, and the guidelines much better.
You’ve been able to see both sides of the franchise system where you were a franchisee and owning three different locations, and you moved off to be on the franchisor side. What do you think you’ve learned on the franchisor side that maybe you didn’t know or didn’t expect to see when you were a franchisee?
I’m still on both.
Is it harder being a franchisee than you thought it might have been?
It’s harder being on the franchisor than I thought it would be but I still am a franchisee. I have a dual role, which is definitely an interesting dichotomy. Sometimes it’s certainly challenging, but many times it provides a lot more visibility, growth, and in-progress being that I see both sides. When I first joined as a franchisee back in 2012, I had sales experience. I had decades of over-the-phone sales, which gave me enough confidence to be able to take on this venture, but I didn’t have any marketing experience. I didn’t have any business operations experience so I was coming into the franchise. That’s what I was looking for and thankfully, I found it. I was able to shore up those weaknesses that enabled me to be a stronger business owner and operator.
How about being a franchise? What do you think made Fit Body Boot Camp a successful franchisor? What do you think for others that are maybe thinking about franchising that they have to consider?
Starting from the top down, our CEO and founder is an incredible expert marketer, communicator, entrepreneur and visionary. Foundationally he started Fit Body Boot Camp at the grassroots level in 2008 and 2009 right off the economic crash that you and I were talking about before the show. To have a visionary start in a down market provided a lot of upward growth because we are able to gain market traction quickly. We didn’t end up franchising until 2012 so it’s a couple of years later. We ran as a licensee program.
What do you think it is that a franchisor has to do to be successful as a franchisor? Are there a couple of rules that would make a franchise more successful? I don’t think it can be that our product or our service is that unique. You don’t need to come up with the coolest whatever.
It’s a combination of what I’ve seen. It’s a strong vision and you should be able to sell in the market in whatever concept, idea, and business model that you have, but also on the back end, strong operations, paint-by-numbers and detail-oriented. In the last few years, as our brand was made and evolved, we’re growing up. It has made a pivot to double down on the operations and focus because for a long period of time we’ve had explosive and exponential growth for the first 6 or 7 years of us being a franchisor, but our operations, support, and training lagged behind and now that we’re at a size where it hit critical mass, we’ve realized we need to shore that up. It’s a dichotomy two-part question but both of them are foundational to being successful if you’re considering being a franchisor.
How many locations do you guys have now?
We have under 400 open and operating.
I know you’ve got one here in Vancouver. It’s about a mile from my home that I’ve been to. How many states are you operating in?
Probably in the ballpark of 30.
You’re running a complicated business in terms of the span of control, what you have to oversee, and the brand and systems. How do you stay focused on what matters and avoid getting stuck in the weeds and avoid getting stuck as the majoring in the minors?
We’ve probably been guilty at sometimes being stuck in the weeds or going off a limb and taking the idea fairy. Hiring good coaches and that’s how we first met in a mastermind group but certainly have hired you for coaching, so good coaching that I’ve seen of what’s ahead. Also, we’ve adopted a system called EOS Entrepreneurial Operating System based on a book and a concept by a gentleman named Gino Wickman. The book is called Traction. That helped us over the last few months to streamline and make sure that priorities are priorities and we’re not getting distracted by the not so important projects.
I know Gino well and he would love the fact that you almost called them Gino Traction. He’d be thrilled with that.
Tell him I said hi. I’m a big fan.
He’d be like, “I made it. We made it.” Gino is also a member of two different masterminds that I’m in. He’s been a member of the Genius Network for years and he’s also a part of Strategic Coach. We used to see each other every few months. What’s your role then as Vice President? How do you and Bedros divide up between the CEO and the VP role? He seems to be good at letting you do your job and not micromanaging you on a lot of it as well. Is that a heavy assumption I made?
The assumption is accurate. He definitely is a leader and visionary. He’s not a micromanager. I would like to credit myself a little bit in the fact that he knows and probably established some trust and seeing things in me that he felt the need not to micromanage, which has been great. It’s been an evolving role even more so since I’ve taken the seat at the leadership table. We’ve gone through a major infrastructure as a brand. We updated our design, which we call 4.0. We’ve added a supplement line and we’ve changed technology. We added a lot so because of that, it’s been dynamic. The role changes every 3 to 4 months in shifting from focus. We are excited to see the light at the end of the tunnel as the infrastructure is being laid.
COVID threw a nice surprise and extended that but infrastructure will fully be laid but this all to say my specific role in the accountability chart by Gino Wickman is the Director of Coaching and Profitability. That’s a concept in a department that I came to Bedros probably about 6 to 9 months in the role seeing the need for better coaching and better operational support. My thought was, “Who better to be able to provide that coaching and operational support to our franchisees than successful franchisees?”
We were able to assemble a team of six, some of our most successful franchisees in the brand and they are our coaches within the coaching and profitability team. An example of having a strong vision and also trusting some of the decisions and proposals I brought to the table and it’s worked out well. That is my focus and there’s another VP in the company who is a bit more of a hired gun. His name is Matt Wilber, a good friend of mine, and he’s out in Michigan. He’s the only personal leadership team that’s not here in Southern California at our main office. His specific role is to create the Fit Body Way, which is the process and the systems of our brand in addition to running and executing our world-renowned Eight Week Challenges.
He and I work collaboratively, not only to be able to coach our owners on how to be more successful but also to create the playbook because we are still at the end of that infrastructure build, which we released. That’s my role in terms of directing, coaching, and profitability, working with our other VP to crystallize the Fit Body Way and now to implement and execute the Fit Body Way, which is our new system and operating system of how we do things.
Matt owns locations as well, correct?
He does. He’s our most successful franchise owner by a few metrics. One, in terms of the number of locations. He has nine in the State of Michigan and also in terms of financially the highest revenue-generating facilities in our brand. He’s a great and successful dude.
Does the company own any corporate locations as well or are the two VPs both on locations and you’re able to oversee them that way?
The latter. We don’t own any corporate locations, only the VPs.
You get a lot of insights. The company gets a lot of insights because two of the VPs own a lot of them so it serves the same intent that a corporate location might serve, which is you can practice stuff out. If a new system comes out, your locations are using it for sure right away. You’re operating at the best of what the manuals already got out there, correct?
Absolutely. We’re creating the manual as we go as well so it’s a dual role there but you hit it spot on. Also, it’s spinning up that coaching and profitability team. There are six other owners that also contribute. They’re coaching owners that are part of my CAP team as we call them. It stands for Coaching And Profitability. They have their own locations and they’re also able to contribute as well. The last point is a contribution, and Cameron, I credit you for this in our coaching. You provided this recommendation. It was to create the Franchise Advisory Council or the FAC. We spun that up under your guidance, and we completed a year. We had a meeting to kick off 2021 and that’s been foundational and fundamental to our success. Being able to take that feedback in addition to the locations, Matt, myself, and our CAP team has to get a better understanding of our brain as a whole and work to support them better based on that feedback.
Where have you struggled with that Franchise Advisory Council? What lessons can you pass on? For anyone who doesn’t understand franchising, a Franchise Advisory Council operates almost a two-way funnel. It takes the ideas from the head office down to the franchisees and it takes the ideas from the franchisees up to corporate without becoming a union steward type of model. Where have you guys struggled and learned and had to adapt as you’ve put one in place because it’s never easy?
No, it wasn’t easy in selecting the right people, trying to figure out the metrics in terms of receiving applications, and selecting the committee. We meet quarterly based on your guidance and that’s worked out well but two of the meetings only are in person and the other two are Zoom, virtual. We’re sitting here on a Zoom in virtually as well. Anytime you can meet in person, I feel that the bigger breakthroughs are when we do a full two-day event with our FAC versus a 90-minute call on Zoom. I would say we still struggle with that a little bit but we’re all fired up with great energy because fortunately, we’re able to have the in-person meeting.
I’m glad we’re starting to move towards some of that in-person stuff again. Tell me about what the normal everyday company can pull from a franchisor? What is it that the franchisor does well that a typical business can benefit from? All franchisors have a whole skillset area that most normal companies don’t have. One of them is we have to replicate these systems that can use the lowest common denominator. One is that we have the span of control, that’s something quite big with a P&L that maybe isn’t huge and others that were quickly operating in multiple states or countries, whereas many companies don’t. I’m curious if there are any business lessons there that the everyday entrepreneur or the everyday COO who’s reading can pull from a franchisor?
For us, because our visionary, our CEO has been such a strong marketer and salesmen, our brand exploded quickly. That was our forte and still is until this day. Comparatively, we lagged in terms of the operations and support of that nature but it’s one of those things in terms of a crash course, we’ve had to get good at specifically in the last couple of months. Because we’ve grown quickly, we needed to make sure that we had the systems, the training, and the operations to make sure that our franchisees were successful. A crash course in creating an operations manual, training, and executing on any franchisor who has any amount of success is going to be good at it. We’re still learning and we’ve come a long way but that’s been something that anyone can learn from us or any successful franchisor.
Cameron, I was humbled when I walked into the franchise or leadership team getting my teeth around all the legalities of being a franchisor, from the FTD to the FA and all the rules and regulations. What a CEO or someone who’s a leader outside the franchising system can learn from any franchisor is how to get good at operations, training, and understand the legalities because the system is definitely regulated. Another comparison is the financial industry. I’m sure it has a lot of regulations as well. Anyone on the outside looking in can gain a lot from that crash course in education that a franchisor has.
Most franchisees tend to go through the same evolution as humans do. When we’re born and we’re a year old, our moms feed us, they change your diaper and we think our parents are amazing. When we’re two years old, it’s the terrible twos. It’s the, “No, no, no.” As teenagers, our parents are jerks and we all want to get out of the house. We’re twenty, we break free, we move out and we’re doing it on our own but we realize our parents aren’t perfect, but they sure knew how to cook better food than I do.
We have kids for the first time. We’re like, “My parents were way smarter than I ever gave them credit for.” We go through that normal evolution. Franchisees go through this evolution where at some point, they hate the franchisor and they don’t know why they’re paying royalties. How did you go through that where you’re straddling both sides? You’re on the franchisor side and on the franchisee side? How do you not get pissed off at the franchisor? It’s inevitable. Every teenager gets pissed off at their parents. How do you not get pissed off the franchisee when you are the franchisor as well?
I would say sometimes I do get pissed off with a franchisor even though I am the franchisor. It’s a double-edged sword there. That is true. I forget the book that I read about franchising that’s probably recommended by you that went through that life cycle.
Greg Nathan was the author of it. The Franchise E-Factor.
That’s it. It was true and that is the stage not only anecdotally, but also seeing that from many partners and owners that we have. Additionally, we started the infrastructure change. Change is never easy and people resist change, myself included. It’s part of human nature so when you add in the complexity of creating new infrastructure, updating your design, adding new POS, adding new technology, and adding this and adding that also causes complications. That’s been a big struggle that we’ve been through, but it is part of the process. We feel blessed to have franchisees, especially in this COVID situation.
As horrific as it’s been for many businesses across the country and the world, ourselves included because the challenge is still there, it allowed our leadership team to step up. We’ve come to the table even greater than we’ve had previously and because of that, I feel that expedited the additional journey around the horn if you will, to that level of gratitude. In your words, you come to the realization that your parents knew what they were talking about. That’s a little bit of anecdotal experience and where we’ve come from and where we’re at now.
It’s funny. Years ago, I was coaching an early-stage franchise company at the time. They’re now quite mature with a couple of hundred locations all through the US and Canada. It’s called Nurse Next Door. I remember when I came in to start coaching them, everyone on their team thought I was amazing. It’s like, “This Cameron guy knows all this stuff.” I’m like, “You should tell the people at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? how smart I am because they still don’t think so.” Even though I’ve been there building the whole company, it’s like listening to your uncle versus listening to your dad. My uncle is smart but my dad is an idiot. Meanwhile, your cousins think your dad is smart, and their dad is an idiot.
It’s the parent’s voice. We had a mastermind meeting, and we talked about the parent voice. It is spot on that your parent can tell you something blue in your face, but when your uncle or someone else removed says the same thing, a light bulb goes on and you’re more open. It’s true and funny at that.
We have to recognize that as a company, it’s often one of the reasons why you bring in a consultant or facilitator for leadership team meetings or coaches because they provide that uncle voice versus the parent voice. When we were talking about a few years ago, you were going through some big IT infrastructure changes, some back-end changes on the company, and there were some problems with it. You guys were struggling with some of that. You might have even got it implemented and roll it back to the original system. Can you walk us through some of what you learned as a company on that IT integration, the real, “We screwed this thing up,” or “We got taken advantage of?” What are the lessons from that? It was some big stuff for you, guys. It was hard for the franchisees and the franchisor.
For a long period of time, a solid twelve months that was something that you talked about the roles that my CEO and I attacked. That was an ever-changing evolution because of that unfortunate situation. There are two situations from an IT perspective that we rolled out. The one that we brought back, and we were putting out, and I’m not going to name names, but a software well-known franchise. We thought we were going to be able to support our franchisees from an operations perspective. We did the testing and we learned. That was a second experience but we learned from round one, which was a different platform that was going to be our POS and whatnot for our franchisees.
We went through a testing protocol and after about 60 days, we realized that unfortunately, this system wasn’t going to be conducive to our brand. Even though it was a bit of a bummer that happened in the way that it did, we were able to do testing and get feedback and we made the decision that it wasn’t best, so that was a win. The first situation was challenging. We changed our infrastructure, software, and POS system for our brand and it was rocky, to say the least.
The big learning lessons are we were super ambitious. We had a timeline in place and we knew we wanted to run a big eight-week challenge, which we’re now known for but we tried to do too much too soon. We didn’t go through the proper channels and didn’t get the feedback. When we started making conversions, we did it in such a short timeline, as you know being in franchise and franchising, not every franchisee is in the same place. Some are executing in all cylinders and you have others that are barely keeping up to keep the doors open.
When we pushed out the new technology in that’s such a strict timeline without the proper vetting and feedback, the top 25% took it in stride. They executed but there was a large amount of percentage that had a tough time. There’s too much too soon. I lead with the initial example but we’ve since then rolled out a couple of other initiatives way much more smoothly because of what we learned there. We did the due diligence, started talking about it, got feedback, created a testing group and whenever we made that transition, we gave proper time. That’s been a game-changer, a learning lesson that we will take with us moving forward.
Who was managing the communication of all that while you were working with the franchisees that were frustrated and disgruntled? What did you guys learn on the communication sites? You handled it quite well.
Proactive communication is everything. Also getting feedback, laying things out prior, creating an FAC to be able to run ideas off of is supercritical versus taking the approach of a few small people making a decision. We hit the ground running hard, communicating that this is the timeline and this is the deadline. Go. That didn’t work out well whatsoever. It’s proactive communication, creating a test group, communicating with them often, giving them time to dive in and understand the initiative and the platform that you layout, and checking in with them. Once you check in with them, get them in your ethers to develop not only a communication plan but an execution plan around it. Those are all key things that we’ve learned in the process. As our CEO, Bedros always says, “If you’re going to over or under-communicate, which there’s nothing perfect in life, you always want to err on the side of over-communication, which will save you a lot of heartaches.”
You mentioned that your CEO, Bedros, has got a lot of marketing skills. Even the way you said it was stronger than the way I did but even when you said it was a massive understatement, the guy is right up there in the genius level in marketing and digital marketing for sure. Can you give us a couple of secrets on what works and other companies can use? Everyone is looking for that silver bullet but there are a couple of things that you guys have done that you’re like, “Everybody should do this,” and most don’t.
It’s super basic and it’s interesting like rubbing shoulders with them now and seeing what’s under the hood.
It’s like the Wizard of Oz. You pull it back and you’re like, “It’s Bedros,” except the guy is huge. He’s not the little wizard who is a dwarf. Bedros is this giant.
A big, massive, and muscular dude, for sure. What I’m going to tell you isn’t a revelation. It’s not going to fry your neurons in your brain. It’s the basics. Number one, consistency is everything. We produce and he produces consistent contact over and over again consistently on many different platforms. Two, he’s an educator. What I’ve learned from him is a great marketer is a great educator who’s always putting content out, adding value, and asking for money. From Bedros’ perspective, he does that incredibly well and hits that one more time. Consistency is key and between those two strategies, I’ve seen him build empires and move mountains. In any franchise or looking to become a better marketer, you need to become a better educator, you need to add more value, teach more, do it consistently and that’s half of that right there.
There’s no way that you and he have been able to work this long without having a good debate because you’ve got good ideas, strong ideas, and also, sometimes you and I were even talking and you’re like, “I’m going to have to go talk to Bedros.” Bedros is definitely a high D, high I, dominant, expressive entrepreneurial leader who’s got his ideas and his experience. How do you engage in good healthy conflict?
Proactive communication. It’s easier said than done but we’re both works in progress. I’ve learned a ton from him over the years and I’ve gotten better myself handling issues head-on. For the most part, we work well together. He’s a hard-charging type-A driven guy, but he is a put-together personality. He will be the first one to tell you this. He’s done a lot of work on himself, gotten a lot of therapy and coaching to be a better version of him, not working off the ego, taking deep breaths, and being able to communicate well. I credit him and certainly, I followed in his footsteps. Times do happen quickly and frustration happens. There’s been a few situations where we butted heads but that’s the nature of the beast. We both know our heart is in the place, we pick up and dust off and keep charging at it.
Do you ever engage in that conflict and debate in front of employees or do try to keep it away from them?
In our leadership team, there have been a couple of situations, they’ve been private. All things considered, I feel super blessed because I’ve been working with them hand in hand and arm and arm for a few years now and there’s only been a handful of situations like that. Half of them in private and half of them have been in tense leadership meetings and not specifically even directed him or me but in the group in general. I would say no, in terms of other teammates and other employees outside our leadership team. No, that situation has never presented itself. All things considered, it’s not often.
The key is we’re supposed to have that good and healthy debate. We’re not supposed to do it in front of the kids. Mom and dad are supposed to argue, debate, and work through stuff. In front of the kids, it’s supposed to be that divided force. You don’t want to let them see you crack but you also don’t want to criticize each other in front of others because it diminishes your role that you’re both. He has to be your biggest cheerleader, and you have to be his biggest cheerleader.
Totally and I feel that we are. I learned a lot from him in that capacity. I’d like to think that he’s picked up some things from me as well but for the most part, we knock it out, we go to war. Sometimes debates get heated and it’s not him and I, it’s our leadership team, in general. We have a staff team of seven individuals who are incredible but what we say is like putting armor on. We walk into battle, we close the doors, and we’re hammering things out. We’re intense but then once the L10 Meeting is done, we leave that room and we’re a united front. That’s the messaging that needs to happen to make sure that we are a united front and we get buy-in, not only from our team but being in the franchising world to our hundreds of locations that are counting on us and looking up to us for our leadership.
How was it launching that supplement and product line that you guys launched?
We launched it and had traction but it definitely was challenging. We overestimated the amount of product line when we first started. We had ten SKUs in all sorts of products and we realized within a short period of time that we had 2 or 3 main sellers, so we doubled down on that. Once we doubled down on that, the following months have been good with a huge uptick. Also, the supplement line is shown to be recession-proof, or at least the online marketing perspective has been lucrative and valuable to us.
Especially it’s such a difficult time with COVID so we’ve gotten through that initial baby-ish, if you will, in terms of the stage in our development and our business. We’re adding different products and testing things out but I would say if we could do it over again, we wouldn’t have started largely. We came out with a few signature products doubled down on that which we ended up doing, but it took us a handful of months and some pain in the process.
Was it too much too soon or was it learning the bigger initiative than you anticipate it was going to be?
You’ve got to try it. You’ve got to take a swing at it anyway, so you never know. As you guys have been scaling the organization, you’ve had to grow in terms of your skillset as a leader. Where have you grown? What have you focused on in terms of your skillset and your growth?
Time under tension and certainly that’s a fitness analogy, but our brand is in the fitness business so it’s a matter of putting in the reps, getting beat up, having to go through a lot of the pain of trial and error, and communication or an IT initiative that didn’t pan out the way you think it did. It’s having tough conversations, getting tough feedback, going through those reps, and taking the punches increases your resilience. You develop some battle scars, and you get better for it so that’s in terms of business, and general skills overall. The communication aspect, writing copy, communicating positional copy, and getting good or I say the caveat, getting better, on video is super important especially since we live in that day and age.
I look back and even in the few years, I’m exponentially better at video because I have to get on and communicate with our franchisees weekly or shoot video content. Those have been some key things that I’ve developed because of time and attention and the ability to work with people, to get feedback, to have a bigger operation than my small handful of teammates at each of my locations. I learned a lot in those trenches as well, but all these things compile in terms of skillset to be a better leader. The last thing I read was a book called Ego is the Enemy and that’s true.
Sometimes taking a few punches to the face and having some humble pie served to you will help and develop you into a better person. Character is the biggest thing that needs to continue to work on. The last thing and I believe we’ve talked about this if not, it will be a surprise to you, but I’m a recovering alcoholic. Part of my recovery required me to be a better human being to show up and do the steps. What the steps are, the program that I follow is a step of personal growth and personal development. The more you can increase your personal growth and your character as a person, the better leader and more equipped you are and can be to run a big business like this.
Huge kudos for you, by the way, in owning the fact that you were an alcoholic, going through recovery and what you’re going through. How long have you been in recovery?
Three and a half years.
If I was to describe you, I would say this is a god squad guy who’s never had a drink and he’s only ever been involved in fitness his whole life. If he drinks orange juice, he’s mad at himself because it wasn’t water. I would have never ever seen you as somebody who had alcohol in their life as a problem. I don’t know what the heck you did in a few years, but you seem to me to be this role model guy who’s athletic and a nice person. Huge props to you.
Thank you, Cameron. I would say there’s a bit of truth in the orange juice analogy but aside from that, we all have our cross to bear. I’m a work in progress and I’m far from there by any stretch of the imagination. I want to be clear on that. It’s about suiting up and showing up, getting better each day and that’s the commitment I’ve made to myself. It’s a long way to go but I’m thankful to be on the right path.
In terms of your franchisees, you’re working with franchisees now and they’re clearly going through a tough time. You guys franchise location-based group fitness classes. It has to be one of the harder groups or businesses to be able to reopen now. How are you working with the franchisees? How are you dealing with them and the emotions they’ve got? What have you got for us there that we can learn from?
It has been challenging. It takes hundreds of brick-and-mortar businesses and when local state governors and the government says you can no longer run and operate your business, it’s certainly been a challenge. Through creativity and ingenuity, we were able to flip to online and virtual immediately. It has been some time since COVID first launched. Most companies in the brick-and-mortar space have done something similar but we were able to use our creativity and ingenuity right off the bat.
To your point, proactive communication. When COVID shut us down in mid-March of 2020, we started meeting as a leadership team from one time a week on Tuesdays, which is our weekly L10 Meeting to two times a week, Monday morning, Monday evening, Tuesday morning, Tuesday evening. We started broadcasting three times live, hosting weekly training and to provide a lot of visibility because it’s such a stressful time. People were so scared, nervous, concerned, and had millions of questions.
Additionally, we had to get good at the back end. It’s something we talked about, the legalities. We had our operations team figuring out the legalities of franchising legalities of each individual state, territory, and province, which has been super challenging, but good strong communication, being creative minded. Thankfully, we have a leadership team who are seasoned veterans. Even when all hell breaks loose, there was a cool, calm, and collected about us so that’s important and leadership.
It’s taking the emotion aside and being cool, calm, and collected so that way, you can make decisions from a rational perspective. There was also a lot of humor that was going on during the craziness and that was probably a way for us to cut the tension. Truth be told, we never had a conversation afterward but that was the reality of the situation. If you can laugh at things, take it for what it is, and you can remove yourself and look at it from a 30,000-foot view perspective is thankfully what we did. Certainly, any adversity or challenge for anyone reading is a great approach to take.
Can you walk us through a final question that I want to do a wrap? When you’re getting a group of people to buy a franchise and they’re buying into the dream and the vision of what you’re doing, you’ve sold 400 franchises, what is it that’s made you successful as a franchisor? Most franchisors never get to their seventh unit. What do you think has made it successful or that had people wanting to buy the locations?
I’m going to credit our CEO for being an incredible marketer. I think back to the storytelling. We were able to position, and when I say we, at the time, I mean Bedros but certainly, now being part of the brand. We’ve been part of the brand from nearly day one as a franchisee, but positioning case studies, storytelling, being a master storyteller and positioning our franchisees as the hero. Hero Marketing is a concept that I’ve heard you speak about and learned a lot from you as well. That has been and will continue to be game-changing for us. That would probably be the first thing off the top of my head and why in the early timeframe. Even to this day, we have been successful by being good storytellers, marketers and positioning our franchisees as the heroes of the story.
I love that, especially making the franchisees the hero when we talk to the press because anytime the media covers your franchisees, it helps make the franchisee more successful. It makes the franchisor look good and helps you sell more franchises too. It’s a huge triple whammy. Final question, Bryce. If you were to go back to your 21-year-old self, what advice would you give yourself at 21 to be true now that you wish you’d known at 21?
Take more chances. Life is short. Granted, there’s a difference between being reckless and being calculated. There’s a famous quote from Mark Twain about the only regret you’re going to have is the chances that you didn’t take. I would say that when I look back, I’ve made some good moves. I moved from Georgia to Michigan at a young age because of a traumatic situation with my parents. My mom escaped my father’s grasp. I lived there for a decade and had this burning desire to make something of myself and took an opportunity in Los Angeles, California the summer before I graduated school.
That parlayed into an incredible career on the West Coast, ended up moving to Brazil, learning a different language, living in another hemisphere, coming back, and starting businesses. Long story short it’s taking massive risks and chances. Even when I look back, there are a lot more people who are more credentialed than me, but with what little success that I’ve had, I look back and I say, “I could have probably even doubled down a bit more.” That’s a thought that continues to run through my mind. Take calculated risks, but play big and take chances. You only got one spin on this globe and that’s what it comes down to.
Bryce, I appreciate you sharing with us. I appreciate the insights and time. Bryce Henson, the Vice President from Fit Body Boot Camp, thanks for being with us on the show.
About Bryce Henson
Bryce Henson is the Vice President of Fit Body Boot Camp, the world’s fastest-growing fitness boot camp franchise.
Having over 10+ years of experience in the fitness industry and owning 3 FBBC locations, his passion is spreading fitness to the world, in addition to mentoring fitness professionals on how to grow their businesses and change more lives in their local communities.
Bryce also co-leads FBBC Mastermind Group, an exclusive coaching group for high performing fitness professionals.
Bryce Henson was born in Atlanta, Georgia, grew up in Michigan and has spent most of his adult life in California. He is a graduate of Michigan State University and speaks Brazilian Portuguese fluently, having lived in Florianopolis, Brazil. He enjoys world travel and is a fitness expert, coach, author, and inspirational leader.