BUTTERFLY LIFE: Jeff Marks, Ex-Franchisee


Interview with Jeff Marks, Former Multi-Unit Franchise Owner, Butterfly Life
8/1/08

Butterfly Life is a women’s 30 minute fitness franchise chain that claims to be an improvement over Curves for Women. It was founded by Mark Golob, Tom Gergley, and, supposedly, Mark Mastrov. Golob & Gergley both have checkered pasts and a history of litigation in the health club industry. Many franchisees were attracted by the highly respected Mastrov (of 24 Hour Fitness), whose involvement ceased after they joined. (Read Butterfly Life Franchisees Allege Bait & Switch… of Execs)

Jeff Marks was an early, multi-unit franchisee in GA who claims to have lost $350,000 within a year of opening two Butterfly Life clubs. He says that he paid a $29,000 franchise fee plus a monthly $1000 royalty/marketing fee for each club, yet never received the branding, advertising or operational support promised.

UF: Jeff, thanks for sharing your unfortunate experience with the Butterfly Life franchise specifically, and your general advice for helping prospective franchise owners make informed decisions.

What was your background prior to joining Butterfly Life? Did you have industry experience?

JEFF: Yes. I was health club operator and consultant for over 20 years.

UF: When did you decide to join Butterfly Life? Describe the process.

JEFF: I met with Mark Golob and his partners, Tom Gergley and Bruce Fabel and they represented that Mark Mastrov was also involved and that they had as much money as they needed to grow and brand this franchise. They wanted me to open flagship clubs on East Coast and represent them in 7 states.

UF: How did you first learn about the general concept? What did you find appealing about this type of business?
JEFF: Mark Golob was previous acquaintance. I found it appealing because I thought it sounded like an improvement on Curves and Curves was growing rapidly, and they had Mark Mastrov’s experience and reputation on the team.

It made sense and the owners represented their personal and financial commitment as well as Mark Mastrov’s

UF: Describe the company’s sales process and your interaction prior to becoming a franchisee.
JEFF: I met them in California and they explained future of company. I was going to be one of the first so much of what they promised was not yet developed.

UF: How was the company’s training and pre-opening support. Was it a positive experience?
JEFF: It was a positive experience but not very impressive.

UF: What marketing and promotional guidance, programs & support were provided? Were they effective? Why or why not?
JEFF: Marketing was horrible and not prepared. It was reactive—they made it up after I asked for it. They had represented to me that they would put their own money into building the brand in Atlanta because I had their flagship clubs on the East Coast. Then they refused to put up anything.

UF: How was your grand opening and your first year as a franchisee?

JEFF: Things went wrong from the beginning because they couldn’t deliver what they promised. Nothing was ready on time.

I struggled from day 1. The name had no meaning to anyone and without brand building, it was very hard to get traffic into the clubs. Couldn’t hit any reasonable numbers.

It was a terrible experience.

UF: Was the ongoing support what you expected?
JEFF: There was no support and the materials, classes, videos, weight loss program, and everything I needed was not ready when I needed them. They pushed all the blame onto me and accepted no responsibility.

UF: Have you tried to resolve your issues with the franchisor? What was the outcome?
JEFF: After much pleading for help and receiving none, I made a final attempt to save the business—I offered to give it to them for $0 if they would take over the leases and run them themselves. I already had over $250,000 sunk into the businesses that was gone. They told me they “were not in the business of running clubs, just selling them” and refused.

UF: How has your franchise investment decision affected your life? What is your current situation?
JEFF: It set me back financially about 10 years and I went through untold personal and financial hardships. I declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July 2005. I had to start over from the bottom and work my way up again. It’s been a long road.

UF: Do you think that the franchise concept is a viable? Under what conditions?
JEFF: I think the concept is viable but not under current leadership and culture. They are in business to sell and not to service.

UF: What mistakes did you make? Looking back, what would you have done differently?
I should never have gone into a new concept franchise that didn’t have an established track record. As far as running the clubs, I did everything I could have done.

UF: What advice would you give to prospective franchise owners? What questions should they ask? What warning signs should they look for?
JEFF: I would tell prospective franchise owners to do their homework and talk to those who failed. There are so many successful franchise concepts out there, I would suggest they go with one that has a good reputation for servicing their franchisees.

UF: Was there a positive aspect of your experience?
JEFF: There’s always a positive, I just haven’t found it yet.

UF: Thanks for sharing, Jeff.

Related Reading: IS BUTTERFLY LIFE A GREAT FITNESS FRANCHISE?

Will the REAL Butterfly Life Franchise Please Wave Its Wings?

Franchise Dreams Becoming Nightmares for Many Fitness Club Owners

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions of those interviewed by Unhappy Franchisee are neither verified for accuracy nor reflect the opinions of Unhappy Franchisee or Relentless, Inc. As always, do your own investigations and come to your own conclusions.

12 thoughts on “BUTTERFLY LIFE: Jeff Marks, Ex-Franchisee

  • Pingback: BUTTERFLY LIFE: Interview with Former Franchisee Jeff Marks

  • August 20, 2008 at 7:04 pm
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    Jeff Marks was the very first franchisee to open in the US. Prior to this, he was very respected in the fitness industry and a person of high morales and values. If Mark Golob of Butterfly Life would have divulged this information to us, as he should have by law, we could have contacted him and gotten the whole story and stayed far away from this scammer. Jeff knew after three months that this franchise was destined for failure and tried to bring this to Golob’s attention so his franchises could be salvaged before opening any others……….but NO………Golob was too egotistical to hear the truth. After all, Golob made everyone believe that Mark Mastrov of 24HrFitness was the main man behind the scenes…..and everyone was going to be wealthy. Too bad he had no business sense, and Mastrov’s name was only used to enduce buyers. Sadly, there are still some out there that believe Mark Golob’s and Tom Gerlgey’s words. I wish you luck……you’re gonna need it with a 10% survival rate…………not make a profit………..just survive!

  • August 21, 2008 at 1:51 pm
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    I find Jeff’s story very interesting! I remember all too well being told that Dayna Vidal and her sister were the FIRST club to EVER open in Georgia. Honesti would soon be opening-the second. At one time Georgia had 9 clubs open-now there are NONE! What does that say for Butterfly Life- it is more than unhappy franchise owners-however they ( Mark and Tom) are correct about one thing. The problem being “bad business people and bad management”-it all started at the top! I say let’s stop them in their tracks. Enough is enough! Gentlemen-(haha) your nightmare is a long way from being over. There are a lot more of us than there is of you two!

  • August 23, 2008 at 7:26 pm
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    Mark Golob told me in the presentation (about 20 times) that the reason
    for buying a franchise is for the branding. He failed, however, to tell me that
    I would be doing the branding for him.

    I remember going to health fairs near the club and 90% of the people
    would come up the the booth and say what is Butterfly Life? Even
    the 10% that had heard of it still didn’t know what it was – the name
    says nothing about fitness!

    24 Hr Fitness Curves, Contours, Fitness 19
    workout express they all give you a hint –
    BUTTERFLY LIFE – NOTHING! LINDA EVENS – NOTHING
    Isn’t Mark Golob supposed to know something about marketing?

  • November 10, 2008 at 4:37 pm
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    I am in the group of franchisees who wish they would have known more and dug a little deeper before taking the leap with Butterfly Life. I do not have a branded Franchise. Every day someone comes to my gym or calls my gym and asks “What is Butterfly Life anyway?”. The month after we bought in, we stopped seeing ads on TV and anywhere else for that matter. We have not been given what we paid for in the beginning.

  • February 4, 2011 at 9:06 pm
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    MARK GOLOB IS AT IT AGAIN!!! VISIT TOPDOCAMERICA.COM. SAME OLD BAIT & SWITCH, HE WILL DO OR SAY ANYTHING TO GET THESE POOR UNSUSPECTING DOCTORS TO WRITE A BIG FAT CHECK TO THE COMPANY. ALL PROMISES, NO RESULTS.

    THERE IS NO REAL AWARD FOR THESE DOCTORS – THEY JUST LANDED ON A MAILING LIST THAT WAS BOUGHT BY TOP DOC AMERICA. THE DR AGREED TO A MEETING BASED ON WINNING THIS BOGUS AWARD AND WAS TALKED INTO PURHCASING A MARKETING PROGRAM. HAD THE DR NOT PURCHASED THE PROGRAM TOP DOC WOULD SIMPLY MOVE ONTO THE NEXT DR ON THE LIST. IT’S CALLED “BAIT AND SWITCH” AND TOP DOC HAS THIS DOWN TO A TEE!! THERE ARE DRS (LIKE MYSELF) THAT WERE ABLE TO SEE THRU THE SMOKE & MIRRORS AND REALIZED THIS PROGRAM IS ALL A BUNCH OF NONSENSE. THE DRS ARE TOLD THEY WILL RECEIVE NEW PATIENTS, YET IN THE FINE PRINT, TOP DOC MAKES NO PROMISES THAT THE DR WILL RECEIVE NEW PATIENTS AND SO ON AND SO FORTH. THE DRS ARE ALSO TOLD THEY WILL BE ON THE DR OZ SHOW, WHAT A JOKE.

    HOPING THIS WILL GET THE WORD OUT TO THE POOR, UNSUSPECTING DOCTORS THAT HAVEN’T FALLEN PREY TO TOP DOC AMERICA YET. GOOGLE THE NAME MARK GOLOB TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT WHO IS BEHIND THIS COMPANY, HE HAS BEEN SCAMMING PEOPLE OUT OF MONEY FOR YEARS AND YEARS.

    IT’S TOO BAD WE CAN’T FIGURE OUT A WAY TO GET THIS MAN OUT OF THE BUSINESS WORLD, JUST REMEMBER THIS, IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, THEN IT USUALLY IS. THIS MAN’S DEMEANOR SHOULD BE A TELL TALE SIGN OF A SCAM ARTIST IN ACTION – BEWARE!

    NOTE: According to a threatening letter sent to the publisher of this website by Scott Hammel, an attorney representing Top Doc America, Inc., “Mark Golob is not an officer, director, employee, agent or representative of Top Doc America…” As always, our readers are invited to do their own research and draw their own conclusions. ADMIN

  • February 5, 2011 at 1:46 pm
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    Smart Doc:
    How do you know Mark Golob is behind Top Doc America? Do they make reference to his involvement anywhere? Would love to see some external reference to his involvement.

    The press release certainly smacks of classic Golob. It brings back flashbacks of all the media claims made to Butterfly Life franchisees about having their own show, regular segments on Oprah, etc. Sound familiar?

    “Top Doc’s National health care promotion will benefit participating health care professionals by generating new patient referrals. The multi-media marketing campaign includes the below platforms
    1.Marketing program with FOX to run a weekly commercial segment entitled, “Meet the 2011 Top Doctors and Dentists.” The segment produced by Top Doc America will air in each local market during the commercial break of the Dr. Oz Show and will feature award-winning Doctors and Dentists.
    2.Individual Doctor and Dentist television commercials to run on various network stations which include: FOX, NBC, ABC and CBS.
    According to Baqi Kopelman, Top Doc Executive Director of Media, “Top Doc has assembled a National production team that will produce introductory videos and commercials for participating Doctors and Dentists. We will place their videos online as well as on television so patients can learn more and book their appointment online.”
    3.Print ads to run in the top newspapers in each local market. Newspapers include: the New York Times, New York Post, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe and more.
    4.Online Google AdWords campaigns”

  • February 7, 2011 at 12:14 am
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    Hello “Guest on February 5th, 2011 1:46 pm” –

    I am one of the doctors that took a meeting with a sales representative from Top Doc America after receiving a “form letter” from the company stating that I had been chosen to receive the “2011 Top Doctors & Dentists Award”. It sounded interesting so I called. Long story short, I knew after hearing this hard-core sales persons pitch that they only wanted me to purchase a $12,000 a year marketing program, plus a $995.00 membership registration fee. The promises that were made were ludicrous and the sales rep was ill-informed and was just making up answers to the questions I was asking. After thinking the whole situation over, I called a friend of mine who sits on the board at the ADA (American Dental Association) and asked if they had heard of Top Doc America. I was surprised to hear that they actually have heard of the company and what they heard wasn’t good. Reports of “scamming” and “bait and switch” have been made by members of the ADA and were also reported to their local dental society. I got the name of a dentist who had a bad experience with the company, this person said they spoke to a person high up in management at Top Doc America and his name was Mark Golob. I tried to reach Mark Golob thru the sales rep who came to my office, but I have not received a call from Mr. Golob to date. So, guess what I did, I googled his name! I found out what I had suspected was really true by reading about all his failed ventures in the franchise world. Mr. Golob appears to be at it again, this time targeting doctors and dentists. As you already know, there is no reference to the people behind the company listed on the website. Now we know the reason why the company heads are staying anonymous.

    I just hope this helps anyone who comes into contact with Top Doc America or any of it’s representatives. The only name that came up in association with the company in the press releases I read is Steve Simons, the CFO. After a good amount of researching I found one connection between Mark Golob and Steve Simons, they both live in a city called Comptche in northern California. That would be one hell of a coinsidence so I added it up and it makes sense that this is the same Mark Golob.

    BEWARE!!

  • February 7, 2011 at 12:54 am
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    Mark Golob, topdocamerica.com, Butterfly Life

  • February 7, 2011 at 9:33 am
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    Looks like the new Golob family business. The topdocamerica.com
    domain is registered to Beau Golob:

    Domain Name: TOPDOCAMERICA.COM
    Created on: 17-Jul-10
    Expires on: 17-Jul-11

    Administrative Contact:
    golob, beau beau@topdocamerica.com
    814 mission street
    san francisco, California 94103
    United States
    +1.8889229362

    The Top Doc blog domain is also registered to Beau Golob, but the company is listed as Doctors Improving Healthcare, Inc. On Manta, Taylor Golob is listed as Principal of Doctors Improving Healthcare, Inc. If you search the Spear street address it comes back as a virtual office suite “starting at $95 per month”

    Domain Name: DOCTORSIMPROVINGHEALTHCARE.COM
    Created on: 24-Jan-09
    Expires on: 24-Jan-12
    Last Updated on: 25-Jan-11

    Administrative Contact:
    Golob, Beau beau@dihealthcare.org
    Doctors Improving Healthcare Inc.
    201 Spear Street, Suite 1100
    San Francisco, California 94105
    United States
    +1.4152942300 Fax — +1.4154948218

    http://www.manta.com/c/mtbp7q5/doctors-improving-healthcare-inc

    Yeah, this sounds legit.

  • February 16, 2011 at 4:50 pm
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    We received recent comments stating that a Mark Golob was now selling for a company called Top Doc America. However, an attorney representing that company informed us that “Mark Golob is not an officer, director, employee, agent or representative of Top Doc America…”

  • January 31, 2012 at 1:25 am
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    I know TopDocAmerica inside and out. Worked for them. They are a bunch of scammers. Beau Golob is the President/Ceo, but his father Mark often coached us. He’s one of those old time pushy salesman. The company is BS. They’re not selling anything, just going from door to door down a list (like the old Yellow Pages salesman) and selling a spot on a crappy website that no one will look at.

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