Wellness Business Plan Strategies: Lessons from Pro Sports

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The best business plan for wellness businesses uses the same playbook that works for pro sports teams. 

Business plans matter. Marketing plans matter. Strategy matters. Great sports teams don’t leave anything to chance. They constantly tune their plans to what’s in front of them. In the clinch, very few coaches would just keep on doing the same thing, tell the team to “try your hardest” and simply hope for the best in the last three minutes.

Yet despite failing to see progress in their sales, marketing, and operations, many wellness businesses do exactly that.

If you don’t have the customers, employees, programs and business results you hoped for, then it’s time to draw up a new playbook.

Ask yourself:

What do you know about the playing field?

As a friend of mine likes to say, “watch the game.” Let’s say you’re rolling out the web content for your corporate wellness program, “Mama asanas” yoga program, or your kickboxing studio.

How can you make sure your content reflects what your customers want?

One fast way is to join Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups that focus on the specific customer needs you’re planning to address. Employee wellness. Latinas in taekwondo. Diabetic athletes. Living with fibromyalgia.

When you know your customer, the answers come easy.

Are you playing to your strengths?

You can use the players you have to be the best team possible, or swap out a good portion of your roster, write off the season, and try to be someone else. (Here in Dallas, we call that “rebuilding”. Ahem.)

Ask yourself: what would your customers say you do best? This goes to the core of the business plan for your fitness or wellness business.

If most of your prospects would say, “Oh! XYZ Fitness is that pregnant-mom-Pilates place,” then guess what: you’re that pregnant mom Pilates place.

What’s that? You were planning to focus on fitness for the whole family? You’ve got three choices:

  • Change your vision of the kind of wellness business you’re growing
  • Change your marketing messages and content to match your customer experience
  • Change your products and services to match your marketing message and vision

But a word of caution — choose Option 3, and you’ll likely lose your existing customers. That may or may not be a bad thing, of course.

Are you using the wrong line-up for the play?

Professional sports teams want players and coaches that get their playmaking strategies.

Think about the woman you have at the front desk who loves your classes but can’t keep track of phone messages. Does it really matter that she’s into yoga? Or should she really be into good customer service?

A brusque “no pain no gain” trainer may fit in well in some sports conditioning programs, but demotivate and depress older adults with high anxiety levels about starting exercise programs.

And a yoga instructor who lacks an instinct for the corporate environment and keeps touching students to demonstrate adjustments may cost you corporate clients.

Are you using the wrong playbook?

…and sending out your offensive team for defensive plays? Your passing team for a running game?

Did you bet your business on social media, only to find out that your big push to reach customers on Facebook isn’t actually doing very well?

Did you cherrypick just the right web copy to help move prospective clients to a purchase, or is it the usual rehash of general fitness and nutrition tips?

What about your email newsletter? Is it more about your new programs, products, and your vision for a fitter America, or does it contain answers to questions and an obvious way to take the next step, whether that’s your website, social, or a phone call?

Do you have “court vision”?

In basketball, this means being able to see not just where the players are, but where they’ll be.

Attracting new clients — and keeping the ones you’ve got — depend on your knowing what to do, when.

Start with your potential clients. Ask yourself what would spark their interest in your business, what questions, concerns and anxieties would hold them back, and how you can clear obstacles to buying from you out of their way.

Now, picture your typical customers’ day, and ask yourself what will grab their attention, soothe their nerves, keep them happy, make them think you’re special, and put a smile on their face the next time they experience your business.

Are you coaching from the press box?

It won’t work. You’ve got to be on the field, getting elbow-deep in what’s happening in your business.

It means checking in with a random selection of customers who cancelled their enrollment. Picking up gym towels. Challenging your landlord on why your lease just went up when half the strip mall you’re in is empty. Looking hard at your financials and decide whether your new classes are bringing in enough to justify what you’re spending on instructors.

Getting your hands dirty doesn’t mean you have to DO all these things, personally. (Although I do think it’s a good idea to call at least a sample of lapsed customers yourself, even in the largest wellness businesses.)

It just means that you have to actively consider the impact they have on your business and take action: yourself, through delegation, or by bringing on outside help (“free agents”) who can get the job done for you.