Case Study: Manny Singh, Anytime Fitness Hither Green

Anytime Fitness
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Anytime Fitness

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Experienced businessman Manny Singh explains how he powered his Anytime Fitness franchise past the break-even point in just a matter of months.

A picture of health

Hither Green

Experienced businessman Manny Singh explains how he powered his Anytime Fitness franchise past the break-even point in just a matter of months…

When start-up guru Manny Singh began the hunt for a new opportunity to flex his entrepreneurial muscle, finding a fitting partner proved a particularly weighty challenge.

Already aware of what to look for in a franchise through running his own healthcare firm, Manny found himself unimpressed with the possibilities presented by the likes of McDonalds and Costa Coffee. But when he took a closer look at the fitness sector – and specifically vibrant 24-hour club Anytime Fitness – the businessman felt he had made an immensely healthy discovery.

“I have a lot of experience in start-ups and find that they come very easily to me,” explained Manny, who has worked around the world for firms including ICI and the Tata Group. “When I wanted to test my hands on a new start-up, I looked at a lot of models, but it was fitness that attracted me. It’s the opposite of what I do working with young, vulnerable adults. It gave me a buzz and it had a real energy about it.”

“Like any business decision I looked at a number of options, but it was Anytime Fitness that stood out. They responded to my enquiry very quickly and I immediately liked the people when I went for a meeting. With the other franchises I looked at, I didn’t like the people, I felt they were pressure selling and they seemed to be shooting from the hip. Anytime Fitness was like when you buy a house and you know as soon as you walk in that it’s the one for you – everything about them gave me a good vibe.”

Prime location 

Gym interior

The initial impression convinced Manny to become a franchisee and he had soon identified a prime location in Hither Green, south London, as his new business’s home. Situated under a residential development and a few minutes’ walk from the train station, Anytime Fitness Hither Green’s location left Manny brimming with enthusiasm.

After overcoming some issues in obtaining planning permission for his new club, Manny was able to move swiftly on to the next stage and get his business ready for its first members. And although he was slightly frustrated with some aspects of the planning process, Manny believes the experience taught him a “huge” amount. “Once the permission was in place, everything was very fast,” he added. “It was just a case of getting the fit-out contractors in and pressing the button to get everything in order.”

Stellar sales 

With planning permission in place and legal documents signed, Manny and his team began to excel during the all important pre-sales process. Despite opting for a summer opening when there was a risk that many potential members might be on holiday, Manny was delighted with the local community’s enthusiastic response to its new Anytime Fitness club. A “charged-up” sales team secured more than 479 members ahead of opening – a significant increase on the 300 planned for in the budget – and Manny believes a lot of the success is down to his own investment of time in the area.

“I had done my homework and knew there was nascent demand in the area, but I spent a year-and-a-half travelling around throughout the planning process to put up posters and do leafleting,” he said. “I had never been to Hither Green ahead of looking at the site, but before we had even opened I would have people saying hello to me on the street. “Sometimes when a budget is exhausted, people tend to compromise on marketing. Being an MBA and involved in business, that was not something I would do.”

Healthy investment

Manny’s ever-increasing membership was invited to a series of soft-launch sessions to help iron out any teething problems ahead of a formal unveiling, and the user base continued to expand once the club was open. The self-confessed “hard negotiator” had done such a cost-effective job – in areas such as fit-out and the hiring of PTs – that he had reached break-even point with 800 members by month four and had shot past 1,000 sign-ups very soon after.

Continued growth is achieved through extremely focused sales pushes in specific streets with few members, while a new social media trial featuring exclusive fitness videos is proving a big success. Taking day-to-day charge of operations is a manager with plentiful leisure industry experience, allowing the owner to oversee his investment from a distance. By focusing on a process-driven model, Manny explained that an Anytime Fitness franchise can be a real winner for someone wanting a hassle-free business opportunity.

“My philosophy is that if I have to do everything then I don’t need a manager. You have to give them the responsibility by planning two-to-three months in advance what we are doing, what any issues might be, what marketing initiatives we might take and so on. What we set up is not a person-specific business – it’s process-driven so that if my manager is on holiday and my deputy is sick, the club continues to run. I can see it on my iPhone, I know the numbers and I know what I have to do.”

The Hither Green club continues to be a strong asset for Manny and he is actively working on adding a second territory to his Anytime Fitness stable. And with the vibrancy of the fitness industry among the factors which enticed him to take on a franchise, it speaks volumes that Manny still pinpoints the sector’s health as a big business benefit. “Being an Anytime Fitness franchisee provides you with another income and allows you to still be involved with your other work,” he explained. “But it also opens you up to an exciting, growing sector that is full of energy.”

FAST FACTS: Anytime Fitness, Hither Green
SIZE OF CLUB: 5,200 sq ft
STAFF: 2 permanent, 2 part-time
MEMBERS: 1,204
MAXIMUM MEMBERS: 1,500-1,600

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