When the US-based franchise of women health and wellness centres, Contours Express wanted to expand its business in Malaysia and help more women start their own business, one enterprising woman jumped at the chance. Radziah Mohd Radzi who saw a unique opportunity for aspiring local franchisees, is now enjoying every minute empowering women and admiring the results after opening her first outlet in Kota Damansara, Petaling Jaya. Only in business for over two years, her outlet has grown steadily to attract more than 200 women members. Franchise Asia slipped into her busy schedule to understand more about her gym business.
Is this your first business venture?
Yes, this is my first business venture as a franchisee.
Why did you select the franchise business model compared to starting your own business?
Franchise business has a structure and is a proven business model as advice and guidance are readily available from the franchisor – a system for a franchisee is already there to follow step by step. Franchisees don’t have to reinvent the wheel all over again. It’s like a plug and play format, and the likeliness of making mistakes is minimal.
What prompted you to select your current master franchisee as there are many other lose weight/fitness programmes in the market that are offering franchising?
I did a lot of research before embarking on as a franchisee of Contours Express, which was already a highly reputable and recognised brand in the USA. I felt the Contours Express concept was very niche and would be in high demand in Malaysia. I wanted to be the first local franchisee to bring it into Malaysia, and I successfully did in 2007.
How much did you allocate as your business capital?
I had allocated almost RM50,000 as my business capital to start my franchise.
Did you face any difficulties in obtaining financing from local banks or financial institutions?
No, I did not as I was financed by Perbadanan Nasional Berhad (PNS) to become a Contours Express franchisee.
So far, how satisfied are you with the support and training given by your master franchisee?
I am very satisfied with the support given by Wan Kit (Contours Express master franchisee for Singapore & Malaysia) and her team so far, even during the recent slow economy. My master franchisee has been extremely patient, encouraging and supportive even though I have no previous background in operating a franchise business. This gave me confidence to draw the necessary knowledge, resources and techniques necessary to run a successful “women only” health and wellness centre, and become an exemplary franchisee.
What were the challenges you faced before and after you started the franchise business?
Although Contours Express was a renowned ‘Women’s Gym’ in USA and around the world, but it was literally unknown in Malaysia when we first started. Hence our initial challenges were to adapt the business model to suit the Malaysian market, and make the brand more acceptable to Malaysians, especially women.
What are the pitfalls a potential franchisee must be aware of?
Don’t expect a franchise business to become successful without the effort and hard work from the owner herself. The business owner must be hands-on and must spend much time to understand the business – right from operation to administration of the business. The franchisee should take the time to understand the franchise model better so that she can capitalise on the expertise of the franchisor to grow the business.
What is your advice to prospective franchisees of a Contours Express business?
Nothing beats the time you spend at the gym interacting with your members. In fact your members are the key to grow your business. Once they know that you are sincerely interested in their well-being, your members are bound to spread the words around to others who are looking around for a gym to join. The other very important prerequisite is the funds to operate the franchise in the first place.
With so many fitness programmes out there, what makes Contours Express so different? How do you counter and respond to competitors who are offering something new?
Although health and wellness enthusiasts are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a fitness programme as there are so many around, the programme offered at Contours Express is quite revolutionary. Basically, ours is a women only gym, providing a lifestyle programme that incorporates a unique express workout, weight management and lifestyle modification coaching dedicated to helping women to look good and feel good about themselves.
At Contours Express we provide a comfortable environment; a non-intimidating, fun and enjoyable atmosphere; and a fast and effective 29-minute exercise programme. We utilise exclusive weight bearing equipment, which places it ahead of the market in terms of quality. Add our signature 16-piece training circuit alternating strength training machines with aerobic stations with a cue tape that keeps members moving through the circuit at a fast pace while a fitness trainer provides motivation – we surely have a winning programme.
Also at Contours Express, we provide more that just a fitness and wellness programme. Our cosy gyms allow us to build close friendship and excellent after-sales service that keep our members coming back for more. Our quality service and affordable fees make us one of the leading women’s gym not only in Malaysia but in the world.