Mayweather Boxing Sees Opportunity Amid Studio Shutdown
CEO James Williams, left, with Mayweather Boxing + Fitness creator and boxer Floyd Mayweather.
Franchisee Sara McSpedon opened her Mayweather Boxing + Fitness location March 14 in downtown Chicago, the first of five gyms she planned to develop after signing a multi-unit deal. Two days later, the studio was empty, shut down following an executive order from Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19.
“It’s probably the shortest initial studio opening in history,” said James Williams, CEO of Mayweather Boxing, the group fitness concept created by former world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather with 18 open locations—at least before the pandemic.
“All our studios are closed. First, we closed our flagship gym in LA, and the next day our guidance to all our franchisees was to close,” said Williams. While the uncertainty is weighing on franchisees—“everyone is wanting to know when they’ll be able to reopen”—Williams said there’s also opportunity to market memberships and even help franchisees in the sold-but-not-open stage find more attractive real estate.
“Our membership sales are actually up,” said Williams. “The plan now is to build around a super strong reopening.” Like other fitness brands, Mayweather Boxing is offering live stream workouts to stay connected to members, but is also making the workouts available to non-members as part of its presale process for about 10 studios that were scheduled to open in the next couple of months.
“So we’re seeing the ability to pick up members,” continued Williams, as he noted many people are “sitting around and they’re open to trying a new gym.”
“We expect there’s going to be an explosion of people wanting to get back and work out,” he said. “We see tremendous opportunity to convert people to Mayweather.”
On the development side, the brand has agreements signed for more than 100 studios, with many franchisees negotiating real estate deals right now that could put them in better situations coming out of the crisis.
“The real estate market is being reset, and they’re able to negotiate more advantageous deals,” said Williams. “We keep our franchisees moving through that process so we can leverage these preferential terms we’re starting to see right now.
“For us, it’s about setting the stage for what happens when the markets open up.”
The company reported every studio location thus far has achieved profitability within three months of opening.
Mayweather Boxing is also continuing its franchise sales efforts, first creating a virtual discovery day program and then, as restrictions ease, Williams said they’ll geotarget opportunities in Southern California so new candidates can drive instead of fly to the company’s Los Angeles headquarters. The initial franchise investment is $199,300 to $598,000 per location.
Mayweather Boxing is not alone in continuing its development efforts. An online survey in March of 233 executives of franchise brands, conducted by franchise management software provider FranConnect, found approximately two-thirds of franchisors are actively moving forward with franchise sales despite the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. In the business services and commercial and residential services segments, the numbers were even higher, with 86 percent and 89 percent, respectively, continuing sales efforts.
In the full-service restaurant segment, however, 75 percent of brands reported halting franchise sales. And for brands with fewer than 25 locations, over half said they’ve stopped sales efforts, compared to 16 percent for franchises with between 100 and 500 units.