Millennial Son and Dad Find Franchising Success Across the Generational Divide

Chad Aaron and his dad Roger have navigated the tricky terrain of family business and generational differences to emerge as the poster boys of the booming Anytime Fitness franchise. 


By Radim Dragomaca

Chad Aaron was 25 years old and recently out of a corporate job after some downsizing in 2005, when he and his dad Roger made a life-changing decision. Chad’s passion, knack for business and a millennial outlook on the world of social media and marketing were a perfect complement to Roger’s decades of corporate experience and a lifelong itch to become his own boss and small business owner. Risking two career changes at once, co-management across a generational divide and navigating the tricky waters of owning a family business, Chad and Roger Aaron decided to take the leap and become franchisees. After 10-plus years, they have surpassed a goal of growing their Anytime Fitness network to six units, instead at their peak owning 20 locations, while now expanding the burgeoning family business empire to more diverse ventures.



Neither Chad nor Roger Aaron were gym enthusiasts when they settled on Anytime Fitness as the franchise to buy, but the business model and the brand won them over. According to Chad Aaron, what really drew them to the brand was that they “liked the people, it was a new franchise, it was up-and-coming and inexpensive to get into.” They visited locations, spoke with owners and got a feel for both the corporate culture and the vibe and energy of existing franchisees. Despite being new to both franchising and creating fitness-centric communities, the duo has opened more and more locations over the years, and even won some corporate awards, including one in February 2016, recognizing one of the locations for making the biggest forward leap in customer satisfaction across the entire franchise family.

Chad and Roger Aaron had heard a lot of stories of family businesses that couldn’t separate the tensions of work life from family life and bit off more than they could chew. Their advice for making a family partnership work? Family is more important than business and family members that clash a lot outside of business are likely to see those issues multiply, emphasizes Roger Aaron. Seeking out others who have made it work to see up close and personal what you’re getting into, he continues, as is learning to put work aside as much as possible at some family gatherings. Chad and Roger look back on their decade in business with nothing but good cheer, and their teases like “the hardest thing about owning a business? – owning it with my dad” are accompanied by laughter. 



The success story of Chad and Roger Aaron is remarkable because it illustrates the strengths that the millennial generation is starting to bring to the world of franchising — an influence that’s sure to only grow with each passing year. In many ways, franchising and millennials are a perfect fit. Chad Aaron admits that “it took a long time to get my dad to realize how powerful social media can be,” and being the only one of the pair with a Facebook and Twitter account, he led the technology and marketing strategy for their network of locations. Managers at every one of the locations now run active and interactive social media accounts to help keep customers connected to the brand, the local fitness community and to each other.

At the end of the day, there isn’t one magical piece of advice for perfectly combining family relationships with business ones, millennial tech savvy with decades of business experience and booming to more than 20 franchise locations in a decade, but one aspect of Chad and Roger Aaron’s success story stands out and bears emulating. They are clearly passionate about Anytime Fitness, and though it took Chad some time to convince his dad to get into it, they’re now well known throughout the Anytime Fitness family as the poster boys of the brand, shaving the company logo into their hair for the annual convention. While a shaved head may not make it into business textbooks, a genuine passion and love for what you do, why you do it and having family to share it with you might just be the trick.


Click here to learn more about Anytime Fitness.


Anytime Fitness Co-Founders Dave Mortensen and Chuck Runyon are the featured speakers at the 2017 IFA Annual Convention, Jan. 29-Feb. 1 in Las Vegas. Mortensen and Runyon’s presentation takes place Jan. 31 from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. during the Tuesday morning Super Session with Continental Breakfast. Find out more and register for #IFA2017.