The Martial Arts Industry Association exists to help grow martial arts participation by helping school owners succeed. Many school owners are never exposed to the foundational business concepts necessary to run and grow a successful business. At MAIA, we can help fill that need, as we are made up of school owners who have walked in your shoes, know your struggles, and can help with strategies to elevate you from novice to a "blackbelt in business".
I've been operating a martial arts school full-time for 40 years. I think I may have made every mistake that can be made in this business. The reason I’m still in business, I believe, is because I asked for help. I learned quickly that others before me had already found solutions. In this reality-based column, I’ll point out key mistakes I made in my business career, which are common errors among school owners, both large and small, throughout our industry. Then I’ll share the solutions I applied to overcome them.
In our early years in running a dojo as black belt instructors, we came to work, taught classes and tried hard to manage a business that was our sole source of income. As instructors and owners, we made student progress the priority in the school. While that’s a respectable and sensible idea, it left out a very important pillar of our growth.
I think, in those early years, we were missing a huge opportunity. We basically never showed...
As we exit the holiday season and enter the new year, the media is bombarding us about how the internet is seizing more and more sales from the standard brick-and-mortar businesses.
I am happy to say that my schools are somewhat internet-proof. A portion of our sales do compete with the internet: items like weapons, gear, uniforms, etc. But we have many ways to combat this.
For example, we offer the very best pricing, whenever possible, for purchasing products within the school. We cobrand anything and everything possible, and that becomes the “must-use” products for our students. We frequently offer new t-shirt designs for our student that are only available at the school. Most importantly, we program all product into our curriculum whenever possible.
All that said, my ways of combating internet sales is not the topic of this article. Changing with the times and adjusting to the environment is.
Over the holidays, I went shopping at a...
We’re about to kick off a new year, and can you believe it? It’s already almost 2019! I have always enjoyed the start of a new year. Last year’s in the rear-view mirror and only goals and opportunities lie ahead.
If you haven’t yet taken the time to decide what’s going to make 2019 worthwhile from a martial arts, teaching and business perspective, now is the time to do it before it’s too late. Get yourself and your team ready to avoid making this just a continuation of what has been done in the past. Instead, use it as a chance to do it the right way by clarifying your purpose and bringing your “A” game!
I remember back when I was competing in sport karate. The best scenario was to jump out front with a lead against your opponent. When I was able to start with the lead, I was able to “game-plan” the match on my terms. That means I wasn’t being forced by a time limit into being behind, which would require...
Every year, many school owners ask, “How do I get more students?” To properly answer this question, you have to keep in mind this maxim: “To be terrific, we must be more specific.” So, let’s do a couple of things in this column to be more specific with the student base that you want. As your consultant and someone who teaches the Law of Attraction, I would ask you, among other key questions:
“Do you want students who pay late or more students who don’t pay at all? Do you want more children, teens or adults? Younger or older children? Children with learning challenges? Students who are always late for classes? Parents who leave their children at your school well after their class is over? Students with bad hygiene?”
With these answers, you are building a Clarity List, using contrast (people, places, events you don’t like) to get a clear vision of the students you want to manifest. Remember, contrast creates clarity,...
“Who’s the Master?” No, that isn’t just a callback to the famous line in The Last Dragon. That’s the question new students and their families have when they walk into your dojo. Our job as teachers and school owners is to show them a professional level of service in teaching the martial arts. Here are the three tips to do exactly that.
By Justin L. Ford
Your school’s revenue comes from. . .
What? I’m waiting.
Meditate on this.
You could trace your school’s revenue to the tuition payments that get made, and the activities and events you host, the merchandisesales and testing fees, etc. But while there are plenty of different streams your money can flow in from, it all boils down to one source:
It’s important to remember that your school is driven by your students. And while big classes don’t automatically equate to big bucks for your school, having lots of students is definitely a step in the right...
Back in the 1970s and ‘80s, legendary fighter Jeff Smith pulled off a dual goal unprecedented back then and extremely rare even today. He became a world kickboxing champion while simultaneously mastering the martial arts school business! Furthermore, he pioneered savvy business techniques still practiced by current school owners. Read Smith’s extraordinary story and prepare to come away inspired!
By Herb Borkland
In the early 1960s, when Americans were first meeting the Beatles, Jhoon Rhee, the “Father of American Taekwondo,” owned four schools in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland. He also regularly traveled around the country to a dozen taekwondo clubs, where he tested students trained by some of his black belts. One such club was located in Kingsville at Texas A&M University, where teenaged Jeff Smith’s mother worked and Jeff delivered daily newspapers.
“One day on my route, I noticed a sign for a karate...
By Melissa Torres
Think about your greatest successes in 2018. Now think about how you achieved them. Was it a goal you met? Perhaps it was a resolution you kept. No matter what it was, take a moment to ponder each step you took to accomplish it.
There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I was successful.” It’s not a false statement. You were successful. But, you didn’t do it all on your own. You had a person, a couple of people, or perhaps an entire team helping you achieve your goal.
Sometimes it’s hard to admit, but we weren’t meant to do life alone. I know that I tend to want to get things done by myself. It’s faster. It’s easier. I don’t have to explain it to anyone. I don’t have to follow up and make sure it gets done.
But the truth is that we need people on our team to support us: Someone to cheer us on, help us solve problems, encourage us to be better, and remind us of our own goals. We...
By Karen Eden
Huey Lewis and the News was a very popular Top 40 band for more than a couple of decades. Back in my radio days, I was backstage when Huey Lewis was coming off from a “standing-room-only” performance. I could tell he was more than pleased with his show; he was literally wiping the sweat off of his face.
Just then, I heard someone make a comment to him.
“I remember seeing you at the Aqua Knot nightclub when you were a start-up band,” said the man.
“Oh, wow!” replied Huey, with almost a look of pain on his face.
Huey wasn’t rude or impolite. But I could never understand why he had such a deflated look on his face when that guy told him that. Until now.
A lot of years have gone by since then. I’ve come into my own as an author of four books and a journalist with over 20 years of writing for martial arts magazines and newscasts.
I’m always honored when someone conjures up...
By Dr. Nguyen "Tom" Griggs
Happy 2019, my friends. For this new year, I’m launching a series of columns using the acronym BLACK BELT, as it relates to teams and leadership. Let’s begin.
B Stands for Boundaries
One of the biggest issues clients and loved ones constantly grapple with is conflict resulting from violated boundaries. We all have had an experience where someone violated a boundary.
Boundaries are exceedingly important to your happiness and maintaining healthy relationships with other people. I remember a moment from 5th-grade recess that illustrates the value of respecting boundaries.
As we were playing in the schoolyard, one of the boys was teasing another kid and made a “your momma” joke. The kid on the receiving end warned the mouthy kid to not talk about his mother. The mouthy kid had this smirk on his face, which indicated he was going to test this boundary. A few minutes later, the mouthy kid made another joke...
By Philip E. Goss, Jr., Esq.
I believe we can all agree that pre-employment background checks are a good thing. They’re good for knowing if the prospective employee has any dark clouds that could affect her ability to perform the job in that she’s hired to perform. These checks are exceptionally good for determining if that person has any disqualifying events that could cause your school harm, things like any sex based adverse history or a criminal record.
It’s absolutely vital to prove that you took proactive steps to weed out someone who could commit any crimes against your student population, (again there’s that nasty issue of sex-based harassment or assaults). Background checks will not act to dismiss a case against your school, but they will act as an affirmative defense when faced with a negligent hiring or negligent retention lawsuit.
As with many things, conducting pre- or post-employment background checks is not the easy thing it...
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