A successful fitness business strategy, one that provides you the income you want without requiring 80+ hour weeks requires that you put 5 key elements together. These elements will help you grow faster, avoid the frustrations that come with adding team members, and free up more of your time to focus on doing what you love most.
- Identify the 5 elements of a successful business strategy and how to apply each.
- Develop an understanding of the difference between tactics and strategy.
- Set clear goals and objectives to propel your business forward.
- Define your long-term vision.
A great strategy could be the difference in your business thriving or struggling to survive in the increasingly competitive world of fitness.
The low barrier to entry for the fitness industry and the increase in a need for fitness have led to a surge in new training studios, bootcamps and group fitness programs. You can turn this increase in competition to an advantage.
Strategy Versus Tactics
The struggling fitness business owner will focus solely on the tactics needed to make a little more money and get a few more clients.
The tactical focused fitness business owner is short sighted. They will fix what is painful for them right now without consideration for the longer-term impact.
You may be a tactical focused business owner if you constantly find yourself facing the same problems and are facing burn out.
The fitness business owner who embraces the need to develop strategic business skills has a clearer vision of the long-term plan for their business. They make decisions based on strategic planning, long term goals and feedback from their business.
There are fewer “urgent and important” problems that pop up in a day and they don’t make knee jerk decisions that could negatively impact future growth.
Strategy is the destination and how you are going to get there. Tactics entail the specific actions you will take along the way.
For example, marketing strategy covers who you are selling to, what you are selling and the ability to clearly explain why that person should choose your business. This strategy has goals for leads, new clients, and retention.
Marketing tactics are the methods that you will use to achieve your strategic goals such as networking, referrals, and Facebook marketing.
It can be easy to confuse the two, but it’s critical that you understand the difference.
A great training program has critical elements that need to be included. A business strategy to help you grow your studio, bootcamp or group training program needs a few as well.
There are 5 critical pieces that go into a successful fitness business strategy:
- Goals & Vision
The days of being able to “just be great at what you do” are over. The competition is too great to only rely on your reputation as a great trainer.
Being a highly skilled and quality trainer is required. Those that aren’t, even the great marketers, will end up failing due to their inability to get good results.
Marketing is required so that people in your community know how great you are as a trainer and, more specifically, how you’re the best solution for them.
Your clients could care less about your certifications and all the courses you’ve taken and care much more about your ability to help them achieve their fitness goals.
You need to be the one that clearly communicates how you’ll:
- Help them finally gain their confidence back when they go out on a date night with their significant other in that little black dress
- Give them back the energy they had 10 years ago, so they can keep up with their kids and have fun doing it
- Help them lose that first 10lbs that they’ve struggled to drop for the past 5 years trying every diet and exercise program out there
You’re getting the idea now. It’s about more than the pounds lost, energy gained or your credentials as a fitness pro. Your clients want the feelings of confidence, empowerment, etc. that come from obtaining their goal.
Successful marketers know how to tell this story and understand the needs of their client.
If you want to stand out from your competition it’s critical that you:
- Have a marketable core offer to build your business around that solves your client’s biggest problems and that you’re great at delivering.
- Gain an in-depth understanding of what’s driving your clients to seek change and understand who your Ideal Client is.
- Develop your marketing message so that you can position yourself as the best solution for your clients.
SMARTR Goals & A Clear Vision
That’s no mistake...
SMARTR Goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely, and results-based.
The purpose of creating SMARTR goals is to clearly define the outcome that will dictate success.
A great example would be:
SMART Goal: Create a marketing plan by April 31st.
SMARTR Goal: Create a marketing plan that results in 10 new clients by April 31st.
Both goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely but only one has an outcome that will tell you if you were successful or not.
As you develop your fitness business strategy you should be setting 1-3 SMARTR goals for your business each quarter.
They aren’t random goals though, it’s important that each year you set out to define 3-5 key objectives or goals for your business. Your quarterly goals should be set to ensure that you accomplish all your annual goals.
But, how do you know what goals to set?
Your long-term vision should dictate your yearly objectives. Creating your long-term vision is like building a muscle. It takes time and practice.
At first start by looking 2-3 years out for your vision. It’s easy for most fitness business owners to know what they want their business to look like in 2-3 years. As you improve at creating your long-term vision you can stretch it out to 5, 10 or even 20 years.
The sweet spot seems to be 3-5 years for most business owners. That remains far enough out to dream big and still close enough to create urgency.
When you have a solid vision your goal setting will become much easier.
There will come a time when you simply can’t complete all the activities that need to be done in your business. Growth and success will require that you create more efficiency.
You can do this by creating systems. Not only will it make hiring and training someone else to do the tasks easier but creating the systems themselves can create efficiency. By documenting how a process is done and doing it that way each time you avoid having to figure it out all over again each time.
Systems should be created for the key functions in your business and documented so that you can begin to hand off the activities when it’s time.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when creating your systems and start off on the journey of putting together a 100+ page operations manual.
This mistake will create more stress and frustration for you than not creating the systems at all and most of the time ends up never being completed.
Instead of creating step-by-step lists and scripts for everything in your business start by defining the core processes in your business.
In every business, there are 20% of the processes that produce 80% of the results. It’s Pareto’s principle at work.
Here's a short list of key processes:
- Human Resources
- Training (how you deliver your services)
Once you’ve defined your core processes you can use the 20/80 rule again and document the critical steps that deliver the result.
By using this method, you’ll be able to make quick work of creating systems.
Like it or not you already have a culture in your business. Your culture is made up of the people in your business and your core values. As a leader, it’s your role to nurture this culture.
Your core values also already exist in your business, it’s your job to extract them. The reason that many business owners struggle with their core values or the values don’t align with the reality of what’s going on in the business is because the core values are copied.
Instead of copying what another business has listed as their core values because they seem like something you aspire to be, try taking a good hard look at your own business and what you believe.
Make a quick list of 5-10 people you admire and their most admirable characteristics. From this list, you’ll likely be able to extract what you value the most. This list can be crafted up into your core values.
It’s important to start with your core values because those values are what attract the right people into your business.
Once you know your values you can start to focus on bringing people in that share those values.
Put the right people in place and your job as a leader will be much easier when trying to create the culture you want in your business.
You’ll find more success by being true to your values than you will by trying to hide behind a made-up culture.
Clear Lines of Communication
A good communication structure is imperative for success. This ensures that your company initiatives and plans get shared up and down the chain of command.
And it’s not just initiatives and orders coming from the top of the organizational chart that rely on great communication. Information being passed up from the trainers working with your clients and your customer service team also need to be sent back up to you as the business owner so you have a good feel for what’s going on in your business.
Communication can be fostered by implementing a meeting pulse. Holding weekly team meetings, quarterly strategic planning meetings, annual strategic planning meetings and even daily huddles with key team members as needed provides a good starting structure.
It’s important that everyone on the team is clear about roles and responsibilities so they can pass the information needed to the right people or know who to go to if the need critical info.
You’ll know if you lack clear lines of communication if your team comes to you with every problem.
Setting your communication channels and providing structure for the information to be shared is essential if you want to be able to focus on your business growth and avoid having to solve every problem.
Create Your Success Strategy
Take 90 minutes to sit down and evaluate your business strategy. Ensure that it includes these key elements.
While it may seem like you have more important things to do than reflect on your business strategy in the short term you’ll see the benefit in the next 90-180 days as you start implementing these elements in your business.
Not only will you see faster growth but you’ll discover more efficiency, and probably have a lot more fun in your business.