Stuart Broster became the new UK CEO of Anytime Fitness in 2017 and is primed to oversee its expansion across the country. Jack Sadler caught up with him to find out the future of the franchise
Could you give a brief background on Anytime Fitness?
The company was founded in 2002 in the US, and the first UK club opened in Ladbroke Grove in 2010. Now, here in the present day, we are a world-leading franchise provider of health clubs, with over 3.5 million members and 3,800 gyms open globally, including 140 facilities across the whole of the UK and Ireland. By the end of 2018, we should have taken this number up to and beyond 190.
Talk us through your new role? What are your plans?
As the new UK CEO, my role will involve a lot of processing, and I will oversee the expansion of the company’s portfolio. I’m still in the early stages of the position but I’m going to be looking at the performance of the whole company, from PR strategy and social media presence to member retention figures. Every strand of the business will be examined, from sales to marketing, and finance to compliance. The priority is making sure the people within the business are supported.
I see lots of opportunities to grow national accounts and introduce partnership arrangements, as well as looking at education to ensure we remain front and centre of the industry. Coming from a background of managing large companies, I plan on using this knowledge to lead Anytime Fitness to new heights as it expands.
You’ve worked in the fitness industry before. What made you return?
I have 40 years’ experience in the hospitality sector, including at Hilton – chop my head off and you’ll see ‘hospitality’ running through! There are skills I learnt in the leisure industry that will be powerful here, because we are dealing with customers. We’re looking for that balance between high touch and high tech.
While chief executive at LA Fitness, I grew the brand to over 100 clubs during my two and a half years there, and I could see Anytime Fitness was already growing massively when I was approached by the team. I recognised the opportunities and the power within the health and fitness industry, as well as the market demand for health clubs. I’ve been both a franchisee and franchisor, so I can understand and empathise with our franchisees’ needs.
Has the industry changed in recent years?
There’s a ton of new technology, of course, but the underlying fact hasn’t changed: people always want to look better and feel healthier, and we want to help them achieve this.
What are you doing to stay at the forefront?
We’re a forward-thinking company with the personal touch: our focus is on the customer. We’re looking at processes to ensure there is always that interaction with people when they join; without that interaction, members will look elsewhere. As a company, we want to be known for being the first choice. It’s not enough just saying that, we need to implement initiatives that can demonstrate this.
What has been the biggest achievement for Anytime Fitness in 2017?
For me personally, it was launching a balanced scorecard, looking at six key measurements within the business, including the clubs and the people. We can have a good angle on where we are as a business and the franchisees will also have a good angle on how they’re doing. It’s cause and effect; we can look at results until we’re blue in the face, but they don’t mean anything unless we do something with them.
Opening the 100th club in the UK was an amazing experience and shows just how far the company has come in seven years.
What training and support do franchisees receive?
We will hold your hand throughout the initial process, including helping out with the search for premises and offering access to experienced construction companies. You’ll be given a franchise performance coach, who will walk franchisees through all aspects of the company, with regular support calls and visits. Some franchisees work with each other in partnership and can call on each other for support. If franchisees follow the processes, get fully involved and be the personality behind the brand, then there’s no reason why they can’t achieve success.
Do franchisees need a background in the fitness industry?
Not at all, just like how a franchise owner of a café doesn’t need a background in growing coffee beans. The important thing to remember is the principle of serving the customer. As long as you understand how people would like to be looked after, then all you need to hand are your management and leadership skills.
Why should 2018 be the year people invest in an Anytime Fitness franchise?
There are a lot of things happening over the next 12 months that will give people no choice but to consider Anytime Fitness.