Five MAJOR Mistakes I Made as a Rookie Franchisee

The digital ink on my renewal contract is fresh and I’ve been goal-setting and reflecting on the past three years as a business owner. I made soooooo many mistakes during my first three years in business and I’d like to share a few here, with the hope that it helps someone avoid making these same mistakes.

Mistake #1- I Didn’t Pay Attention to My Money.

For the first two years of business, my bookkeeping and accounting consisted of me putting receipts in a shoe box, and ignoring said shoe box, until it overflowed. I was reluctant to do anything with business expenses because I was clueless. It was uncharted territory and frankly, I thought it would take up a LOT of my time and cost me a lot of money to figure it out.

This is hands-down the dumbest thing I did as a franchisee. I’m certain I would be much closer to my goal, if I had paid better attention to my money during the first two years.

The Big Lesson Learned Here is– If you don’t pay attention to the money coming in and going out of your business, your business will fail. There is no getting around this.  Eventually, you will have to look at the big mess you’ve made.

Please listen to this advice, you MUST track every penny and know what’s happening in your business.  Smart business owners pay very close attention to their money. They KNOW their numbers, their expenses, and they are vigilant about being financially literate.

If you are struggling with financial literacy and you’re not sure where to start, I HIGHLY recommend reading “Fearless Accounting with Wave”.  It’s NEVER too late to start. Do it now and start taking financial literacy seriously.
Here’s a quote from the founder of Wave, (Wave is a FREE Software I use)
We believe that understanding accounting is fundamental to business literacy, that’s why we make our software free for everyone. When you’re doing your accounting with confidence, you’re taking control of your business, positively influencing its growth, and, ideally, ensuring that fewer amazing small businesses fail.”
—Kirk Simpson, CEO, Wave

Mistake #2- I Didn’t Recruit with Intention or Recruit for Passion.

Until most recently, I’ve taken a very passive approach to building up my team.  All of my recruiting efforts were reactive instead of proactive. As my schedule grew, my need for instructors grew. So, I’d start looking to hire to avoid burnout.  I looked at who was doing well in classes and approached them about joining the team, sent them an application close to the dates the trainer would be on island and, that was pretty much it. It was very underwhelming. And, in hindsight, it set a very underwhelming tone on my team.

I have finally fixed this. Now, I recruit with intention. I am proactive, and I recruit for passion. And most importantly, I’m ALWAYS recruiting.  All potential new instructions must complete a demo class, interview, and I’m starting to make joining my team a BIG deal, because it really is. I don’t want unmotivated people on my team. I don’t want people who lack passion on my team. There is no room. I want doers, go-getters, and team players who do extra, not because it’s asked of them, but because that’s just the type of person they are.

The Big Lesson Learned Here Is– Always be recruiting. Make joining your team a BIG Deal. Keep looking until you find what you WANT, not what’s available. That means, you might have to WAIT until the right person comes along.

Mistake #3- I Didn’t Set High Enough Goals

When I was considering purchasing my franchise, I was told by a franchisee vet that it would take months to sign up thirty new moms. She estimated at least five to six months. I was floored. I went into ownership expecting new member acquisition to be slow AF. As a result, I set super LOW membership goals my first six month. My goal was to reach thirty members within five months of ownership (six new members a month).

Now, in a good month, I can sign up 25+ new members.

The BIG Lesson Learned Here Is- Aim high! If I were advising brand new franchisees, I would challenge them to sign up fifty moms as fast as possible. It’s a big milestone. Also, I would also advise them to ask more than one franchisee their opinions on business, goals, systems and operations. Especially when you are just starting out. The more information and insight you get, the better.

Mistake #4- I Didn’t Operate with an ‘All In’ Mindset from the Beginning

This business started off as hobby business for me. Something to keep me busy and give me something to do, outside of home. I purchased this franchise on a whim because the price was too good for me to pass up. As a result of this, I actually didn’t see this business as something I should take seriously and that I might actually make ‘real’ money from.

All of the online reviews I read said it wasn’t a good investment and was a money sink. So I went into ownership with the idea of not to get in ‘too deep’ and to ‘Just make some pocket money and have fun exercising.’

Those days are long gone and it was a big mistake not thinking of my business as an actual business, from day one. It wasn’t until I made a mental shift in my business and decided to really go for it and commit to it that things started to really move and start happening.

The BIG Lesson Learned Here Is- Go All In, right now! Be THAT business owner who everyone knows without a doubt, is all in. Once you make that mental shift, you start to pick up momentum in your business.

Mistake #5- Spending Way Too Much On Member Schwag

During my first two years in business, new members received a tank, hat, and two bands as a part of new member bags. My cost per member acquisition costs was through the roof ($44). BIG mistake. (And I was clueless because I wasn’t tracking a dime!)

It cost way too much. It was logistically tough for me to keep up with inventory. And the truth is, my members didn’t really need all of that. I had it in my head that I needed to give my members a lot of retail to ‘enhance their new member experience’ and to increase my marketing efforts. I later reduced the bags to giving a hat and one band. Now, I only give a new member bag and band. And you know what? It’s not that big of a deal.  They came for the community, connection, and fitness. Not the schwag.  It’s a nice to have, but it won’t make or break a sale. And, since it’s hard to track word of mouth marketing, it’s hard to know if retail items on your members actually increase your sales.

The BIG Lesson Learned Here Is– Adding value can be done in a lot of ways, that don’t involve retail items. I’d like to offer retail as a retention tool, not a customer acquisition tool. Invest more into building your community and building up your instructors to deliver better classes and foster stronger connections.


These were five big rookie mistakes and each one affected my business. I cringe a little bit, every time I read them. But, I’m grateful for each lesson these mistakes have taught me.

So there you have it, my five major rookie mistakes.

I’d LOVE to know what your major rookie mistakes have been! You’re welcome to share in the comments.

Love + Aloha


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