As you learn and grow as a martial arts school owner you will discover new methods, procedures and processes that you will want to implement into your school. How you manage that implementation will have a direct effect on the success of the change, how well it is received and your personal stress level.
When considering changes remember that the students and staff that are with you now like the way things are now. If you have been losing 80% of your students because your classes are three hours long and you walk on their stomachs during sit-ups, you may now realize that you have to make some changes. However, the 20% of students who are still with you like the school the way it is.
You have a vision of higher retention, a growing school and the financial rewards that come with it. Your students have a vision of their current class and maybe their next belt. That’s it. They are not training for your future; they are training for theirs. So, here are some strategies to help you implement change without a revolt.
- Start tuition increases with the lowest ranking students first. This way the new, higher paying students will begin to replace the old, lower paying students.
- If you must raise tuition for everyone, give the students at least 30-days notice and tell them they can “beat the tuition increase” by purchasing a year in advance at the current rate.
- Start your curriculum changes with the lowest ranking students also. To them, it won’t be a change. As they advance in the new curriculum, within a year, they will be the largest population in the school so the majority of the school will be doing the new program.
- Grandfather some students or ranks into the new program in order to avoid losing them.
- Fire the students or parents who raise an unreasonable level of resistance to the changes. They will corrupt the other students and compound your problems. “Excuse them” from the school.
- Use Student Surveys as the catalyst for change. If you are going to change class length or curriculum for a majority of your students at once, you can make them feel as though they were a part of the process by using Student Surveys.
The questions on the survey can be written to plant the seed of change to the students. The feedback will be helpful, but more importantly, regardless of the feedback, the you can refer to the survey as the catalyst for change.
For instance, you could tell the students that, “In response to our survey, tuition will be raised $20 per month….” Or “In response to our survey, classes will now be one-hour instead of two hours.” That is a truthful statement. You are not saying, “Because most of you indicated on the survey that you would like a $20 increase in tuition.” All you need is one vote for a $20 increase and you can truthfully say that, “In response to our survey, tuition will be raised $20 per month….”