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".
by Kurt Klingenmeyer, MAIA Consultant
Over the past year, I’ve had the incredible experience of working with many growing martial arts schools via MAIA’s Small School Forum. It’s a dedicated Facebook group for school owners with 80 or fewer students. The forum provides tools and advice to help them develop their schools.
One of the most frequently asked questions is, “How do I grow my martial arts school with only a small budget?” The following are five proven ways to do that.
This is an old-school form of marketing, but it always delivers results. Visit 10 local businesses that are community owned and tell the owners that you have students and families who may be interested in them. Ask if they have any business materials you could place at the front desk in your dojo.
If they have materials to share, ask if they can reciprocate by allowing you to leave a lead box on their counter. On the outside of the box, feature an enticing...
by Chris Rappold
It is always exciting to enroll new students. In most cases, it’s a fresh start with no history, only the promise of a bright martial arts future. The students enter your school and take their first class, receive their first promotions and win their first trophies. Everything is new and exciting.
Through continued hard work — both yours and the students’ — they continue to advance. At first, you may have just one advanced student, but in what seems like no time, you have a class full of brown and black belts. It’s a dream come true.
Then, without warning, one of those advanced students, perhaps even one you had mentally tagged as an assistant instructor, discontinues training. You feel like you got punched in the stomach. Why would the person suddenly stop training? Isn’t this what he or she always wanted? Why would the student come so far, only to quit? These questions and others race through your mind.
by Justin Lee Ford
Shoshin is a word one encounters in the traditional Japanese martial arts, as well as in Buddhism. It doesn’t refer to a technique or form; rather, it’s a general concept. Translated, it means “beginner’s mind.” The term is used to remind practitioners to keep an open mind akin to that of a beginner in any endeavor.
In the martial arts, having a beginner’s mind can foster humility and make you receptive to new ideas. In the business of martial arts, having a beginner’s mind can help you connect with new students and retain current students.
How so? When you, as a martial arts instructor, remind yourself of what it’s like to start learning a new physical pursuit, you better connect with white belts. This is because there are many things newcomers don’t know but you take for granted. Adopting a beginner’s mind reacquaints you with their stage of training, and it aids you when it’s time to...
by Richard Blaine
Many martial artists dream of earning a living doing what they love. But when that dream meets the harsh reality of running a business, it can feel like being woken with a bucket of ice water to the face. Declining enrollments, departing students, the never-ending search for quality staff members, and turning just enough of a profit to pay bills and eat, then repeating this process month after grueling month — these things can turn that dream into a nightmare.
Yet a few school owners are running businesses that not only survive but also succeed beyond all expectations. At the top of that list of success stories is Premier Martial Arts.
With more than 100 schools in the United States, as well as branches in Canada and Great Britain, PMA stands as one of the world’s largest and most successful chains of franchised martial arts schools. And in a market saturated with everything from cardio-kickboxing gyms to Brazilian jiu-jitsu academies, every PMA...
by Kathy Olevsky
I’ve operated a martial arts school full time for 45 years. I may have made every mistake that can be made in this business. The reason I’m still in business, I believe, is I asked for help. I learned quickly that others before me had already found solutions. In this column, I’ll point out key mistakes I made in my career, which are common errors among school owners, both large and small, throughout our industry. And I’ll share the solutions I used to overcome them.
Over the years, I have realized the importance of balancing the addition of new things with the maintenance of tradition and integrity. In my school’s karate program, we adhere to the same high standards as we always have. The black belt of today is the same as the black belt of many years ago. However, many of our students also partake in our yoga-stretch class, our cardio-fitness class, and our judo and jujitsu classes.
In this industry, it’s essential...
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...
By Nguyen “Tom” Griggs
Hello, friends! I want to thank everyone who provided valuable feedback regarding my B.L.A.C.K. B.E.L.T. series. I promise to continue delivering valuable insights and information.
During the next five articles, we’re going to discuss how the concepts from Japanese jujitsu can be applied to your teams. I know that all our arts share similar principles, so feel free to apply them accordingly.
My instructor Torey Overstreet constantly reminds us that if you must use force to make a technique work, then you are doing it incorrectly. Now, some functional strength is necessary when applying a technique, but force implies a rough and harsh application of strength.
Effective leadership requires you to be strong all the time, but rarely forceful. I’ve known several leaders who firmly believed that if you had to raise your voice in anger or frustration, then you...
Children’s martial arts classes not only tend to be profitable for schools but also are an amazing way to improve the lives of the kids, their families and the communities. This is because of the values the martial arts impart to children. Those values include the following:
The kind of courage that young people learn in martial arts is one that encompasses a certain spirit of bravery. It is not simply acting without fear; it is channeling an internal energy to act in spite of fear. Courage is a transferrable skill that allows students to set goals, overcome challenges and attain success both in the dojo and in life.
One tenet of martial arts is respect. Children are taught to respect the masters who came before them, as well as their instructors, their peers and themselves. Quality martial arts instructors focus on this value consistently, encouraging students to carry it with them beyond the studio. Self-respect and respect those who are above...
By Elite Consultant Jason Flame
Making a sale and providing excellent service go hand-in-hand. This has been on my mind a lot lately, and I’ve had many staff meetings focused around building this mindset. If we place just a little more focus on providing first-class service, we will not only generate sales now but also promote future sales through repeat business and referrals.
This is a challenge in any business. It’s easy to get caught up in the sales numbers alone. But if you take good care of your students, they will take care of you.
Here are five simple reasons this mindset is essential:
1. You’ll Attract New Students
This one is obvious! If you teach awesome classes, recognize and treat every student as an individual, pay attention to small details and genuinely take interest in your students, they will be happy to refer new business to you. When your students experience results, they will tell people. When they learn something of value, they...
By Christopher Rappold
Finding out that a student is going to be leaving your school is never fun. If you care about making an impact on someone’s life and sincerely enjoy teaching, news of a departure can create some sleepless nights. While there is no magic answer to ensure this never happens, your time will always be well-spent ensuring that the highest percentage of your students remain dedicated to their training at your facility.
As I look back over 25 years of teaching, I do so with pride in what our team has produced. But, like you, I’ve been stung with the unexpected news of a student discontinuing his or her training more than once. Since we preach, “You can either get bitter or get better,” I offer the following preventative measures designed to keep such surprises to a minimum.
1. Know Your Students Beyond the Mat
It’s easy to forget that our students have lives outside the few hours they spend training with us each week. They...
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