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Your Epic Comeback: The Right Questions Lead to the Right Answers

by Christopher Rappold

 

If you’re reading this column while this issue of MASuccess is current, chances are you’re a martial arts school owner who’s still dealing with COVID. Never has this industry taken such a hit!

So what are you going to do about it? The answer is you must rebuild, but you need to do so in a way that makes your school stronger and better because of COVID, not in spite of COVID. In this column, I’ll focus on two key areas you should explore to help your school have an epic comeback and sustained retention rate.

To get a clear perspective on this challenge, imagine that an outside expert has been hired to evaluate the scope of the damage that has been done. (Unless you take this step, you’ll be too close to your school to make an accurate evaluation.) Naturally, that third-party inspector would want to talk with you about your staff. The person might start by asking the following:

  • How did your staff behave when the pandemic happened?
  • Which members of your team stepped up with a proactive, can-do attitude?
  • Which members contributed the least to the situation at hand?
  • Which members offered creative solutions and were willing to roll up their sleeves and work?
  • Did you lose any team members you already knew were not right for the position?
  • If you had two years’ notice that COVID was on its way, would you have hired, trained or let go of any team members to prepare for what was coming?

The inspector then would formulate solutions based on the answers you provided. While you can’t roll back time, for the sake of retention and the health of your school, consider the advice that such an inspector might offer and, if appropriate, build it into your strategic comeback plan.

Next, the inspector might focus on your student body:

  • How was communication handled between you and your students?
  • Do you believe you could have communicated in a more effective way?
  • How would your students answer that same question?
  • Do you believe that your marketing choices — specifically, whom you chose to target — created a vulnerability for your school?
  • If so, how can you fix that to ensure better results moving forward?
  • What is your plan to win back the students you lost during COVID?
  • How can you market more effectively with your current budget?
  • What are you doing to show appreciation for the dedicated students who remained with you during the pandemic?

Running a successful martial arts school always has been about two things: getting and keeping students. The most successful schools are those run by people who can readily and honestly answer all the above questions. These school owners then balance the “push” to take action with “patience,” allowing their consistent actions to produce the targeted results.

The challenge we all face these days is obvious: How do we move forward with the lessons of the pandemic while leaving behind its bitterness? With some thought, we can use this unprecedented global event to make ourselves better professional martial artists. With humility, great mentors and hard work doing what we love, the best is still ahead for our schools, our staff members and our students.

 

To contact Chris Rappold, send an email to [email protected]

 

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