He may not look it now, but being healthy and fit was not something that came naturally to Genesis Gym’s founder, Mr Jonathan Wong. In fact, when he was a child at school in Singapore, he was placed in the Ministry of Education’s Trim and Fit (TAF) programme for overweight children. This not only impacted his identity and self-esteem but resulted in a myriad of health problems. However, he overcame this by using foundational health methods — the same methods he used as the centrepiece of his business.
How a Different Business Approach Resulted in a Successful Franchising Strategy
Since its inception in 2004, Genesis Gym has prided itself on being different from its competitors, starting from its business philosophy of emphasising foundational health. This has helped the company follow through on its expansion plans and embrace a strategy to grow a franchising model.
Published by Enterprise Singapore
on 11 Oct 2019
Going Against the Traditional Gym Trail
The company’s main business strategy is embracing a more holistic approach; one that encompasses exercise programmes, nutrition strategies, genetic testing and even psychological inventory, all delivered in a manner that is easily understandable for each client.
Rather than focusing on the latest fitness fads and gimmicks, Genesis Gym believes in empowering its customers with a specific mindset in addition to practical methods to achieve long-term total health.
“We are not afraid to teach our clients all we know. Our differentiator is that we are in the business of selling knowledge and delivering results,” says Mr Wong. “By doing this, our customers become well-informed. So much so, they feel they are missing out if they do not continue with us. In fact, they see it not so much as a gym but more as a personal health and fitness tuition.”
Achieving Big Goals With Technology and a Franchising Strategy
This mission seems to have resonated well with its customers, resulting in considerable business growth. Starting with just a 600 square foot space in River Valley manned by Mr Wong and a part-time colleague, Genesis Gym now has three outlets in Singapore, with at least one more in the pipeline.
Besides his obvious passion for his work and the fitness industry, Mr Wong says that technology usage and franchising is the way to drive and grow his business. His degree in computer engineering spearheaded the creation of a proprietary mobile application to measure the fitness progress of his clients in a structured manner used by professional athletes, keeping clear track of their fitness progress and achievements.
Believing in the need to expand his business, he also embraced a franchising model to continue growing his company and make his fitness methods available to more people in Asia. These efforts are in line with his goal of improving the health of 100 million people in the region by 2026. Mr Wong laughingly but firmly notes, “It is an ambitious goal and we are constantly figuring out how to achieve it; but it is good to think big and in different ways and directions.”
Key Learnings and Tips in Franchising
Genesis Gym embarked on a five-month franchising exercise programme using SPRING Singapore’s (now Enterprise Singapore's1) Capability Development Grant, working closely with ST Consulting. This helped the company approach the franchise strategy in a structured way, preparing them for the change in business as they were no longer selling to normal individuals but instead to fellow entrepreneurs. The company is now setting up its first branch in Beijing which is slated to open in late 2016, with plans to expand to the rest of the country once the ball starts rolling.
One key lesson gained from this journey was to segment customers and partners. “In franchising, you do not need to take every partner that comes your way, because some will be the wrong fit for the company. Find the people who have interest in your industry, have experience in executing a business and the correct skill sets to make the franchise a success,” Mr Wong explains.
Reflecting on what makes Genesis Gym a franchisable model, Mr Wong says it is their unique approach. Their mission, business structure, gym layout, customer education, staff training and the usage of new technology is different to others in the industry.
His advice to other small and medium enterprises when embracing a franchising strategy is to have a strong brand, and build a strong network of partners whom you can trust and whom have strong local support. “Be aggressive when expanding because if you are too slow, someone else will copy your idea and beat you to it,” says Mr Wong. “Once you are successful in one place, people will see this and be more willing to partner with you in other places.”
1SPRING Singapore merged with IE Singapore to form Enterprise Singapore on 1 April 2018.