In this week’s episode of Industry Change I chat with Ty Menzies the CEO of LIFT Brands. Ty has had over 15 years of experience in this industry with a background of owning independent clubs, franchises and is now the CEO of LIFT Brands with over 300 locations across the Asia-pacific. Recently Ty was elected as a a Board Member of Fitness Australia and the Exercise Association of New Zealand. We discuss how to succeed in the industry and take advantage of the right opportunities at the right time and more.
Ty’s journey in the fitness industry
Ty’s journey has not been an overnight success story. He started as a personal trainer and really enjoyed it, but always knew he wanted to be a business owner and wanted to step into a sales and club management role. He had great mentors and took good advice from the right people that guided him into the sales and club management space.
The first club he managed was a very large gym in London which was a great experience, he was hired by the owner of The Gym Group (UK), John Treharne who has taken that business from nothing to now 60 locations! Ty was lucky by being involved with the right people, actively putting himself out there in the industry.
He came back from the UK and wanted to start his own business. He came across a franchise, EFM Health Clubs which is still around today and he bought his first EFM at the age of 21 and then went on to own 3 EFM locations in Melbourne. Whilst he had these 3 he then bought a mid-size independent club. This was an opportunity that he came across and it was in a dire position but he turned it around and made it successful, so at the time he owned 4 gym venues! He then sold them to move onto his next venture.
Snap fitness approached him to help drive the franchise development part of the business. He spent months developing franchises and sold 35 franchises and was in a good position to be the CEO which has only progressed from there.
What is LIFT Brands?
Ty is the CEO of LIFT Brands which is a collection of fitness-minded businesses that share a goal to help people get healthy in a positive community. They own snap fitness 24/7 which covers all hours convenience, 9Round which is more boutique and fitness on demand which is virtual. All these brands cover key fitness environments for all demographics. They have a very strong presence in New Zealand and Australia and are expanding across the Asia-pacific region.
When is the right time to make the right move? The importance of opportunities and timing…
Peter Taunton the founder of LIFT Brands says that, “If you haven’t failed in business you haven’t had a go!” Ty has had his fair share of failures but strongly believes that if you aren’t having a go you aren’t experiencing the industry and growing beneficially. Ty stresses that it is important to know that if you fail, fail fast and step out quickly. Some people try and hold on too long, but realising the problem, losing a small amount of money, stepping out of the situation and learning from it is how you can be proactive in the industry.
A lot of fitness professionals can over analyse things and opportunities come and go all the time, it’s a matter of whether you will take the chance and run with it. Ty’s father used to say, “Take a huge bite and go at it hard!” That’s something you have to do with business. You can’t expect to go into something and just have it all done with no effort, you need to put in the work!
Where do you see the future of the 24/7 gyms?
These days it is so easy to get the 24/7 gym, it is an important incentive for a consumer because people don’t live in the 9-5 world anymore. While Ty’s facilities see 80% of people turning up at the peak 6am-6pm times, there is still a lot of people turning up during outside hours, especially with people from different areas, different demographics and different cultural backgrounds. 24/7 is something that clubs should consider but it isn’t the be all and end all.
Convenience of 24/7 and having multiple locations is still very important but the main thing consumers want at the moment is COMMUNITY and RESULTS.
Everyone can meet the standard of convenience but now it’s about pushing towards the personal connection. When you start out you need to have a great facility, with close locations, good equipment and 24/7 access and a generally good product/offering. However, now for longevity people want to enjoy being there and see results, which is where Ty is now focusing his attention. So he focuses on what he is doing within the gyms and with instructors, like implementing new programs and offerings as well as technology based elements to encourage a sense of community.
What is your belief on education to grow a brand, particularly with SNAP fitness and LIFT Brands?
Ty believes, “Education is the number one key component to winning in any sort of space.”
In terms of education about franchising there is so many different thought processes. Ty has a very distinct way of operating franchises. He says it is all about the more flexibility you give the less control you have. If you lose that control you basically lose your brand.
It is important to find the balance, you are in business on your own but not for yourself. Ty encourages franchise owners and fitness professionals to add flavour to the business but with that comes education. Ty aims to give his franchisees all the tools and resources that they need for success. LIFT Brands run a huge amount of education for everyone in their network for personal trainers, club managers and franchisees, both face to face and online.
This education is needed to ensure not only that they are successful but to give these professionals different thought processes and ideas and they can bring into their network. If they’re not attending external education they aren’t getting the new ideas they need.
For a potential franchisee who thinking about joining and ready to invest but don’t know where to put their money, what do they need to do to go through the process?
From a perspective of independent vs franchise there are significant differences:
The biggest benefit of franchising is that when you’re opening your first store you can get distracted by so many things and if you’re doing this independently you will get distracted by a lot of other things. A franchise sorts out the ‘other things’ for you, even simple things like your membership forms! What you want to be focused on as a franchisee is just building your club and selling memberships, making it profitable as soon as possible. Which is doable when you are in a network like LIFT Brands that gives you the tools and education to succeed.
If you decide to be a franchisee how do you decide where to go?
“You have to resonate with a brand to start with.” It is important to look at the benefits of certain franchises. One of LIFT Brand’s key benefits is the flexibility in franchising. When Ty talks to a potential franchisee they are always looking into other options. There is a majority of the people buying into the franchise that have strong entrepreneurial spirit and they want to bring their own flavour to the franchise. Ty encourages this with collaboration!
LIFT Brand’s let you design the floor plan with their design team so you collaborate with the team. Ty likes their franchisees to have that involvement and the ability to make decisions that are specific to the location, the demographic around that area and for them as an individual. We have the flexibility for the franchisees certain needs, because they are aware that you have certain needs.
Things have changed within the franchisee environment, Ty says they are looking for more franchisee’s rather than less. He would rather have 3 franchisees across 6 clubs than 1 franchisee. This is so those franchisees will have more connectivity to their businesses and spend more time with their club managers growing the business. They want franchisees to be more hands on in their business which is key to fostering success.
Is it important to be apart of the fitness industry community?
With years of experience in the fitness industry he has witnessed the industry explode! Being involved in a range of different events and understanding what is going on in all of these different markers is really important for Ty and LIFT Brands.
Ty believes that being involved in where the industry is going is very important. Being connected to fitness bodies like Fitness Australia and Exercise NZ will help you to drive the decision making that is coming out of those spaces. This a big part of where LIFT Brands is trying to move to make more of an impact for the benefit of the physical and mental health of Australians in general.
Ty is currently doing a lot with franchisees to help the physical and mental health of members. In a few weeks they’re opening all of their SNAP gyms up across Australia and NZ for anyone in the community to come in, no questions asked! They’re also doing an awareness walk to raise money for mental health, last year they raised an amazing $140 000. Ty believes Industry events and doing a lot in the community is very important to make a positive impact!
ATTENTION: Anyone who is young and in the fitness industry but doesn’t know where to take their career listen because Ty has some advice for you!
We look forward to seeing what Ty Menzies has installed in the future with Fitness Australia and Exercise NZ as a Board Member!