How to Set Tuition

How to Set Tuition

 

That’s Too Much For This Area

Few areas of running a school are as confusing and daunting as deciding how much to charge for lessons and then how to collect that tuition. This series of articles will help you get answers to the questions of how much to charge; what your tuition really means to your school; strategies for balancing paid in fulls with monthly; whether or not to use contracts; and other critical topics related to tuition pricing.

That’s Too Much For This Area

At the start of many of my seminars, I ask the audience of owners if they would be willing to sell me their black belt for $50,000. For $50,000 they erase martial arts from their life.

It would be as though never joined a school. Of course, this is an imaginary bet, but no one has ever said, “I would if I could.” Most people laugh and say they would not do it for a million dollars!

These are often the same owners who claim their area can’t support higher tuition. They’ll say the martial arts is worth more than $50,000 to them, but they are afraid to charge $100 per month for the same experience.

The common excuse is that “That’s too much for this area.” The real message is the owner doesn’t have the confidence to ask for fair tuition. There are a lot of excuses owners will give for why they charge so little, but there is not one good reason.

Most of us are brought up poor or middle class and then left to live the rest of our lives with the belief systems of the poor or the middle class. We’re taught that rich people are bad and that money is the root of all evil.

The truth is that “the love of money” is the root of all evil. To be sure,  there are always evil people, just like there are good people. Money is just a tool. You can build with it or use it to destroy.  

We’re also taught never to ask for money or we’ll appear greedy. This is the first reprogramming you’ll need in order to set fair tuition prices. You have to learn “to ask for the check.” Literally. Practice how to ask for a payment.

Typically, that is something like, “Would you like to use cash or a card?” or, “The total is $149. How would you like to handle that?” Say it over and over in your car as you’re driving around. The first few times, you may be nervous, but it won’t be long before it’s natural to you.

Rule One: If you do not value your martial arts school and its benefits for students, then no else will either.

How Much Should You Charge for Martial Arts Tuition?

by Joe Galea, Member Solutions, The Official Tuition Billing Company of MATA

It’s generally a good sign that you can increase your membership price if more than 15% of your memberships are paid in full.

Another time to comfortably raise prices with members: when you can justify the increase. Have you purchased new equipment recently? Invested in new instructors and staff? Added new services or Fitness programs? These improvements can be highlighted in the member price increase letter and serve as tangible enhancements that validate a price increase.

How Much Should You Charge?

When you raise your prices, you have to be extremely careful not to raise your prices by too much, otherwise you could lose members and be worse off than you were beforehand.

Here’s an example to illustrate my point:

Let’s say you have 100 members paying $100 per month. That’s $10,000 in monthly dues. You decide to increase your membership fee to $150 per month. If everyone accepts, your gross jumps to $15,000 and you have a positive cash flow gain of $5,000.

But what if half of your members feel that’s too much and drop out? Then you have 50 members paying $150 for a total of $7,500 or a net cash flow loss of $2,500.

Here’s an interesting fact to keep in mind: if you lost 30 members due to the $50 membership price increase, you would be left with 70 members at $150 … in other words, $10,500 in monthly dues. That’s a $500 monthly cash flow gain. You may be thinking … “that’s great!” But wait. Yes, you’ve gained some money but you’ve lost 30 members. That’s 30 fewer members that can refer new business, buy retail, attend events and purchase additional services.

Here are two steps to take to help determine your price increase:

Know what your competitors are charging. Search the web. Most Fitness businesses post their rates and specials on their websites. If they don’t, give them a call or have a friend of yours reach out. You could also send a “silent shopper” to the competitors in your area. Not only will you find out what they charge, you’ll also get a sense for the quality of service they provide.

Know what your members pay currently. It’s easiest to track the current rate your members are paying by using a software product like our member management software or the member reports in theMember Solutions billing portal. If you have a price difference of $10 from your highest to lowest rates, then you have less room to move. If your members are paying somewhere in the middle, you have a lot more room to move your membership rates.

How Do You Let Members Know About the Change?

Give as much notice as possible. I recommend notifying your members at least three months in advance to the increase if you can. This gives time for members to accept the change. Keep in mind that many members will forget about the change when it comes into effect. You should immediately update your marketing materials to reflect the new prices so new members have the new rates.

Write a letter
. You’re in a relationship business and have developed close relationships with your members. That said, you shouldn’t just send an email out. It lacks that personal touch. A personalized letter is a key part of delivering the news. A letter is more professional than an email or poster.

Be sure to explain the increase and address when the rates were last changed. Let your members know that they are important and that they can speak with you if they have any questions or concerns. Doing so opens up the lines of communication where you can address concerns individually and perhaps offer exemptions to those that cannot financially make the change.

Also make sure you justify the change in your letter. If you have invested in new equipment, added new services, or launched new classes, point that out.

If you cannot highlight the pros and differences that your services and facility offers over your competitors, then a rate increase may not be the best thing to do. This leads back to being better than your competitors, knowing their rates and why you’re better.

Tuition Pricing Strategies

Tuition Pricing Strategies

Few areas of running a school are as confusing and daunting as deciding how much to charge for lessons and then how to collect that tuition. This section will help you get answers to the questions of how much to charge; what your tuition really means to your school; strategies for balancing paid in fulls with monthly; whether or not to use contracts; and other critical topics related to tuition pricing.

That’s Too Much For This Area

At the start of many of my seminars, I ask the audience of owners if they would be willing to sell me their black belt for $10,000. For $10,000 they erase martial arts from their life. It would be as though never joined a school. Of course, this is an imaginary bet, but no one has ever said, “I would if I could.”

This is often the same owner who claims his area can’t support a higher tuition. He says his martial arts is worth more than $10,000 to him, but he is afraid to charge $100 per month for the same experience in his town. The common response is, “That’s too much for this area.” What he is really saying higher tuition might rub the poor people the wrong way in his community. He is also saying I don’t have the confidence yet in the value of what I’m doing to ask for that much money.

There are a lot of excuses owners will give for why they charge so little, but there is not one good reason.

Don’t Let Competition Set Your Prices

Most owners set their tuition by finding out what everyone else in town is charging and then under-cutting them by $10 or so in hopes students will stampede to them. However, our observation through the years is that the largest school in town usually has the highest tuition, so the evidence seems to be that undercutting with tuition can actually reduce your response.

Setting tuition based upon competitors is off target. We think it’s a mistake to base your tuition on the competition rather than how you want to position your school in the market. It’s important to know who your customer is and/or who you want it to be. It’s natural to want to have a price that everyone feels is fair and will enroll. That price doesn’t exist.

Certainly, there are situations where the instructor simply is not that good yet or you are teaching out of a community center where pricing is set by others. However, for commercial storefront schools setting tuition is a critically process that has to be driven from an understanding of:

  1. How you want to position your school
  2. The demographics you want to reach
  3. Your expenses on a month-to-month basis
  4. How much you want to make as a school owner

Nowhere in that list is, “What your competitor is charging.”

Choosing Your Market

Step one in the Black Belt Management System is Image Control. Setting your tuition is a factor of your image control. Set it too low and your school will attract lower income students who may make the school less attractive for the more affluent markets.

Next time you are driving, take a look at the cars on the road. Are they all cheap older models or are there some mid-priced and some luxury cars, mini-vans and SUVs too. The Mercedes Benz dealer doesn’t look at the Ford dealer to determine his pricing. He is not selling to the Ford customer. He is selling to a demographic that can and will spend the money required for a Mercedes.

A key point here is that he knows who he is selling to. For the martial artist, this is not, on the surface, as easy to determine your market. Many of us are stuck in that altruistic implied wisdom myth that their mission is to save the community from the dangers of a world without self-confidence, respect and self-defense. This is the owner who doesn’t want to turn anyone away because he wants to help, “everyone.” The truth, “everyone” doesn’t want help and “everyone” will not use the help if it’s offered for free.

If you are basing your success on how well you help your students improve their lives then you are choosing to live a life of tremendous frustration and long-term stress.

“We can’t help the poor by becoming one of them.” Abraham Lincoln

In order for you to be able to help “anyone” your doors have to be open. If you are at another job because your school can’t support your family then your doors are not open. It takes money to keep the doors open. The vast majority of the money will be in tuition.

It makes sense then that if we need money from our students then let’s look at our student market using money as a guide.

If we were to take 100% of the potential market for your school and divide them by income into five categories:

The Top Third – High Income Earners

The Middle Third – Average Income Earners

The Lower Third – Low Income Earners

Our market is in the top two thirds, not the bottom one third. Once our school is stable and we have a strong cash flow, we may be able to extend scholarships and outreach programs to include the lower third, but if we let the lower third drive our tuition pricing, we will always struggle.

Lets’ compare two schools in the same town, each with 100 students. One school charges $50 per month and the other charges $150 per month. They are in the same town. Why is the 2 nd school earning three times the tuition as the first school? Is it three times better? Is it three times bigger? The difference is the 2 nd school determined that it was going to market to the upper two thirds of the market and then built a program to support that goal. While this school may not be three times bigger or better, it is probably three times cleaner. It’s probably three times easier to work with and three times more professional and safe in its presentation. I can assure you owner spends far more than three times on his own professional education and at least two hours a week on his staff’s. If this school created an outreach program for the lower third market, I bet they could help more than three times the number of people than the school charging $50 per month.

Just using rough figures, lets say each school collects 80% of the tuition it is owed each month. Rarely do 100% of our students pay each month.

School A @ 100 students x $50 per month x .75 = $4,000 per month in tuition.

School B @ 100 students x $150 per month x .75 = $12,000 per month in tuition.

That is an $8,000 per month difference in gross tuition, which equals $96,000 per year!

How to Set Your Tuition

In 1974, the tuition at the Florida Karate Academy in Largo, Florida, was a 12-month contract at $25 per month. If you just raised tuition three percent per year from that point, you would have tuition of about $60 per month in 2004. When I opened my school in 1986, my tuition averaged $75 per month. At three percent inflation, this would total $127 per month today. What other service has only increased three percent per year? Not many that I can think of.

While many schools are more in the $60 range, others are north of $200 per month. What is the difference? The most successful martial arts school owners highly value what they do. Tiger Shulmann said this in an interview in my Martial Arts Professional magazine in 2001: “I’ll give you an idea of what I think about the amount of money that we charge for our classes. $1,500 doesn’t scare me at all to charge for martial arts training. I think it’s too little, actually. But we have to stay somewhat within the industry’s standard.”

His implication is that he would charge more, but the industry is holding him back. Tiger clearly values what he does. All the top school owners do. Notice that the first thing he said was he was not scared at all to charge $1,500 for training. Was he also saying other people might be scared to charge that amount? Would you be scared? This is a guy who told me he had more than 20,000 students in over 35 schools at the time. I visited his headquarters and saw the August revenue gross numbers from all the schools on the computer. It was only the third week of what is typically the slowest month of the year, but the lowest gross was in the mid-$30,000s, and the highest was the mid-$90,000s.

Not only was Tiger not scared to charge higher than the competition, the market was not afraid to pay for it either.

Your tuition rate and how it is presented will play a fundamental part in your school’s image. Price is the main factor in a prospect’s decision to join if you make it the main factor. If the most compelling reason for someone to join your school is that you are cheaper than the next guy, you are putting all of your eggs in the wrong basket.

Price is a factor, but not the factor in whether the prospect moves forward to join your school. If a prospect has shopped other schools, then your tuition will naturally be compared to the other schools. That doesn’t mean the lower price wins. It’s just another point of comparison. If the prospect has not shopped other schools, and most do not, your tuition indicates the value you and your current student body place on the training. It also begins to establish in the prospect’s mind what to expect in the school.

How To Raise Tuition

You must charge what you feel the benefits of what you teach is worth. If you feel your benefits are not worth that much, then charge low prices. If however, you feel that you offer a valuable service to your students, then reflect the value of your service in setting the price of your lessons.

Don’t raise the price of lessons on existing students if you can help it. When raising prices, try to avoid the temptation to raise prices on your existing students.
The natural attrition rates of most schools will soon have the balance of the new students at your higher price. Raising the price of lessons on existing students can provide them with the reason they need to drop out.

Communication is the key to price increases. 
If you do need to raise prices on existing students, always explain the reason for your increase. Explain to them that the increase is due to an increase in rent or insurance. Send them a letter and it will fly with ninety five percent of your students.

Simply raise your rates with no explanation and expect to lose scores of students. They will think you just got greedy. Remember, it’s much less expensive to keep an existing student rather than to go and find a new one.

One time you can usually getaway with a price increase across the board is at the beginning of a new year. People almost expect prices to go up in January. Still, handle all price increases with care. You can also give students a chance to renew or cash-out in advance before the new price increase.

Each year, we suggest you have a tuition increase. Here is how you do it.

As with most changes, the best strategy is to make the changes with new students first. So as of January 1st , your tuition raises for all new students. That way the higher paying students will begin to replace the lower paying students.

For your current student body, here is a strategy to raise their tuition. You can tell your students that due to an increase in expenses, tuition will be raised on January 1 st . At that point, just as an example, let’s say the new tuition will be $100 per month. But, since you guys have been loyal to the school your tuition will only increase to $90. This way, it’s almost a relief to them to have it raised only to $90 instead of $100. Again, tell them tuition for new students will go to this level and then find a level in between the current level and the new level to set for current students.

If the current students are at $79 and the new students will be at $99, split the difference with your current students to $89 as a sign of appreciation for their support.

How Much Is Your Tuition Really?

This is a little drill that can make grown black belts cry. Here is an audit you can do to help you understand how much tuition you are really collecting each month per student.

1. Total Tuition Collected: Take last year’s total tuition collections. This is the sum of paid-in-fulls (PIFs), registration fees (uniform or any other hard costs deducted), and monthly billing received (after deducting refunds and any billing and credit card charges).

2. Total Student Count: Add all the students you had last year on January 1st to the number of students you enrolled over the next 12 months. If you started the year with 100 students plus you enrolled 10 new students per month (10 x 12 months = 120), you have a grand total of 220 students. Of course, unless you have 100-percent retention, you don’t have 220 students in your school right now, but that’s a different chapter.

3. Divide last year’s total tuition collected (1) by the total student count (2). This is the annual tuition value of your students

4. Take that number and divide it by 12. This is the average monthly value of your students. To be more accurate, you would do a month-by-month analysis that removes the dropouts as they stop paying. That would make the average monthly value higher, but this example is designed to be easier to understand and follow.

Let’s use real numbers. I’ll keep the money high and the expenses low to soften the blow.

1. Last year you averaged 80 students paying $133 per month in your school. You also have 30 students who cashed out last year or “shorted out” their contract.

80 x $133 = $10,640 per month gross.

Billing fees, refunds, etc. = approximately 10% in expenses

Net monthly billing: $9,576

$9,576 x 12 = $114,912 total monthly billing

+ Total “shorts:” 30 @ average $600 each = $18,000

Registration fees: 105 x $199 = $22,885

Paid In Fulls for annual: 15 @ $999 each = $14,985

= Tuition total: $170,782

2. Students taking class last year

100 students to start with

Enrolled 10 per month = 120

100 + 120 = 220 students who took classes last year

3. Last year’s tuition per student per year

a. $170,782  220 = $776.28 per student per year

4. Last year’s tuition per student per month

a. $776.28  12 = $64.69 per student per month

It’s kind of scary when you realize how much of a hit your tuition takes. Keep in mind these are pretty simple numbers with a too simple formula. The real truth is that often the numbers are worse. Family discounts, cancellations, barters, and students who slipped through the cracks all bring the average tuition per student number down.

What can we do to pump these numbers up? You may have noticed that we didn’t include any renewals. The reason is simple. Most schools still don’t have a solid renewal plan. The best renewal plan I know of is also the most important to your school’s energy and atmosphere, and that is the Black Belt Club or the Black Sash Club or whatever you want to call a program where the students set black belt as their goal (and you don’t guarantee it).

1. Let’s take the same example as above, but add in the revenue from renewals.

Tuition total from above = $170,782

+ Renewal registrations: 24 x $299 = $7,176

+ Renewal PIF: 5 @ $2,999 = $14,995

= Tuition total: $192,953

2. Students taking class last year

100 students to start with

Enrolled 10 per month = 120

100 + 120 = 220 students who took classes last year

3. Last year’s tuition per student per year

a. $192,953  220 = $877.05 per student per year

4. Last year’s tuition per student per month

a. $73.08 per student per month

Total difference in net tuition collected = $22,171! Still, the number is far less than the average monthly tuition you are charging.

Still, if you have been procrastinating about launching a Black Belt Club, I have 22,171 good reasons for you to do it now. Many schools have gone from an agreement-based renewal program to offering the Black Belt Club membership for an annual one-time payment of $500. Regardless of how you charge for Black Belt Club, it will add a significant amount of revenue to your school.

Masters Club

Masters Club

Special Program

 

Black Belt Eyes

by John Graden

I created a black-and-white ad of a student throwing a perfect jump sidekick under a great headline, “Kids Don’t Seem to Mind Our Summer School.” The ad was a big hit. Schools reported 40 to 60 phone calls, more than they had ever received. Some members, though, wanted to cancel because they didn’t do that technique. Others complained because they wore white uniforms, but the kid in the ad was in a white gi. This is a classic example of Black Belt Eyes.

Black Belt Eyes illustrate how the Core Dynamics are reflected in what we do. In most cases, Black Belt Eyes are based upon false assumptions. For instance, with the jump sidekick ad, the guys who canceled may have feared that a mom would bring the ad in and say, “I want to enroll my child, but first show me this kick.” Or, “Do you have that uniform in white, like this ad?” Of course, that never happens, but we are so deeply connected to our systems that our Black Belt Eyes often get in the way of our more useful Market Eyes. Black Belt Eyes assumed people would see they wore a different color uniform or wouldn’t recognize the technique. Market Eyes are the eyes of your potential students, who don’t know a jump sidekick from a jumping jack.

When Black Belt Eyes see an ad with a jump sidekick, they are drawn to the most important aspect of the ad for black belts. It’s not the headline, the copy, or the offer. Black Belt Eyes will check to make sure the kid has his foot bladed and the other foot is tucked. That’s not a bad thing. It reflects your standards as a black belt. But if you choose not to run that ad because you don’t do jump kicks, then your Black Belt Eyes may have cost you 40 to 60 phone calls which should have converted to 20 to 30 new students.

Black Belt Eyes work against you when you assume that a person with little or no martial arts experience will feel the same about it as you do.

A Black Belt Eyes ad will have someone getting kicked in the head. The owner knows that one of life’s simple pleasures is wrapping your foot around someone’s head with a hook kick or round kick. The readers, however, with their Market Eyes, may translate that image into what will happen to them at that school. They can’t even imagine getting their leg up that high, so they are not identifying with the kicker.

Black Belt Eyes tell the market what it needs, rather than listening to the market and giving it what it wants. Black Belt Eyes show that we care about what we do. They are not bad, but you have to be aware of them. Most of all, recognize when they get in your way.

Has a spouse or significant other made a suggestion about your school or how you teach? What was your reaction? I know mine was essentially ‘Who the heck are you to tell me, the black belt, about martial arts?’ The key, though, is they don’t care about martial arts; they care about you. They usually represent Market Eyes, and they are almost always right.

Other examples of Black Belt Eyes are:

Using your style name as a headline, or worse, a school name. This is a huge assumption that the reader knows how your style translates to benefits for them.

Using a logo that looks like martial arts hieroglyphics. If your logo contains a fist, a yin/yang, a circle, a triangle, Asian lettering, or a bug, you may have Black Belt Eyes. As quickly as you can, seek professional help with the MATA Logo Design service at www.martialartsteachers.com.

Listing techniques in your marketing, rather than benefits. This may disappoint you, but the odds are miniscule that someone seeing an ad that touts Hun Gar 3 Step Waza will exclaim to his wife, “Honey! Hun Gar 3 Step Waza! Just what I’ve always wanted!” Only your Black Belt Eyes will know what that means.

Listing your tournament wins, hall of fame inductions, or that you trained the military police. Black Belt Eyes assume people want to know that you are an accomplished black belt. No one cares. Truthfully. Mike Tyson is a great boxer, but I don’t want him teaching my kids. Study the ads for private schools. They don’t list the teachers’ résumés. Market Eyes want to know what you can do for them or their children.

Having long classes. The assumption is that more is better. The truth is that better is better. If more were better, a four-hour class would be better than a two-hour class. People are busy, and it’s presumptuous to assume that your class is so important it has to take two hours of their day. Most people have 16 waking hours per day. Two hours is over 10 percent of that day. Good instructors can teach a great class and produce outstanding black belts using one-hour classes. If your classes are longer than, reduce them to one hour. Your students will not complain. They will thank you.

Keeping archaic exam requirements that are important to you, not the student. When I was a student, you had to break two boards with a reverse punch, round kick two boards, and running jump side kick over two people to break three boards. This was for the blue belt to 4th degree (kyu or kup) brown belt and usually occurred about a year into training. 

I opened my school with the same requirements. I have great video of my black belts like Kathy Marlor breaking and bouncing off boards during these marathon exams. When the children’s invasion began in the mid-1980s, those requirements became a real problem. Eight- and ten-year-olds have no business doing those types of breaks. So I dropped board breaking as a requirement and added board-breaking seminars that the students could pay to attend. I turned a negative element of the exam process into a fun profit center. To do that, I had to overcome my Black Belt Eyes.

Conducting marathon exams. During the days of my marathon Saturday exams, it seemed as though we measured the quality of an exam by the number of ambulance calls. I thought it was important for students to deal with the stress of the high-pressure, marathon exams, because it would help them deal with the stress of self-defense—which is just dumb. I also waited until enough people were ready before I held the exam. This is classic Black Belt Eyes combined with the Control Factor.

In time, I switched to monthly exams (stripes and belts) that were held in class. This greatly increased retention and student progress, and reduced stress.

Displaying weapons on the wall or in the office. You may love weapons, but to the market, a wall full of knives, swords, and spears looks like a weapons cache. Mothers, in particular, do not respond well to the prospects of their darling child being exposed to these instruments of death.

Displaying photos of yourself hitting, getting hit, or breaking. One school had a photo of the instructor being front kicked, full power, in the groin. His Black Belt Eyes felt that the photo showed he could withstand any blow. My Market Eyes made me wince and turn away. There is nothing interesting, appealing, or tasteful about such a photo. Take down the 1989 photos of you, and replace them with pictures of your happy students. It’s OK to have a shot of yourself; just make sure it’s tasteful and professionally shot.

Media coverage, such as magazine covers or newspaper articles, are also fine. Tip: If you are on a TV show, have someone take a photo that includes the cameras. This is a good way to get mileage out of a TV appearance. You can’t post a video on your wall, but this type of photo shows you were on a TV show. Media appearances build confidence in students and prospects. Photos of you breaking flaming bricks don’t.

Having a smelly school. This could be called Black Belt Nose. When prospects walked into my school, their eyes watered and their faces contorted from the sweaty stench soaked into our carpet. I used to tell them with pride, “We earned that smell . . .” Not good.

Sparring too soon. Black Belt Eyes say, “Sparring prepares you for self-defense.” Market Eyes say, “That’s scary, and it hurts.” Few things lead to high dropouts faster than sparring. Sparring is important, and I love it. But the smartest curriculum adjustment I ever made was to push back the time when students had to spar. Rather than after three months, which was how I was raised, it became eight months. During those eight months, we work on limited sparring drills and defense and prepare the students how to spar before they are thrown in the ring.

I made the change after years of having the following scenario played out too often. Typically, a female student would enroll and soon become an A student. She was in every class. She was at every function. She volunteered to help. She changed her work hours or made changes in her life to make sure she could do karate.

This lasted for three months until she reached the rank where sparring was required. Then I wouldn’t see her again until running into her at the mall or a restaurant. “Sally! Great to see you. We sure miss you in class.” “Oh, um, hi, Mr. Graden . . . Yeah, I’ve been really busy lately. Gotta go.”

If I had a Truth Translator the real message would be, “I trusted you. I really trusted you and embraced your school into my life. Then you put me up against that guy, and I had no idea what to do. He hit me on my nose, and it hurt. I will not trust you again.” When I tell this story in seminars, the classic Black Belt Eyes vs Market Eyes exchange reveals itself, as the owners’ wives and girlfriends elbow them in the ribs. “I told you!”

Some guys argue that sparring is important. I agree. However, how can you teach sparring to someone who drops out?

Today people, especially women, are taught never to hit someone. We have to be patient and help them get comfortable with the idea of hitting and getting hit. We have to give them strategies to get out of the way of a bigger, faster opponent and, most of all, we have to drill them over and over so they are ready to spar when they reach that level.

Setting heavy traditional requirements in the first year. If your white-belt class consists of traditional stances, blocks, and forms, you are going to have a tough time keeping students. Give your students material they can use right away.

We pushed all of our traditional tae kwon do techniques back to green belt. White, gold, and orange belt were spent on working on pad drills, practical self-defense, sparring, and footwork drills. The students loved it. They felt a sense of competence right away.  As important as they are, the traditional martial arts are very hard to learn. By front-loading your curriculum with your core traditional material, you put some of the most difficult techniques to learn with your most inexperienced students.

This is especially true for children. Forms were created by highly disciplined adults to be taught to other highly disciplined adults. They were not designed to be taught to eight-year-olds with ADHD.

Teaching a new student a front stance and then trying to layer on a down block-lunge punch is not only hard, but you almost have to apologize for the lack of practicality. We say things like, “You would never really block this way, but this is a block against a kick to the groin.” That, my friend, are Black Belt Eyes in action.

Having too many “shoulds” in your curriculum. It’s natural for a new school owner to have dreams of creating a great martial arts school. He dreams that his black belts will be the best, and people will flock to his school. When this enterprising black belt sits down to design the ultimate curriculum, he thinks to himself, “Hmmm. My students should learn the traditional basics. They should be able to do a form or two each belt. They should know the basic traditional stances and blocks. They should be able to do all the kicks and punches. They should learn some self-defense. They should be able to do one-steps and spar as well.”

There are two consequences to this line of thinking.

a. Each requirement will have to be covered in class to prepare students for their exams. 

b. With so many requirements, students will have less time to work on each, so quality will be difficult to obtain and maintain.

When you have too many requirements for each belt, you are strapping yourself to covering those techniques in each class. If you don’t cover them, students will not be ready for exams, and it won’t be their fault. If you have 20 requirements for an orange-belt exam, you have to spend a large amount of class covering these 20 techniques. With that many requirements being covered each class, your creativity is hindered. Your classes will tend to be the same. This level of repetition is good only to the degree you don’t lose students to boredom.

The key is to require only the base skills on exams. You’ll have to decide what those base skills are. You can still teach the other 100 techniques you think students “should” learn, but you don’t box yourself in as a teacher. For instance, I can teach spin hook kick to a class of blue belts but not require it on an exam. It’s not a core technique, but it is fun.

Self-defense escapes can also fall into this category, though it depends. Self-defense is at the core of most programs, but typically, it’s not taught very well, and it’s hard to practice. There is a lot of speculation, “I do this, which will make him do that . . .” in self-defense that is style based. Realistically, a headlock escape practiced at 50 percent speed and power works 100 percent of the time. A headlock escape practiced at 75 percent speed and power works less. But how well does it work when both students are going at it 100 percent? Most of us never do that, so who knows?

Students have a finite amount of time to practice your curriculum. If they have 20 techniques to master in order to pass your orange-belt exam, they will spend half the amount of time on each technique than if they only had 10 techniques. For example, in a 12-week testing cycle you expect students to attend class twice a week. This is a total of 24 hours in class. In each class, you devote 20 minutes to requirements. That is total of 8 hours working on test requirements. Some requirements, like forms, take much more time to master, while others, like a ridge hand, take less time.

It only makes sense that a student who has 10 requirements to learn in 8 hours will spend twice as much time on each one as a student who has 20 to learn. Conversely, an instructor will have twice as much time on each of 10 requirements in 8 hours than one who has to cover 20. Odds are, the students with 10 requirements will have a higher competence level than those with 20.

Our Black Belt Eyes lead us to believe that our students will be good because they know more, but again, more is not better. Better is better. Fewer requirements make better students and aid retention, because students who feel they are doing well are happy students and stay in the school. Competence leads to confidence.

Just remember that Market Eyes pay the bills. The next time your spouse or significant other makes the suggestion that tying students together with a belt and having them spar may not be a good move, take a deep breath, listen, and say, “Thank you.”

Your life is defined by your patterns of behavior and thought. Actions do speak louder than words. The Core Dynamics are five crucial areas of our professional life. The top schools owners manage the Control Factor; they have Found Their Own Voice; they Value What They Do; they have Clarity of Purpose; and they balance their Black Belt Eyes with educated Market Eyes.

The Masters on Change

by John Graden

Here are some quotations regarding styles from three of the most influential martial artists in history:

“The art does not make the man. The man makes the art.” – Gichin Funakoshi

“You limit a style by labeling it.” – Bruce Lee

“The style serves the student. The student doesn’t serve the style.” – Joe Lewis

Despite my roots in tae kwon do, my responsibility is to my students, not tae kwon do, kickboxing, Joe Lewis Fighting Systems, or any other source of information. My job is to create the best black belts possible in a school that authentically represents what I believe in. In large part, that responsibility is expressed through my curriculum.

When Does a System Freeze?

The history of the arts, however, is the tendency to freeze a curriculum and then resist any change or suggestion of change. I love Shotokan and know that the reason I did so well in forms division was my adaptation of the core elements of Shotokan, which is deeper balance and more powerful and crisp blocks and punches than my root system of tae kwon do.

We have the great system of Shotokan because of the work of Gichin Funakoshi. In fact, the genesis of Shotokan is in the massive change Funakoshi’s made to Okinawan karate. He radically changed the recipe book, yet for the most part the book has not changed since.

It’s also entertaining to me to see modern Jeet Kune Do teachers argue over what is real JKD. If anyone didn’t want his system to freeze, it was Bruce Lee. He was way ahead of his time in his approach to creating a practical martial art that was not confined or restricted by history.

Joe Lewis is someone who has continually updated his material. Recently we trained one-on-one for the first time in over a decade. He had me fire some of the excellent Joe Lewis Fighting Systems’ combinations on the bag in my garage. He stopped me and started to show me how to throw a straight right hand. My mouth kind of dropped, my eyes got wide, and I shook my head in disbelief. He said, “What?” I said, “That is the exact opposite of what you taught me in the 80s!” He said, “What? I’m not supposed to evolve?” It was the perfect response.

Here was a 60-year-old black belt who was in his fourth decade as a worldwide recognized pioneer and superstar, but in his mind, he is in his fourth decade of evolution. While I’m on the subject of Joe Lewis, let me also mention this. Joe is a very traditional martial artist. I am, too. We don’t express our traditions by holding on to techniques or rituals. We express them by making sure our students: execute with proper form, can defend themselves and develop the tenacity to never quit.

A Martial Arts School Full of Pooh Bears

The first step to increasing your product sales is to logo everything in sight. Harely Davidson now makes more money selling t-shirts and jackets than they make selling motor-bikes. That’s the power of a recognizable logo and a good line of merchandise.

Disney, Warner Brothers and Coke-a-Cola make huge sums of money selling their logo merchandise. If it works for sugar water, it will work for us. Of course, you have to have an attractive logo that people won’t be embarrassed to wear. Be sure to read the report on how to create a good logo.

Logo-wear works on a number of levels:

  1. People like to show they are an accepted member of a group. The more prestigious and “cool” the group, the better. Given a choice, most people might prefer to show the world they belong to the Harvard Athletic Club than the South Emerald City Community College Athletic Club.
  1. Provided you do a good job, students and parents will be proud of their association with you and your school. When someone is proud of their association they typically want others to know.
  1. A “School Logo Only” policy helps to reduce the temptation for students to purchase items outside the school. When a student or parent buys product through the mail or at your local sports discount store this cuts you out of the profit loop.

Logo your uniforms, sparring equipment and t-shirts but don’t stop there. Logo hats, sweat shirts, pens and anything else you plan to sell or give away.

What Items Can You Sell in Your Pro-shop?

  • Sparring equipment
  • A full line of Logo t-shirts, tanks and sweats
  • Caps, headbands and visors
  • Polo style embroidered shirts
  • Warm up suits
  • Martial arts shoes
  • Regular gi’s, colored gi’s and custom gi’s all screen printed with logo
  • Black belt club specialty items
  • Books and videos pursuant to your style
  • Kicking and punching pads 

Selling Training Aids

Training aids are not just for use in the school. Their purchase and use at home could be encouraged by you and all your staff since this not only helps profits but also aids in retention.

Few schools that I know of make much of an effort to sell training aids for use outside the school. This is usually simply because they have not created a system to do this.

If you enroll 20 students per month, let’s create a plan to sell 20 kicking shields to them. Kicking shields are used extensively in the school but do all of your young students have a kicking shield at home?No, but they have a baseball bat a ball and a glove. They have a soccer ball to play with. You can be sure mom or dad enjoys throwing or kicking the ball as well!

Think about it! What is the best way to show a parent that the child is really interested in martial arts?

What is the best way to get the parent emotionally bonded to their child’s success in his martial arts program? Get the parent involved. While you may not get every parent to enroll you can at least encourage the parents to buy a kicking shield and work out with their child on a weekend for ten or twenty minutes.

What if you had a five page booklet with photos of you showing the parent how to hold the target, what techniques to practice and how, plus tips on what to remind the child to focus on? What would that cost you to produce? With a digital camera, a computer and a printer, next to nothing but the time to put it together.

Heavy bags, blockers and focus mitts are also idea for encouraging practice at home and interaction with another member of the family. Each time a parent sees his child practicing at home it reinforces that child’s commitment to martial arts and re-enforces the parents resolve to continue investing in lessons.

Other training aids such as stretching machines are more adult in their appeal but should also be promoted for home use especially around Christmas time.

 

 

The Guru Story

The obvious answer is anytime, but you will find that certain times will offer the opportunity for a quick and easy sale because of a students heightened state of emotion. Remember that people always buy out of emotion backed up by logic.

 

When the student first enrolls his interest is at a peak. Give him a few days to get into the program and recover from his initial investment in your lessons. By then he should already be expressing interest in one or two products and is almost certainly open to “cross-selling.”

 

The first major “high” in a student’s experience in your school is after they pass their first rank test. This is another period of time when their emotions are high and therefore a prime time to sell them products. Books, videos and equipment related to the new material they are going to learn would clearly be well received at this stage.

One time a student really appreciates some suggestive selling is if they get hurt. A barefooted student who has just stubbed his toe will be very receptive and appreciate a suggestion of martial arts shoes.

When someone gets a bruised shin, forearm or bone, let them know that protective pads are available. Consider also, carrying dit dat jow, a Chinese herbal preparation of some repute. It significantly enhances the healing of bruises. Stretching machines and books and videos on stretching can be sold as a preventative measure to strained muscles.

Keep your eyes and ears open at all times. Opportunities to serve your students will present themselves on a daily basis. When you order and stock your merchandise, pay attention to other factors that influence spending habits. For instance, don’t load up with t-shirts in January unless you live in a warm weather climate. Instead, buy school logo sweatshirts and warm-up suits.

The same is true when approaching summer; sell off all those heavy sweats at a pre-summer sale using the money to get your new line of t-shirts on display. Remove any leftover winter stock until next season so as not to clutter up your display. This also will serve to keep seasonal merchandise from getting old.

Sparring equipment will traditionally sell better in the winter than in the summer. One reason is because people tend to workout much harder when it’s colder and also because you normally will have more students in the winter than in the summer.

Books and videos sell best around Christmas and well into the New Year. This is partly because they make good gifts but there also is another reason. Just as the New Year is a great time for new student enrollments, it’s a great time to sell. When people engage in a new activity, they are hungry for information.

Feed that desire with a good selection of related books and videos. This hunger for information can actually be helped by severe winter weather. There is a lot of time to read and watch a video on a new form or other subject of interest.

Halloween is a good time to display uniforms in your front window. Depending on the latest fad, some years you may sell a lot of uniforms for one time costume use only. Of course with each person who comes in off the street to purchase a Halloween costume, you will give a guest pass and offer them a free trial lesson.

You may get several students a year from this type of approach. It may even pay to take out a small ad in your local paper advertising that your carry such uniforms.

Prospective students will come to you in a variety of ways; capitalize on this in any way you can.

Look at your own school and try to see how trends develop. Some things will just sell better at one time of the year than another. This may vary from area to area. Analyze these trends and order your merchandise with these in mind. With attention to detail in this area you should be able to keep your inventory under control and at the same time enjoy increased sales and profitability.

Take Care of Yourself

If you school uses kicking pads, focus mitts, freestanding bags, stretch racks, heavy bags, and other tools of the trade, here is a great way to keep them in brand new condition and at the same time, creating extra income off the product.

Every six months or so, sell your existing equipment to your students. Then, use the funds your receive from them to purchase another supply of brand new equipment. Six months later, do it again. You keep repeating this cycle every six months or so.

In time, your students will make you offers for the equipment they are using in the class. If you are not ready to sell the used item, up-sell them to a new one.

Let’s look at the numbers for this. A high end shield might cost $50 brand new. As a wholesale customer, your cost is about $25 (50%). You purchase it for $25, use it in class.

You tell your students that you are going to upgrade the equipment and will be selling the shields on a first come first served basis. The price is $35. That’s $15 off retail and $10 profit for you.

Leading by Example

Wouldn’t it be great to be able produce and sell t-shirts for your school and events that would make you money with zero risk? Here is the answer. Teespring.com

Teespring allows you to design your own shirt, offer a variety of styles and colors, PROFIT from each one sold and handles everything from shipping to customer service.

There is a low threshold of shirts that have to be sold. Typically that level is 5 shirts have to be sold before any are shipped. If they don’t sell, you have zero cost or risk. Create shirts for your school, style, special teams, events, intra-school tournaments and so on. You could even have t-shirt design contests for your students.

Watch the video below and then visit Teespring.com.

Weekly Goal Commitment

T-shirts are the worlds most popular form of clothing (at least that we can see). Most of us have drawers full of t-shirts adorned with rock concerts, tournaments, states, cars and commercial companies all pushing a place, a product, or a name.

  1. Expand your line and design choices.

Most schools typically have one or two t-shirts designs. Once a student has bought both why should he buy any more? The answer of course is Boosting T-shirt Sales

he won’t he won’t that is unless you expand and offer a full line of t-shirts. That doesn’t means offering 5 or 6 shirts with designs right away. It means creating a look built around your logo. That look can be changed and altered as long as you don’ t change the logo. NEVER CHANGE YOUR LOGO from one product to the next. Same colors, same image ALWAYS. Your logo is your brand, don’t mess with it. However, you could have a special black belt graduation t-shirt with all the new black belts names on it.

Just remember that when Nike t-shirt or Reebok create a new t-shirt, they use a new supporting image or slogan, but the logo stays the same. They might change the color, but rarely even that. The design is built around the logo or accented by the logo.

Everyone needs clothing, so why not provide a quality line of t-shirts with your schools logo on them and sell them to everyone you can?

  1. Use summer rules to sell more shirts

During the summer months allow your students to come to class wearing gi pants, belt, and a logo t-shirt instead of the regular full uniform. This will stimulate t-shirt sales especially if you promote this by newsletters, letters, notices and mentioning it in every class.

  1. Suggest that all demo team or competition team members wear a specific shirt.

Tell all demo team members, competition team members or any other special program you may have to wear the same t-shirt or Polo style shirt when going to an event to show team spirit. Suggest that all the proud parents get into the spirit by doing the same.

  1. Have a sale once or twice a year to move old merchandise.

At the end of each new season do what real department stores in the mall do. Have a sale and clear out all your old designs to make room for next seasons designs. The fashion business is based on new not on doing the same old thing year after year.

You must introduce new designs at least once a year to give your student an parents something fresh to look at. A word of caution though. It is better to run a little short and miss a few sales than to have over ordered and have to fire sale your inventory to get back to even.

A few cycles of that and students will simply wait for the items to go on sale to buy.

  1. Display t-shirts in your window just like a mall store.

Put a t-shirt display in the window during the summer months if it’s done well enough you will often attract the attention of passers by. You may even enroll people from off the street who came into the school with the intention of buying a t-shirt they liked.

  1. Use t-shirts as a premium to sell more expensive items.

 

Because t-shirts are such a valuable marketing tool it pays to use them occasionally as promotions and incentives to stimulate sales in other items. For example you might give away a free t-shirt with the purchase of a video or a heavy bag.

 

  1. Staff team colors.

 

If you have a line of t-shirts, have your staff wear different designs on different day to promote the full range of products. If you notice in doctors or dentists office you will often see this type of thing in action just because it look professional like the whole staff is on the same team. For example.

 

Monday – Blue Logoed Polo shirt

Tuesday – Logo t-shirt

Wednesday – White polo shirt

Thursday – Multi logo t-shirt

Friday – Black belt club t-shirt

Saturday – Red polo shirt

 

  1. Shirt of the month club.

 

One school we know of has a t-shirt of the month club where each month for an extra ten dollars the student gets a new t-shirt. While that might be a bit much for you, you could try introducing a new design each quarter and making it the shirt of the quarter.

 

  1. Introduce a separate line of t-shirts for Black Belt Club members only.

 

By introducing a separate line of Black Belt Club designs you can create a market with in a market and enhance the status and desirability of your Black Belt Club. This works best if you have a specific logo for your Black Belt Club.

 

  1. Consider your shirts a marketing expense that pays twice.

 

Remember apart from the obvious financial benefits of selling more t-shirts and making a profit everyone who buys a t-shirt becomes a walking billboard for your school and you can never have enough of them! You get paid when they purchase the shirt, and hopefully, you’ll get paid again when a new student enrolls because he discovered your school on the shirt of his friend.

60-Second Speeches

A great way to sell uniforms without any pressure and a good profit is to allow your students to wear different colored uniforms at different levels of training. This not only increases sales but retention as well.

Martial arts may be the only activity in the world the discourages students from upgrading their apparel. Think about it. White belts, the most nervous, self-conscious person in the school is usually stuck with the worse quality uniform.

The belt is sticking straight out, the folds are still in the uniform. Then we tell them we are going to improve their self-confidence! Of course, anything would be better than this! We’re kidding (a little).

Truthfully, many schools have traditional rules and reasoning for being restrictive in what students can wear. We respect that. Maybe, instead of changing colors, you upgrade the quality instead.

Help a new student get into a better uniform fast. They will feel better in class when they look better. Of course, some will argue that humility is part of the training, and we agree.

Being a white belt and struggling with all the new terminology, techniques, stretches, exercises and rituals will humble the best of us. Letting them wear a nicer uniform just helps them focus more on what is really important, learning the next belt level material rather than feeling like they look silly in a cheap uniform.

Other ideas include special uniforms for your demo team, leadership team, instructors and staff. Even if you must stick to an all white or black uniform, maybe you can have white with a black stripe or colored collars to create appeal for an upgrade in uniform.

Some schools build the new uniform into the belt requirements. For instances, by the time you test for your gold belt in three months, you’ll need at least the level 2 uniform for $49.95. Other schools allow a student to purchase a uniform that matches their belt rank.

This only makes sense at certain ranks like blue belt or red belt. We don’t want to encourage a world of gold, green, or orange uniforms. But, at a significant milestone rank, a matching uniform is an interesting idea.

Remember to make sure your uniforms are customized with a screen print logo on the back, or a quality aplicay so that your students are not tempted to buy a uniform from any other source than your school.

If you sell just two gi’s per year per student at an average of $30 profit and you have 200 students that’s an extra $12,000 in net profit from gi sales alone! Just think what you could do with an extra $12,000 and it takes almost no effort!

My Kung Fu is Better Than Yours
Call your local Police Department and ask them to come and talk to your teens. Have your teens invite their friends for this event. The theme for the event could be about gangs, drugs or drunk driving. Again, write an article about this event and advertise in your local newspaper to show that your school is not the typical martial arts school.
The Golden Child of Martial Arts

The Gillette Company turned itself around when it made the marketing decision or, came to the realization, depending on how you look at it, that the real money was not made in selling a blade holder and razor.

The real money was made with the repeat sales of the razors. The money in cleaning teeth is not in tooth brushes, it’s the tooth paste that people use and have to replace that creates huge cash flow.

The in-house seminar business can take a lesson or two from these examples. Your students will receive a free product/weapon/training aid for enrolling in the class. The item is presented as a freebie that is included in the price of the class, but in reality, you are selling the item for 10 to 20 times your cost in exchange for taking an hour to teach a group of people about it.

If you charge $25 for a padded nunchaku seminar and have 20 people enroll, that’s $500 gross. They each get a pair of chucks which cost you $2 each for a total investment of $40. That’s a $460 profit for a one-hour class that you’ll have fun teaching. A class like that once a month will add nearly $6,000 to your profits.

At Christmas time, you can sell packages of seminars, three for $60 so the student can pick which classes he attends throughout the year.

  1. Run a padded nunchaku seminar at $25 for the class. Each person who signs up gets a free pair of padded nunchaku.
  1. Run a self-defense class and charge $35 for the class. Each person signing up receives a free My Defense Tool®.
  1. Run a bo stick class for $25 and include one of the several available books on the subject “absolutely free”
  1. Pick the weapon or creative form and you can build a seminar around it. You don’t have to be an expert in the weapon to teach a group of beginners. Pick up a video or call one of your buddies who will show you a solid one hour step-by-step class you can teach.

Think about it. History, how the weapon was created, common misconceptions, etc… will take the first 15 minutes. Then, the basic blocks and strikes for 20 minutes. Then some two person drills such as blocks and counters followed by actual target practice on focus mitts will take another 15-minutes leaving 10-minutes for a short form followed by Q n A and a review.

The possibilities are endless! Check our downloads area for sample flyers for these classes. They are easy to teach and great profit makers.

Despite the fact that you are, in a roundabout way, selling merchandise, your students will perceive added value because you are advertising the actual merchandise as free.

Another excellent way to increase merchandise sales is by simply incorporating a particular training item into your regular class. For example, teach a class on speed and timing utilizing focus mitts.

Tell students they should practice this drill at home with a friend on a regular basis. One will invariably ask ” But how do we get the focus mitts?” This gives you the perfect opportunity to tell him “Right here!”.

Over a period of time you can do the same thing with a speed bag, heavy bag, kicking shield, stretching machine, video or almost anything else. A

s you teach, simply continue to state the benefits of training with that particular piece of equipment. With this method, you need say or do nothing different from what you might normally say in class.

Note: Because many schools do not offer weapons training or offer it only to a select few, weapons seminars may offer you an opportunity to pull in students from outside of your school.

These may be students or people who have no time or inclination to participate in a full course of study, yet have a specialized interest in the particular seminar topic that you are offering.

Clarity of Purpose

If you have a weekly Black Belt Club class, then your Black Belt Club events can be quarterly. If not, then you may consider a monthly event. This can range from board breaking, tournament kata (your tournament), Spar Wars (students spar against instructors), advance stretching and a musical kata class. Usually there is no charge since it is a Black Belt Club class and it’s important to create lots of anticipation for the event. In class, students in the Black Belt Club should be glad they joined and students not yet in the Black Belt Club should desire to.

In The Big Dream

This is NOT a sleepover. It’s a parents night out. Sleepovers have too much liability for the risk. Drop-off is at 7:30p.m. Saturday and a pickup by 9 the next morning. Students pay $25 and bring a sleeping bag, toothbrush, pillow and any games they might want to play. We average 70 – 80 kids for a revenue total of $1,700 – $2,000.

Expenses include staffing, pizza, prizes and the rental of a TV and VCR if your school doesn’t have them. You will need a big screen to accommodate that many kids. One of the most popular activities is Karoake. The kids love to sing and dance and generally be silly while crooning Hound Dog like Elvis.

Your leadership team is very important to the success of this since you want to keep about a 5:1 ratio of kids to leaders. With good preparation and strong leadership, you should be able to pull it off without many hitches.

Black Belt Scandals

We do not encourage our students to attend tournaments. We know from decades of experience that tournaments are sources of great frustration, disappointment, and anger. It’s not unusual for one of your top A students to never return to class after getting ripped off and disillusioned at a tournament. Parents, in particular, are not appreciative of spending $75 for an entry fee plus travel expenses and have it end up, as so many do, an exercise in frustration.

We also recognize that people have only so much they can budget for karate and we much prefer that it be budgeted for our school and not the local tournament promoter.

We use our intra-school tournament to satisfy the desire to compete. Since everyone knows each other and everyone is knowledgeable about the rules, the event runs smoothly.

The scheduling secret is dividing the divisions up by arrival time. For example:

ArrivalDivision Starts

White / Gold belts10a.m.10:30a.m.

Orange / Green11:30a.m.12 noon

Blue / Red1p.m.1:30p.m.

Brown / Black2:30p.m.3p.m.

This allows the family to schedule the tournament into their Saturday instead of spending all day waiting for their division to start.

When the students arrive they are divided by age and rank into divisions of three or four people. This is the entire division for first, second or third place. The students then compete against the other two or three people in that division. This guarantees that everyone wins an award and is the secret to smiling faces.

We charge $40 for our tournament and allow spectators to attend for free. With proper preparation and promotion, you should be able to get a 60 – 70 percent participation rate. Be sure to arrange a victory party at a local restaurant for the competitors. A good arrangement is for the medal winners to receive a discount or free drink to add to the day’s excitement. Since everyone wins a medal, the restaurant can look forward to a busy day if the premium is attractive. Once we had a restaurant offer a free meal to the first place winners and a 10 percent discount to all participants. We had over 50 winners so, needless to say, he had to change arrangements next time.

Congruency in Values

One method of attracting media attention is by creating a provocative event that lends itself to headlines and social media memes. One the best is a Spar-a-Thon.

This type of promotion works best when the cause is something that is anti-violence. For instance, See USA Karate Students Fight Their Instructors in a Death Match to Stop Domestic Abuse / Child Abuse / Bullying / Etc…. The death match is the “death of FILL IN THE BLANK.” That is the kind of headline that editors like and readers stop to check out.

IMPORTANT: Create a true partnership with an organization that will appreciate and promote such an event. You want more than a “Thank you” card when it is over. You want them pushing the event as hard, if not harder than you are. After all, they are getting the money, not you.

Here is the deal: They have resources you do not have. You have an attention-getting, donation prompting event with the kind of people they don’t know. People who will hit each other for good.

You have to emphasize this point. It is not Your School raising money for Their Organization. It’s both of you working to make an event as successful and visible as possible. Everyone wins.

Be sure to get the charity organization fully behind this. You the event on:

1. Their website

2. Announced on their email list.

3. Promoted by their promotions / community service, media relations team over and over again.

4. To their current donors.

5. Their newsletters

6. Any other resource they have to promote their cause. Be sure that they have a lot of them, and you want them all working for the event.

A spar-a-thon is like any other a-thon. Students seek out pledges for the number of 2-minute (or any duration you set) round they will spar with their instructors. For instance, if you have five instructors participating, students can seek pledges, for instance, of $2 per round for five rounds. The student spars each instructor one round for a total of $10. If he gets ten donations like that, he raises $100.

While the build up to the event is a “death match” be sure the instructors are well-chosen for their control and ego-less approach to sparring students. They want to let the students at least seem competitive every round.

Let a student sweep you to the ground and stomp you. Give them plenty of chances to score.

There is a ton of variations to this. Here are some.

1. Have the student start with the lowest ranking / skilled instructor and work his way up to the master instructor participating. Give them a 1-minute rest. This system creates an efficient and exciting process for fans to watch and students to struggle through. Take it easy on them, because they will get exhausted by round three.

This gauntlet line gives the student a sense of sacrifice and contribution. It also makes for some fun visuals. It looks like they are truly fighting to the death against the cause. They will be staggering tired, so the instructors have to be extra careful but also playful

Make sure the audience is yelling encouragement and showing vocal appreciation as the fighters end the gauntlet.

Also, be sure to have lots of water, first aid, and maybe an ambulance standing by.

2. Be creative once the event starts. Try to get people excited to contribute on the spot. For example:

a. “Who’ll contribute $10 to see Mr. 4th Dan spar Mr. 5th, Dan? Who’ll match it?”

b. Auction off fights. a. “Who wants to see School Hotshot spar with Mr. Master for two minutes? It’s a charity death match, and it starts at $20. Can I get $20? $20 there! Can I get $25?”

c. If you have media there, see if you can get the reporter to spar (be ever so gentle) if the crowd will pay for it. Get the reporters permission first. “I need just $100 for Mr. Reporter to spar with Mr. Master. Who will kick in the first $20?”

d. “Mr. Hot Shot / Master Instructor seems to be getting a little tired. Who can blame him? How about if we attack him with two fighters? Can I get $100 to see Mr. Hot Shot / Master Instructor spar two black belts for one minute?”

e. Use your imagination and have safe fun.

Let MATA members know about your event and what you did to make it work and what you would do differently next time.

The Lower the Price, the Lower the Expectations
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The Enemy of Success is Complacency

Videos

John Graden Interviews Tony Robbins

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Selling Products

Selling Products

 

James Theros describes how he grossed $20k in one shopping day.

Selling

4-Reasons to Have a Pro-Shop

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.

 

Income

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.

Service

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.

Advertising

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.

Retention

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.

 

What Equipment Will I Need?

The martial arts school, provided it’s not a Fantasy School, has a great advantage over health clubs in that we have very few and relatively inexpensive needs for equipment. W

hat equipment you need depends on your type of school. If you are a family-oriented kids’ school, a heavy bag will use up valuable space that could be used for students in class. 

On the other hand, if you are a kickboxing school, heavy bags are an important element of the school. In fact, one bag is usually not enough. There are companies you can hire to build multi-bag systems on frames that can be raised to the ceiling when not in use. 

Here are some basic equipment needs for various schools: 

Kids/Family:  body shields Hand-held kicking/punching pads Obstacle course elements (triangles, pads, tunnels, etc.) Blocker pads (handle with padded shaft for striking), cones and obstacle pads for obstacle courses and races and tape on the floor to show students how and where to line up.

Kickboxing: body shields, hand-held kicking/punching pads, heavy bags, upper-cut bags, jump ropes, double-end bag, speed bag, body pads for partner to wear for striking.

Self defense:  body shields, hand-held kicking/punching pads, fake guns and knives, human-shaped freestanding bags, padded mats for take-downs and throws

What Sells in a Martial Arts Studio?

The first step to increasing your product sales is to logo everything in sight. Harely Davidson now makes more money selling t-shirts and jackets than they make selling motor-bikes. That’s the power of a recognizable logo and a good line of merchandise.

Disney, Warner Brothers and Coke-a-Cola make huge sums of money selling their logo merchandise. If it works for sugar water, it will work for us. Of course, you have to have an attractive logo that people won’t be embarrassed to wear. Be sure to read the report on how to create a good logo.

Logo-wear works on a number of levels:

  1. People like to show they are an accepted member of a group. The more prestigious and “cool” the group, the better. Given a choice, most people might prefer to show the world they belong to the Harvard Athletic Club than the South Emerald City Community College Athletic Club.
  1. Provided you do a good job, students and parents will be proud of their association with you and your school. When someone is proud of their association they typically want others to know.
  1. A “School Logo Only” policy helps to reduce the temptation for students to purchase items outside the school. When a student or parent buys product through the mail or at your local sports discount store this cuts you out of the profit loop.

Logo your uniforms, sparring equipment and t-shirts but don’t stop there. Logo hats, sweat shirts, pens and anything else you plan to sell or give away.

What Items Can You Sell in Your Pro-shop?

  • Sparring equipment
  • A full line of Logo t-shirts, tanks and sweats
  • Caps, headbands and visors
  • Polo style embroidered shirts
  • Warm up suits
  • Martial arts shoes
  • Regular gi’s, colored gi’s and custom gi’s all screen printed with logo
  • Black belt club specialty items
  • Books and videos pursuant to your style
  • Kicking and punching pads 

Selling Training Aids

Training aids are not just for use in the school. Their purchase and use at home could be encouraged by you and all your staff since this not only helps profits but also aids in retention.

Few schools that I know of make much of an effort to sell training aids for use outside the school. This is usually simply because they have not created a system to do this.

If you enroll 20 students per month, let’s create a plan to sell 20 kicking shields to them. Kicking shields are used extensively in the school but do all of your young students have a kicking shield at home?No, but they have a baseball bat a ball and a glove. They have a soccer ball to play with. You can be sure mom or dad enjoys throwing or kicking the ball as well!

Think about it! What is the best way to show a parent that the child is really interested in martial arts?

What is the best way to get the parent emotionally bonded to their child’s success in his martial arts program? Get the parent involved. While you may not get every parent to enroll you can at least encourage the parents to buy a kicking shield and work out with their child on a weekend for ten or twenty minutes.

What if you had a five page booklet with photos of you showing the parent how to hold the target, what techniques to practice and how, plus tips on what to remind the child to focus on? What would that cost you to produce? With a digital camera, a computer and a printer, next to nothing but the time to put it together.

Heavy bags, blockers and focus mitts are also idea for encouraging practice at home and interaction with another member of the family. Each time a parent sees his child practicing at home it reinforces that child’s commitment to martial arts and re-enforces the parents resolve to continue investing in lessons.

Other training aids such as stretching machines are more adult in their appeal but should also be promoted for home use especially around Christmas time.

 

 

When is the Best Time to Sell Merchandise?

The obvious answer is anytime, but you will find that certain times will offer the opportunity for a quick and easy sale because of a students heightened state of emotion. Remember that people always buy out of emotion backed up by logic.

 

When the student first enrolls his interest is at a peak. Give him a few days to get into the program and recover from his initial investment in your lessons. By then he should already be expressing interest in one or two products and is almost certainly open to “cross-selling.”

 

The first major “high” in a student’s experience in your school is after they pass their first rank test. This is another period of time when their emotions are high and therefore a prime time to sell them products. Books, videos and equipment related to the new material they are going to learn would clearly be well received at this stage.

One time a student really appreciates some suggestive selling is if they get hurt. A barefooted student who has just stubbed his toe will be very receptive and appreciate a suggestion of martial arts shoes.

When someone gets a bruised shin, forearm or bone, let them know that protective pads are available. Consider also, carrying dit dat jow, a Chinese herbal preparation of some repute. It significantly enhances the healing of bruises. Stretching machines and books and videos on stretching can be sold as a preventative measure to strained muscles.

Keep your eyes and ears open at all times. Opportunities to serve your students will present themselves on a daily basis. When you order and stock your merchandise, pay attention to other factors that influence spending habits. For instance, don’t load up with t-shirts in January unless you live in a warm weather climate. Instead, buy school logo sweatshirts and warm-up suits.

The same is true when approaching summer; sell off all those heavy sweats at a pre-summer sale using the money to get your new line of t-shirts on display. Remove any leftover winter stock until next season so as not to clutter up your display. This also will serve to keep seasonal merchandise from getting old.

Sparring equipment will traditionally sell better in the winter than in the summer. One reason is because people tend to workout much harder when it’s colder and also because you normally will have more students in the winter than in the summer.

Books and videos sell best around Christmas and well into the New Year. This is partly because they make good gifts but there also is another reason. Just as the New Year is a great time for new student enrollments, it’s a great time to sell. When people engage in a new activity, they are hungry for information.

Feed that desire with a good selection of related books and videos. This hunger for information can actually be helped by severe winter weather. There is a lot of time to read and watch a video on a new form or other subject of interest.

Halloween is a good time to display uniforms in your front window. Depending on the latest fad, some years you may sell a lot of uniforms for one time costume use only. Of course with each person who comes in off the street to purchase a Halloween costume, you will give a guest pass and offer them a free trial lesson.

You may get several students a year from this type of approach. It may even pay to take out a small ad in your local paper advertising that your carry such uniforms.

Prospective students will come to you in a variety of ways; capitalize on this in any way you can.

Look at your own school and try to see how trends develop. Some things will just sell better at one time of the year than another. This may vary from area to area. Analyze these trends and order your merchandise with these in mind. With attention to detail in this area you should be able to keep your inventory under control and at the same time enjoy increased sales and profitability.

A System for Selling Equipment

If you school uses kicking pads, focus mitts, freestanding bags, stretch racks, heavy bags, and other tools of the trade, here is a great way to keep them in brand new condition and at the same time, creating extra income off the product.

Every six months or so, sell your existing equipment to your students. Then, use the funds your receive from them to purchase another supply of brand new equipment. Six months later, do it again. You keep repeating this cycle every six months or so.

In time, your students will make you offers for the equipment they are using in the class. If you are not ready to sell the used item, up-sell them to a new one.

Let’s look at the numbers for this. A high end shield might cost $50 brand new. As a wholesale customer, your cost is about $25 (50%). You purchase it for $25, use it in class.

You tell your students that you are going to upgrade the equipment and will be selling the shields on a first come first served basis. The price is $35. That’s $15 off retail and $10 profit for you.

Risk Free T-Shirt Marketing

Wouldn’t it be great to be able produce and sell t-shirts for your school and events that would make you money with zero risk? Here is the answer. Teespring.com

Teespring allows you to design your own shirt, offer a variety of styles and colors, PROFIT from each one sold and handles everything from shipping to customer service.

There is a low threshold of shirts that have to be sold. Typically that level is 5 shirts have to be sold before any are shipped. If they don’t sell, you have zero cost or risk. Create shirts for your school, style, special teams, events, intra-school tournaments and so on. You could even have t-shirt design contests for your students.

Watch the video below and then visit Teespring.com.

Boosting T-Shirt Sales

T-shirts are the worlds most popular form of clothing (at least that we can see). Most of us have drawers full of t-shirts adorned with rock concerts, tournaments, states, cars and commercial companies all pushing a place, a product, or a name.

  1. Expand your line and design choices.

Most schools typically have one or two t-shirts designs. Once a student has bought both why should he buy any more? The answer of course is Boosting T-shirt Sales

he won’t he won’t that is unless you expand and offer a full line of t-shirts. That doesn’t means offering 5 or 6 shirts with designs right away. It means creating a look built around your logo. That look can be changed and altered as long as you don’ t change the logo. NEVER CHANGE YOUR LOGO from one product to the next. Same colors, same image ALWAYS. Your logo is your brand, don’t mess with it. However, you could have a special black belt graduation t-shirt with all the new black belts names on it.

Just remember that when Nike t-shirt or Reebok create a new t-shirt, they use a new supporting image or slogan, but the logo stays the same. They might change the color, but rarely even that. The design is built around the logo or accented by the logo.

Everyone needs clothing, so why not provide a quality line of t-shirts with your schools logo on them and sell them to everyone you can?

  1. Use summer rules to sell more shirts

During the summer months allow your students to come to class wearing gi pants, belt, and a logo t-shirt instead of the regular full uniform. This will stimulate t-shirt sales especially if you promote this by newsletters, letters, notices and mentioning it in every class.

  1. Suggest that all demo team or competition team members wear a specific shirt.

Tell all demo team members, competition team members or any other special program you may have to wear the same t-shirt or Polo style shirt when going to an event to show team spirit. Suggest that all the proud parents get into the spirit by doing the same.

  1. Have a sale once or twice a year to move old merchandise.

At the end of each new season do what real department stores in the mall do. Have a sale and clear out all your old designs to make room for next seasons designs. The fashion business is based on new not on doing the same old thing year after year.

You must introduce new designs at least once a year to give your student an parents something fresh to look at. A word of caution though. It is better to run a little short and miss a few sales than to have over ordered and have to fire sale your inventory to get back to even.

A few cycles of that and students will simply wait for the items to go on sale to buy.

  1. Display t-shirts in your window just like a mall store.

Put a t-shirt display in the window during the summer months if it’s done well enough you will often attract the attention of passers by. You may even enroll people from off the street who came into the school with the intention of buying a t-shirt they liked.

  1. Use t-shirts as a premium to sell more expensive items.

 

Because t-shirts are such a valuable marketing tool it pays to use them occasionally as promotions and incentives to stimulate sales in other items. For example you might give away a free t-shirt with the purchase of a video or a heavy bag.

 

  1. Staff team colors.

 

If you have a line of t-shirts, have your staff wear different designs on different day to promote the full range of products. If you notice in doctors or dentists office you will often see this type of thing in action just because it look professional like the whole staff is on the same team. For example.

 

Monday – Blue Logoed Polo shirt

Tuesday – Logo t-shirt

Wednesday – White polo shirt

Thursday – Multi logo t-shirt

Friday – Black belt club t-shirt

Saturday – Red polo shirt

 

  1. Shirt of the month club.

 

One school we know of has a t-shirt of the month club where each month for an extra ten dollars the student gets a new t-shirt. While that might be a bit much for you, you could try introducing a new design each quarter and making it the shirt of the quarter.

 

  1. Introduce a separate line of t-shirts for Black Belt Club members only.

 

By introducing a separate line of Black Belt Club designs you can create a market with in a market and enhance the status and desirability of your Black Belt Club. This works best if you have a specific logo for your Black Belt Club.

 

  1. Consider your shirts a marketing expense that pays twice.

 

Remember apart from the obvious financial benefits of selling more t-shirts and making a profit everyone who buys a t-shirt becomes a walking billboard for your school and you can never have enough of them! You get paid when they purchase the shirt, and hopefully, you’ll get paid again when a new student enrolls because he discovered your school on the shirt of his friend.

How to Improve Uniform Sales

A great way to sell uniforms without any pressure and a good profit is to allow your students to wear different colored uniforms at different levels of training. This not only increases sales but retention as well.

Martial arts may be the only activity in the world the discourages students from upgrading their apparel. Think about it. White belts, the most nervous, self-conscious person in the school is usually stuck with the worse quality uniform.

The belt is sticking straight out, the folds are still in the uniform. Then we tell them we are going to improve their self-confidence! Of course, anything would be better than this! We’re kidding (a little).

Truthfully, many schools have traditional rules and reasoning for being restrictive in what students can wear. We respect that. Maybe, instead of changing colors, you upgrade the quality instead.

Help a new student get into a better uniform fast. They will feel better in class when they look better. Of course, some will argue that humility is part of the training, and we agree.

Being a white belt and struggling with all the new terminology, techniques, stretches, exercises and rituals will humble the best of us. Letting them wear a nicer uniform just helps them focus more on what is really important, learning the next belt level material rather than feeling like they look silly in a cheap uniform.

Other ideas include special uniforms for your demo team, leadership team, instructors and staff. Even if you must stick to an all white or black uniform, maybe you can have white with a black stripe or colored collars to create appeal for an upgrade in uniform.

Some schools build the new uniform into the belt requirements. For instances, by the time you test for your gold belt in three months, you’ll need at least the level 2 uniform for $49.95. Other schools allow a student to purchase a uniform that matches their belt rank.

This only makes sense at certain ranks like blue belt or red belt. We don’t want to encourage a world of gold, green, or orange uniforms. But, at a significant milestone rank, a matching uniform is an interesting idea.

Remember to make sure your uniforms are customized with a screen print logo on the back, or a quality aplicay so that your students are not tempted to buy a uniform from any other source than your school.

If you sell just two gi’s per year per student at an average of $30 profit and you have 200 students that’s an extra $12,000 in net profit from gi sales alone! Just think what you could do with an extra $12,000 and it takes almost no effort!

Teen Safety Night
Call your local Police Department and ask them to come and talk to your teens. Have your teens invite their friends for this event. The theme for the event could be about gangs, drugs or drunk driving. Again, write an article about this event and advertise in your local newspaper to show that your school is not the typical martial arts school.
How to Sell Products for 10-20 Times Cost

The Gillette Company turned itself around when it made the marketing decision or, came to the realization, depending on how you look at it, that the real money was not made in selling a blade holder and razor.

The real money was made with the repeat sales of the razors. The money in cleaning teeth is not in tooth brushes, it’s the tooth paste that people use and have to replace that creates huge cash flow.

The in-house seminar business can take a lesson or two from these examples. Your students will receive a free product/weapon/training aid for enrolling in the class. The item is presented as a freebie that is included in the price of the class, but in reality, you are selling the item for 10 to 20 times your cost in exchange for taking an hour to teach a group of people about it.

If you charge $25 for a padded nunchaku seminar and have 20 people enroll, that’s $500 gross. They each get a pair of chucks which cost you $2 each for a total investment of $40. That’s a $460 profit for a one-hour class that you’ll have fun teaching. A class like that once a month will add nearly $6,000 to your profits.

At Christmas time, you can sell packages of seminars, three for $60 so the student can pick which classes he attends throughout the year.

  1. Run a padded nunchaku seminar at $25 for the class. Each person who signs up gets a free pair of padded nunchaku.
  1. Run a self-defense class and charge $35 for the class. Each person signing up receives a free My Defense Tool®.
  1. Run a bo stick class for $25 and include one of the several available books on the subject “absolutely free”
  1. Pick the weapon or creative form and you can build a seminar around it. You don’t have to be an expert in the weapon to teach a group of beginners. Pick up a video or call one of your buddies who will show you a solid one hour step-by-step class you can teach.

Think about it. History, how the weapon was created, common misconceptions, etc… will take the first 15 minutes. Then, the basic blocks and strikes for 20 minutes. Then some two person drills such as blocks and counters followed by actual target practice on focus mitts will take another 15-minutes leaving 10-minutes for a short form followed by Q n A and a review.

The possibilities are endless! Check our downloads area for sample flyers for these classes. They are easy to teach and great profit makers.

Despite the fact that you are, in a roundabout way, selling merchandise, your students will perceive added value because you are advertising the actual merchandise as free.

Another excellent way to increase merchandise sales is by simply incorporating a particular training item into your regular class. For example, teach a class on speed and timing utilizing focus mitts.

Tell students they should practice this drill at home with a friend on a regular basis. One will invariably ask ” But how do we get the focus mitts?” This gives you the perfect opportunity to tell him “Right here!”.

Over a period of time you can do the same thing with a speed bag, heavy bag, kicking shield, stretching machine, video or almost anything else. A

s you teach, simply continue to state the benefits of training with that particular piece of equipment. With this method, you need say or do nothing different from what you might normally say in class.

Note: Because many schools do not offer weapons training or offer it only to a select few, weapons seminars may offer you an opportunity to pull in students from outside of your school.

These may be students or people who have no time or inclination to participate in a full course of study, yet have a specialized interest in the particular seminar topic that you are offering.

Products for Special Event Sales

Black Belt Club Events

If you have a weekly Black Belt Club class, then your Black Belt Club events can be quarterly. If not, then you may consider a monthly event. This can range from board breaking, tournament kata (your tournament), Spar Wars (students spar against instructors), advance stretching and a musical kata class. Usually there is no charge since it is a Black Belt Club class and it’s important to create lots of anticipation for the event. In class, students in the Black Belt Club should be glad they joined and students not yet in the Black Belt Club should desire to.

Weapons Seminars

This is NOT a sleepover. It’s a parents night out. Sleepovers have too much liability for the risk. Drop-off is at 7:30p.m. Saturday and a pickup by 9 the next morning. Students pay $25 and bring a sleeping bag, toothbrush, pillow and any games they might want to play. We average 70 – 80 kids for a revenue total of $1,700 – $2,000.

Expenses include staffing, pizza, prizes and the rental of a TV and VCR if your school doesn’t have them. You will need a big screen to accommodate that many kids. One of the most popular activities is Karoake. The kids love to sing and dance and generally be silly while crooning Hound Dog like Elvis.

Your leadership team is very important to the success of this since you want to keep about a 5:1 ratio of kids to leaders. With good preparation and strong leadership, you should be able to pull it off without many hitches.

Intra-school Tournaments

We do not encourage our students to attend tournaments. We know from decades of experience that tournaments are sources of great frustration, disappointment, and anger. It’s not unusual for one of your top A students to never return to class after getting ripped off and disillusioned at a tournament. Parents, in particular, are not appreciative of spending $75 for an entry fee plus travel expenses and have it end up, as so many do, an exercise in frustration.

We also recognize that people have only so much they can budget for karate and we much prefer that it be budgeted for our school and not the local tournament promoter.

We use our intra-school tournament to satisfy the desire to compete. Since everyone knows each other and everyone is knowledgeable about the rules, the event runs smoothly.

The scheduling secret is dividing the divisions up by arrival time. For example:

ArrivalDivision Starts

White / Gold belts10a.m.10:30a.m.

Orange / Green11:30a.m.12 noon

Blue / Red1p.m.1:30p.m.

Brown / Black2:30p.m.3p.m.

This allows the family to schedule the tournament into their Saturday instead of spending all day waiting for their division to start.

When the students arrive they are divided by age and rank into divisions of three or four people. This is the entire division for first, second or third place. The students then compete against the other two or three people in that division. This guarantees that everyone wins an award and is the secret to smiling faces.

We charge $40 for our tournament and allow spectators to attend for free. With proper preparation and promotion, you should be able to get a 60 – 70 percent participation rate. Be sure to arrange a victory party at a local restaurant for the competitors. A good arrangement is for the medal winners to receive a discount or free drink to add to the day’s excitement. Since everyone wins a medal, the restaurant can look forward to a busy day if the premium is attractive. Once we had a restaurant offer a free meal to the first place winners and a 10 percent discount to all participants. We had over 50 winners so, needless to say, he had to change arrangements next time.

Spar-a-Thon

One method of attracting media attention is by creating a provocative event that lends itself to headlines and social media memes. One the best is a Spar-a-Thon.

This type of promotion works best when the cause is something that is anti-violence. For instance, See USA Karate Students Fight Their Instructors in a Death Match to Stop Domestic Abuse / Child Abuse / Bullying / Etc…. The death match is the “death of FILL IN THE BLANK.” That is the kind of headline that editors like and readers stop to check out.

IMPORTANT: Create a true partnership with an organization that will appreciate and promote such an event. You want more than a “Thank you” card when it is over. You want them pushing the event as hard, if not harder than you are. After all, they are getting the money, not you.

Here is the deal: They have resources you do not have. You have an attention-getting, donation prompting event with the kind of people they don’t know. People who will hit each other for good.

You have to emphasize this point. It is not Your School raising money for Their Organization. It’s both of you working to make an event as successful and visible as possible. Everyone wins.

Be sure to get the charity organization fully behind this. You the event on:

1. Their website

2. Announced on their email list.

3. Promoted by their promotions / community service, media relations team over and over again.

4. To their current donors.

5. Their newsletters

6. Any other resource they have to promote their cause. Be sure that they have a lot of them, and you want them all working for the event.

A spar-a-thon is like any other a-thon. Students seek out pledges for the number of 2-minute (or any duration you set) round they will spar with their instructors. For instance, if you have five instructors participating, students can seek pledges, for instance, of $2 per round for five rounds. The student spars each instructor one round for a total of $10. If he gets ten donations like that, he raises $100.

While the build up to the event is a “death match” be sure the instructors are well-chosen for their control and ego-less approach to sparring students. They want to let the students at least seem competitive every round.

Let a student sweep you to the ground and stomp you. Give them plenty of chances to score.

There is a ton of variations to this. Here are some.

1. Have the student start with the lowest ranking / skilled instructor and work his way up to the master instructor participating. Give them a 1-minute rest. This system creates an efficient and exciting process for fans to watch and students to struggle through. Take it easy on them, because they will get exhausted by round three.

This gauntlet line gives the student a sense of sacrifice and contribution. It also makes for some fun visuals. It looks like they are truly fighting to the death against the cause. They will be staggering tired, so the instructors have to be extra careful but also playful

Make sure the audience is yelling encouragement and showing vocal appreciation as the fighters end the gauntlet.

Also, be sure to have lots of water, first aid, and maybe an ambulance standing by.

2. Be creative once the event starts. Try to get people excited to contribute on the spot. For example:

a. “Who’ll contribute $10 to see Mr. 4th Dan spar Mr. 5th, Dan? Who’ll match it?”

b. Auction off fights. a. “Who wants to see School Hotshot spar with Mr. Master for two minutes? It’s a charity death match, and it starts at $20. Can I get $20? $20 there! Can I get $25?”

c. If you have media there, see if you can get the reporter to spar (be ever so gentle) if the crowd will pay for it. Get the reporters permission first. “I need just $100 for Mr. Reporter to spar with Mr. Master. Who will kick in the first $20?”

d. “Mr. Hot Shot / Master Instructor seems to be getting a little tired. Who can blame him? How about if we attack him with two fighters? Can I get $100 to see Mr. Hot Shot / Master Instructor spar two black belts for one minute?”

e. Use your imagination and have safe fun.

Let MATA members know about your event and what you did to make it work and what you would do differently next time.

Your Biggest Retail Sales Day of the Year

Professional merchandising should play an important role in the overall success of your school. With the Christmas/Holiday season, you have the best opportunity of the year to sell merchandise. Your students, their friends and families are going to spend many thousands of dollars during the holiday season. You need to position yourself and your school(s) to be able to provide as many opportunities for these people as possible to purchases products and services from you.

It is during this time of year that you need to have the widest variety of materials available for your students to choose from. Remember that you have a relatively captive audience in your students. They are not usually able to go anywhere else to purchase the products that you have available through your school. Keep this in mind when your are developing your fall and winter lines of products that you will make available to your students.

Try to provide as much apparel and products with your name and logo on them as possible. If it comes with your name and logo on it, then your school is the only place that the item will be available. Also remember, when an item has your name and logo on it, it becomes a specialty item and then it has a greater potential value to the student.

Many retail stores make between 70 and 90% of their total annual profits during the Christmas holiday season. During much of this season, people are looking for opportunities to spend their money.

They will be much more open to suggestions than any other time of the year. You should be able to do three to five times your normal monthly merchandise volume during the holiday season. But, to do this you must start planning NOW!

You must begin planning now to make the holiday season a successful and highly profitable one. If you follow the guidelines for running a “Friends and Family Shopping Day” you should be able to have your most successful holiday season ever!

Decide today everything that you are going to make available to your students that will come with your logo on it. This includes shirts, hats, coats, watches, mugs, pens, clocks, backpacks, uniforms, safety equipment, etc.

Next, you need to decide what other items you want to make available. Some of the items you may want to stock a sample and others you may just want to have available through catalogue order. If you are going to do catalogue ordering, be sure that you order plenty of catalogues well in advance.

Once you have decided what you want to sell this season, you now need to decide what and how much of each item you are going to stock. In some cases you will only stock one sample or a sample of each size. In other cases you may want to stock a good number of certain items.

This would especially be true of some smaller items that you could use as ‘up sell’ items to fill out their buying list. Plus your shoppers could take these items with them immediately. Many times these smaller items will be impulse buy items. Example: mugs, water bottles, hand targets, pens, watches, etc.

Besides your regular stock of items that you have available, you should have a few items that are only available at the special shopping day. These can be purchased as special surprise gifts. You may also want to have a couple of unannounced specials available on that day to encourage additional purchases.

Don’t hesitate to come up with additional ideas to stimulate the desire to buy. Example: How about offering an additional special FREE gift if someone buys a big ticket item, like a stretching machine.

 

It is essential that you begin promoting your Christmas/Holiday items as early as possible. Remember, children begin planning what they want already in September and October. That is when you need to begin promoting the products that you have available and what they need to do get them.

If you are going to use catalogues, you need to get them out in early October. This will give the students an opportunity to put martial arts related items at the top of their list. Your pro-shop should be at its fullest by the beginning of October as well. Try to get all your samples in by the end of September and ready to be displayed by the beginning of October.

Try to be especially creative with your displays during this time of the year. You may also want to put up a special display in your front window for passersby. You will be amazed by the number of people who are drawn in by an exciting display, people who otherwise may have spent their money elsewhere.

 

We recommend that you give or send out copies of the “My Martial Arts Wish List” during the month of October.

You need to choose a day or evening in November to be your actual “Friends and Family Shopping Day.” We recommend a date between November 13th and the 22nd.

Remember, the day after Thanksgiving, the 24th, is typically the busiest shopping day of the season. You want togive the friends and families an opportunity to do their shopping at your school before

they do the rest of their shopping . On the evening or day that you choose to have the event, you may want to cancel classes on that day to emphasize the importance of the event for the students and their friends and families.

Try to make the shopping day/night a very special event by providing beverages and snacks for everyone that attends. Be sure to have enough staff on hand to help everyone. If you promote the event correctly, you should have an excellent response and you will need all the help you can get.

Also, don’t forget about selling upgrade and private lesson programs during this time.

Sample Display Ideas

January/February Strategy

Theme: Start the New Year Right!

Background: Get in shape theme. 
Sell: Sweatshirts, shoes, headbands, fitness videos and books. Heavy bags and other home training equipment

March /April

Theme: Kids in the Martial Arts.

Background: Paintings by children from your school, and good report cards.
Sell: Patches, children’s books, videos

May

Theme: The Tradition of the Martial Arts.

Background: Bamboo, a bonsai tree, sand and pebbles.
Sell: Uniforms, practice weapons

June/July

Theme: Patriotism

Background: Two large flags of your country, toy soldiers. 
Front: Uniform with flag colors stretched on wire. 
Sell: Equipment with flag colors plus, headbands, flag patches, T-shirts, etc

August/ September

Theme: Martial Arts Movies.

Background: Movie posters 
Sell: Everything! Posters, DVDs and videos of the films are great choices

October

Theme: Halloween.

Background: Orange paper and two large pumpkins. You can also use Halloween props.
Front: Ninja suits stretched on wire

November /December

Theme: Holidays.

Background: Small Christmas tree surrounded by gift-wrapped ‘presents’ and Christmas stockings.
Christmas items: Books, Videos, and Shoes.
Stocking stuffers: Patches, key chains

People Who Bought This Also Bought That

If there is one thing that the internet has taught us about selling, People Who Bought This Also Bought That. In sales this is known as a cross sell if the product purchased to go with the original item. If the new item purchased is a more expensive version of the original item, that is an up-sell.

While we are not in the hard sales business, it’s helpful to suggest to your students what products work well together and when they may want to consider a higher quality, more expensive option.

For instance, once a student has agreed to buy a set of sparring equipment it makes sense to suggest that he add a logo bag to carry it all in (for just an extra $25).

When a student buys a book, suggest a video that might go with it. If he buys a weapon you might suggest a book or a video to help with his mastery of that weapon. Look for opportunities to cross-sell, not just to make a bigger sale but to enhance a students training or enjoyment of another previously bought product.

Always be on the lookout for ways to cross-sell. When a student buys a new uniform ask him if wants another school patch. If he orders a stretching machine, suggest a video that complements his purchase.

Since most students keep the old uniform as a spare, the chances are he will say yes. You are providing him with a service and helping yourself at the same time.

For example:

Student: “Sir, can I order some nunchaku from you?”

Instructor: “Sure, do you know how to use them?”

Student: “No, not yet but I was hoping you could show me in one of my classes.”

Instructor: “Of course, I’d be glad to but they are not easy to learn. That’s why we only sell the padded chucks. There is an excellent book out called Learning Basic Nunchaku. It’s full of pictures and diagrams that make leaming them a little easier. I think it would be a great help to you.”

Student: “That sounds great! Could you get me a copy of that as well?”

Instructor: “Sure, if I order them tomorrow they will be in by Friday. Would you like to pay for them now?”

Student: “Sure.”

You just made $5 profit from the nunchaku and another $5 from the book that you suggested. You saved the student from having to find a book on his ow. He is genuinely grateful that you suggested it to help him learn in the first place.

Not only have you just created a win-win situation for yourself and one of your students, but you just made $ 10 profit in two minutes. Multiply that situation by a few encounters every day and your will be amazed at how your sales will grow.

Almost every product you sell has something that naturally goes with it. Plant the idea of buying the two things together in the student’s head and he usually will. When you do your ordering, order a pair of sai and a sai case. In your studio, sell them as one item, sai with case for X amount of dollars.

At Christmas time, buy some boxes with your logo printed on them to create gift sets. Sell the book and weapon together as a gift set. Sell the punches, kicks and sport bag as a set. Suggestive selling is a very powerful tool.

Remind your students that if they want a special item that you don’t stock you would be glad to get it for them. Despite our societies desire for instant gratification, students are understanding that special items may need a few days to order.

You can order anything in the catalog. The key for you is to make sure your are prompt with your orders and deliveries. Take a 50% deposit to order the product and collect the balance upon delivery.

Selling products works best when you spend a little time working out your system of up-sells, cross-sells and then determine what kind of ordering system you are going to offer.

For creating the catalogs, you might need some help from someone with a little design experience, but that is usually not hard to do. The internet has hundreds of sites devoted to providing low cost design work.

Most of all you have to create your system for sales and then make sure you deliver what you promise.

The New Student Package

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. 

How to Sell Sparring Equipment

Sparring equipment is the easiest sale in your school since it is mandatory for all students who are involved in any type of sparring.

Most schools seem to introduce some kind of sparring at the gold belt level 4-6 weeks into the program. Not only might that be too late, but you can sell the gear much earlier than that. Just don’t get them sparring that early. You can get them doing drills instead.

Not only is this a safer way to teach and keep students, but the equipment is built into the class content, so if you don’t have it, you can’t participate.

White belts work defensive blocking and punching drills with headgear, mouthpiece and hand pads.

When they make their gold belt in about eight weeks, they need shins, foot pads and a cup because the drills will begin to include kicking.

At the orange belt level after about three months, they need a rib protector because they will begin to make body contact during light sparring.

At the green belt level, after six months of training will they finally actually free spar and make head contact. As much as this flies in the face of the way many of us were taught and continue to teach, it is proven for creating better fighters and much, much higher retention. Plus the gear sells itself.

Safety Gear is the Right Gear for Any School Regardless of Style

  1. If your students are protected with a full complement of protective equipment, there is far less chance that they will sustain injuries. Injuries keep them out of the school, decrease their motivation and can cause them to quit coming back.
  1. Should a properly supervised student get injured while wearing a set of protective equipment, your liability should be lessened.
  1. Most school insurance policies require that students wear such equipment in order to obtain the insurance.

Many schools keep sparring equipment lying around for students to use. This not only hurts sales but it’s very not very safe, hygienic or dignified. A headgear is not like a baseball bat.

To make the selling of the sparring package easy, you can group the items together selling them at full retail but throwing in a free sport bag to keep their gear in. The bag and the sparring equipment, of course, has your logo and website url clearly imprinted on the bag.

How to Get 21 Human Billboards

Human billboards are people that you’re going to let train for nearly free, and in turn, they’re going to agree to give their best effort to refer you one student a month.

The Target Market

While this works anytime of the year, it’s a great way to finish the year by rounding up all of your prospects that didn’t enroll this year and launch this in October.

How this Works

Contact them and say, “I’d like to give you 6-months of classes for free. But the catch is that you’re going to give me your best effort to refer one student a month. If you don’t refer me one student a month, I’m not going to kick you out of my school or anything. You’ve just got to give me your word that you’re going to try.”

“Here’s how it works. You pay $299 (Pick any number you’re comfortable with) for your first month, and then the next 6-months are free (throw in some shirts and a uniform so they are true human billboards.) But here’s the catch. The catch is you’ve got to really give me a sincere effort to refer one person a month.”

The reason why you say, “Here’s the catch,” is because you just said they’ve got to pay $299 for the first month. Before they say, “Oh, wait a minute…” Just say, “Here’s the catch – you’ve got to try to give your sincere effort to refer me one student a month. Is that fair enough?”

When you end a sentence with “fair enough”, it’s difficult for someone to say no. That’s how you get your human billboards.

The Numbers and Implementation

Make a goal. In the first seven days, you’re going to get 21 people for only $299 for the 6-months.  $299 times 21 students equals $6,279. So in the first week, if you just get three people a day for seven days — just three a day. Do that for seven days and you just made yourself $6,279 in week one.

After week one you have 21 human billboards. Give them huge referral incentives and great referral tools to bring in their friends, and you get one referral a month from all those 21 human billboards.

That’s 21 students at $149 a month which is $3,129 a month or $37,548 a year. That may not seem like much, but if you do this year round you will create multiples of that amount.

On the low-end, if you do 21 human billboards a month, each month your revenue would increase by $3,129. Mind you, this assumes 100% retention but that’s a different subject.

 New StudentsNew RevenueRecurring Revenue
Jan21$3,129 
Feb21$3,129$6,258
Mar21$3,129$9,387
Apr21$3,129$12,516
May21$3,129$15,645
June21$3,129$18,774
July21$3,129$21,903
Aug21$3,129$25,032
Sept21$3,129$28,161
Oct21$3,129$31,290
Nov21$3,129$34,419
Dec21$3,129$37,548
   $240,933

Summary

Twenty-one human billboards pay you $299 and they get 6-months of free classes. They agree to try to refer you one student a month. So let’s say only half of your human billboards refer you one student a month, right?

Even at that rate, in two months, you’re going to be in the range of $100,000 a year; even if half of the people deliver what they say they will. Even if you have a 50-percent success rate with your human billboards you would still be on pace for $100,000 a year income within two months.

That’s a great way to wrap the year and an even better way to start the new year.

Increase Retail Sales with Curriculum Design

Your students need as much equipment as you tell them they need. By telling students to have a backup uniform or two so they never miss class because their main uniform is dirty you help a student and increase sales.

A student who owns a heavy bag, bag gloves and a kicking shield is more likely to practice at home. Also, that investment in equipment helps keep them committed to their training. Padded weapons classes like nunchukas, sword and kamas keep training fun and interesting, which helps retention.

Students can use hand-wraps, bag gloves, gear bags, t-shirts, journals, books, postcards, toys, nutritional products, water and any number of other items you can provide in your pro-shop.

Many retail items can become essential parts of your curriculum. For example, different styles and colors of uniforms can denote advancement or levels of membership, such as the Black Belt Club. A level of curriculum that includes grappling could require a judo uniform.

The implementation of Muay Thai kickboxing drills creates the opportunity for students to wear Thai shorts and t-shirts. Your curriculum can include bag work, which then requires safety gear, like hand wraps, gloves, shin and instep pads and footgear for protection.

Weapons practice at intermediate and advanced belt levels creates the need for those products. Your school’s educational and motivational philosophy can point your students to the pro shop as well.

You can emphasize the importance of keeping a journal, and your pro shop can sell training journals. You can promote the idea of reading over watching TV, and sell books.

Emphasize the importance of letter writing and provide postcards. Classroom reminders of the importance of nutrition can sell vitamins and nutritional beverages. Safety chats about the importance of proper hydration can sell bottled water and personal water bottles.

The best thing about linking your curriculum with retail items is that all of the items offer your student an improvement in the quality of their training and education.

The people who attend your school are going to be spending their disposable income on things like video rentals, fast food, cable TV, magazines and any number of other unessential items.

If you can instead sell them things that enhance their enjoyment of the martial arts and at the same time improve the quality of their lives, then you’re doing them a service –while helping your school to establish a healthy income.

Training Exercise

Take from 10 to 20 minutes to brainstorm on all of the items you could feature in your pro-shop that could be linked to your school’s curriculum.

Begin with the first seven steps as outlined below and then do the Brainstorming Follow Up after the seminar. (Tips: Required safety   equipment; At home training equipment; Club equipment i.e., Black Belt Club, Demo Team etc.; Food/Nutritional items; Seminar items; Seasonal items;   Novelty items; School Logo items; Apparel items: Notion items).

 

Increasing Shoe Sales

Of course, most schools don’t allow shoes in the classroom. That doesn’t mean the school doesn’t allow show SALES though. Shoes are one of the best selling products in any martial arts pro-shop that offers them. Light, athletic, sharp looking martial arts shoes are very popular with students and parents of all ages and rank.

  1. Martial arts shoes have an almost signature look about them. They say “martial arts” without screaming it. They are subtle in their appeal and connection to the arts.
  1. If you have certain classes or nights where shoes are not only allowed, but encouraged your will see shoe sales jump. Why have such a class? Most of us don’t get attacked in our bare feet. Plus, training with shoes as a dimension of change to a form or a drill that makes it interesting and exciting for the students. The result is higher sales and happier students.
  1. We hate to say this, but when students wear shoes in class, the schools smell better! There are few things worse than going into a martial arts school that stinks of sweaty feet. It is a major turn off to everyone but the school owner, because he can’t smell it. He’s too used to it!

Sell each student a pair of shoes that cost $39.95 which you bought for $19.95 and you make $20 over the course of the year with 200 students that’s a net profit of $4,000. When it comes to martial arts shoes, sell only the high end shoes.

Not only is there more profit dollars for you, but people are used to spending much more than the most expensive martial arts shoes cost anyway.

Besides, Nike and Reebok won’t miss the sales you get from them with a good shoe program.

Knowing Your Revenue Streams

To maximize your revenue from martial arts school, you must have a clear understanding of your revenue streams.

Read these carefully. Not all will apply to you, but wouldn’t it be nice if they did? One clear requirement for successfully utilizing most of these is that you will have to use agreements rather than month-to-month programs.

Revenue Stream 1 

Down Payments on New Student Agreements

Also known as a registration fee, this is the initial investment a student makes to join your school. Typically, this is at least two months’ tuition. For instance, a program is $199 down payment/registration and $99 per month for 12 months or ongoing.

Revenue Stream 2 

Down Payments on Renewing Agreements

This is the initial investment a student makes in order to renew or upgrade in your school. The best strategy for this has been the Black Belt Club. If you do not have a solid system for upgrades and renewals, this stream is dry for you.

Revenue Stream 3 

Monthly Tuition

This is the lifeblood of your school. As you grow your school, your monthly tuition should grow as well. Ideally, your monthly tuition would cover your base operating expenses each month. For instance, if all the monthly expenses, including your salary, totaled $12,000, your monthly tuition collections from your billing company would cover that amount. In that very healthy scenario, these other streams are 100 percent profit. Mind you, this is not easy to accomplish, but even 75% of expenses paid from your billing check would be good.

Revenue Stream 4 

Product Sales

Consider your retail shop as though it were a separate business. Open a separate business checking account for your retail, and deposit all gear sales revenue into that account. Use an American Express card or any other credit card that requires pay-off each month to pay for equipment purchases. When you place an order, pay for it with your credit card. This gives you up to 30 days to sell the equipment to your students. As they pay for the equipment, deposit the funds into the retail account.

When the credit card bill for the equipment is due, pay for it with a check from the retail account. Since you are usually doubling your money, this retail account will grow fast. Your credit rating will grow, as well as your rewards for using the card. Ideally, you will build a large cash reserve and save money on plane tickets and vacations, too.

Sell thousands of martial arts products and supplies directly from your website. You choose which products to sell, set the retail price, and still only pay wholesale. Veteran schools have reported that they have tripled their retail sales using this valuable service.

Best of all, student payments go straight into your bank account and you are billed your wholesale rate, allowing you to better manage your cash flow and not have to wait for your referral check to arrive.

Revenue Stream 5 

Special Events

Even if you don’t charge for testing, you will want to host at least one special event each month for your student body. These can range from nunchaku seminars to board-breaking, “Fear Into Power” seminars. These are not only pretty easy to manage, but they are a lot of fun. My nunchaku seminars were always packed with 30 to 50 students and would generate around $500-$1,000 per event. The fee of $25 included two rubber nunchaku to use in the class, so it was almost pure profit.

Birthday parties would also go under this category. A two-hour $250 birthday party is not only a revenue generator, but also a lead generator. Some schools have at least one birthday party per week, so it’s a proven winner.

Revenue Stream 6 

Testing/Grading Fees

I didn’t include these with Special Events, because exam fees are a little different from special events. Most exams for stripes occur in class, and they usually don’t require a fee. The main graduations on the weekends require additional work and staff, so it’s reasonable to charge for these events.

Typically, exam fees range from $30 to $50 and increase with rank. Black belt exams can be as much as $200 to $300 but, to justify this higher fee, you should provide additional prep classes for the black belt candidates.

Some schools are large enough that they rent auditoriums to showcase their graduating black belts or to conduct the exam. The exam fee should cover these additional expenses.

Revenue Stream 7 

Fast Track Testing

This is a touchy subject and has to be handled carefully. The idea is simply that some people are willing to invest more money to get through your belt system faster.

Revenue Stream 8 

Paid in Fulls

In recent years, Paid In Fulls (PIFs) have made a huge comeback. MASS and other such organizations have championed the cash out as a way of getting maximum revenue from a student base that will more than likely drop out anyway. As much as I dislike the idea of treating all students like potential dropouts, smart use of Paid in Fulls can significantly boost your bottom line.

Revenue Stream 9 

Renewals and Upgrades

Black Belt Club and Masters’ Club are the most popular and proven renewal programs.  For now, we want to focus on the renewal as a revenue generator.

Common practice has been to upgrade someone to a BBC or MC and replace his New Student agreement or program with the more expensive BBC or MC program. In most cases, the renewal had a registration of $299 or so, and tuition increased $10 per month.

Another popular strategy is to keep the student on their current tuition plan, but charge them a one-time or annual fee to upgrade to BBC or MC. For instance, a student is paying $110 per month for her current program. A BBC or Masters’ Club upgrade is presented as an annual upgrade for $500.

Revenue Stream 10 

Discounting a Past-Due Contract

When I was a publisher for Martial Arts Professional magazine, we sold advertising to clients who wanted to reach and sell to our readers. On occasion, an advertiser would want to cancel the contract. In the world or publishing, the process for doing this is called “shorting the contract.”

In exchange for committing to a set number of ads, the advertiser would be given a discount for each ad they placed.  “Shorting the contract” meant that the ads the client ran would be re-billed at the one-time rate and, if he paid the difference, we’d  release him from the contract.

Revenue Stream 11 

Career Training Programs

For years, I’ve taught the importance of creating a Leadership Team of assistant instructors to help you provide a higher level of service to your students. Typically, the Leadership Team is a “by invitation only” program for Black Belt Club members.

More and more schools are expanding Leadership Team programs into a precursor to a full-blown Career Development program that trains students to become martial arts school owners and instructors. Students pay for the right to attend staff meetings, practice role playing, and venture “into the kitchen” of the school.

Tuition for these programs are as high as $7,900 for a two-year course. Keep in mind that, in order to offer this, you really have to know this business cold and create a solid curriculum on par with a vocational school, because, in a sense, that’s what you are offering.

Student Audit

This is not so much a revenue stream as a way of plugging leaks in your cash flow. The Student Program Audit is a single sheet of paper with three columns and 11 rows. The columns are for a student’s first, second, and third programs within a school. Typically, these are New Student, Black Belt Club, and Masters’ Club, but any program will work.

The first six rows are the various payment options a student might use in your school. The next two are the start and end date for the program, which are followed by a check mark to make sure the Party Responsible for Paying is noted in the agreement and that the injury waiver has been signed. Your job is to audit each and every student’s file to make sure you have each of these important items in the student’s folder.

The first few times you do a Student Audit, it is like found money. You will be amazed at how much important paperwork is missing. More than that, you will be stunned at how many students are training who have expired or have no record of payments.

Staple one Student Audit to the outside of each student file.

Build Around Your Core

Not all of these revenue streams will be for you. That’s why the Core Dynamic of Finding Your Own Voice is so important. I personally helped create many popular trends in this industry. I also made it clear what programs I would never teach, even though I developed and sold them. What is good for me may not be good for you. Know what you like, and why you are doing this for a living, and then build strong revenue streams around those core programs.

Selling Martial Arts: Conversion Ratio

Selling Martial Arts

 

In this example, you’ve invested $1,000 for some type of marketing, but how you spent the $1,000 is not the focal point of this illustration. What happened after you spent it is.

The Conversion Ratio is the percentage of people you move from one level to the next. In the three columns are three sample ratios ranging from the good, the bad, and the ugly. Though each school invested the same amount of money in marketing and received the same number of phone calls, the results are strikingly different.

50-Percent Conversion Ratio (The Ugly)

Each example invests $1,000 in the same marketing areas. The investment risk is the same, but the return on that investment is very different.

The right column is a recipe for disaster, yet all too typical. Though this school has done a good job of keeping its cost per call down to just $25, the cost doubles to $50 per appointment because only 20 of the calls are actually set appointments.

Think how easily this can happen. How many calls come in that are not answered or not returned? How many calls does an untrained person answer? How many so-called “appoint¬ments” are really weak promises to stop by? If you track these numbers – and the best schools track them daily – you will see how easily you can land in this dangerous 50-percent rate.

Make sure you and anyone else who answers the phone or responds to an inquiry about les¬sons is fully trained and understands that the goal of the call is to set a solid appointment to come in and take an intro class.

In the 50-Percent Conversion Rate column, only half of the appointments set actually take an intro lesson. This means each intro costs you $100. We’ve checked around, and no one is charging $100 per intro. At the 50-percent conversion rate, you are going in the hole. Sadly, it gets worse. When only 50 percent of those intros actually enroll, each new student costs you $200. If you get $199 as a registration/down payment, you’ve gone through an enormous amount of stress to profit $1.

Again, most of you are not tracking these numbers, but if you did, I would bet a steak dinner you are in the 50-65 percent range for conversions. Sure, you may have a 90-percent intro¬to-enrollment conversion rate, but if you are at a 50-percent call-to-appointment and then appointment-to-intro, you will still be within the overall range of 50-65 percent.

65-Percent Conversion Ratio (The Bad)

In the middle column, a significant bottom-line difference results from just a 15-percent improvement in your Conversion Rate. Though the conversion rate is still not as high as you want, the cost per new student is significantly less. This small 15-percent increase in perfor¬mance yields a huge reduction in your cost per student.

You can see that small improvements yield high results, especially as they are compounded over time. In this example, a 65-percent conversion rate will enroll about 72 more students over a 12-month period. As you will see in the next example, an 80 percent conversion rate will result in nearly 200 more enrollments in a 12-month period over the 50 percent rate and about 120 over the 65-percent rate.

80-Percent Conversion Ratio (The Good)

Take it up another 15 percent, and you get to the 80-Percent Conversion Rate column, which is where you want to be. Every step of the way towards converting a stranger into a student is less expensive. Of course, it’s not profitable until the student enrolls, but in the 80¬percent range, your cost per student is one-quarter that of the 50-percent rate at just $48.

I’d write $48 checks until my hand cramped up if each check would put a new student on my floor. I’d be less enthusiastic at the $90 (65-percent) level, and I’d find another way of mak¬ing a living at the 50-percent level, because I’d be starting off too far behind with each student. If I have to pay $100-$200 per new student, the students have to be into their second or third month of tuition before they become profitable. That is an exercise in frustration.

That’s a stressful way to do business. As clear as this illustration is, many owners do not track these numbers. It’s not that they are lazy; they really don’t want to know how bad a job they are doing at converting strangers into students.

Typically, the owners say things like, “Once we get them in the door, just about everyone signs up.” They complain marketing doesn’t work in their area, or that the economy is bad, or that the belt factory school down the street is selling black belts or – my favorite – ”We’re not a commercial school.” The truth is that they are paralyzed by the Control Factor and would rather protect their little puddle than take the time and risk to the ego to learn how to set appointments, teach smart intros, and close on an enrollment conference. In short, they are afraid to ask for the check. Re-read Value What You Do.

MATA has excellent resources and scripts for this entire process, so getting the good information is not the challenge. The challenge is breaking out of the box to use it.

Many owners say they just want to teach. They don’t like the business of selling. They want someone else to handle the conversion process. That’s understandable; however, you must learn how to sell first. Otherwise, who is going to train your front-line people?

You can’t print out a few pages from MATA, hand these to your employees, and expect them to keep an 80-percent conversion rate. You have to know this process inside and out, so you can teach it like a professional martial artist.

As the school owner, you have more interest in creating a solid process for converting students into strangers than anyone. If you don’t care enough about your business to learn, role-play, and train how to improve this system, no one else will.

Selling Martial Arts: Discounting Past Due Contracts

Selling Martial Arts

 

When I was publishing Martial Arts Professional magazine, we sold advertising to clients who wanted to reach and sell to our readers. Occasionally, an advertiser wanted to cancel the contract. In the publishing world, the process for doing this is called “shorting the contract.”

In exchange for committing to a set number of ads, the advertiser was given a discount for each ad. Shorting the contract meant that the ads the guy ran would be re-billed at the one-time rate and, if he paid the difference, we would release him from the contract.

For instance, if he committed to 10 ads at $2,000 each and cancelled after five, he would have paid us $10,000 of a $20,000 contract. However, had he purchased those ads one at time, the cost would have been $2,200 each. So, if he wants out of his contract, he would pay the difference between five ads at $2,000 (what he paid) and the single run price of $2,200. This would be $200 x 5 = $1,000. He would pay the $1,000 to “short out” his contract. It would be a fair deal for both of us.

You can use this idea in a similar fashion in your martial arts school. Say a student is halfway through a 12-month agreement at $100 per month and stops coming to class and paying. You can offer the student the opportunity to make the agreement good by letting him buy out the balance at a 40-percent discount.

In this example, he has $600 left, so a 40-percent discount would be $240 off, leaving a new one-time balance of $360. He would be allowed to return to class with all privileges and will also avoid having the billing company breathing down his neck (good motivation).

You may have to send a portion of that to the billing company (they will usually take it as a credit on your next check), but it’s worth it. You got money that you most likely would not have, and your student is back in class and appreciative that you were willing to help him through a jam.

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