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 home-goods type store where they sell items for the kitchen and bedroom, as well as general and specialty merchandise for your home. I arrived on a Sunday at 10:00 a.m. sharp assuming it would be open. After all, it was a holiday weekend and half the country was shopping by this time of day. Not only was the store not open, it wasn’t scheduled to open until noon. I was shocked!
As I waited in my car, I turned on MSNBC and, by the wildest of coincidences, the topic of discussion was how internet sales are killing traditional brick-and-mortar stores. They mentioned the name of one store being especially hard hit by cyber sales. Even more bizarre, the company they referenced was the exact one where I wanted to shop that morning!
I couldn’t help but think the company was participating in its own demise. On a huge shopping day, it didn’t open until noon, despite knowing that people go out shopping early during the holidays. My choices were to go elsewhere, hop on the net or wait two hours for the store to open. I can tell you waiting was not an option for me.
It made me think how, as an industry, we have dealt with changes. Those who were flexible thrived and those who were rigid haven’t fared so well.
For example, a big market change was the switch from adult-focused schools to having kids. Many people don’t remember that martial arts students in the ‘70s and early ‘80s were mostly adult men, but not anymore.
Many schools changed and added classes with either a jiu-jitsu or MMA theme when they saw its popularity soar. In addition, think of how Tae Bo changed our lives forever by adding fitness to our curriculum for the first time and bringing more women in the front door!
Ponder these questions. “Are you like the many stores that have adapted to the changes in business as a result of the internet? Or, are you more like a Sears store that has fallen victim to lack of change and competitiveness?”
Some of the adjustments I see in our industry do not necessarily require a major change or a total reversal of course. It’s more about paying attention to detail and making your school more consumer-friendly.
For example, fitness is here to stay. Do you have a fitness program? Or, at bare minimum, are you marketing your martial arts classes to adults as an alternative to fitness?
Self-defense will never go out of style and martial arts schools have always been the place to go for that training. However, there’s a wider variety of self-defense needs in today’s world. For instance, street self-defense for mugging, assault, active shooter, carjacking, and self-defense for women. They’re all different but the same. Have you modified your instruction to embrace these needs?
Bullying brought changes to our industry. Fortunately, many schools have added a bully-prevention system to their classical self-defense. Now, we face the challenges of the cyber bully.
Recognizing the opportunity and some tweaks in your curriculum is all it might take to become more successful. Don’t let yourself become like the store that doesn’t understand opening early during the holiday season.
To learn how to change with the times and new environments, join us at the 2019 MASuperShow. Visit masupershow.com or call MAIA at (866) 626-6226 for more information.
Contact Frank Silverman at [email protected] Follow Frank on Twitter and Facebook @ franksilverman.
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