How to get new students in the door?

Discussion in 'Hapkido' started by Doomx2001, Jan 12, 2013.

  1. Doomx2001

    Doomx2001 Green Belt

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    I have a friend who has just been teaching on and off for about 5 years now. He also helps his teacher at his teachers dojo with day to day operations. He practices Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu (as well as Gracie Jujutsu/Arnis) which Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu is similar in many ways to Hapkido, but very different in its own right. Now my friend, he told me recently he got about 40 emails requesting information on what they teach so forth & so on, in about a 6 month period. He always replies back in a friendly manner, answers the questions, and nothing more is heard from the prospective student.

    The now-a-days rare phone call amounts to the same outcome.

    Although this isn't much information to go on, what do you guys think he is doing wrong, and what steps can he take to help get students in his teachers dojo as well as his own? What have you guys have found works and doesn't work in getting new students?


    - Brian
     
  2. Dwi Chugi

    Dwi Chugi Orange Belt

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    I always offer them something. Usually two weeks free and sometimes a uniform. I also do not make students sign a contract. I think I am one of the only schools in my town that let students train month to month.

    I am also very involved in the local elementary school. I know most people in my town and they know me. I have worked with local LEO's and so sometimes I get recommendations from them.

    My advice is to get involved with the community. Get to know your community and they will support you. Good luck to your friend.
     
  3. Jaeimseu

    Jaeimseu 3rd Black Belt

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    I would say if you answer all their questions they don't need to come in. The student can't try a class online or on the phone. If I answer an email or phone call my only goal is to get them in my door.
     
  4. Cyriacus

    Cyriacus Senior Master

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    Others have said plenty, but ill say this: Trying to 'get new students' isnt a process, or a thing you can really 'do'. New students will either come or they wont.
    A few things need to happen first:
    1; Someone needs to say "I have an interest in martial arts!"
    2; They need to actually turn that thought into a search of whats in their area or of systems.
    3; They need to find YOUR outlet and contact YOU.
    4; They need to actually decide to come by YOUR outlet and not someone elses, or possibly your outlet AND someone elses.
    5; They need to decide to come by more than that one time.

    All five of those things, and who even knows how many other variables, need to happen.
    Your advertising will only do one thing: Get maybe a tiny number of people to get to stage 3, and thats a maybe.
    Generally, the most successful places ive seen get their students either as a result of reputation, or by being in a convenient location that people drive past on their way to work or something. A fair few people dont read flyers, less people will go poster-hunting if they decide they wanna take a martial art, and even less will see a sign outside your outlet and think "Hm! I should totally go in there!" They need to have the intent first, on their own. Once they have that, you need to give them reasons to come to you. You cant make them come to you. Students arent statistics, or products, which are attracted by certain things and repelled by others. Give them an incentive of some kind, whatever it is. Just answering their questions wont lead to much. They might ask you questions, but once they have that information, then what? Instead, answer their questions then, as others have said, offer them a free class or something. Just tell them they can try it, and if they dont like it, they lost an hour or so of one day.
     
  5. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    It's pretty difficult to speak other than in generalities since we don't know your friend, and he isn't likely to know the cold callers. If it were me, I would rather quickly ask them what type of martial art they thought they were looking for. No sense telling them all the great things about Hapkido if all they want is to learn to use a sword. Then I would I would tell them some things about Hapkido and how it differs from other martial arts, or is similar if they mention one. I would be sure to make them think they are not only welcome to come in and watch and/or participate in a class without obligation, but encourage them to do so with you, or any other art they are interested in.

    Handling cold calls is difficult. Reading some books, and/or attending some classes on salesmanship might not be a bad idea either.

    Good luck to your friend.
     
  6. DennisBreene

    DennisBreene 3rd Black Belt

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    This, and the previous comments are all helpful. I'd like to make a general comment on building your business. A martial arts school is not unlike any other service business. It primarily builds by word of mouth. Realize that you and your school are brands of a product and procede accordingly. Here are some specifics. Pay attention to your image; maintain a professional demeanor. Be open and engaging as an instructor and as the primary representative of your school. Make sure your school's physical plant projects the image you desire. Keep it clean, safe and identifiable as a brand. This may sound commercial and crass but realize that you can't spread your art if you don't survive economically. Promotion of your school should be part of an overall business plan but some simple specifics may be helpful. Community involvement can be very helpful in promoting word of mouth. Offer to provide lectures and demonstrations to community groups, schools, and social organizations. Excellent opportunities are available in organizations such as Rotary and Chamber of Commerce. Consider joining both to increase your awareness of business issues and to increase your schools visibility in the business community. If you give a lecture or a demonstration, always have a guestbook and some sort of coupon to encourage people to try your school. A free introductory lesson or a free uniform if the student signs up for 2 months of classes, etc. This allows you to track the effectiveness of your marketing. Always compare the guest book to the number of responses you get back. The same holds with any advertisements; provide a coupon so that you can track the cost effectiveness of the advertisement. Be prepared to work hard at this. I held a pizza party for my staff when we achieved 10 patients in one day at a new office. A couple of years later I wondered where all my free time had gone. Solicit feedback from prospective students and always ask how they heard about you. Consider having a brief questionaire for prospective students to collect information to that effect.
    Assess your school. Are you recognizable? Do you have a logo, school patch, readily available information about you and any other instructors, your philosophy, your goals for your students and yourself and any affiliations?
    Keep professional hours. Avoid compressing small classes into one time slot. Even if you are only teaching one regular student, you are available if someone comes in to see your class. I read journals and did paperwork so that any walk-in patients could be seen immedialty. I can't give exact numbers for how that built my practice but I know it was a better reflection on my professional image than telling my staff to call me if someone arrived and then going off to do other things. As a business owner, there is always work to do and keeping your business open as advertised is a critical foundation for your professional credibility. I'm sure I'm forgetting many other simple specific ideas but a good book about building a small business should provide information that would be helpful.

    Good luck.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2013
  7. RTKDCMB

    RTKDCMB Senior Master

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    The most powerful method is word of mouth, however word of mouth does you no good if nobody is talking or saying the right things to the right people.
     
  8. celtic_crippler

    celtic_crippler Senior Master

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    Sales 101: Get a committment at first contact. That initial meeting is vital. While you have them there do something to get them to commit to coming back; like setting a date and time for a private lesson or two with them before they join the rest of the class.
     
  9. WaterGal

    WaterGal Master of Arts

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    Dennis has some great suggestions.

    Our school opened in October (so we don't have a lot of word-of-mouth yet), and we spend ~$80 on advertising per new student. We've got a website, done Google & Facebook ads, flyers, doorhangers, and I'm working on a direct mail postcard campaign right now. It seems like throwing money away sometimes, but it's an investment that's slowly paying off. We're also doing a charity fundraiser in April, which I think we can get the local paper to cover, and are planning on doing 4-5 demos at local events once it gets warmer. Hopefully those will help!

    I do have a question for the OP - does your friend offer a free intro lesson or anything like that, so people can come try it out? I think we'd have like 2 students if we didn't do that. And he needs to make sure he gets people's name and phone number when they call, so he can follow up.
     
  10. Cyriacus

    Cyriacus Senior Master

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    And how many students do you get who walk in and talk about how a person told them to come there? Most people just look for stuff in their area then go find it.
     
  11. Uncle

    Uncle Blue Belt

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    Yep. This is pretty accurate. Basically the best you can do is increase your media coverage. Try to get an article posted in your local paper; hand a business card to everyone you meet; maintain twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and google+, and keep them regularly updated; have a well built website; post flyers on the board at any college or community center that will let you. It's all about increasing the chances of finding your school.
     
  12. Kong Soo Do

    Kong Soo Do IKSDA Director

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    I don't think your friend is doing anything wrong. Part, perhaps most of the consideration is the economy at this time. I've seen quite a few TKD, a TSD and a Karate school go out of business in the last few years. Many people are just trying to make ends meet. There are many helpful suggestions above that he can try. Hopefully it will bring in some new students that make a commitment.123
     

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