The Importance of a Clear Business Plan

by Brian Wright on November 20, 2013

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Brian_Wright

When building your personal training business, it’s important to develop a clear business plan. Most business coaches will tell you to pick a specialty then focus your efforts on it—this is generally good advice. You should also know your product, service, and your target client. Then, hone your focus, concentrate your outreach and marketing efforts to make best use of your resources.  However, if your focus is too rigid, you risk missing opportunities outside of your original scope. These unforeseen opportunities can potentially lead to fantastic growth.  So, it’s important to remain flexible and consider each potential opportunity carefully. How do you come across good opportunities? Opportunities easily present themselves in the presence of effective email marketing and productive, consistent networking.

Although I rely on my business plan for general guidance and a framework for development, much of my business’s growth has happened because of unforeseen opportunities.  When I first started my business, ten years ago, I really didn’t have a business plan. I simply took any client willing to pay me for training services. I was disorganized, my resources were depleted, and I didn’t have a clear vision. Eventually, I examined how I was doing business and realized I could be using my time more effectively while maximizing my profits.

My training business, Brian Wright Personal Training (BW-PT), will have over 650 clients with 527 average sessions per month as of third quarter 2013. BW-PT operates in 13 locations, including corporate centers, rehab centers, fitness centers, one leased studio, and in client homes. Our team of 15 includes trainers, accounting and administrative staff. This growth obviously didn’t happen overnight, it took a flexible but focused business plan and a few good opportunities.

The Importance of a Clear Business Plan

Developing a business plan allows you to focus energy and resources on your goal. This focus allows you to provide a better quality product or service, while targeting your client base conserves resources.

I developed a business plan based on who my clients would be, and centralized on where I would train them. First, I narrowed the scope of by geographic location to minimize the distance I would travel for clients.  This also allowed me to target my marketing to a smaller area. Then, I began to seize any opportunity to centralize training locations. I transitioned from a scattered in-home and fitness center training model to centralizing my clients in corporate, rehab, and commercial facilities.

Soon, I realized the majority of my clients were 45-55 year old professionals.  By narrowing my outreach efforts to this population, I was able to get more bang for my marketing buck than by trying to appeal to a broader market including young professionals or student athletes.  I also realized that it’s important to be flexible, if a high school athlete or team contacts me for training, I can do it, but I don’t waste time or money marketing specifically to their population.

The Importance of Considering Opportunities

Always remember to be flexible. Instead of distracting you from your goals or splintering your efforts, good opportunities can compliment your business plan.

Flexibility has been vitally important to the growth of my business. When I was first approached about training in a corporate facility, I hesitated because it was outside of my original business plan. However, I came to see how expanding the locations for my business while continuing to focus on my target population could be beneficial. The potential of training just 10% of the tenants in a building is staggering, so I simply could not turn down the offer. My business plan needed to expand while remaining specific enough to avoid fragmenting target markets and available resources.

I expanded my business plan again when I partnered with Sport & Spine Athletics (SSA). Again, I was worried about stepping outside of my focus, but when I got the opportunity to build a training program with SSA.  I saw how this partnership could be a great way to provide quality service to my target population. I could reach more people while training at a finite number of locations instead of aimlessly training anyone who came along—I could manage a team at each clinic.

Where Do Opportunities Come From?

How do you put yourself in a position to discover opportunities? Networking, joining business groups, attending business gatherings, conferences, and by general outreach.  The most cost-effective and successful marketing approaches I have found are email marketing and networking. Always work towards creating relationships and partnerships.

BW-PT has trainers in several corporate locations because of networking. At a happy hour event, I met a contact interested in developing  a corporate fitness initiative for XM satellite radio. Two months later, I was managing a 6,000 square-foot fitness facility with access to 7,500 corporate tenants.

In that facility along with four other sister corporate facilities, email marketing played a huge role. In my experience, networking creates the contacts, then email marketing transforms this connection into an opportunity.

I was able to develop a mutually beneficial partnership with Sport & Spine Rehab centers after attending a corrective exercise workshop for physical therapists and chiropractors. I was one of three fitness professionals at a workshop of over 60 rehab professionals. This CEO of Sport & Spine Rehab was looking to reinvigorate the company’s Sport Spine Athletics division. Two months later he contracted my company to operate in that division. We now operate out of all seven locations and continue to increase our client numbers.

Business networking is essential for future growth opportunities, as well as expanding your email marketing list.  And, a business plan with clear goals is important for businesses of all sizes. Always be open to expansion of your plan as you progress. Partnerships, management opportunities, leveraging potential, and buy outs are all ways to skyrocket your training business if you can recognize them when they may only be diamonds in the rough.

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About Brian Wright MS, CSCS, RKCII, NSCA-CPT: Brian is the Owner of BW-PT and Director of Sport and Spine Athletics, with 13 Studios in the DC metro area with over 520 average sessions per month. There’s a renewal rate of 83% on our personal training packages and group training packages.

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