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Students are ready to purchase items at the time of enrollment. This opportunity is often overlooked by school owners. Prepare a “New Student Package” with items that your students will both want and need in the next several weeks. For example a second uniform, safety gloves, patches, school T-shirt and equipment bag. First price out the items at retail then discount the package by 10 – 20%.
During your enrollment conference, present the package directly following the sign up. In other words your new student just agreed to enroll on the 12 month program. Before they write the check for the down payment say the following and at the same time present a paper with the package listed – “I would just like to mention our “New Student Package.”
As a new student there are some items you will need in the near future. These include a second uniform – since you will be taking several classes a week most mom’s like to have a second uniform so you don’t have to do laundry every day.
A private golf club with a pro-shop and around 300 members will gross around $300,000 in merchandise sales in a single year. While that may not be a realistic figure for any martial arts school it does show just how much income can be generated from a small captive audience.
You have a small captive audience eager to buy. The question is do you have anything to sell? And if so does anyone in your school Know?
The main reason that merchandise sales in martial arts schools are so poor in comparison to lesson income is simply that the merchandise is usually not made available to customers. If it is it is seldom presented in such a way as to create a desire which is essential for any type of sale to happen.
Where to put the pro-shop?
The best place to locate your pro-shop is just inside the door of your school. If the office is on the left then locate your pro-shop on the right. In this way, the window display becomes a part of the pro-shop much like a mall store.
You want to put it here so that students, parents, and passers-by can easily see the merchandise that you offer. If they can see it easily and get to it easily then they can buy easily.
How to set up the pro-shop
If you need help in how to set up a pro-shop or what yours ought to look like go to the mall and look at stores like the Limited or the Gap. Better still find a Tennis pro-shop, they are very similar to what a martial arts pro-shop could be like.
They sell mainly shirts, shorts, and caps. Along with rackets, balls, books, and videos and yet despite having a smaller clientele than a successful martial arts school they sell well over $100,000 of merchandise a year. Golf shops are a more sophisticated example but the principles are the same.
The most effective way to sell merchandise is to put it on display. A good display rack is an excellent way to display uniforms and equipment. Buy a glass showcase and put it in the lobby.
Keep your eyes open in the local classified ads for stores selling their display racks. Stores go out of business all the time, so it’s not expensive to pick up some used racks or displays.
Display t-shirts and patches in your lobby walls at eye level. Use a grid to hang clothes on. Set your pro-shop up with walls or grid work on three sides and the front open so that people can walk in and see and feel the merchandise.
Change your displays on a regular basis, at least every couple of months. Even if you don’t change the actual merchandise, rearrange it.
You will be surprised just how many people who have gotten used to seeing a piece of merchandise in one place for two months, will suddenly notice it as a brand new item when its location is changed.
Change creates interest. Take some merchandise off the display and rotate it so that it never appears to be the same old stuff
You can have the best stock of merchandise in your state but if people don’t know you have it, don’t see it or can’t touch it, it’s not going to sell.
The Power of Suggestive Selling.
It is actually easy to sell someone merchandise without even asking them for a sale. It’s called suggestive selling. You simply recommend an item either verbally or on paper and most of your students will come back to you and request the item in the near future.
This, of course, starts with you, your staff and your black belts. Make sure that you and your staff are always wearing the golf shirts, T-shirts and other item that you want the students to buy.
Your students look up to you, they respect you and they want to be like you. If you are always wearing a school T-shirt of golf shirt then they to will soon want to be wearing one. Never allow your staff to wear anything in the way of shirts expect your school ones.
For years, is was a badge of honor to have a worn out uniform, gear and belt. It showed you had been around for a while. Think about that as an example.
The last thing you want is your students thinking they should use their gear until it falls apart. They’ll never buy anything! Make sure your staff is always using new, clean and sharp looking uniforms and gear.
How to Sell More Books
Books and videos are the perfect items to sell in your shop. Students are studying your art and study typically involves reading. But, here is another example where you can’t just put the books on the shelf and expect them to sell by themselves.
You have to create a scenario where the students buy the books as a matter of course.
Each time a new student enrolls, hand them a simple photo copied sheet of paper with a list of recommended reading. On it list the 10 books you think will be most useful to your students.
The recommended reading list along, with a simple suggestion that they would find these books of great help in their training will boost sales big time.
The idea can be taken further by adding a few video titles to the list of recommended material. Videos offer an excellent source of income since most sell at a 40 to 50% mark up. Some schools have curriculum videos included in the exam fee.
When a student tests and passes a green belt exam, he pays a $40 exam fee which includes the next level video. The video won’t cost more than $5 with production and duplication. Just make sure you do a good job in producing the video. Make it something to be proud of as it reflects directly on you.
Sell Merchandise to Everyone
Students aren’t the only prospects for pro-shop sales. Here is a “check list” of potential sales in a student’s first year. How many of these sales are you getting?
- Hand pads
- Feet pads
- Rib guard
- Shin pads
- Cup for guys
- 2nd uniform
- School patch
- Three-five different T-shirts with your school name and logo
- Martial arts shoes
- Sweat shirt
- Logo school bag
- Baseball cap
- Misc. Books and videos applicable to your system
How did you do? If you got them all, good for you. Now, here’s the real test.
- Logo school golf shirt
- Logo school T-shirt
- Sweat shirt
- Baseball cap
- Coffee mug
- Kicking shield for practice with child
As you can see, the key to good merchandising is to get an idea of what you want to accomplish. When you look at these two lists, and multiply those products by your entire student body, and their families, you can see how a good pro-shop can add up to a serious profit center.
Lets face it we didn’t get in this business to become shopkeepers did we? No of course not, we got into the business because we love the martial arts. We got in the business because we wanted to teach and share our knowledge with others. We didn’t get into the business to become shop keepers right?
To run a good merchandising business you have to order stock, display merchandise, keep inventory and bother with making change for people. Is it really worth all the trouble? You bet it is! The pro-shop area of your school is probably the most under utilized part of your operation!
The second thing you must do to survive and prosper is to maximize your existing resources. As rent, insurance and the costs of attracting new students gets more expensive than ever before the need for additional income becomes more acute.
We must maximize our existing resources as never before. Run a tighter ship so we can teach better classes, in less space, with fewer instructors and keep our students active longer than ever before.
We all know that the major source of income in any school is our tuition but how much attention do we pay to the other four sources. Before we run out and find more students, doesn’t it make much more sense to maximize the ones we already have?
Set specific goals for each of the five areas of income and track your results. It is only by tracking results in this way that you can pinpoint areas of improvement and develop the action steps to make it happen. Lets take a quick look at the five areas. Here are the four main reasons why you must have a viable pro shop in your school.
With proper merchandising strategies in place you can easily make $350 a year per student from merchandise alone. If you have 200 students, that’s an extra $70,000 a year in income.
Even in a small school the revenue that merchandising produces can easily increase your income by $ 1,000 a month or more. What’s more, it’s not that hard. You don’t have to go out and find a market for your products. You don’t have to spend money on advertising to get new customers.
They are already right on your doorstep in the form of every single student in your studio. Increasing your sale of merchandise is a great way to increase your income without much increase in your actual cost of doing business.
By offering your students a line of quality merchandise you are in fact providing your students with an add service. The convenience of being able to buy clothing, training aids and other life enhancing products right at your school. This means the student or parent won’t having to go dragging around the mall or sifting through a catalog to find what they were looking for.
Since every single product you sell should have your clean, professional recognizable logo on it, every single sale helps in your school’s promotional effort. Every single golf shirt, baseball cap and coffee mug that has you logo on it become a mini mobile bill board. Get enough people involved in your mini bill board campaign and it can quickly have a very positive effect on your school.
When I travel I often wear a Martial Arts golf shirt, and am constantly amazed about the number of people who notice it and begin a conversation with me about martial arts.
This very often leads to me referring the individual to a school in the area. If that happens just once a year to 200 plus parents who are out in the world with your logo on their chest, well I am sure you get the picture, it’s a very good way to get the word out.
Believe it or not selling merchandise can also aid in your retention. How? by adding training aids that keep the student interest level high and by encouraging parents to get involved with their child at home.
We have all seen thousands of parents out in the park with a base ball glove and a ball tossing it back and forwards with their child right?
When was the last time you drove through a park and saw a parent holding a kicking shield for their son? Probably never but you can change that and in the process at to your schools retention.
Encourage parents to buy a kicking shield and work with their child for a few minutes at night or on the weekend.
This creates a bonding between the parent and the child and also gets the parents emotionally involved in the martial arts in a very positive way.
This means there are far more lightly to be supportive of your program and far more lightly to actually consider taking lessons themselves. I can tell you for a fact that parents I sold heavy bags and shield to kept there children involved in the program at least twice as long.