CURVES: In Oregon, Curves Franchises Die Alone

Oregon Curves franchise owners Brandie and Josh Wilson are in trouble.  According to reports, they have been previously evicted by landlords in Ashland, Eagle Point and White City.  Their White City home went into default in April and is due to be auctioned at the Jackson County Courthouse on Tuesday. There are warning signs, such as erratic hours and member complaints, that their three Curves locations are in deep trouble.

Hopefully, the Wilson’s aren’t expecting concern from their franchisor or even fellow franchisees.  According to an article in Oregon’s Ashland Daily Tidings, other Curves for Women franchise owners in nearby towns are primarily concerned about the effect their failing comrade’s clubs will have on their own businesses:

They said bad news about one franchise can taint others.

“The valley is a small place,” said Roger Booth, who owns the east Medford franchise with his wife, Loretta. “People know each other, and people talk. If there is a really bad impression at one of the Curves, it reflects really badly on all the Curves franchises. We work really hard to keep our club clean and a well-maintained place where women enjoy working out. To have another club reflect badly on the reputation really hurts.”

Booth said he has heard three types of complaints from the Wilsons’ customers who have contacted him.

“The hours are really shaky and they’re not open when they say they will be,” he said. “Another common complaint has been the club has been charging accounts even after memberships have been canceled. The third is some have said they felt the environment was threatening.”

Absent from the article are any expressions of concern for the plight of the failing franchise owners, either from their fellow franchise owners and especially from Curves International:

Becky Frusher, a spokeswoman for Texas-based Curves International, said the company will provide transition opportunities for members if a club closes.

“As soon as we are informed of a closure, we begin immediately to try to work with the owner to make sure that the club members do not suffer any loss of membership or workout privileges,” Frusher said. “If the club does close, we attempt to inform the members that they can transfer to another club of their choice for no charge — temporarily until the club reopens or permanently if they wish.”

As usual when quoted about failing Curves franchises, Ms. Frusher makes it clear that Curves International has little interest or involvement in helping failing clubs, content to do nothing until they are “informed” of a closure.  So much for franchising putting you in business for yourself but not by yourself.

She also indicates that there is little or no policing of the brand or franchise quality control exerted by Curves International.  If these troubled franchisees are not maintaining their hours, are billing unethically and have a “threatening” environment, shouldn’t CI intervene?

It’s sad that there’s no hint of nearby owners reaching out to help their troubled neighbor, or – if they are bad operators undeserving of their concern – pressuring CI to intervene, do what franchisors should do and protect what’s left of their brand.

Ine thing is clear: If your Curves is failing, you can believe you are failing by yourself.

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