Using the SWOT Analysis to Make Decisions

If you’re like most club managers or owners, you appreciate the passion your employees bring to their jobs, but you feel a sense of frustration that these same employees fail to see the business side of things-the nuts and bolts, the “numbers.” This is often particularly true with department managers. Recognize that you’re taking someone with a passion for fitness and trying to develop their business skills in the field they’re so passionate about; they need your help as much as you need their success! Step in with some basic, yet essential, tools that can help these key employees develop their “Business 101” side, and watch those financials rise!

The SWOT Analysis is a remarkably simple, effective tool that can make an immediate impact on your business. Best of all, it can be applied in many different circumstances: whether it’s deciding if a particular program is a good idea, how a proposed advertising campaign might work, or if you should consider changing the name of your club – all these issues can be addressed through a SWOT Analysis.

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It’s that simple, really, but the key is to flesh-out honest and meaningful responses to each of these categories. Look at strengths and weaknesses as internal issues: what are the strengths and weaknesses you see within the club when you think of adding a new group fitness program? Conversely, what are the external opportunities and threats? Is there a need locally for such a program? If so, then this represents an opportunity. Another club considering a similar program, then, would clearly be a threat.

Let’s look at a quick example. Imagine you’re considering adding a yoga program to your group fitness schedule. Take a look at the sample SWOT Analysis provided below, complete with a listing of possible strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

SWOT Analysis


After identifying your relevant strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, it’s time to evaluate the information you’ve isolated and weigh your options. Starting with the internal factors, can you overcome the weaknesses through your strengths? The two are not necessarily symbiotic, but recognition of the weaknesses often is enough to address them adequately.

Now, consider the external factors in play. Do the opportunities in front of you supercede the threats you may face? In short, does the potential reward justify the risk involved? Often times, an effective SWOT Analysis will lead you to the conclusion that the proposed venture is not worthwhile, and that’s OK. Better you found out now, with all the information in front of you, rather than after you made a foolish decision without all the facts.

Get your department managers in the habit of creating a SWOT Analysis for any new venture, any programming change, even any changes in the current way of doing things, and you’ll notice a more systematic approach, a more detailed analysis, going into each decision they make. And, informed decisions are surely an integral part of success.

Alan Loyd, MBA, is an industry veteran and freelance writer. He can be contacted at 574.229.0790, or by email at

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