By Beth A. Block
None of us ever wants to face the situation one of your fellow school owners was forced to confront a few years ago. It came out of nowhere and left the owner absolutely shocked.
This particular school employed a part-time instructor who had worked there for years. He was super with children. He was patient and caring and inspired even the youngest and most reluctant kids.
Then one day, the studio owner received a phone call from a mom. She said her son would not be returning to camp or class. When the owner asked why, Mom said her son told her that the part-time instructor punched all the new kids in the privates. When her son complained that it hurt, the instructor took him into the bathroom and looked at his genitals and touched him.
This is everyone’s nightmare!
The school owner called me shortly after she spoke to the mom. Over the next several days, the owner and I spoke several times. I want to break down the most important parts of our...
By Philip E. Goss Jr., Esq.
Each year as we change to a new calendar, we look toward a new beginning and new goals. In most United States jurisdictions, the law typically has two “new years”: one that begins January 1 and another that commonly starts between July and November of the same calendar year. These are the timeframes in which newly enacted laws become effective.
You have probably seen newspaper columns or internet posts outlining the recent law changes in your jurisdiction. These notices are not usually exhaustive. They just highlight the changes that are most interesting to casual consumers. Issues that could adversely affect your day-to-day business operations may not be covered or may be buried deep within the news release. It’s interesting to learn how tips must be divided among restaurant servers, and it’s good to know that driving while using a cellphone is unlawful. However, these things have limited value to your martial arts...
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...
How Two Instructors Guide Their Students to Black Belt — and Then Retain Them as Contributing Members of the Dojo!
Rob and Kathy Olevsky (author of MASuccess’ “You Messed Up! Now What?” column) took over a struggling school in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1979. Forty years later, they not only have a thriving business but dozens of black belts who are happy to pay full tuition. Learn what they did right — and a few things they did wrong — along the way!
By Keith Yates
It was the late 1970s, and Kathy Kilmartin was a 21-year-old taking karate lessons at the only martial arts school in Raleigh, North Carolina. She caught the eye of one of the instructors, a man named Rob Olevsky, but the dojo had a strict policy against teachers dating students. However, after repeated requests, the school’s owner says Rob could ask her out on a date — but only if Rob bought out Kathy’s contract in case she quit.
By Kathy Olevsky
All martial arts schools go through phases of growth. Conversely, there are times when their numbers dwindle. The biggest lesson I have learned over the past 45 years in business is that you must properly analyze your numbers to find out why you are not growing and what you have done in the past that has promoted growth.
Prior to using my statistics, I simply went off what I thought was happening. This process of guesswork rarely helped me correct a curve in my business. However, as a small-business owner, I found it difficult to actually access the proper statistics.
Today, there are many software programs designed for martial arts schools. They can help guide business owners by providing all the necessary statistics to correct any depression in business. Before these programs became available, I kept track of our numbers using written charts, which I would periodically review to see what we might be overlooking or doing wrong. This might not be as...
By Philip E. Goss, Jr., Esq.
I have a question for you: What do you call a person you have brought into your business to provide a service that relates to your core product (teaching martial arts)? The answer might seem obvious — clearly, that person is an employee.
Issues arise when businesses choose to turn a blind eye and categorize an employee as an independent contractor. This must end now! New laws require that you err on the side of caution in how you classify your personnel.
A Seismic Shift in the Law
As is frequently the case, California is a trendsetter with respect to this employment law. I won’t bore you with legal details, but the short of the matter is that California, along with a growing number of other states, now uses a greatly truncated test to determine whether an individual is an independent contractor or an employee. There are three determining criteria: First, do you control the worker or direct that person’s activities? Second,...
By Kathy Olevsky
Most martial arts school owners have humble starting places. There are a few who were given the opportunity to take over an existing, thriving program. But, for the most part, we all start in a small, single-instructor setting. The struggles of that type of program are universal from one style to the next, and we all face obstacles.
It is certainly not uncommon to find yourself in a conundrum because you are not feeling well, but you know that, because you are charging your students money for classes, someone still has to teach. I’ve talked to many school owners who don’t know how to resolve this issue. In our early days, we had one instructor and one person who answered the phone. Sometimes it was the same person. When one of us got sick or had a family emergency, it was hard to know what to do.
You have to begin somewhere. One method we found to develop assistants was to start using people in leadership roles during class. This...
By Beth A. Block
Do you have Sensei for a Day classes? How about Mother’s Day classes? Father’s Day classes? These classes give your students a chance to share their sport with their friends and family. They have the added benefit of giving you potential new students.
Waivers for friends are usually procured and signed before the child comes on your floor. Sometimes, the waivers aren’t signed by the friend’s parent. That can be a problem. Your student’s parent might sign the friend’s waiver. Just so you know, those waivers are useless. I recommend you have the child’s parent sign it.
During a Mother’s Day work out, one Mom was holding a floppy bag for her seven-year-old daughter. The martial arts students were doing round kicks to the bag. Mom was kneeling with the bag in front of her face.
The girl didn’t have great control over her round kick. She had only been taking classes for the last six months. On this day, she...
By Kathy Olevsky
I've been operating a martial arts school full time for 35 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.
How many times has something negative been said about you by another martial arts school owner or by the student of another school in your area? I’ve heard this complaint from various martial arts school owners. Some degree of rivalry is inevitable, but it can lead some people to aggressively criticize others. In reality, this is a form of adult bullying.
I have had this happen multiple times over the years. Most often, the...
By Kathy Olevsky
In last month’s column, we discussed credit card chargebacks and a case of “Friendly Fraud.” My school had experienced several transactions being reversed due to a customer dispute.
In most of the cases, our students actually participated in the classes they were disputing, and had expressed no issues. My research into chargebacks and credit card transactions turned up some interesting facts and helped me create a plan to keep my income secure.
According to David DeCorte with Chargeback911, “The timeframe allowed by Visa and Mastercard to dispute a single charge is 180 days. When it comes to recurring charges, however, the cardholder has much more leeway. The time frame allowed to dispute recurring charges involving the same transaction data is left up to the bank that issued the card.”
He adds, “For example, a cardholder could enroll in a service involving monthly charges. Then, after two years, he could decide to...
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