Corripio Group puts ‘an experience’ first in DR
While visiting his college student son in Boston last year, Manuel Corripio Alonso joined him for a class at Title Boxing Club and, as Corripio Alonso tells it, he was hooked.
For anyone else that would probably mean signing up for a membership, but for Corripio Alonso, vice president of one of the largest private holding companies in the Dominican Republic, it was the catalyst for bringing the fitness franchise to his country.“
I had the full Title experience,” says Corripio Alonso, whose Corripio Group signed on to develop Title Boxing Club locations in Latin America, first in the Dominican Republic—one studio is already open in Santo Domingo—followed by Panama and Puerto Rico. “I saw the level of excitement of the people taking the class. From there I went to a handful of different cities, New York, Chicago, Miami, and saw they all provided the same high level of service, a high-level experience.”
That extra legwork is characteristic of the Corripio Group’s approach as franchisee of multiple brands, including Burger King, Papa John’s, Krispy Kreme and another fitness brand, Orangetheory.
“The brands we operate as franchisees, we need to be fully convinced it’s the best brand available,” says Corripio Alonso. “We don’t just look at financials—we want brands that provide an experience.” Corripio Alonso is part of the fourth generation of Corripio Group, which employs more than 12,000 people across multiple businesses from franchises to consumer goods distribution, entertainment and media.
The experience is what Susan Boresow says sets Title Boxing Club apart from other boutique fitness concepts and makes it ripe for expansion, particularly on the international front.
“Boxing has such a global appeal,” says Boresow, the company’s president. “It’s one of the oldest sports around. Latin America in particular has been one of those markets where boxing is part of the national identity.”
Before the studio opening in Santo Domingo, Title Boxing Club had just one international location, in Cancun, Mexico, and Boresow says while the company has plans for more global growth, its strategy starts with finding the right partner.
“I’m not sure there’s a country out there that hasn’t heard of boxing,” says Boresow, but that doesn’t mean Title, with more than 170 locations, will go just anywhere or partner with anyone.
In the case of Corripio Group, “they have a phenomenal track record as a multi-unit owner-operator—they just execute,” says Boresow.
Susan Boresow, president of Title Boxing Club, says the brand has global appeal.
Corripio Group’s success as a franchisee comes from an understanding of its strengths, says Corripio Alonso, namely that it’s an able operator with the financial capabilities to rapidly expand a concept.
“We’re great operators and adopters of strategies in our local markets versus starting our own brands,” he explains, adding being a multi-concept franchisee of proven businesses makes the group attractive to landlords. “We’ve had much more success going that route.”
In the Dominican Republic, Corripio Alonso says the group identified a proliferation of personal trainers offering in-home workouts, and while big box brands such as Gold’s Gym and Planet Fitness have a presence, no one was providing organized boxing classes.
“Orangetheory was already growing with three studios, so to us that was evidence that this boutique fitness was in demand,” says Corripio Alonso. “Title has a unique selling proposition and is creating loyal customers. Dominican consumers value their time, they don’t want to wander around a huge gym.”
Owning a chain of grocery stores in the Dominican Republic provides Rafa Monestina a built-in platform for expanding self-serve frozen yogurt franchise SweetFrog, and it is one Monestina smartly uses to his advantage.
Eight of Monestina’s 10 Bravo supermarkets in Santo Domingo and Santiago also have SweetFrog stores, a brand Monestina and Commercial Director Oskar Arocha brought to the country in 2013. The decision to co-locate the fro-yo concept on Bravo properties makes sense for numerous reasons, says Monestina, particularly on the logistics side as Bravo trucks also deliver SweetFrog products and its distribution center doubles as a warehouse for SweetFrog inventory. Plus, notes Monestina, “we supply SweetFrog stores easily and daily with the exact amount of fresh fruits and products they need.
“The proximity of supermarkets allow SweetFrog personnel to get any product within minutes,” says Monestina. “Simply go and come back, just walking with the cart.”
SweetFrog is Monestina’s only franchise brand, one he first learned about from friends who saw a mall location while visiting the United States and were particularly taken with the concept’s catchy image and distinct, upbeat branding.
“For Dominicans, the brand inspires joy, freedom and sharing,” says Monestina of the smiling frogs and bright pink and green design that immediately signify a SweetFrog store.
Beyond that, product innovation, quality and service are other factors contributing to SweetFrog’s success in the Dominican.
“We keep thinking on product options, and bringing flavors or topping that matches with Dominican customers,” says Monestina, who points to Yogen Früz as a main competitor and adds his Bravo S.A. company has to continually work to catch customers’ attention.
“Impressing customers every time is the key,” says Monestina, who aims to do so with appealing and comfortable stores providing a friendly atmosphere to go along with a variety of flavor offerings, plus fruits, syrups, candies and other toppings.
Though SweetFrog is a concept CEO Patrick Galleher says “translates internationally pretty well,” the Dominican is its only international market, namely because it “has a high frozen dessert consumption per capita.” SweetFrog, which has about 340 total locations, hasn’t been as proactive with international development as some brands, instead waiting for the right partners to come to it.
“Our franchisees in the Dominican are fairly self-sufficient,” says Galleher. “If we can get some more owners like Rafa and Oskar we would look at more markets.”
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