Biggest Issue When You Started A School

Discussion in 'School Management' started by martialartsnerd, Jun 14, 2018.

  1. Andrew Green

    Andrew Green Grandmaster

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    This is absolute crap. I say this as a former kid and as someone that teaches a lot of kids. What we do can have a very major and positive impact on children, more so then on adults in many ways. This is like saying if you want to be a teacher only teach University, only teach kids if it's for the money.
     
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  2. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    Interesting thing is, people talk significantly more about the turnover in kids than the turnover in adults. Perhaps that’s because they teach far more kids than adults? I wonder the percentages are of adults leaving at each rank vs kids, ie A% of adults leave at 10th kyu vs B% of kids at 10th; C% of adults at 9th vs D% of kids, etc.

    Perhaps we’re looking at the kids’ numbers far more because there’s usually far more of them?

    I’ve been at my current dojo about 3.5 years. There haven’t been very many adults join after me. I’d say a little less than half are still there. There been quite a few kids who’ve joined. Thinking about it quickly, I’d say the percentage is about the same. Maybe a little higher for the kids, but not drastically if it is.

    We’ve got about 25 active adults, most of whom are black belts (I’m one of about 5 kyu ranks). We’ve probably got about 40 active kids, of whom none are junior black belts. I don’t think there’s many junior black belts in our entire organization because the age window is quite small - I think between 10 and 15. I know 16 is the minimum adult BB age, and I haven’t seen any BB kids who looked like they were in less than 5th grade. The low end of age is probably more due to the amount of time it takes kids to get through their syllabus proficiently rather than a set minimum age requirement though.
     
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  3. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    In my passing observation, the "when will they quit" question has a different answer with kids. While the largest number of adults (who go to a first class) quit within the first month, I don't see that with kids. Kids quit because of boredom most often, and that takes a few months. Adults quit most often because of priorities, and that often happens before MA becomes a habit.
     
  4. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    It’s confusing to convey, but I’ll try...

    From what I’ve seen, adults that quit within the first 1-2 years quit sooner than kids who quit during the same time period. But adults who stay past that time stay far longer than kids who do.

    Perhaps it has to do with parents making the kids go for a while before they get tired of fighting with them about it vs an adult who can quit whenever they want? Kind of along the lines of a kid who hates playing baseball after a few weeks being made to finish the season rather than quitting. Not that there’s a season or even necessarily a predetermined rank in mind for the parents, but a lot of parents will (rightfully so) have the kids keep going for a while past the beginning of the “I don’t want to go anymore” stage to give it a chance to see if they change their mind about it. Adults don’t have that person pushing them for the most part. Adults can decide quickly that it’s not what they thought it would be; for the most part, parents take longer. And parents would probably be more apt to make their kids finish out a contract than if it were their own contract when contracts come into play.

    But both groups who’ve been around for some time and lost the desire to train within a year or so before black belt will stick around until they’re promoted to 1st dan, then quit soon afterwards. They’ll typically have that mentality of “let me at least get my black belt before I leave.”

    All just speculation.
     
  5. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes! That's what I was trying to figure out how to say.

    I haven't run into the "BB then leave" thing, but that might be because it takes so much more to get to that belt (actually, to brown, too) than previous belts, so folks who are going to quit just go ahead and quit. Most folks who made brown while I was a student also made black. Most folks who made black stuck around at least a couple of years. The "quitting time" was the middle belts. It gets boring for a bit, and I think a significant number quit after they get the 50 core techniques (shortly before brown) - it has some of that "at least let me get this" feel, and lets them avoid the harder testing at brown. We didn't have youth advanced belts (only 3 youth ranks), so this is only speaking about adults.
     
  6. martialartsnerd

    martialartsnerd Orange Belt

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    Retention IS the age-old problem with so many martial arts schools, for all the reasons you've explained. So the question remains: what would be a good way to get more committed students through the door so that a school can mitigate the issues listed? Granted, I understand that things like college and grad school (to say nothing of the military and police academy) are just gonna force someone's hand. Maybe it's time for a paradigm shift in the eyes of the public, since martial arts has been viewed as an extracurricular for a pretty long period of time. If I can shift that perspective to viewing martial arts as a lifestyle, then I'd probably get somewhere with it.
     
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  7. martialartsnerd

    martialartsnerd Orange Belt

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    Exactly. Martial arts is a lifestyle rather than a simple hobby. It's something I feel that gets lost in a lot of the marketing when they try to attract the masses. Something I wish to solve.
     
  8. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    That's what happens to most of us who stay with it, regardless of the reason we train. It becomes part of our lifestyle, often a priority. First, it becomes a habit, and that's part of how we can increase retention: help folks build habits around their MA training. When that habit is broken (we get busy, get injured and skip classes, take vacations, etc.), right after the break, the chance of quitting goes up quite a bit.
     
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  9. martialartsnerd

    martialartsnerd Orange Belt

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    Exactly. Which means, if I'm to market for instructors effectively, I need to start BEFORE their potential students even get to the doors.
     
  10. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    The problem with marketing a lifestyle is that most people don't want a lifestyle change - at least not that they'll admit...

    Well, at least not in the "MA way".
     
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  11. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Agreed. There's only so much "marketing" that can be effective with students already inside. At that point, it's more "community building". That matters, but it's not the same as marketing, though there are some opportunities for overlap (having school get-togethers and encouraging guests, for instance).
     
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  12. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    This is one of those areas where blatant marketing isn't likely to be as effective. It's more in how the school/program is presented. I'm not sure how to do that (clearly, marketing isn't my strong suit).
     
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  13. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    I personally think that presenting it as "a way of life" really isn't the way to garner interest though. Well, not to gain longer term students.

    A friend of mine is a personal trainer in a gym (the type with weights and bikes and stuff) and the marketing for that is always "change your way of life".

    Sure, it attracts people who want to lose weight and look better.

    Mainly around January...

    The only way I can see that they stay financially solvent is by using 12 month contracts that are difficult to get out of (and even if you do that, there's always the stacked sales guy/girl ready with the "so you like being fat?" sort of question to guilt trip you into saying you'll be back).

    Then after 12 months, when they can simply walk away from the contract, that new year resolution rears it's head again and they renew.

    A woman I used to work with/near was paying £80/month for gym membership - she used the sauna twice in January and once in May, and renewed her membership.

    If that's the sort of long term student you want, then great...
     
  14. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    That's what I mean when I say blatant marketing isn't the way to go. I don't think it can be put forth as a way of life. Perhaps (I don't know) there are folks who would respond to community triggers - wording that shows people like to come and be part of something. It would be interesting to hear some thoughts from someone who has a background in marketing, but I'm not sure if we have anyone active on MT.
     
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  15. martialartsnerd

    martialartsnerd Orange Belt

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    Not at all, really. Marketing strategy tends to be VERY closely linked with pricing strategy, since marketing done right drives up demand. But when demand is high and supply is low (given there's only one of THAT TEACHER vs. THIS TEACHER or THAT OTHER TEACHER), then there's either gonna be a price hike or the teacher desperately tries to find a way to supply his training to all available. Good marketing and pricing is supposed to filter out unqualified leads (people looking for a freebie or people who don't plan to prioritize martial arts, anyway). Having learned a little bit from my high-ticket sales teacher, the idea I have in mind is to apply a high-ticket business model (complete with lower-tier, lower-priced offers) to supply the masses while taking only the most committed into personal and/or group instruction.

    Definitely gonna be hurdles, and definitely gonna be things I can't seem to see, but I'll figure them out, and I've got my slowly-growing network to refer back to. I'll make this work for the sake of the martial arts instructors that earned their time on the global stage but can't seem to take it as well as for those who deserve to learn good martial arts while taking power away from the McDojos and Bullshido instructors.
     
  16. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    The whole selling it as a “way of life” gives me images of a cult when it comes to MA. There’s a bunch of BS about the arts and in the arts. Think Hollywood’s version of Shaolin monks, samurai, etc. I’m not a marketing guy at all, but I don’t think the “martial artist way of life” will conjure up similar images. I don’t think that’s what people are really after. And I don’t think the people who respond to that stuff are the people who a lot of dojo owners are after either.

    While we’re on the subject of marketing...
    Can dojos leave the pseudo Asian cultural stuff behind? I’m not talking about etiquette and terminology, I’m talking about cheesey 80s dragons, tigers, yin yangs, motifs, etc. If you’re Asian and this is actually how you’d decorate your studio back home, that’s one thing. If you’re doing it to look cool, I don’t know what to tell you other than please stop. The 80s are over. If you’re not Chinese and your studio looks like a Chinese take-out restaurant, there’s just something not right. If you’re not Japanese and you designed your school’s logos and the like to be “Japanese looking” you really need to rethink it.

    If your certificates and the rest of your dojo look like this, it’s pretty hard to take you seriously
    D6C990AB-92AD-473F-951F-16531BCBC5B5.jpeg

    Sorry, I needed to get that off my chest.
     
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  17. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    It's entirely possible I'm misinterpreting your intention here...

    To me, it looks like the plan is to have an 'entry level' cheap plan for the pure hobbyist, with almost a sliding scale of increasing cost (and "special treatment") for those who are deemed more committed.

    Maybe I'm odd, but I consider myself one of the most committed to learning and personal developing in my club.

    What I don't have is an over abundance of cash.

    If I was presented with the option of carrying on with a slow paced hobbyist class of watered down training or a better class for extra money I know what I'd choose.

    I'd walk.

    The whole premise screams "black belt club" in the worst way.
     
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  18. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    And don’t walk around the dojo dressed like this, unless you’re Asian and it’s actually an authentic outfit you’d wear back home...
    CA9C3077-0CC2-4086-8CD3-311711D14017.jpeg
    I’ve seen it done. I wish I was kidding.
     
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  19. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    That looks much like my Wednesday evening house attire...
     
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  20. martialartsnerd

    martialartsnerd Orange Belt

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    The lower-tier offers wouldn't be watered down, they just wouldn't have the personal touches of the instructor themselves. If there's any one thing I DON'T want to do, it's water down any of the martial arts. As Bruce Lee wrote the Tao of JKD, I feel that other masters could do similar as a low-cost offering. It'd be something like a free book -> online training modules -> group classes -> personal training. It's entirely possible for those without the funds for personal training to achieve higher ranks. They just wouldn't be able to personally train with the teacher for lack of funding. It's a similar ideology behind the Gracies' Gracie Academy.123
     

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