The MAIA Blog

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".

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Why Am I Not Growing?

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...

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Call an Employee a Contractor and You Might Be Wearing a Scarlet Letter!

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,...

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Who Will Teach When I Am Sick?

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...

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Waivers Making Waves

lesson learned Jul 17, 2019

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...

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How Can You Outshine Your Competitors?

lesson learned retention Jun 08, 2019

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...

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Don’t Be Caught Off Guard with Credit Card Chargebacks! Part 2

lesson learned May 15, 2019

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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Say Cheese!

By Beth A. Block

 

Our industry provides lots of opportunities to take photos: everything from the first class to private lessons, extra activities and rank promotions. Many of us have covered the photos we take in a photo release. If you haven’t already done this, I strongly suggest you add this to your enrollment form.

Most of us have not thought about the pictures our families take of their kids. Those pictures usually include other people’s kids. Our photo release doesn’t cover those pictures since we didn’t take them.

Every studio has children enrolled from single-parent homes. We get the enrollment form signed by that parent. Do you think about liability issues from the absent parent? One of your fellow studios was stuck in the middle of a dispute between parents over a picture.

A girl of seven years old was enrolled by Mom. The enrollment director had Mom complete all the paperwork. Mom indicated on the enrollment form that no pictures of the girl...

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Don’t Be Caught Off-Guard with Credit Card Chargebacks! Part 1

lesson learned Apr 12, 2019

By Kathy Olevsky

 

In our school, as in most martial arts programs, we charge our clients monthly for their memberships. In our case, we try very hard to draft from bank accounts, rather than credit cards. However, most of our clients actually prefer to have us charge their credit cards.

We currently have 86% of our accounts charged to credit cards. When we have approached the 25- to 40-year-olds, most of them admit to not even having a check for their checking account. Their age group distributes money primarily through online methods.

In 2018, we experienced a growing problem in our industry. We were notified by a credit card processor that they had taken money out of our account because of a chargeback. Basically, a student disputed our charges.

As it turned out, over the past year we have had multiple students file disputes with their credit card company. The policy of these companies is to automatically take the money back and give it to their client. In our case, if we...

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Top Five Summer Camp Legal Claims

lesson learned Apr 07, 2019

By Beth A. Block

 

Summertime is just around the corner. Many of you are planning your programs, lining up your staff and promoting your camps. As you’re thinking about how you can turn summer into a profit, take a moment to consider the top five summer camp insurance claims we’ve seen.

The worst involved a swimming pool. Many studio owners take their campers to the pool. Usually, these public pool sites have many other groups of people at the pool simultaneously. This was the case for one of your fellow owners.

On a steaming hot day, they arrived at the pool. The studio’s team and the pool lifeguards missed seeing a student-camper struggling at the bottom of the pool. The good news is that the camper was seen and brought up before he could drown. The bad news is that that wasn’t enough to stop the family from suing.

The second claim that makes this list involves a van. After a field trip to the park, the van was being unloaded at the studio. The studio...

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The Roller Coaster Life and Times of School Owners David and Suzana Chacon

By Keith D. Yates

       

Can you have a successful mixed martial arts (MMA) school geared towards children? Can you come back from looking insolvency square in the face? Can you overcome years of weight gain, even having reached the point where you’re considered morbidly obese?

The answers to these questions are yes, yes, and yes, if you are the resilient David and Suzana Chacon, owners of Dominion Martial Arts Institute of Mentorship in Oswego, Illinois!

David began his martial arts training at Gen-Ki Karate in Chicago as a child. He also spent a few years in a taekwondo school, earning only a red belt because his parents divorced and he had to stop training. In his early 20s, he developed an interest in ground fighting because, like many stand-up fighters, he felt insecure about what to do if he ever found himself on the ground in a real-life street situation. So, when he was 23, he looked around for a solution and found an MMA coach.

But David says it...

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