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There Are So Many Ways to Save the Upcoming Summer!

By Kathy Olevsky

 

I've been operating a martial arts school full time for 45 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.

 

 

If you’re looking back on last summer and remembering that it was not a good business season, there is still time to make changes what will allow you to generate income during this upcoming summer season.

As school owners, we often look for new students and opportunities to find leads to those new students. In many schools, those leads dry up a bit over the course of the summer months. If this is the case for your school, then it’s imperative that you create a plan now for an exciting summer to help stimulate the interest of your current students.

What many school owners forget is that your current students are the best source for gaining new students. Their happiness will bring you great referrals.

This is the one time of year when it may be more important to focus on what you have rather than what you don’t have. This is the time of year to keep your current students attending as much as possible, excited and making progress. In our program, we have a list of activities scheduled for June, July and August. We cater these activities to different age groups.

We host Summer Camps that are one week long for ages 6-12. We promote these camps as a way to learn new techniques and progress in their rank. Of course, we market to non-students as well, but our active students make up the core of this additional summer income.

These camps are seen as “babysitting” by some school owners. This is a sign that they haven’t planned activities well. Some schools are able to take field trips, while others don’t have the transportation or resources. Whatever your situation, just make each day is packed with a different activity every 45 minutes, so that your staff and students are never bored.

We have found that our teenage groups respond well to several half-day seminars throughout the summer. We host these on specific topics that are fun for them and hard to teach in a one-hour class.

These seminars are usually conducted from noon to 3:00 p.m. because we find the participants in a better humor later in the day. We fill those three hours with nonstop activity, so there’s no time for them to think about whether they would rather be at home playing video games.

Our adults also love to know that if they are not traveling during the summer months, we can offer them several three-hour crash seminars in martial arts topics that we don’t ordinarily cover in their one-hour classes. These seminars are designed to give them a foundation in something that is difficult to cover without many repetitions.

Weapons seminars are an excellent choice for the adult population.

In addition to the seminars and camps that we offer throughout the summer, we have a few events that are “feel-good” ones for our students.

At the beginning of summer, before all the academic schools are out, we host our annual “Picnic in a Park.” We cook hotdogs and hamburgers and the students all bring some side dish to share. We have all kinds of games planned, but we also allow time for a hike around the park.

We do not teach martial arts our annual picnic because we find it to be a great time to bond with the families.

Similarly, at the end of the summer, we host an “End of Summer Party” for everyone. We provide drinks and pizza and socialize with about 150 people who will show up from 5:00-7:00 p.m.

We do use a portion of this time to have Nerf Gun Wars. We have multiple divisions to make it fair for all ages, but the most popular is parents against kids. The second most popular is students against teachers.

These are just a few ideas to start planning for right now in order to get your summer in gear. It is not too late to plan it, but get busy and do it so you can let all your students know about it as soon as possible!

 


Kathy Olevsky can be reached for questions or comments at [email protected]

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