6 Tips for Building a Business Plan for a Successful Sports, Fitness, or Gym Franchise

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fitness business plan

Planning ahead is a key part of becoming a franchisee and the success of your business will be significantly influenced by your decisions in the early stages. With this in mind, we’ve compiled 6 top tips for writing a business plan for a gym, sport or fitness franchise.

There are huge profits to be made in the fitness sector, whether you’re starting a gym, sports league or yoga class. As our interest in physical and mental wellbeing rises, consumers are increasingly looking for businesses with a great track record, an affordable pricing structure and an awareness of customer demand.

But how can you make sure you’re building a business that will attract and retain customers? Here are our top tips when it comes to writing a business plan in the fitness sector.

1. Do market research

This is probably the most common piece of advice for writing business plans, but it’s crucial. To set up a profitable business, you’ll need to know what local customers value in a fitness business and how you can adapt your plans to make sure it works in the area.

If you already know where you’d like to set up your business, you may need to adapt your plans to make sure they’ll work there. If you already have a good idea of what your business will look like, try to find a location that would suit it.

For example, if you will run classes in the latest fitness trend sweeping social media, your business might be best suited to a university campus or city-centre location with plenty of young people. If you’d like to create a more mainstream offering, you could set up in a local leisure park, for instance.

Once you’ve done this, take the time to analyse other local fitness businesses. What do they have in common? What has worked well and what attracts local customers? And are there any potential challenges to your chosen location, such as a lack of parking spaces or far from transport links?

2. Find great real estate

After you’ve decided on your location, you’ll need to find a specific site. During this step, keep your future customers’ priorities in mind. Remember: most people struggle to fit exercise into their schedule, so setting up your business near to offices will give them the chance to pop in before or after work.

Do extensive research before you buy or rent business premises and make sure there are enough potential customers in the area, as well as a high number of office blocks. Gym owner Stephen Sharkey tells aspiring entrepreneurs:

Don't even consider starting up in an area that has less than 70,000 people within a six-minute drive. – Stephen Sharkey

3. Establish your business values and culture

When people go to the gym or take part in a sport session, they want to have fun and feel valued. For this reason, businesses with an inclusive feel, friendly atmosphere and inspiring leaders usually attract and retain more participants.

You’ll have probably already decided on your unique selling points, but how will you make sure your visitors have a positive experience? This is particularly important in the fitness sector, as people can be easily put off. You may want to think about how you can make sure your staff motivate customers and help boost morale across the business.

Employees are more likely to do this if they have high levels of job satisfaction, so you could consider offering staff bonuses, incentives or discounts on essential kit. A staff handbook would also help lay out your ambitions for the company culture.

4. Make booking a breeze

Today, we’re increasingly using our phones to do everyday activities – and businesses are jumping on the bandwagon. Customers appreciate convenience, so creating a mobile-optimised website or app will help put you ahead of the competition.

If you make it possible for people to book classes and do other tasks with the click of a button, you’re likely to attract a higher number of customers than you otherwise would. You’re only limited by your imagination when it comes to developing an app; the more you can do, the more your customers will be tempted to stay. For example, you could provide an option to find out more about the business or even create a profile where users can keep track of their performance.

5. Work out your pricing structure

Pricing forms a big part of the business plan. Obviously, you’ll need to make sure your fees are high enough to cover your expenses, but low enough to undercut other local businesses. As previously mentioned, customers in the fitness sector often struggle to keep up their motivation, so use your pricing structure to keep them interested.

By using introductory offers and cancellation fees, you can make sure your business doesn’t suffer from a drop in revenue – particularly in January, when people break their New Year’s resolutions. Of course, you should think about your pricing as a whole, including how much you’ll charge for each one-off session or class.

6. Outline your social media strategy

Social media advertising can work really well in the fitness sector, so make sure you include your proposals in the business plan. Once you’ve built your business profile on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, you’ll be able to use it to promote your new venture.

Aim content at your target demographic, and use regular posts to encourage people to make a visit. For example, if you run a yoga class, you could provide free yoga tutorials, publicise events and advertise special promotions. As franchisee Lin Green says:

Choose your venue and advertise, advertise, advertise!!! It’s hard going at the start (especially if you’re still working another job) but the highs are so well worth it! – Lin Green, Strollercise Rayleigh

Learn more

Starting a business can be a complicated and lengthy process. We’ve gone through our top tips when it comes to writing a business plan for a fitness franchise, but you can find more guidance on becoming a franchisee here. You can also check out our 'Top 10 Sports, Fitness, and Gym Franchises in the UK' article here.

Alternatively, browse our current franchise opportunities in the fitness sector here.

>> Read more articles on the Fitness sector

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