Consider position, people and pre-sale to open a fitness club with momentum and subsequently, cashflow and profit, says Neil Randall of Anytime Fitness UK
“We strongly believe that a successful club is built on strong foundations and this begins during the planning stages, well in advance of a club opening,” says Neil Randall, Director of Sales and Marketing at Anytime Fitness UK.
Maybe that’s why Anytime Fitness has grown to have over 4,500 clubs globally and is a powerful brand name in the fitness franchise game.
Although getting into the industry presents its fair share of challenges, it is growing at a significant rate and continues to do so even through economic downturns.
With 15 per cent of the UK market currently made up of franchised businesses, Neil sees this as a large opportunity for growth: “At Anytime Fitness, we attract a broad range of franchisees with different backgrounds and experience levels. With the UK fitness industry now worth in excess of £5 billion and over 10 million people having gym memberships, we’re in a fantastic position.”
To have a successful franchise it’s essential that franchisee engagement and training—new and ongoing—are implemented during the development plan. He spills the beans on the brand’s success; the three P mantra—property, people and pre-sale. “By regularly considering these three factors, you stand the best chance of opening the club with momentum and subsequently, cashflow and profit,” says Neil.
Over to you, Neil.
It’s difficult to consider any other component more crucial than your club’s property location. The location can determine an array of influential factors which are likely to shape your club’s success. By being aware of other local fitness clubs and what they have to offer, can help you strategically formulate your own club’s offering which should generate a more appealing package. If you don’t know how your fitness club’s offer can challenge the local competition, it’s likely you won’t attract your desired target audience.
Critically analysing your local demographic profile and density is a fundamental element to account for. For example, knowing the percentage spread of people in your area from key socio-economic groups will help you tailor a package which appeals to the local audience.
Furthermore, you must ask yourself the question whether there is enough demand for a new fitness club? Again, franchisees can often excitedly dive in without completing thorough market research and surveys and consequently, take longer to make the impact they desire. Important aspects such as whether your property has the capacity for free parking can play an influential role in consumer accessibility, all of which can be overcome through effective planning.
Once actioned, you can begin to consider the finer details such as your property’s size and layout. By testing the fit for your club’s kit flow and volume, you can ascertain likely profit per square foot as well as ensuring the price per square foot matches potential yield that could be obtained in the market. You can and should calculate your property’s service charge and ensure rates are capped and justified (i.e. what are you to receive) as these are both costs that are sometimes hidden or not factored into the early stages.
How Anytime Fitness works…
As part of the extensive support we provide, and to alleviate such issues, Anytime Fitness UK heavily invests in a partnership with leading real estate advisor, CBRE, which helps franchisees with their property search and achieve competitive commercial terms. With CBRE having a broad network of over 130 UK-based leasing managers and contacts within the property industry, they play a key role in helping us and our franchisees.
To ensure you have a strong team in place to deal with your customers’ needs and requirements, recruiting well ahead of opening is important. The team will be key in your pre-sale period, actively going into the local community and marketing to potential members. People buy into the passion and enthusiasm of staff so it’s important to look for personable, passionate health and fitness professionals. Like with most things if you fail to plan, you plan to fail! Set aside a good amount of time to search for capable team members who can add value to your club.
Train your staff to approach and engage all members. The best advocates for your club are your staff as their interaction with members can lead to increased visits. It’s far more cost-effective to retain members through impactful social interaction and adding value, than abandoning them and having to spend money on marketing and sales to recruit new members in the long run.
For this to happen, it’s imperative you’re clear on the club’s strategy in the sense of knowing the difference between owner-operator versus owner-investor. Ask yourself what role you are going to play at the club. When developing the strategy, I recommend including your club’s working team in the overall creation to improve buy-in. This then allows your team to train together from the outset and foster a culture of delivery and problem-solving as a group.
As part of this, being clear with staff incentives from the beginning provides clarity and trust between all parties. For example, knowing the difference between sales commission and management bonuses can play an influential role.
How Anytime Fitness works…
Emphasis should always be placed on CPD and with Anytime Fitness’s consistent offering of franchisor training, it’s strongly advised that all new and current franchisees attend.
It is important to pick a franchise where help is always at hand to ensure you achieve what is undoubtedly the finishing touch to your club’s foundations—pre-sale. The better the pre-sale, the less working capital is required to invest beyond this time period.
An example of a major success story is our Anytime Fitness Fleet club, which has recently broken the global pre-sale record by opening its doors with 1,396 members. The owner is a multi-site franchisee and used an effective combination of community engagement, face-to-face and multiple digital channel marketing to capture the imagination of the local population.
We often find that franchisees can fail to understand the importance of effective channel distribution, with traditional face-to-face interaction presenting equally prosperous business leads as digital activity. It’s a matter of combining different methods to create multiple touchpoints with potential members to market your club effectively and stand out from the competition. An example of doing this well would be by engaging with your local community.
Ensure your club is actively present at local events and offer advice in areas such as education institutions, societies and clubs. Anytime Fitness prides itself on building clubs which people enjoy going to, its community feel, and how they partner and value their local area’s businesses. Therefore, building value for the consumer from day one develops the grounding for them to become club advocates within the local community.
How Anytime Fitness works…
Our road map to achieving a strong pre-sale for all franchisees maximises their chances of ensuring club turnover from the day of opening. By incorporating this plan into your strategy enables you to execute pre-sale actions successfully, subsequently providing you with the deserved benefits.
By following your franchisor’s advice and engaging with a process and system that has been successful not just in the UK, but across over 30 other global markets, you are increasing the chances of success.
Why Anytime Fitness?
- The brand is one of the few major franchises to offer a fixed franchise fee which unlike many competitors, remains the same regardless of overall turnover and member numbers.
- To give franchisees options over funding their venture, the brand offers both five- and ten-year franchise agreements to complement their initial investment and drive better unit profitability in the most critical one-to-two years of opening.