The Role of the Admissions Director

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We all know that the success of a martial arts school lies in the number of students that are captured and retained.   Good instructors are important, for sure.   However, without students… what’s the point?

That’s why it’s important for you, as a martial arts school owner, to understand the significance of having a good admissions director (also called Program Director) at your service.   The success of your school literally depends upon their abilities.

And, it’s equally important for the admissions director to understand what is expected of them.   An admissions director is, for all intents and purposes, a salesman for your school.  

The three main processes of their job are Prospecting – Presenting and Following Up …

  • Prospecting – To seek out new student prospects;
  • Presenting – Once they have gotten these prospects through your studio door, it’s their job to “sell” your martial arts program;
  • Following Up – Finally, now that they’ve created a new student, they are responsible for “following up” with that new student to see how their training is progressing, and discovering if the student is satisfied with their class.

For a good admissions director, these should be relatively easy goals to meet.   He will spend a great deal of his time setting appointments.   He will call prospective students in response to leads that he has received from various sources such as demonstrations, advertising, referrals, inquires, lead boxes, and walk-ins.

His aim should be to make at least 50 calls a week.   How many appointments that will be set from these 50 calls is going to depend greatly upon his salesmanship abilities.  

For instance, if his sales skills still need honed, he may only set one appointment for every 20 calls he makes.   As his skills begin to improve, he may get to the point where he can set two to three appointments for every 20 calls he places.

Once he has arranged to meet with the prospective students, it will be his responsibility to “sell” your martial arts training program.   This involves teaching an introductory class to the prospect.   Then, sitting down and discussing with that person what they want, and hope to achieve, by taking your martial arts class.

From that discussion, the admissions director helps the prospect to create a “plan” to help him or her to achieve their goals, be it fitness, the pursuance of a black belt, or to simply learn self-defense skills.

This is where your admission director’s salesmanship skills will prove to be most beneficial.   He needs to be able to “sell” your program to this prospect.   He needs to be able to convince this prospect that he or she can benefit from taking your martial arts class.

He needs to make them feel as though you can build a martial arts program, and personalize it around their specific needs.   This is the most important responsibility that your admissions director will have at your school.

Your initial goal should be to gain one to two new students each week.   Of course, the more calls your admissions director makes, the more appointments he will have set.   And, the more appointments that he has, ultimately, the more new students you will enroll.

Signing on new students is going to make up the majority — about 80 percent — of what your admissions director will do.   Now, because a big part of an admissions director pay is based on commissions earned from enrolling new students, you’ll want to protect yourself from what is known as “bad paper”.

“Bad paper” is a result of an unqualified prospect being enrolled as a new student.   These people may not have the resources to pay their tuition, or attend classes on a regular basis – these are not really students.  

However, because an admissions director’s pay is based on commission, he may be tempted to push an unqualified enrollment through.   That’s why, many studio owners recommend basing the admissions director’s commission on the enrollee’s first two exams.

He will receive a commission when the student successfully passes his first exam, and an additional commission when the student graduates for their second exam.

This not only helps to avoid “bad paper”, it also ensures that the admissions director will focus the remaining 20 percent of his efforts on following-up on the student’s progress and working to retain that student.

His retention duties will include making two-four-six calls to ensure that the student is satisfied with his training, and calling students in response to absences.   He’ll communicate both telephonically and with written communication to the students that he has enrolled.

To ensure the success of your school, you must ensure that your admissions director is a skilled sales person, and that they are focused on your success as well their own.