Strategic Planning For Fitness Business Success

How To Be A Forward Thinking Fitness Business Owner And Develop A High Performing Fitness Business

Most fitness professionals jump into business ownership with no formal training in business.  Heck, I nearly failed the two business classes I took in college (probably because I never showed up to them…)

You can find some success with sheer willpower early on.  Grinding through the challenges and outworking or outsmarting them.  But, eventually you’re going to face bigger challenges as you grow your business.  These challenges require a more strategic approach to overcome.

A secret behind the success of many of our coaching clients is a simple tool called the Strategic Alignment Plan™.  This resource allows you to share your culture, vision and goals with your team, keep them top of mind for yourself and get everyone moving in the right direction.

We’re going to take a look at what’s behind the Strategic Alignment Plan throughout this article, but before we do let’s get a few other things out of the way.

What is Strategic Planning?

This is the business management activity that is used to set priorities, focus your energy and resources, strengthen your operations, and ensure that everyone in the organization is working together to achieve the same goals.

During your Strategic Planning sessions you’ll adjust the path of your business, reset goals, and define key objectives that must be accomplished for the business to accomplish it’s bigger vision or mission.

You’ll be able to look forward to see where the business is going and how you’ll get there, but more importantly you’ll be able to identify how you’ll know your successful.

You should be holding Strategic Planning sessions in your business once per quarter. We call them Quarterly Business Reviews, one of these being an Annual Business Review.

Why do I need a Strategic Alignment Plan?

It’s easy to get lost in the day to day of running your business and lose sight of your bigger picture objectives. Having a simple resources to align your vision, culture, goals and plans is key to maintaining continuity between your planning sessions.

This also helps you refresh and recenter when you get a little off track. Often times as a business owner you’ll find yourself chasing the next shiny object in front of you. It’s times like these that a quick review of your Strategic Alignment Plan can help you evaluate if that shiny object is pulling you closer to your goals or further way.

This tool also helps you share your vision, culture, goals and plans with your team. They can clearly see where you want the business to go and the impact they can have on your business in their day to day operations. Too many business owners assume their team and employees know why what they are doing is important. If you don’t tell them and show them, they won’t.

The Strategic Alignment Plan

The Strategic Alignment Plan was created to support implementation of the Fitness Business Alignment System™.  It’s composed of 5 Alignment Principles™ that are required to be in place for any business that wants to be a High Performing Business.   

These Alignment Principles are:

  • Culture
  • Communication
  • Goals and Metrics
  • Systems
  • Strategy

Here’s a look at each section of the Strategic Alignment Plan…

NOTE: From here on out the Strategic Alignment Plan will be referred to as the SAP.

Core Values

At the very top of your SAP are the Core Values of your business.  These values will drive the decisions you make in your business, the people you hire and how you interact with clients.  Placing them at the top of your SAP ensures you review them each quarter during your Quarterly Business Review.  

Another side benefit, assuming you share your SAP with your team, is that it keeps your Core Values front and center for everyone.  This ensures they are living in the day to day operations of your business.

Long Term Vision

Your Long Term Vision is the statement that reflects where you are going. Your statement can be reflective of anywhere from 3 to 30 years. Most are between 5 and 10.

It’s important to know that developing your Long Term Vision is a process, not a single event. You’re not looking for perfect; you’re looking for the first version. Complete the following exercise to help generate your Long Term Vision.

Your Long Term Vision will shift overtime. It’s a constantly moving target, like the horizon. It’s not critical you get it perfect, but it should serve as a compass for you to determine your shorter term goals.

Core Offer

Your Core Offer is the service that you are going to build your business around. It’s the one that you would want all of your clients to end up in if you had that choice, and it’s the one that you should be known for.

Your Marketing Strategy will be built around this, so it’s critical to stay focused on what drives your business revenue.

Local Market Positioning

Your Local Market Positioning and Differentiators are the answer to the question, “Why should a customer choose your business over someone else’s?”

Local Market Positioning consists of two parts: Market Differentiators and Positioning Statement. These are both clearly display on the SAP to guide your overall Marketing Strategy.

Ideal Client

Your Ideal Client is the prototype of the individuals that you could build your entire business around. This isn’t your favorite client but instead is a set of characteristics that we’re going to turn into a fictitious person.

You’ll even give that person a name. If your ideal client is Roger, then Roger should be the type of client who, if you could find people just like him, would fill your entire Core Offer and support a high-performing business.

Avoid thinking about specific clients you have now so you don’t get stuck on them. Your ideal client will probably be a blend of several really good clients.

1 Year Goals

It’s time to zoom in and start thinking about what you need to accomplish in the next for you to be happy with your business growth.  The annual goals you set for your business should help you move one step closer to your Long Term Vision.   

Typically, in this section you’ll find that you need to identify 2-4 objectives to accomplish in your business, clearly defined goals for each of your 4 Sales & Marketing Pillars and your 4 KPIs.

The 4 Sales & Marketing Pillars are:

  • Leads
  • Front End Offers
  • New Core Offer Clients
  • Retention Rate

The KPIs are:

  • Operating Margin
  • Autopay to Expense Ratio
  • Core Offer Conversion Rate
  • Core Offer Growth Rate

These give you clear target to aim at for the year.

Quarterly Rocks

Now that you know what needs to happen in the next year we have to zoom in one more time to focus on what you should accomplish in the next 90 days to keep you track.

Rocks are the big projects or initiatives in your business. Outside of the day to day activities required to run your business these are your top priorities.
Set 2-4 Rocks per Quarter for your business and aggressively attack them!

Quarterly Goals

Again, you’ll need to drill down into your annual goals and determine what needs to happen in the next 90 day for you to be on track to reach them.

You’ll determine what your 4 Marketing and Sales Pillars and KPIs need to be for the upcoming quarter and list them in this section.

Issues/Opportunities List

There’s always going to be more issues to handle and opportunities to assess than you can tackle in a given quarter, and possibly year. Instead of trying to keep tabs on them in your head drop them onto this list on your SAP so that you can spend your energy working on your quarterly Rocks and goals.

This is a running list that you can reevaluate at each planning session.

How To Get Started With Your Own Strategic Alignment Plan

I’ve yet to meet a business owner who knocks it out of the park in their first run through of creating an SAP. It takes practice and time to develop the skills and understanding needed to have a really good SAP.

The key to success is just getting started. Go through our blog posts, videos and articles to develop each section. We’ve covered them in depth here on this site.

Or, you can jump into Fitness Business Mastery when we release it in a few days 🙂

The fastest path to getting your SAP created is jumping into a coaching program and using our tools and coaching to build it out with you.

No matter what you choose, I urge you to get started and begin using your SAP in your strategic planning sessions right away.

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