How Plus Fitness is dominating the 24/7 gym market

GYM & FITNESS

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The desire to be fit has greatly increased over the last two decades, resulting in a race to reinvent the fitness industry.  Gyms and fitness clubs are on the upswing these days, and many of them have created a solid brand presence. One such organisation is Plus Fitness.

Laying the bricks of the franchise

Plus Fitness is a customer-focused organisation that strives to provide the best service and results to its members. It works with the motto ‘you + fitness,’ in which the club supports its members’ fitness to the end, hence the name ‘Plus Fitness.’ Plus Fitness was founded 25 years ago by brilliant minds and fitness fanatics. From there, it went on to open four more branches before deciding on franchising as the next commercial step. After initially franchising the ‘Plus Fitness Health Club’ model in 2009, it soon recognized that a change in the fitness industry was looming and set about remodelling its franchise from traditional ‘big box gyms’ to smaller, lower-priced, more convenient 24-hour gyms. After researching the 24-hour gym market, the founders developed a franchise model with some unique and appealing selling points to assist in gaining market share in what was becoming one of the fastest-growing segments within the franchising sector. These included developing a true turn-key franchise offering that presented exceptional value, inclusive of everything from gym equipment to fit-out, franchise training to marketing. Furthermore, this was a low-staff strategy with an exclusive territory for each franchisee, shielding them from the risk of future market saturation. Moreover, it provides easy 24/7 access to forward-thinking fitness facilities around Australia, New Zealand, India, and East Timor, making it simple for anyone to begin their journey toward better health, fitness, and wellness. Currently, it has 201 locations worldwide.

The Plus Fitness 24/7 franchise chain has experienced consistent and steady growth over the past decade. In 2020 ASX listed Viva Leisure Limited acquired Plus Fitness. With Viva Leisure Limited already operating brands such as Club Lime and Hiit Republic, this launched them into becoming the third largest fitness operator in Australia.

From a member’s perspective, the franchise is a service-based product with the purpose of transforming as many lives as possible; that allows people to come to a safe and friendly gym environment. From a franchisee perspective, the Plus Fitness 24/7 franchise model offers its franchisees extensive support from a dedicated team of support personnel at its head office located in Sydney. The model is turnkey by design and provides its franchisee with a consistent and regular income in a low-staff, fast-paced environment. “We have a network-wide turnover of in excess of $100m and are in an industry that boasts over 2.2 billion in revenue per annum,” says John Miller, National Marketing Manager at Plus Fitness.

John feels that the fitness sector is a highly competitive market, but that it is critical to respect and understand the many divisions of the industry, as well as where Plus Fitness fits into it. The market is quite segmented with functional training, Crossfit, big-box gyms. “But we sit in the 24-hour gym franchise space,” John mentions. “What sets us apart from our competitors is our no lock in contract option, our price point and our Australian owned badge, which we wear with pride!

The franchise nurtures new members throughout their fitness journey. To begin with, it starts with a fitness assessment to understand their level of fitness and their expectations from a gym membership. John states that it has a large range of class options available across its network that suit beginners to experienced gym members. In addition, it also has ‘classes on demand’ system that allows members to do classes on their own without an instructor, at any time of the day or night. Furthermore, John adds, “PTs are also another important element of our business model. PTs help members to stick to training programs and ultimately achieve their fitness goals.”

"If a club is underperforming, we look into why this is, and then help the franchisee to work on the areas of their business that need improving."

Stepping stones digitally

Plus Fitness has consistently improved itself to meet market demand. Plus Fitness upgraded its clubs with ‘functional training’ facilities. It added new pieces of equipment to the clubs where the demand for specific exercise types was witnessed. It changed the aesthetics of the club with its modern design over the years. There have also been several improvements made to the clubs where the franchise has upgraded to the latest and most modern form of technology. Whether that be defibbed to make sure members are safe, or new music systems such as Nightlife, which allow members to be in control of the music in the gym. It also launched an application to further increase the connection between members and track their fitness journey. Again, the Plus Fitness app allows members to track their workouts and compete against other members. Its app also includes plenty of other benefits, such as a library of workouts, a deals section with special offers, and plenty more. Plus Fitness’ growth is led by a constant effort to ensure members are happy and enjoy working out at the gym. “Retention is really important in our industry,” says John

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A Franchise for Everyone

John states that to be a Plus Fitness franchise owner, one is required to possess the right attitude. They must submit a business plan on how they are going to run their Plus Fitness Franchise. “Finance is also important; we need to make sure that it’s viable for them to invest,” adds John. Furthermore, prospective franchise owners must go through an interview process in order to get to know the potential franchisee and teach them more about the company’s business plan. Plus Fitness offers comprehensive training and assistance to franchisees, so everyone is welcome. “But we just make sure that they have the right business approach to be successful,” he asserts.

Initially, each franchisee is assigned a dedicated Business Performance Manager (BPM) who would check in on them whenever necessary. Their BPM is on call to help with all assets of the business. They also get direct access to head office specialists in IT, marketing, finance, administration, and other departments. Meanwhile, more than half of its franchisees are multi-unit franchisees, which means they’ve purchased a second, third, or even fourth Plus Fitness franchise. This is a testament to its model, as well as showing that its franchisee selection process creates franchisees that are business savvy and have long-term business goals they want to achieve. “If a club is underperforming, we look into why this is, and then help the franchisee to work on the areas of their business that need improving,” explains John. 

Furthermore, its franchisees have consistently given positive feedback after purchasing a Plus Fitness franchise. When compared to other franchise brands in the industry, the majority of Plus Fitness 24/7’s network stated that they provided a higher level of support in both the establishment of the clubs and the clubs’ ongoing operations, providing end-to-end support throughout the construction and presale right through to follow-up support with their dedicated BPM. On top of this, the entry costs were the most reasonable, with greater value for money than other brands. They are also attracted to the fact that Plus Fitness 24/7 is an Australian-owned and local brand. Furthermore, John says, “This has many benefits, including the fact that we are aware of and respond to market conditions very quickly, being local and in touch with the market.

Future Plans

Plus Fitness has a lot of new and exciting marketing strategies that it is planning to implement as part of the new branding. This includes a very detailed brand strategy that flows down to the channel, messaging, content, and much more. “There are lots of exciting marketing initiatives on the horizon that the team and I can’t wait to sink our teeth into,” says John. Another exciting initiative is rebranding; the franchise has completely reinvented the Plus Fitness brand while keeping all of its history and past success, simultaneously applying all of the modern changes both in the club and in the branding. “The trip so far has been great, but there’s a long way to go,” John says of the franchise’s future. Plus Fitness intends to expand its footprint to 300 clubs and is working hard to attain this aim. It is also upgrading its existing clubs to the new refit design and then rolling out this new branding throughout the company. John is thrilled to report that he will be representing brand new clubs in the new design, and he has already experienced a surge in franchise enquiries.

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