Opening an actual school.

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Deleted member 34973, Aug 18, 2019.

  1. So, my two students have been asked by a few people, where they train and are wanting to train as well. I have told them there are several schools in the area, Karate, TKD, Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Krav, Kajukenbo, MMA and a few that I am not sure exactly what they are. This is a lot for the small area that I live in.

    But after a few short demos, by my students on their own time, they like what they see and want to train at my school...which is simply my garage.

    And, over the last 3 to 4yrs, I have been asked by other people, when am I going to open a training hall.

    The thing is, I wouldn't know the first thing about opening a commercial school and I mean zip. I don't even charge the two I have.

    My question, is it worth it? If I do, How, and where do I start. Are there specific steps that should be taken (besides the obvious) Should I teach young children (usually I only train 15yrs and up)

    I guess I am looking for general, yet good advice.
     
  2. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    I hope I have a done a good job of answering this when similar questions have been asked in other posts. I do not remember the threads name but you can look at my activity and find them.
    This short answer is will it be a business for profit or a non-profit w/no tax implications? Like you are essentially doing now in the garage.
     
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  3. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm bored, so I used the search function to find @dvcochran 's posts on the subject. Here you go:

    Biggest Issue When You Started A School

    Taekwondo as a business?

    If I was opening a Jow Ga Kung Fu school in your area what would you....

    How did you open your Dojo/Dojang?

    Have not fully read through all of them yet, but hopefully they help.
     
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  4. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    If you want to make a small fortune teaching martial arts, start with a large fortune and open a school.
    (I cannot take credit for this, nor can I give credit, because I remember not where I heard it).
     
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  5. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    That's priceless. And usually true.
     
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  6. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    If you want to train small groups, I don't thing it's worth it. You have to put significant time and focus into growing the membership if you want to avoid losing money (to say nothing of actual profit). If you want to put more life-focus into martial arts, then a school can be a very fun (if cumbersome) addition.

    Consider alternatives where you'd still be able to train more people and have more exposure (teaching at a YMCA, local rec center, etc.). Also consider teaching at someone else's school (not necessarily a similar style - I currently teach at a pretty traditional Okinawan Karate dojo that has open time slots).

    So, to your questions: where to start? I'd start by talking to a few folks in similar-sized and -located schools about what costs are in the area. Then translate that into the number of students you'd need at whatever price you're planning to charge (first to break even, then to clear whatever income you'd like it to produce). Assume it'll take longer than you think to get those students, and ask if you're comfortable with the loss for that time. While you're doing that, explore the other options if they appeal to you. Also consider any additional equipment you might want/need (if you do any grappling, you might need more mats for the larger space, for instance).

    Either way, talk to a tax accountant or such to get advice about whether and how you can write stuff off. And make sure you're covered by insurance (the location's or some you procure separately).

    (Feel free to PM me if you want to discuss any part of this privately. Sometimes it's easier when you don't have to consider forum decorum, etc.)
     
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  7. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    I'm just home from work, exhausted and wish to drink some spirits. But I'll get back to this and tell you what I know from just about living in dojos for most of my damn life.
     
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  8. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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  9. Excellent, thank you all for the advice and links.
     
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  10. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    I would suggest you really consider whether you WANT to open a school, or you are just kind of drifting in that direction because some people have said you ought to. Once you begin to have genuine costs associated with teaching (rent, utilities, insurance, income) that can dramatically change how you teach. You might find yourself compromising your standards for the sake of gaining new students and keeping the ones you already have. When you need the money, you can find yourself faced with that issue. Some people are better at navigating those kinds of problems than others are.
     
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  11. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    That would be sir :)
     
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  12. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    You're teaching in your garage, that's a good start.
    You could run a school where you live on the grounds. If you have a room in your house that's bigger and perhaps more appropriate to train in than your garage you could maybe free up that room and use it as a training hall for your students. As your reputation grows you can get more students and have your business grow.
     
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  13. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    Nowadays it can be hard to tell even in person. It's even harder when your avatar isn't even human!
     
  14. This is one of my options. The garage is big enough for about 10-15 students. If I clear everything out that is. And, it would help in starting, as I get more students I would eventually need to find a bigger place.
     
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  15. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    "Thank you for joining us. This is our future dojo. Your tuition this month is to help me clean it."
     
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  16. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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  17. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    that sound like a big garage, I'm jealous, I'd be filling that with classic motorbikes, the students could train in the rain.

    seriously , it's simple economics, do you have enough students prepared to pay enough to cover costs, your going to need liability insurance, there may be local laws and taxes on registering as a business and running that from your home, youl need some accountancy advice and some basic equipment. if it doesn't add up in your favour then it's an expensive hobby.

    if you get enough students to make your garage to small, then youl need to do the sums again as cost are likely to increase considerably if you need to higher space and run advertising to fill the extra capacity
     
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  18. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    With a garage-gym like that you've got it made! You have an ideal opportunity to test your business skills without going into a lot of debt. You will find out quickly enough if you are successful at promoting, signing up, and retaining enough paying students to take it to the next level.

    You say your garage is big enough to teach about 15 students? Then see if you can get ten to twelve regulars who are willing to pay a real monthly fee. Around here that would be at least $90 a month for adults in a garage school meeting 3 times a week, and more like $120 or more a month for a commercial school with daily classes available.

    The question is, can you get and keep an average of a dozen paying students? I can't, at least not without working a whole lot harder at the business side than I am prepared to. But if you can, then take it to the next level. Sublet some space at a attractive location at a karate, health, yoga, dance, etc. studio, refine your business plan, build your enrollment and when you are making some real profit, get your own place.

    Me, I don't have any space in my little old one-car garage (built in the 40s), so over the years, I've done the "Y" thing, also community college programs (back when that had more support in my area) and also have sublet space at gyms to offer a "real" class meeting 3-4 times a week.. But I needed at least 4 paying students at $100 a month to cover rent, insurance, and some steep association dues just to break even. And I needed a couple more to cover my own training expenses if I wanted to progress in the system (my instructor lives in another state, 1,200 miles away). So to make a little profit to pay for all the time I put in, I actually needed to maintain about 8-10 paying students. To earn about $5 an hour.

    And you know, I would have been good with that... $5 an hour. But the reality is that I only averaged around 5 -6 paying students in good times, and often enrollment dropped to 3 or four paying students. Sometimes less. And I was consistently paying out money for the privilege of teaching. :(

    So now I'm back to teaching a couple of guys informally a twice a week, at a friend's place, or at the park. Not really making any profit, but not losing cash either.;)
     
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  19. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Make sure you check with your homeowners insurance. In my experience, I have not yet found a provider who will allow martial arts instruction at the home, even if you have a separate liability coverage. I was told by my provider that if I taught at the home, even with a separate liability policy, even if I do it for free so technically it is not a business, they would cancel my homeowners coverage. I shopped around with a couple other independent agents, and so far have not found a homeowners provider who is willing to allow it.

    If you have a separate liability policy to protect for the business activity of teaching martial arts (which is not difficult to get) it creates a layered situation and can bring into question which policy would cover an injury. If your student hangs around after class, and slips and gets injured while using your bathroom, which policy covers it? The homeowners or the business? They consider martial arts instruction a high-risk activity and aren’t willing to allow that ambiguity.

    They told me straight up, if you want to teach martial arts, find a location away from the home.
     
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  20. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    The advice I've always given people is "if you really love Martial Arts don't ever open a school".

    First thing you should consider - Do you really, really want to open one?

    Do you have the financial resources to do so and maybe/probably lose all the money involved?

    The area where you would open it - Is there a large enough population in the area? And most important, does the general population have enough disposable income that they would likely spend money to attend something like that on a regular basis?
     
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