Looking at opening a school

Poppity

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Hi,

I am looking at opening a school next year and was hoping people might be willing to share the most useful lessons they've learnt in preparing to do so.

I am intending to give it about 3-6 months to measure its popularity across a range of ages. It seems that the most popular ages are likely to be for kids, (parents looking for a bit of wrap around school care), but I would like to also teach adults depending on financial viability.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 

wckf92

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Hi,

I am looking at opening a school next year and was hoping people might be willing to share the most useful lessons they've learnt in preparing to do so.

I am intending to give it about 3-6 months to measure its popularity across a range of ages. It seems that the most popular ages are likely to be for kids, (parents looking for a bit of wrap around school care), but I would like to also teach adults depending on financial viability.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Congrats dude!
My 2 cents is location location location. Do your DD on where the other MA schools are in the area; which ones are successful and why; which ones are not doing so well and why; etc.
 
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Poppity

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Congrats dude!
My 2 cents is location location location. Do your DD on where the other MA schools are in the area; which ones are successful and why; which ones are not doing so well and why; etc.

Hey thanks! lot of ground work to put in. Will have a look round a few more, so much to organise. Hoping it will all fall into that mark twain quote of find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
 

wckf92

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Hey thanks! lot of ground work to put in. Will have a look round a few more, so much to organise. Hoping it will all fall into that mark twain quote of find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

Yeah that does sound good! haha. I had two schools over the years. It was fun. Never was a big money maker though. Good luck and let us know how it goes!
 
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Poppity

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Yeah that does sound good! haha. I had two schools over the years. It was fun. Never was a big money maker though. Good luck and let us know how it goes!

Thanks again.
 

Flying Crane

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I would do your homework, but dont sign any leases until we are confident that we are moving past Covid, meaning there is a viable vaccine.

A BJJ school tried to open near me just before Covid hit, it has just been an empty space ever since, with a new sign over it. I imagine the fellow is paying rent every month.
 

Buka

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A lot of good advice so far in this thread. As Headhunter said, schools are closing down all over the place. Here on Maui, I honestly don't know if there will be any left at all by the time Covic is gone.

However, that creates a void and the opportunity to fill said void. I caution you that if history repeats - the virus will just about be gone.....and then come roaring back for a round two as it did with the Spanish Flu of a century ago. I believe that's a good thing to keep in mind.

As wckf said, location. That's key. The more populated the area the better chance of success.

As Flying Crane said - homework. You have to do your homework like your school's life depended on it. Cuz it really does.

So take your time, see how this pandemic thing shakes out.

Wishing you success and good fortune going forward, brother.
 
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Poppity

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Thanks for the advice guys. Your absolutely right about covid and France and Spain are both in their second wave already so UK will be hit soon.

Coupled with Brexit in the UK taking effect on the 27th of January (which is predicted to severly disrupt medical, fuel and food supplies into the UK) there is probably not going to be a good time to open a school for a couple of years.

Still, I should be in a position next year to open a school for 6 months and for it to be an utter financial failure, without it effecting me greatly. So it's a bit of, if not now, when?
 

Flying Crane

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Could you meet with small groups in a nearby park where you could have proper distancing between people and not pay rent? Build a body of students that way in an outdoor situation where it is safer.
 

john_newman

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Could you meet with small groups in a nearby park where you could have proper distancing between people and not pay rent? Build a body of students that way in an outdoor situation where it is safer.
I agree with this idea, a nearby park is the best place to meet some people in a safer way. Talk with people who are running, jogging, or working out around.
 

paitingman

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Very basic, but it's always nice to be able to have a really good conversation with the student, and parent if they are younger, before they sign up or right after. Almost like an interview. I would find out and write down what their specific interests and goals are. Both student and parent.
It's a good time to share your goals and passions as well. Tell them what you love about teaching and how you try to make an impact in people's lives.
I found it helped with retention when we knew what the students like and what changes, if any, the parent is looking to see in the student after attending.
It also helps weed out people who may just not be a good fit or just be looking for something too outside of what you offer.
The few times this happened, I was more than happy to personally get them in touch with another instructor I knew if I thought they'd be a better fit there. Obviously, you don't have to go that far.
You're free to enroll em as fast as you can, but
you'll never fill up classes if students are consistently quitting each month. Devote at least as much attention to retention as new leads and can have a very healthy, happy, decently sized class quicker than you might think.

All the best!
 

Flying Crane

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I agree with this idea, a nearby park is the best place to meet some people in a safer way. Talk with people who are running, jogging, or working out around.
Maybe do some advertising to build the interest with the understanding that it would be in the park so people understand the arrangement:
 

Flying Crane

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Very basic, but it's always nice to be able to have a really good conversation with the student, and parent if they are younger, before they sign up or right after. Almost like an interview. I would find out and write down what their specific interests and goals are. Both student and parent.
It's a good time to share your goals and passions as well. Tell them what you love about teaching and how you try to make an impact in people's lives.
I found it helped with retention when we knew what the students like and what changes, if any, the parent is looking to see in the student after attending.
It also helps weed out people who may just not be a good fit or just be looking for something too outside of what you offer.
The few times this happened, I was more than happy to personally get them in touch with another instructor I knew if I thought they'd be a better fit there. Obviously, you don't have to go that far.
You're free to enroll em as fast as you can, but
you'll never fill up classes if students are consistently quitting each month. Devote at least as much attention to retention as new leads and can have a very healthy, happy, decently sized class quicker than you might think.

All the best!
I am an advocate of we reserve the right to refuse service.
 

dvcochran

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Very basic, but it's always nice to be able to have a really good conversation with the student, and parent if they are younger, before they sign up or right after. Almost like an interview. I would find out and write down what their specific interests and goals are. Both student and parent.
It's a good time to share your goals and passions as well. Tell them what you love about teaching and how you try to make an impact in people's lives.
I found it helped with retention when we knew what the students like and what changes, if any, the parent is looking to see in the student after attending.
It also helps weed out people who may just not be a good fit or just be looking for something too outside of what you offer.
The few times this happened, I was more than happy to personally get them in touch with another instructor I knew if I thought they'd be a better fit there. Obviously, you don't have to go that far.
You're free to enroll em as fast as you can, but
you'll never fill up classes if students are consistently quitting each month. Devote at least as much attention to retention as new leads and can have a very healthy, happy, decently sized class quicker than you might think.

All the best!
Fully agree with everything you said. But the OP needs to understand and prepare for the fact that attrition is a very real part of the MA business. Retention always has to out pace or at least keep up with attrition.
 

dvcochran

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Hi,

I am looking at opening a school next year and was hoping people might be willing to share the most useful lessons they've learnt in preparing to do so.

I am intending to give it about 3-6 months to measure its popularity across a range of ages. It seems that the most popular ages are likely to be for kids, (parents looking for a bit of wrap around school care), but I would like to also teach adults depending on financial viability.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
I wish you the very best. At the risk of boring everyone else I suggest you look at my post history on this topic. I have posted quite a bit on the subject.
The number one thing is to have a real business plan. Then a secondary plan. Then a fallback plan. Then get ready to recreate yourself after a while. Especially with the current climate it is one of the toughest businesses to successfully start from scratch, or any other way for that matter.
Search out your local resources such as the school systems and professional societies, both for resources and clientele. You should expect to operate at a loss for a while and be willing to do a Ton of charity and gratis work. Do Not take huge risks and keep overhead at an absolute minimum. Assuming this is not your source of income do not expect to pay yourself for at least the first year and bank anything you can. Do Not feel bad about taking advantage of the retail opportunities out there (uniform/gear, etc...). Never, never commit to a lease. There are much better relationships to start with. If you get to the point where you are seriously considering a long term lease for space or location you should have already been figuring out how to purchase space.
Give 'em hell and let us know how you proceed.
 
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Poppity

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I wish you the very best. At the risk of boring everyone else I suggest you look at my post history on this topic. I have posted quite a bit on the subject.
The number one thing is to have a real business plan. Then a secondary plan. Then a fallback plan. Then get ready to recreate yourself after a while. Especially with the current climate it is one of the toughest businesses to successfully start from scratch, or any other way for that matter.
Search out your local resources such as the school systems and professional societies, both for resources and clientele. You should expect to operate at a loss for a while and be willing to do a Ton of charity and gratis work. Do Not take huge risks and keep overhead at an absolute minimum. Assuming this is not your source of income do not expect to pay yourself for at least the first year and bank anything you can. Do Not feel bad about taking advantage of the retail opportunities out there (uniform/gear, etc...). Never, never commit to a lease. There are much better relationships to start with. If you get to the point where you are seriously considering a long term lease for space or location you should have already been figuring out how to purchase space.
Give 'em hell and let us know how you proceed.

Thanks

I will certainly look over your post history.

Your right as this is not intended to be my principal income. It's really just trying to organise something where i can train more and teach because I really enjoy it. Like most new businesses I expect it to lose money initially but if it can begin to break even (excluding initial outlay) would be great in itself.

It's just trying to consider all aspects to give it the best chance of success, and some of that will come from those with experience and hindsight. So thank you!
 

JowGaWolf

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I'm still planning on opening a school. But I'm trying to time it for when COVID-19 is no longer a detrimental issue. At the moment I'm using the lessons of 1918 to help me navigate COVID-19. In a lot of ways we are better off in terms of technology but we are worse off because we have way more people now than we did in 1928 and a lot of people now still don't take COVID-19 seriously. According to some business sources 1 and 3 people don't believe COVID-19 has killed as many people as the numbers claim.

The Q'Anon movement is gaining support and many are believing that crap. I suspect that's why the 1918 flu got so bad because similar things happened then. There were probably a lot of Snake Oil salesmen selling cures for the flu as well. All of that probably played into the 1918 flu pandemic. That means the US and some other countries are right on course to have a serious outbreak once the flu and cold season kicks in.

The reason I'm following the business stats is because I know that people are less political about numbers when it comes to money. Business in general looks at a scenario and then tries to identify how to either save money or make money off of that scenario. I'm doing the same thing in terms of opening a school. Trying to identify how I can take advantage of the COVID-19 situation. I'm paying attention to Job losses and disposable income. I'm also looking at the trends that followed 1918 to help me get an idea of some the things I can expect in terms of cultural changes.

Right now my idea building is one that has some space for outdoor training. Outdoor training space has always been a plus for me because it's like having an extra room that is rent free. Other martial arts schools may be looking for the same thing so I have to keep that in mind as well. I'm also looking into how to do live online classes as well.

I'm using September 2020 - January 2021 to see how things play out with the U.S. government and hwo it's currently managing the virus. I know some countries aren't going to have the same challenge. But right now there's no unified approach to dealing with the virus. Everyone has their own plan, which is like a football team with players who have their own plan of which play to run, independent of the quarterback.

There's a lot of things to take into consideration and depending on where you are the Pandemic is either going to make or break you. The last thing you want to do is to start a business only to have to go into lockdown a month later.
 

JowGaWolf

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Thanks for the advice guys. Your absolutely right about covid and France and Spain are both in their second wave already so UK will be hit soon.

Coupled with Brexit in the UK taking effect on the 27th of January (which is predicted to severly disrupt medical, fuel and food supplies into the UK) there is probably not going to be a good time to open a school for a couple of years.

Still, I should be in a position next year to open a school for 6 months and for it to be an utter financial failure, without it effecting me greatly. So it's a bit of, if not now, when?
I hate to say this but also keep an eye on the US in terms of the Pandemic. There is a concern that the pandemic will bounce from one end of the world to the next. If the US can't get things under control then it's possible that the U.S. will cause the spread to continue once we hit our flu and cold season.

Until the business environment becomes more friendly, I would probably spend more time building a following at this moment. Something like that could help you for when you open if people are already familiar with who you are.
 

wckf92

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...and a lot of people now still don't take COVID-19 seriously. According to some business sources 1 and 3 people don't believe COVID-19 has killed as many people as the numbers claim.

I'm not saying this virus isn't an issue; but when the organization that people and businesses take their cues from puts out crap like this...it just confirms what the majority of us have known for a while. Especially when MSM and social media platforms are quick to remove and / or ban anyone except their "experts" on the evil virus statistics. :D

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