Do you want to grow your school, improve your teaching, excite your staff, and train with some of the best martial artists and best business people in the industry? Attend the Martial Arts SuperShow in Las Vegas this summer, June 30-July 3. It will be the best investment you make in time and money for your business this year!
The proof? Freelance journalist David Barnett to interview instructors and school owners from last year's convention — without any input from us. Here’s how they used what they learned at 2018’s MASuperShow to improve their profits and professionalism.
By David Barnett
The 2019 MASuperShow is the place to find your answers. Whatever you’re looking to learn or accomplish, you’ll find it in Las Vegas this summer. From opportunities to learn from the biggest and brightest (and most successful!) school owners in the country, to the chance to train with some of the best living martial artists, there’s something for everyone at the 2019 MASuperShow. It will be the best investment you make in time and money for your business this year!
Each year, I write an article about several school owners and instructors who attended the previous year’s MASuperShow and how they used the information they acquired there as a springboard to improve their schools. From small school owners attending their first event to veteran multi-school owners with hundreds of students, these motivated individuals have used their experiences at this remarkable convention to drive themselves and their businesses to even greater success.
Here’s how some attendees and their staff members implemented what they learned at the convention to elevate their schools’ success.
NORTHWEST WADO-RYU KARATE
Most martial arts school owners start out because they are good at martial arts, they have found that they have a talent at teaching, and their passion for the martial arts creates a desire to share their knowledge with others. It may start out as a hobby, but some have a dream of one day pursuing teaching martial arts as a full-time career. In a very short time, Christopher Schwartz has been able to do just that!
Christopher Schwartz holds the ranks of Shodan and Nidan in wado-ryu karate. He runs his school, Northwest Wado-Ryu Karate, in a town in northwest Idaho. In 2018, Schwartz attended his first MA SuperShow.
“We were a school with only 25 students, grossing barely enough to cover rent,” he says. “Around March of 2018, I saw an advertisement about the SuperShow. I also saw it highly recommended by Mr. Leon Rogers [Senior Vice-President of Century Martial Arts]. I started to do research and read everything I could about the event. I was very impressed with the list of speakers and clinicians. My school had been on a very slow growth pattern, and I knew I needed something to help me grow the school. My gut instinct told me that I needed to go, in such an overwhelming way, that I thought it would be good for my sister school, West Coast Wado-Ryu, in Olympia, Washington, to attend as well.”
Schwartz had a dream and a plan for attending the SuperShow: “I hoped to learn some specific devices to grow my school. I figured if I learned two or three really good ideas that I could bring back and implement in my dojo, it would make the trip well worth it.
“My one goal that I would have loved to achieve after attending the SuperShow was to be able to work full-time in my dojo, pursuing my passion in life.
“I prepared quite a bit for my first trip to the Martial Arts SuperShow. My only goal for the event was to learn things to help my school grow. Little did I know that not only would I learn far more than two or three things, but I would also learn the value of solid business practices.”
“Without attending the SuperShow last year, I would probably still be on the same path I had been on – working 60 hours a week at one job, and then going to my dojo and trying to teach, and then doing all the administrative things on my days off from my job. At the SuperShow, I took the next step, which was MAIA Launch. From there, I started to grow.”
In a very short time, using the information and motivation he gained from the SuperShow, Schwartz achieved his goal!
“Amazingly, only nine months after the Show, I was finally able to go full-time in my school,” Schwartz says, and adds, “The MA SuperShow has changed my life for the better!”
When asked what he liked best about attending the 2018 SuperShow, Schwartz had a lot of things to say.
“There are too many things about the SuperShow that I liked, loved, adored, or admired,” he gushes. “However, the one thing that impressed me above all else was the level of respect. Not just from other attendees, but from the big names and industry giants. Mr. Jamie Gudell welcomed us and treated us as if we were a big school. Mr. Leon Rogers gave us the VIP treatment, and even sat us as VIPs at the opening ceremony. Mr. Michael Dillard, Sr. even knew of our system of karate, and I have not met many people who have even heard of it. Mr. Bill Wallace came up to me and chatted as if he were just an ordinary person. So many others, too many to even name. Here we were, a school with only 25 students, and we were treated with respect and support!”
The first time someone attends the SuperShow can be overwhelming. In addition to the great seminars and learning opportunities, the trade show, where various vendors get to show off their products and programs, gives school owners the chance to learn about tools and products they can use to help them succeed.
“I did not buy much at the show, but I trust my gut, and when it tells me to do something, I do it,” Schwartz says. “There was one thing that did stand out, though. We went to the Small School Business Forum, and we learned about the MAIA Launch program. This program seemed like a no-brainer to me, so we started the process.”
The secret to success in school ownership doesn’t end with just attending the SuperShow, but in implementing new ideas to help your school grow. Using some new ideas he learned, Schwartz began making changes.
“We still teach the same way, just with more focused classes,” he says. “Before, we just had class times. Now we have classes broken down in to ranks, program types, and even specialty classes. Our enrollment has grown very steadily, and I credit this directly to the addition of new programs and upgrades.”
Schwartz added a “Samurai Program” and a “Shogun Program”, both upgrades in which the student must be nominated by an instructor, where the student can take additional classes and specialize in new areas of martial arts.
He learned about the value of mass enrollments, using events to help drive fast growth.
“After the SuperShow, we signed up for a booth at our county fair and started our mass enrollments. We saw a growth of 20 students in one day!”
Schwartz also learned how to partner with local schools, something many martial arts school owners struggle with. “We started helping out our local schools, going to the schools, and working with them at events. We have seen an increase in support from those schools and have gotten to a point where schools are inviting us to come.”
He adds, “We started getting out more in front of our target audience: kids! We have also stepped up our online presence and marketing more online. The combinations of our various methods of community outreach has helped people to recognize our logo, and sometimes they will stop me out in public to ask for more information. We are gaining recognition, and people in the community now know who we are.”
Schwartz will continue his success and plans to attend the 2019 MA SuperShow.
“The benefits for my school and myself are the same thing, but also very different. I gained the ability to be full time at my dojo, and free from other obligations. My school, on the other hand, gained my undivided attention.
“The SuperShow put me on my true path. It has helped me to reach more people, and to help people in need. I am eternally grateful to the guidance I have received.”
“Yes, we will be at the SuperShow again this year,” he concludes. “While we have learned a lot, we are still just beginning our journey.”
KICK START MARTIAL ARTS
In addition to holding a 4th degree black belt in tang soo do and a 1st degree black belt in taekwondo, Renard Beaty has a master’s degree in training and development. All of these come in handy as he teaches over 170 students, most of them children, at his school in Atlanta, Georgia.
Beaty attended his first Martial Arts SuperShow in 2018.
“Having been open for six years, it was part of my business plan to attend in order to seek more knowledge (handling growth, best practices, developing an instructor team) and understanding about how well I was doing compared to the industry standard,” he says. “I went to the SuperShow thinking I was a small school, but while I was there, I discovered that KSMA is considered a large school.”
Beaty had some specific goals in mind for the SuperShow.
“Most significantly was keeping my students front and center and creating better training classes for them. Second, I wanted to build a strong and dynamic training team. And finally, I wanted to discover strategies for managed growth.”
He adds, “My priority was learning how to create a better customer experience through organized, challenging, and exciting instruction, because happy and satisfied customers bring in more customers.”
The trade show allows school owners to discover new tools and products to help their schools. While he didn’t buy anything, Beaty still took advantage of the trade show.
“I established a relationship with Century’s custom department to create custom uniforms for my clubs. Since this was my first time [at the SuperShow], I didn’t realize that I could get special pricing for large orders, but next year I will be more prepared to shop.”
People come to the SuperShow to get new ideas to implement in their schools. Based on what he learned at the Show, Beaty was inspired to add several new programs and classes to his school.
“Our Basic Program option allows the basic student to not feel the pressure to learn more than they wanted,” he explains. “Not all students want to go beyond the basic requirements needed to successfully be a black belt. This option provides a [positive] atmosphere for new students to figure out if they want to do more.
“We implemented SWAT (Special Winning Attitude Team) for the students that are thirsty to learn more and want to spend more time in class. This has been received with great success. Parents have told me that their child regained their excitement.”
Beaty adds, “Because you have to be nominated for SWAT, the basic students are training better and demonstrating appropriate behavior at school, home, and in the studio with the hope of being nominated.
“Weapons classes are a great addition and retention tool. The students enjoy learning how to use various weapons for protection, but they also learn how to defend against them using empty hand skills, as well as learning skills and tricks to help at tournaments.”
Schools must constantly seek to recruit new students, as well to increase retention of existing students. One can learn many new marketing ideas at the SuperShow.
“I am trying a new marketing strategy, offering a very low rate, the cost of a uniform, for one month of classes, and a birthday party with guests,” explains Beaty. “I have experienced great results. In one month, seven people took advantage of the offer, and five enrolled before the month of lessons was done.”
Beaty also holds a number of events for students and non-students alike.
“I am continuing to hold events that my students love to participate in, like board-breaking clinics and tournament training. I will repeat these events in the fall and spring. Each month I offer Parents Night Out, and I do a summer series on women’s self-defense. Both are very well-attended. I am now trying to offer free community workshops (stranger danger, bully defense, etc.), but it’s too early to see results.”
Like other successful instructors, Beaty is open-minded and is always looking to improve his methods.
“I always knew that we learn differently at different stages of development. Attending Melody Shuman’s seminar allowed me to present this in terms that help the parents see that I am different from other martial arts studios,” he explains. “I enhanced how I present my teaching method to parents, establishing that we are more than just a place where students build confidence. I explain that we develop four major areas of development. Once the parent understands that we strengthen the emotional, social, intellectual, and physical areas of development, as well as how we develop leadership skills in my older students based on my 20 years of experience as a Corporate Leadership Instructor and coach, they are motivated to take the next step.
“I also organize my training into themes like strength, endurance, partnering, etc., for my Little Ninjas, and I do more application talks to my other classes which helps with proper training.”
Beaty will be back to the SuperShow this year, and he encourages others to attend, as well.
“Treat it like a business event and not vacation,” he urges. “Go to the seminars, network with other studio owners, keep an open mind on new strategies, and don’t be too quick to say that something won’t work in your studio.”
Beaty concludes, “I started my martial arts training at 16 years of age to develop mental discipline for the track team. I loved it but stopped when I went to college. Fast forward to when I was 42, and I had the urge to get back into martial arts. I found a style and a Grandmaster that reminded me of my first Master, so I enrolled. Six years ago, I started my studio with a business plan. I followed it and felt successful, but I did not know where I stood as a school in my industry. Going to the SuperShow allowed me to see that I was doing very well. I learned how to think like a large school, which has delivered great results. I had a goal of 20 percent growth over last year; I am already currently 18 percent above my 2019 goal, thanks to my MAIA consultant pushing me into my discomfort zone.”
CHURCH’S TAEKWONDO AMERICA
With a 6th degree black belt in taekwondo and a brown belt in weeping-style jujutsu, David Church teaches traditional taekwondo to about 175 students in his Maryville, Tennessee, school.
The 2018 Martial Arts SuperShow was Church’s second, having attended the prior year as well. In addition to attending himself, he brought four team members with him to the Show so they could also benefit from the great experience.
Some people attend the SuperShow just to see what it’s all about. Others have specific challenges they want to find solutions for. The SuperShow has something for everyone.
Church explains one of his motivations for attending last year: “I decided to attend the SuperShow because I was tired of working day in and day out trying to grow our student count and revenue, yet always staying in the same spot. We would gain 10 new members one month just to lose 10 the next month. Our classes were incredible. My instructor team was incredible. Our program was incredible. I knew there had to be something that I was missing on the business side of my school.
“My main goal in attending my first SuperShow in 2017 was to just take it all in and learn as much as possible. I know that is very vague, but I didn’t know exactly what to expect. I knew that I wanted to learn some new marketing strategies and find a website developer. Our website had struggled for years to produce leads, and at the show I was able to meet the companies, compare their services and products, and even get a great deal for signing up! By the time my plane landed back at home, our school had an amazing website. I even had a qualified lead!
“Last year, 2018, I knew what to expect and had a very detailed plan. My team and I split up to have a presence in each and every seminar, taking detailed notes to be discussed at length at a later time. I wanted to find an app for our school to be able to communicate with our members and families more effectively and offer them convenient event registration and purchasing power. I also needed to change our front desk software. Again, the trade show floor offered me the opportunity to compare and contrast the different platforms and figure out which would serve us the best.”
For 2019, Church has ongoing goals: “I really need to learn how get more organized and improve my time management. And I am always interested in seeing the new products from Century that can improve the class experience for my students.”
When asked what he liked best about attending the SuperShow, Church was enthusiastic.
“I love the professionalism of the event,” he explains. “The attendees are very eager to learn, whether it be during martial arts training sessions or business seminars. The instructors are the best in the country. They know their arts, and they have a passion for sharing their knowledge. The MAIA consultants are second-to-none. The information and business strategies that they provide to all of the attendees is enough to make dramatic positive changes to any school’s bottom line.”
Church also enjoys seeing the various vendors.
“The trade show is overwhelmingly awesome!” he exclaims. “There are so many products available for schools of all disciplines and sizes. The sales people are very willing to answer questions and inform the attendees about their products without pushing for a sale. I have purchased so many new products from the vendors at the SuperShow. Many of the products that we purchased were smaller. For example, I purchased several rolls of student-of-the-day stickers that we give out in every class every day. I purchased adhesive striking targets that stick to our heavy bags to give our students small targets to aim for. We also picked up several sets of Finger Armor to protect our students’ fingers while holding boards.”
Church also made some bigger investments in his future: a new website, a new software company, and a MAIA Elite membership.
There are always great ideas at the SuperShow that school owners and instructors can use right away to grow and enhance their schools. Church took advantage of a number of ideas and took the steps to implement them.
“We changed from month-to-month memberships that were the same cost for everyone to 12-month programs with a variety of different payment plans. This has had a profound impact on our school. Our students are sticking around longer, and we have a pricing plan that will meet every budget.
“We got serious about marketing in our local schools. Through school supply drives, teacher breakfasts, community events, intent to promote forms, buddy days, and other similar events, our relationship with our school system has never been better.
“We also implemented an upgrade program for our students. Now, in addition to our traditional taekwondo program, we are offering weapons training, tricking, and jujutsu. Our students love the opportunity to take their training to the next level, and I love the opportunity to increase my average student value.”
Church also implemented new marketing ideas.
“The biggest new marketing strategy we have implemented since attending the SuperShow is mass enrollments,” he says. “These are huge! In addition to booking individual appointments daily, we now offer free events in which large numbers of potential new students can attend, learn new skills, and potentially enroll in our program. Our best mass enrollment so far was a free anti-bully workshop in which we enrolled 23 new students in an hour-and-a-half.”
Church adds, “Our classes are so much better now thanks to the added excitement that tons of new students bring.”
“The biggest benefit I have received from attending the SuperShow is the feeling that I am now running my school instead of the other way around. I have specific goals, a plan to achieve them, and systems in place to make it happen. Although we have grown considerably, I am actually working less now and have far less stress.”
Church will be attending the 2019 SuperShow without question: “There is no way I would miss the 2019 SuperShow. We are bringing even more team members with us this year. I can’t wait!”
Church offers some advice for anyone who is new to the SuperShow.
“Do a little bit of research. Reach out to others who have attended in the past so that you can formulate a plan as to what you want to achieve when you get there. Also, be sure to look at all of the materials that are available prior to the event so that you know what seminars you will be attending. Finally, don’t buy anything the first day. You are so bombarded with desire the first day that you will end up purchasing a lot of stuff that you may not need or use. Sleep on it. All of the vendors will still be available the next day and will most likely be less busy. This gives you an opportunity to discuss their products in detail.
“Finally, take action! No matter how much knowledge you acquire or how many new products you purchase nothing will help your situation unless you act!
“The SuperShow can be a bit intimidating, I know. It’s a huge event! It’s a big investment of time, energy, and money. But no matter what your fear is, the SuperShow is more than worth it!”
I WANT TO GO, BUT I CAN’T!
Some readers may be saying to themselves, “It sounds great, but I just can’t go.” Maybe they feel they can’t afford it. Maybe they feel they can’t take the time away from their school or their jobs. There are tons of reasons – or rather, excuses.
Let me take a minute to give you my personal observations and experiences, from having attended almost every SuperShow (except the very first one) and talking to countless attendees, from school owners and instructors to front desk personnel. Here are some comments:
“Every year when I went, I came back with great ideas that helped my school grow and stay competitive. Our retention was always good, and the teaching and curriculum changes made it better.”
“Marketing was always a challenge for me, especially since, like many school owners, I also had a full-time job outside of my dojo. I always took home ideas that were simple to implement and free or nearly free that brought in more that enough students to pay for the trip.”
“I had good instructors, but when I started taking them to the SuperShow, they got better. They were more motivated. They were excited. They became even more passionate. And they wanted to help the dojo succeed.”
I have several friends who own schools as well. I’ve been trying to convince them into going to the SuperShow for years, but they couldn’t afford it, had a birthday party they had to go to during the SuperShow (I’m not kidding), didn’t want to close the school for a week, or said they were doing just fine on their own. One of them dropped from 100 students to 10 in less than two years and had to file bankruptcy. One of them is the same size as five years ago, with around 30 students. He’d like to make it a full-time profession, but just can’t understand why he’s not growing.
Others are just constantly complaining that they aren’t growing. They aren’t getting enough students to replace the ones that are leaving. Marketing is too hard. They are spending too much time doing things they don’t want to do. They are getting burnt out and lack the passion that got them into teaching in the first place.
All of these people worked hard. However, there is a big difference between working hard, and working smart.
What about you? Are you where you want to be? Are you completely satisfied with the direction your school is heading? Are you growing each year? Or are you frustrated? Is your school the same size as it was last year, or maybe even a little smaller? Do you wish you could breathe some new life into your school and staff? Do you want to touch more lives through martial arts than you do currently?
I’ve been writing this article for over 10 years. I’ve never talked to a single person who went to the SuperShow and didn’t think it was worth it.
If you attend the SuperShow with an open mind and some goals, and learn from people who are successful and are where you want to be, you will take home some great ideas that will help you take your school, your staff, your students, and your business to the next level.
You owe it to your school, your family, your students, and yourself to be there!
And if you go for the first time in 2019, I’d love to hear about (and write about) your experience. Contact me and tell me about it!
Colorado Springs’ David Barnett has been studying martial arts for over 30 years. He is a 5th-degree black belt in taekwondo and a 2nd-degree in goju-ryu karate. He can be reached by email at [email protected], or, you might run into him at the 2019 MASuperShow!
Interested in Sharing Your Success Story in a future MASuccess Article? If you would be interested in sharing your MASuperShow experience and subsequent success story for possible inclusion in next year’s Profiles of Success article, email David or text your email address to him at (719) 290-1508!
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