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How to Create a Business Plan for Your Gym

Crafting a gym business plan that prioritizes modern technology can help your new fitness business succeed.

Gym Owners & Fitness Professionals
13 min read2024-02-04T15:00:54.742Z
MKWritten By Michelle King

A passion for fitness alone isn't enough to open a gym. If you want your business to thrive, you must create a roadmap for success. Gym business plans outline your business's goals and strategies to help you reach those goals, providing a structured framework for decision-making, resource allocation, and long-term growth.

Let’s explore everything you need to know to craft a successful business plan for your gym.

Why Do You Need a Gym Business Plan?

Writing a business plan can feel daunting, and you may wonder if it's worth the time and resources. While you may feel overwhelmed now, pausing to plan offers significant benefits.

Improves Success

A well-thought-out business plan improves your chances of success and accelerates growth. Studies show that entrepreneurs with formal business plans are more likely to succeed.

Additionally, companies with well-developed plans grow 30 percent faster than those without. Why? A strategic business plan creates a path toward achieving important milestones. It outlines specific strategies, timelines, and measurable targets, enabling you to track progress and adjust as needed.

Helps Secure Funding

Whether you're seeking a loan or attracting investors, a comprehensive business plan is essential to secure funding for your gym. Potential investors and banks typically require a business plan that includes market data and opportunity, a high-level marketing and growth plan, and projected costs and revenue.

Crafting Your Gym Business Plan With Modern Technology at The Forefront

With over 32,000 United States health clubs vying for members, new gyms must incorporate modern technology in their business plans to outperform their competitors.

"Technology spans nearly every element of the modern gym environment," says Randy Hetrick, Founder and CEO of OutFit Training. "From member acquisition, utilization, and retention analytics to scheduling, billing, goal setting, program design, biometric analysis, and more – technology touches nearly every aspect of a modern club."

In today’s rapidly evolving fitness landscape, adopting a tech-forward strategy isn't optional; it's a necessity.

Benefits of a Tech-Driven Business Approach

Improves Member Retention

Providing a location to pump iron and break a sweat isn't enough to retain members. In fact, most gyms lose 50% of new members within six months of joining. Today, gym goers demand more than just equipment. They want a seamless experience that takes their fitness to the next level. Incorporating modern technology, such as personalized workout apps, virtual classes, and progress tracking, enhances your member's experience and improves retention.

Streamlines Operations

Repetitive administrative tasks are a time suck for gym owners. Ditch the spreadsheets and opt for a more efficient gym management strategy by investing in gym management software. Gym management software streamlines fitness facility operations by centralizing tasks like member registration, class scheduling, and billing. It also automates routine processes, like membership renewals and payments, reducing administrative work and minimizing errors.

Diversifies Revenue Streams

The demand for online exercise courses has increased 132% year-over-year. This trend presents opportunities for gym owners interested in diversifying their revenue streams and bringing in more money.

Offering virtual workouts caters to individuals who may be too busy to visit the gym every day. It can also help boost in-person attendance by 12%. This means not only meeting the needs of those who prefer the flexibility of virtual workouts but also encouraging more people to show up at the gym when they can. It’s a win-win situation for gym owners looking to adapt to changing preferences and attract a broader audience.

The Core Components of a Tech-Driven Gym Business Plan

Now that you understand the importance of a business plan and technology's role in helping your gym thrive, let's explore the essential elements aspiring entrepreneurs should include when crafting their strategies.

Executive Summary

Your executive summary serves as a bird's eye view of your gym, providing insights into your business model at a glance. This section introduces your business idea to readers and includes your mission statement, goals, leadership, operations, and locations.

Products and Services

This section outlines the range of products and services your gym will offer. Here, you should provide pricing information and detail your services' unique features and benefits, emphasizing how technology will enhance the overall fitness experience for your members.

Market Analysis

If you want to turn your dreams of gym ownership into a reality, you need to understand consumer behaviors in your area and economic trends in the fitness industry. In this section, delve into your local market, identifying target demographics, competitors, and potential growth areas. Analyze the demand for tech-driven fitness solutions and showcase how your gym is positioned to meet and exceed these market needs.

Marketing Strategy

This section should detail your marketing strategy, outlining how you plan to promote your gym and attract members. Include both traditional and digital marketing approaches, like social media marketing. A well-crafted marketing strategy will include strategies for building brand awareness, promoting special offers, and fostering community engagement.

Financial Projections

This section should outline your gym's financial planning and projections. If you already own a fitness business, include your financial statements from the previous two years, a listing of current or desired equipment to be purchased, and other relevant financial documents.

Aspiring gym owners should provide detailed financial projections, including revenue forecasts, expense estimates, and expected profit margins. If you need funding, include details about the financial assistance your gym will require. Most likely, you already know your business growth path. Demonstrating that growth path to third parties will help you unlock the funding you need to spur things into action.

The Importance of Financial Forecasting

Opening a gym is not for the faint of heart. Industry professionals estimate that 81% of fitness studios fail in their first year. This failure rate is often due to insufficient funds. If you want to avoid becoming a negative statistic, it’s essential to have a realistic financial plan in place before you open. Financial projections can help establish a budget and create benchmarks toward achieving your gym’s financial goals.

Creating Data-Driven Financial Projections

Financial projections predict the future income and expenses of your gym. This information helps you anticipate financial needs, set realistic goals, and demonstrate your business’s viability and potential success to investors.

Steps to Create a Financial Projections

Collect Relevant Data

Established gyms can consult their historical data, like past financial statements, when crafting their financial forecast. However, aspiring gym owners with no historical data must conduct more research. Helpful data to explore when creating financial forecasts includes comparable market research (local and national), industry benchmarks, and analyst reports.

Forecast Expenses

Typical gym expenses vary widely from facility to facility. Opening a gym can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $1 million. When creating your financial forecast, consider the cost of opening a gym and ongoing operational expenses like staff salaries, insurance, the cost to lease property, and marketing.

Forecast Sales

Make a list of your planned revenue streams and project the monthly sales for each. Possible revenue streams for gyms include memberships, merchandise, digital classes, and personal training. Use the data you collected at the beginning of this process to make sales predictions. Remember that revenue tends to ramp up over time, so include a reasonable growth rate for revenue, start at $0, and build into what you believe is realistic.

Forecasting Profit

To forecast your net profit, compare how much money you plan to spend on the business with your predicted revenue. Demonstrating a path to profitability will show your lenders or investors (and most importantly, yourself) that your gym can be a successful and profitable operation.

Innovative Marketing Strategies for the Modern Gym

You could have talented trainers, high-tech equipment, and unique classes, but if no one knows your gym exists, you won't stay open long. Including a comprehensive marketing strategy in your business plan is essential to attract new members. This strategy should include a variety of digital channels and outline what techniques you plan to utilize to reach your target audience.

Create a Well-Designed Website

Today's consumers expect businesses to have a website. Nearly everyone conducts online research before making a purchase. If you want to be on your target audience's radar, you must provide them with the opportunity to learn about your gym online.

If it's in your budget, we recommend working with a website designer. Poorly designed websites can do more harm than good, driving away potential customers. Skilled website designers will ensure that your website looks professional and is easy for users to navigate.

Optimize for Search Engines

Many business owners think having a website is enough to get discovered. However, creating a professional-looking site is just the tip of the iceberg. If you want your business to show up when prospects search for gyms in their area, you must invest in search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO enhances your website's visibility by optimizing your site's content and structure to rank higher in search results. This makes it more likely that prospects will find your business. Tools like Semrush and Ahrefs can help you identify keywords to include on your site that may help improve your ranking. Given how tricky SEO can be, having a pro in your corner can make things way easier and boost your gym's online game.

Implement Social Media Marketing

With over 302 million social media users in the United States alone, social media marketing helps gyms reach a wider audience. Leveraging platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok allows fitness establishments to connect with potential clients, share engaging content, and build a community around their brand.

When crafting your social media marketing strategy, include multiple social platforms. Today, the average user engages with up to seven platforms a month. Creating content across different platforms aligns with user behavior and maximizes your gym's visibility.

Utilize Email Marketing

As other digital marketing strategies have arisen, you may wonder if email marketing is still relevant. Let’s set the record straight. With 99% of email users checking their inbox daily, email marketing remains an effective tool for reaching and engaging your target audience.

Gym owners can utilize email marketing to promote special offers, fitness challenges, and exclusive content to their members.

Leveraging Technology to Enhance Your Members’ Experience

When deciding what products and services you want to include in your business plan, consider ways you can integrate technology into the workout experience. Offering fitness tools beyond the standard free weights and cardio machines will help improve your members' health journey and help you stand out from competitors.

Member Apps

If you want to attract tech-savvy members, Randy Hetrick recommends investing in a gym app, saying,"Start with a great member app that engages, challenges, and rewards your members for exhibiting the behaviors that will deliver the results they seek."

Not techy enough to create an app yourself? No worries. Gym management software often includes custom-branded member apps as part of their software solution. These apps allow members to view and reserve classes, track workouts, and access digital exercise programs.

Remote Training

While some people enjoy going to the gym to pump iron, 56.1% of exercisers prefer working out at home. Offering remote training options like digital personal training or online classes can help you tap into this market and add another revenue stream to your business.

Wearable Tech

As fitness technology advances, exercisers have become increasingly interested in tracking their health data. Nearly one-third of Americans use wearable tech like smartwatches to track metrics like steps, heart rate, and burned calories.

Recognizing consumer interest in this trend, successful fitness brands like Orangetheory Fitness utilize smart tech in their workouts. This provides members with helpful information on their health and facilitates friendly competition.

Consider elevating your gym’s membership experience by investing in customized wearable tech for your members. Providing devices like MyZone trackers at the beginning of each training session lets you gamify classes through leaderboards showcasing individual efforts.

Smart Equipment

With 38% of gym goers citing equipment as their primary reason for visiting their gym, investing in quality exercise tools is crucial. Smart equipment like Peloton bikes and Tonal strength machines track users' progress and provide real-time feedback. This data allows individuals to refine their exercise techniques, prevent injuries, and optimize their workout efficiency.

Gym Pricing Strategies and Membership Models

Determining the right pricing strategy for your gym can be tricky. If you charge too much, you'll scare away your target audience. On the flip side, if you charge too little, you'll hurt your bottom line.

To strike the right balance, examine your forecasted expenses and research your competitors' pricing. This will give you a strong idea of how much money you need to bring in each month to stay profitable and how much you can charge to remain competitive in the market. Below are standard pricing model options that may be a good fit for your business.

Monthly Memberships

Monthly memberships are one of the most popular membership models among gyms. These plans have a fixed monthly fee that grants members access to gym facilities and services.

Tiered Memberships

Membership plans structured in tiers offer varying levels of access to amenities and services based on the chosen tier. Higher tiers often come with additional benefits at a higher cost.

Class Packages

If your gym offers a variety of classes, you may want to consider offering class packages. This membership option allows members to purchase packages that include a set number of classes allowing flexibility in attendance.

Measuring Success: Key Metrics to Track in Your Business

After creating a gym business plan, ensure it stays on track by using metrics to monitor its progress. Research shows that companies that track their progress are more likely to achieve their business goals. While the best metrics to track will vary from business to business, keeping tabs on the following metrics will give you valuable insights into the health and growth of your gym.

Net Profit Margin

Net Profit Margin is a profitability ratio that calculates the percentage of net profit relative to total revenue. Your net profit margin is one of your gym's most important financial health indicators. This metric helps determine how much of every dollar your make is kept as profit.

Gross Profit Margin

Gross Profit Margin is the percentage of revenue left after subtracting the cost of products and services sold (like labor, equipment, and other consumables), showing how well a gym manages its core operations.

Revenue Growth

Revenue growth is the percentage increase in total income over a specific period, reflecting the expansion or contraction of the business. It's important for gyms (and all businesses) because steady revenue growth indicates an increasing demand for your services.

Member Retention Rate

Your gym's member retention rate is the percentage of members retained over a set time period. A high retention rate indicates happy clients that contribute to a consistent revenue stream.

Member Growth Rate

Your gym's member growth rate reflects the percentage increase in members over a specific period. A higher growth indicates an increase in popularity and will likely increase revenue.

Bottom Line

Opening a successful gym requires a little planning. But, investing time into crafting a strategic business plan increases your likelihood of success and improves your chances of receiving funding. Check out the U.S. Small Business Administration's resources for more information about creating a business plan.

More Advice for Gym Owners

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