All businesses share a measure of complexity. The activities of a company can never be said to be a simple and smooth ride from point A to point B; activities should rather be regarded as an intricate web of processes. These processes fall under the collective term ‘business operations’, and as such, these can differ from company to company.
What Exactly is Business Operations?
Operations start as words on a piece of paper. They are — for all intents and purposes — essential to any business endeavor. At first, they are inserted into the business plan to function as a rough roadmap and to gain a better grasp on all the moving parts of a company (the personnel, the equipment, the processes, etc. ). But sooner or later, every fitness business owner figures out that ‘Operations’ is all about increasing value in the business.
While strategies and processes can always change, certain guidelines remain true for almost any business that wishes to grow. Here are some guidelines that all companies should consider adhering to:
- Building the right foundation from the start. A close-knit team that shares the same goals and is dedicated to achieving those goals can make a huge difference down the line;
- Aiming for transparency within the team. The more information travels from one team to another, the lower the risk of errors and mishaps;
- Choosing the right person for the job. Different individuals have different qualities. It’s important to delegate with this in mind;
- Making use of data for decision-making. Caution is advised when planning for the future. Data collection and interpreting can eliminate a number of variables and increase the chances of smooth-sailing;
- Receiving team feedback. Business owners and staff can easily lose track of core operations, which impedes their decision-making capabilities. Having constant communication with the team can eliminate this;
- Focusing on customer service. This is key to whatever industry you’re in, a business relies on its customers. They should never be ignored or even underestimated;
- Having a long-term plan. The constant change in external factors can topple companies lacking foresight. Good adaptability and planning can ensure both the survival and growth of an organization.
What to do now?
The 5 following items should be treated as somewhat of a checklist for your own fitness business.
Maybe you’ve already checked them all off — Great! Maybe you’ve never even looked at this aspect of your business… that’s ok too. That’s part of owning a business — Continuous learning my friend!
1) Start with your strategic plan.
Ultimately, an operation plan is a tool for carrying out your strategic plan. It’s important, then, to make sure that you have a strong strategic plan already in place, and that everyone involved in your efforts understands it. Without this guidance, writing an operations plan will be like trying to plan a vacation without knowing where you’re going.
2) Focus on your most important goals.
There’s a simple rule when it comes to operations plans — the more complex they are, the less likely it is that a team will follow them successfully. In order to avoid writing a tangled tome of a plan, focus on the goals that truly matter.
Set clear definable goals for your fitness business. Ask yourself (or yourselves as a team) these critical questions to really dig into who you are and what you stand for as a fitness business.
- Why have you started this fitness business?
- Who are you trying to help?
- Why do you want to help them get fit?
- What makes you different from the other fitness business in the area?
- Where do you see your fitness business over the next couple of years?
After asking (and really thinking long and hard) about these questions, you can then determine the key initiatives that will help you (and your team) achieve those goals.
3) Use leading — not lagging — indicators.
Your KPIs will play an important role in your operations plan’s success — so it’s critical to choose the right ones. The most effective metrics are leading indicators: predictive measures that show you what to expect in the future and allow you to adjust course accordingly. By contrast, lagging indicators show you that your progress is falling short only after it’s too late.
4) Don’t develop your KPIs in a vacuum.
The KPIs you choose will guide the work of everyone in your organization for the next year. With this in mind, you should draw on a wide variety of perspectives within your team as you develop those KPIs.
Identify, pursue and track KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) with gentle pressure applied relentlessly.
5) Communication is paramount.
At the beginning of the year, set aside time to share and discuss your KPIs with your entire organization. It’s essential for everyone to understand why you’ve chosen these specific metrics, why they matter, how they will help your organization achieve its goals, and what each individual’s role may be in working toward success.
6) Teamwork makes the dreamwork
Finally, the biggest factor to being successful in business operations, in competing with “budget clubs” or “luxury clubs” or “micro-gyms” — is people. No matter how much money they have, how cheap their memberships are, how much advertising they do or how many locations they might have; there are two things your competitors don’t have: you and your people.
At the end of the day, it falls to the people within your business to actually execute the plans and processes to make it successful. Trust, value and above all acknowledge your team at all times. Do this and you’re greatly increasing your chances of success
As Richard Branson put it…
“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”