An Australian Franchisee Case Study
Name: Craig Hale
Location: Edgecliff NSW & Currambine WA
Franchise: Anytime Fitness
Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose your franchise?
I didn’t specifically seek out a franchise initially. I decided to leave the corporate world to take a break from being an employee and decide on the next steps for my future. While trying to decide next steps we (my partner and I) met with some good friends who had recently opened an Anytime Fitness franchise, which sparked our interest.
The fitness industry appealed to us at the time as we were personally dissatisfied with the current facilities available to us as members. We had started a couple of independent businesses in the past and knew how much work it takes to establish and drive a new business, so a franchise with a proven model and recognised brand seemed like a great option.
We then investigated the Anytime Fitness franchise and looked at some other franchise options in the fitness sector. We knew setting up this type of business was something that I would enjoy (as I would be the principle operator), and would save me from being an employee and provide financial independence and a better work-life balance for my partner and I in the future.
What did you do before taking up a franchise?
I was a Pharmacist, and worked in the Pharmaceutical Industry. I’ve held various medical, marketing and advertising roles over the past 10 years in both Australia and the USA. I have also worked in community and hospital Pharmacy
How did you raise the finance?
The majority of funds came from the recent sale of our home. I also secured a small loan from a family member.
What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
On purchasing the franchise I attended a week long franchise training meeting that covered all aspects of setting up and running the business. I was also given access to a comprehensive online resource housing information to support each stage of setting up the business. I was also assigned a Franchise Consultant that I could call upon for advice and support. I also found that connections made with other Franchisees at the initial training and regional meetings were a great resource.
What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?
Although I did work in my first club for the first 6 months, now that I have two facilities up and running I spend my day working out of an office located next to my Edgecliff gym. I have recently employed a Group Manager to manage both of my clubs and be responsible for day to day operations, staff management and education. Therefore I spend my time focussing on marketing/admin, new projects and preparing for the set-up of our 3rd Anytime Fitness location. Three mornings a week I train with a Personal Trainer in the Edgecliff club, which gives me the opportunity to see the club from a member’s perspective. I also take time each day to drop into the club to assist the staff and personal trainers, interact with the members and ensure all is going well. I travel once a month to my interstate club to do the same. I make sure I have time to spend in the clubs to stay in touch and ensure my values are being delivered by the team and to build a good culture with staff and members. Once I open my 3rd club my goal is to only work 3-4 days per week.
What challenges have you faced?
As we have grown quite quickly and expanded into two clubs (currently planning 3rd), the biggest challenge has been changing our operational model to ensure I didn’t just double or triple my workload with each new club. In the short term it has been a lot of extra work for myself, but we are slowly getting the right structure and a team in place to make it work. Removing myself from parts of the business and employing people to take on these roles is a hard decision as it is a large expense to the business. I had to remind myself that my goal is work-life balance, so the added expense is well worth the investment.
Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
It has in that I can now see a clear path to a financially independent future, and also that I am rewarded every day by what I have achieved with the businesses, and what I am helping our members achieve in their lives. Don’t get me wrong – it isn’t all butterflies and rainbows. There are stressful days and days when you feel like you aren’t winning, but to me this is a different stress to that felt by being accountable to an employer. This may be because I am accountable to myself, my team and my members now. It is a lot easier to navigate your way through these stressful times when it is your own business and you have the support of the franchise and fellow franchisees.
When I left my job as an employee, everything I had built in the role in terms of product, value and respect was left behind with my employer. Now I am investing my skills into a business that is mine. It is something I can put my name to and be proud of, and the best part is that if I ever need to move on, it has value.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?
Do a lot of research and ensure it is a business you are passionate about running opposed to just a good way to make money. If possible spend time with existing franchisees to find out what running a successful business within that franchise is all about. Within Anytime Fitness, the most successful clubs are the ones that have an engaged owner that cares about their team and the individual experience of their members. They also seem to be the happiest franchisees
What are your plans for the future?
My plans are to open some more Anytime Fitness locations in the next couple of years, and work on making them sustainable businesses. I also plan to look at other business & franchise opportunities that I can be passionate about. The one thing I will keep reminding myself of during this process is whether any new opportunity fits in with my life goals of a great work-life balance and spending more time with friends and family. I also have to remind myself constantly that it isn’t all about the end goal, but it is also about enjoying the journey (I have been known to forget this from time to time).
Would you do it again?
Absolutely! I have learnt so much and met so many great friends since buying the franchise. This alone without all the financial success has been worth it.
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