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The Rent Market for Martial Arts Schools

by | Planning Your Martial Arts School

Setting Expectations for Martial Arts Students Upfront

Authority is highly influenced by emotion.

While your staff and students may intellectually understand that you are the boss and master instructor, they have to feel it, not think it.

It’s the emotional connection that anchors your authority on a deep level.

If there is one powerful moment in your role as a professional martial arts instructor, it’s in the enrollment conference.

While the parents may see you as the master black belt, they usually don’t have an authoritative reverence at this early stage.

The enrollment conference is a seminal moment for you to establish your authority and gain the respect and gratitude of the family you’re dealing with.

Presenting the programs and their cost to parents can be tense at times. Some parents want to negotiate. Others might object to the agreement. Some want a safety net in case their child wants to quit.

While it’s important that you are prepared to overcome any objections, it’s when the bottom line is signed and the initial investment is completed that you have a critical window to demonstrate your authority.

Many owners complete the transaction and gush with statements like, “Awesome. It’s great to have you on board. Johnny, you did an awesome job tonight. High five! Thanks Mrs. Jones it’s great to have Johnny as part of our family. Let me know if I can help with anything.”


Who has the role of authority here? Mrs. Jones and her credit card. That was a missed opportunity.

Let’s try again. You would adjust this script to the age and circumstance, but here is an authority template for the enrollment conference.

Mom has just enrolled Johnny into the program.

You, “Johnny. You want to learn Empower Kickboxing, right?”

“Yes sir.”

“Good. I want you to understand that your mom just enrolled you into a six month program. You are going to learn a lot of great skills and lessons. It’s going to be fun and sometimes it’s going to be hard. That’s the good part because that means you’re learning. So you have to pay attention and practice at home 20-minutes a day when you don’t have class.

Are you going to work hard and practice?”

“Yes sir.”

“I’m glad. Your classes are Monday and Wednesday at 5pm. When are your classes?”

“Monday and Wednesday at 5pm.”

“Good. You’re a smart guy. That means that you have to be ready to come to class by 4:30 on Monday and Wednesdays so that you’re not late. Will you do that?”

“Yes sir.”

“No matter what you are doing, you will be ready by 4:30, right?”

“Yes sir.”

“Good. The first lesson is integrity. Integrity means that you do what you say you are going to do. You keep your promises. You promise to work hard and be ready for class, right?”

“Yes sir.”

“No matter what you’re doing. Right?”

“Yes sir.”

“Great. We’re going to be so proud of you. Your mom just enrolled you, so please turn to her and say, ‘Thank you mom.”

“Thank you mom.”

“Alright. When someone does something good for you, you always say thank you. That’s called gratitude. What’s it called?”


“Correct. So you’ve learned two important lessons today. Integrity and gratitude. What does integrity mean?

“Keeping your promises.”

“Yes. What does gratitude mean?”

“Saying thank you.”

“You got it! You are going to do great, I can tell already.”

“Remember, your class is…”

“Monday and Wednesday at 5pm.”

“When will you be ready to come to class?”


“You have a good head on your shoulders Johnny. You’re going to be good at this.”

“Because you’ve showed your mom gratitude and you’re going to keep your promises, here is a school t-shirt for you to wear. Every time you put it on, I want you to think of integrity and gratitude. Will you do that?”

“Yes sir.”

“I just gave you a shirt. How do you show gratitude?”

“Thank you sir.”

As taught in the MATA Certification program, it’s also a good idea to let mom know that it’s important that she control what Johnny is doing around 4:30 which is the agreed upon to be ready for class.

If Johnny is playing with his friends or deep in a video game, it’s going to be harder to get him to get ready than if he is cleaning his bedroom or something he’d like to leave to go to class.

Keep in mind that mom is watching this happen before her eyes. What have you done to establish your authority?

  1. You’ve provided her with a language pattern that both her and Johnny understand. This is huge.
  2. You’ve given mom the “integrity” framework to deal with any reluctance to go to class.
  3. You’ve provided her with a strategy to engage Johnny in less fun activities so that going to class is an easy decision.
  4. You’ve laid out when Johnny should get ready for class without complaint.
  5. Before her eyes, you taught her son important lessons with real world examples. No doubt, your authority sky-rocketed in her eyes and in her heart.

Look for places where you can make these kinds of strong emotional connections.

Demonstrate true authority and leadership. That will last much longer than a trite, shallow compliments like “Awesome! Good job.”

This will help your students to understand how and why they are training with the best school.

Interview with the Lease Coach Dale Willerton

In case you don’t know my full history I worked for landlord’s managing and leasing commercial properties for many years only to realize it was Tenants that needed my help, not landlords. 

In 1993 I quit landlords and switched over to Team-Tenant as The Lease Coach now 27 years.  The difference between The Lease Coach and traditional commercial brokers is they get paid hefty commissions by landlord’s while often making it seem like they are helping the Tenant. (clear conflict of interest to most people). 

While The Lease Coach only works for Tenants and only gets paid by the Tenant. I’ve written 3 books on the subject and speak to Tenants about 30 times per year on the subject, including some martial arts shows.

Because The Lease Coach has 8 offices across North America we have the good fortune to work with Martial Arts school owners ALL over the country, not in just one region.  So I don’t think it would be universally accurate to say the economy is booming and rent is skyrocketing.

The truth is it’s mostly a Tenant’s market and always has been.  My point is if a Martial Arts school closes there could be many reasons, but high rent is not normally one of them.  Yes, that is correct.  Martial Arts schools close because their sales are too low, not because the rents are too high. 

When a martial arts school owner comes to me to negotiate his lease renewal I ask what capacity the school is running at.  Most are at less than 70% capacity and many at 50% capacity. So there is plenty of room for more students and more revenue to offset the rent.

Don’t even get me started on the poor locations they select.  The best retail plazas were built for “retailers” not the martial arts industry to occupy.

I really enjoy working for Martial Arts school owners.  The vast majority of Martial Arts school owners are extremely hardworking honest, good people, but lacking in some business skills. 

Most of them are notoriously bad at selecting the right location for their school. They are terrible at negotiating the lease deal terms.  And they are equally poor at marketing their classes (hence the lower enrollment). They are not lazy. They simply lack the tools, contacts, experience, and training they need to do better, to excel.

80% of the lease renewals The Lease Coach negotiates for Tenants result in a rent reduction.  Most new lease deals we do are below market rents with generous free rent periods and Tenant Allowances. 

Nobody does their own dental work or makes their own shoes but everybody thinks that they can suddenly hold their own negotiating a real estate lease.  Not once did I give my kids a martial arts lesson but I paid thousands of dollars for other professionals to train them in the various arts, through the years. 

Want to pay lower rent, want a better lease – get professional help from someone who is an expert and who is only working for and being paid by you. So let’s not blame the economy and rents, let’s do what we need to do to make your business profitable.



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