Anytime Fitness was voted #1 franchise of 2014 by Entrepreneur Magazine. What makes it special/different? From a members point of view we are the fitness club for everybody and we focus on being local and close to home and work. We offer a high quality experience where we aim to deliver a great members experience and outcome. From a Franchisee investor point of view as a mature business that is 11 years old we have developed a system that works and we set our franchisees up for success, which is why 60% of our Franchisees invest in more than one club.
Tell us about your strategy for entering Asia/Hong Kong?
The challenge is exciting and we have just opened our 1st club in Kowloon City Hong Kong. This is after we opened the 1st Asia club in Singapore in October 2013. Since then we have opened 9 more clubs in Singapore as well as clubs in Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, China. The strategy has been to establish a support network across Asia in different markets to support our rapid roll out of the clubs.
We are excited to be in Hong Kong! Hong Kong is 24 hour 7 days a week city and we are currently the only 24/7 networked fitness club in Asia. Our members expect high quality service and experience. Recent reports in Hong Kong highlighted the growing rates of diabetes and this and other lifestyle ailments can be improved or prevented by knowing how to take care of your body.
What do you foresee as some of the challenges for entering the Asian market?
It is interesting because within Asia different countries have different challenges. Since we commenced we have established some unprecedented firsts for Asia. We have a Pan Asia Payment Gateway for collection of member’s monthly fees, I was told many times this would not be possible. We have also set up Franchisee finance for gym equipment at realistic commercial terms, again we were told this was not possible particularly in Hong Kong.
What’s the process for investing in your franchise?
Typically we meet with applicants and establish their “Why” and talk through the opportunity. Their application could then proceed to the next stage where they sign a Confidentiality Agreement and then we provide the core information to establish the club.
What’s a typical profile of a franchise investor?
It really is a broad spectrum. Many are established Franchisee operators from other brands, others have previous business experience in completely different industries and we have a large enquiry rate from Fitness professionals. We also have corporate investors looking at multi-site investments, and the new first time business investor setting up their own business.
What’s the franchise landscape like in Hong Kong?
Interesting! Hong Kong has most of the worlds’ top franchise operators here because Hong Kong is one of the top retail and business capitals in the world. Consumers and investors like the certainty and consistency that a Franchise operation creates.
What’s the fitness landscape like in Hong Kong?
It is a diverse and growing environment. Hong Kong has some outstanding individuals in the industry and some business’ that operate at a level of excellence. There are also some business’ that still operate on old thinking of the high-pressure sales environment and focused on one key driver. Our vision is to help all people overcome the barriers to a healthier life. In Asia less than 3% of the population goes to the gym. The US is now about 18% and we arrive here in Hong Kong as the interest is growing in health and fitness. In Hong Kong the people have a thirst for learning and education – it is a part of the culture and the mindset. We believe that as lifestyle diseases increase Hong Kong people will desire education on their own health and wellbeing, as well as enjoying the physical fitness experience.
Interview with Maurice Levine of Anytime Fitness