Stepz Fitness is a popular health and fitness franchise with a focus on an accessible and intimidation-free environment for personal improvement. Co-Founders Murray Brass and Quang Tran established the business in 2009, opening their first club in Stones Corner, Brisbane, with their second and third clubs opening soon after in St. Lucia and Wynnum respectively. The clubs were highly successful, and Stepz quickly began its foray into franchising.
“We feel that Stepz is more than just a fitness centre,” says Tran. “We believe in customer experience; it’s about helping people feel good about themselves, regain confidence, and build their self-esteem. Mentally and physically, it’s a transformation that we offer for our customers.” Stepz’ personal training aspect, a major strength of the brand, is under constant development and improvement. “We’ve got a strong emphasis on personal trainers and coaching, which is how we deliver better results.”
18 of the 20 current Stepz locations can be found in Southeast Queensland, with further expansion into other states a long-term goal of the business. With 2 new clubs already established in New South Wales, Steps plans to grow its family further into the state within 12 to18 months. “We’ll be looking into expanding into NSW in the regional areas, as well as the main city of Sydney, and moving on from there into Victoria and South Australia,” says Quang.
“Helping people feel better about themselves through health and fitness is our mission, but we’re not really a health and fitness business,” Tran says. Stepz has worked hard to create a special experience for its members, as a place for individuals from all backgrounds to mingle and connect with one another. Stepz’ popularity also stems from its distinctive approach to personal training. “Our fitness programs are highly unique within the training industry,” Quang says. “We found that a lot of people didn’t know what to do when they first entered the gym, so we began offering 10 different programs to suit various people at various points in their lives.” In addition to covering all of the different types of exercises in video format, the programs have a nutrition aspect as well, with guides on which foods to buy and what to eat on a regular basis. “There’s lot of information for members that we really don’t see being offered in other clubs.”
Many of Stepz’ franchise locations have become heavily involved in their local communities, taking part in events supporting fire departments, schools, and various sporting clubs as well. “It’s our mission to help make people feel better, and the best way to do that is to get involved in the community,” Tran explains. “It’s a definite focus for all our clubs.”
Close relationships with suppliers are imperative to the smooth operation of any business, and Tran points out that the fitness industry is no exception. “You have to understand what their business is;” he says, “it’s not always about your company, it’s a 2 way relationship. If they understand you and you understand them, the relationship becomes that much stronger, and both parties grow.” Stepz Fitness requires a large number of major suppliers for every one of its clubs, from fit-out workers, to security systems, to the equipment suppliers themselves. “We find that if we understand them, the better our business runs, and vice versa; it’s a win-win relationship.”
Quang points out that Australia’s fitness industry is continuously growing, with a substantial amount of new gyms and fitness businesses being established even within the last 5 years. He feels that the greatest challenge to any individual business is the potential loss of their unique identity within the growing number of competitors. “The industry’s reaching maturity, especially in the major cities, so it’s more important than ever to understand our customers, provide those extra services and provide the best overall service that you can to distinguish yourself,”
“Growing a business is very rewarding,” Tran says, “especially in the franchising industry, which is a business in and of itself.” Murray and Quang work alongside number of mentors within their business, who help to guide them in their decision making, while avoiding any pitfalls along the way. “We’ve very thoroughly enjoyed our franchising journey as we’ve grown and built the family, and look forward to many more years in the industry,” he says. “We see ourselves as one of the leaders of the pack; we’re definitely here for the long term, and we’re loving every minute of it.”