By Kathy Olevsky
I believe most martial arts school owners and managers spend a great deal of time wondering what they should do to bring in new members. This is a dilemma I am well acquainted with.
One of the most important lessons I learned in this business came at a time when our numbers were dwindling. I couldn’t figure out how to get more leads. I had already reviewed all my notes from previous martial arts events and tried to double down on referrals — but to no avail.
Then a thought occurred to me: “I can’t be the only one dealing with this!” So, I went through the phone book and gathered the numbers of 10 other school owners. I called them one by one and asked each of them to give me three tips about things they did that garnered new leads. That was a great lesson in networking, as well as an excellent source of inspiration. The other owners were all very forthcoming, and we had a nice exchange of ideas, including what tactics were working and how we could help each other.
Today, it is even easier to repeat this process. This year, I did the same thing, except that I used a method that is much more convenient: I posted in the Century Martial Arts School Network Facebook group. Again, I asked everyone to share three tips. I knew it would be great networking for all of us. And, sure enough, within the first hour, I had nearly 50 ideas! Some members even asked for additional details on other people’s ideas. The opportunity to help others and get help is ever-present and instant, and in the age of Facebook groups, we can reach more people within our martial arts community than ever before.
The most important lesson I learned, however, is the importance of taking action when times are tough. It is easy tell ourselves that the economy is simply experiencing a downturn and that things will get better in a few months. But waiting for the good times of the year will only put us further behind in growth. Many of us have done that over and over throughout the years. We don’t actually grow because we lose members and wait until the fall and even until January to get new ones. Now that we have so many options available online, there is no reason that we can’t take control of a downward trend and reverse it.
Additionally, I have learned that those great months following the back-to-school rush and New Year’s resolutions — when things are already easy — are when we should work our hardest. These are the times people look for us. Instead of just riding the wave, we now work more efficiently to expand enrollment during those seasons.
These are the best times of the year to run BOGO ads to help one lead turn into two. These are the best times of the year to work referral programs with your current students. The bottom line is this: In the dry times, we need to network and find new incentives, and in advance of the fruitful months, we need to plan marketing campaigns to capture even more new leads. That is much better than just waiting for them to come to us.
Kathy Olevsky can be reached for questions or comments at [email protected]
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