The 3 R’s Of Summer

See More Martial Arts Marketing and Management for Summer Camps

The 3 R’s Of Summer—Revenue, Retention And Reprogram

Summer time in the martial arts business need not be a dreaded time of the year.  Don’t close your school for an extra day of the week.  Don’t cancel any of your classes.  Don’t start worrying about your bills.  Don’t stop marketing.  Don’t think about survival!  Instead change your outlook from pessimism to one of optimism.  Summer provides more opportunities than any other time of the year to make additional revenue and to increase the retention in your school.  All you have to do is reprogram.

Many times the only way to achieve a vision of pleasure or prosperity or achievement is by going through a period of pain and sacrifice.  As Black Belts we have all learned this lesson.  You want more income?  You want more energy?  You want more knowledge?  You want more security?  You want better retention?  You want better results?  These images of pleasure exist on the other side of pain and self-discipline.

Effective school owners and instructors see past the pain, focusing on the positive outcomes desired.  When the perception of summer is one of lost income, the winner is searching for more gain.  When summer presents a problem, the winner is looking for solutions. 

Effective school owners and instructors recognize what is the past is the past and what is present is happening right now.  The only thing we can change is this and future summers.  

Lets analyze what summer is all about.  Summer is outdoor activity time.  Kids go off to sleep away camps.  Kids sign up for various daytime activities such as swimming, baseball and softball.  Summer is about cookouts, picnics and family outings.  Summer is R & R (rest and relaxation).  How do I boost my R & R (revenue and retention)?

Here is an action packed, winning strategy to make this summer a grand slam season.


Summer time is a unique time of the year that offers more opportunities for revenue than any other time of the year.  Kids go to camps in the summer.  Do you offer one?  You should!  I offer a one-week camp, Monday to Friday from 12:45-4:45.  I charge $150 for the week. 

I usually attract about 30 students, many of them new to the martial arts and prospective customers.  I hold my camp the last week of August so that I can entice new students to continue in my regular classes in September and kids are home from their other camps at this time.  30 X $150.00=$4500.

Kids love sleepovers in the summer.  I have a Hawaiian Luau or Patriotic themed sleepover in July.  Kids arrive at 7:00 Saturday evening and get picked up at 9:00 Sunday morning.  Parents love it because they go out for the evening knowing their kids are safe and are going to have a great time.  We have fun games, contests, eat pizza, snacks and watch a movie.  We serve donuts, bagels and juice for breakfast. 

We encourage our students to bring their friends (prospective new students).  We generally wind up with 30 kids at $40 each.  30 X $40 = $1200.  This year, I am planning to add a leadership camp and expect 20 kids at $50.  Other sleepover possibilities are Sport Weaponry, Boot Camp for adults, Black Belt Club overnights.  Use your imagination!

Revenue from sleepovers–$1200 + $1000 = $2200.

The most important summer promotion that every school should plan carefully is the “Summer Special”.  I recommend running a “month to month” with unlimited classes program at your regular tuition, provide a free uniform and waive any registration fee that you may charge.  Make sure you place a large sign in your window and inside your school now advertising the Summer Special beginning Memorial Day and ending Labor Day.  Advertise this special as you would any other special.  The idea is to not only replace those students who leave for several weeks during the Summer months, but to retain these new students in the fall and to make them an active part of your student body.  Last year we had 12 summer students and we retained 9.  

Revenue from Summer Special–12 X $99 X 3 months = $3564  (I also increased my revenue in the Fall by $891 per month for the 9 retained students.)

Let’s calculate how the summer season is shaping up based on our “grand slam” strategy

Camps $14,700

Sleepovers $2200

Summer Special $3564

Total $20,464

Not bad!  Let’s “spring” into action so that when the summer season arrives we can produce extra revenue and gain new students.  Use camps and sleepovers to perfect new programs and ideas. You should gain new students from these programs in the fall.  Join me in looking at this summer as an opportunity to increase profits, gain new students and have lots of fun trying new ideas and programs that will enrich your school for a long, long time.


When a student misses class for three weeks or more, and you do not keep in contact, your chances of retaining that student are very slim.  The old saying “three strikes and you’re out!” takes on a whole new meaning.  This holds true for those students who leave for three weeks or more, for vacations, camps or a “summer break”.  

Maintain contact with your students!  Hand out a Summer Vacation Form in early May and inform your students that they are required to fill out this form whenever they will not be attending martial arts for three weeks or more during the summer. 

The Summer Vacation Form requests student name, dates of vacation, summer address and telephone number.  Use the Summer Vacation Form to write to your student, to send them a school newsletter or to give them a call.  Ask them to send you a postcard or picture to put up on the school bulletin board. 

Jot a note to the parents informing them that you have corresponded with their child.  Keep the connection—You’ll be glad you did!  By gaining students in the summer and retaining those who were away a great September is almost guaranteed.

Another important retention tool is the Summer Schedule.  Because people are busier in the summer with a choice of many activities you must make it easy for your students to attend classes.  I add two daytime family classes and an evening family class. 

I also train beginner and intermediate students together and allow them to come to any class that suits their summer schedule.  Be flexible during the summer and give your students as many choices as possible to attend class.  Reward or recognize those students who maintain a twice a week attendance record.

Plan a school picnic.  Call now and reserve a picnic area at a local or state park.  Create a flyer and have everyone bring a dish.  Organize some fun and games, contests and special awards.  This informal setting is the perfect time to talk to parents and students in a casual atmosphere.  This can be a great retention booster and lots of fun for those who participate.  It’s an event that will be talked about long after it’s over.


Of the three R’s reprogramming is the one I happen to believe is most important.  In the end martial artists, like people become what they truly believe they will become.  For many, this is a reproduction of who they are today.  They don’t believe things can be any different.  They never expand their horizons.  They never put themselves to the test.  They fail to use change as an ally, resisting it rather than embracing it. 

As a Black Belt school owner or instructor we know about inner self.  If your inner voice is not your greatest fan, then reprogram it.  Tune out the old static and listen to something new.  Identify and study role models, school owners and Black Belts who already do what you want to do.  Learn from the experts.  You are who you believe you are.  The summer season is a matter of perception.  Adjust your beliefs and you will change your outcomes.