The Martial Arts Industry Association exists to help grow martial arts participation by helping school owners succeed. Many school owners are never exposed to the foundational business concepts necessary to run and grow a successful business. At MAIA, we can help fill that need, as we are made up of school owners who have walked in your shoes, know your struggles, and can help with strategies to elevate you from novice to a "blackbelt in business".
Back in the 1970s and ‘80s, legendary fighter Jeff Smith pulled off a dual goal unprecedented back then and extremely rare even today. He became a world kickboxing champion while simultaneously mastering the martial arts school business! Furthermore, he pioneered savvy business techniques still practiced by current school owners. Read Smith’s extraordinary story and prepare to come away inspired!
By Herb Borkland
In the early 1960s, when Americans were first meeting the Beatles, Jhoon Rhee, the “Father of American Taekwondo,” owned four schools in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland. He also regularly traveled around the country to a dozen taekwondo clubs, where he tested students trained by some of his black belts. One such club was located in Kingsville at Texas A&M University, where teenaged Jeff Smith’s mother worked and Jeff delivered daily newspapers.
“One day on my route, I noticed a sign for a karate...
Every year, many school owners ask, “How do I get more students?” To properly answer this question, you have to keep in mind this maxim: “To be terrific, we must be more specific.” So, let’s do a couple of things in this column to be more specific with the student base that you want. As your consultant and someone who teaches the Law of Attraction, I would ask you, among other key questions:
“Do you want students who pay late or more students who don’t pay at all? Do you want more children, teens or adults? Younger or older children? Children with learning challenges? Students who are always late for classes? Parents who leave their children at your school well after their class is over? Students with bad hygiene?”
With these answers, you are building a Clarity List, using contrast (people, places, events you don’t like) to get a clear vision of the students you want to manifest. Remember, contrast creates clarity,...
“Who’s the Master?” No, that isn’t just a callback to the famous line in The Last Dragon. That’s the question new students and their families have when they walk into your dojo. Our job as teachers and school owners is to show them a professional level of service in teaching the martial arts. Here are the three tips to do exactly that.
By Justin L. Ford
Your school’s revenue comes from. . .
What? I’m waiting.
Meditate on this.
You could trace your school’s revenue to the tuition payments that get made, and the activities and events you host, the merchandisesales and testing fees, etc. But while there are plenty of different streams your money can flow in from, it all boils down to one source:
It’s important to remember that your school is driven by your students. And while big classes don’t automatically equate to big bucks for your school, having lots of students is definitely a step in the right...
I've been operating a martial arts school full-time for 40 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.
In our early years in running a dojo as black belt instructors, we came to work, taught classes and tried hard to manage a business that was our sole source of income. As instructors and owners, we made student progress the priority in the school. While that’s a respectable and sensible idea, it left out a very important pillar of our growth.
I think, in those early years, we were missing a huge opportunity. We basically never showed...
As we exit the holiday season and enter the new year, the media is bombarding us about how the internet is seizing more and more sales from the standard brick-and-mortar businesses.
I am happy to say that my schools are somewhat internet-proof. A portion of our sales do compete with the internet: items like weapons, gear, uniforms, etc. But we have many ways to combat this.
For example, we offer the very best pricing, whenever possible, for purchasing products within the school. We cobrand anything and everything possible, and that becomes the “must-use” products for our students. We frequently offer new t-shirt designs for our student that are only available at the school. Most importantly, we program all product into our curriculum whenever possible.
All that said, my ways of combating internet sales is not the topic of this article. Changing with the times and adjusting to the environment is.
Over the holidays, I went shopping at a...
It's almost the New Year, the time for resolutions. Grand expectations. Weight loss. Goal-setting. Making a change for the better and trying to stick with it for the next 365 days.
Then, the first week winds down and the confetti settles. Champagne gets flat. By this time, I can’t tell you how many Facebook posts I see saying things, “Can we just start this New Year over?” Or, “I need a re-do.” And, of course, the standard: “This is the worst year ever!”
Since we have such high expectations for the New Year, we get frazzled at the first thing that goes wrong. We tend to associate the first week of the New Year with how the rest of the year will go. We think, “Why does everything happen to me?”
Having expectations and setting goals is important and you should definitely do it. In fact, if you haven’t written out a list of the goals you want to accomplish, stop reading and do it now! We have all heard that you...
Last month, we discussed the first three mindsets of a successful martial arts school.
This month, we’ll address mindsets four and five.
With that said, if there’s one area that we are still weak in as an industry, it is student/parent communication.
What I’m referring to here is the importance of giving consistent, quality feedback to all of our students and their parents on their progress. We do this by sharing with them what they are doing well and how they can become better. As simple as this may sound, it’s extremely...
This month, let’s discuss levity and its role in leadership and teams.
“Levity” is “cheerfulness” or “enjoyment.” As we work and try to manage successful businesses, it’s easy to lose sight of just having fun. Honestly, there are some days when we fight just to get out of bed.
However, there are always moments when some joyfulness and laughter can be found. Even when things seem hard or crazy, you have to be intentional in finding levity. Allow me to share a wild but true story.
In my previous column series, “Pop’s Pearls of Wisdom,” I stated that my parents owned liquor stores and then motels. One day, my dad and I were working the front desk at the motel when he received a call from a customer. The client complained that there was a rat in his room.
We were quite thorough about pest control and cleanliness. My dad was tired from several days of rowdy customers and the previous...
Attorneys are vital to the success and continued viability of your school. However, there is always an inherent and unavoidable conflict between you and your attorney. Any time people are paid for a service or you pay for a service, each party will act to protect his/her best financial interests.
Here’s my list of 10 things (some related to fees and some not) that your attorney would rather you not know (or ignore):
I don’t charge the same hourly rate for all types of cases. Litigation is not charged at the same level as would assistance in filing administrative documents.
Let’s be honest. All things an attorney does don’t require similar sets of skills. Similarly, it never hurts to attempt to negotiate a reduced rate. If you’re a new client or even one that has a longstanding relationship, asking for a discount, or even a flat fee, is a possibility. As my father always said, “The answer to an...
This time of year I always think of my late friend, Ron Lyle. If you know boxing, then you know of Ron Lyle. But I don’t know him from that perspective. I know him from a different perspective that perhaps no one else would have even paid attention to.
World Heavyweight Champion contender Ron Lyle just happened to grow up in the neighborhood where I teach my inner- city martial arts program in Denver, CO. I always wondered who the older black guy was in the back of the room watching me teach classes. He didn’t say anything. He just watched and would emulate my moves as if he was trying to remember them.
When I found out that it was Ron Lyle, who was also teaching the boxing program downstairs, it became a running joke of “who could beat up who” if we both got in the ring. He always smiled and said I would win.
Over the next few years, we would spend many hours during the center’s down time talking about a lot of life, past and...
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