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THINK PEOPLE SATISFACTION

By Real Estate Business
15 July 2013 | 1 minute read

Challenging conventional thinking in business is something Adrian McFedries, owner of Jetts Fitness, prides himself on, and it is all part of the reason his company is listed on BRW’s Fast Franchisees list

If you walk into a Jetts Fitness gym at 3:30pm on a Wednesday afternoon, you won’t see a staff member in sight. In fact, using your own personal
member swipe card, you’ll gain access to the gym at any time of the day or night.

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And if your workout falls between the peak fitness hours on weekday mornings between 8am and 11am, weeknights between 6pm and 9pm and Saturday mornings, you will be greeted by your friendly club manager. What’s more, they will most likely know your name and your fitness level. But enter after those hours, and the gym is completely unmanned.

This is just one of the many ways founders and owners of Jetts Fitness, Adrian McFedries and Brendon Levenson, have turned the idea of a
conventional gym on its head.

“Your idea of service and my idea of service and the customers’ idea of service is a completely different thing,” Mr McFedries told a room full
of young agents at the recent Young Real Estate Professionals (YREP) networking event in Sydney.

“What we learnt seven years ago when we were starting to expand Jetts was that people place great value on convenience. So we decided to
build our business around that idea.

“We’ve kept that as our focus all the way along. We think about it at a board level and we ask ourselves ‘what will the customer think?’.

“I went into a gym in Europe six weeks ago, and to enter the gym you had to go through a turnstyle.

While I was there, a lady who had two children with her turned up – one in a pram and the other one she was holding on her hip with a bag in the other hand – and this poor lady couldn’t get the gym pass out of her bag. The manager said, ‘I’m sorry, but it is policy.

I can’t let you through without showing your card’,” he recalls. “You have to think about those sorts of things and their impact on the people at the front of your business because it is those sorts of things that really make or break the experience.”

Mr McFedries, who describes himself as a solely “people and detailed-focused” businessman, has worked with some of the biggest brands in Australia and worldwide – Boost Juice, Flight Centre, Sumo Salad, Pandora, Hairhouse Warehouse, Eagle Boys Pizza and ABC Shops – stepping in when the brands desire rapid growth.

Mr McFedires’ track record speaks for itself – he helped take Boost Juice from one shop to 220 in seven years; Hairhouse Warehouse went from
two shops to 120 in eight years; and in just four years, he took the Pandora jewellery chain from one store to 530 nationwide.

“My expertise is growing networks,” he explains. “It is something I have done for the last 15 years. I remember when we started Boost Juice and people were shocked with the idea of paying $5 for a smoothie in a cup. They said it would last about three years, it was a total fad. Even the landlords were thinking, ‘We will put you in some marginal locations because in three years you are gone’.

“What I have enjoyed most about my career is working with brands where we can really challenge conventional thinking. We did that with Boost Juice and we are doing that with Jetts.”

POINT OF DIFFERENCE
The clubs are unstaffed out of peak hours. Instead, the owners have a number of security settings that ensure the safety of members, including duress buttons all around the club (even buttons you can wear around your neck) and a 24/7 surveillance system. The gym defies conventional thinking in many ways. The club is considerably smaller – normally just 300 square metres.

“Our business is built on convenience. A gym, traditionally, was a big box of 1,000 square metres with 2,500 to 3,000 members,” he explains. “The gyms were too big to be put in shopping centres next to a Woolworths and a Bakers Delight. So we thought ‘How do we make it more convenient for members who want to pop to the shops on their way home from the gym?’

“We decided to make a gym that was smaller – about 300 square metres – so finding real estate for our gyms is substantially easier.”

Mr McFedries and his business partner, Mr Levenson, also recognised that visiting gyms was a confronting task for many people, so they set about creating an atmosphere people wanted to be a part of. The first thing they did was remove any bench presses from the franchise.

“We designed our gyms so they were not confronting to our members,” he says. “When you walk in, you are not staring at the big guys who are using the bench press. Yes, we get people who walk out because there isn’t a bench press, but the people who use them tend to sit on the equipment for an hour, and in a gym of 300 square metres, you don’t want your equipment to be held up by these people.”

Cost is also hugely different at Jetts Fitness, with the franchise priding itself on being the low-cost, convenient option.

“We are value for money, we are low fees,” Mr McFedries says. “Our industry ranged from $80 to $120 [per month] when we started, and we came in offering $9.95 a week, which is about $40 a month. That’s a huge difference.

“How did we do it? We stripped out all the crap people didn’t want – saunas, pools, classes and lots of staff. A typical gym has 20 staff and we have one club manager who does 38 hours a week and personal trainers who we contract to come in when they have clients.

“We have lowered our costs, shrunk our footprint and people have told us that they find value in being able to come in and use our equipment for strength and cardio.”

But despite seemingly being understaffed, Jetts Fitness have won numerous awards for their customer service. These include the most recent recognition by Canstar as the Number One Gym for Customer Satisfaction, for the second year running.

FAST FRANCHISES

BRW magazine has also recognised Mr McFedries’ and Mr Levenson’s achievements by naming Jetts Fitness in their list of fastest growing franchises.

According to Mr McFedries, the brand has opened three new clubs every month for 70 months. And most impressively, the bulk of their growth occurred during the global financial crisis (GFC), while many other gyms saw a dramatic decrease in activity.

Mr McFedries admits the GFC was a perfect platform for the growth of his business.

“The GFC really made Australians more value conscious. The fact we were a low-cost, 24-hour gym, placed in convenient locations, people really
saw the value,” he says.

“We will never know how much the GFC helped the brand, but I think it definitely helped open people’s minds up to the different ways they
could enjoy fitness.”

The company, which started in 2007 with just one gym, today has 215 clubs stretching across Australia and New Zealand, with plans to
expand further.

“What I have enjoyed most about my career is working with brands where we can really challenge conventional thinking”

THINK PEOPLE SATISFACTION
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