3 Steps to Improve Martial Arts Student Retention-PT 2

3 Steps to Improve Martial Arts Student Retention-PT 2

Preventative Measures to Improve
Martial Arts Student Retention Early

Last week, I shared three common retention strategies schools use that can be useless if not used carefully. A quick review.

1. Student Surveys only work to the level of participation. Your most enthused students will provide great feedback. You’re less than enthused usually won’t. They are the ones you want to hear from.

2. 2-4-6 Calls work best when you speak to the parent honestly and ask real questions rather than gushing how “great” the child is doing.

3. Praise ONLY works if it is SINCERE and EARNED. Some instructors are more afraid of students’ mothers than Bas Rutten. Somehow this notion of feeding parents and students false praise has now permeated the martial arts school business. It’s not helping.

This week, I’m offering two and a half rock solid retention boosts for your classes. 

1. When you enroll the child, set clear expectations with the parents present.

“Joey, do you want to join our school?” “Yes sir!”

“Great we’d love to have you. Your parents are going to pay for this and we are going to teach you. Do you understand that? “Yes sir!”

“That’s important. Good. Now, here’ your part. Class is on Monday and Wednesday at 4:30pm. That means that you have to be ready to come to class at 4pm. If you’re playing a game, watching TV whatever, you have to stop that and get ready by 4pm. Will you do that?”  “Yes sir!”

“Alright. That’s what we want to hear. On the days that you do not have class, we want you to practice for 15-minutes at least two days a week. We have videos on our website to show you how. It’s not hard, but it’s going to help you get really good fast. Will you do that?”
“Yes sir!”

TIP from the MATA Certification Course: Tell the parent in private that if the child is doing something they don’t enjoy, they are far more enthusiastic about stopping it and going to class than if they are doing something they enjoy. Kids are all about the moment, so this is something to consider in the time leading up to getting ready for class. 

2. Be consistent in what you teach.

If you’re like me, I always started class with a review of our tae kwon do basics and then the basic kata that class knew. During the basics and the kata my corrections were always:

a. Aim your punch!

b. Hold your punch out in the center!

c. Pull your hand back to your hip.

d. Square your shoulders and keep your chin up.

In the second half of the class during pad work or sparring, my corrections were always:

a. Don’t telegraph your punches! (Aiming a punch is a telegraph)

b. Snap that hand back to guard. Don’t leave it out! (Holding your punch out in the center is dangerous)

c. Snap your hand back to your face. Protect yourself! (Your hip doesn’t need protection. Your face does.)

d. Turn your body sideways and tuck your chin down! (Squaring your shoulders and keeping your chin up destroys your defense.)

That is a complete contridiction from the first half of class. Well, which is it?

Lack of consistency leads to confusion. Confusion leads to boredom. Boredom leads to drop outs.

 

2.5 I say this a half point because I did a video on this, but it bears repeating so it’s at the bottom of this page.

A far too common segment of class is where kids line up and the instructor stands in front of the line holding a target. Each kid gets one shot at the target and then runs to the back of the line to wait for their next turn. What is the comment made 97% of the time? “Good job!” “Awesome!” What you don’t hear is, “Try that again. This time, pull your knee up a little higher….” 

Translation? You don’t hear any teaching. All you hear is vapid praise.

In the meantime, learn how to teach like a professional with the MATA Certification Program.

 

When Combining Features and Benefits Gets Confusing

  1. “Hold the lunge punch out with your chin up.  This way you honor the art with good form.” (Is form more important than defense?)
  2. “Before you block, cross your arms and step forward. This way you can create power.” (Why does a block need power?)
  3. “When defending against multiple attackers, you want to stay on the outside and line them up so you’re only fighting one at a time. In kata though, you’re in the middle of an attack from six guys. And, if you get it wrong, you might not pass your belt exam.” This way you honor the art with good form. 

Your Assignment as an Intellectually Curious School Owner

Take another look at this list of benefits. Remove your sensei/master perspective and look at this with one goal in mind.

How can you provide these benefits in a more DIRECT, BAGGAGE-FREE, and EFFECTIVE process?

BENEFITS of most martial arts schools.

  • Fitness
  • Flexibility
  • Life Skills
  • Self-Defense
  • Sport
  • Friendship and Social
Martial Arts Student Retention Process 1 of 2

Martial Arts Student Retention Process 1 of 2

How an Inadvertent Lack of Integrity is
Sabotaging Your Student Retention

Martial Arts Student Retention is important because it’s much less expensive to keep the students you have rather than spending time and money recruiting new students to replace the dropouts.

There are a number of reasons students drop out. We’ll ignore the obvious like moving away and focus on areas of retention that a martial arts school owner can help to control.

Integrity

Before we dive into the 3 Best Retention Strategies for Martial Arts Schools in part 2, let’s address some common tactics that school owners may be using right now to keep their students.

What makes these tactics work or fail is the integrity of the delivery, process, and communications. These are common retention systems in place in many schools and they can work, but you have to be careful how you interpret, execute, and communicate when using them.

1. Martial Arts Student Survey Integrity

Student Surveys can be helpful, but they only work to the level of participation. 

Typically, your most enthused students will be happy to complete a survey. However, the borderline dropouts may not take the time to complete the survey. Odds are these are the students you really need to hear from.

With each drop in participation from 100%, the integrity of the survey drops as well. That doesn’t mean anyone is doing anything bad, it just means the information is not a real survey. It’s biased.

Your most enthused students love what you do and they are happy to tell you that in the survey.

Your less-enthused students are not as excited to take the time to complete the survey.

2. New Martial Arts Student 2-4-6 Call Integrity

Calling students 2-4 and 6-weeks after they join is a great idea. 

What is NOT a great idea is telling the parents that their child is doing GREAT in class when the parent knows full well the child is not. There is NO WAY that every student in your school is doing “awesome” in class. 

You are not leading from integrity when you gush. 

Instead, ask smart, sincere questions. Your mission is to get the parent or student to tell you the truth and for you to listen, not sugarcoat the situation. That is unprofessional.

Compare these two phrases. Which will give you more actionable information?

#1  “Hi, Mrs. Jones. Just wanted to check in and let you know that Joey is doing great in class and we’re proud to have him.”

#2 “I remember when you first brought Joey in. You said you wanted him to gain some confidence. What are you seeing on your end?”

If you were Mrs. Jones, which shows more concern? Which shows more interest? Which shows that you really care about her son Joey?

3. Praise Integrity

I was a guest at a belt exam. The senior instructor is a world-caliber black belt. One of the requirements for brown belt was to skip sidekick through two boards. Each child got three attempts.

The third child in line bounced off the boards once, twice, and then three times. He never broke a board, but the instructor said, “Awesome! High Five!” My jaw hit the floor.

False praise makes it a lot harder for you to get excellence out of a student because what is better than awesome? Why would they need to work any harder?

Next week, we’ll include a video of an instructor holding pads and fluffing up the kids with each technique.

In the meantime, learn how to teach like a professional with the MATA Certification Program.

 

When Combining Features and Benefits Gets Confusing

  1. “Hold the lunge punch out with your chin up.  This way you honor the art with good form.” (Is form more important than defense?)
  2. “Before you block, cross your arms and step forward. This way you can create power.” (Why does a block need power?)
  3. “When defending against multiple attackers, you want to stay on the outside and line them up so you’re only fighting one at a time. In kata though, you’re in the middle of an attack from six guys. And, if you get it wrong, you might not pass your belt exam.” This way you honor the art with good form. 

Your Assignment as an Intellectually Curious School Owner

Take another look at this list of benefits. Remove your sensei/master perspective and look at this with one goal in mind.

How can you provide these benefits in a more DIRECT, BAGGAGE-FREE, and EFFECTIVE process?

BENEFITS of most martial arts schools.

  • Fitness
  • Flexibility
  • Life Skills
  • Self-Defense
  • Sport
  • Friendship and Social

Knowing What You Know Now…

Knowing What You Know Now…

Knowing what you know now, if you were tasked with creating a martial art that is highly effective for self-defense, practical, and life-changing would you:

  1. Create a system that is based upon the one you are trained in?
  2. Study old, dusty books and rare film to try to find ancient physical and mental skills and techniques?
  3. Use today’s modern platforms of communication and collaboration to learn the leading-edge skills and techniques for efficiency of movement, self-defense, and the proven mental strategies for success in life?

Isn’t odd that by action, nearly 100% of martial arts schools operate on #1 and #2?

Why would you do that? Because the martial arts you were raised in changed your life so naturally, you’re going to have a strong bias for that system.

However, when you step back and take a fresh look at what you are teaching, odds are it was created in a secluded village on a mountaintop nearly 100 years ago. There was nothing like what we have today in terms of instant information.

So, as we wrap up the craziest year in most of our lives, here are some questions to ponder as you set your goals for 2021.

Does it still make sense for you to:

  1. Teach complex, theoretical, and often boring kata and traditional skills in 2021?
  2. Make students wear outdoor pajamas during classes even though you know that’s not what they will be wearing if they ever have to use your self-defense.
  3. Directly contradict proven fighting and self-defense skills that have evolved over the past 100 years? For instance:

* Leaving your punch out in the air instead of snapping it back to guard.

* Pulling the other hand to your hip instead of your face.

* Squaring your body towards your opponent rather than turning sideways.

* Loading up to create powerful blocks while knowing that blocks don’t need power and you’ll never have time to load and fold your arms before you block.

* Expect students to learn increasingly complex “advanced” techniques for 3-5 years to earn a black belt?

Every week smart instructors are realizing that the key to success as a martial arts school moving forward will be simplicity, not complexity.

You don’t need advanced techniques. You just need advanced applications. A top boxer or kickboxing only has about a dozen skills they use consistently along with some others they can pull out when needed. Who has ever needed a kata?

Take a look at EmpowerKickboxing.com. It is a real martial arts based program from white to black belt. However, everything is vetted for efficiency of movement, self-defense, and the proven mental strategies for success in life.

Take a look and if you’d like to schedule a phone call with me to review what you’re doing and prepare for the new year, respond to this with your contact information and we’ll set up a call.

If there has ever been a time for serious reflection and planning, this is it. I’d be glad to help you.

John Graden (727) 279-0505

Your Student Loss Ratio

Your Student Loss Ratio

Your Martial Arts Student Loss Ratio

 

Now that the first quarter is in the books, let’s find out what percentage of your student body that you lost from January 1st to March 31st.

1.  Start with the total number of active students as of January 1.

2.  Add to that the total number of new students who have enrolled year-to-date. 

3. Count the number of active students you currently have. An active student has attended class in the past two weeks.

Divide #3 above by the sum of #1 & #2. That is your retention rate as a percentage. For example, if you were to do this in April:

1. January 1 starts with 150 students

2.  New students January 1 to March 30 = 40

3.  150 + 40 = 190 students (this is 100-percent retention and zero loss)

4. Current active count = 165 students

5. 165 ÷ 190 = .86 or 86-percent retention or a 14% loss rate.

The shorter the period of time, the higher the percentage. Don’t be fooled into thinking you have an 86-percent retention rate year round. Most schools end up with around 50 percent for the year. You, of course, want to push it as high as you can but it has to be more than 50 percent to grow.