Complete Nutrition – A Strategic Freeze on Franchising
Ryan Zink and his partner Cory Wiedel felt like they had a strong enough nutritional supplement store model with Complete Nutrition in 2008, so they started franchising. They couldn’t have been more right. With 260 franchise locations sold in a little over two years, Complete Nutrition found itself growing much more quickly than anticipated. That’s when it was decided to put a strategic freeze on franchising; a move almost unheard of by successful franchises.
Harnessing the Nutritional Supplement Industry
Their story began like many new businesses when Zink and Wiedel (former employees of a now competitor) saw potential in their industry of nutritional supplements. They also saw what those already in the field were doing wrong and felt they could do it better on their own. The first store was opened in Omaha and when they felt that they had a strong enough model they asked their best employees to be the first franchisees.
The first three Complete Nutrition franchises saw extreme success, so the partners knew that they had something worth growing…and growing well. In their second year of franchising, 2009, Complete Nutrition sold 15 locations. With hopes of selling another 18 the following year, the company hired a franchise acquisition director. They hit the ground running and by the end of 2010, to their amazement, 245 new franchises had been sold.
“The strength of our business model and relationships that we’ve developed with our franchisees has really helped to propel our growth,” said Ryan Zink. “Our franchisees and customers have been the reason for our success. We haven’t had to spend a single dollar on advertising to find new franchisees. All of our growth has been organic.”
With Great Growth Comes Great Challenge
While the tremendous growth was welcome the partners quickly realized challenges that can come with a sudden expansion. Keeping up the inventory posed a new problem and the company found itself installing a new point of sale system as well as software to handle the added business. Growth was continuing at an extraordinary pace with the average Complete Nutrition location doing just about $900,000 in sales last year.
Of course the company was pleased with their year-end results but were concerned that sales numbers could slip as more stores were added. In order to build the infrastructure properly the unusual decision was made this March during quarterly planning to freeze franchising.
“Since we’ve instituted the freeze we’ve brought on significant staff – coaches and a support team for our franchisees,” said Ryan Zink. “In fact, we’ve gone from 5 to 40 employees in the past 18 months. We’ve also invested in a new facility for our employees, a new website, and a lot of money has been spent on understanding how to advertise in our different markets.”
Zink continued, “Over the past few months I’m certain that we could have sold between 50 and 70 new stores, but we’re focused on growing smart. We’ve really made new franchises a turnkey process. Our new franchisees won’t have to do anything with the buildout except put the inventory on the shelves.”
Growing Smart and Partnering Well
The freeze was proposed to last approximately 9-12 months, and Zink foresees lifting it at some point next year. Though for Complete Nutrition the most important thing is to grow smart; to partner with the right types of franchisees.
Those with a background in personal training, exercise science, or a medical field make great candidates for a Complete Nutrition franchisee. But ultimately they’re looking for people with a mindset of how to operate. “We like to call it ‘being a rhino’ or having the thick skin and determination to always charge forward,” said Zink.
At a time when “cash is king” and faced with a slowly recovering economy, we commend Complete Nutrition’s strategic freezing. There’s something to be said for a company that knows when it’s time to regroup and refocus on making the brand the best it can be; and be willing to do so for however long it takes.
Complete Nutrition is an upscale nutritional supplement retail store based in Omaha, NE. Their focus is to give customers the best experience and results for their money by employing certified personal trainers, former strength coaches and other experienced fitness professionals. They don’t push a “miracle pill”. Instead, Complete Nutrition recognizes that a healthy lifestyle requires a commitment to exercise, a balanced diet, hydration and supplements and offers their customers the education and advice they need to achieve it.