Will Slota knows what it takes to make a business successful. Having worked as the head of finance or operations for several small-to-mid-sized companies, he’s all too familiar with the 70-to-80-hour work weeks that can come with putting a business on the right path. So, when that tiring schedule began to wear on him, Slota decided to pursue business ownership opportunities. But, because he didn’t want to go it alone, he turned to franchising.
“For me, the appeal of joining a franchise system and using an established business model was having that roadmap of what it takes to be successful as a small business owner. There are a lot of benefits that come with joining a proven system—franchises come with reach, branding and marketing built in. Essentially, you’re automatically ahead in every sort of competitive situation,” said Slota.
With thousands of franchise brands competing in the marketplace, finding the best franchise opportunity for your specific situation can be a daunting task. But when Slota set out on his due diligence process, there was a set of criteria that he needed filled. And according to Slota, he didn’t find a franchise that matched all of his specs until considering Anytime Fitness.
He said, “I was looking at a lot of different kinds of franchises across a bunch of different categories when I first started this process. I researched everything from in-home senior care to fitness. What really drew me to Anytime Fitness was that it checked all of the boxes that I had been looking for. The startup cost is well under $1 million, there’s a really low failure rate and its business model enables franchisees to better their local communities. That ability to make a difference was a huge draw to me—I’m not just creating a pile of trash from fast food. There’s an element to Anytime Fitness’s business model that allows me to improve people’s lives.”
In addition to gaining access to a platform that enables him to change people’s lives for the better, Slota was drawn to Anytime Fitness because of its overall environment. He was able to get a feel for the brand during discovery day, and immediately knew that he found the right business ownership opportunity.
“One thing that Anytime Fitness does really well is discovery day. When I went—during winter in Minnesota—bad weather caused the other people who were supposed to be there with me to cancel. So, I was the only person there, which is something that rarely happens given that the franchise is scaled to open several hundred locations every year. But it ended up being a really cool opportunity. I had the chance to sit down with Dave (Mortensen, Co-Founder and President of Anytime Fitness) one-on-one, and he treated me like family. He wasn’t afraid to answer the tough questions or share his vision for the company, either. That’s not something that you find with other franchises. Sure, you might get to shake an executive’s hand. But it’s not often that you get invited into their office to talk shop for an hour unscripted,” said Slota. “The experience that I had on discovery day definitely played a major role in my decision to invest with Anytime Fitness. The whole team went above and beyond, and it really made a difference for me.”
Following his discovery day experience, Slota signed an agreement to open up three Anytime Fitness clubs in the Los Angeles area—from Santa Monica to Hollywood—over the course of the next two to three years. Since closing his franchise ownership deal in January of 2018, he’s hit the ground running in order to achieve his goal of opening the first gym in the fourth quarter of the year. The first big step was attending Anytime Fitness’ new franchisee training program.
“I’m pretty impressed with the training program. There are three full weeks of mandatory training. So far, I’ve done two back in Woodbury, Minnesota. Then, after that initial training, there’s operations and consumer and pre-sale training – in addition to training for personal trainers and coaches. Each of those run for about a week and, if the two weeks of training that I’ve already attend are any indication, they’re going to be helpful. What I’ve experienced so far demonstrates how much help you get through this franchise model and how many resources are made available to you,” said Slota.
Right now, Slota is moving forward with his plans to launch his first Anytime Fitness club before the year ends. He’s at the stage where he’s evaluated a number of different locations, and now needs to finalize a lease. Slota says that the process is similar to finding the right franchise to invest in. You have to do a lot of work up front in order to find the best deal—and opportunity—possible.
“For anyone else considering Anytime Fitness’s business ownership opportunity, my top piece of advice is to not be afraid to ask as many questions as you want. I found that the more I got past my fear of asking tough questions, the more compelling answers there were—all I needed to do was ask,” said Slota.