Franchisee(s) – Adrian Lea
When did you open?
How many members did you have on opening and how many members do you have now?
We had 1500 members on opening and approximately 2600 members as of now (May 2013)
How does this compare to your sales targets?
We are ahead of target and are now working towards 4000 members within 12 months’ time
Provide a brief summary of your background – what were you doing before running your own Fit4less franchise?
I’ve been involved in the fitness industry for 16 years, working for all the major brands and gym chains in a lot of different roles – sales, marketing, management etc.
In 2007 I opened énergie Wilmslow which is now the biggest énergie club in the UK with over 3500 members.
Why did you decide to open a gym, and specifically within a franchise model? Why énergie?
With over 10 years of experience of working in health and fitness and having built up an extensive knowledge and understanding of the industry working in client-facing roles, what I really needed was support and advice on the business side – advice on funding, managing cash flow, targets etc.
By buying an énergie franchise it was this expertise that I was able to tap into, and when combined with my industry experience I think it provided the perfect combination.
The concept of gym franchises was new when we first approached énergie and in 2007, we were one of the very first énergie club franchises.
The reasons behind my decision to then open a Fit4less franchise were quite different – The budget fitness model has been a huge area of growth and I became aware of another budget gym operator who was interested in opening up a site in the area. In order to protect the énergie club, I decided to open a Fit4less in Cheadle Hulme, 15 miles from énergie Wilmslow.
Both clubs work in tandem as a ‘dual force’ – I have senior teams permanently based in both units with staff who migrate from site to site, which has actually worked really well and prompted great feedback from staff.
The énergie Group
What levels of support were you provided with by énergie, both pre-sales and since opening?
With regards Fit4less, the ‘Getting into Business’ process is by far the strongest element of support and guidance énergie provides. If you want to own and run your own business then the springboard provided by the énergie Group will enable you to do this.
Something that’s been of great benefit to us is the operational support énergie offers. As a franchisee, you are provided with a full package that énergie looks after, allowing you to focus on what is most important – driving membership sales and generating revenue.
Who do you think a Fit4less franchise would be best suited to (previous experience, interests, personality)?
There’s no one personality type that would suit a franchise model – the énergie Group has franchisees from all backgrounds.
However, you must have total commitment, a passion for the industry and unprecedented focus in order to succeed.
What has surprised you the most from the ‘Getting into Business’ process to opening?
What’s really stood out is the freshness of the brand, particularly from driving membership numbers.
The Fit4less brand is innovative, funky, cool and creative – offering an excellent price point and great facilities, with fantastic equipment.
It stands out from the big gym chains that are now tired and worn out and we have seen many of our new members migrate across. Fit4less Cheadle has also had a great effect on the local community, and we’ve definitely seen a renewed confidence in the fitness industry locally.
How does énergie Wilmslow compare to Fit4less Cheadle?
They are targeted at two very different demographics – our énergie gym is very much a ‘club’ atmosphere. Our members are usually of an older demographic and very loyal, with many having been at the club since it opened six years ago.
Whereas the average age of our Fit4less members is significantly younger, with the gym’s model and focus aimed at what a younger demographic wants from a gym.