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In the first of our new series of franchisee interviews we catch up with Rhea who launched her One Element Docklands (OED) franchise in May 2019. We find out the ins and outs of setting up and running her own One Element business and why she loves it.

What appealed to you about owning a One Element franchise? 

My career has always been in finance but I was looking for something I could be passionate about. Something I could throw my energy into. I’ve always been dedicated to sport and fitness. I have represented my school and university in both netball and lacrosse and love doing other outdoor sports with my closest friends. Having qualified as a PT, I was keen to use this qualification to help others to enjoy sport and fitness as much as I do.

One Element reflects that sports club mentality that I have experienced playing lacrosse and netball. It provides opportunity for those who have never been part of a sports team to feel the same camaraderie

I was a bit different to other franchisees as I had no prior experience with One Element as a trainer or member. After the initial intro call with One Element’s founder Tom, he recommended that I attend a few sessions to see what it was like. I decided to go to an 8am session at Wandsworth Common. It was evident that there was a sports club mentality. 50 people turning up on a bitterly cold January morning so that they could catch up with friends after a Christmas break – amazing!

This combined with the low start-up costs alongside a tried and tested business model appealed to me.

“Tom made the on boarding and induction process so easy”

How was the on boarding and induction process? 
Tom made the on boarding and induction process so easy. From the initial call to the set up of the Franchise.

We had numerous calls to go over the One Element financial model, operations manual and any other questions that I had. Tom was always on hand. This made it much easier to set up the business whilst still in full time employment. The manual is great as I could refer back to this at any point for reference.

Tom soon introduced me to other franchisees to share tips and experiences about running and setting up a One Element business. This is one of the great benefits of being part of a franchise network.

The HQ team provided professional marketing materials and detailed training for TeamUp (One Element’s member management system). This has meant growing my One Element business has been smooth and faster than I set out in my business plan.

How long did it take you for you to make your One Element territory profitable? 
By following the One Element business model I was profitable in month 3.

What do you love about the One Element training programmes? 
As a trainer, you can see member fitness increase so quickly. Especially if they are coming to at least two sessions a week. The training programmes have been developed over the last 12 years with the help of professional sports players. And they really do work. From the feedback I’ve received, the group love the fitness journey. They also love sharing the journey with other team members around them and seeing them improve too

The session programmes are designed to build camaraderie, with members supporting, pushing and challenging each other at the sessions. From the member testimonials I have received, the satisfaction and accomplishment members get from the sessions is inspiring. It would take years for me to replicate the success of the One Element sessions myself.

I also love the fact One Element is all about being outside, in the fresh air. You get a sense of achievement after every session.

“One Element is a lifestyle business, I only need to spend 1-2 hours a day managing the franchise”

On average, how many hours a day does managing your One Element take up?
One Element is a lifestyle business, I only need to spend 1-2 hours a day managing the franchise. It involves things I enjoy doing, such as taking sessions, organising events, contacting businesses and networking

What characteristics do you think a One Element franchisee needs to be successful?
A can do attitude, it’s important to be confident to talk to new people and to develop new businesses opportunities. If you’re outgoing, sociable, love team sport and can motivate groups of people you’re halfway to having a successful franchise.

What are the advantages of being a One Element franchisee compared to setting up on your own? 
One Element is a tried and tested fitness business model with its own unique programmes and other materials developed over the last 12 years. This reduced my risk and increased my chances of success.

There’s constant support. Tom is very supportive, we have weekly catch up calls but he also leaves you to run the business how you see best. There’s no micro managing at all but just hands on enough to feel like he’s always there if you need him. By being part of a franchise network we can share ideas and success stories with other territories and it also means we can have a wider offering such as festivals and ski trips.

It’s also comforting knowing that there are others in the One Element family running the same session during the week in another location makes you feel like you’re part of something bigger.

Have there been any surprising or positive stories from within your franchise? Or from working with One Element as a wider group?
One Element really is a community business. We ran a front page marketing campaign in the local paper which really got us noticed. As a local business, we’ve been invited to local community discussions and projects increasing our network to the local community and businesses. OED has provided our members with a platform to raise and voice their concerns (through local community discussions/meetings).

All this has helped us to build a close knit group in such a short space of time – many who have crossed paths without realising!

“…don’t hesitate to take the risk – the rewards are much greater!

Is there any advice you would give to someone thinking about franchising or perhaps setting up their own business?
If it’s something you are passionate about, don’t hesitate to take the risk – the rewards are much greater!

What are your goals for the future?
In such a short time of operating I have already created a strong One Element Docklands family. I intend to continue to grow it!

We’ll be introducing more sessions, including the One Element kettlebell programmes as well early morning sessions. One of the great aspects of a One Element franchise is the opportunity to set up in other parks in my exclusive territory at no extra material cost. So we’ll be doing that too.

We have big plans for OED in 2020!

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