An Australian Franchisor Interview
Franchisors name: Martin Oliver, CEO Jetts Fitness Australia.
Name of franchise: Jetts Fitness
Tell us about how/when the business was started and the motivation behind establishing the company.
Jetts was founded in 2007 by Sunshine Coast couple, Brendon and Cristy Levenson. They introduced the 24/7 no lock-in contract club model to Australia, with the idea to build a gym concept based purely around the customer. Brendon and Cristy wanted to challenge every element of conventional thinking in the gym industry – and provide an alternative for gym goers who weren’t happy with limited opening hours, busy clubs, heavy sales tactics and high membership fees.
When they opened the Jetts pilot club on the Gold Coast, it exceeded their expectations and was filled to capacity within 6 months. From there, they embarked on expansion plans across the country to grow to the 240 club strong network that it is today.
When and why did you decide to go down the franchise route?
Jetts really stood out as a strong franchise structure with an emphasis on members, which for me demonstrated its strong competitive advantage. Consistency of standards, particularly, cleanliness is a big focus – which I really appreciated. Importantly, the model comes under full management which leaves the business owner free to focus on growth.
I liked its pioneering attributes and that it was a home-grown – not to mention, rapidly expanding – company. There’s also plenty of support offered to business owners – with induction training, frontline guidance by Business Performance Managers (BPM’s), and 24 hr access to Jetts’ online training portal which hold all relevant content to ensure team members develop within their role. It’s the company’s vested interest in the franchisor and Business Owner both making good returns in a partnership that really sets Jetts apart and made me decide to go down the franchise route.
What have been the company’s biggest achievements/successes to date so far?
In terms of major milestones – Jetts celebrated its first interstate club opening in Rivervale, WA in 2008 and its first international expansion into Royal Oak, New Zealand in 2010 – just three years after inception. The 150th club opening milestone was reached in Penshurst, NSW in 2011 and the 200th milestone was fittingly accomplished in 2013 in the capital city of the state where it all began – Brisbane, QLD.
We were awarded number one on Canstar Blue’s Most Satisfied Customers’ Award in both Australia and New Zealand in 2012, and again in Australia in 2013. In 2012, Jetts was also awarded SmartCompany Australian Franchisor of the Year. We were ranked number one on BRW’s Fast Franchise list in Australia in 2012, and number two in 2013.
What challenges have you had to overcome?
Finding the right business owner is crucial to our business. We are built on a customer-centric model so we constantly challenge ourselves to ensure we’re providing the member with the best in experience and the best standards of service.
The 24/7 sector has well and truly taken over the fitness industry with its expansion set to continue and competitors flooding the market. Our focus remains constantly on the member so that we maintain position as their preferred club and we set ourselves apart.
As we continue to grow, we have needed to ensure we are resourced to maintain standards of operation and remain the members’ choice for customer satisfaction. We have added over 20 new positions at Jetts Support Office in Australia in the past few years and we have recently added a COO and CEO of Australia as another step in building one the very best executive teams in our industry. We have considerable growth opportunity in Australia.
What marketing/promotional tools do you use to grow your franchise?
Our experienced marketing team provide regular campaigns across print, radio and digital channels, as well as detailed marketing briefs and all necessary marketing tools required to drive success. Marketing tools are made very easy to access for business owners and club managers, as they are provided via an online training and education portal.
Jetts also has a strong social media presence across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram which provide a fantastic platform to reach large audiences, and also hear what our members have to say.
Having Business Performance Managers on the ground in each portfolio has provided that extra level of support to our club managers to ensure any campaigns are delivered consistently across the group. We are focused on delivering a consistent experience to members, which is why our BPMs have been crucial in working towards this. The BPMs brief the campaigns in to our front line team and then work closely with them to ensure they are comfortable managing any objections and providing great experience to every person who walks through the door.
What differentiates (Jetts) from the competition?
Jetts is the only gym that really focuses on the member and their needs. We offer no-lock in contracts, low cost membership prices, convenience, close proximity, 24hr access and a number of other selling points, but what really separates us from competition is our focus on being a customer-centric business that inspires people to live a better life. This has formed the foundation for our development over the last 7 years.
In your opinion, what makes a successful (Jetts) franchisee?
The successful Jetts business owner is passionate about people, engaged, and committed to providing the best possible in-club experience to both members and team. Business owners don’t necessarily need experience in the fitness industry, and don’t have to leave their permanent employment. That’s the beauty of it – external business interests are encouraged.
A successful business owner is also a natural and confident leader –with the ability to empower and motivate their team, and ambitions to grow and expand the business. Jetts excels in providing business owners with the tools to do this.
What changes have you seen in your industry over recent year? And how have you adapted to them?
It’s plain to see that the 24hr model is the fastest growing trend in the fitness industry in Australia. With minimal growth or expansion by the bigger chain clubs, the 24/7 sector has well and truly taken over the fitness industry with its expansion set to continue. Some big chains are trialling 24/7 clubs while others have turned their clubs into 24/7 facilities to cater or compete with their competition.
Jetts pioneered the 24/7 concept in Australia, so we’ve been one step ahead of the game in that regard. However, we’re constantly touching base with our members to make sure we are providing them with the most optimised work out experience – from keeping our state-of-the-art equipment up to date, to tailoring our no-lock in contract model to suit their needs.
What does the future hold for (Jetts)?
The company has experienced incredible growth since 2007. Jetts now has 240 clubs across Australia and New Zealand, with over 250,000 members. With plans for further growth on the horizon, Jetts promises to continue their steady rate of expansion in the near future. We’re looking to other markets, such as Europe and Asia.
What expansion plans have you got nationally and internationally?
International expansion is one of the company’s focuses at the moment, but rather than expanding for the sake of growth, we want to see the brand and services making a difference to our member’s lives. Jetts has had great success and rapid expansion within New Zealand, and we’ve just celebrated the opening of their 50th club there. More recently, we celebrated the significant milestone of opening their first club in the Netherlands in Europe – and look forward to continued growth in this area.
Our focus remains on opening 30-40 new clubs per annum in Australia and New Zealand and we see some good growth in our existing clubs as we leverage our significant operational expertise and focus on members to build a world class business.
What advice would you give to someone considering franchising their business?
No matter what industry you’re in – a customer-centric, and well-informed approach will provide the best platform for success. Ensure your team are brand-passionate, and ensure they remain engaged and motivated.
Never underestimate the importance doing your research – and be sure to invest in a strategy that you believe in. The Jetts model is built on minimal overheads, which means business owners are optimised to maintain their day job, invest in other businesses, or in the majority of instances – open a second or third club. Providing opportunity for expansion should always be top of mind!
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