Don’t be that Club – Strategic Planning is Essential

What’s that old adage, failing to plan is planning to fail. Its no surprise to someone my age that clubs who religiously conduct and then implement an annual or bi annual strategic plan are the most successful.

A medium to long term vision which consists of strategic objectives allows a business to identify opportunities and adapt to make them a reality? I’m not sure how a business governed by a board or committee can systematically identify weaknesses and opportunities without a strategic plan. It flies in the face of conventional thinking and wisdom.

If your venue is starting a strategic plan from scratch, or revisiting an existing one, here’s my five minute how-to guide on creating the solid foundations of a strategic plan.

30 years of conducting strategic plans have allowed me re-fine the planning process. All that is needed is one day of your boards time and we can all bring together a strategic plan that will address strategic issues which have been bouncing around for years, no doubt. The alternative, which I have seen many times before is that you end up with a strategic plan that is not supported by the everyone, takes months to organise, focuses on operational issues and not strategic ones and in all certainty gathers dust in your bottom draw.

How does it work

Collectively setting the vision of the business for the next ten years or longer as well as creating a critical action plan for the next two years is the goal.

The key decisions made in the forum will be based on the best information available. We research:

  • Area demographics and trends
  • Business profitability –identify the most and least profitable parts of the business
  • Survey research of staff, management, customers/members
  • Financial position of the business – when can more capital be accessed?
  • SWOT
  • What is the regulatory environment look like?

Involve key stakeholders

The GM/CEO, owners and the Board are involved.

Facilitate the program

I know in our own business, it is hard to facilitate our own strategic plans. Believe me we have tried. The facilitator must stick to the agreed agenda, keep the interest of the group and summarise the contents and discussions. After good discussion on a topic, we find ourselves summarising the general thrust of the discussion and asking “what does that mean for your business?”. Our experience has shown that an external facilitator achieves an overall better than an internal facilitator.

Document the outcomes and assign tasks

The missing link is often a commitment to the agreed objectives and initiatives flowing from the planning day. The outcomes should include:

  • Agreed objectives
  • Initiatives to achieve the objectives
  • Assigned staff who will manage and take responsibility for the objectives
  • An established timeframe for the initiatives to be completed
  • Supervisors to manage the process
  • Devise metrics to measure the success of each objective/initiative

Of course, it wouldn’t be a strategic plan without an agreement on the Mission, Vision, Core Business and Values.

Adopt outcomes as a part of your monthly business review

Management teams, Owners and Directors benefit from placing the strategic plan as a continuing agenda item on monthly meetings. It keeps it fresh and relevant and makes sure the initiatives are being pursued.

DWS is a specialist strategic advisor to a host of hospitality and gaming venues. Contact us at for a confidential discussion on strategic planning.


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