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The Curves system of fitness centers has shrunk by a third in the past three years, from 7,748 to 5,208 franchised fitness centers.
More than 1,000 Curves locations disappeared last year, while just 35 new locations opened. That’s quite a fall for a company that once was opening a club every three hours. [via Waco Tribune-Herald]
Several theories are thrown out on what lies at the heart of the problem.
Greed: Curves allowed franchises to be put where they shouldn’t have been put. A lawsuit represented by Miami-based franchisee attorney Robert Zarco alleges Curves saturated markets by awarding franchises too closely to one another, and that it did not provide sufficient service, support and assistance to franchisees.
Inept franchisees: Curves franchisees aren’t savvy enough to meet business challenges. “Curves has not been as selective as maybe it should have been in choosing franchisees, said Tom Garmon, a broker with Fitness Industry Business Brokers in Hattiesburg, Miss”
Inept management: The fitness chain is mired in a franchise operating system that demands compliance, while the franchisor has not developed flexibility, testing, and listening into its system to respond to a changing fitness market. “Garmon said Curves has been slow to tailor its hours to the convenience customers. ‘My wife works out after the kids go to bed. She goes to Snap Fitness because Curves is closed,’ said Garmon, adding that Curves ‘needs a little more variety in their clubs to retain members and enjoy growth.’”
It’s the economy. “Karen Beatty’s four Curves locations total about 1,500 members. She has noticed a decline in numbers that she blames on the economy and a summertime slump.”