Biggest Issue When You Started A School

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martialartsnerd

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@dvcochran ..thats not what i see a business coach as doing in the entrepreneurial world (maybe in the corporate world).
maybe it is a new concept like a "life coach" that many do not really need but i would say the majority of karate school owners would not even know where to begin on a business plan. to be honest it took me years to even understand how one would be beneficial to me.
i would want a business coach more that a marketing director or outside company... sorry OP :(
i find in my area a marketing company costs $1000. just as a starting consulting fee. the last company i talked to charged $10 thousand dollars to create a web sight.
i wanted them to create a logo and company image, ok so its $1000. for the initial consult....but what if the logo they create sucks and looks like a disney character?? they charge 10k for a web sight? their own web sight is not that great , why would i want them to create mine?

if the OP wants to solve a problem, try starting with create a product that people will pay for (without the snooty attitude of how great they are as marketers) and only charge them if the consumer wants the product.

sorry going off on a little rant there...

Seems like a bad run-in with a high-ticket marketing agency of sorts. Although some posts here have demonstrated a need for what I do, given your angle, a marketing agency/consultant/etc. would just be an out-and-out bad fit. Understandable, given your experience. Mind telling me more about this bunch you ran into so that I can get a good feel for the pros and cons of what they were up to?
 
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martialartsnerd

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For me a bit of back story.

When i started training the head instructor had a good tech job hed been at for a while and made plenty of money off of long hours, so he could afford hand people their money back for the month if they or their parent werent up to his standards.

He lost that job and had to take a new lower paying job and couldnt afford to run things as he used to, and thats when things started going down hill. Kids always made up 60%+ or more of the students, but he used to push them, now over bearing and over protective parents get mad when instructors do that, so to keep the meat and potatoes of the student base he gives in and doesnt push as much, its gotten worse and worse each year making it harder for older kids and adults to take the school and instructors seriously so they dont stick around long....so basically in my experience if youre teaching kids a LOT of parents want little more than a glorified day care...which isnt conducive to attracting older students and a lot parents will pull their kids out if you are to stern with their kids.

This is EXACTLY the problem that I'm out to solve. It makes me absolutely livid to see a potentially great martial arts school have to cave in because the clientele they attract forces them to water down to "karate lite" or some similar nonsense. It's perhaps the biggest reason why I want to become a marketer/marketing consultant for martial arts instructors so that I can start taking steps to ending that trend of making martial arts schools overglorified daycares. With good marketing comes good positioning, and by positioning an instructor as an authority in their field by way of education marketing rather than "traditional" marketing, I can start turning such a situation around.
 
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martialartsnerd

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I'd be happy to have a discussion (phone would be quickest) to share what I've experienced and seen with others, if that helps.

Absolutely! Feel free to PM me if you want to set a time aside and get that discussion going!
 
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martialartsnerd

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For what it's worth, I worked with a martial arts business coaching program for a while to help with our school. I went to a weekend seminar that taught me about how to teach a better intro class, to sell memberships, to train up students to become staff members, and things like that. I got templates for management handbooks, lead tracking procedures and other business processes, as well as some promotional material, and instructions on how to run certain events to attract new students. That was a big help, and I wish we'd had something like that from the beginning.

Interesting. Which demographic did they specifically target with their strategies and could I know more about this program? Personally, given that my own mission is to stop the martial arts school that I aim to work with from becoming a McDojo (an overglorified daycare), I could learn a thing or two from them as well, even if we're helping schools target COMPLETELY different demographics.
 

hoshin1600

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Seems like a bad run-in with a high-ticket marketing agency of sorts. Although some posts here have demonstrated a need for what I do, given your angle, a marketing agency/consultant/etc. would just be an out-and-out bad fit. Understandable, given your experience. Mind telling me more about this bunch you ran into so that I can get a good feel for the pros and cons of what they were up to?
for starters it was more than one company that charge those prices in my area and the way of doing business was the same. that being said the one group i sat down with didnt go so well. i wanted a logo designed and consistent design image for all marketing materials including the web sight. i am creating a brand and this is what a marketing company does. being the way i am, i show up at their location (which wasnt impressive, in a warehouse over an indoor flee market) they seemed completely shocked and unnerved by my being there. i got the feeling they do most of their first contact work on line and meet clients at the clients location but the owner was willing to sit with me and talk about my needs. i mentioned the name of my business and right off she was telling me the name is too confusing and will never work (Kerberos Combatives). her basic sales pitch in my estimation is that everyone is stupid and doesnt know anything about marketing except her and she can solve my problems. having been in sales for many years i can tell you she my know marketing but her salesmanship sucks. i would never tell a potential client that their ideas are horrible (even if they really do) at the first sit down.
here is a snipet from their web sight:
"Brand Archetypes.
Influencing audience behavior often comes down to intangible factors which create an inexplicable preference or feeling on the part of the consumer. Our archetyping process will determine the right identity for your brand, we then develop a set of clearly defined personality attributes to drive consumer perceptions and expectations, making it easier for them to differentiate and form a relationship with your brand."

i was never asked for my vision of the company, who is my target audience. im sure they have no clue about what combatives is and who would be interested in it or what consumers expect for an image. a good marketing company will listen to what ideas the owner has and try to guide and mold those ideas into a working model. i want to see my seedling ideas grow into something not be dictated and talked down to. i can assume there is a big difference between working with the corporate world and working with entrepreneurs.



 
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martialartsnerd

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for starters it was more than one company that charge those prices in my area and the way of doing business was the same. that being said the one group i sat down with didnt go so well. i wanted a logo designed and consistent design image for all marketing materials including the web sight. i am creating a brand and this is what a marketing company does. being the way i am, i show up at their location (which wasnt impressive, in a warehouse over an indoor flee market) they seemed completely shocked and unnerved by my being there. i got the feeling they do most of their first contact work on line and meet clients at the clients location but the owner was willing to sit with me and talk about my needs. i mentioned the name of my business and right off she was telling me the name is too confusing and will never work (Kerberos Combatives). her basic sales pitch in my estimation is that everyone is stupid and doesnt know anything about marketing except her and she can solve my problems. having been in sales for many years i can tell you she my know marketing but her salesmanship sucks. i would never tell a potential client that their ideas are horrible (even if they really do) at the first sit down.
here is a snipet from their web sight:
"Brand Archetypes.
Influencing audience behavior often comes down to intangible factors which create an inexplicable preference or feeling on the part of the consumer. Our archetyping process will determine the right identity for your brand, we then develop a set of clearly defined personality attributes to drive consumer perceptions and expectations, making it easier for them to differentiate and form a relationship with your brand."

i was never asked for my vision of the company, who is my target audience. im sure they have no clue about what combatives is and who would be interested in it or what consumers expect for an image. a good marketing company will listen to what ideas the owner has and try to guide and mold those ideas into a working model. i want to see my seedling ideas grow into something not be dictated and talked down to. i can assume there is a big difference between working with the corporate world and working with entrepreneurs.



Jesus Christ, that was just case-in-point horrible. You were right to turn around and go the other direction. They couldn't even qualify your needs, let alone everything else that they would've needed in order to work most effectively with you. Thanks for that horror story, man. It's a shining example of what NOT to do with my fledgling business.
 

pdg

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Kerberos Combatives

Hell hound?

(Well, more correctly 'hound of hades', aka Cerberus, depending on which language it's being derived from...)

Not really that confusing...
 

GojuTommy

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This is EXACTLY the problem that I'm out to solve. It makes me absolutely livid to see a potentially great martial arts school have to cave in because the clientele they attract forces them to water down to "karate lite" or some similar nonsense. It's perhaps the biggest reason why I want to become a marketer/marketing consultant for martial arts instructors so that I can start taking steps to ending that trend of making martial arts schools overglorified daycares. With good marketing comes good positioning, and by positioning an instructor as an authority in their field by way of education marketing rather than "traditional" marketing, I can start turning such a situation around.
The best answer I can come up with is just dont teach children under 16 or so if unless all you care about is making money. If you care about teaching real martial arts that can be used for real self defense and/or full contact sparring focus on older students...and also in my experience lower-middle class and poorer families are less likely to be over protective and helicopter parents than upper middle class and rich families, but that puts pretty tight constraints on the fees you can charge.
 

Jaeimseu

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The best answer I can come up with is just dont teach children under 16 or so if unless all you care about is making money. If you care about teaching real martial arts that can be used for real self defense and/or full contact sparring focus on older students...and also in my experience lower-middle class and poorer families are less likely to be over protective and helicopter parents than upper middle class and rich families, but that puts pretty tight constraints on the fees you can charge.

Unfortunately, everything you mention here is why it is so incredibly difficult to survive as that type of business. The margin for error is so small in terms of success and failure. Id consider it irresponsible as a business owner to not make as much money as you can. I think teaching real martial arts is important, too. Providing a quality service is crucial, but you wont be teaching anyone if you cant pay the rent. I think anyone wanting to focus on a such a relatively small market as adults (who want real martial arts with contact, etc.) would be crazy to open without consulting with/getting coaching from someone who has done it (more than once).


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

hoshin1600

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When i started training the head instructor had a good tech job hed been at for a while and made plenty of money off of long hours, so he could afford hand people their money back for the month if they or their parent werent up to his standards.

he gives in and doesnt push as much, its gotten worse and worse each year making it harder for older kids and adults to take the school and instructors seriously

It makes me absolutely livid to see a potentially great martial arts school have to cave in because the clientele they attract forces them to water down to "karate lite"

the reality is the teacher/ owner messed up big time. lets not blame the kids or parents. no potentially great martial arts school is forced to water down their karate. instructors do that because they lack the personal and business skills to handle the situation any other way. reading this story, what is see is a hobbyist instructor who was forced to become a business man without the desire or the skills to do so.
the first major red flag is that the owner would reimburse monthly tuition??? what the hell kind of practice is that? then he abruptly changes course and starts actually charging for his time when he created a consumer expectation of getting their money back. this is so bad that i am sure it is just the tip of the iceberg of business errors.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Then why not call a spade a spade. They are consultants. The Coaching term is just the same thing with a new coat of paint.
I'd use the term "consultant". Others use the term "business coach". The latter - to me - is more specific, and I'd have a different set of expectations (for instance, I'd expect a business coach to be good at building a formal business plan, which is something I don't really do).
 

Gerry Seymour

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Right, ok - I see now we have another English vs English semantics issue...

In English English, that is not at all what a business coach does or would generally do.

That's what a management development consultant would do.
That's not what I'd call a "business coach", either. That sounds like a management or executive coach. And there's good reason they sometimes go to meetings others might not understand their presence in. Of course, it would be up to the manager they are coaching to explain their presence properly to others.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Now you are delving into a larger business environment which is just not the way a fledging Dojo is. The value in doing the research is because the fledging Dojo doesn't have the funds to do it any other way. There are many human resources out there that cost little or no money, i.e., your local Chamber of Commerce, the BBB, etc... Sure, when you have more than the broad brush strokes of a solid plan in place recruit the elements to make it happen.
You hit the nail on the head. Coach in just a new buzzword for a Consultant. A new marketing ploy.
You're assuming they don't have the funds. Nearly every small business I've worked with (as vendor, client, or whatever) has hired outside experts to help with something. Many have marketing consultants/coaches (in the "solopreneur" world, those terms are pretty much interchangeable). One person can rarely know everything about a business, and coaching isn't always a hellishly expensive thing. I could find someone a marketing coach or systematization coach for far less than the cost of mats to start a dojo.
 

Gerry Seymour

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for starters it was more than one company that charge those prices in my area and the way of doing business was the same. that being said the one group i sat down with didnt go so well. i wanted a logo designed and consistent design image for all marketing materials including the web sight. i am creating a brand and this is what a marketing company does. being the way i am, i show up at their location (which wasnt impressive, in a warehouse over an indoor flee market) they seemed completely shocked and unnerved by my being there. i got the feeling they do most of their first contact work on line and meet clients at the clients location but the owner was willing to sit with me and talk about my needs. i mentioned the name of my business and right off she was telling me the name is too confusing and will never work (Kerberos Combatives). her basic sales pitch in my estimation is that everyone is stupid and doesnt know anything about marketing except her and she can solve my problems. having been in sales for many years i can tell you she my know marketing but her salesmanship sucks. i would never tell a potential client that their ideas are horrible (even if they really do) at the first sit down.
here is a snipet from their web sight:
"Brand Archetypes.
Influencing audience behavior often comes down to intangible factors which create an inexplicable preference or feeling on the part of the consumer. Our archetyping process will determine the right identity for your brand, we then develop a set of clearly defined personality attributes to drive consumer perceptions and expectations, making it easier for them to differentiate and form a relationship with your brand."

i was never asked for my vision of the company, who is my target audience. im sure they have no clue about what combatives is and who would be interested in it or what consumers expect for an image. a good marketing company will listen to what ideas the owner has and try to guide and mold those ideas into a working model. i want to see my seedling ideas grow into something not be dictated and talked down to. i can assume there is a big difference between working with the corporate world and working with entrepreneurs.


Hell, I could do better with brand consulting than that (and I suck at it).
 

Gerry Seymour

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The best answer I can come up with is just dont teach children under 16 or so if unless all you care about is making money. If you care about teaching real martial arts that can be used for real self defense and/or full contact sparring focus on older students...and also in my experience lower-middle class and poorer families are less likely to be over protective and helicopter parents than upper middle class and rich families, but that puts pretty tight constraints on the fees you can charge.
I can't agree with that, though that is my personal practice. One thing I've noticed is that teaching kids helps instructors attract adults (parents sometimes join where their kids train). And kids grow up, so the 10-year-olds are eventually over 16. And kids' classes can be taught well, and can help fund adult classes (which are harder to populate). I don't know any full-time schools (surely there are some, but I don't know any) that don't teach kids.
 

GojuTommy

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I can't agree with that, though that is my personal practice. One thing I've noticed is that teaching kids helps instructors attract adults (parents sometimes join where their kids train). And kids grow up, so the 10-year-olds are eventually over 16. And kids' classes can be taught well, and can help fund adult classes (which are harder to populate). I don't know any full-time schools (surely there are some, but I don't know any) that don't teach kids.
The kids do grow up, but they dont like it much in my experience when things suddenly get rough, and again, the parents dont tend to like it much and get up set about the shift in teaching methods/style.
If theyve brought their 10yr old to you for 6 years they approved of the way you were doing and often (in my experience) dont like seeing that change.
Explaining that theyre older and bullies are more likely to get more aggressive and be much stronger etc. typically doesnt seem to work to persuade them either in my experience.

Some times parents will join after their kids have been there for a while but again in my experience thats not very common, because theyre looking for a place to dump their kid(s) so they can be rid of them.
 

GojuTommy

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the reality is the teacher/ owner messed up big time. lets not blame the kids or parents. no potentially great martial arts school is forced to water down their karate. instructors do that because they lack the personal and business skills to handle the situation any other way. reading this story, what is see is a hobbyist instructor who was forced to become a business man without the desire or the skills to do so.
the first major red flag is that the owner would reimburse monthly tuition??? what the hell kind of practice is that? then he abruptly changes course and starts actually charging for his time when he created a consumer expectation of getting their money back. this is so bad that i am sure it is just the tip of the iceberg of business errors.
Yes he made business mistakes, but most parents these days are pansies and too worried about their kids getting a boo boo, or having their precious unique childs feelings hurt. so they get mad if you dont coddle them.

To be honest if that hasnt been your experience then you are probably already at that level.
 

Gerry Seymour

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The kids do grow up, but they dont like it much in my experience when things suddenly get rough, and again, the parents dont tend to like it much and get up set about the shift in teaching methods/style.
If theyve brought their 10yr old to you for 6 years they approved of the way you were doing and often (in my experience) dont like seeing that change.
Explaining that theyre older and bullies are more likely to get more aggressive and be much stronger etc. typically doesnt seem to work to persuade them either in my experience.

Some times parents will join after their kids have been there for a while but again in my experience thats not very common, because theyre looking for a place to dump their kid(s) so they can be rid of them.
I've had a different experience. Several of my training partners (and students I taught) were people who came to the school and joined as a family. Some of my younger training partners were people who'd started as kids and trained into their adulthood. Class gets rougher, but when they get to adult classes, they are adult beginners, so it's not a sudden change. It's not like they go from mid-colors as a youth to mid-colors as an adult in a week.
 

JR 137

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The kids do grow up, but they dont like it much in my experience when things suddenly get rough, and again, the parents dont tend to like it much and get up set about the shift in teaching methods/style.
If theyve brought their 10yr old to you for 6 years they approved of the way you were doing and often (in my experience) dont like seeing that change.
Explaining that theyre older and bullies are more likely to get more aggressive and be much stronger etc. typically doesnt seem to work to persuade them either in my experience.

Some times parents will join after their kids have been there for a while but again in my experience thats not very common, because theyre looking for a place to dump their kid(s) so they can be rid of them.
From what Ive seen, most kids eventually leave for other reasons...

Kids get bored. Once that initial learning a lot of new stuff ends and far more repetition than new material really sets in, they feel like theyve learned enough and get bored with it.

Kids have a lot going on. They play sports. They get a little older and discover the opposite sex. They get serious about school. They want more time to hang out with their friends. The busier they get, somethings got to take a back seat.

Kids grow older and move away. I didnt start until I was 18, but there were plenty of guys around my age whod been there quite a while before me. I left to go away to grad school. A few left to go away for undergrad. Two left for the military. Two others went to the police academy. There were a bunch of us between 18-22 or so who trained as kids then left for that stuff. That was my former dojo.

Then theres getting a bit older and life just gets in the way. Starting a career, family, etc. I guess that one depends on your definition of kids though.

A lot of people at my current dojo started due to their kids. They watched their kids train for a while, then started training themselves instead of sitting there and watching. Most of them stayed after their kids stopped.

Others at our dojo trained as kids, left for various reasons, then came back. Out of all the adults, theres very few at my current dojo that dont fit into one of the last two examples. Were pretty small - about 20 or so adults, so its not the best cross-section of karate society.
 
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