Two chains are battling it out to claim this honour.
As demand for 24-hour gyms increases, entrepreneurs are locked in a fierce competition to meet the market need.
Anytime Fitness and Jetts are among the top fitness chains capitalising on this fast-growing trend in the Australian market. So, what’s the difference between the two gym chains?
Justin McDonell and his sister Jacinta McDonell-Jimenez, who purchased the Australian master franchise rights for US chain Anytime Fitness in 2008, aim to have 400 clubs open this year. They reached the 320 mark last year, and have grown from a staff of two to 35.
An Anytime franchisee is sold a territory, so no other Anytime club can open in that area. “We assist the franchisee with finding the location, finding the property. We have in-house architects and design people to design the club, and we provide the sales and marketing tools to assist.
“We have preferred equipment suppliers and security vendors and they assist the franchisee in up setting the club. And we have an extensive online operations manual and access to our staff and marketing resources.”
McDonell says they focus on providing real quality systems to the franchisee, backed by email and telephone support. “We really drive everything through technology. We’ve got an extensive operations manual. We’ve just launched an e-learning platform. We are launching a net promoters’ course for our members.”
The home-grown Jetts chain was founded in 2007 by husband and wife, Brendon and Cristy Levenson. “They introduced the 24/7 no-contract club model to Australia,” says Martin Oliver, CEO of Jetts.
From a pilot club on the Gold Coast, the chain has grown to 180 centres nationally. “We now have more than 240 clubs in total across Australia and New Zealand,” says Oliver. They have even opened a club in the Netherlands.
Oliver says the Jetts chain has revolutionised the fitness industry with its club model. “It is focused on a low-entry cost, realistic capex costs, while delivering solid return on investment with semi-passive involvement from the business owner,” he says.
Semi-passive involvement means the franchisee is only required to spend between five and 10 hours each week in the business, supporting the club manager in his or her role, he says.
In terms of first steps, Jetts meets with a potential franchisee to understand their capabilities to become a business partner. A financial background check is also done.
“New business owners participate in five days of induction training, which equips them with complete knowledge and understanding of how to operate their new business,” says Jetts’ Oliver.
Franchisees are supported on the frontline by business performance managers, who provide business and fitness industry knowledge and expertise.
Oliver says their marketing team backs franchisees by providing monthly campaigns across print, radio and digital, and detailed marketing briefs.
“Franchisees gain easy access to marketing tools via our online training and education portal or our printing partners,” Oliver says.
“Our infrastructure is also supported by a tech team and help desk, including after hours support for clubs.”
Members of the Anytime gyms get an access key which gives them entry to the club they join and other Anytime clubs around Australia and globally, says McDonell.
“All our clubs are equipped with an extensive range of cardio equipment, treadmills, bikes, cross trainers, all with individual TV screens. Some of our clubs offer some form of group exercise,” he says.
“We have a product called ‘fitness on request’, which is like a virtual aerobics class. That’s going into our larger clubs.”
Jetts offers low-cost memberships with no locked-in contracts, says Oliver.
“Our facilities cater for what members really want and don’t include additional costs for facilities that aren’t used,” Oliver says.
“Our base model includes a range of cardio equipment as well as all the necessary strength and resistance training equipment. The majority of clubs run small group training sessions as well as one-on-one personal training options.”
Oliver says no contracts are the biggest selling point, along with high standards of service.
McDonell says Anytime’s major lure is convenience. “Our clubs are conveniently located near peoples’ homes and places of work,” he says.
Anytime charges the franchisee a fixed monthly fee as part of its business model.
“Our model is based on getting a lot of clubs open and dominating the market and then providing the franchisee the freedom to earn as much money as they want inside their model,” McDonell says.
Oliver says the Jetts business model is built on minimal overheads and includes a small staff. “The model has removed all the frustrations members used to experience in what we call the big box clubs – locked-in contracts, paying for facilities the majority of members didn’t utilise,” he says.
Both McDonell and Oliver say the 24-hour model is the fastest-growing trend in the Australian fitness industry.
“Some big box chains are trialling 24/7 clubs, while others have turned their clubs into 24/7 facilities,” says Oliver.
Justin McDonell’s tips for setting up a fitness franchise:
- You have to have a really good product: the customers need to want the product.
- Keep your product very, very simple. Running a 24-hour gym with a key card access is not that hard, so our systems are quite easy.
- Focus on finding the right franchisee. Our business is a people business so they have to like people, they have to offer customer service and know how to sell a membership.