Many club owners never go through the process of developing a mission statement. A mission statement is a strategic management tool to describe the business’s objectives. It provides a cultural contract between the club, its owners, employees, vendors, customers and partners. The mission statement includes the club’s values, goals, beliefs, codes of conduct and so on.

Unfortunately, without a mission statement, club constituents are unsure where the club is going and what is expected of all parties concerned.

A mission statement does make a difference to the bottom line. Publicly held companies have won the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award by a three to one margin since 1994 with mission statements in high compliance with Gast’s Laws. Walter Gast was a professor at St. Louis University who defined the fundamental societal objectives of a business. The laws are objectives that every club should strive to meet.

The first law is to produce a product or service that people need or want. In this case, people need or want a fitness club. However, many club owners have not clearly defined what their clubs really do. Writing a mission statement is an opportunity to address this important question. People also expect a club to continually improve. Being content and standing still is not an option.

The next step in Gast’s Law is to increase the wealth or quality of life of society. A club should improve the community where it is located. Managers and staff both have an obligation to ensure that a club produces quality services in a cost-effective way.

A club should also provide opportunities for the productive employment of people. A club should have respect for employees and not act like they own them. When employees are hired, the club has a responsibility to keep them productively employed.

The fourth step is to provide opportunities for the satisfaction of normal occupational desires. People naturally want to participate, grow and share in the rewards of the club. It is up to the facility owner to make sure these innate rights come through.

The next step is a given: provide just wages for labor. This includes everyone from the janitor to vendors.

Finally, provide a just return on capital. This means maximizing profits subject to the constraints of the other laws.

NEXT PAGE: CREATING THE STATEMENT

Club owners must discuss and understand each law with staff, then determine and write down how their club will achieve each of the six objectives. After club owners have a written description of how their club will achieve each objective, they can draft the mission statement.

Creating a mission statement involves four steps:
1. Form a mission team.
2. Use Gast’s Laws to create the objectives of the club.
3. Write the mission statement.
4. Use the mission statement.

The mission team should include owners and managers of the club who make a commitment to see this process through successfully. The team should include staff from many areas, including fitness, housekeeping, child care, administration, sales, marketing, etc.

The creation of a mission statement that reflects the culture of a club is not simple or quick. It requires a willingness to rewrite drafts and time for the team to process the changes.

Once completed, the mission statement must be used regularly to guide decisions. This is called organizational integrity (meaning the club does what it says it will do). Clubs that respect this process gain the respect of all their constituents.

Finally, post the mission statement in an obvious place where everyone can see it.

The following is a mission statement aligned with Gast’s Laws:

Our mission is to help people lead healthier and more fulfilling lives. We will:

• Be one of the top U.S. health clubs and a model for the industry internationally
• Strive to help our members achieve their goals at every level of the organization
• Retain our members through our commitment to continuously improve
• Provide our members with an environment that is welcoming, friendly, comfortable, fun, attractive, clean and safe
• Be an educational vehicle for our members and the community at large in the field of health and wellness
• Be a significant asset to the communities
• Foster the personal and professional growth of all staff
• Provide an environment that encourages the creative input of all staff
• Strive to be a profitable business able to annually reinvest in improving its services, facilities and personnel

Greg Maurer is an associate partner with New Paradigm Partners. He can be reached at greg@maurer3.com.