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The Price of Brand Loyalty at Anytime Fitness


“We’ve always said, what are we going to do and what are we not going to do,” said Steve Hockett, right, CEO of Great Clips, with Chuck Runyon of Self Esteem Brands, Anytime Fitness’s parent, and Victoria Tullett of Papa Murphy’s.

How much is brand loyalty worth to your franchise? To Chuck Runyon, CEO of Anytime Fitness, the answer is a cool half million and counting. That’s how much Anytime has spent reimbursing any franchise partner or customer who gets a Runningman tattoo, the company’s symbol, snaps a photo of it and sends it in to headquarters in Woodbury, Minnesota.

“This is very conservative, but I bet you we have spent maybe 4- or $500,000 over the last several years,” Runyon said, to appreciative noise from the audience at the Faegre Baker Daniels Franchise Summit last week. 

Anytime’s annual convention is coming up in September. “We’ll have five full-time tattoo artists there and that probably won’t be enough,” he added, mentioning Anytime’s tattoo parlor in-house at their corporate offices.

It’s the kind of investment a big brand can make, and the topic of the panel was how to keep growing once you’ve pushed past the 1,000-unit mark. Anytime Fitness just passed 4,000 gyms, but Runyon notes their second brand, Waxing the City, has just reached 100 so is on the other end of the scale.

In either case, one thing matters, he believes: "It just comes back to always being close to our customer, our end user,” Runyon said, adding “we’re trying to get closer to our franchisees. We’re trying to blend the local perspective of what they need … and what’s going on in the industry. It sounds simple but it’s about getting as close as you can to your customer.”

Victoria Tullett, general counsel at Papa Murphy’s International, said, “There are three key things that we think about. The first one is the product, the second one is the unit economics, and the third one is the relationships between the franchisee/franchisor. 

“The product has to be the king. If it’s not the foremost quality, and consistent and delicious and it brings people together to enjoy this meal then we’re nothing.

If it doesn’t make sense from a unit economics perspective, then it’s an uphill battle.”

Steve Hockett, CEO of Great Clips with 4,300 locations all franchised, says focus is the key for growing an enormous brand. “One of the things we focus on at Great Clips is to know who you are and to know who you aren’t. We focus on haircuts,” he said. “There’s all sorts of pressure to say we should get into color and all the other things. We’ve always said, what are we going to do and what are we not going to do, like expand our price board.”

The panel had its lighter moments, when Chuck Runyon said Doc Cohen was going to be visiting Anytime’s headquarters later in the day. Cohen, the former IFA board chair and Hall of Famer and well-known, popular franchisee of the Great American Cookie Co., was the keynote speaker earlier in the day. 

“Doc is coming over later today,” Runyon said.

Said Faegre’s Brian Schnell, panel moderator: “Maybe they’ll put a big cookie on your butt.”

And Great Clips Steve Hockett chimed in, about his fellow panelist from Papa Murphy’s: “Victoria wants a piece of pizza.”

Cohen did visit Anytime Fitness but alas did not have time to get a tattoo, or so we’re told.

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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