Case Study: Onur Saliah, Anytime Fitness Harlow

Anytime Fitness offers our members convenient and affordable 24 hour fitness. With the support of an experienced global franchisor, you can invest in this proven, low cost fitness franchise and join in our success.

Anytime Fitness

In the UK
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Member - Associate

How Anytime Fitness went to the top of the class for educator-turned-entrepreneur Onur Saliah…

How Anytime Fitness went to the top of the class for educator-turned-entrepreneur Onur Saliah…

Onur Saliah

During a decade-long career at the sharp end of secondary school teaching, Onur Saliah developed a discerning eye for judging the quality of his pupils’ work. A talented teacher as well as a head of year and assistant head, the geography specialist became a master of marking before deciding to swap education for exercise by opening his own Anytime Fitness club.

Given his professional pedigree in providing reliable ratings, Onur’s gold-star assessment of his new business venture is especially impressive. “Anytime Fitness have been absolutely brilliant and I couldn’t ask for more,” he said from the vibrant setting of his club in Harlow.

“They have done everything they said they were going to do, the model has worked as they said it would, and the break-even points and money generated have all been accurate. I would give them ten out of ten.”

Masterful model 

Although Onur’s professional path had led him into the world of teaching, he was a dedicated gym-goer and admits to having had designs on running his own fitness facility for some time. He sat up and took notice when Anytime Fitness burst onto the scene in the UK, but it wasn’t until 2013 that Onur, along with his two brothers, decided to do something about his desire.

At that point, Anytime Fitness’s healthy business model made it an obvious choice. “I had always wanted to open a gym,” he said. “Even prior to becoming a teacher I was keen on training and fitness. What drew us to Anytime Fitness was the fact that the model seemed very straightforward and achievable and the idea of opening a gym that wouldn’t need thousands of members in order to be profitable was attractive.” 

“We were also drawn in by the low cost of operations. Some gyms need 20 members of staff in order to keep going, but Anytime Fitness’s model means that you only really need a few. When we looked at it all as a package, we just thought it was something we could make work. It was achievable to open up your gym and have 1,000 members by the end of the first year.”

Constant support 

Gym reception area

As workable as the Anytime Fitness model may be, a franchise’s success requires a constant application of effort from its owner, especially during the all-important early stages. For Onur, this labour of love was uniquely challenging as he took the reins of the Harlow club while he was still working full-time as a teacher.

Long days at school were followed by pre-sale and planning duties and it was during this busy time that he came to appreciate the unflinching support provided by Anytime Fitness’s head office. “We found them to be very good,” he explained. “We had help right from the start. We were operating in a new field and frankly without the support we would have had no idea what we were doing.” 

“The initial meeting was a bit of a shock to the system, but it was an invaluable asset and helped massively by giving us an idea of what we should and shouldn’t be doing. The ability to contact them whenever we needed to was vital, especially during the growth stages. Even now they are always available and will give you any advice that you need.”

Onur’s pre-sale period saw him and his staff engaging with the local community during visits to nearby supermarkets and shopping centres, while the entrepreneur also fielded calls from potential members by telephone in the evenings after finishing his day job. Even after the club opened, he would drive from his school to meet with the newly-installed manager and staff.

Onur would chat to members, review sales and take phone calls, leading to long working days that required him to be at his day job from seven in the morning until six in the evening. But putting in the hours at that stage has helped Onur to shape a business which affords him a much more rewarding work/life balance. An average day might see him on-site between 10am and 4 or 5pm, but the Anytime Fitness model gives him the flexibility to let him shape his work schedule rather than the other way around. “When we were in the growth stages, I was certainly busy,” he said. “Compared to then, I’m probably only doing 10 per cent of the workload.”

Gym machines

“There’s obviously still plenty to do because you’re running a business, but it’s enjoyable, manageable, there’s a positive atmosphere because you’re surrounded by people working hard to achieve their goals. It’s a nice place to be. Now I can have more time with my kids in the morning and do the breakfast and school run. With my previous job I couldn’t do any of that because I was at work by seven in the morning. In that respect, the balance is much, much better.”

Forward thinking 

The hard work put into launching Anytime Fitness Harlow was clearly appreciated by those living and working nearby, with the membership base growing rapidly to the point that the club reached break-even point by month six, and turning a profit after its first year.

Existing users continue to be the main source of new members through referrals, and Onur’s experience has been so positive that he and his brothers are currently negotiating for a second club in Braintree. Beyond that, Anytime Fitness’ effort and achievement is likely to convince the former teacher to continue viewing the franchise as a star pupil. “We will try and do as many as possible,” he predicted. “I don’t know what the limit is – maybe five or six. Every year we’ll try and get another one!”

FAST FACTS: Anytime fitness, Harlow
SIZE OF CLUB: 4,800 sq ft
MEMBERS: 1,100

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