So you want to open a martial arts school?

G

GouRonin

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What advice would you have for someone who wants to open their own school? What pitfalls did you encounter? What surprises did you hit? Any thoughts of wisdom or downright stupidity you wish someone had told you before you started?
 
Although I've never opened a school, I do train at a lot of different places. I've seen a couple of schools go under recently because of this...my advice would be "Keep your day job." Dont' quit your normal job to open a school, because it takes time to build up enough students so the studio makes a steady profit. Wait until the studio has been able to sustain itself (and you) for a time before you quit your back up source of income.

My other advice would be to advertise. My secondary source of income is advertising and graphic design, and this is what I've seen work. Offer specials to get people in your door. Find a professional to design your fliers and brochures. Too many people cram so much info into their fliers and brochures that they look cluttered. Keep in mind that the sole purpose of advertizing is to get people to pick up the phone or walk in the door. Then you can tell them everything else you can offer them.
 
advertising that is eye catching, but is also put in the right place, ie: local newspaper, somewhere kids might hang out...that's pretty general but you get the idea. location is also very important. obviously you won't want to open a school a few blocks down from the local McDojo that has a strong student base and gives out easy black belts...i've seen it happen, you won't last. you might try to get started in a shopping center, but the rent can be outrageous at times.

i think you really need to build some type of student base. some people will start at the local YMCA or some type of church basement type function, or even in their own home. you may also be at a school that has a few students that would follow you to the new location because it is closer perhaps...that might leave you on bad terms with your instructor though:D

start small, don't "quit the day job" as nightingale said, find a good location, advertise like crazy. plus tons of other stuff that goes a long with running a school.

most importantly, teach quality martial arts.
 
My biggest piece of advice is unless you have enough students to pay for everything you need each and every month keep your day job. There is always a new emergency trying to drain your checque book when you are running a school. My next suggestion is learn to budget your time as well as delegate responsiblity if possible.
 
I just started a school at a YMCA- a great way to start if you can get in, but it's getting harder to do in today's market.

I have about 20 students right now (after about 2 months) but hope to continue to build it up.

I get 50% of all the program income- $40 month for Y members, $60 for non members- 3 times a week.

So my icome is directly proportional to how hard i work to retain and recruit my students.

I hope one day to move on to a commercial facility, but i will wait until i have enough of a student base to support it.

Advertising and promotion is important. I gave away a lot of free uniforms, but the tuition price more than paid for it. I'm not really making much money off this yet, but in the end, I'll save enough up that I'll have a nice cushion when I'm ready to go commercial/professional.
 
:redeme:

No place like home right.
Except everyone needs their own back yard!
 
:D if the date stamp on that post is correct - looks like Roland got up real early to put that post on .... or is it the idea of ANOTHER martial arts school that is keeping him awake?

:rofl:
 
We would have to be importing people from outside London just to fill em up!

Me sleep fine little lady, but thanks for asking!
 
Well Roland, seems we will have to import even MORE people into London...

There is another new school right where the old Southwest Olympic Karate (your sister school) was located on Commissioners.

;)
 
Another school? You gotta be kidding me? Who is it? What style are they?

This city is an aberration to the martial arts community. While most cities have a certain ratio of schools to students this city and it's surrounding areas have waaaaaay more than we need.

It's good for the students as it creates an atmosphere that allows them to really pick and choose but I think Instuctors end up having to really work almost too hard just to stay afloat.

Also, as a result most clubs turn into part-time things which means it's hard to train as often as you want.

Roland has worked pretty hard to maintain his student base and give them what they want. Obviously he does or they wouldn't stay. he has his niche in his section of town. Another school in another section of town wouldn't hurt him really.

What really is a shame is that all the schools in town, even those in franchaise chains don't work together like they could/should to do some very kewl things.
 
Martial Arts schools per capita than both Toronto & Hamilton.
I think Hamilton actualy has more than TO even, it has it all!
 
I wouldn't doubt that. We're a small city with too much to offer.
 
Thats the only thing I can think of that would tip our scales.
 
There are 4 other schools within a 1 mile radius of mine. That's a lot in one town but each is of a different style (thankfully). I've heard that approximately 1% of the population studies the martial arts. Most put that at the maximum, but even with that there seems to be enough people to go around.

WhiteBirch
 
Has anybody ever tried opening a club in St. Thomas. I have about five people I know personally who want to train in Kenpo but don't want to travel to London
If anyone knows of a club in St. Thomas of any style please let me know so I can pass it on.
 
Originally posted by lvwhitebir

There are 4 other schools within a 1 mile radius of mine. That's a lot in one town but each is of a different style (thankfully). I've heard that approximately 1% of the population studies the martial arts. Most put that at the maximum, but even with that there seems to be enough people to go around.

WhiteBirch

A few years ago I read that of all the people studying the martial arts that they pretty well fit into the the following ratios. 90% of the people training only train in 10% of the schools. That is pretty scary for some people out there. the second ration was 90% of all students quit in the first 90 days.
 
Originally posted by sparky
Has anybody ever tried opening a club in St. Thomas. I have about five people I know personally who want to train in Kenpo but don't want to travel to London
If anyone knows of a club in St. Thomas of any style please let me know so I can pass it on.

I know there is a White Crane Kung Fu place out there.

There is also a new Kanzen franchaise there as well I hear but I wouldn't send anyone to it.
 
Originally posted by sparky

Has anybody ever tried opening a club in St. Thomas. I have about five people I know personally who want to train in Kenpo but don't want to travel to London
If anyone knows of a club in St. Thomas of any style please let me know so I can pass it on.

I work in St. Thomas, and I'm always on the look out for schools.
Unfortunately there is no Kenpo Schools besides the Kazen Kenpo, and I too would not suggest going there. There are at least two other schools in town, one is the Shorin Ryu Karate, it has two locations or at least they have the same sign, one is on the corner of Centenial and Talbot St., the other is on Ross St I believe and the other I'm not sure of the style, it was call White Dove or something like that, Down town St. Thomas, I'm assuming it's still there.

LOL give me a half dozen years or so and maybe I'll open one myself. ;) Scary thought eh?

Dot
:asian:
 
Originally posted by GouRonin

What advice would you have for someone who wants to open their own school? What pitfalls did you encounter? What surprises did you hit? Any thoughts of wisdom or downright stupidity you wish someone had told you before you started?



Biggest pit fall...................money and the lack there of.

Landlords are kinda picky about getting rent and getting it on time.

So first off decide if you want "students" or "customers".

Students are the people that train because they want skill in the MA and have a goal of some sort.

Customers are the ones that want to be able to say "I am doing ******** art" or "I have ****** rank".

Having had a dojo for over 14 years I can safely say you will have more "customers" walk into the dojo than "students".

It's hard to balance teaching serious MA with keeping enough students to pay rent. Most people don't want to put the time and effort into training that it takes to make some serious progress.
 
Originally posted by KenpoGirl
LOL give me a half dozen years or so and maybe I'll open one myself. Scary thought eh?

The lost art of "Couch-Fu". Those students who acheive mastery of this art often do the "Bon-Bon" Kata.
:rolleyes:
 

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