3 Tips for Effective Strategic Planning for Health Club Professionals

It's easy for a strategic plan to veer off course. Merritt Athletic Clubs VP Mark Miller shares three tips to keep your strategic plan on track.

Health club operations professionals know that creating and following a strategic plan is the key to their department’s and club’s success—but, often, that is easier said than done.

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“What I find a lot of the time with managers is they get so sucked into the day-to-day they become really reactive,” says Mark Miller, vice president of Merritt Athletic Clubs in Baltimore, MD. “When something unexpected happens it takes them off course, and the next thing they know they’re struggling and they’re never focused on how they can improve business and operations.”

At his IHRSA Institute session, “Strategic Planning for Club Operations Professionals”, Miller taught club operators how to manage more effectively through the development of goals, objectives, timelines, and the implementation of plans. Miller also helped attendees understand the importance of resource allocation, and how to position their team for growth.

Here are three of Miller’s tips for effective strategic planning.

1. Become Proactive, Not Reactive

Club operators need to move from management in the moment to working toward anticipating what is coming down the pipeline, Miller says. By doing that, they can work with their employees to achieve a better outcome based on the company’s long-term vision.

2. Broaden Your Mindset

“Leaders have to start to look outside of the scope of just the fitness arena,” Miller says. “It’s critical to not be confined to your current thinking—to be open and conscious of where your own blind spots are and how you can improve upon them. Sometimes you need a good coach or mentor to help you do that.”

3. Connect with People Who Challenge You

“Surround yourself with people you can learn from and get challenged by and grow from,” he says. “One of the benefits of going to the Institute is these are forward-thinking individuals sharing their insights and knowledge, so you’re interacting and building a network of people you can reach out to.”

Miller’s presentation was designed to help attendees gain a better understanding of their company culture and how it influences their success.

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Marianne Aiello

Marianne Aiello previously served as IHRSA's Senior Digital Content Manager—a position focused on crafting and monitoring IHRSA’s digital strategy and covering IHRSA events.