COVER STORY

In­side Fran­chise Busi­ness presents the fourth in a se­ries show­cas­ing fran­chisees, with the spot­light this time on those who have made a tree or sea change, or moved in­ter­state, in or­der to buy a fran­chise, and the chal­lenges they have over­come.

Inside Franchise Business - - Contents - AARON PETTERSON, ANY­TIME FIT­NESS, NOOSA

Spot­light on fran­chisees tak­ing on a sea or tree change to buy a fran­chise.

Aaron Petterson has packed a lot into his 34 years: rep­re­sent­ing South Aus­tralia in vol­ley­ball, play­ing high-level AFL, four years in the mil­i­tary, work­ing as a per­sonal trainer, work­ing in con­struc­tion, trav­el­ling the world. And now he’s a fran­chisee.

“I was in London, Scot­land, do­ing stints in the US, try­ing to find out what I wanted to do. I fell into con­struc­tion and sur­vey­ing, and when I ar­rived back here I was one of the last peo­ple able to do sur­vey­ing with­out a de­gree. Then I started study­ing spa­cial science in uni.”

It was dur­ing a two-year project in north Queens­land that he had a change of heart. “One day I was in with the en­gi­neer­ing team. Many of them were de­pressed and not mak­ing their mark. I saw that 12 hours con­struc­tion and full-time uni was too much for me. That wasn’t the life I wanted.”

The one con­stant in his var­ied life had been fit­ness, with per­sonal train­ing a reg­u­lar part-time ca­reer.

It was ob­vi­ous: his fu­ture needed to em­brace the fit­ness world. So Petterson moved to Syd­ney about four years ago, be­com­ing in­volved in F45 with his friend Dan.

“We opened up the Dou­ble Bay stu­dio in Syd­ney, but then I re­alised the model wasn’t for me, I wanted to get back into the gym, and had the op­por­tu­nity to man­age Any­time Fit­ness Rose Bay.” This was one of high­estyield­ing clubs in the network, he says, yet still he added 300 mem­bers in a sin­gle year.

He loved the com­bi­na­tion of busi­ness strat­egy and man­age­ment with a hands-on role, help­ing mem­bers with their tech­nique. It did not take him long to see that it made sense to in­vest in his own club and re­coup the re­wards.

“Six months in and I started look­ing for the site with the most po­ten­tial. The search took him in­ter­state and to Noosa on Queens­land’s Sun­shine Coast.

Not only is it, in Petterson’s words, “a stun­ning spot” at­tract­ing peo­ple to make their own sea-change from Syd­ney, but it had an un­der­per­form­ing store he be­lieved he could re-en­er­gise.

He took the next step in part­ner­ship with his best friend from Ade­laide, a sales and leas­ing ex­pert who has stayed in South Aus­tralia. “We did a lot more re­search into the brand through head of­fice. My busi­ness part­ner and I have a cou­ple of friends who have multi-units with Any­time, and we spoke to them about the chal­lenges they faced.

“We con­tacted a few brokers to gain a feel for what the mar­ket was charg­ing at dif­fer­ent mem­ber­ship points. We did our due dili­gence be­fore pay­ing a de­posit. We had a look at the com­peti­tors (Jetts and Snap) at lo­ca­tion and prox­im­ity, and spoke to lo­cals.”

Once they had paid a de­posit to the bro­ker, the pair un­der­took more due dili­gence. And then it was real.

“I moved up from Syd­ney. As usual, I put the word out through so­cial me­dia that I was mov­ing up there. I have a lot of good friends through Syd­ney and Queens­land, and was able to meet a cou­ple of restaurateurs who were friends of friends. They had moved up for op­por­tu­nity them­selves. That has been the first step in build­ing the busi­ness, do­ing mar­ket­ing through them. We’ve stepped up the stan­dard.”

Now, just eight weeks into the busi­ness, Petterson has al­ready made an im­pact. “It’s re­ally early days, but the club had not had any growth in four years, and I’ve achieved mem­ber growth now in two months. “I think some­times, in the more re­gional cen­tres peo­ple are not nec­es­sar­ily ac­cus­tomed to the en­ergy we see in Syd­ney day to day, but mem­bers are giv­ing me good feed­back and are be­com­ing more in­volved.”

There is the challenge of try­ing to change the lo­cals’ men­tal­ity. Noosa’s ma­ture de­mo­graphic is slightly dif­fer­ent from the Rose Bay pop­u­la­tion, and Petterson is be­ing cre­ative about de­vel­op­ing the busi­ness.

“I need to get out and make sure peo­ple know they need to move, to keep joints mo­bile and en­joy the rest of their life. When we did our busi­ness plan, one of our start­ing pro­cesses was try­ing to in­volve GPs. The older de­mo­graphic has more of a re­la­tion­ship with GPs. We’re cre­at­ing a pro­gram for over-50s that is more of low im­pact, but still sci­en­tif­i­cally proven to im­prove bone den­sity.”

He is seek­ing back­ing to have a pa­per pub­lished on the topic. “I want to break the stigma of the gym, give peo­ple some more knowl­edge of equip­ment and the health ben­e­fits of ex­er­cise.”

Of course, there have been per­sonal chal­lenges as well. While cash­flow is tight, Petterson has taken the op­tion to rent ac­com­mo­da­tion at Sun­shine Beach. And he has left be­hind his girl­friend, com­plet­ing her masters in the­atre nurs­ing at St Vin­cent’s Hos­pi­tal in Syd­ney.

“I had a pretty great life down there, I moved be­cause I want to move for­ward in busi­ness. We are def­i­nitely look­ing for more op­por­tu­nity to build this up to a solid mem­ber­ship base, and get enough cash­flow in the busi­ness.”

He says he is en­joy­ing the lifestyle for now, but it will not be home for ever. “I will look for the best op­por­tu­ni­ties to get more stores in time, but I want to make my way back to Syd­ney.”

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