The health of a franchise system can be measured in many ways, but for franchise owners researching a brand, the average unit volume is a key indicator of franchisee success. Workout Anytime, a fast-growing fitness franchise with more than 175 units, has experienced incredible growth over the past few years, and recently celebrated its highest average unit volume in the company’s 20-year history.
Workout Anytime COO Mark de Gorter points to the brand’s evolution beyond its core business to stay ahead of trends, like the addition of small group and HIIT classes, as a factor in its record AUV.
“A high AUV reflects growth in a number of areas,” said Workout Anytime COO Mark de Gorter. “First, it speaks to our ability to add incremental services to the business, which allows us to cast a wider net and bring in additional members. We’re not just a gym that has fitness equipment anymore; our offering provides a tremendous value and takes advantage of the two hottest trends—that being small group training and High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)—and brings people into the franchise who might not have come in if we didn't offer them. Our broadened package of offerings are helping us appeal to a broader consumer set, and the numbers reflect that.”
De Gorter notes that in the last 24 months, membership has increased 14 percent and attrition is declining, which points to more members staying longer and paying more for their memberships, all factoring into the record AUV. He also identifies improvements made in training, an investment in a customer satisfaction platform and fresh brand positioning as contributing factors.
“We’ve taken a much more holistic approach to our training by introducing a cloud-based learning management system that allows us to get deeper into club personnel and develop a more repeatable, comprehensive and consistent training methodology across the board,” de Gorter said. “We’ve also invested in a customer satisfaction platform to get closer to the member and establish a dialogue we've never had before. We can get feedback on everything from club cleanliness to staff friendliness and the like, and can pinpoint areas of focus, which will lead to reduced termination, higher retention, better word of mouth and top-line growth.”
To highlight its results-based brand positioning, Workout Anytime released a campaign featuring real member testimonials. By showcasing real people of different age groups, genders and fitness experiences, Workout Anytime tells its brand narrative through its members, which adds an important layer of validation to the brand.
To continue building on the momentum that began in 2018, Workout Anytime has plans to focus on growing from within.
“We’ve always done very well with internal validation and organic growth. Historically, the split has been 75 percent organic growth and 25 percent from new owners. Last year, the split was closer to 50/50, which was a direct result of opening in Texas, a new state for the brand,” said de Gorter. “Because the economy is good, we know that historically fewer people are willing to leave their current job and fewer people are at risk of losing their jobs, so we’re placing our focus on our existing franchisees that know the model, have seen success and are eager to open their second, third, fifth or eighth club.”
One of those franchise owners that has grown with the brand is Kevin Edmonds, who owns five clubs in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida, and also serves as Area Developer for Workout Anytime in the Carolinas. His Lenoir, North Carolina and Titusville, Florida clubs opened just six months ago, and both are already in the top 10 clubs in the Workout Anytime system.
Of the brand’s growth and the factors that contributed to the record AUV, Edmonds says, “I’ve been with Workout Anytime for ten years, and I would say that every year we continue to get better and grow as a company. I have no doubt that 2019 will exceed last year in all categories. We’ve been focusing on our personal training program, and we now have three bodies in our corporate office that do nothing but workshops and trainings, in addition to an online training program that every employee is required to take.”
Edmonds notes that these initiatives have helped improve the club’s conversion of walk-ins to members, and has helped the brand’s franchise owners, managers and employees buy into the Workout Anytime culture.
“The more training we get, that filters down through our staff which is obviously huge. We have hourly workers that are 19 years old and they’re not seeing this as just a job, but as a career, and are buying into the culture not only of fitness and health, and why we do what we do, but also the Workout Anytime culture and how we differentiate ourselves from our competition,” said Edmonds. “We are not a huge gym with 8,000 members, but a boutique gym that knows our members, knows their goals and are there to help accomplish those things. That helps us retain members for longer periods of time and lets them know that we care about their progress. As we keep our members happy and as we retain members, it increases our day-to-day profitability.”
In addition to training and culture, Edmonds credits Workout Anytime’s real estate team for improving its site selection efforts to set franchisees up for success, which has led to many new franchisees having high revenue numbers in their first year. The continued evolution of Workout Anytime over the past eight years has helped Edmonds continue to grow with the brand.
“Since I opened my first club eight years ago, I try to open one a year,” said Edmonds. “My early success has a lot to do with the support of the franchisor. I was really thrilled about their direction and vision, but at that point in time, we were a very small company. Since then, by trusting their vision, we have grown, and put additional resources into education and staffing corporate offices with support. It’s been a nice journey to see not only where we’re at now, but where we’re going in the future.