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Anytime Fitness

Are you ready for the next big franchise model in the UK?

Anytime Fitness is the world’s fastest growing fitness franchise.

Investment

Total needed: £350,000
Minimum personal investment: £110,000


Investment Amount:
£100,001 - £250,000
£250,001 - £500,000
Industry Sector(s):
Fitness Franchises, Health & Beauty, Premier Franchises, Retail Franchises, Sports Franchises, Women In Franchising
Exhibitions
The National Franchise Exhibition
Anytime Fitness

Things are hotting up for #1 Global Franchise 2016 Anytime Fitness

With Anytime Fitness also being ranked #1 in the fitness category (for the fifth year running) in Entrepreneur's prestigious 2016 Franchise 500 list, the 24-hour gym is outdoing many other well-known franchises. Alongside this, with the health and fitness industry sector now worth an estimated £4.7bn, driven by year on year increases in market penetrations with 14.9% of the population holding a gym membership, there is no better time than now to jump on board.

Anytime Fitness has 3,500+ clubs globally and over three million members in 30 countries across the globe, and the UK expansion is growing, with over 120 clubs trading in the UK and 65 more planning to open in 2017.

An Anytime Fitness franchise is a great business opportunity if you have the minimum liquid capital of £110,000 or more, as it is officially the fastest growing company across the world in 10 years.

In the five years Anytime Fitness has been franchising in the UK, 35% of franchisees have more than one territory, making the business benefits even greater.

Anytime Fitness, the fastest growing heath club franchise in the world, have successfully found a niche in the UK market with their ability to offer convenience as well as customer satisfaction."

– Mintel report 2016

The future looks bright for your financial freedom

Due to the convenient locations, 24/7 access and desire to support everyone to lead a healthier lifestyle, your club will become a community hub and the tool to change people’s lives for the better. You’ll be helping others, while helping yourself.

A franchise with Anytime Fitness will provide you with the opportunity to get a reliable and predictable income and the freedom to choose to work in your club yourself or employ a manager.

You’ll achieve the work-life balance you always dreamed of. An interest in fitness is a plus, but not necessary and most are businessmen and women with entrepreneurial flair – 95% of Anytime Fitness franchisees come from outside the industry.

What do franchisees say?

Our franchisees come from all walks of life:

I wanted a business that was both fun and rewarding and my club is progressing according to plan thanks to the excellent support from head office.”

Shravan Reddy, Anytime Fitness St Paul's

The Anytime Fitness model stood out from all the rest and we love the community aspect. We’re really enjoying being part of family.”

Linda Crowson, Anytime Fitness Twickenham

Bristol was the first Anytime Fitness franchise to open in 2012; I now have 6 clubs and am looking for the next property.”

Robin Drysdale, Multiple club owner

We opened in October 2014 and have 800 members already. I’m really excited about the future with Anytime Fitness.”

Anytime Fitness Urmston

Our franchise benefits:

  • No industry experience required - over 95% of franchisees are not from the fitness industry
  • 96% global success rate
  • Seven months to cash break-even
  • 70 per cent funding available from major banks
  • In-house property agents
  • A positive business for the local community
  • Continuous support
  • Contracted memberships give guaranteed income
  • Low-fixed monthly management service fee
  • Low-staff model means less management time and hassle 

Anytime Fitness experts will help you find your club location, negotiate and advise on all property matters, create business, marketing and sales plans and be on-hand every step of the way towards creating your successful business.

With 120 clubs now trading and 65 clubs coming soon it’s a great time to get involved with Anytime Fitness. Contact them today to secure your territory with the global franchise.

If you have £110,000 liquid capital to invest we want to talk to you today.

Take the next step towards owning your own gym today!

Request Information

Entrepreneur finds faith in franchising

Experienced businesswoman Deborah Hayden explains how Anytime Fitness’s healthy model convinced her to add franchising to her professional portfolio...

Deborah - Anytime

Since leaving school with no qualifications, globetrotter Deborah Hayden has proved herself to be a natural entrepreneur. Starting with a goal of helping organisations grow by reducing costs and increasing sales, she formed her first company, the Resource Centre, in 1994 and soon counted industry heavyweights including Glaxo, Businesslinks and the Institute of Marketing among her clients.

More recent forays into property development and even the formation of a charity have followed as Deborah has continued to demonstrate her commercial cutting edge.

But despite her exposure to all aspects of the world of business, Deborah and husband Chris had remained unsure about the potential of franchising – until they discovered Anytime Fitness.

The alluring mix of flexibility, support and the chance to be involved in a vibrant industry convinced the couple that a 24-hour fitness club would be a sound addition to their portfolio.

“The freedom of entrepreneurship was very appealing,” she explained. “But I also knew that it could be risky and the road to profit was longer than AnytimeFitness offered.

“My husband and I talked about it a great deal and eventually chose the Anytime Fitness franchise. “One of the great things about Anytime Fitness is the flexibility. You’re not rigidly tied in. The Anytime team and other franchisees really help you and if you follow best practice and the business model you have invested in, it’s hard to fail – and as with any business, you need to put in 110 per cent to really succeed.”

PERFECTING THE PRE-SALE

Deborah and Chris have enjoyed travelling all over the world during their time together, including three years spent living in California’s Laguna Beach, but it was the Suffolk town of Ipswich which stood out as the perfect location for their Anytime Fitness club.

Ipswitch

They took advantage of pre-opening courses run by the franchise to fully understand how to make the most of the pre-sale process and ensure that they had as many members signed up as possible before the gym opened its doors. In order to cultivate her club’s sense of community, Deborah travelled far and wide to other Anytime Fitness locations to pick up pointers on how to provide a friendly, approachable atmosphere.

And although Deborah faced stiff competition from two nearby competitors offering budget memberships and could not count on the affluent city workers found in the likes of London, Birmingham and Manchester, Anytime Fitness Ipswich’s pre-opening sale was so effective that it received the “most successful club” award from head office.

The result has been impressive. Since welcoming its first members in March 2015, the club has attracted more than 800 members and Deborah has targeted reaching the full capacity of 1,200 within her first year of operation.

The result has been impressive. Since welcoming its first members in March 2015, the club has attracted more than 800 members and Deborah has targeted reaching the full capacity of 1,200 within her first year of operation.

“Community and convenience are the main pillars of the Anytime Fitness brand and they’ve been vital to our success,” added Deborah. “We’re open 24/7 – people can come in, work out and have classes at any time of the day or night, which isn’t something that a lot of health clubs offer.

“My team prides itself on being friendly and creating a close-knit community. We’re constantly thinking of ways to support and motivate our members.

“For example, it’s only natural that at some time between two and five months after joining, motivation will wane. We help by staying in touch, creating new training plans and giving members a bit of structure.”

HI-TECH HEALTH

In addition to being able to work out in a purpose-designed, modern club, Anytime Fitness Ipswich’s members can take advantage of staffed classes during the day and virtual, pre-recorded sessions at all other times.

Led by world-leading instructors, the virtual workouts are beamed into the club’s studio via projector screen and allow members to take part in classes without supervision and at times to suit them.

Shift workers and busy mums are among the people to have made use of the service, which is of real value to anyone who struggles to fit in exercise during lunchtimes or evenings.

Anytime Fitness Ipswich’s modern kit, strong sense of community and innovative extras have clearly won over the club’s growing community. At the time of writing,Deborah’s efforts have earned her 4.8 stars out of a possible 5 from a series of glowing reviews on her Facebook page.

Members have been particularly impressed with the staff, the use of technology and the facility’s overall comfort and convenience.

And although Deborah continues to focus on her current club, it is perhaps little surprise that the business-minded owner is so taken with the Anytime Fitness model that she is already considering expanding her relationship with the franchise.

“I’d love to open another Anytime Fitness health club – in the Suffolk area, of course,” she concluded. “Opening and running a gym is a lot like a fitness regime; you get out what you put in, but it’s a tremendously rewarding experience for all involved.”

 

Full marks

How Anytime Fitness went to the top of the class for educator- turned-entrepreneur Onur Saliah...

Onah Saliah

DURING a decade-long career at the sharp end of secondary school teaching, Onur Saliah developed a discerning eye for judging the quality of his pupils’ work.

A talented teacher as well as a head of year and assistant head, the geography specialist became a master of marking before deciding to swap education for exercise by opening his own Anytime Fitness club.

Given his professional pedigree in providing reliable ratings, Onur’s gold-star assessment of his new business venture is especially impressive. “Anytime Fitness have been absolutely brilliant and I couldn’t ask for more,” he said from the vibrant setting of his club in Harlow.

“They have done everything they said they were going to do, the model has worked as they said it would and the break-even points and money generated have all been accurate. I would give them ten out of ten.”

MASTERFUL MODEL

Although Onur’s professional path had led him into the world of teaching, he was a dedicated gym-goer and admits to having had designs on running his own fitness facility for some time. He sat up and took notice when Anytime Fitness burst onto the scene in the UK, but it wasn’t until 2013 that Onur, along with his two brothers, decided to do something about his desire. At that point, Anytime Fitness’s healthy business model made it an obvious choice.

“I had always wanted to open a gym,” he said. “Even prior to becoming a teacher I was keen on training and fitness.
“What drew us to Anytime Fitness was the fact that the model seemed very straightforward and achievable and the idea of opening a gym that wouldn’t need thousands of members in order to be profitable was attractive.

“We were also drawn in by the low cost of operations. Some gyms need 20 members of staff in order to keep going, but Anytime Fitness’s model means that you only really need a few.

“When we looked at it all as a package, we just thought it was something we could make work. It was achievable to open up your gym and have 1,000 members by the end of the first year.”

CONSTANT SUPPORT

Anytime chart

As workable as the Anytime Fitness model may be, a franchise’s success requires a constant application of effort from its owner, especially during the all- important early stages. For Onur, this labour of love was uniquely challenging as he took the reins of the Harlow club while he was still working full-time as a teacher. Long days at school were followed by pre-sale and planning duties and it was during this busy time that he came to appreciate the unflinching support provided by Anytime Fitness’s head office.

“We found them to be very good,” he explained. “We had help right from the start. We were operating in a new field and frankly without the support we would have had no idea what we were doing.

“The initial meeting was a bit of a shock to the system, but it was an invaluable asset and helped massively by giving us an idea of what we should and shouldn’t be doing.

“The initial meeting was a bit of a shock to the system, but it was an invaluable asset and helped massively by giving us an idea of what we should and shouldn’t be doing.

“The ability to contact them whenever we needed to was vital, especially during the growth stages. Even now they are always available and will give you any advice that you need.”

Onur’s pre-sale period saw him and his staff engaging with the local community during visits to nearby supermarkets and shopping centres, while the entrepreneur also fielded calls from potential members by telephone in the evenings after finishing his day job.

Even after the club opened, he would drive from his school to meet with the newly-installed manager and staff.
Onur would chat to members, review sales and take phone calls, leading to long working days that required him to be at his day job from seven in the morning until six in the evening.

But putting in the hours at that stage has helped Onur to shape a business which affords him a much more rewarding work/ life balance. An average day might see

Perfect balance

We hear how launching an Anytime Fitness franchise has helped Patricia and Dave Bell spend more time with their growing family...

Trish

The perennial search for a career which provides the perfect work/life balance was brought into sharp focus for Hampshire

resident Patricia Bell in January 2013. Having just given birth to her second child, the NHS physiotherapist wanted to spend more time with her growing family whilst still playing an active part in a health industry she loved.

Along with husband Dave, who was working long hours as a finance director in London, Patricia decided to look into starting a business which would provide the couple with the autonomy and flexibility they desired.

The search took the pair to a franchise exhibition in Heathrow in June 2013 where Anytime Fitness immediately stood out from the crowd thanks to its values of providing members with convenient, affordable fitness in a friendly environment.

With 96 per cent of all of the franchise’s clubs seeing success and a large support network in place for new owners, the Bell family were confident about the level of help they would be offered.

And for Patricia, who was on maternity leave from her NHS job, the chance to continue pursuing her passion for health and fitness was another big attraction.

She said: “The opportunity to run our own business and still be involved in helping people reach their health and fitness goals was extremely appealing. “Dave and I were investing our savings into opening the business and so it was important not only to us, but for our children’s future and financial security.

It was daunting, but we felt reassured that we were in safe hands with Anytime Fitness.”

VIBRANT BUSINESS

Tabel - 1

Once Patricia and Dave had secured the funding they needed to make their Anytime Fitness dream a reality, the couple secured an ideal site in the Hampshire city of Winchester and, by April 2014, had opened their doors to the club’s first members. In the 18 months since launching the club, the Bells have spent time finding the right staff and working towards attracting 1,000 members – a target they hope to have reached by the end of 2015.

With Winchester being home to a thriving university, the couple have also worked hard to appeal to the vibrant local population through events including a Halloween-themed club night – complete with a DJ and spooky decorations – and a partnership with restaurant chain Zizzi to provide members with discounted food and drink. Patricia added: “People between the ages of 18 and 26 are a key target audience for us, so it’s crucial that we make an effort to cater to their interested and provide them with a different experience to our competitors.

“Events such as the Halloween club night are a great way of doing that and it definitely helped to increase attendance on the Friday night, which is typically not a busy time for us.

Once Patricia and Dave had secured the funding they needed to make their Anytime Fitness dream a reality, the couple secured an ideal site in the Hampshire city of Winchester and, by April 2014, had opened their doors to the club’s first members. In the 18 months since launching the club, the Bells have spent time finding the right staff and working towards attracting 1,000 members – a target they hope to have reached by the end of 2015.

With Winchester being home to a thriving university, the couple have also worked hard to appeal to the vibrant local population through events including a Halloween-themed club night – complete with a DJ and spooky decorations – and a partnership with restaurant chain Zizzi to provide members with discounted food and drink. Patricia added: “People between the ages of 18 and 26 are a key target audience for us, so it’s crucial that we make an effort to cater to their interested and provide them with a different experience to our competitors.

“Events such as the Halloween club night are a great way of doing that and it definitely helped to increase attendance on the Friday night, which is typically not a busy time for us.

“Having said that, it’s important that we don’t alienate any of our members by going too far. It’s about finding a balance and creating a strong sense of community across our membership base.

“This was typified on Halloween when one of our eldest members, who is in his 70s, came into the gym and really embraced the occasion by mixing with younger people. He loved that we had done something special.”


PRACTICAL SUPPORT

Patricia’s background as a physiotherapist is another selling point for members in Winchester as she is able to provide advice and guidance to those in the latter stages of recovery from injury, helping them to reach and maintain full fitness.

With her eldest son now at school, she is relishing the chance to be even more flexible with working and has big plans for her physiotherapy provision. The Bells have joined forces with other franchisees to open two more clubs since starting up in Winchester and Patricia hopes to spread her services in the future.

She added: “It’s a new experience to be involved with people a year or two down the line and it’s great to see the passion they possess for their health and wellbeing. Further down the line I would love to create a dedicated space in one of our other clubs where I can focus on physiotherapy and be there to support members who require it.

“Hopefully this will add to the supportive atmosphere we’re trying to create at the club. This is important to the brand, but also to Dave and I.”

HEALTHY DECISION

Establishing Anytime Fitness Winchester has required a lot of hard work from the Bells – including members their extended family – but Patricia is adamant that starting the franchise is a decision she and Dave are delighted to have taken.

“We would never have been able to achieve what we have done in the past year without the help of my mum, Pamela Haigh, who has been there to look after the kids when needed, or the rest of our family who have been our support network when things have been particularly stressful or busy. “All in all, I can safely say it has definitely been worth it, right from those early days when we first came up with the idea.

“We are already seeing the benefits of making a change and this will only continue as the club becomes more established.”

 

Franchisee’s flying start

When an aerospace entrepreneur swapped engineering for an Anytime Fitness franchise, not even he could have predicted the swiftness of his new venture’s success...

Anytime Telford

Having been a key cog in the workings of a well-established family aerospace firm, Stuart Martin is no stranger to the intricacies of running his own business. During two decades of service at the Wolverhampton company he runs with his father and brother, Stuart has become well-acquainted with the ups and downs of the engineering industry. But when his father began to plan for retirement, the entrepreneur decided that the time was right to exercise his commercial talents in a completely new sector.

“The company has served us well, but engineering is getting tougher and we decided we should have something else in our lives which provided some kind of income or pension fund,” explained Stuart.

“We looked at starting our own business again, but my father remembered how painful it was starting from scratch. We figured a franchise sounded like a good idea and we set out to find a ready-made solution that would fit our requirements.” Stuart’s mission to source a new business led him to a BFA (British Franchise Association) exhibition in Birmingham where he encountered the usual host of high-street food chains as well as opportunities in other sectors.  Anytime Fitness set Stuart onto a very successful new path. He said:

“When we went to the exhibition, we spoke to everybody – McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, a fish-and-chip shop chain, care for the elderly – but it felt very much like it was on their terms and there was no flexibility. “Eventually we found Anytime Fitness and we immediately liked their attitude and the way they approached the situation. We got the impression that they wanted to work with us rather than us working for them.”

ALL SYSTEMS GO

With his interest piqued, Stuart visited a couple of existing Anytime Fitness clubs, checked that the finances stacked
up and soon committed to becoming a franchisee.

That set in motion a rollercoaster period in which Stuart went from signing on the dotted line to opening Anytime Fitness Telford in just 13 months. Although he was able to call upon a wealth of knowledge through his business background, Stuart said the support from Anytime Fitness throughout the planning and fitting-out process was second-to-none. He even called upon the club opening services of fellow franchisee Russell Valler to help get the Telford facility up-to-speed as quickly as possible, a relationship he says is a great example of the friendly nature of the franchise community.

“The club opening service gave me the support in getting open and made sure that I didn’t make any obvious mistakes,” he said. “I felt it worked very well. “We also had the design guide from head office and help from the equipment suppliers with our layout. I’m not from the fitness industry and so had to put my faith in them, but it has worked out perfectly. “There are about 50 clubs open now and there’s a great shared wealth of knowledge which is good for all of us.”

 

Anytime team Telford

With his interest piqued, Stuart visited a couple of existing Anytime Fitness clubs, checked that the finances stacked up and soon committed to becoming a franchisee.

That set in motion a rollercoaster period in which Stuart went from signing on the dotted line to opening Anytime Fitness Telford in just 13 months. Although he was able to call upon a wealth of knowledge through his business background, Stuart said the support from Anytime Fitness throughout the planning and fitting-out process was second-to-none. He even called upon the club opening services of fellow franchisee Russell Valler to help get the Telford facility up-to-speed as quickly as possible, a relationship he says is a great example of the friendly nature of the franchise community.

“The club opening service gave me the support in getting open and made sure that I didn’t make any obvious mistakes,” he said. “I felt it worked very well. “We also had the design guide from head office and help from the equipment suppliers with our layout. I’m not from the fitness industry and so had to put my faith in them, but it has worked out perfectly. “There are about 50 clubs open now and there’s a great shared wealth of knowledge which is good for all of us.”

SOUND INVESTMENT

The practical success of Stuart’s first foray into the fitness industry has been matched by a fantastic financial performance. Facebook advertising attracted 70 new members before sales staff had even started working, while the club opened with 370 pre-sales already on its books.

The popularity of his 9,000 sq ft club, which is slightly larger than the normal 5,000 sq ft Anytime model, allowed the business to achieve its first profit after just eight months of operation and has helped membership swell to a current level of 1,600. With business booming, Stuart has been able to dedicate time to the family’s aerospace company, with his franchise only requiring one or two visits per week. The Anytime Fitness Telford boss explained that a suite of remote-access tools – along with solid support from the franchise itself – made being an absentee owner a truly viable option.

Speaking from his engineering company, Stuart said: “Right now I can see that we have had two new members today just by looking at the software. “I can see what hours the staff are working and view the cameras on my laptop, iPad or mobile phone. “I’ve had holidays for a couple of weeks where I’ve been able to keep track of what’s going on. “I try to go to the club physically once or twice a week, but to be honest after year one I think you can be a 99 per cent absentee owner if you wish. “If there are any problems, I have found the support to be as good now as it was in the beginning. I haven’t had much go wrong, but if I have had issues with systems or a member with a complaint I haven’t come across before, I can send a quick email or make a phone call to Anytime Fitness’ Watford headquarters and almost instantly I get a call back from an experienced Franchise consultant with an answer.”

With his initial aim to find a profitable new business more than accomplished, Stuart is already making plans to extend his relationship with Anytime Fitness. He has followed up on his success in Telford by purchasing the rights to open a club in Rugby and ultimately hopes to have a chain of facilities serving the West Midlands. And although he is clearly a convert to Anytime Fitness’ financial and lifestyle benefits, Stuart believes the franchise’s “family feel” is just as important a factor in its success.

“I have been running a business for a long time now, but at the engineering firm it has always been a case of having employees rather than friends,” he explained. “With Anytime Fitness, you are encouraged to be engaged with your staff and the small team we have in Telford feels like a new family. “We have been lucky with the people we have employed and we enjoy socialising together. We communicate well, operate closely as a team and it always feels like we are working for the same cause.”

Fit for purpose

In search of a franchise which would provide her with family time as well as a booming business, Linda Crowson turned to Anytime Fitness. Here, she shares her story...

INTERVIEW: STEVE TYLER

Fast Facts 1

WHEN the demands of a busy job in central London clashed with the desire to spend more time with her son, Linda Crowson decided it was time for a lifestyle health check. With her youngster about to start school, Linda and husband James chose to explore the wealth of franchise opportunities in an attempt to secure a more beneficial work\life balance. The couple wanted to find a business as good for their local community as it was for them and found the array of available fast-food franchises were not a good fit. But when a general interest in opening a gym led them to discover the Anytime Fitness brand, it was clear that this was a partnership with powerful potential.

“We had looked at Subway, McDonalds and various other things, but at the end of the day we felt that we should do something that was going to help us be fit and help other people be fit as well,” explained Linda. “We then looked at starting our own gym, but we didn’t have all of the expertise we would need. When we saw Anytime Fitness, it was a no-brainer. “There’s a feel-good factor about running an Anytime fitness club because  really rewarding to think you are providing something that is helping people get healthier.”

COMPELLING BUSINESS CASE

After paying a visit to Anytime Fitness to find out more about what being a franchisee entailed, the Crowsons were even more enthused. In addition to providing a truly community-focused opportunity, it was Anytime Fitness’s profitable potential that convinced Linda and James to sign on the dotted line. The franchise was in its early stages of operating in the UK, but its strong showings in the United States and Australia demonstrated that it had the strength to muscle in and secure a place in the nation’s fitness market. “When we looked at the numbers, the business case was compelling and it seemed like something which could give profit fairly quickly,” said Linda.

“We felt we were given all of the information we needed in order to make a sensible decision and were comfortable that this would allow us to achieve something we wanted to do while being supported in areas where we didn’t necessarily have the expertise.”

Anytime Twickenham

AMPLE ASSISTANCE

As new franchisees, the Crowsons set about finding a suitable property for their club. Negotiating the lease – along with cutting through the red tape in securing planning permission – proved to be the couple’s biggest hurdles, but Linda was full of praise for the support provided by Anytime Fitness throughout. From dedicated help during discussions about the lease to the wealth of information provided through the franchise’s dedicated intranet site and Phase Programme, assistance was available at every stage. “We found that the Phase Programme tells you almost everything you need to know,” explained Linda. “Having said that, you do need somebody to give you advice on certain parts and that is also available. “It wasn’t hand-holding, but there was always somebody there to make sure we were doing everything at the right time and that we had answers to any questions. “The guys are really experienced and know what they’re doing in the operations of a club. There was nothing we didn’t get an answer for and we had guidance throughout.”

MANAGING MEMBERS

Once the lease was in place, Anytime Fitness Twickenham began to pull in members through a pre-sale process managed both on-site and online via social media. Membership has continued to grow since the club opened in June 2013 and the Crowsons have stayed true to their dream of becoming an intrinsic part of their community. From personal interactions with club users to the sponsorship of local school sports teams, Linda and her team of two full-time staff, two-part time workers and two personal trainers pride themselves on being a positive asset to the west London borough. “Our goal is to truly be a part of the community rather than a faceless gym that only gets involved on a superficial level,” she said. “Through things like a trial class timetable where we invite feedback, we are trying to get people to be more involved in how we develop and to make them feel this is their club. “Obviously there’s the business side to what we do, but I believe that if members feel involved they will enjoy coming, recommend us and ultimately that aids retention.”

FIT FOR PURPOSE

With the Twickenham club having just celebrated two successful years of operation, Linda’s faith in Anytime Fitness is best demonstrated by the decision to open a second club in Gosport, Hampshire. And while her initial mission was to find a business which would afford her more family time, the additional financial, social and community benefits mean that being an Anytime Fitness franchisee has been liberating on a number of levels. “The biggest benefit for me is the lifestyle, but it’s just as important that this is a business that works,” she said. “If you follow the model, you end up having something that is profitable within a short period of time. “I remember being told when we were first signing up that this was a downturn- proof business and I think that’s true. “Aside from that, we feel we are part of a community with the other franchisees where everyone is friendly and willing to share and add to a pool of knowledge. It’s all positive. “Anytime Fitness is about trying to get people fit in a convenient, friendly community environment in a club that fits around them. “I am proud to be a part of that and to have a business which is doing good.”
 

Flying Scot

Glasgow-based Hugh Mullan shares the secrets of his success after quitting the corporate rat race to run his own Anytime Fitness club...

During his time as a chartered accountant, Hugh Mullan forged a successful career crunching numbers for companies around the world. The Scot’s skills earned him appointments as far afield as the Middle East and United States before he returned to the UK as a group finance director and managing director.
 
But with the exertions of climbing the corporate ladder taking up increasing amounts of his time, Hugh decided to launch a new career focusing on helping others achieve physical rather than financial fitness.
 
He explained: “I had held senior positions, but as I got older I wanted to take control and have time for other things rather than being continually concerned with work. I wanted to get out of the corporate rat race and the pressures that came with it, so I started to look at running a business of my own. I was browsing the internet looking at businesses for sale when I came across Anytime Fitness almost by accident.”

BUOYANT BUSINESS

The virtual introduction to running his own gym piqued Hugh’s interest and further research left him in no doubt that it was an avenue he would like to explore. Aside from the potential to offer a much more manageable work/life balance, the franchise’s all-important financial forecast and the strength of the fitness sector appealed to numbers man Hugh. “The more I looked at it, the more it appealed,” he continued. “I liked the industry because it was growing and you are contributing to the welfare of society.
 
“I realised that it allowed you to be as hands-on or off as you want. It was an opportunity that would afford the lifestyle I wanted for myself and my wife Cathy.” Although he was one of the UK’s first Anytime Fitness franchisees – there were just three clubs open when he made his first enquiry – Hugh was able to examine the business’s global footprint during his re-investment research.
 
Glasgow gym
 
Hugh and Cathy Mullan’s well-appointed Glasgow club reached profit after just seven months
 
This revealed the low failure rate of individual clubs as well as the franchise’s resilience to the ups-and-downs of the wider economy.
 
Hugh explained: “The very low failure rate was important, but key for us was seeing the growth of the fitness industry even in times of recession. I started looking at this four or five years ago when we were in the depths of the recession, but despite that Anytime Fitness was still growing.”
 
Hugh’s first dealings with Anytime Fitness in the UK were extremely positive and the “friendly, approachable and supportive” head office team convinced him to commit to opening a club in Glasgow. With the decision to become a franchisee made, his next priority was finding the perfect location in which to open. As is the case for companies across the UK, this required Hugh to find somewhere which would both benefit his new business and meet strict planning criteria.
 
Managing this fine balance was a learning process for Hugh, but he believes the care taken in locating the perfect position for his club has benefited him in the long term. “Location is critical and it was one of the major challenges,” he explained. “I spent about 18 months from first showing an interest to opening a club. Cathy and I would go out and walk the streets – we found that to be the best way to identify premises.”
 

RAPID GROWTH  


FAST FACTS:


ANYTIME FITNESS GLASGOW

SIZE OF CLUB
4,750 sq ft

STAFF
5

FIRST MONTH OF PROFIT
Month seven

MEMBERS
1,200

PRE-SALES
170

MAXIMUM MEMBERS
1,500

Just like 95 per cent of fellow franchisees, the Mullans were moving into an industry they were largely unfamiliar with and decided to learn more about it by managing the pre-sale process of their new club themselves.

Their hands-on approach allowed them to pass on their enthusiasm to potential users and resulted in around 170 members signing up during the pre-sale period.

While he was happy with the early interest, Hugh admits that a failure to use social media and the choice to open in December stopped the club from achieving even better figures.

Anytime Fitness now offers social media training and integration, guidance for promotions and even a content library to help owners make the most of their online presence. Once the club was open, the quality and convenience of the facility soon inspired rapid growth and the Mullans reached profit by their seventh month. 

Hugh said: “Building a buzz was something new to me and we probably lost out because of that and because we opened in December when people have other things on their mind.

 
“Once we were open, things moved fairly quickly and January was a terrific month. The people of Glasgow have been receptive to Anytime Fitness and our location means we have a lot of hospital workers, people in the restaurant and pub trade and students who value the flexibility a 24-hour club provides.
 
“Reaching break-even within seven months of trading was very satisfying. I was expecting that any start-up business would take quite a bit longer to break-even, so I was very pleasantly surprised.”
 

We have found that the biggest benefit is the flexibility around your lifestyle that it provides whilst still earning a good income." Hugh Mullan, Anytime Fitness Glasgow 

 
 
With the financial side of things going to plan, the Mullans have also been able to realise their initial intention to provide Hugh with a less-frantic working life. Aside from carrying out administrative tasks such as paying the bills from home, Hugh and Cathy are able to restrict their time on-site to weekly meetings with the club’s manager. The change in lifestyle has afforded the couple more time to themselves – although that may be diminished in the future as the success of their Anytime Fitness experience has convinced the Mullans to consider opening further clubs.
 
Hugh said: “In the last three months my wife and I have been on a two-week holiday, walked 96 miles of the West Highland Way and I have had the flexibility to visit my elderly mother in Ireland. “It has absolutely worked out the way we had hoped. You can do as little or as much as you want – the day-to-day pressures are no longer there. What I’m keen to do is get a second and ideally a third club.
 
"We have found that the biggest benefit is the flexibility around your lifestyle that it provides whilst still earning a good income. I would recommend it to anyone considering a franchised business.”

Glasgow team
 
Warm welcome: From left, Anytime Fitness Glasgow staff Alex Hales (manager) George Wishart and Monica Blonka 
 

Tom Norbury – only 24 years old with plans to open five clubs

Father and son team David and Tom Norbury have opened their first club in Basingstoke this year and hope to open five sites in the next five to ten years.

Passionate about the fitness industry and a recent Oxford Brookes University graduate with a philosophy degree, 24 year old Tom shared his thoughts on working with Anytime Fitness.

What did you do before running your franchise/ what prompted you to investigate franchising and why an Anytime Fitness franchise/why the health, fitness, gym sector?

Anytime Gym Tom Norbury

I graduated from university and then worked in Sales and Marketing. I had always wanted to start up my own business and considered pursuing a couple of start up concepts I was working on. My older brother had set up a e-commerce business which has grown considerably in recent years but did take several years to get going so I had some doubts about the success rates of start up's. It was at this point that I began to look at franchising which instantly began to resonate with me. I researched all the main franchise operators and then came across Anytime Fitness which straight from the beginning sounded attractive. I knew the fitness industry was very much a growth sector and that there had been an influx of budget style operators opening with considerable success. Anytime Fitness fitted exactly where I liked in the market, middle price, convenient, affordable and with the USP of 24/7 fitness I felt that its presence in the market was needed and would be well received in the U.K. As a franchisee now who has successfully launched a Anytime Fitness club with over 500 members in the first 3 months of being operational I feel the Anytime philosophy of getting to know your customers on first name terms is the secret ingredient to being successful in this industry, that standard of customer service and interaction is what Anytime Fitness is all about and is why they retain more members year in year out.

How was it in the beginning?

The support we received from the Anytime Fitness Head Office was superb so it felt very much as though a lot of the stresses that an independent Gym operator would feel on launch were minimised and that we were part of a large, structured operation with lots of industry experience. The franchisee corporate training was really thorough and intensive which benefitted me tremendously not being from the fitness industry. In the beginning as a franchisee you will be working alongside an array of preferred suppliers who Anytime Fitness have handpicked for the franchisees to help get your club open. This could be anything from commercial property companies, securing loans, building works, security, equipment, marketing support, insurance, personal training etc who have all been fantastic to work with and are all part of a larger Anytime Fitness community. You will have a pre-sales period before your club is officially open to the public. This 8-10 week period is vital in order to help raise awareness in your chosen territory and sell memberships before you are operationally open which will help your cash flow for when you are open to hit the ground running. We have been supported on a daily basis by Anytime Head Office who in the early days literally got involved in sales in the field and help you train your staff to the right standard. 

 What is your typical day like?

I decided to be hands on and run the business as a club manager as well day to day. I wanted to know first-hand how the business ticks and importantly understand what my customers are like and what makes them tick. If you wanted a less hands on approach the technology utilised in Anytime fitness clubs is such that owners can run their franchises from anywhere in the world successfully. Franchisees have a digital Birdseye view on every aspect of their business and can literally look on the club CCTV to make sure their sales teams are doing what they should be! There are also advanced billing and management tools that all the franchisees use on a daily basis to track performance. My typical day involves having a de-brief with my sales team and then getting out in the Town promoting the business and raising awareness, speaking to our members who are ultimately your biggest sales people, booking club tours, maintaining the clubs high standard of cleanliness and signing people up to club memberships.

How is business in the current economic climate?

I believe that more and more people in the UK are becoming clued up to the huge importance to lead healthier lifestyles. Anytime Fitness fits in the market in the middle for price but crucially is centred around convenience, being member centric and taking out the things in health clubs that aren't needed to stay fit i.e. sauna's / steam rooms etc that although are nice they are not what the average customer really needs. During a tough economic climate people want an affordable service but still want a rewarding experience and to be valued as a customer. This is exactly what Anytime Fitness offer. Our climate is not too dissimilar to the American or Australian markets and Anytime Fitness has been hugely successful in both countries during the recession opening thousands of clubs with over a million+ members. My first club has been open for 3 months and has 500 members so things are progressing well. 

What advice would you have for others considering a franchise/in this sector?

Research the sector well. Visit lots of different chains and ask yourself where each fits and why someone would commit to the brand and pay money to use it. Ask yourself where will this brand be in 5 or 10 years? Arrange to meet the existing franchisees to understand their first hand experience. Review the franchise contract with a solicitor and your family and then finally once you have exhausted every aspect of the business plan go for it! Remember 8 out of 10 franchises succeed and 8 out of 10 start up businesses fail!

How do you see the future of your business?

I am very confident that Anytime Fitness as a brand will perform as well in The UK as it has done in America and Australia. I went into this investment with the ambition to open over 5 Anytime Fitness clubs over the next 5 to 10 years which I feel is more than achievable.

Robin Drysdale - UK's First Franchisee - Two clubs and hungry for more 

 

 

Robin Drysdale has been flying the flag for Anytime Fitness since he opened his first club in Clifton, Bristol in November 2010. On the back of the success of the Clifton club he has just opened a second Bristol club in Bradley Stoke in January 2012.

A successful sportsman himself, Robin played professional tennis for eight years. He was in the top 100 UK tennis players and reached the last 8 in the Australian Open, amongst other achievements. This clearly gave him a passion for sport and fitness as he then moved on to work in the leisure industry in racquet and health club development for many years, including a spell working for Esporta. He also provided tennis consultancy to Eton College for five years.

Why Anytime Fitness?

We asked Robin why he chose Anytime Fitness and what it was that made them stand out from the rest,
"I was looking for an interesting business and I decided I wanted to set up my own health club. I had a site all lined up and heard about the Anytime Fitness model through a business associate, so it just came at the right time. It made sense to take the plunge and start my first gym with the backing, branding and success of Anytime Fitness, rather than risk going it alone. I did look at other operators but felt that the Anytime Fitness model seemed more sensible: having several franchises seemed to be working for others and Anytime Fitness have a flat rate, low cost royalty structure."

Key Advice

Robin offers further key advice for anyone thinking about owning their own gym, "Be patient. The hardest part is finding the right location for your club; the property search process here in the UK can really slow down your plans. Don’t compromise on location and rush into things. Make sure you’ve found a good location and just keep smiling. You’ll get there, and when you do it’s a great lifestyle, a simple model and relatively low risk investment. Don’t get too hung up on your preferred market, it just might be that the right property isn’t going to turn up, or someone else has already secured it. Look at surrounding areas, be flexible and concentrate on finding the right demographics, access and size of property."

The Future

Robin plans to look for more suitable properties and is aiming for a portfolio of four to five clubs in the UK. He has one in the pipeline to open later this year and would like to open more in 2013. He says he’ll consider anywhere there is a good site. He might even look overseas if the right property were to come up,
"I love the concept of smaller local clubs for the community and the one thing I’ve learnt so far is that every club is completely different. It depends on the area, the demographics etc. With the Anytime Fitness model it’s so flexible that you can adapt to the changing trends and needs of each club."

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