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In the US, the franchisor is required to provide a document called a Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD). In it, you’ll find information on the costs of starting your franchise with that particular franchisor.
When I worked in Franchising, the cost of equipment is typically paid for by you, the franchise buyer— but the FDD should give you examples of what the gym equipment should cost. The FDD also explains what they provide and what you will have to provide (i.e. hardware, software, minimum building standards, etc.) They also should clarify what you get with the royalty fee. For example, some franchisors provide initial training, but others will charge per person for you to attend training or for them to send someone to your location. In addition, some franchisors charge 1% or so for a marketing fee, above and beyond the royalty. That pays for local or national advertising.
Also, some Franchisors provide business coaches to help you get started and help you grow your business.
Thus, it’s best to contact the Franchise System that you’re looking into and request a copy of their FDD (if it’s not posted online). It’s a legal doc, so make sure you know what kind of support you will and will not receive from that franchisor before you attend a discovery day and sign any contracts.
Here’s more on how to buy a franchise.
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