For the last 20 years Karl has been involved in big box retail overseeing 1,500 employees, 24 direct reports and a 6 day work week, with a seventh day on call. Karl describes himself as “busy, pressured, stressed, time poor, very-very results focused, and the phone was on 24/7” to stay on top of the 110 emails and 40 phone calls that had to be responded to daily. There had to be a better way.
In May of last year Karl had started exploring options with ABC Waikato Business Partner and Broker, Scott Laurence who describes Karl as a “good rooster and a hell of a decent fella. Over 20 years Karl has built up exceptional experience, knowledge base and background in people management, and Karl had great alignment with Snap Fitness to pursue the opportunity to become a franchise owner” says Scott.
And Karl agrees. “We are quite like-minded as to where we have been in the past in the corporate world, and moving out of it for a lifestyle change. It really opened my eyes to a range of opportunities, and another way of doing things. I’ve looked at a lot of profit and losses over my life, Scott certainly gave me advice in what he saw in terms of value”.
Combined with a Bachelor of Physical Education majoring in Exercise Physiology and Exercise Prescription, as well as a commerce degree in management, the progression from corporate to business owner was a natural path to take which led to Karl making the decision to resign from his Area Manager role in October that year.
“I’m physically active and I like the thought of being involved in other people's physical fitness, that speaks to me. The other thing that speaks to me really strongly is the way the business is set up, there is a great gym manager in place, so I wasn’t going to have to commit 55-60 hours per week to the business and from my life perspective that was a real carrot as I was previously 24 hours 7 days a week”.
For Karl the opportunity to franchise with Snap Fitness made sense, allowing him to take control of his work life balance and become self-determined about his future. The advantages of which he treasures. “I was missing out on a lot of time with my kids and they didn't really start to click that I was at home until the end of January, they were always expecting me to go to work. I’m only starting to see the benefits when the kids want to come to me and know that I have time for them and now, as a family, we’re not rushed anymore. Now I’m probably doing 20 hours a week versus a minimum of 60 hours a week.
Money, the importance of a job and having lots of things to do are nowhere near as important as spending time with your family. To me that's a huge benefit in taking on board owning your own business. From a financial perspective the way that I have forecast this business off last year’s earnings, I’m really, really happy that I haven’t taken a drop in earnings to do this”.
The opportunity to own a club as part of the Snap Fitness franchise was a leap of faith for Karl in terms of the certainty of security for his family and leaving behind the contacts from a 20 year career in big box retail. The support provided from the Snap Fitness National Club Account Manager, Chris Shearer, and the systems in place gave Karl the confidence to move forward with pursuing an independent future.
The first thing you notice when you step into the Hamilton club is that you are in vibrant surroundings. At any given time there is a lot going on around you with an affable energy and sense of community. It's a culture of approachability and a way that Karl Wareham sees that he can provide a point of difference for his members.
The journey for Karl has produced a determinable result that comparatively, has provided the same opportunities to invest in himself and lead others towards group success. “First and foremost, its about communication, it's about the retention of members and it’s just being there to talk to people. That’s how I’m going to add the most value”.