By Gill Stewart at
Q. The F word! Why are you Franchising WALX?
A. Because we know that Franchising is the best way to help the RIGHT people set up a business where they can minimise the risks by using proven systems and business principles. There are still folk out there who don’t quite understand what a Franchise is – this article might help you to see what we have chosen this route in order to help expedite the launch and success of our Franchisees Read more
Q. Do I have to be fit and do I have to lead lots of sessions myself in order to run a WALX Franchise?
A. No to both – we do like you to have a passion for being active and you obviously need to believe in what we do (or we would ask you to WALX politely away!) If you want to deliver some of the sessions yourself, we love that too but this role is for somebody who wants to provide exceptional customer care and experience whether on the coal face or not. Our Franchisees are people with organisational skills, an eye for an opportunity and the ability to explore them.
Q. Is this a part time role?
A. Like all business opportunities, this concept will take time to build up and the income generated will relate to the effort put in! The hours are flexible, in fact it is necessary to not be 9 – 5 but it’s not really something you could build up on part time hours. (we have WALX Masters role that might work though) That said, it is possible for a couple or friends to take a Franchise between them and on that basis it could work out as part time for both!
Q. What do you mean by Discovery Day?
A. It is what it says on the tin! A Day with the the team where you can discover the programmes we have created, see the potential within a territory and explore the systems we provide to help it all fall into place. During the day we help you to understand the concept and training in full plus ask questions to us and current WALX Masters in person. What we love is how those who go on to be Franchisees, also learn from each others questions and immediately feel part of the team – especially if they are in the same practical training group.
Q. How do you determine a territory or can I simply choose one?
A. Our territories are based on population figures and we work with you to agree this prior to the business planning stage. We base our complex mapping on a number of factors including partnerships, outdoor space and demographic profiling to ensure a lucrative area that works for you. In most instances Franchisees are keen to operate on home turf or in an area they know well and whilst this works well, it’s not essential.
Q. Can you sell a WALX Franchise or exit when you want to?
The initial term for a WALX Franchise is 5 years after which you can choose to sell if you wish or extend the term at no extra cost. We begin discussions after three years to help Franchisees achieve their own personal goals whether that is to exit at the end of the term or expand into neighbouring territories. Both options are also available at any time during the term (subject to approval) We want happy, successful Franchisees.
Q. There is a very busy NWUK group in my area already, does that mean a Franchise would not be able to operate there?
A. To the contrary, the independent NWUK Instructors need more regionalised support so if you are a team player and happy to respect and support them, we will all benefit from the growth of activities in the area. Our existing deliver partners are very important to us and we see them as a massive resource for new Franchisees. In reverse a good franchisee will bring opportunities such as workplace and school contracts that may help the local Instructor to grow.
Q. What software do you actually provide?
A. The WALX management portal is a comprehensive club/membership/booking and management system. It enables all sessions to be created as live bookable WALX which can also be shared via social media and other channels. Clients can pay via credit cards, set up a top up account (similar to a phone account) so they can draw down funds from their personal account every time they book or simply pay a simple low monthly fee for unlimited access to their local WALX. The system also medically screens them and requests them to update this if their condition changes at any time.
The Franchisee will get daily notifications of activity bookings and cancellations, can manage multiple leaders, track retention and communicate via bulletins. They can oversee a busy schedule and stay in control at all times.
We also provide a CRM (customer relationship management system (for sales and partnership activities) and newsletter bulletin software. In addition, we provide access to remote IT support & security protection (as our customer’s data is precious) plus file sharing and on line conferencing software.
Q. I need to earn a salary from day one – is that possible?
A. Like every start up – in the early days income is lower and investment quite high. To help support our franchisees through this period, we have a very comprehensive business planning process here at WALX and can help those who wish to set up their own business but need to cover basic overheads during this growth phase. Our business plans are developed with the help of external experts and we have the support of Franchise funding banks who can also help provide the comfort you need in the early stages. However, we also help you to build monthly Membership income very quickly once you get going via effective marketing and launch processes.
Q What outdoor/fitness equipment will I need?
A. To operate a full WALX programme, you will require a set of up to 24 mixed fitness walking poles (from £39 a pair) plus uniform for you and your team. This will enable you to deliver all three WALX categories as a minimum. Once you get established, there are a host of other exciting outdoor equipment options but there is no need to invest hugely in the early days
Q. What about IT equipment?
A. We will require you to have an encrypted laptop as security is vital to us. We do provide external IT support security plus file sharing software and video conferencing
Q. Do you help Franchisees with Marketing?
A. We provide comprehensive training to help you build a marketing plan that works. We have a marketing tool kit and access to low cost direct mail options. We also provide extensive social media training and support as part of our package.
Our National team provide quality National Press and PR support plus our website search engine optimisation and social media reach is impressive. We drive customers to your groups and help you to maximise local marketing opportunities.
Q. What insurance is provided and how much is it?
A. We have an experienced Business insurance provider who will cover you for both delivery and business insurance. Our specific fitness Industry insurance will ensure your guides and coaches are covered either annually for circa £76 or month be month to enable you keep costs low.
Q. What other external training costs might I encounter?
A. All those who deliver sessions will need to have at least a on day first aid at work certificate (with CPR) although we recommend a two day outdoor first aid certificate with our partners ADVENTURE FIRST AID because they know how we work.
Q Where would my main income streams come from as a Franchisee?
A. The key income is the direct debit payments from your local group members. If you provide great programmes, service and sociality, you should see this build month on month. In addition you and your team will be able to promote and sell a number of courses or one to one sessions, such as inductions to pole walking, ski fitness and a host of other innovative modules. We also have a virtual WALX capability for on line engagement with clients and you will also earn from all sales of kit and equipment. Finally you will earn a percentage of all National membership sales.
Q. How long does it take to get started?
A. Once a Franchisees decides to go ahead we aim to get their business launched within 3 months (subject to their availability for practical training etc) Sometimes we will discuss launch timetable in order to work around current commitments and also to capture seasonality. We can put a lot of key things in place in readiness to hit the ground ‘walking’ at exactly the optimum time!
Q. When was WALX launched and how many Franchisees do you have currently?
A. We launched WALX in October 2019 at the Franchisee show and the first tranche were set to launch in ….March 2020! We are proud to say that we have managed to train and support them through the Coronavirus pandemic. We have a second cohort due to launch in Spring 2021 and have upskilled six of our former Nordic Walking UK delivery Partners to Franchise status. In total we have 10 Franchisees who are operational and others going through business planning stage ( as of Feb 2021)
We are also delighted that over 40 former Nordic Walking UK Delivery Partners have opted to operate under the WALX brand as WALX at a much reduced level to a Franchise but as an important part of the brand development and growth. They typically deliver mostly Nordic walking (at this stage) and do not have a specific territory or operate as Franchisees. They will enhance any territory with their professionalism, dedication and skill set and we always ensure all parties are happy with any new Territory allocated.
Q. What would my typical day look like?
A. It differs between Franchisees because some focus more on management whilst others are more hands on – the choice is yours! Typically the Franchisee would start with checking e mails, KPIs on bookings and of course social media! If they are actively involved in the sessions (many are) they would head out to lead the activity, meet up with clients and oversee the leaders. Often there will be meetings with council projects, charities etc re delivery for them and of course dealing with enquiries from the public who want to join.
Some time will dedicated to team training and motivation and planning future activities that are guaranteed to inspire people. This may involve doing a walk recce with leaders or meeting a cafe who will be supplying the Cream Teas! Finally as every business knows, social media will need keeping up to date as its a great way to communicate with current Members and potential new ones! Most Franchisees would also be collecting stories, tesimonials and interesting facts to go out in their next newsletter.
Q. How much can I earn?
A. That really does depend on the area you live in and your vision for Lifestyle or Management operations. We will provide a basic overview for you based on these factors if you attend our webinars.
Q. Do I need business experience to become a WALX Franchisee
A. Not at all – we have helped help business people to become great Instructors/client care experts and vice versa. If you are the RIGHT person with the RIGHT vision, we will work to your strengths and train you where it’s needed. The tools we provide do simplify things and help you with a huge amount of processes but we make sure that you do understand the business plan and know how to be successful.
Q. How will I get customers?
That’s what we are here for! We will train you and provide all of the tools to help you market yourself successfully. We have proven campaigns which help generate leads including an initial specific launch with leaflets and social media ads to get your started. We also provide National PR, social media and website SEO traffic which generates customers for you on a regular basis.
Q. Do I need any money to get started?
A. Yes, with all Franchisees there is a Franchise fee which covers the proven business model, brand, ‘know how’ training and territory. There will also be other business costs such as insurance, suitable laptops/phones etc (if you do not have them) and of course marketing and equipment. The business plans we write with you will include all costs so you can see exactly what you would need (BEFORE you fully commit) We can also help you to source finance to cover this and make sure your basic personal commitments are covered initially.
Q. Will I always have support?
A. Yes you will – we meet with Franchisees on line once a week and are always thee for them – the whole HQ team are on hand at all times to help them with queries, upskilling, motivation, I.T and marketing. We are passionate about our programmes and need amazing people to offer them in their locality – it’s in our interests to be there to help them succeed.
Q. How do I manage this business by myself?
A.You will not be managing it all alone, most of the systems are created to enable the WALX team to help you manage the business and we also teach you how to get help with elements you don’t enjoy as you grow. Whether that’s the practical teaching/delivery, the admin or the social media