Anytime Fitness duo covers ‘A to Z’
As soon as an Anytime Fitness franchisee signs on the dotted line, Maddy and Paul jump into action. That’s Maddy Vaith and Paul Bosneag, the dynamic duo at the Woodbury, Minnesota-based fitness club franchise, who have now taken more than 1,000 franchisees through base camp training all the way through their first year in business.
“We’re psychologists, marriage counselors, religious figures sometimes,” says Paul, about their job as c2i’s as they’re called, which stands for Coach 2 Inspire.
“A to Z,” adds Maddy about what they teach. “We give them their rude awakening.”
“What may not be an emergency for us is a 911 for them,” says Paul Bosneag, above right, about the franchisees he and colleague Maddy Vaith train when they sign on as Anytime Fitness operators.
Many franchises have consultants who help new franchisees find their footing. But few could match their camaraderie and empathy for new business owners—not to mention regular Friday afternoon dance parties at Anytime Fitness’s headquarters.
“The biggest joy is successful franchisees,” Paul says. “It makes you feel good about helping other people.”
The first order of business is to establish rapport with the new franchisee, Maddy says, so they can customize the way each is coached. Fifty percent of Anytime’s franchisees have never owned a business before and 50 percent have never been in the fitness industry, so sometimes the learning curve is steep.
“I think getting personal is huge,” Maddy says, so she asks where they are from. She asks about their family, friends and hobbies. “I get it,” Maddy says about the need to establish credibility. “Why is a 29-year-old female telling me how to run my business?” The answer is in the numbers—they’ve coached owners through the opening of 1,016 clubs and counting, and boosted the number of pre-opening memberships sold, a key indicator of Anytime Fitness franchisee success, from an average of 58 to more than 150.
Paul says a universal problem is an aversion to sales, so he tries to get owners to think of themselves not as salespeople but rather as coaches trying to help customers meet their fitness goals.
He cites an example of an owner with an IT background who had not done a lot of communicating with people. “He was having trouble with sales,” Paul said, and he listened to the franchisee’s sales pitch and made a suggestion. “When he’d present a sale, he’d talk them out of it,” and Paul told him, essentially, to say his piece and then shut up.
A few weeks later, that franchisee came back and said, “Paul, you’re never going to believe this, but I’ve sold 10” memberships.
“It’s not sales. It’s about building a relationship,” Maddy says, adding their job sometimes can get very hairy when franchisees call and they’re panicked about how poorly things are going.
“We say, this isn’t ‘Field of Dreams.’ If you build it they won’t come,” she says. She will walk them through every detail of their plan to get open, from how much working capital is needed to how long it will take. “Putting an action plan in place always helps.”
Both trainers say the co-founders of Anytime Fitness, Chuck Runyon and Dave Mortensen, constantly emphasize that a franchisee’s signing is the biggest financial commitment that person will ever make, with the cost to open ranging from $350,000 to $550,000.
“What may not be an emergency to us is a 911 for them,” Paul says. “We have to have empathy. We have to treat it as an emergency.”
As for the Friday afternoon dance parties, they still go on, even though the corporate headquarters is now in fancy digs in Woodbury, surrounded by the woods and with every amenity an employee could ask for, including a tattoo parlor where the company brings in a certified tattoo artist for anyone who wants a “Running Man” tattoo to show their love for the brand.
In their old digs, “we used to yell ‘gopher,’ ” Maddy says, and everybody would stick their heads above their cubicles and start dancing. “We’d stand on the desks for our dance party, and now we’re not allowed to stand on our desks” because some of them broke in the past. Today the go-to song is “My House” by Flo Rida, Paul adds, and it blasts out every Friday at 3.