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During its 10 years as a franchise operation, Anytime Fitness has been recognized with numerous distinctions for providing value to its franchisees, and in return those franchisees have ranked the company very high among those that offer great satisfaction for their partners. Franchisees interviewed by Franchise Chatter have praised the company leaders for their personal attention.
But even with all those accolades, co-founder Dave Mortensen said the company is most proud of landing in first place last year when Minnesota Business magazine put together a list of 100 best places to work in the state where Anytime Fitness’s corporate offices are located.
Winning companies were recognized for setting the standards for leadership, benefits, work environment, innovative training programs, and happiest employees, among other criteria. Mortensen said the company’s aim is to inspire its franchisees to uphold those same standards.
“We are focused on changing people’s lives,” Mortensen said.
That change applies not only to Anytime Fitness members who are trying to improve their health by using the company’s exercise machines, but to the franchisees who are encouraged to seek a balance between work and play in their own lives. The founders refer to franchisees receiving an ROEI — return on emotional investment — which is as important as the usual ROI and profits in the business, they have said.
Decade of Tremendous Growth
Mortensen co-founded Anytime Fitness with his partner Chuck Runyon in 2002, basing their concept on convenience and opening small neighborhood gyms that provide members 24-hour access with a key-card. The model also allows members to use Anytime Fitness centers around the world, not just their home gym, by establishing a reciprocity program.
In the first 10 years, Anytime Fitness grew to more than 2,000 clubs globally. It landed in the top 10 of Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list of top franchises for 2013, taking the No. 6 spot among mostly food and service companies, and in February 2013 was named one of “America’s Most Promising Companies,” by Forbes magazine.
And while technology has played a great part in the company’s growth, its emphasis will continue to be on people during its second decade in business, Mortensen said.
Anytime Fitness differentiates itself from competitors with “the ability to connect with every person who walks through the door,” he said. That personalized service is reflected even in the design of its gyms. At Anytime Fitness you won’t find a counter, like you would at most health clubs. “We believe counters are nothing more than a separation for a relationship,” Mortensen said.
Franchisees are also encouraged to know their members on a first-name basis.
And Mortensen compares a visit to an Anytime Fitness facility to stopping by a friend’s house. That means instead of one big locker room, the facilities offer private restrooms, where members can shower and change clothes after a workout.
“We wanted to be more consumer-centric,” he said.