is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email .
Pavel Stuchlik began his professional life in a career that makes sense for a fitness franchisee: professional athlete. However, the cyclist would find himself learning business far outside the realm of fitness before purchasing an Orangetheory fitness franchise. Stuchlik has hosted cooking shows, led seminars and flipped houses in a number of countries. Here's how he became the prolific fitness franchisee he is today.
Name: Pavel Stuchlik and Annemarie Tortorigi
Tutti Frutti Frozen yogurt (master franchise – Hawaii – multiple locations)
O’my buns (master franchise – Hawaii – multiple locations)
Orangetheory fitness (Georgia state – Area developer – multiple locations)
How long have you owned a franchise?
We found a good deal of success in 2008 after the crash in the real estate market. We bought up inventory and sold those houses to European buyers. Eventually, the margins began to shrink and we knew we had to move on to new ventures.
Franchising came into mind right about this time and opportunities began to line up. We decided to move forward with franchising after a fair amount of research, weighing our risks and benefits. The turn-key model was attractive and we knew no matter what we chose to roll with that we were determined to make it a success.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I began my professional career as a cyclist. As a newly signed professional athlete, I had to get creative in ways on how I would thrive while on the road. At 17, I started my first company alongside my cycling. I began with wholesaling carbon bikes and equipment. I also took advantage of the knowledge I had obtained in the health industry and started an advising company where I created fitness and nutritional plans and coached healthy living. Throughout my cycling career I had the opportunity to learn and work with various companies on budgeting and creative innovations for sponsorship ideas to assist teams in reaching their financial goals.
Business was thriving. I went on to hosting cooking shows, leading seminars and inspiring others to live their most empowered lives, not only in terms of health but also financial freedom and personal growth. Unfortunately, there came a point where I had to face the fact that my body couldn’t handle both sport and business. I knew that my career as a cyclist would only last for so long but the opportunity to continue with business had a potential that was not worth overlooking. I committed to business and never looked back. I stepped into the real estate world, dealing with vacation rentals, short/long term housing and house flipping throughout Germany, Czech and the United States.
After making the decision to make the United States my home, I obtained an E-2 Visa. While this was wonderful news knowing I had solidified a place in the United States, I had to once again switch directions with business because I could no longer rely on my passive income from real estate as a ticket in. Among other requirements, I had to make sure that I directly employed a certain number of employees. I was officially on the hunt. My search led me to Boulder, Col. where I had a brief experience with a sushi restaurant and met my wife, Annemarie. From Boulder we left to Hawaii and had our first taste of the franchising world.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
We had recently moved to Tampa, Fla. when we discovered Orangetheory Fitness. As with many of their franchisees, it started with a single class. After experiencing the “Orange Effect” in full force, my wife and I were convinced that there was more to this concept than the workout itself. Lucky for us, we were right. We both had a great interest in the health and wellness industry and understood the value and exponential growth that Orangetheory would slam the fitness market with. There is an obvious shift from the “big box” gym mentality to a more consumer-friendly, “boutique” style fitness studio. Throughout my career I had learned to always look for opportunities to jump on before they hit momentum. We were drinking the Orange Kool-Aid and as we explored our options with the company we were confident we were making a strong choice. Orangetheory Fitness has proven itself above and beyond our expectations.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
The overall investment per location is anywhere between $350,000 to $450,000. A sample breakdown would look something like this:
Equipment - $120,000 – also including all interior components of the studio i.e., computers, office supplies, decorative pieces, etc.
Build out - $150,000 – including all signage, permit fees, architect fees, etc.
Marketing - $30,000-50,000 including pre-sale, pre-opening payroll, marketing materials, etc.
Franchise Fee, Landlord Deposit and First Month’s Rent, etc. - $40.000-$70.000
Misc. - $15.000-$30.000
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I am a firm believer in viewing business as a lifestyle. All of life is about networking and connections. The better you can prove to be in a relationship or in your health, the stronger and sharper you can be as a business owner/entrepreneur. I do a lot of self-study on personal growth and empowerment. I believe that the power of the present moment will take you to far more destinations than dwelling on a moment that has yet to arrived or already past. I do a lot of reading to support my studies. The age of the Internet has also been of great help and resource to me to be able to have access to a multitude of powerful speakers and presenters.
One of the top books that I read were – 'Power of Now,' 'Delivering Happiness,' 'Conversations With God,' 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad,' 'Firms of Endearment,' 'Time Management,' etc.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Honestly, a big unexpected challenge has been dealing with the mounds of paperwork and local state and city codes and ordinances. It has proven for us to be the most frustrating process thus far. We have waited up to five months for a simple business license and permits. A little more support from the city to get business up and running would dramatically increase our ability to continue to roll out locations.
Another area of challenge is a more common one, finding the right people. Your business is nothing without the backbone supporting it. We have learned so much over the past year about the process of employment. As we grow and develop who we are and the values we want to instill we have become far more selective in whom we bring on board. We are searching for people who fit our company culture and ideals not necessarily the top guns in the industry. We have found a more satisfying work environment when we stay true to what matters most to us. Number one is personal growth and after that everything else comes.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
I think the first piece of advice is to choose a concept that you believe in and that you, yourself would find appealing as a consumer. The advantages of a franchise is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel and you don’t have to come in to it with years of business experience and knowledge. If you have an open mind and can follow direction then you will find success. Franchises are equipped with manuals and guidelines to set your business up for success. As your business experience grows and you develop the proper skillset to push you forward, you will find that you still have the freedom to bring new and innovative ideas to the table.
Another big piece of advice is to always have a clear vision and plan of action. Failing to plan is like planning to fail. If you don’t set proper and manageable goals for your team you will bring forth confusion and disappointment.
Be a listener! Listen to those who have gone before you and made the mistakes so you don’t have to.
Acceptance. Not every day is going to be rainbows and butterflies. There will be a fair share of hectic and stressful times that can easily sway your focus and get you off track. Having acceptance and taking things as they come is a huge tool that is absolutely necessary to develop. By accepting the circumstances around you, you will learn that hardships are just new opportunities to grow.
What’s next for you and your business?
We have sold out 95 percent of our area’s market in just six months from our first location’s opening. Our next plan with Orangetheory is to get all the franchises up and running. Our goal is to open a total of 18 stores this year and continue to build out our region in the following year to come. We want to see all existing studios reach the $1 million mark within their first year.
As for us, we will continue painting Georgia "orange" but have plans to fulfill our long time dream of solidifying our yoga concept. We plan to open our first yoga studio in October 2014 in Atlanta. We have some big plans in store and excited to make our dream a reality. All of our lives knowledge and mission will go into one concept based on true help in all aspects of our lives.