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Operations: 3 Simple Steps to Strategic Planning Success


One thing is for certain: The landscape of the fitness industry is rapidly changing. Baby Boomers and Millennials are taking center stage, transforming how we engage members and clients on a daily basis. At the same time, the current economic state is determining how we conduct business and technologic trends are largely impacting how fitness programs are developed and implemented. It is a classic case of “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” but the parts certainly matter.

In this respect, it is important for gym owners and managers to look beyond the day-to-day operations and instead focus on internal and external pressures. How will the economic, social and technological climate influence member acquisition, retention and revenue five, 10, 15 years down the road? To do this, we must identify specific strengths, weaknesses, dreams, goals and issues and use this information to develop a strategic plan for the future.

Strategic planning is an organization’s process for defining its business strategy: decision making based upon the purposeful allocation of resources, both actual and foreseeable. Much like personal trainers, strategists use SMART goal setting as a main factor for determining the actions necessary to achieve an end result. In our case, strategic planning would outline continued viability and long-term success in the competitive global market of the fitness industry.

At this point, you may be asking how.

Evaluate your current situation. It is important to understand where your organization stands today. Survey your membership base and key staff members. What do they like about your facility? What do they not like about your facility? What do they hope to see in the future?

Define a target. Once you identify areas of success and desired improvement, you will be better able to define the resources and assets needed to continue providing results that support your organization. Your target should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based.

Determine your plan of action. Now that you have surveyed the people behind your organization and identified your primary target, it’s time to determine a plan of action. After all, most plans fall apart in the execution phase, not the development phase. The key is not to re-invent the wheel, but build upon what you are already successful at. What specific changes need to be made to achieve the desired outcome? Who will carry out which segments of change?

When conducting a strategic plan assessment for your facility or organization, it is most important to keep the avenues of communication open between upper-level management as well as your members and staff. As long as your strategic plan is in line with your organization’s mission and vision, your action plan will be successful. If your action plan is successful, you will enjoy continued growth and financial stability.


Julianne Dods

Julianna Dods is the COO and vice president of Tilton Fitness & Wellness.

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