Will Phillips, founder of REX Roundtables for Executives, manages 15 Club Roundtables for owners in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. He has consulted to CEOs in 34 industries and nine countries in the last 30 years. You can reach him at Will@REXonline.org.

By Will Phillips

Club owners and managers often get so preoccupied operating their club, responding to member complaints and staff issues and solving problems that they don’t have enough time to sit back and reflect on how to improve their business and make it easier to manage.

Leaders who try to solve every problem and seize every opportunity that comes their way are often spread so thin and are so unfocused that they never get anything done. Instead, they only relieve symptoms and don’t remove causes.

Club owners need to find ways to competition-proof their club before the competition arrives on their doorstep. They also need to discover which changes would free up their time so they can finally take a real vacation.

Here are seven steps on how to use a business checkup form to improve your business.

1. Make copies of the business checkup form for your management team. Encourage your managers to be 100 percent honest when filling out the form. If you don’t have a management team, have your spouse fill it out. As the leader of the club, you then fill out the form. The next step is to compile all the answers on to a copy of the checkup so that you can see everyone’s responses at once.

2. Sleep on the results. Don’t jump to action until the next day. First reflect on the responses, and select one item to focus on for the next three to six months. Choose one that you think will significantly improve how your club(s) operates. Don’t choose two items. What you need to do now is focus.

3. Compose a Getting Better Team (GBT). A GBT consists of you and one or a few others who work together to understand the issue, plan a solution/improvement and track the implementation until it has succeeded. Enlisting a team gives you a higher chance of being successful.

4. Refine your understanding of the item on the checkup you chose. Talk with people who responded to the checkup and ask them the following questions: Can you tell me some more about this item? What do you see around here that leads you to score this below a five? What would benefit if we could improve this item on the checkup? What barriers might prevent us from improving this? The purpose of this step is to better define the issue by better understanding the causes and effects.

5. Learn how others have addressed this issue. This allows you to build on their experience and not reinvent the wheel. To do this, do a keyword search on Google, visit other clubs to see how they have addressed this item, search Club Industry’s Fitness Business Pro’s magazine archives online, attend a Club Industry conference or e-mail me at Will@REXonline.org.

6. Work with the GBT team to formulate a solution with the desired results spelled out along with a date. The team will then initiate implementation and monitor how the solution is working and how it is not. You will need to take time to fine-tune the solution.

7. Return back to the business checkup and select the next issue to solve. Plan on solving three issues on the checkup a year. More is not necessary; continuous improvement is what makes the difference. The other option is doing none of the seven steps and waiting until a crisis creates enough pain to motivate you. Which do you prefer?