Biggest Issue When You Started A School

Gerry Seymour

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Birds of a feather mentality, which is commonplace with everyone. And it's become the conventional wisdom of a martial arts business. Seen that happen with Michael Massie's business plan as well, so it's why I wanna flip the script and throw the conventional wisdom of running a school out the window, especially for a business as niche as martial arts. It's time to find a way to focus on the few instead of the many, because martial artists? We are the few. And conventional business tactics for a mass market basically burn a LOT of money to produce the kinda leads that a school wants.
If that's possible (and I'm skeptical, mostly because I've never seen it work before) that would be a great help to a lot of schools.
 
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martialartsnerd

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If that's possible (and I'm skeptical, mostly because I've never seen it work before) that would be a great help to a lot of schools.

You're right to be skeptical. It hasn't been tried in so many circuits. In fact, I can count the successes on one hand, and one of them is Tuhon Jared Wihongi of Pekiti Tactical.
 
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martialartsnerd

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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).


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It's part of the reason why I'm delving into other business models, specifically that of independent consulting. I've also taken a look at Tuhon Jared Wihongi's Pekiti Tirsia Tactical Association as inspiration. He just recently launched his online modules, so time will tell where that goes, but those two sides have the ideas I wanna be able to apply across the board.
 

hoshin1600

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i keep wanting to post about this and dig a little deeper but i cant seem to find the time. the problem is that the product is karate, aikido or whatever. everyone knows what it is and has a preconceived bias about it. so there is the distinction between marketing the art, the school and the instructor. it is difficult to market the art unless it is new like Defense Labs or Kerberos Combatives :shamefullyembarrased: (shameless self promotion lol ) or something. there is nothing new to say about aikido that hasnt been said in the last 50 years. if it is a traditional school again the business model hasnt changed in 60 years. the only defining character is the instructor. what is so special about this particular instructor ? probably not much different then the other 100 schools in the area.
 
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martialartsnerd

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i keep wanting to post about this and dig a little deeper but i cant seem to find the time. the problem is that the product is karate, aikido or whatever. everyone knows what it is and has a preconceived bias about it. so there is the distinction between marketing the art, the school and the instructor. it is difficult to market the art unless it is new like Defense Labs or Kerberos Combatives :shamefullyembarrased: (shameless self promotion lol ) or something. there is nothing new to say about aikido that hasnt been said in the last 50 years. if it is a traditional school again the business model hasnt changed in 60 years. the only defining character is the instructor. what is so special about this particular instructor ? probably not much different then the other 100 schools in the area.

Ergo outlining the problem that I'm looking to solve, as well as being able to apply the marketing that I'm learning to other styles, regardless of their traditional reputation. You're absolutely right in that, because of the SHEER SUPPLY of TMA, it falls down to personal branding, and I've seen examples of that on a smaller scale. I just wanna be able to replicate that for others who actually really know their craft and help them do what they love as a full-time gig.
 

hoshin1600

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It's part of the reason why I'm delving into other business models, specifically that of independent consulting. I've also taken a look at Tuhon Jared Wihongi's Pekiti Tirsia Tactical Association as inspiration. He just recently launched his online modules, so time will tell where that goes, but those two sides have the ideas I wanna be able to apply across the board.

Pekiti tactical points out exactly what I was thinking. It is a different product. A visit to their Web sight shows the slogan "for law enforcement". The instructor is really inconsequential. The reason they may be successful is that as a product it fills a new demand. I only looked at their Web sight for about 3 seconds so I am not sure but they could also be using a different business model. The new model is to forgo the brick and mortar in order to reach more people.
 
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martialartsnerd

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Pekiti tactical points out exactly what I was thinking. It is a different product. A visit to their Web sight shows the slogan "for law enforcement". The instructor is really inconsequential. The reason they may be successful is that as a product it fills a new demand. I only looked at their Web sight for about 3 seconds so I am not sure but they could also be using a different business model. The new model is to forgo the brick and mortar in order to reach more people.

Yes to several of these counts... although I disagree on the instructor. Jared Wihongi has made quite the name for himself at this point, with Pekiti Tactical being practically synonymous with the man. Where Wihongi goes, so does Pekiti Tactical (right down to flying internationally to teach seminars and the like, which isn't something you can get unless you've achieved celebrity authority status), in a similar vein to how Doug Marcaida is known for Marcaida Kali.
 

hoshin1600

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Yes to several of these counts... although I disagree on the instructor. Jared Wihongi has made quite the name for himself at this point, with Pekiti Tactical being practically synonymous with the man. Where Wihongi goes, so does Pekiti Tactical (right down to flying internationally to teach seminars and the like, which isn't something you can get unless you've achieved celebrity authority status), in a similar vein to how Doug Marcaida is known for Marcaida Kali.

i wasnt questioning Wihongi. i was making a statement about the approach to marketing in general.
 
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martialartsnerd

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i wasnt questioning Wihongi. i was making a statement about the approach to marketing in general.

That makes sense. Wihongi DOES market his service more than he markets his personal brand, even though the way things go in the martial arts world, those two become VERY inextricably linked.
 

dvcochran

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Birds of a feather mentality, which is commonplace with everyone. And it's become the conventional wisdom of a martial arts business. Seen that happen with Michael Massie's business plan as well, so it's why I wanna flip the script and throw the conventional wisdom of running a school out the window, especially for a business as niche as martial arts. It's time to find a way to focus on the few instead of the many, because martial artists? We are the few. And conventional business tactics for a mass market basically burn a LOT of money to produce the kinda leads that a school wants.
Please explain how you generate Martial Arts leads in volume.
 

CoachRonald

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Hey, guys! Newbie here, but I'd like to know what your biggest issue was when you started your own school or club. I've seen some really awesome instructors who really know their stuff, but can't really get a school running because they lack savvy in some area, usually marketing. It's part of why I decided to get into marketing so I can help those guys and, well, make some money off of that.

I believe the correct is the decentralization of functions. A master/professor/ or instrutor shouldn't deal directly with the financial sector of the gym/school/team. The only thing they should see is the athlete and practitioner in their sporting potential to be explored. In professional sports that's the rule the coach doesn't speak about money whith the athlete, just about their performance and duties. It makes the relationship stronger, so it's pretty hard to believe in an individual that gives us intructions to our life thinking in their pockets. However, it seems to work only in professional teams. In the amateur ones the professor ends needing this abillity of conciliating business and teaching. I'd dare to say that the more the expressive the first competence the less traces and qualifications of a true master the individual presents.
 

Gerry Seymour

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I believe the correct is the decentralization of functions. A master/professor/ or instrutor shouldn't deal directly with the financial sector of the gym/school/team. The only thing they should see is the athlete and practitioner in their sporting potential to be explored. In professional sports that's the rule the coach doesn't speak about money whith the athlete, just about their performance and duties. It makes the relationship stronger, so it's pretty hard to believe in an individual that gives us intructions to our life thinking in their pockets. However, it seems to work only in professional teams. In the amateur ones the professor ends needing this abillity of conciliating business and teaching. I'd dare to say that the more the expressive the first competence the less traces and qualifications of a true master the individual presents.
There are a lot of instructors who would prefer that, too. But it's not a reality for many of us. Many of us are the entire staff (or at least the largest part of "staff") for our school/program, and so must deal with all parts of the business, like many other small businesses.
 

CoachRonald

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There are a lot of instructors who would prefer that, too. But it's not a reality for many of us. Many of us are the entire staff (or at least the largest part of "staff") for our school/program, and so must deal with all parts of the business, like many other small businesses.



That's the point. The circumstances lead to it.
 
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martialartsnerd

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Please explain how you generate Martial Arts leads in volume.

Positioning. The plan's to make a celebrity authority out of the instructor so that the instructor becomes known as the "go-to" guy for their specific style and/or niche in that style. On example would be how Paul Vunak amassed great wealth with his understanding of martial arts combined with his understanding of street combat to create Rapid Assault Tactics. While it's unlikely people OUTSIDE of the Filipino Martial Arts community in the US have heard of him, he's still making a damn fortune off of those who pay for his training.
 
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martialartsnerd

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I believe the correct is the decentralization of functions. A master/professor/ or instrutor shouldn't deal directly with the financial sector of the gym/school/team. The only thing they should see is the athlete and practitioner in their sporting potential to be explored. In professional sports that's the rule the coach doesn't speak about money whith the athlete, just about their performance and duties. It makes the relationship stronger, so it's pretty hard to believe in an individual that gives us intructions to our life thinking in their pockets. However, it seems to work only in professional teams. In the amateur ones the professor ends needing this abillity of conciliating business and teaching. I'd dare to say that the more the expressive the first competence the less traces and qualifications of a true master the individual presents.

And that's the other issue that I'm hoping to fix, because people do have to know that, in the end, it IS a business and there IS the question of money involved, always. To deny that is foolish, but it's also best to clear it up at the very beginning so that the teacher can focus down on good training instead.
 

dvcochran

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I believe the correct is the decentralization of functions. A master/professor/ or instrutor shouldn't deal directly with the financial sector of the gym/school/team. The only thing they should see is the athlete and practitioner in their sporting potential to be explored. In professional sports that's the rule the coach doesn't speak about money whith the athlete, just about their performance and duties. It makes the relationship stronger, so it's pretty hard to believe in an individual that gives us intructions to our life thinking in their pockets. However, it seems to work only in professional teams. In the amateur ones the professor ends needing this abillity of conciliating business and teaching. I'd dare to say that the more the expressive the first competence the less traces and qualifications of a true master the individual presents.
I had to read it a few times to figure out where you were going, but I strongly disagree with your last statement. It sounds like you are in the education world with common knowledge of the theory but no real world application. To say a person with strong book keeping skills can't be a good instructor is just ridicules. I have trained 19 AAU and Junior Olympics gold medal competitors, 6 TN Team USA medal competitors, 2 U.S. national metal competitors. No, they were not professional (paid) competitors but my coaching relationship with them was 100% professional. I hand delivered every bill and addressed any billing issues personally. Frankly, if a person don't have the balls to do both professionally, something is missing.
 
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martialartsnerd

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I had to read it a few times to figure out where you were going, but I strongly disagree with your last statement. It sounds like you are in the education world with common knowledge of the theory but no real world application. To say a person with strong book keeping skills can't be a good instructor is just ridicules. I have trained 19 AAU and Junior Olympics gold medal competitors, 6 TN Team USA medal competitors, 2 U.S. national metal competitors. No, they were not professional (paid) competitors but my coaching relationship with them was 100% professional. I hand delivered every bill and addressed any billing issues personally. Frankly, if a person don't have the balls to do both professionally, something is missing.

Agreed, especially since people seem to have little issues when other kinds of coaches and personal trainers do this. It shouldn't be different with a martial arts instructor, but people append a whole lotta hippie-esque ideology to the craft, even though professional instruction in hand-to-hand had been a part of military training since time immemorial, even if it's basic hand-to-hand. Hell, Musashi became an independent consultant after his experience, and then we have the guys like the Yagyu, who were commissioned to teach the Tokugawa shogunate. There is always a professional aspect to the martial arts and to deny that is idiocy.
 
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martialartsnerd

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Agreed, especially since people seem to have little issues when other kinds of coaches and personal trainers do this. It shouldn't be different with a martial arts instructor, but people append a whole lotta hippie-esque ideology to the craft, even though professional instruction in hand-to-hand had been a part of military training since time immemorial, even if it's basic hand-to-hand. Hell, Musashi became an independent consultant after his experience, and then we have the guys like the Yagyu, who were commissioned to teach the Tokugawa shogunate. There is always a professional aspect to the martial arts and to deny that is idiocy.

Although, admittedly, instructors can't necessarily spread themselves thin doing their own EVERYTHING, specially when certain tactics, like the marketing, haven't drastically changed in an ever redder ocean.
 

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I've been thinking more...

Decetralisation may well work for professional coaches, but they're in an entirely different situation.

The team hires them and pays them - the athlete does what they're told. It's not the athlete's place to deal with the financial aspect - that's why the coach doesn't discuss it with them.


Marketing:

The standard advice given on here when a person asks about which school or art is to visit every one and pick the one you gel with best.

Marketing has no place in that over and above making your presence known.

There's a school near me (part of a large chain) that has 'good' marketing, glossy photos in magazines, testimonials from happy parents - but it's a crap school. They have no shortage of paying students which may be good from a business perspective, but from an art perspective?

I firmly believe their continuing success is purely marketing and very loose celebrity association.
 

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