Use the Upcoming Holidays to Boost Your Business’ Bottom Line!
by Kurt Klingenmeyer
Welcome to the fourth quarter of 2021. These are some of the most exciting months of the calendar year. With so many holidays during the upcoming 90 days, you’ll have numerous opportunities to make your martial arts school the place to be for your students.
These three months also bring numerous opportunities to positively impact your community, grow your student base and provide a tremendous student experience — all at the same time. So buckle up and get ready to finish the year strong.
Mark Your Calendar — October
For kids and families, Halloween is the holiday highlight of the month both in and out of your martial arts school. It’s also a great opportunity to create an atmosphere in your school that keeps students coming back week after week. Listed below are five suggestions for giving your student body a fantastic experience during this spooky season:
What is every kid’s favorite part of Halloween — besides the buckets of candy? Dressing up, of course! During the month of October, you can take advantage of that by designating a week for students to wear their favorite spooktacular costumes to class.
Snap a quick picture of each student in front of your school logo — whether that’s a wall mural, a banner or a sign. At the end of the week, upload all the photos to an album on your school’s social media page. Encourage parents to share their child’s snapshot throughout the week to garner as many “likes” as possible. The student whose picture accumulates the most likes by October 31 wins a $100 gift card to your pro shop.
In this manner, a costume competition can be a win-win for your families and your school. They get to show off their child’s cool costume, and your social media page gets a boost in the form of increased engagement, which amounts to free advertising.
Every parent loves the opportunity to enjoy a night out without the kids. So why not host a fun-filled evening for your students, replete with pumpkin decorating, a kid-friendly Halloween movie, costumes, pizza, Halloween-themed games and, of course, some martial arts?
For this Friday night event — three hours is a reasonable duration — you’ll want to stock up on some monster-size pumpkins. They make fantastic school decorations in the weeks leading up to Halloween. You’ll also want to order pumpkin-decorating stickers. They’re easy to use, and they allow you to avoid the cleanup associated with actually carving or painting jack-o’-lanterns. Kids will love having another occasion to don their costumes.
When you offer this much fun, parents will gladly pay $30 or more for the evening.
Some parents love to get involved in Halloween festivities as much as their kids. So consider hosting a “trunk-or-treat” event in which families can get a little crafty together and decorate their vehicles. While it’s unfolding, give each student three tickets to vote for their favorite vehicles. As they go trick-or-treating, they hand out a ticket to their three favorite costumed cars.
The family that receives the most tickets wins a prize. It can be gear from your pro shop — or a free pass to the next parents night out. Just be sure to avoid scheduling your trunk-or-treat during your city’s traditional trick-or-treat hours or participation could suffer.
One quick-and-easy method for getting the word out regarding your martial arts school during this season is through referral rewards. Before the holiday, have high-quality cards printed. They should highlight an exciting Halloween special such as “Get four weeks of classes and a free uniform.” On the back, include a space where students can write their first name and last initial.
As Halloween approaches, give at least 20 cards to each student and ask them to distribute them while trick-or-treating. If a student brings back a Halloween card and enrolls, the referring family receives a reward such as $50 in cash or $75 in credit at your pro shop.
Bonus! Also distribute the cards to local businesses that have a clientele that’s similar to yours for a little cross-advertising. Suitable businesses include daycare centers, children’s clothing stores, restaurants, toy stores and any other establishment that services families. When you go to propose this, be sure to take some of their advertising materials to give out in an effort to foster a mutually beneficial relationship with local businesses.
Halloween offers an excellent opportunity to integrate several life skills into your weekly mat chats. When you consider that once a year, children ring doorbells and interact with strangers, you can see the logic of setting aside a few minutes during your martial arts classes to discuss these interactions.
What should they say and do after ringing the doorbell? How should they speak? What manners should they use after receiving a treat? Should they ever enter a stranger’s house? What should they do if someone invites them in? Should they ever trick-or-treat by themselves?
By discussing such issues as a class, your students will be better prepared for safe trick-or-treating. And parents will see the value of the life skills you’re teaching their children.
While you may not have time to implement all these ideas in October, utilizing even one or two can enhance the fun-filled and family-oriented atmosphere of your dojo. Students come to you to learn martial arts, but they often stay because of the experience. So embrace the fun of Halloween to engage your students and families and keep them coming back for more martial arts fun.
Mark Your Calendar — November
As we all know, November is all about Thanksgiving and being grateful. But how can you incorporate those themes into your monthly plan at the dojo? First off, it’s a fantastic time to get involved in your community. Whether that’s through neighborhood events, local schools or other venues, you can get your school involved and connected. Here are some suggestions:
While every community is different, November tends to be immensely popular everywhere, especially when it comes to local events. Festivals, vendor exhibits, craft fairs and other occasions often ramp up before the winter holidays get into full swing. Participating in local events and festivals is recommended for fostering involvement in the community and spreading the word about your martial arts school.
When you attend such events, don’t just sit behind a table and try to register families on your clipboard. Make your booth fun and interactive, just like your classes! Focus on the experience: Bring your martial arts gear and wear your gi. Set up a Century BOB with a T-shirt that says, “Punch me 20 times in 10 seconds and win two free weeks and a uniform.” Festivalgoers, young and old, will welcome the challenge.
When they’re engaging, make sure you chat them up, collect their contact information and invite them to a free event at your school the following week.
When you’re focusing on giving back and being grateful, consider your local schools. During the month of November, host a kick-a-thon in your school. This can be a great way to develop a relationship with your local school district while allowing you and your students to raise funds that go back to the schools. Meanwhile, it can give you an opportunity to meet the administrators and staff.
To make this kind of event fun, invite your martial arts students to collect pledges from friends and family members — I recommend a penny per kick or a flat donation. At the actual event, have students do as many kicks as possible in 30 minutes, rotating between stations with various equipment and pads.
Parents get to be involved, as well. They can hold pads and count kicks for their child. Kids earn prizes depending on their pledge totals, and the remaining funds are donated to their school. Be sure to set up an appointment and hand-deliver the check — this enables you to meet the principal face-to-face and get to know each other better.
If you incorporate mat chats or a lesson-of-the-month program into your classes, November is a perfect time to focus on gratitude. There’s no better opportunity to reinforce life lessons. For example, you can take time during each class to talk about what gratitude means and how we can be thankful for all that we have. Or you can mention that November 13 is World Kindness Day, then challenge students to complete random acts of kindness for their families and friends.
By incorporating such lessons into your curriculum, you’ll add value to your program for current members, as well as those who sign up. Also, you’ll foster character development.
As you know, families use November to start preparing for the holiday gift-giving season — which is why a holiday catalog from Century Martial Arts will arrive in your mailbox soon. So why not give each member of your martial arts school his or her own copy to take home along with a retail order form?
Set a pre-order date in November for turning in order forms — the Wednesday before Thanksgiving works perfectly. Kids will love paging through the catalog, and parents will love having access to a few more gift ideas. Place your school’s order immediately, then set the order pickup date to coincide with your mid-December holiday event. This will boost retail sales while helping your students gear up for the coming year.
Mark Your Calendar — December
Wrapping up 2021 in December will be one of the most exciting times of the year — if not the most exciting time. Finishing on a high note is a powerful feeling for you and for your students, who will leave yearning to get back on the mat in 2022. As you enter the holiday season, check out these opportunities for your dojo:
It isn’t the holiday season without a party, so consider hosting a holiday event at your school in mid-December. Take this opportunity to go all out with your decorations. Having a Christmas tree, lights, an inflatable Santa Claus and so on will turn your dojo into a winter wonderland. You can even order a few Santa martial arts uniforms for your instructors to wear.
During the event, serve cookies, desserts, hot chocolate and coffee — and have plenty of holiday music playing. If you can, hire a Santa to pose for pictures with families that attend. Take extra time to socialize with all who attend, whether students or family members. There’s no better time to build rapport and get to know them on a personal level.
Be sure to remind attendees to pick up their retail orders for Christmas. This is a fine incentive to get them in the door — and perhaps do a little extra shopping, as well. Overall, hosting a holiday event requires minimal preparation, which makes it even more worthwhile.
Generally, most families aren’t looking to enroll their kids in activities during the month of December. Most are simply looking forward to celebrating the holiday season. To ensure a steady influx of new students, you’ll need to have an unbelievable special.
“Train the rest of the year for FREE” is about as powerful an offer as you can get. A new student can enroll in your school for $0 down with no monthly payments until January 2022. The only thing that student will need to purchase is a uniform and any equipment that’s required for class.
This is such a strong offer that December has the potential to be one of the strongest months for enrollment. It can set up your school up for an unbelievable January.
As Christmas approaches, every parent is looking for a few uninterrupted hours to shop and see to other preparations. So why not host a parents night out for your students in December?
There are countless ways to make this fun. Play a few Christmas movies. (How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Home Alone and Charlie Brown Christmas are popular options.) Erect stations for crafts such as card decorating and ornament making. Encourage kids to take home their projects and give them to their family members. Christmas cookies make delicious treats, and pizza is always a favorite.
Parents will be grateful for the effort you expended to give them a night out, and kids will leave with memories of a wonderful time at the dojo.
As we head into the final months of the year, there are so many fun and festive ways to celebrate. Be sure to schedule your events early to allow yourself enough time to give your students the most incredible experience possible. As always, if you have any questions about the ideas presented here, reach out to me or any of the MAIA Elite consultants. Happy holidays.
Kurt Klingenmeyer owns two karate schools in Southeastern Wisconsin. With a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in education, he applies his experience as an educator to the field of martial arts instruction. As MAIA’s “launch specialist,” he helps school owners maximize their potential and reach their goals. To contact him, send an email to [email protected] or call the Martial Arts Industry Association at (866) 626-6226.
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