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".
IS STAYING INDEPENDENT AN OPTION?
There are still many school owners who choose to remain independent. Their reason – whether fully justified or not – is that by remaining independent, they will avoid teaching a “watered-down” style, or teaching solely for profit.
These independents feel that by not affiliating or franchising, they have more control over what is taught in their curriculum and how it is taught. Many schools that teach traditional styles remain independent to avoid modernization.
However valid their opinions on franchises may be, many school owners also have business reasons for staying small and independent. Many of them have realized that economies of scale do not always work out (i.e.: more/bigger schools for bigger profits). Simply put, bigger is not necessarily always better.
These successful-but-small martial arts school owners have figured out that in some industries getting bigger does not always means more money in your...
AFFILIATION VS. FRANCHISING
There are benefits to both affiliations and franchising, but close examination shows a sizable difference in the control of quality. Many organizations have voluntarily made the switch from affiliation to franchise, primarily to ensure better control of product quality.
The main difference between these two organizing entities is the legal ability to enforce conformity and quality. While some associations may try to instill control through the use of gradings and association “logos,” for the most part, the only true obligation the school owner has to the association is lip service. If the school owner has any disagreements with the affiliation, they need only provide nominal notice and then resign from the association.
On the other hand, the reason franchises have been successful in the past is due to the legal ramifications the franchiser can evoke if a franchisee does not adhere to the strict business model and requirements laid down...
A quick starting note: I did my initial research on this subject matter prior to the COVID-19 pandemic reaching North America. However, seeing the results of this crisis only reinforced my theory: Martial arts schools must consolidate, or will perish. There may be schools that are exceptions, but they are just that: exceptions.
Inconsistent Levels of Quality
A recent graph published in MASuccess showed that around 96% of all martial arts school owners own only one or two schools. Many of those second schools are small satellite locations (and usually located in an elementary school gym or a local community center). This indicates that there is a lack of consistency with respect to curriculum, standards, quality and legitimacy.
Unfortunately, this lack of conformity has resulted in numerous lawsuits against various schools, often due to some type of negligence on the part of the school owner. Whether this negligence was due to actions of the school owner or one of the...
by Eric P. Fleishman
You started this journey years ago as a student with a deep desire to learn all the beautiful subtleties of your martial art while simultaneously capturing its grandness. Eventually, you transitioned from student to teacher. In this new role of instructor, you implored your followers to embrace the martial arts with the same passion and commitment as they would a spouse. It was your mission to be the best, to communicate to others the form and function, and to keep ancient traditions alive with you as their advocate and protector.
And now, as the proud owner of your own dojo, you not only have the ability to shape the minds of those around you, but you also can impact their lives physically, emotionally and spiritually.
However, to impart your teachings, you must have students. They are the lifeblood of every martial art and every school. In this day and age of smartphones, digital media and increased stress, attracting and retaining students can be a...
by Richard Blaine
It’s not easy to have a large, successful franchise of martial arts schools run entirely by your own students, doubly so if you’re having those schools maintain a fairly traditional curriculum. But Professional Karate Schools of America, or PKSA, has managed to buck the odds and do just that thanks largely to the vision of its founder, Richard Collins Jr.
Collins, along with his father, started training in the Korean art of tang soo do back in 1969. After several years, they began running their own class in the basement of their house. The “school” became a very well-attended, if not prosperous, enterprise for them. Although they never advertised, classes were always packed thanks to word of mouth. The younger Collins was still working a regular job as an aircraft mechanic when a Korean master named C.S. Kim suggested he try teaching martial arts full-time.
“I had a passion to teach, so I decided to take the leap,” Collins said....
by Eric P. Fleishman
Running a martial arts school can be challenging. Before you can teach the most basic of techniques, you must lease a school, obtain proper signage, build a website and enroll your first students.
The fight doesn’t end there. Now you have to expand your enrollment, keep those signs maintained, promote your business online and see to the upkeep of the property. This constant “battle of the business” can leave you so weary that the joys of teaching in general and shaping young minds in particular are lost.
That’s why it’s imperative to create a plan grow your school. One of the most important components of that plan will be promoting your dojo in every way possible, including on local television, in local newspapers and on websites that feature local news. Even if you operate a traditional martial arts school, you are not limited to traditional advertising.
So how do you go about orchestrating this positive PR blitz? Here are...
By MAIA Executive Director Frank Silverman
It’s the most wonderful time of the year — for martial arts schools, that is. We’ve hit the trifecta: the end of the hot days of summer, the start of back-to-school time and the edge of the holiday season. Any one of these three warrants an individual column, or even a full- fledged article, but I have only 700 words. Since that’s the case, I will attempt to wrap everything into one column. I want to cover the essential details of the question, How do we handle the transition from summer’s end through back-to-school and into the holidays?
First, regardless of how good or bad summer was, we need to focus on getting everyone who took a break, no matter how long or short, back to regular class attendance. We know it’s always less expensive to keep a client than to find a new one, so hop on the phone, send emails and post to Facebook. You need to do whatever it takes to get your students back on...
By MAIA Division Manager Melissa Torres
Times are changing. They have been for quite some time now. And as for social media, it seems to change daily! I’m sure that as busy full- or part-time school owners and instructors, most of you can’t honestly stand up and declare yourselves digital marketing experts.
Not many people can. I certainly don’t claim to understand every facet of the ever-changing world of social media. This is why MAIA brought in an expert on the subject.
Cris Rodriguez is MAIA’s newest consultant, specializing in digital marketing. She’s dedicated the past 10 years of her life to studying digital marketing and its impact on her school, Gracie PAC MMA. If you got a chance to hear her speak at the recent Martial Arts SuperShow, you know that she is the best in our industry!
When Cris joined the MAIA team, she knew right away that the social media aspect was something we were missing in our coaching. She started speaking at our...
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 MAIA Consultant Mike Metzger
A frequent question I’m asked is, “How can I market my school if I don’t have the money to market?”
You first have to understand that there are two categories in marketing, internal and external.
“External marketing” requires either dollars or sweat equity — meaning, you place flyers, access academic schools and daycares, network with businesses, etc.
“Internal marketing” is very effective, but doesn’t take as much effort. Here are four internal marketing promotions that you can do to get new prospects into your school, for summer and throughout the year.
1. Know How to Do a Buddy Day
Many schools promote a Buddy Day, where they allow their students to bring a friend to class with them. The key to making this successful is in how you present it. When promoting this, make it exciting! Instead of just announcing a Buddy Day, let your students know that you’re going to have a...
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