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Reputation Management for Martial Arts Schools

by | Offline Marketing & Sales

Setting Expectations for Martial Arts Students Upfront

Authority is highly influenced by emotion.

While your staff and students may intellectually understand that you are the boss and master instructor, they have to feel it, not think it.

It’s the emotional connection that anchors your authority on a deep level.

If there is one powerful moment in your role as a professional martial arts instructor, it’s in the enrollment conference.

While the parents may see you as the master black belt, they usually don’t have an authoritative reverence at this early stage.

The enrollment conference is a seminal moment for you to establish your authority and gain the respect and gratitude of the family you’re dealing with.

Presenting the programs and their cost to parents can be tense at times. Some parents want to negotiate. Others might object to the agreement. Some want a safety net in case their child wants to quit.

While it’s important that you are prepared to overcome any objections, it’s when the bottom line is signed and the initial investment is completed that you have a critical window to demonstrate your authority.

Many owners complete the transaction and gush with statements like, “Awesome. It’s great to have you on board. Johnny, you did an awesome job tonight. High five! Thanks Mrs. Jones it’s great to have Johnny as part of our family. Let me know if I can help with anything.”


Who has the role of authority here? Mrs. Jones and her credit card. That was a missed opportunity.

Let’s try again. You would adjust this script to the age and circumstance, but here is an authority template for the enrollment conference.

Mom has just enrolled Johnny into the program.

You, “Johnny. You want to learn Empower Kickboxing, right?”

“Yes sir.”

“Good. I want you to understand that your mom just enrolled you into a six month program. You are going to learn a lot of great skills and lessons. It’s going to be fun and sometimes it’s going to be hard. That’s the good part because that means you’re learning. So you have to pay attention and practice at home 20-minutes a day when you don’t have class.

Are you going to work hard and practice?”

“Yes sir.”

“I’m glad. Your classes are Monday and Wednesday at 5pm. When are your classes?”

“Monday and Wednesday at 5pm.”

“Good. You’re a smart guy. That means that you have to be ready to come to class by 4:30 on Monday and Wednesdays so that you’re not late. Will you do that?”

“Yes sir.”

“No matter what you are doing, you will be ready by 4:30, right?”

“Yes sir.”

“Good. The first lesson is integrity. Integrity means that you do what you say you are going to do. You keep your promises. You promise to work hard and be ready for class, right?”

“Yes sir.”

“No matter what you’re doing. Right?”

“Yes sir.”

“Great. We’re going to be so proud of you. Your mom just enrolled you, so please turn to her and say, ‘Thank you mom.”

“Thank you mom.”

“Alright. When someone does something good for you, you always say thank you. That’s called gratitude. What’s it called?”


“Correct. So you’ve learned two important lessons today. Integrity and gratitude. What does integrity mean?

“Keeping your promises.”

“Yes. What does gratitude mean?”

“Saying thank you.”

“You got it! You are going to do great, I can tell already.”

“Remember, your class is…”

“Monday and Wednesday at 5pm.”

“When will you be ready to come to class?”


“You have a good head on your shoulders Johnny. You’re going to be good at this.”

“Because you’ve showed your mom gratitude and you’re going to keep your promises, here is a school t-shirt for you to wear. Every time you put it on, I want you to think of integrity and gratitude. Will you do that?”

“Yes sir.”

“I just gave you a shirt. How do you show gratitude?”

“Thank you sir.”

As taught in the MATA Certification program, it’s also a good idea to let mom know that it’s important that she control what Johnny is doing around 4:30 which is the agreed upon to be ready for class.

If Johnny is playing with his friends or deep in a video game, it’s going to be harder to get him to get ready than if he is cleaning his bedroom or something he’d like to leave to go to class.

Keep in mind that mom is watching this happen before her eyes. What have you done to establish your authority?

  1. You’ve provided her with a language pattern that both her and Johnny understand. This is huge.
  2. You’ve given mom the “integrity” framework to deal with any reluctance to go to class.
  3. You’ve provided her with a strategy to engage Johnny in less fun activities so that going to class is an easy decision.
  4. You’ve laid out when Johnny should get ready for class without complaint.
  5. Before her eyes, you taught her son important lessons with real world examples. No doubt, your authority sky-rocketed in her eyes and in her heart.

Look for places where you can make these kinds of strong emotional connections.

Demonstrate true authority and leadership. That will last much longer than a trite, shallow compliments like “Awesome! Good job.”

This will help your students to understand how and why they are training with the best school.

Find more Social Media resources here.

The old adage is that if someone likes your business, they will tell a friend. If that person does NOT like your business, they will tell four friends.

That has changed BIG TIME. Today, the average person on Facebook has 200 friends. A negative post about your service is seen by a whole more than just four friends today.

This is why you must have a system in place for monitoring and managing your reputation.

Here are six quick tips to help you with your reputation management for your martial arts school.

1. Audit Directory Listings

It is a mistake to assume that all of the directories listing your school are accurate. Audit all of your current listings in legal and business directories. Profiles should create confidence and trust.


Secure your personal name and office name as a domain names. Protecting your name starts with gaining control of your

3. Optimize Your Listings

Optimize all of your current listings in legal and business directories.

a. Label images with your keywords

b. Write a keyword rich description

c. Include as many videos and images as allowed.

d. Include links on your website and emails to these directories so students can post positive reviews.

e. If permitted, have a separate profile for location.

4. Monitor 24/7

a. Create a Google Alert with your name, your school’s name, your top competitor’s name, and your staff member’s names at

5. Be Responsive

Respond asap to negative reviews and false reviews. Ideally, you could work something out that would satisfy the student and have the review removed or edited.

6. Try to Turn a Negative into a Positive

If you get a bad review, do your best to keep the emotions out of your response.

a. Keep your ethical parameters in mind at all times.

b. Be extra cautious not to reveal confidential case or student information in your response.

c. Keep your response brief and professional. The larger your response, the more creditability you are giving the review. Less is best.

d. Look at this as an opportunity. Assure the writer that you are concerned about the situation and have commenced an investigation or at the least, looking into it.

e. Make it clear that in order to protect your student’s confidentiality and the school, you are not comfortable discussing this on a public forum and invite them to contact you directly.

f. Make sure you do respond. Ignoring a bad review undermines your professionalism and image. If you don’t answer it seems you don’t care.

g. Make any response positive or neutral. Make sure it’s not negative and a counter attack against the writer.

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