Pure Barre's President Is Getting the Brand in Top Shape
The young franchisor has focused on improving operations -- and sales have increased as a result.
Pure Barre is all about being strong -- and about the hard work that building strength requires. The fitness franchise is beloved for its make-your-muscles-tremble workouts, which are offered across North America by more than 500 franchisees, most of whom are women. When Sarah Luna stepped in as company president in November 2018, she was determined to make the brand itself even stronger, no matter how much hard work it would require. She’s since focused on operational improvements, updating studios, and boosting membership sales. (They’re up 75 percent year over year.) At just 33 years old, Luna falls into the same millennial demographic as plenty of Pure Barre’s franchisees, which has allowed her to build strong relationships fast, cutting to the core of the company’s challenges -- and opportunities.
You joined Pure Barre in November 2018. How did you get up to speed on the brand?
I worked in a local Pure Barre studio for six weeks, just 10 minutes from our headquarters in Irvine, Calif. It was Undercover Boss–style; the staff thought I was a new general manager. I was really able to understand important aspects of the business. We knew the service and products were phenomenal, but the operations needed a bit of a facelift.
What did the staff do when they learned of your real role?
They were a bit surprised! But today, I can go back to that studio and we have candid conversations. It’s a great resource.
What changes came out of that experience?
In most of our studios, customers who wanted to make a purchase were directed back to the website to walk themselves through the sales process. That was a major disconnect -- if you had a live person ready to engage, staff sometimes wasn’t properly trained to complete that transaction. So our franchisees hired more than 500 new general managers and rolled out a new sales process.
You started your career as a Jazzercise franchisee. How does that inform your work at Pure Barre?
The Jazzercise model worked really well if you taught classes, owned the business, and did everything in between. Now I’m very conscientious about how we’re leveraging skill sets. I know what it’s like to be expected to do everything to be successful, but that’s not always the best way. So we’re putting tools in place so we can have owner-operators as well as semi-absent owners.
Unlike a lot of boutique fitness brands, Pure Barre isn’t concentrated exclusively in metropolitan areas. How do you help franchisees serve each specific community’s needs?
We create between 50 and 75 digital marketing assets a month to help them be successful, but we really empower franchisees to go out, identify opportunities in their market, and seize them. If the corporate office tries to foster those local relationships, there’s a disconnect. We create the tools they need to make an impact locally.
You’re just 33, which is young for a company president. Does that impact your role?
First off, I don’t get tired! And I don’t have a jaded attitude. But most important, our franchisees are young as well, many around my age. I can relate. We really can work together as partners to overcome obstacles. My age allows me to innovate. When I see a brick wall, I just think of how to jump over it. It’s never a blocking factor.