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5 Tips for a Successful Health Club Business Plan

It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s a big box, boutique, martial arts, or yoga studio, the challenges are all similar.

Whether you’ve recently opened your gym or you’re a seasoned gym owner, now is the perfect time to take a fresh look at your operation by reviewing the first half of the year and making the necessary adjustments as you plan for the future.

Independent gym owners are typically spread thin and even the most diligent ones may find themselves behind on their planning. If this scenario sounds familiar, don’t worry–it’s not too late to tackle the important items.

Here are some tips of five important tips for creating a successful health club business plan to help ensure smooth sailing throughout the rest of the year.

Tips for a Successful Health Club Business Plan

1. Sales Production Goals – Know Your Numbers and Hold Your Staff Accountable.

I speak to many gym owners that struggle with holding staff accountable. A couple things that I suggest are having each staffer (certainly management and sales) write a plan of action for the month that includes Plan B – this will become their to do list for the month. Then be sure to follow up during the month and at the end of the month with a production audit to be sure everything is on course.

Also, do you have production goals? Is your staff aware of these goals? All too often, I see staff that simply know they should be doing better, but are not clear on any production goals. Once goals have been established, be sure you have a system of follow up to help ensure accountability.

2. Membership Sales and Retention Process 

This big thing to remember here is that making sales IS part of the process. Be sure you have a clearly defined process on how to properly handle a telephone inquiry, how to handle a prospect when they come into you gym, how to get a referral, how to follow up, etc. From my experience, proper follow up alone can result in a 20% improvement in sales production. Do you have a process in place to be sure that 100% of your new members are getting a presentation on private training? Also, let’s include a sales process to help improve member retention. So many gyms are playing defense on member retention instead of training staff on how to nurture existing member and create a sense of community.

3. Marketing Plan of Action

Most independent gym operations simply do not do enough marketing. They rely on one or two things to carry the day and it simply won’t sustain your gym business over the long haul. A gym marketing plan of action is essential for digital and traditional marketing.  Of course, online digital marketing is important, but so is offline marketing. The way I see this – you want to become omnipresent in your marketplace. Everywhere the customer turns, they need to see you. Marketing can also be a nice retention tool to help you stay in front of your current member base. Please remember, if you aren’t marketing like you should, your members are seeing the competitions ads and they just might respond to that.

4. Staff Recruiting, Hiring and Training

This one can really be an issue for gym owners. Many times when we feel like we don’t have other options, we will keep employees around when they should be let go (basically, you’re held hostage). The key here is to create options. I always suggest preparing a recruiting plan of action that is followed with the same urgency to sign up new members. Once you have decided on who you want to hire, be sure they are being properly trained BEFORE they start in the club. Don’t let them practice on the paying customer. Plus, by having them properly trained before getting on the schedule, the likelihood of them having quick success is much greater.

From where I sit, way too many independent gym owners don’t pay close enough attention to recruiting, training and staff development. Do this right and everything will improve…including member retention.

5. Value Proposition and Competitive Differentiation – Beware of competing on price.

Boy oh boy is this a big one. There will always be a gym in your marketplace willing to do things cheaper so be careful about competing on price. Instead, compete on your service level or something else that makes your gym unique. Price shoppers always will leave for the cheaper price, but prospects that truly value your unique offering or service are more likely to stick around. Focus on what you do better than anyone else in your marketplace, your point of differentiation or even your sales process.

Something that I see that causes us to default to price is the lack of sales process and understanding of sales. First, get yourself a proven process and then you should understand that selling is about solving problems and providing solutions for your prospects. When value exceeds price, people will buy. So, this issue of price is on us, not the customer.

Read more information to help you create a more effective health club business plan with The Ultimate Health Club Management Guide.

Now, go finish the year strong!


Jim Thomas is a Preferred Vendor Partner for ABC Financial Services. As an Outsourced CEO, Jim Thomas is the founder and president of Fitness Management USA Inc., a management consulting, turnaround and brokerage firm specializing in the gym, health club, and sports industry. With more than 25 years of experience owning, operating and managing clubs of all sizes, Thomas lectures and delivers seminars, webinars and workshops across the globe on the practical skills required to successfully to overcome obscurity, improve sales, build teamwork and market fitness programs and products. In addition, his company will buy gym equipment from gyms liquidating or closing. Learn more here: Jim Thomas On Demand


About ABC Financial

ABC Financial is the nation’s leading software and payment processing provider for health clubs, gyms, and fitness facilities. For more information you can find us online.