Walsh projects significant franchise growth for GreatLIFE

By Jodi Schwan

GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness has secured its first franchisee.

The membership-based golf and fitness organization led by Tom Walsh Sr. is working with a father-and-son team in Salt Lake City to bring GreatLIFE to Utah.

The plan is to enter the market in early 2018.

After the duo visited Sioux Falls and learned more about the concept, a deal came together in less than two months, Walsh said.

“We’re going on our fourth year, and our numbers are pretty impressive,” he said.

GreatLIFE estimates 32,000 people in the Sioux Falls area use GreatLIFE memberships. Add in Mitchell and Worthington, Minn., and the number gets closer to 40,000.

GreatLIFE sees franchising as the way to grow nationwide, said Walsh, who sold his franchise rights to Burger King in South Dakota last year and is a believer in the franchise model.

“Having been in the franchise business over 40 years, we look at the franchising aspect of GreatLIFE as the future,” he said. “I think within three years we will have over 500 franchises at one or more location.”

His son, Tom Walsh Jr., is leading the franchise development effort and working with a company called Franchise Dynamics to market the opportunity.

“They are bringing us prospects, and we’re getting some national attention through the golf and fitness industry,” Walsh Sr. said. “There isn’t a week that goes by that we don’t get a contact from someone interested in bringing GreatLIFE to their community.”

He would entertain single-market franchises, where a single golf course membership could be combined with fitness, as well as franchises with several outlets.

“It depends on the community. When you look at Mitchell and Worthington, which are single-course markets, and the success they’re having, there are thousands of those throughout the country,” Walsh said. “In Salt Lake City, there are 123 courses, and we’re going to start with six and some fitness centers and maybe a bowling center.”

He also foresees keeping some markets owned by GreatLIFE and is looking at the Tucson, Ariz., area.

“I think that makes more sense because we could be a bigger fish in a smaller pond, and once we do Tucson then move into the Phoenix market.”

Assuming a franchisee is financially viable, Walsh said he’s looking for someone with integrity and leadership.

“The ideal situation is you’ve got somebody in the community that has a good reputation and a passion for the community and a willingness to make it better,” he said. “If someone wants to come in and just invest in it, that isn’t going to work. Just like Burger King and McDonald’s, you want hands-on operators that become the face of the franchise in the community.”

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Walsh projects significant franchise growth for GreatLIFE

GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness has secured its first franchisee.

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