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Spring 2011 Survival of the Fittest

Education and community outreach are key to franchise’s success.

People walk into a Max Muscle franchise for many reasons. Most want some combination of solving a health issue, losing weight, or increasing energy.

Bill Warner, Vice President of Franchise Development for Max Muscle Sports Nutrition says that the Orange, CA, company has an advantage in the market. Their distinguishing concept gives customers an educational approach to the fitness goals they are trying to accomplish. Staff members are certified by the National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association, and serve as nutrition and fitness coaches. Staff can educate customers about diet, exercise, meal planning, and how nutritional products augment various body types and diets. Such consultations about nutrition and meal planning are big components of the Max Muscle concept.

“When you do eat correctly, do appropriate exercise for you, and fuel your body with good products, it’s going to respond quickly,” says Warner. “We can talk about nutrition, exercise, and products working in concert. That’s been our message and our model that has worked very well for us in the franchise concept for close to seven years,” Warner says.

Consultations are free and customers have the option of a weekly consultation with a body assessment analysis, or checking in once a month.

“Because of the type of education we do in the stores, we get invited into the community to school groups, health clubs, and senior groups to talk about health,” says Warner. He points out that competitor GNC doesn’t have the consulting, relationship, or community outreach component to their model.

Franchise basics

Max Muscle, which has been in business since 1991, draws equal numbers of men and women ages 25-55. Bestsellers include liquid multi-vitamins and protein powders, but the store also sells pre-natal vitamins and children’s vitamins.

The franchise has over 150 locations in the United States and growth has been steady and purposeful. “We’re not just looking for somebody who can write a check. We take our time, and get to know folks to make sure our business model is a really good fit for them,” says Warner. The company rolled out a 900-square-foot model two years ago that suits the mall arena.

The initial franchise fee is $35,000 and potential franchisees should have access to $75,000 liquid assets to be used over time, and a net worth of $300,000 or more. “We’re finding up to 80 percent of the costs of getting a business up and running can be financed. The total amount is going to be $150,000 to $290,000 to cover build-out, getting the store stocked, staff, training, advertising, and other expenses.”

The $35,000 pays for intensive initial and ongoing training; a nutrition education course and certification through NESTA; the use of Max Muscle trademarks, logos and marketing materials; trade secrets and methods; operations manual, and authorized third-party products. The costs are broken down in a line item on the disclosure document.

“It is a very upbeat industry and business. We truly help people. Our owners really like what they do. [They] accomplish not just a change, but a healthier lifestyle,” Warner says.

For more information, please visit

Vanessa Geneva Ahern

Vanessa Geneva Ahern is a NY-based freelance writer who covers business, health, travel, and wellness. She has written for various trade and consumer magazines including National Jeweler, SELF, and Fit Pregnancy. For more information, please visit

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