As health becomes an increasingly important issue, retail stores like GNC have been on the rise. GNC focuses on living well and provides service and products to their customers to ensure they are doing just that. According to nutraingredients-usa.com, the size of the US supplement industry is roughly $36.7 billion. With huge numbers like that, it is apparent as to why the industry is so competitive.
GNC stores typically stock a wide range of weight loss, bodybuilding, nutritional supplements, vitamins, natural remedies, and health and beauty products, in both its owned brands as well as third-party brands. GNC's business model consist of a combination of corporate-owned and franchised stores; 950 of the 5,000 domestic US stores are franchises, commonly located within urban shopping malls and shopping zones. With such stiff competition, GNC has found a way to specialize the shopping experience for their customers. Gary Woodward, local Director of Franchise Operations comments, "We take the time to not only educate our franchisee, but also our customer. The health and wellness retail industry isn't your typical retail sector. Customers must be knowledgeable in order to receive the best regimen."
How does GNC train their franchisees?
Before training starts at headquarters, GNC requires each new franchisee to partake in in-store training. This training takes place in one of GNC's corporate stores and totals to 80 hours. Once corporate store training is complete, new franchisees head to headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Woodward elaborates on their time at headquarters, "Each franchisee spends a week at headquarters. The majority of the time spent is interacting with our team. Vice Presidents and Directors from each department personally talk to each franchisee about their side of the business."
During training at headquarters, franchisees immediately feel apart of the family with GNC's personalized way of onboarding. As explained above, franchisees get the opportunity to speak with executives early on in the process. Franchisees learn about all products and the correct way to sell them. Franchisees are also introduced to a nutritionist that will explain the health benefits of products sold and tips on giving advice to customers. GNC requires franchisees to also have a nutritionist on staff at each location. The training here consist of classroom based training and virtual training that is administered through GNC's POS system.
"Once they are ready to open, a guy like me, their local Director of Operations, comes out to the store for a week to facilitate and help with the grand opening", explains Woodward. Once the store gets through their grand opening, their main point of contact for support is their local Director of Operations.
Ongoing support and training and is what truly makes GNC such an attractive franchise in this space. "We offer something called Franchise Supplements to our franchisees. They are tools that go out on a monthly basis that are created to help train." Woodward explains when asked about GNC's ongoing training. Woodward continues, "We often launch new products, or enhancements to existing, and train our staff using e-learning through their POS system right in their store. We also hold a huge annual buying and education convention where executives and franchisee owners can meet existing and new vendors."
"It's my job to make sure training is being complete by the franchise locations in my region." Woodward comments. "We administer training through our POS system, but also have a website dedicated just to franchisees where most of the communication happens. Our business is continual training and we have found that our most successful franchisees are the ones that are most educated and are able to successfully communicate that education to their customers."
GNC is a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based American commercial enterprise focused on the retail sale of health and nutrition related products, including vitamins, supplements, minerals, herbs, sports nutrition, diet and energy products. GNC started its roots in 1935 when David Shakarian opened a small health food store in downtown Pittsburgh and is now a highly recognized health and wellness brand and retailer with 82% brand awareness in the industry.
To learn more about franchising with GNC, please visit gncfranchising.com.
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