With the assistance of Sara Waskow, Market President and Franchise Consultant for FranNet of Dallas-Fort Worth & Oklahoma, Jim and Michele Montgomery have made their entrepreneurial dreams come true—owning a business operation of their own. The husband-wife co-owners are ready to share their franchise ownership journey as the new owners of multiple Exercise Coach locations in Dallas. Below, in his own words, Jim shares the tale of their journey with FranNet…
“We’ve been married for 33 years and have been blessed with three beautiful children. I spent over three decades in the healthcare industry as an executive with several major organizations, including Abbott Labs and Cardinal Health. My specialty is in oncology analytics and big data and the latter stages of my time in the industry were spent working on artificial intelligence and predictive modeling. My wife Michele began her career in Marketing and Development in the non-profit arena. After the birth of our first child she focused her energy as an educator including time, effort and resources in homeschooling our children.”
On Becoming an Entrepreneur
“Neither of us really harbored a secret desire to run our own business, but after getting downsized during the pandemic, we definitely put a lot of thought into how things could change for us if we became entrepreneurs. I wanted to come off of the road from traveling a lot because I didn’t want to be an absentee dad to our youngest daughter. We wanted to put down some new roots.
We knew we didn’t want to start a business from scratch. We ended up reaching a critical decision point. We both wanted to find a business that we could both be passionate about, leveraging our strengths, gifts, and interests. It had to be local and meet the criteria of a business that helps people. We incorporated as Covenant 220 Corporation – the name derived from our covenant to our clients, employees, and brand. 220 is synonymous with “two 20-minute workouts per week” but also with our guiding Scripture of Galatians 2:20.”
“We were not at all inclined to build from ground zero. A trusted business broker (before we met Sara) advised that we should try to buy an existing business but not a franchise. His data and experience suggested that 90% of acquired businesses survive while only 50% of franchises survive. Despite the sobering prospect of a coin flip for success (survival), at least according to original counsel, we felt The Exercise Coach was the right franchise for us. It met every key “Must Have” on our list – geographically local, low number of employees, health-related, proprietary product, a reasonable price point to enter the business and importantly, a corporate office still deeply invested in the success of the brand. Founding CEO Brian & Gerianne Cygan are still studio operators as well as brand leaders. Equally important was the corporate culture of building profitable studios, building each other (franchisees) up, and continuing to innovate.
What it Was Like Getting Started
“In the beginning, we sort of put the horse before the cart! We bought the rights to a geographic territory first (Dec. 2020) and then closed on the acquisition of an operating unit in March 2021. We’ve been owner/operators since then and are now actively seeking sites for our second studio location in North Frisco. Sara Waskow with FranNet was so instrumental in helping us get started as novice small business owners. She directed us to contacts and resources including funding entities, CPAs and attorneys. She also shared some lease tactics and advice on dozens of other critical aspects of small business ownership. As a current Exercise Coach client (she works out with Mike Sims of The Exercise Coach – Southlake, TX), Sara already had a unique perspective on the details of the business which proved invaluable. She was always available to bounce ideas off of and validate thinking. As an advisor, Sara has our deepest respect and highest recommendation.”
How FranNet Helped
“As we mentioned, Sara embodies the standards of the highest integrity, professionalism and capability. She strongly encouraged us to explore other brands prior to committing to The Exercise Coach. As new small business owners, she was extremely patient with our endless questions!”
Where Do You Stand?
“We’ve jumped right in to meet the existing clients in the North Dallas studio, becoming certified Coaches and actively coaching. As I’m still in Corporate America working full-time for a leading oncology diagnostics company, my contribution is back-office operations after hours and coaching on Saturday. Michele has been able to coach throughout the week, as well as manage many of the scheduling and business operations software systems. We have expanded studio offerings, including new equipment, extended hours, and new educational services. We have doubled the number of clients in the first nine months of ownership at the North Dallas studio and are meeting our projections for the 2022 business plan for sustained client base, profitability, and net promoter score. We’ve also added additional staff, despite a difficult hiring environment.”
For more information, please visit Jim and Michele Montgomery’s Exercise Coach franchise location on the internet.