Taekwondo as a business?

gorilla2

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My family has been heavily involved in running a TKD school for years my daughter is part owner and instructor and my wife is the business manager. It has been a labor of love because we make no money from it personally. The original owner and GM has been Ill over the last several years and it has fallen on us to do a lot of the work. The school stays afloat because everybody is a volunteer. The location of the school is in an impoverished area and we help the community so we get that satisfaction but most of the families in our area cant afford martial arts lessons. I have considered moving the school into another location putting some advertising $ into the business. I know I could make $ but the amount of work based on return is very poor compared to other businesses that I could invest my money in. This prohibits me from doing it. What are your thoughts on a TKD Dojang as a business that can bring a decent return on investment!
 

Gerry Seymour

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I think to make it a really profitable business, you have to open the model up and serve what more people want. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but tends to require things many instructors don't want to get into (because they're not really related to the MA or its teaching) - things like birthday parties, events for kids, teaching more kids than adults, having a well-stocked pro shop, etc. I haven't seen anyone manage real profit without taking that approach.

I'd love to be wrong about that. I'd actually like part of my retirement plan to be a small, steady income from a MA school. I just don't think that's possible without something like full-time work, dealing with things that don't really inspire me.
 

jobo

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I think to make it a really profitable business, you have to open the model up and serve what more people want. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but tends to require things many instructors don't want to get into (because they're not really related to the MA or its teaching) - things like birthday parties, events for kids, teaching more kids than adults, having a well-stocked pro shop, etc. I haven't seen anyone manage real profit without taking that approach.

I'd love to be wrong about that. I'd actually like part of my retirement plan to be a small, steady income from a MA school. I just don't think that's possible without something like full-time work, dealing with things that don't really inspire me.
yes agree, you need to sell what people want to buy, you have a space, you need to fill that space with paying customers, doing what those customers want to do,

so more of a fitness studio, that also does TKD seems a reasonable business plan, do step aerobics or yoga, boxercise dance , what ever is currently in vogue, to fill that space for as much of the none TKD time as possible.

theres a string of gyms opening in the UK, that do just that, they get a un used commercial space, bang a few running machines, a lot of crossfit body weight type stuff, teach dance and boxing or TKD or what have you and sell it all very cheaply by gym standards, they seem to be doing very well, judging by the crowds I see as I walk by what used to be a small supermarket
 

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yes agree, you need to sell what people want to buy, you have a space, you need to fill that space with paying customers, doing what those customers want to do,

so more of a fitness studio, that also does TKD seems a reasonable business plan, do step aerobics or yoga, boxercise dance , what ever is currently in vogue, to fill that space for as much of the none TKD time as possible.

theres a string of gyms opening in the UK, that do just that, they get a un used commercial space, bang a few running machines, a lot of crossfit body weight type stuff, teach dance and boxing or TKD or what have you and sell it all very cheaply by gym standards, they seem to be doing very well, judging by the crowds I see as I walk by what used to be a small supermarket
This is kind of what I've considered if I were to open a school. Offer fitness classes instead of kids' classes. Focus on stuff that takes little equipment (kettlebells, dumbbells, bands, etc.) to reduce the investment and space needed. Let someone rent space for yoga classes, that sort of thing. There's enough overlap between MA enthusiasts and fitness enthusiasts (regardless of how well they do at it) that some folks would attend multiple areas of classes.
 

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My family has been heavily involved in running a TKD school for years my daughter is part owner and instructor and my wife is the business manager. It has been a labor of love because we make no money from it personally. The original owner and GM has been Ill over the last several years and it has fallen on us to do a lot of the work. The school stays afloat because everybody is a volunteer. The location of the school is in an impoverished area and we help the community so we get that satisfaction but most of the families in our area cant afford martial arts lessons. I have considered moving the school into another location putting some advertising $ into the business. I know I could make $ but the amount of work based on return is very poor compared to other businesses that I could invest my money in. This prohibits me from doing it. What are your thoughts on a TKD Dojang as a business that can bring a decent return on investment!

I've heard "if you want to make a small fortune in martial arts, start with a large fortune and open up a dojang."

I will echo what has been said - if you want to make a living, kids are your target demographic. My dojang has around 150-200 students, and probably 80% or more of them are kids. That's where the bulk of our tuition dues comes from. Teaching kids is very different from teaching adults. The curriculum needs to be more structured, and the classes more regimented, but you also have to do some things that are fun to keep them interested (our kids classes are maybe 75% Taekwondo, and 25% games like ducking games or obstacle courses).

Other differences between the classes are things like:
  • Behavior expectations - you want to push kids towards the right attitude, it's something they're still learning
  • Level of autonomy - in the adult class we can say "here's a technique, go drill it." The kids will do it once and think they got it, so you have to exercise more control over the class and count the drills for them.
  • Citizenship program - my Master encourages the kids to do things like eat healthy, limit their time on video games and TV, be respectful in school and work hard for good grades, and to listen to their parents and do chores. He has different rewards systems where he will keep track of their progress and then at certain intervals they may get a special uniform or another benefit.

The most important thing is...would this be fun for you? It might not be the most profitable compared to another business, but if its one you have fun with, that can be part of what's worth it. I've spent a ton of money on different hobbies, and if I could actually make a profit on those hobbies, that would be even better. If it's not something you want as a full-time job, especially if you're not sure about working with kids - then maybe join a school and teach there, or rent some space for a couple hours a week and teach just enough people to pay back the rent.
 

CB Jones

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We have a friend that has a profitable dojo.

It has a fitness club attached to it.

Also he has an after school program for kids. They do homework and have a snack first and then activities until 5-5;30.

Karate classes start at 5:30.

They also have a pro shop selling Gear, T-shirts, decals, and vending machines with snacks and drinks.

The fitness club, after school program, and pro shop is where he makes the bulk of his money.
 

dvcochran

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If you have the opportunity, buy more building with additional space that you can rent out and reduce or eliminate your Dojang's primary overhead. This is the approach that worked for me. The opportunity presented itself and I purchased a small strip mall. After about three years everything coming in from our Dojang was profit. It worked so well I done it twice. We also do most of the additional things @CB Jones mentioned, filling as much time and space as possible when we are not using it. Our kids program is not as comprehensive except in our summer programs where they are a full day program running for 5 weeks. We do this twice in the summer months. We have drink machines but no snacks. Too messy.
We also do quite a lot of work with our DHS and other services which are augmented in most instances.
 
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gorilla2

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Thanks everyone for the comments...we have got a lot of personal satisfaction out of helping people via the school and Martial Arts...we will keep this school open as long as is able to stay a float and turn a small profit...the area in which it is located is not a good place for a business any longer...I am a business man and I currently run a large business in my real life...my daughter the head instructor at the Martial Arts school and is a real estate agent and is doing quite well...at some point we may have to close the school and we will be sad...someday because the area is deteriorating the only option will be to move and that will cost $...but for now we will keep our labor of love open and support the community...
 

Tez3

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theres a string of gyms opening in the UK, that do just that, they get a un used commercial space, bang a few running machines, a lot of crossfit body weight type stuff, teach dance and boxing or TKD or what have you and sell it all very cheaply by gym standards, they seem to be doing very well, judging by the crowds I see as I walk by what used to be a small supermarket


Often too they will rent out slots for 'named' businesses like Zumba and Tumbletots so don't actually have to provide instructors themselves. They seem very workable and many work with a business here who uses an app so people can just pay for a gym session wherever they are. Paying gyms fees monthly or yearly seems to be becoming less common and pay as you train seems to be coming in more.

We can't go down the afterschool club route here, they have to be regulated which is a very good idea, trained staff with no criminal records, content of activities checked etc.
 
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gorilla2

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Often too they will rent out slots for 'named' businesses like Zumba and Tumbletots so don't actually have to provide instructors themselves. They seem very workable and many work with a business here who uses an app so people can just pay for a gym session wherever they are. Paying gyms fees monthly or yearly seems to be becoming less common and pay as you train seems to be coming in more.

We can't go down the afterschool club route here, they have to be regulated which is a very good idea, trained staff with no criminal records, content of activities checked etc.
we have rented the school out to Zumba and Kung Fu..:that helps a little...
 

Tez3

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Most martial arts/boxing/MMA gyms and clubs here in the UK are 'not for profit' as are most sports clubs. Very few own properties and either work out of leisure centres, gyms, village and church halls as well as some school's gyms in the evenings and weekends. Some long established boxing gyms do have gyms of their own they've rented or even managed to buy but it's not the usual thing here. A lot of our leisure centres are also council owned ie by the local people.
 

Gerry Seymour

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If you have the opportunity, buy more building with additional space that you can rent out and reduce or eliminate your Dojang's primary overhead. This is the approach that worked for me. The opportunity presented itself and I purchased a small strip mall. After about three years everything coming in from our Dojang was profit. It worked so well I done it twice. We also do most of the additional things @CB Jones mentioned, filling as much time and space as possible when we are not using it. Our kids program is not as comprehensive except in our summer programs where they are a full day program running for 5 weeks. We do this twice in the summer months. We have drink machines but no snacks. Too messy.
We also do quite a lot of work with our DHS and other services which are augmented in most instances.
Renting out part of the space is a great idea. My first instructor did that. He bought a duplex building, and rented out the smaller side (about 40% of the building). I think he actually covered the primary cost of the building with that rental. Since he started classes at 5, and the business (a hair salon for most of the time I recall) closed at 5, there was plenty of parking for both, without needing a large parking area.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Thanks everyone for the comments...we have got a lot of personal satisfaction out of helping people via the school and Martial Arts...we will keep this school open as long as is able to stay a float and turn a small profit...the area in which it is located is not a good place for a business any longer...I am a business man and I currently run a large business in my real life...my daughter the head instructor at the Martial Arts school and is a real estate agent and is doing quite well...at some point we may have to close the school and we will be sad...someday because the area is deteriorating the only option will be to move and that will cost $...but for now we will keep our labor of love open and support the community...
Something to consider with the school's location is how to move it. If you were to just up and move, you'd likely lose a large number of students, unless the move is very close by (which might not solve the location issue). If a better location exists within a reasonable distance (that distance varies by location and transportation, but probably within a 10-minute drive), it might be possible to move in stages, by opening classes at the new location and maintaining some at the old location. Start having events at the new location, to get students to visit it, so it doesn't seem so...well, new. An overlap of a few months might help reduce the number of students who don't make the migration.

On the positive side, my primary instructor did move locations. The school had changed hands twice (my first instructor, to his senior local student, to my eventual primary instructor), and had moved to the other side of the building. That side was too small, and the location wasn't really all that good for getting kids to join, any more. So he bought some land and built a much nicer school a few miles away - maybe a 4-5 minute drive. He lost very few students in the move, because we were mostly just excited about he new school we'd have.

(Oh, and if you do ever shift locations, make sure the new place has enough storage space. That is a pretty common miss I've seen in dojos.)
 

Gerry Seymour

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Often too they will rent out slots for 'named' businesses like Zumba and Tumbletots so don't actually have to provide instructors themselves. They seem very workable and many work with a business here who uses an app so people can just pay for a gym session wherever they are. Paying gyms fees monthly or yearly seems to be becoming less common and pay as you train seems to be coming in more.

We can't go down the afterschool club route here, they have to be regulated which is a very good idea, trained staff with no criminal records, content of activities checked etc.
That's a good point - because of the difference in regulations there, the model I don't want to have doesn't even exist. I need to pay more attention to those businesses - they're forced to do what I'd prefer to do, anyway.

Which app is commonly used there for those class payments? I think MindBody does that here, and maybe Active (though that might only be for events). I hadn't really thought about how that might fit in.
 

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Which app is commonly used there for those class payments?


'Hussle' and 'Puregym' are two I've seen advertised. It seems too there's quite a few gyms who now offer 'pay as you go'. I assume it's financial viable, don't know a lot about it. My local gym is council run and the other gym here is a joint Ministry of Defence and Nuffield Health (a not for profit health charity) venture. It can be used by military and civilians. We don't have anything else for miles.
 

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'Hussle' and 'Puregym' are two I've seen advertised. It seems too there's quite a few gyms who now offer 'pay as you go'. I assume it's financial viable, don't know a lot about it. My local gym is council run and the other gym here is a joint Ministry of Defence and Nuffield Health (a not for profit health charity) venture. It can be used by military and civilians. We don't have anything else for miles.
yes pure gym was the one I was thinking of, its considerably cheaper than the supposedly subsidized council gym
 

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'Hussle' and 'Puregym' are two I've seen advertised. It seems too there's quite a few gyms who now offer 'pay as you go'. I assume it's financial viable, don't know a lot about it. My local gym is council run and the other gym here is a joint Ministry of Defence and Nuffield Health (a not for profit health charity) venture. It can be used by military and civilians. We don't have anything else for miles.
Pay as you go is unusual around here, in my experience, but probably more viable as apps make it easy for out-of-towners to find places that accept it. I actually did my classes on a pay-per-class basis for a long time, and offered the monthly payment as a way to reduce their cost. Where I am now, I can't offer it - we might look into it at some time, but right now, I'm using their standard pricing. But back to the point, I think there's room for it. At the old school, we had a "mat fee", which was the cost for a visitor to play for the day. I pay it when I go back now.
 

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Also, hosting tournaments can be a source of revenue.

I was told by a friend it usually takes 60-70 competitors to break even and everything after that is profit. Typically tournaments will have 100-150 competitors plus spectator fees, plus concessions puts you making anywhere between 3k-7k for the day.

That especially helps alot of the smaller dojos stay in the black.
 
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Tez3

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Pay as you go is unusual around here, in my experience, but probably more viable as apps make it easy for out-of-towners to find places that accept it. I actually did my classes on a pay-per-class basis for a long time, and offered the monthly payment as a way to reduce their cost. Where I am now, I can't offer it - we might look into it at some time, but right now, I'm using their standard pricing. But back to the point, I think there's room for it. At the old school, we had a "mat fee", which was the cost for a visitor to play for the day. I pay it when I go back now.


Martial arts classes are quite often pay by class here, as are a lot of activities. It goes with our amateur status, in that we aren't usually for profit. We don't tend to have contracts either or any sort of marketing companies involved. British people tend not to like slick organisations they consider them dodgy, we still really like amateur things, professionals being regarded even in 2019 as somewhat not quite proper.
 

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Renting out part of the space is a great idea. My first instructor did that. He bought a duplex building, and rented out the smaller side (about 40% of the building). I think he actually covered the primary cost of the building with that rental. Since he started classes at 5, and the business (a hair salon for most of the time I recall) closed at 5, there was plenty of parking for both, without needing a large parking area.
One of our rentals is a salon. Next to it is a pizza joint. Our parking lot is attached to a very large parking lot adjacent to a Walmart so we are fortunate with ample parking.
 
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