After Xponential Buy, a Year of Change at Pure Barre
Pure Barre President Sarah Luna.
After cycling through five CEOs in as many years, the environment at Pure Barre was “one of distrust and ‘what hoops are you gonna have us jump through this time,’” said Sarah Luna, who assumed the role of president at the barre workout franchise in November 2018 after it was acquired by Xponential Fitness.
“I even got asked, ‘how long will you be here?’” continued Luna, of conversations with franchisees. “I basically said I will earn your trust over time and seeing is believing.”
In the year since, Luna has focused on being an accessible leader, holding weekly calls with franchisees as Xponential has put its systems in place. Based in Irvine, California, and led by CEO Anthony Geisler, Xponential’s fitness portfolio also includes Club Pilates, of which Luna had been senior VP of operations, Cyclebar, StretchLab, Row House, AKT, Yoga Six and Stride.
“Pure Barre didn’t have a sales culture,” noted Luna, who hired a recruiting team to in turn help franchisees hire sales people focused on membership sales. That change went along with a software conversion and rollout of new point-of-sale and customer relationship management systems. Luna also launched a training program for general managers.
Perhaps the most visible change is the refresh of 500-plus studios, a $14 million undertaking that Xponential itself paid for. “We felt if we leaned on the franchise agreement” to require franchisees to foot the bill “then the timeline wouldn’t have been followed and brand consistency would have suffered,” said Luna. “We knew what Pure Barre needed to survive was, and this is Anthony’s quote, ‘we’re 500 moving as one.’”
It’s been an ongoing process to coordinate the software changeover and studio facelifts, with Luna all the while focused on support at every level. “We didn’t want to be the corporate team in the ivory tower,” she said.
In 2020 her goal is to “really dive into operational excellence,” and help franchisees better understand the underlying benchmarks that impact studio performance, such as maximizing current leads and Pure Barre’s relationships with current members. The feedback she’s received from franchisees has been largely positive.
“They feel like they have a partner who gets it and they’re making more money,” said Luna. Geisler noted Pure Barre’s average unit volume has increased 15 percent since it joined Xponential (its most recent FDD lists average gross sales of $302,825 for studios operating between January 2018 and March 2019).