Weight Loss Management has always been a significant category within the franchise industry and Medifast was one of the industry leaders from the inception of the segment. Dr. William Vitale had developed a proprietary line of products which he sold through other doctors in the weight loss field. His vision for the brand and seeing the need for a reputable brand in theh weight loss services market helped expand the model and brand into a global leader in weight loss. Medifast is a multi-tiered weight loss organization that also offers products, nutrition supplements and health items. These products and services are sold through a variety of distribution channels and offer an extremely deep and effective total weight loss solution to the consumer. Ecommerce, telemarketing and franchised retail outlets comprise the primary distribution channels used by the organization.
As the business evolved and the brand took shape, it became evident that the need for physical locations was apparent and a critical part of developing the brand and delivering a complete weight loss solution. The guidance, advice and overall experience were dependent on fixed locations. Medifast initially expanded with company owned locations and grew through acquisition. Franchising allowed the organization to scale more rapidly and duplicate the business system into new markets without the significant capital outlay required to open a new weight loss center. The Medifast brand also went public and achieved significant growth, recognition and accolades for well managed business and great employee relationships.
In 2014, Medifast hired Franchise Marketing Systems to reinvigorate and redefine the franchise development model and achieve new growth of the weight loss franchise system. A new operating model was developed, requiring a higher initial investment, but also that clearly differentiated the Medifast brand from other weight loss franchise models. Design, look, feel and location placement were all improved to give the brand a “Starbucks” look and feel. The weight loss franchise was positioned to truly capture the market segment and needed support in developing the franchise development channel to recruit new qualified franchisees.
Franchise Marketing Systems worked with Medifast to develop a franchise marketing plan and franchise sales strategy for the weight loss franchise model. The strong suits Medifast had to offer the market were powerful and relevant. First, track record was unmatched in the industry and presented enormous credibility from a franchise validation standpoint. Second, the unit level economics of the weight loss franchise were incredible and offered franchisees a fantastic potential return on investment with a great Item 19 in the Medifast FDD. Third, the Medifast franchise offered franchisees a high margin and thoroughly defined business model that had everything from products to service model and technology infused into the business and offered great value to new franchise owners. Through strategic planning for the weight loss franchise model, the decision was made to focus franchise growth on multi-unit owners and franchisees who had the ability to open three or more locations. Primary markets were targeted were ideal market characteristics and customer demographics were in place. The franchise sales model incorporated a seven stage selling process where buyers were given information in stages and the Medifast management team was able to appropriately qualify each candidate.
Today, Medifast is still considered by many as the market leader in weight loss franchising and weight loss services in general. The brand is well positioned for continued global growth through a multi-pronged marketing and sales strategy with franchising driving the brick and mortar retail growth.
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