The strategic planning process prior to a grand opening can be complex and time consuming. The crucial decisions come first. Scouting the perfect location, making the best use of the space, and researching the most effective and competitive pricing structure are just a few of the important foundational decisions. Not to mention the operational tasks that follow, such as staffing, scheduling, onboarding employees, selecting club management software and ordering everything from floor to ceiling. Indeed, opening a new health club or studio, like starting any other business, can be an exciting yet overwhelming experience.
Here are seven tips to help you:
- Build a business plan. Establish a strong foundation from the start with a comprehensive business plan. Include all the details from the financials to the overall vision for your club or studio. As with any plan, update it frequently as you define more details.
- Scout the ideal location. Whether you are leasing an existing space or starting new construction, be sure to check the demographics of the locations you are considering. There is a lot of info available to evaluate such as nearby competing businesses, traffic pattern information, and neighborhood stats on average age, income, etc. Lastly, don’t forget to evaluate the parking situation at each of the locations you are considering — lack of parking can become a major hurdle to overcome.
- Determine programs and pricing. Select the programs and classes your facility will offer and identify the target market. Shop your competitors to provide insight to your pricing strategy.
- Develop the perfect layout. Before you sign on the dotted line, sketch out a scaled floor plan for your space. Be sure to allocate space for common areas, locker rooms, and office and storage space in addition to the main workout areas. Determine what equipment you need for each space and include those pieces in your scaled drawing.
- Select club management software. Running a smooth operation should be supported by a software program that seamlessly integrates administration and billing. There are many to choose from, so don’t hesitate to ask for a demo or free trial before making the final decision.
- Build your dream team. Recruit, schedule and onboard your staff. Remember, these people are responsible for exemplifying the mission and values of your facility, and serve as the front line to your members. Choose wisely, even if it means choosing slowly.
- Create a grand opening marketing plan. Start the buzz three to six months before you open the doors. Once you’ve got your logo, website and social media platforms established, start creating a buzz online and in your community.
Elisabeth Fouts is Power Systems’ education and trade show coordinator and a 10-year veteran in the fitness industry. She has a bachelor’s degree in exercise science, is certified in and actively teaches four Les Mills group fitness programs and serves as a PowerWave Senior Coach. When Elisabeth isn’t teaching Group X classes, you can find her training for or participating in an obstacle course race or watching Tennessee Volunteers or Dallas Cowboys football.