Stacy Anderson sits at the marketing helm of Anytime Fitness, a 3000+ location global fitness brand opening over a location a day in 25+ countries, and Waxing the City, a fledgling personal service brand building on a 30+ location foothold in North America and she’s responsible for getting both to their respective next growth levels. In this edition of CMO Outlook, Stacy shares what it’s like stewarding the marketing operations of two brands at the nexus of large and small, mature and emerging, consumer service and personal service, global and domestic, and make it all work.
CMOO: You’re coming up on four years at Self Esteem Brands. Would you frame your story for us?
SA: “Coming into SEB, the prospect of digging into a rapidly expanding, global franchise business was in and of itself both exciting and daunting. On top of it, at my first company meeting I learned we had just acquired Waxing the City, a new facial and body waxing concept founded in Denver that was gearing up to rapidly expand. So my first weeks on the job, just coming into franchising, at the marketing helm of a fitness industry pioneer and global brand and now with a fledgling acquisition…let’s just say there’s was a lot to wrap my head around. My role quickly became about identifying our assets, building platforms and finding ways to leverage them efficiently to accomplish the goals of each brand.”
CMOO: What are the goals of Self Esteem Brands?
SA: “Like most businesses, it’s all growth. But for AF and WTC it’s different kinds of growth. For AF, it’s about growing unit profitability domestically, leveraging our scale to find efficiencies and expanding our footprint internationally. With WTC, we are focused on establishing a unique and differentiated brand position, scaling high quality units domestically, and exploiting our first mover advantage.”
CMOO: So what are the assets you have to work with to meet these goals?
SA: “Without a doubt, our most important strategic asset is our people. Not just the people that work in the corporate office, but our owners and franchisees. Both of our businesses are incredibly passion and purpose driven with owners who aren’t in these businesses just to make a good living, but more importantly to make a difference in people’s lives. It’s this passion that is truly unique to a small business owner; they are invested in building their own business, in being successful and in living the brand in a way most store managers could never be. And franchising provides that platform for delivering that passion at scale, enabling this passion to show up at every single point of service with our customers. It’s like no other business model out there. Franchising harnesses the passion of the small business owner, and delivers it exponentially in a way no other retail model could deliver. How we maintain and embolden this all-important purpose + passion + profits + people approach and balance it with our other assets like a strong corporate team with a strategic vision, reliable systems and platforms to keep the brand experience consistent with developing new opportunities for growth is both the challenge and opportunity.
CMOO: How are you going about it?
SA: “From a marketing standpoint, we have created a structure that includes both brand focused experts in partnership with subject matter experts. Our brand teams own the strategic vision for each brand, our go to market strategies and oversee our marketing investments for each brand. In conjunction with them, we have highly specialized capability owners or centers of excellence focused on deep areas of expertise in areas like customer insights, digital marketing, franchise sales, creative services, social media & public relations and learning management. This structure allows us to both develop unique and specific go-to-market approaches for businesses in very different life-stages while allowing our nascent brand, WTC to leverage the capabilities and efficiencies of a bigger business like Anytime Fitness.
CMOO: We can start to see how Self Esteem Brands diverges from a company-owned retail brand.
SA: “Oh yes there’s certainly differences at all levels. We’re a hybrid between a brand marketing organization and franchise development organization. But it’s not just straddling the organizational types and that the two brands are in different growth places – the businesses themselves are actually different businesses.”
CMOO: How so?
SA: “For example, AF is a membership based model; while customer acquisition is an important part to any business, retention is an incredibly important part of this business. It takes time for people to achieve their fitness goals and it’s our relationship with our customers that will help them achieve those goals and stay with us for the long haul. While relationships and customer service are incredibly important for WTC as well, this is a more traditional retail model where footsteps, site selection, marketing and acquisition, especially during the start-up phase, are all critical to a location’s success. As a result, how we identify and select locations and true store operating systems are completely different. And obviously the training is different with wide variation in the technical skills and customer service skills we have to teach, so while there are many of efficiencies we can leverage, we have to respect the differences to make each concept successful.”
CMOO: How have you seen the brands evolve over your tenure?
SA: “It’s really the maturing of an outlook. When AF was started, its incredible growth was largely due to it being an extremely franchisee centric brand. Today, as customers have more and more choice in the fitness space, we’ve evolved that thinking to include being more customer centric as well, with more emphasis on building an experience our customers want to continue to be a part of and tell their friends about. If we do that, we have happy members, we have thriving businesses and happy franchisees – all needs are met. We’ve also become much more data driven. As a large system, it’s more important than ever that we have systems and tools that collect the information we need to make better business decisions on behalf of our franchisees. At the same time, we at corporate have increased our franchisee engagement, are spending more time on the front lines and continue to strive to keep an open dialogue, listening, sharing, responding – we’re more engaged than we’ve ever been in part because there is so much to learn from them.
CMOO: What’s it all boil down to?
SA: “Relationships and relationship-building is a business model. And we’re taking that model around the globe with these brands and others that may join the Self Esteem family. I invite you to stay tuned…”
CMOO: Thank you, Stacy. We will.