Get on the road to strategic planning success

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With 2019 underway, it’s a great time to take stock, revisit the vision and set the strategic direction for your venue.

The beginning of a new year is a perfect time to undertake strategic planning – so here’s 6 tips on laying the right foundations.

I can’t understand how any business functions without a medium to long term vision. How else do you adapt and change to different circumstances and opportunities? How else does a business systematically go about identifying weaknesses and fixing them?

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.


1.       Set a date, agenda and involve participants

Every business, excluding sole traders, needs to develop a strategic plan in conjunction with key stakeholders. It’s important to identify who they are and get their buy-in to the process. A great example for clubs is to organise a forum for directors and senior managers that allows them to have a constructive debate about where they want the business to go and what weaknesses need to be addressed.  To help keep participants on track, ensure you develop an agenda and provide clear communication to keep your participants informed and interested.

Likewise, pub owners need to gather regularly to discuss the business and where it should be in 3-5 years.

 2.       Do your research

At the forum, you’ll be 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. The key decisions made in the forum will need to be based on the best information available. Consider researching:

  • 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?
  • What is the regulatory environment look like?

 3.       Involve key stakeholders

While the CEO, owners, or the Board should be involved, you should consider inviting key line managers and some major suppliers such as your bank, accountant, architect or building advisors.

 4.       Facilitate the program

While businesses can choose to use an independent and expert facilitator, some opt to do it themselves. 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?”

5.       Document the outcomes and assign tasks

The missing link is often a commitment to the agreed objectives and initiatives flowing from the planning forum. 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.

 6.       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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