How HERO Martial Arts Academy Found a Winning Formula for Success!
by Terry L. Wilson
We live in challenging times. Last year, COVID-19 put a stranglehold on the economy, and it’s not over yet. Sadly, the pandemic has forced some martial arts schools to tap out. Those that were able to survive the lockdowns and subsequent restrictions on business were left scrambling for ways to get students back in the door.
“Last year was tough,” said Josh Arcemont, owner and head instructor of HERO Martial Arts Academy in Spring, Texas. “It was our worst year ever coming into the new year. January/February/March was a struggle, and I knew I had to find a solution.”
While commiserating with friends and fellow school owners, Arcemont started hearing positive things about the success that schools were having with the Martial Arts Industry Association and its MAIA Elite program. Anxious to end the slump, the sixth-degree black belt decided to take the leap.
“It was a good time to try something new, so around late April, I began implementing the systems,” he said. “The result was a record month and record-breaking second quarter. It was a pretty dramatic turnaround from the first quarter.”
Back to Basics
Arcemont followed the Elite blueprint to the letter, implementing all the advice doled out by the MAIA team leaders. “I started with the Foundations,” he said. “This is where they take you through the four fundamentals of running a martial arts school: pricing structure, upgrades, class schedule and mass intros. We were already applying many of these concepts in our business, but the MAIA system allowed us to clean up our systems and tie up loose ends.
“We revamped our schedule, incorporated a pricing structure that serves our members better and added a higher-level training program for our students. This resulted in better retention, higher revenue and a better customer experience. The Foundations program alone helped us tremendously.”
For Arcemont, one of the most important aspects of learning how to take full advantage of the advice he was receiving from MAIA entailed adopting its method of assessing profit based on “student value” as opposed to the number of students on the floor.
“Before Elite, we had around 234 students,” he said. “We are currently at 272 and growing — on average, we’ve been netting five students per month. One thing MAIA taught me to look at was our student value and not the number of students training.”
Here’s how he breaks it down: “You take how much you gross divided by how many students you have, and that tells you your value. We had an average $130 student value, and I was told you really want that number to be closer to $185. Now I’m proud to say that our student value, after joining Elite, has been well over $200, which means we’ve increased our student value by over $75 per student.
“This has provided us with a new lens with which to view our goals and statistics, and it’s been a very positive metric for us to track our financial growth.”
A Time for Tiers
In addition to increasing student value, MAIA Elite advised Arcemont to establish a system of tiers that interested students can work their way up during their martial arts journey. He began building out his curriculum.
“At our school, we have a basic program that takes students from white belt to black belt,” Arcemont said. “It’s a great martial arts program — students can stay in that program forever, and it will give them everything they need.
“We also offer our Leadership Course, where we teach students how to become confident leaders through public speaking, voice dynamics, enunciation, body language, and stage and physical presentation. This is additional training that goes along with the martial arts because leadership is a facet of a person’s personal and professional life.”
On top of those two tiers, MAIA suggested a third, called the Master Club Program. “The Elite system added an advanced component to our curriculum that not only complemented what we already had in place but also greatly enhanced our bottom line in the process,” Arcemont said.
“In our basic program, we teach taekwondo. In that course, students learn all the kicks, punches and techniques they need to know to get their black belt. In the Leadership Course and Master Club Program, they receive advanced skills in two [other] forms of martial arts.”
For Arcemont, selecting those two other arts was a no-brainer. A state and regional champion with international competition experience, he has a resume that boasts more than 75 victories in sparring. He also holds a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. It comes as no surprise, then, that his highest tier has students augmenting their taekwondo skill set with kickboxing and BJJ.
“Students get that in addition to their leadership skills,” he said. “Over the years, we have learned that as students get older, they need more of a challenge, and that is a big part of what they get from the Master Club Program.”
It starts with teaching them how to teach, he explained. “We believe that teaching is the most important skill that anyone can have. You only know something to the degree you can teach it to someone else. Teaching forces you to look inward, and through the process, not only do your students improve but do you, also.”
Students who participate in this HERO program have their eyes firmly set on the future, which is why they learn life-management skills in addition to the martial arts knowledge that’s needed be a well-rounded teacher.
“Showing a student how to throw a punch or kick requires one specific skill set,” Arcemont explained. “To actually teach a class, to control a class and to correct students, you must master effective communication. So we start our students off by having them role-play in small groups. They can even advance and become instructors in that program.
“We currently have 11 instructors in that program who teach and assist in teaching. Every one of them got their start in our Leadership Course. And now our Master Club Program provides them with the structure to become well-rounded instructors. The Elite program has worked well for us in so many ways beyond just monetary because it’s also providing us with a bench strength of staff as we move forward.”
All About the Long Term
Arcemont always knew it was crucial for his HERO Academy to be an active member of the community in Spring, Texas. A savvy business owner and motivational speaker, he understood that any efforts invested in fostering goodwill eventually affect a school’s bottom line.
“We promote [the school] by keeping a high profile in the community,” he said. “We are partners in education with our school district. We do various fundraisers for the schools like our current Back-to-School Drive, where we collect supplies such as pens, pencils and notebooks and deliver them to the schools. Then our instructors spend the day at the schools teaching martial arts, and that gives us a lot of recognition that also gets people in our door.
“Beyond that, social media marketing is big for us. We use a company called Grow Pro, and we do a lot of grassroots volunteering for events. We truly believe it’s important for us to give back. People want to support businesses like ours that are an active part of community activities.”
Despite his altruistic nature, Arcemont is enough of a realist to know that even though a martial arts school has a mission to give back by teaching martial arts, the school must succeed as a business to stay in business. And succeeding as a business requires investing in said business.
“When I researched the Elite program, I never looked at it in the respect of what it was going to cost me,” he said. “My question was, What is going to be the return on my investment and when will I see a profit?
“If I can see a direct return, then it’s a no-brainer. If I spend $1,000 and make a $10,000 return on my investment, then I’ll take that deal all day long.”
Whenever a monetary investment is involved, a business owner must evaluate the ROI, but know that sometimes the big picture encompasses more than just money, Arcemont said. “For example, with our relationship with the school district or the many community projects we do, there isn’t always a return that you can see right away. But in the long run, there will be a return on our investment in the community. It could be in the form of new students, new relationships or positive PR that eventually opens doors and leads to some money-making venture.”
Assistance From Others
As he travelled the road to the top, Arcemont learned the hard way that for any person — regardless of how smart, talented or creative he or she may be — it’s nearly impossible to achieve success alone. When the growth of his martial arts business had plateaued because of COVID and he’d done all he could do to remedy that, he’s fortunate that he eventually heeded the adage that two heads are better than one. That’s when he reached out for expert advice from MAIA.
“There are some people who feel like they’ve got to do everything by themselves,” Arcemont said. “They just don’t want to listen. They don’t want to learn from someone else. They get into business so they can say they did it all by themselves.
“I know what that’s like because I went through that. I was one of those guys. I went through a period of 10 years when I wanted to do it all my way. I didn’t want to listen to anyone else, so I didn’t. Yes, it worked to a certain extent, but as I started to grow, I’d look at my staff knowing that if I wanted to provide them with a better future, I had to put my ego on a shelf: It’s not about me; it isn’t about what I created.
At that point, Arcemont realized that he needed to do something that would benefit his team, his family and ultimately his students, and that was to seek assistance to grow his school.
He said other school owners who find themselves in a similar situation should not hesitate to do the same. “I came into MAIA determined to do exactly what they told me to do and let the results speak for themselves,” he said. “Then and only then would I gauge how effective the systems were based on their success or failure. Obviously, my association with MAIA has been a very positive and lucrative relationship and will continue to be so as I open additional schools in the future.”
Benefits of Leadership Training
A devoted husband and father, Josh Arcemont is no stranger to doing things that benefit others. He long ago recognized the benefits students enjoy when they engage in martial arts leadership training because it extends far beyond the walls of the dojang.
“A mentor of mine once told me there’s really no correlation between having a great side kick and having a great life,” Arcemont said. “In other words, you can teach kids how to kick and punch, and all that is fine and dandy, but it doesn’t mean they’re going to have a great life.”
True or false, that prompted him to think, What can I add to my program that goes beyond the punching and kicking and can prepare my students for life in general?
“We only have our students for a small amount of time, and while we have their attention, we’ve got to do our best to point them in the right direction,” he concluded. That’s why he created HERO’s Leadership Course.
“Parents can enroll their kids into a martial arts program that teaches them how to defend themselves and then the leadership training translates to how they grow in other ways,” he said. “The self-confidence they take away from the program benefits them in job interviews or college applications. It can help to prepare them to be the best they can be in whatever they do.
“It’s very difficult to find a leadership-development program like ours outside of a corporate program for executives. I was a Boy Scout growing up, and that’s where the inspiration came from. I went through a junior-leadership course, and I know how much it has benefited me in my life, so I said, ‘Let’s do the same thing with the martial arts.’”
Cashing in With Elite
Prior to COVID, Josh Arcemont’s HERO Martial Arts Academy had established a strong personal and business relationship with his students and the community via a series of successful outreach events and programs. However, as good as they were, they suffered during the lockdowns, which took a toll on the entire business. Never one to give up, he decided to join MAIA Elite, and now he’s been cashing in ever since.
“For this, our third quarter, we’ve already grossed more in July than we did in the entire third quarter of 2020,” Arcemont said. “I know that 2020 was a rough year for everybody, but just considering the fact that this month alone we have already made more money than we did last year, that’s amazing.
“Since joining Elite, we have been breaking our revenue records almost every single month. Before MAIA, in 2019 our average was $42k per month, and now we are averaging $52K. With Elite, we have increased our gross profit by $10k. It’s only been a few months, but so far things are great.”
Terry Wilson is an Emmy Award-winning TV personality, as well as a freelance writer and jujitsu practitioner based in San Diego. To contact him, send an email to [email protected]. For more information about Hero Martial Arts, send an email to [email protected].
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.
Fill in your information below and we'll send you new blog content when it's released.