For­mer Hol­ly­wood hip hop and mu­sic video dancer Kristy Sel­lars knew she’d found a new love when 12 years ago she dis­cov­ered the de­lights of pole danc­ing. Now she’s shar­ing her pas­sion with her fran­chise busi­ness.

Inside Franchise Business - - Contents - By Sarah Stowe

Hol­ly­wood dancer turns fran­chisor and shares her pas­sion.

It changes your body com­pletely. And there’s a men­tal change. Not many other ac­tiv­i­ties al­low you to feel sexy and em­pow­ered and good as your­self.”

That’s the view of pas­sion­ate pole dancer Kristy Sel­lars who re­turned from the US and found her­self em­brac­ing a whole new com­mu­nity. It was a sim­ple step to move from stu­dent to in­struc­tor.

“I was liv­ing in Melbourne do­ing classes but I’d al­ready been teach­ing dance for years. It was a nice fit.”

The first home for PhysiPole Stu­dios was a karate school in her home­town of War­nam­bool, a three-hour drive from Melbourne. So on a Fri­day night Sel­lars, her sib­lings and par­ents would spend three hours set­ting up portable stages that cost her all her sav­ings, and un­pack them on a Sun­day night.

As the busi­ness took off and started to get busier, Sel­lars leased her own venue. Then she added a stu­dio in Ballarat, and then some stu­dents sug­gested fran­chis­ing.

“I was in fran­chis­ing be­fore I knew I was in it,” she says. “The growth has been or­ganic. Stu­dents have be­come teach­ers and man­agers, and fran­chisees. We’ve never closed one down.

“Six months ago, we started grow­ing a lot faster. We’re get­ting to the stage that I can’t do so much my­self.”

Sel­lars has added a full time em­ployee for op­er­a­tions, an in-house part time graphic de­signer and is about to ap­point a com­pany to han­dle the mar­ket­ing strat­egy.

While PhysiPole is not a unique op­er­a­tion, pole danc­ing is a rel­a­tively un­known busi­ness propo­si­tion and there are few com­peti­tors.

“What makes us dif­fer­ent is that we are more de­vel­oped in re­gional ar­eas. Our tar­get client is a woman who has got kids, in her mid 40s or 50s. Or men. We do kids classes too. We have a very di­verse cus­tomer base.

“Our main bread and but­ter is classes, cour­ses, hens par­ties. If the fran­chisee is di­rectly in­volved, teach­ing, they are mak­ing their own wage plus prof­its. Some of them who are fol­low­ing the sys­tems, ad­ver­tis­ing, are mak­ing great money.”

There’s also a range of cloth­ing pro­duced each sum­mer and win­ter from which fran­chisees are able to achieve a good mar­gin.

Op­er­at­ing a pole danc­ing busi­ness is def­i­nitely a lifestyle choice, she says. Typ­i­cally fran­chisees will be run­ning classes each evening from 5pm to about 11pm, with pri­vate lessons through­out the day. Sel­lars sug­gests spend­ing four hours each day on ad­min will keep fran­chisees on top of their busi­nesses.

The buy-in cost for a PhysiPole stu­dio is rel­a­tively low: $70,000.

One fran­chisee who had to bor­row from fam­ily to in­vest in the busi­ness re­port­edly paid back the loan within two years and saved $50,000 to open a sec­ond stu­dio.

“All our fran­chisees are pas­sion­ate about what they do every sin­gle day, they get to in­spire peo­ple, get their own work­out, build a great so­cial com­mu­nity.”

Sel­lars has set her­self tar­gets for growth but ad­mits she would rather main­tain the cur­rent busi­ness size and have a great team than grow too rapidly.

Three fur­ther out­lets will open in the next five months, join­ing the ex­ist­ing 16 venues. The goal for the end of 2019 is to have 25 stu­dios.


Fran­chisee Robyn Ped­dle­stone runs two Queens­land stu­dios. She opened the Rock­hamp­ton stu­dio 18 months ago, buy­ing out an ex­ist­ing small pole busi­ness and re­brand­ing and re­lo­cat­ing the busi­ness.

“I’d been in the pole in­dus­try as a stu­dent and teacher for 10 years, I ab­so­lutely love it. I was mov­ing up to Queens­land from Vic­to­ria. For me I’d only ever been in­volved in PhysiPole. I was a full time in­struc­tor teach­ing 60 hours a week across three stu­dios for a long time. “

She says buy­ing a PhysiPole fran­chise was “al­most a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion. It’s as big as you want to make it. “

The Rock­hamp­ton stu­dio is large: the back like a ware­house, the front of the stu­dio like a shop.

Ped­dle­stone started out with four stu­dents, now there are 200.

“It’s taken off like a bush­fire. I taught every class till I had no more time, then I took on a teacher.”

The busi­ness now op­er­ates with three full time and four ca­sual staff, all fully qual­i­fied teach­ers.

PhysiPole’s highly struc­tured ap­proach to learn­ing sets the busi­ness apart, Ped­dle­stone says.

“You have to learn trick A be­fore we’ll teach you trick B.”

It’s all about strength and in­jury avoid­ance.

In a busi­ness which can see stu­dents 4 me­tres off the ground in aerial pole ac­tiv­ity, there are some non-ne­go­tiables: com­pli­ance with rig­ging and in­dus­try stan­dards, the ap­pro­pri­ately rated mat, in­sur­ance...

“I went to cir­cus school in Melbourne to learn how to teach ae­ri­als, and did a course about rig­ging.”

So when it came to set­ting up the stu­dio and in­stalling a struc­tural beam, Ped­dle­stone en­sured a pro­fes­sional team did the work.

“I wanted it done prop­erly. What price do you put on some­one’s safety?”

Just a short while ago she opened up her sec­ond stu­dio, tak­ing over an­other fran­chisee’s busi­ness in Glad­stone (the out­go­ing fran­chisee will open a stu­dio in Vic­to­ria).

Five staff op­er­ate this out­let, with Ped­dle­stone in­struct­ing two days a week.

“I want to bring them to­gether. Once we’ve all got a good grasp on it, then I’ll ap­point a stu­dio man­ager. I’m the new cap­tain of the ship and I need them to see me as that.”

Although she has more work than hours in the day run­ning two stu­dios, Ped­dle­stone al­ready has her sights set on open­ing a third PhysiPole fran­chise.

“The suc­cess of the busi­ness is the brand, this is pole fit­ness for every­body no mat­ter who you are. We’re like a big fam­ily. These clients are not a num­ber to me, they email me about their per­sonal lives. I have time for every one of them.”

PhysiPole stu­dio

Kristy Sel­lars

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