Crunch Fitness looks to add muscle to its franchise business with Hudson Cutler

The firm, founded in 2015, is the fitness chain's first PR AOR.

NEW YORK: Gym chain Crunch Fitness is working with Hudson Cutler & Co. to develop its franchise business across the country and in foreign markets.

The agency, Crunch’s first PR AOR, is focused on the company’s plan to aggressively grow its brand and expand its footprint across the U.S. and internationally. Its consumer marketing and PR efforts, aimed at selling memberships and retaining customers, is handled in-house, said Chad Waetzig, EVP of marketing and branding at Crunch.

"We [grow] through a mix of organic development where we build clubs on our own, strategically acquire and convert existing health clubs into the Crunch brand, or sell franchises, which is our largest path to growth," said Waetzig. "Hudson Cutler is our partner in helping to tell the Crunch franchise story so we can find new prospects and recruit them in as prospective Crunch owners." 

Hudson Cutler is creating integrated marketing strategy for the development of Crunch’s franchise business, as well as general PR and publicity services. One challenge is that it is pitching the opportunity to a limited audience, explained Waetzig.

"We require a million-dollar net worth or greater and at least $400,000 of liquid capital to build your first Crunch," he said.

Waetzig said the company is trying to convince entrepreneurs that Crunch is an investment they can be passionate about.

"We need to tell our story and do it in a way that we can reach these folks that are hard to reach with traditional media and show them what the Crunch franchise opportunity is about," he said.

Headquartered in New York City, Crunch has more than 180 gyms with more than 800,000 members in 21 states and Puerto Rico.

Hudson Cutler principal David Herrick added that entrepreneurs who are interested in fitness want a way to pursue that passion while making money.

"One of the things we want to communicate to entrepreneurs everywhere is that Crunch affords them that opportunity to pursue their passions and profit," he said.

Crunch selected Hudson Cutler in mid-March following an RFP process that began nearly two months earlier. Four firms pitched for the business. Budget information was not disclosed.

Herrick and Hudson Cutler CEO Robert Dowling are co-leading a team of five on the account. Dowling launched New York-based Hudson Cutler in 2015.

"We selected Hudson Cutler because with [Herrick] and [Dowling] you get seasoned industry vets working on our business every day, if not every week," said Waetzig. "At the same time, while they have this experience, they are entrepreneurial and move quickly."

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