Fast growing franchise business opportunities: a checklist for potential franchisees
David Ciantar| General Manager | Anytime Fitness
Justin McDonell and his sister Jacinta McDonell Jimenez launched Anytime Fitness, the highly successful USA franchise business, into Australia in 2008. Since then Australia has become the quickest growing region of the world’s fastest growing fitness chain. In just over two and half years Anytime Fitness has 90 clubs open throughout the country, its 200th territory in Australia being sold at the beginning of August, and further rapid expansion in the pipeline for 2011/12.
The General Manager of Anytime Fitness is David Ciantar. David has over 25 years experience in franchising operations, having started his career with McDonald’s, and worked at a number of other big brand’s in the franchising space including Telstra, New Zealand Natural and Gloria Jeans.
With Anytime Fitness’ rapid growth and David’s experience across systems at different stages of their evolution, we caught up with David to get his thoughts on the upsides and potential downsides of joining franchise systems who are in different growth phases. In this article David looks at franchises from small start-ups - under 20 units, to fast growth franchises - growing from small to large and large Franchise businesses with 300 plus franchise units.
When new franchisees join a franchise group that has less than 20 sites, there is always the instance where they will question the franchise system.
On the other hand, these people can also be the biggest assets in terms of growth. They can easily be considered as “Pioneers” and drive system growth to a new level. We at Anytime Fitness have certainly encountered this, with many of our first 25 franchisees having multiple sites in a relatively short amount of time.
I have been personally impressed by the energy and commitment our franchisees have shown to becoming multi-site operators. We too, are wary of our franchisees growing, ensuring they do this at the right time for them.
"For a fast growth franchise business who is at the stage of growing from small to large, it is important that the franchisor is conscious of their franchisees who do want to grow."
For a fast growth franchise business who is at the stage of growing from small to large, it is important that the franchisor is conscious of their franchisees who do want to grow.
For Anytime Fitness it is important for our brand, and us, that our franchisees are completely profitable before considering a second or third site. The other key element in joining a rapidly growth franchise is to understand their location opening capabilities. At Anytime Fitness we expedite store openings by ensuring that the new store opening support function is well aligned with our sales and operations teams.
If you are going into a franchise business which has a physical location also be realistic in terms of your planning. At Anytime Fitness we have seen that the Development Application process for the business is crucial, as this concerns 24 hour trading, parking, and general acceptance in the local area. We monitor new franchisees joining our system, the level of assistance they require in real estate, and then the club layout and finally- work towards a projected opening.
And for franchises with 300 plus franchise locations, understanding the parameters of their projected territories and the further development potential is crucial. Site selection becomes by far the most important factor in stepping into a large franchise which will often have some of the more obvious sites taken. At Anytime Fitness we have room for 300-350 in Australia and take site selection very seriously.
Joining a franchise business at different stages of its evolution creates different opportunities. It is important that you do your research and check carefully that the franchise system you are looking into is maximising the upside of the life stage it is in whilst minimising any potential downsides of that life stage.