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CURVES FOR WOMEN: Business Broker Slams Curves Franchise and Franchisor

November 15, 2008

Franchise Pick features the sad story of the demise and closing of the Curves for Women franchise in Kailu, HI despite the franchise owner’s valiant struggle.

(Read:  CURVES FOR WOMEN: Paradise Lost as Hawaiian Curves Franchise Closes)

Franchise owner Robbi Ugini closed the Curves for Women franchise location in Kailua earlier this month, leaving some 270 members in the lurch and her 5 employees suddenly jobless.

According to Honolulu Star Bulletin reporter Nina Woo, “A corporate spokeswoman for Curves did not return calls by press time…”  Reporter Woo was able to get a reaction from a local business broker who has been trying to help struggling franchise owners for the past several years.

In Woo’s article, the broker reportedly categorizes the Curves franchise as a fad whose time has passed, and the Curves International franchisor as insensitive and uncaring to the plight of its failing franchise owners:

Mark Heilbron, a business broker at VR Mergers & Acquisitions, categorized Curves as a trendy kind of business.

Heilbron said he sold two Curves franchises over the last three years, but had several listed this last year that never sold.

“It’s a faddish type of business,” he said. “They made a lot of money and then when the trend went out, people who were still in them lost a lot of money.”

While buyers are more cautious in these economic times, Heilbron said they are still out there, with money they’d rather invest in a business than in the volatile stock market.

“Most people get talked into buying a franchise, and you’ve got to realize, depending on who the franchisor is, that most don’t care whether the franchisee makes it or not,” he said.

The story raises many disturbing questions.

Why was Woo allowed to sign 2-year lease for what is assumedly a 10-year franchise?

What assistance did the franchisor provide to keep her from failing?

Will CCI charge Robbi Ugini the $10,000 “failure fee” for prematurely closing her franchise?

If so, will that money be used to repay members who might be due refunds?

Is the Curves website accurate in stating “With a Curves franchise, you’ll be in business for yourself, not by yourself…”?

Read more about Curves at: FranchisePick.Com

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Comments

130 Responses to “CURVES FOR WOMEN: Business Broker Slams Curves Franchise and Franchisor”

  1. unhappy but getting happy says:

    Belinda,
    Thank you for the kind words Belinda and believe us when we tell you you are not alone. What you just discribed is what most of the owners are feeling now days. It is hard for any of us to even go into the clubs and the worry we have is always on our mind. But Belinda I am worried about you as I think you maybe putting to much stress on yourself over all of this. I know it’s easy for me to say but everything has a way of working out in the long run. Think of all the women you have helped better their lives. We will help you get through this difficut time and we all will be a lot stronger in the long run. So my advice to you is to take a deep breath and enjoy yourself today at the club and don’t worry or stress out. Have some fun today working out with your members and we will deal with the other issues once I recieve your e-mail. Take care and I will be talking to you real soon. God Bless you Belinda.

  2. just a nobody says:

    also about the time david was in court about womens world, friends of garys. rodger smitt? and kenny gibson ‘bought’ some of the assets and opened in harlintgen as fitness usa with gary running the health clubs which also closed after taking all the peoples money and gary filed bankrupt.

  3. CURVESOWNER2 says:

    Gary probably put everything in William David Heavin’s name so he (Gary)wouldn’t have to pay child support, based on his income, to his ex-wife. I heard he served time in jail for not paying child support. If I would have known this, I would never have gotten involved with Curves. I don’t care if you hate your ex-wife, your children deserve to be taken care of. I think they’ve forgiven him though, especially since he’s involved them in the business and made them rich with all our money too. What a mess he’s created in our lives. I like you too, “just a nobody”. If Gary was not allowed to open another health club, I wonder how he got away with selling Curves franchises?

  4. just a nobody says:

    ah spelling correction. that would be roger schmidt who coincidentally is now curves lawyer and howard kenneth “kinnie” gibson, now a sales rep and balloon pilot for curves. these guys and their shenanigans go way back. oh yeah here is some interesting background on kinnie gibson involving murder and intrigue.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=h64qv9OeXBwC&pg=PA50&lpg=PA50&dq=Howard+Kinnie+Gibson+stuntman&source=bl&ots=ROBxU_qFec&sig=sRVt-wtzIeN74ntMA5YsLwuMqXA&hl=en#PPA71,M1

  5. unhappy says:

    To all curves owners who have had problems with curves International and Gary Howie Havein please send your complaints to the BBB of your city and Waco TX. As well as the attorney general of your state and TX. And the federal trade commission. Below are web links where you can file the complaints on line.

    http://www.bbb.org/

    http://waco.bbb.org/WWWRoot/SitePage.aspx?site=40&id=ab5100aa-4c5a-4314-8e1b-f5996973f10c

    http://www.oag.state.tx.us/consumer/index.shtml

    http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/index.shtml

  6. just a nobody says:

    a blurb on william david heavin and his wife: amazing how he leaves out womens world of fitness and that whole deal. the fitness company he worked for as salesman and manager was called shapely lady

    Glenna and David Heavin

    David Heavin, CEO and founder of Ideas In Action, was stricken with polio as a young boy and doctors told his parents that he would never walk again, presenter Bill Elliott said.

    “As a young man, David turned his earlier polio into a ‘portfolio,’ as he worked his way up from salesman to manager for a U.S. fitness company. In the process, he became a national motivational speaker,” Elliott said.

    “In 1972, David launched Ideas In Action, Sales and Marketing Consultation Co. He quickly became a leading national marketing consultant” for large corporations.

    He and his wife, Glenna, took a “home-based business on a card table in their bedroom” and built a “world-class marketing and promotional products company in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley,” Elliott said. “He has mentored dozens of entrepreneurs as they have started new businesses, helping them develop business plans and providing support.”

    He is active in chambers of commerce in Harlingen, San Benito and across the Rio Grande Valley and was the founding chairman of Business Watch — a program to curb vandalism in San Benito. He is also active in United Way and other charitable organizations and was instrumental in establishing the Doris Joy Heavin Medical Office Building at Valley Baptist Medical Center.

    Glenna Heavin joined the company in 1990 after a career in education and banking and leads the company’s award-winning design department, leading the company into the e-business world.

  7. Former North Jersey Curves Owner says:

    Ok Robert, Sean, and everyone else, are you ready for this? My husband and I JUST TODAY, after we shut our Curves down on Feb. 7, 2009 AND filed bankruptcy which we were cleared of ALL debts, got a letter from Curves International stating their demands to send all their materials back, our member lists, they want the phone number of the club to transfer it to their 800 line etc etc. ARE THEY SERIOUS? Once bankruptcy is filed and the debts of the debtors (us) excused, it is against the law to contact the debtor. A letter went out to all our creditors, Curves International included that we were excused by the bankruptcy court of all debts. In that letter it states that creditors are NOT ALLOWED to contact us at all once the case has been closed!

    ARE YOU GUYS CRACKING UP? This friggin company really thinks it is above the rulings of the courts and of the law. We threw out EVERYTHING Curves related – the manual, member lists, their CDs, etc etc. As far as we know, the equipment is still sitting in the gym. We have not been back to the location as we were operating on an expired lease since October 2008 and basically paying month to month.

  8. unhappy says:

    Of course we can belive it. Howie is a crook from the word go. No surprise here.

  9. Former North Jersey Curves Owner says:

    Another update: You can tell that Sports & Fitness Insurance is a Curves collaborator. They owe us $149.00 refund. We never received it. I emailed them this morning about it. They too were aware of our bankruptcy and that wew ere discharged and I received this back from Dixie Kirk:

    “I spoke with the Finance company and she is going to cut the check it will be tomorrow the credit from the cancellation was $149.00 but what was still owed to the finance company was $63.87 so she will cut a check to you for $85.13 she needs to know what mailing address you want this to go to.”

    UNREAL! Another company that thinks they are above the law. I emailed her back and said:

    “As per our attorney, you are not allowed to take fees that were owed. She told you that. We receivied a FULL discharge from the bankruptcy court. It states in the discharge letter that any creditor who was owed money can be penalized for contacting or taking any fees after the bankruptcy ruling. You should have received this letter. Just because fees were owed, does not put your company above the law to take them. You are not allowed to take owed monies. I’m not sure why this isn’t sinking in with you guys. Again, please contact my attorney ASAP.”

    She emailed me back with the following:

    “You are correct I will let Jamie know in the finance dept.”

    I emailed her back with:

    “IF we receive any other amount but $149.00, you will hear hear from our attorney as well as the court appointed bankruptcy trustee. Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.”

    These Curves companies are unvbelievable. WHEN ARE THEY GOING TO GO BANKRUPT? WHEN WILL THEY GET JUSTICE FOR THEIR GREED AND NARCISSISM?

  10. ADMIN says:

    “WHEN ARE THEY GOING TO GO BANKRUPT? WHEN WILL THEY GET JUSTICE FOR THEIR GREED AND NARCISSISM?”
    Former North Jersey Curves Owner, I’m not sure that BK and justice will go hand-in-hand. Perhaps the contrary.
    They call it bankruptcy “protection” for a reason. Look at Chrysler & GM. Bankruptcy basically gave them carte blanche to pick and choose which agreements they had to honor and which of their franchisee/dealers were SOL.
    I’m sure if/when Curves would ever declare bankruptcy it will be completely to their advantage.

    But, hey, on the bright side I hear we get another crack at justice in the next life! ;)

  11. ADMIN says:

    Your input needed here. Please read and comment:

    Top 10 Ways to Keep Franchisees Happy? Share your Thoughts

  12. Concerned European owner says:

    I am writing to you for insight. I am a European owner who is looking to close but having the same difficulties as mentioned by many of you. I am curious about the case that some of you have against Curves Headquarters. Can you let me know more? What grounds are you suing?
    Thanks

  13. unhappy says:

    Concerned European owner,
    Send an e-mail to Admin at unhappyfranchisee@gmail.com with your e-mail address asking him to forward it to me and I will be happy to inform you about the lawsuits. Unhappy

  14. Sunk says:

    I absolutly love my club and it’s members. Unfortunatly, I am going to need to sell or give it away ASAP as I too am out of money. I have sunk $165,000 into it and don’t see any way out. I have been thinking of aproaching the closest Curves (3 miles away) to see if she would like to close her club and take over mine. (It’s much nicer). How does corporate handle this kind of thing? I figure she knows about Curves already since she owns 3 and I wont feel like I am conning anyone. (sorry, I don’t have spell check)

  15. unhappy says:

    Hey Sunk whats going on? Did you get it sold or are you going to close? Lets us know?

  16. Ellen Owens says:

    Hi

    I am from australia and have been interested in setting up a franchise of curves
    but reading your posts has put the wind up me a bit. I would be interested in getting hold of a franchise agreement to have a look at it. I will not do anything until I have had that checked by a lawyer first. I go to one and are moving from the area and Curves has really helped me health wise . I would appreciate anyones comments.

  17. Ange says:

    Hi Ellen, if you register your interest with curves aust. they will have to provide you with a disclosure doc which contains all the info and a sample franchise deed, but this disclosure doc. is usually not given until you are approved as a potential franchisee. Mind you – I dont have a curves franchise, but have been a part of a retail food franchise system in aust. for more than 20yrs.
    Keep in mind that you’ll probably have exit fees to pay- to get out, and defit costs on the premises if you close .. and these fees can be considerable. Even if you manage to sell the business to a buyer (that is approved by your head office), there are usually transfer and legal fees incured.
    Good luck.

  18. unhappy says:

    Ellen Owens,

    Run as fast as you can and do not buy a Curves Franchise. You will regret it for the rest of your life. Go to Curves Robert Lays story ( above on the right side in blue just click on it and it will take you there) and fond out the real story about Curves.

  19. unhappy says:

    ■unhappy on June 16th, 2010 2:44 pm
    ATTENTION ALL PAST AND PRESENT CURVES OWNERS
    We are in the process of starting a yahoo group site for present and past owners of curves franchises where all the resources for closing, reselling of equipment, lawyers information, current news and lawsuit information will be available to all individuals who have owned a Curves franchise. The only requirement to join in the group will be that you will have had to at one time owned a Curves franchise and will be verified by our moderators before being allowed access into the site. We hope to have the site up and running in the next two weeks and will post the site address as soon as it is completed.

  20. unhappy says:

    Another Curves club closes in Ma as of July 15th. It has many owners stating and thinking “This is scary. Will there be any clubs left in Massachusetts or is Curves finished”. What do you think? Is Curves done in by the mismanagement, deceitful, unethical, immoral and in many cases illegal business tactics use by Howie?

  21. unhappy says:

    PAST AND PRESENT OWNERS,
    Don’t forget to send your complaint letters to the BBB in your area as well as Waco TX and your states attorney general as well as TX. and the FTC. Here are the links that you can go to to file the complaints.

    http://www.bbb.org/

    http://waco.bbb.org/WWWRoot/SitePage.aspx?site=40&id=ab5100aa-4c5a-4314-8e1b-f5996973f10c

    http://www.oag.state.tx.us/consumer/index.shtml

    http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/index.shtml

  22. unhappy says:

    Here is another great site for curves owners to check out.
    http://everyjoe.com/work/has-curves-for-women-abandoned-its-franchise-owners/

  23. unhappy says:

    After reading the WSJ story on Curves does nayone think a broker would recomend buying a Curves. Is it no wonder you can’t even give the franchisee’s away?

  24. Curves Owner 2 says:

    Unhappy,
    So true. My club has been profitable this last year. I know I am not the norm. :(
    I want to sell my club, but I don’t want to sell it to someone because they will have to sign the 5 year franchise agreement with Curves International. I don’t want to put someone else in a bad situation. The Curves name is worthless. Can Curves International be held liable because our clubs are worthless and cannot be sold?

  25. unhappy says:

    No CI can’t be held liable for that although it is really their fault for all the damage to the brand. Howie has certainly taken it down the toilet and the brand is worthless now. Such a shame!!! Karma is catching up to Howie and Diane and they will have to pay for their greed in some fashion. Karma always comes back to bight you in the ass eventually.

  26. unhappy says:

    We have heard that several more group action lawsuits are getting started and that one national lawfirm is considering a class action law suit. Has anyone else heard anything on either of these fronts?

  27. unhappy says:

    Does anyone know of a broker who reccomends buying a curves ?????

  28. unhappy says:

    All owners
    Don’t forget to send your complaint letters to the BBB in your area as well as Waco TX and your states attorney general as well as TX. and the FTC. Here are the links that you can go to to file the complaints.

    http://www.bbb.org/

    http://waco.bbb.org/WWWRoot/SitePage.aspx?site=40&id=ab5100aa-4c5a-4314-8e1b-f5996973f10c

    http://www.oag.state.tx.us/consumer/index.shtml

    http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/index.shtml

  29. unhappy says:

    Snap fit5ness is growing while curves is shrinking fast than ever. Hey Howie what do you think about Gary Finley your one time CEO working for Snap?? Do you think if you had been above board and honest and kept him as
    CEO you would be in the shit hole yoou now find yourself in???????????

  30. [...] CURVES FOR WOMEN: Business Broker Slams Curves Franchise and Franchisor November 15, 2008  (129 Comments) [...]

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