If you’ve found your way here, there’s a good chance you’re either looking to open a gym or revamp your current business plan - Congratulations!
Any business can benefit by starting with a solid business plan. Even if you’ve already hit the ground running, it’s never too late to put one together. In fact, most people are pleasantly surprised that business plans are not all that time consuming to create and that creating a gym business plan can significantly improve your already established business.
A business plan reveals who you are as a business and gives a logical preview of where you’re heading. It is a roadmap that lays out how your business is structured, how you plan to make it succeed, and the exact steps you need to take to get there.
A gym business plan will clearly define the structure of your business, give you a comprehensive insight into your target market and help you lay out your management structure, marketing strategy and financial strategy.
Though we might think of a gym business plan as a one and done type of document, it is actually an ever-evolving plan that grows and changes with you and your business. Ready to carve out a space for yourself in a multi-billion dollar (and climbing!) industry?
First off ask yourself a couple of tough questions:
- Can I afford to run a gym?
- How much time can I invest in this?
- Do I feel comfortable working with people face to face on a daily basis?
Here’s the thing: starting a gym from the ground up is not an inexpensive venture. Between equipment costs, hiring PTs and group class instructors, insurance, rent, etc. you will need to be honest with yourself if this is a business you can afford to get involved with.
If finances are not an issue, it’s time to reflect on how much time you have/are willing to put into this new venture- especially at the onset. Owning and operating a gym or boutique studio is not a 9-5 job and working for yourself can make it extremely difficult to carve out a work/life balance.
Finally, getting started in a fitness business means you need to prepare yourself for an onslaught of face-to-face interaction with members, staff, investors, etc. If that much one-on-one interaction is not something you had prepared yourself for, you might want to re-think this venture.
The good news is that if owning and operating a gym is your dream - the money and hard work that you need to invest in making it a successful venture will be truly worth it.
Your Gym Business Plan Template at a Glance:
Step 1: Executive Summary
The first part of your gym business plan template is your executive summary. This is a quick, to-the-point statement that delineates the what, why and how of your business. It needs to be impactful and concise in framing your goals, your mission and your vision. Don’t worry if you feel like you have more to say - you can add more details in your company overview.
Step 2: Company Overview
If the executive summary was an outline of your gym business, the company overview is where you have the opportunity to go more into depth with your overall vision. Here you will go over the purpose and plans for your gym, your business model and the strategies you will employ to accomplish these objectives. A general overview of your target clients and what products/services you will provide for them can be included as well, but you will get more into detail regarding your target audience and services below. Don’t be afraid to get personal here! Include your own history in the world of health and fitness and/or business. Clearly communicate your vision for this gym. These are all relevant details for potential partners and investors to know when they are deciding on getting involved with you and your business. Aim to build your know-like-trust factor.
Step 3: Management & Operations
The management & operations section of your gym business plan is where you will present the plans for your employee ladder. What are the positions you need to fill and what sorts of skills will these employees need to have in order to make your gym successful? Think beyond your PTs and group class instructors. You’ll also likely need sales and membership personnel, marketing managers, customer service professionals, a maintenance team, etc. What responsibilities will each of these employees have?
Set up and present an organized chart that breaks down all of your staff positions, detailed descriptions of their roles, compensation structure, and benefits plan as well as incentives to attract and retain quality employees.
If you already have your management team in place, be sure to expound upon their individual skill sets, relevant experience and how they will contribute to the success of your gym.
Step 4: Market Research and Marketing
The market research and marketing step is the part of your gym business plan where you will explore: Your niche (the clients you will cater your gym to) Current trends in the industry that your target audience is looking for What your competitors are offering and for how much Plans for marketing your gym
You must start with market research and dive into who is in your local market and who you are focusing on as your target audience, your ideal clients - your niche. Are they students, working professionals, stay-at-home moms or dads, etc? Or will you target a specific group of fitness enthusiasts: bodybuilders, yogis, cyclists, etc. How do you plan to successfully fit your gym into your decided upon demographic?
When your target market is sorted out you can start researching your competitors. Direct competitors are those with gyms or boutique studios similar to yours in your area who are also going after a similar target audience. What are their strengths and weaknesses? How does your gym compare to theirs? What do your target clients have to say about them?
Once you are comfortable with your niche and your offerings in comparison to those of your direct competitors, the marketing portion is all about how you plan to get your gym and its services/amenities in front of this target audience and how you will attract them to your gym. It’s time to let your creativity shine! A detailed strategy, who will be handling this job, plus estimated cost is ideal. Your marketing strategy might include social media marketing, email marketing, TV or print advertising, sponsorships, loyalty plans, membership promotions, referral programs and more. Marketing can be any idea you have that will help make your gym stand out, build your customer’s loyalty and increase your revenue at the end of the day.
Step 5: Services and Amenities
In your company overview you briefly described the services and products you plan to offer at your gym, and here you will expound upon these services. This will give a clearer picture of what your gym or studio will look like for your members. Services will cover everything from membership options, group classes and personal training options to the specific exercise equipment you will offer. Amenities will include things like lockers, spa services, a swimming pool, child care options, etc. Products are physical items you plan to offer for additional revenue opportunities: juices, snack bars, protein powders or pre-workout, t-shirts, towels, etc.
Go into details about how the services you offer will fill the needs of your target audience and describe the benefits of each. Finally, create a pricing list that clearly outlines the costs for each product and service. This will make it easier when you get to the financial forecast and strategy section.
Step 6: Financial Forecast & Strategy
Finances are easily the most important part of your business, and are generally how you will measure success and profitability. The financial forecast and strategy is where its time to get real with an in-depth and up close projection for the future of your gym.
First, where do you need to spend your initial capital? Rent or building maintenance/upgrades, hiring costs, gym equipment, operational costs for the first 3-4 months, legal fees and marketing costs among others are all places you’ll want to investigate. Give a realistic cost estimate next to each. Then, add it all up: how much money will you need to successfully launch your gym?
Next you will dive into where your income will come from. Estimate how much your services (memberships, classes, PT, physical products) will bring in. The idea here is to show your potential partners/investors/employees that you have a plan with a solid ROI.
Finally, use all of this information to project a sales forecast for the first, second and third year in business breaking down each month as well as annual earnings and expenses.
Step 7: Payment Options
A big thing to think about is what sort of gym management software you will use. A streamlined system like Virtuagym , that automates membership billing and other fees, simplifies online and onsite scheduling, enables easy booking for classes or PT sessions, as well as other backend processes not only looks great for potential investors, it also serves to increase member retention and improve the overall client experience.
Step 8: Funding
You will round out your business plan with a clear description of where any start-up capital is coming from. Personal savings, bank loans, partners, sponsorships or even “soft loans” from family members or friends are all resources you might consider.
You’re Almost There!
Starting a gym has a multitude of benefits but is no easy task to undertake. That said, with the right business plan your rewards will far outweigh your challenges and you can look forward to a happy and successful future within the fitness industry. Refer back to your business plan whenever you need to make important decisions, secure new investments or show new partners or employees the greater vision and direction of your business.
A Personal Checklist:
Feel free to use this checklist to help you through the next stages of running your own gym. Refer to it throughout the development of your business to ensure you don’t miss a thing.
- Write business plan
- Register business
- Apply for business license and permit
- Open business bank accounts
- Select online payment platform
- Obtain tax payer’s ID
- Purchase insurance
- Organize rental space / purchase facility
- Purchase / rent equipment
- Secure funding
- Set up Direct Debit service
- Recruit employees
- Draft contract documents and any other legal documents required
- Design company logo and brand
- Develop website
- Write website content
- Create accounts on social media platforms
- Design leaflets and brochures
- Organize branded uniforms
- Hold launch party!