Sharon Thandi explains how franchising with Anytime Fitness has led her from strength to strength
Female entrepreneur Sharon Thandi opened her first Anytime Fitness gym earlier this year in what has been a successful return to the world of franchising.
Having previously been a franchisee with Dominos, Sharon wanted to pursue her passion of health and wellbeing by starting her own independent food brand. With the launch of this brand being a long-term project, as well as unfortunately coinciding with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sharon turned back to franchising to run a second business within the health and wellbeing space.
“If you’re starting your own business, you need to be prepared for it to take some time to become established and gain brand awareness,” said Sharon. “With existing knowledge and experience of franchising, I knew that being part of an existing, established brand would help me enjoy a quicker return on investment.”
Deciding on Anytime Fitness
Having explored several sectors within franchising, Sharon quickly set her sights on the fitness sector and in particular, Anytime Fitness.
“I wanted to invest in something that’s a growing market and fitness definitely ticked the box,” added Sharon. “Once I’d decided on the industry, Anytime Fitness stood out to me due to its global presence and its existing brand awareness.
Investing in a franchise is a big decision and I’m sure like everyone else, I did some thorough research and what’s instantly noticeable is that Anytime Fitness is a brand on the rise and demonstrates continued growth.”
Location, location, location
Having made the decision to become an Anytime Fitness franchisee, Sharon’s focus immediately turned to finding a location for her first gym. She was able to leverage the expertise and contacts from Anytime Fitness’ New Openings Team as she searched for the perfect location within a thriving property market.
“The team at Anytime Fitness has so many great contacts and a level of knowledge which can help you get to the right place,” Sharon said.
“Working with a franchisor is a two-way street and to take advantage of that knowledge, you must be proactive and have as much involvement as you can. We had to be agile with the locations and properties we were looking at and we eventually found the perfect site for our first location,” she said.
Independent gym acquisition
While most new Anytime Fitness gyms open from scratch, Sharon was given the opportunity to acquire an existing gym in the Derbyshire town of Swadlincote. Previously an independent, members-only gym called Evisa Fitness, the team were able to source the opportunity to acquire the business and subsequently, open it as an Anytime Fitness.
This approach to opening a new gym came with significant benefits for Sharon, including significantly reduced construction time, no requirement for change of use on the property and a small, existing membership base.
However, while the property already had the shell and layout of a gym, Sharon realised the importance of investing in the facility to bring it in line with the quality that consumers expect from Anytime Fitness.
“The first thing we decided to do was open up the space as the previous layout meant the group exercise studio took up far too much floor space,” added Sharon.
“By changing the shape and location of the studio, we were able to maximise the space we had available. This also meant we were able to install additional equipment and I took the decision to replace all the previous equipment from one of Anytime Fitness’ suppliers.
“It was a really important thing to do and the member feedback has been great, members of the previous gym still comment today on how much bigger and open the gym feels.”
The rewards of the fitness industry and looking to the future
Having opened at the beginning of 2023, Sharon and her team at Anytime Fitness Swadlincote has eclipsed the membership numbers of the previous gym by nearly 800%. Sharon highlights the importance of a strong presale in laying the foundations for a successful Anytime Fitness gym.
“The most important advice I can give is to ensure you have the right team on board and that you build up your prospects in advance of opening.
“Opening a gym is a very sales-orientated operation so you need a good balance of strong salespeople and personable individuals with expertise and qualifications in fitness. One of my main learning has been just how important your team is; we had some initial challenges with recruitment but once you find the right team, you’ll be in a great place to grow your business,” she added.
Despite still being in the early stages of her Anytime Fitness journey, Sharon speaks highly of how rewarding its been and has already set her sights on growing her portfolio.
“It’s a really rewarding business to be involved with as you’re seeing your members’ journeys first-hand and the individual growth they’re enjoying from sticking to a plan,” Sharon explained.
“As soon as I decided on opening a gym, I wanted to make sure it was community focused and be a place where anyone and everyone feels comfortable. We’re already receiving great feedback with people saying exactly this and it’s so rewarding for me that people really like the gym, the team and the ethos we have here,” she said.
“I want to be a multi-site operator at Anytime Fitness and I’m continually looking at the routes available for me to do that. Whether that’s another acquisition, a rebrand or an organic opening, there’s plenty of opportunities out there.”
Like the thought of owning your own Anytime Fitness gym? Request info today to get started!