SPARK Growth Series: Meet Current Franchisee Kent Howie
By Sara Hodson
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Meet Kent Howie, one of our LIVE WELL Franchise Partners from North Vancouver British Columbia. LIVE WELL is a medical fitness clinic franchise opportunity that is making waves in the fitness industry and health care system alike by making fitness accessible to people struggling with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Kent is an enthusiastic ambassador of our brand and a member of the clinic himself! He has seen firsthand how life-changing our program is and has made it his mission to change lives in his community.
Kent became a LIVE WELL franchisee following retirement from a successful career in government. His resume highlights include serving in the infantry, working with young offenders, teaching at the Justice Institute of British Columbia, working as a senior corrections officer, and working in labor and employee relations. In April of 2019, he started a new chapter in his life by opening his very own LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic with his wife, Cindy Marrington.
Kent was heavily involved in the project team during construction and continues to be 100% devoted to his clinic. He is in the clinic nearly every day of the week in addition to several hours per week of networking outside of the clinic.
“The trick is to prioritize and make sure you are meeting the goals you’ve set,” says Kent, referring to their seemingly never-ending schedules. “We are learning as we go to make sure the LIVE WELL brand is well represented.”
Reviewing daily schedules, recruiting, lead follow up, business networking, and community marketing are all a part of his daily activities. He reaches out to leads generated from digital marketing and social media as soon as possible after the lead comes in. Cindy takes care of billing and payments. She also conducts program consultations with prospective members.
As a husband and wife duo, they each capitalize on their strengths to bring everything they can to the business and give members the best possible experience.
In addition, Kent is heavily involved in his community through a number of avenues.
He is a youth sport and local youth band volunteer, and he also founded the Second Chance Music Association, a non-profit society that encourages adults to learn music. Kent also plays trumpet as part of a big band, brass quintet, and concert band, and he regularly takes music lessons with professionals.
Kent has gotten his clinic involved with various health care and community associations, such as the Alzheimers Society. Community outreach is important to him - a value that aligns well with the LIVE WELL core values and philosophy.
“Start Low and Go Slow”
Before becoming a franchisee, Kent was a patient of Dr. Ali Zeitner, who would later become the medical director for LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic. Once Dr. Zeitner told him about LIVE WELL and the benefits it could offer him, Kent signed up as a member. From then on, he was hooked on the LIVE WELL concept.
Prior to joining LIVE WELL, Kent explains, he was not used to approaching exercise with the “start low and go slow” mentality that LIVE WELL prides itself on. In the past, he had always taken a more aggressive approach that led to less than ideal results and unnecessary risk of injury. Joining LIVE WELL allowed Kent to slow down and start building achievable and sustainable healthy habits for his life.
It wasn’t just the clinical model that had Kent sold on the LIVE WELL concept. It was also how they create a sense of community among their members, staff, and franchisees.
“Seeing the way members were treated really spoke to me,” he says.
After taking an interest in franchising, Kent met with the leadership team and was impressed by the level of integrity and purpose that he saw. Now, as a franchise partner, Kent continues to receive support from the franchisor, including access to a business coach, flexibility for local advertising, and a digital marketing campaign.
“If something’s not working, they will acknowledge it and change it,” Kent says.
Being A Part of the Member Journey
When asked what their favorite part of owning a LIVE WELL Clinic, franchise partners always respond with the same answer: the members.
The structure of the LIVE WELL program is truly unique among fitness franchises. We provide a clinically supervised workout with a predesignated appointment slot, keeping members accountable to their health. We also foster support, fun, and positive relationships to maintain motivation and to encourage our members to strive for their best. LIVE WELL’s unique culture is what makes it a success, and that would not be possible without the members that inspire us every day.
“The first three months is when they see a lot of changes. They’re starting to believe in where they want to go,” says Kent, when asked about his favorite part of the member journey.
Kent describes the story of one of his members that came in with a walker and type 1 diabetes. She was very hesitant at first, not wanting her picture taken. After her first three months at LIVE WELL, she was able to climb the stairs and went to lunch with a coworker for the first time in 15 years and walk for extended periods of time without her walker.
Another member drove 3.5 hours twice a week to get to LIVE WELL after months of searching for a program to help her overcome obesity and issues arising from inflammation.
One member that was in a car accident following several months at LIVE WELL managed to avoid serious injury due to being in good shape from the LIVE WELL program and was back in the clinic exercising within a few weeks.
He’s also seen members effectively manage crippling pain brought about by arthritis and other chronic diseases.
These are just a few of the types of stories we see and hear every day at LIVE WELL.
“I live for people taking on a challenge and working through it… Taking a leap of faith and getting results. It’s seeing that change in people when they realize they’re starting to feel good and get results.”
Kent’s Words of Wisdom
As with any form of business ownership, some bumps in the road are inevitable.
Here are Kent’s 6 best pieces of advice for prospective franchisees of LIVE WELL:
Account for potential delays, setbacks, and soft costs when formulating a business plan and cash flow plan. “Hope for the best, plan for the worst.”
Become familiar with all facets of the LIVE WELL brand. “You need to be an educated consumer and applicator of what we’re doing.”
Manage your expenses and take advantage of resources offered by the franchisor. Become comfortable with member acquisition and know what is expected of you in terms of marketing.
Take breaks. “It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day aspects of starting up your business. Make sure you prioritize and stick to your goals. Find what is important in both your work life and personal life.”
“Stick to the brand - it works.”
“If you’re going to jump out of an airplane, don’t look at your feet - look at the horizon.”
Interested in learning more about franchising with LIVE WELL? Learn more about us and our franchise opportunity!