What are the top franchises for 2014? We talk with Entrepreneur Magazine’s executive editor and the owner of this year’s #1 franchise on the Franchise 500 on The BIGG Success Show Podcast. Click PLAY.
Every year, Entrepreneur Magazine ranks the top franchises in the world with their “Franchise 500” list. You might think the #1 franchise for 2014 is a well-known fast-food giant. Not so this year! Joining us to share more is Carolyn Horowitz, Executive Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, and Chuck Runyon, CEO of Anytime Fitness.
George: This is a list I’ve been referring to all of my adult life. Carolyn, are there any interesting trends this year or departures from the past?
Carolyn: We always take away a lot of trends from our Franchise 500. This year a lot of real estate franchises, a lot of health care franchises. Food is always a huge category that represents about a quarter of our list. Another big category is children’s franchises – anything from recreation to enrichment to engineering like LEGO’s Building Blocks.
Mary-Lynn: So who is the #1 franchise of the year?
Carolyn: #1 is Anytime Fitness!
Mary-Lynn: Congrats Chuck! You put so much emphasis on culture…not just about a healthy bottom line, right?
Chuck: It’s not just about money for us. We want to deliver the best lifestyle possible for our franchise owners. We want them to realize a great life outside of work – spending time with family and hobbies. Our owners can not only make a living, but also be in the best shape of thier life. This has positive rippling effects to their family and community. It’s become a lifestyle brand for our owners.
George: I’m a numbers guy, and you have a ratio I’ve never heard before: ROEI – return on emotional investment. Explain that.
Chuck: We describe that with 4 P’s: People, Purpose, Profits and Play. We want to have a great deal of fun, and have purpose and passion with what we do. Of course we need profit, and we want to invest in people (that starts with our franchise owners). If we do that right, it touches each and every one of our members.
George: It’s refreshing to hear the CEO of a company talk like this!
Chuck: I think that philosophy is different from what you’ll hear with other opportunities. You may have heard, but we’ve had over 1500 people get the running man tattoo. All we want is the story why, and we reimburse members for doing it. I can promise you in over 1500 stories, no one has ever mentioned money. It’s about the purpose of changing their life or someone else’s life, and that’s the secret ingredient of Anytime Fitness.
Mary-Lynn: Chuck, storytelling is so important for brands – how did this tattoo story come about?
Chuck: In 2005 at our first annual conference, a franchise owner was so touched by the success stories of members who radically changed their lives through physical activity – said he wanted this tattoo. So we took him to a shop in St. Paul and he got it done. Now here we are 8 years later with 1500 people getting tattoos. It’s such a crazy trend that we have 3 full-time tattoo artists at our annual meetings now!
George: You know, according to Adobe’s blog, we inspired one tattoo, but we’ve never met anyone who inspired over 1,000!
Chuck: If we talk again in a year or two, I promise you there will be more.
George: Carolyn, as someone who’s bought franchises, I’ve always used your list as my main resource to sort through the various opportunities. Any tips to using your Franchise 500 list to look for great opportunities?
Carolyn: I’m glad to hear your using it as a resource, that’s exactly what it’s intended for! It’s really meant to show you the breadth and scope of the franchising world so you can really get a handle on the numbers, and the size of the businesses. Then you have to do some homework. Sit down with the franchise disclosure document for the company and go over it very thoroughly with an attorney and accountant. Then you need to meet with franchisees – current franchise owners of that company, and you need to ask them a lot of questions to find out if the lifestyle is right for you.
Mary-Lynn: What tips would you offer, Chuck?
Chuck: In addition to looking at the business model, also look for an industry that is poised for growth. We think the wellness sector will continue to grow for the next 10 years. Also find a brand that you can identify with, and that matches up with the core values in your life. When you match those up, you won’t even feel like it’s work. You’ll jump out of bed on Monday morning like I do and our franchise owners do.
Mary-Lynn: What was a BIGG defining moment for you that you believe has led to your BIGG Success?
Chuck: The idea of Anytime Fitness came from listening to our members. We had big box clubs in the past and we realized that most of our members just didn’t use the racquetball courts, pools, etc. So success starts with listening. That is a constant foundation for building a business – listening to employees, your franchise owners, and trends. Always be learning and be open minded. That will allow you to innovate and continue to evolve in a very competitive market. People have this misconception that leaders have to talk talk talk. I really try to spend most of my time listening. That’s where I get the best ideas and the most inspiration.
Mary-Lynn: How about you Carolyn?
Carolyn: I’ve been an entrepreneur for a couple of years now. Coming to Entrepreneur, it’s really inspiring to see all of the small business owners that we work with everyday. We’re so grateful that they use us as a resource and that we are able positively affect them and their livliehoods. So it’s been very gratifying.
A BIGG thank you to Carolyn & Chuck, for all you do to help entrepreneurship grow!
Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file | podcast:
Image from Entrepreneur