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Tips To Implement A Strategic Plan To Develop A Small, Independent Club

The following post was written by Jill Stevens Kinney and Joe Cirulli for our weekly Best Practices series.

Question: Can you offer some tips on how to create and implement a strategic plan to develop a small, independent club?

Answer:A good strategic plan begins with a thorough understanding of the marketplace, and leads to realistic expectations about the most critical aspect of your new business—the membership projections.

Start with a model that identifies the number of people (both residents and workforce) located within a 10-minute-drive radius of your club. Take into account only those individuals who meet your age, income, and educational criteria. Multiply this number by 17%–20% (the average percentage of the population that’s likely to join a health club). This will give you a good estimate of the number of people in your community who are reasonable candidates for a club membership.

Now, develop a complete list of all the potential competitors in the marketplace—including fitness facilities that may not exactly resemble your business model—and estimate their membership capacity, not their current membership level. Subtract your competitors’ capacity from the number of potential members you calculated for the market as a whole, and you’ll have a good sense of how many real prospects are available. This number should be two to four times higher than the number of members you’ll need in order to be financially successful.

In the process of developing this market analysis, you’ll gain insight not only into the number of members you’re likely to attract, but also into your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. This will help define the challenges that you may face in launching your new club. Good luck!

Jill Stevens Kinney
Clubsource Development Partners, LLC
San Rafel, California


 Answer: Start by asking yourself, “Why would someone be willing to spend their money on the services my club provides versus those of a competitor?” Then, make certain that everyone in your organization understands the edge that your club possesses, and is aligned behind it. That means your vision, mission, core values, core purpose, and the culture of your organization have to be clearly defined and well understood.

Next, design a company that’s easy for your customers to do business with. Execution is what usually separates exceptional companies from mediocre ones.

The best mechanism for ensuring flawless execution that I’ve discovered is a regular, two-hour meeting every Monday morning for all of the members of the management team. During that meeting, we evaluate how we’re doing in a number of areas. Everyone knows what their responsibilities are, and everyone knows they’ll be held accountable for them. And, once a month, we evaluate our progress at these meetings.

Then, once a year, we develop our strategic plan and budget.

Remember that your staff creates your culture. The benefit of embracing the core values of your organization is that it helps identify and clarify the type of people you should hire. Your entire hiring process should be designed to find individuals who have the same values as your company. Trying to change a person’s core values is virtually impossible.

Finally, develop your team’s leadership skills, and always be on the lookout for fresh new talent.

Joe Cirulli
President, Owner & CEO
Gainesville Health & Fitness Center
Gainesville, Florida


Best Practices features answers from experts from both inside and outside the health club industry to thought-provoking questions on a wide range of topics. If you have a question you'd like answered, submit your question today

Reader Comments (1)

Thank you for the great insight!
March 17, 2016 | Registered CommenterScott Bitterman

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