Tiffany Simmons likes to call herself a super nerd. “I love contracts, policies and budgets,” she says. “I really like the black and white behind it all – taking a dream and turning it into a strategic plan.”
After beginning her career in the nonprofit industry and earning her master’s degree in organizational leadership and strategic planning, Simmons began providing business coaching to women trying to get back to work and end the cycle of generational poverty.
Her coaching skills and love for serving others resulted in a career turning point in 2018, when Simmons and her firefighter husband opened their first Snap Fitness franchise in Springfield, Illinois, just 14 days after visiting the location of the existing franchise operator.
“It was a lost asset in our community. The owner had completely abandoned the gym,” she says, “and we wanted to fill a need.” Plus, Simmons was no stranger to fitness since growing up playing soccer, cross country, track and more.
The Simmons have since acquired other Illinois Instant fitness studios in Chatham, Auburn and Sherman, and recently opened a smoothie and nutrition storefront called “Shake This, Eat That” next to their first Snap studio.
“We take a holistic approach to health and wellness to serve our community,” she said. “You can’t be 100% successful in the gym, and we wanted to find a way to serve everyone.”
Simmons continued to find new ways to serve others. In October 2020, Simmons joined the Lift Brands team and became one of 12 franchisees who serve as business coaches for new and existing owners. She draws on her past experiences to talk to franchisees about their visions and goals, and the strategies they will use to get there.
In addition to Snap Fitness, Minnesota-based Lift Brands is also the parent company of Fitness On Demand and is a minority partner of 9Round International and Fitstop. Led by CEO Ty Menzies, Lift Brands has a footprint totaling more than 1,600 locations in more than 20 countries.
While emphasizing the importance of being self-motivated in business, Simmons advises franchisees not to be ashamed of also wanting to make money, something small business owners can sometimes be hesitant to talk about, she said. declared.
“When you’re coaching people, that first conversation is very butterfly and unicorn. Just like in the social services industry, we want to help other people, but you’re also running a business,” she said.
“It’s important to be very strategic. You cannot keep your doors open unless you make very wise decisions. If you’re consistently operating in deficit, you lose that passion and drive over time when your business isn’t thriving.
Simmons primarily works with new owners or people who are becoming multi-unit operators for the first time. Once the franchise agreement is signed, the sales team hands them over to Simmons, who works with them for the first 90 days on how to access industry-specific resources such as marketing, product and design, and how to find any other kind of support they might need.
One of the biggest benefits of being part of a franchise is relying on system support, she noted.
“None of us are experts in all things, which is why the franchise is so fantastic. You have experts in marketing, in design, in technical matters, and that’s just the team at the company. Then you have an army of 630 other gyms in the United States,” she said.
For example, Simmons will chat with a franchisee in Georgia in the morning, who will tell him about a new program they’ve launched. In the afternoon, she connects this ‘zee with owners from Texas and Oregon, saying “Hey guys, this is one of your goals and this person has a super model, and I wanted having you on the phone so you can think about it outside,” she said.
“The opportunity to bring together a large network through connections is what this business coaching is all about,” Simmons added. “Can you say I love my job?”
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