Peter Franklin, founder of FITLane, leader in the gym industry in the “Cote d’azur”, France
In a brutally competitive industry, Peter Franklin is a man who has managed to stand out. Not only did he build one successful gym, but he built eight. Eight gyms with the latest machines, dozens of different classes to choose from, which have a real “personality” decoration wise, which are intelligently built and have a young and dynamic atmosphere. Operating FITlane as a foreigner in France, Peter Franklin’s British and Danish background may actually be an advantage in that he considers it the key to his successful managerial style.
What services does your company provide?
We provide general fitness facilities to around 25,000 people along the Riviera. Fitness equipment, strength, cardio, personal training, functional training, free weights etc. FITLane also provides over 20 types of group exercise classes including popular concepts such as Spinning, Zumba, Body Pump, Yoga etc. Facilities include changing rooms with showers and saunas. Some clubs have squash courts and/or steam rooms.
How long has your company existed?
The company commenced activities in 2004.
What did you do before Fitlane?
I was selling antiques and building a house. Prior to that I was working for an American Fitness equipment manufacturer, Star Trac.
You are considered as a “foreign” entrepreneur in France, how does your foreign perspective influence your company?
I think as an Anglo Saxon; certain traits of that culture have influenced the way we operate in France. Examples are that we have clear reporting channels, a lot of staff team building activities, all staff are in FITLane uniform etc. We also try to ensure that most of the key staff are heavily incentivized on the success of the operation.
How is your management style different?
I consider my staff as partners as opposed to employees. My door and phone are open to all. However I try hard to avoid undermining our company reporting lines. It is not always easy to achieve both goals.
What do you enjoy most about working for yourself?
I love working in a young, healthy fun environment with a lot of motivated staff. We are actually contributing to the health of society and that I find very rewarding. In fact I do not consider it work but rather a pleasure to be in the fitness industry.
I see room for continued growth in our geographic region (Cote d’azur) with the roll out of two more clubs this year taking the total to 8 clubs. Eventually over the coming three years, I imagine that number growing to 12.
If you want to give one advice to entrepreneurs who want to launch their company, what would it be?
Find what you like doing and then try to find people to pay you to do it. If it works then try to create a business out of it. In the early days cash flow is more important than profit. Work hard, be disciplined but also enjoy it even through the inevitable hard times and stress. And once you have found a business model that works then stick to it and go for it. Treat your employees as your partners.