Taekwondo as a business?

dvcochran

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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.
Our instructors go through a certificate program each year before we start our summer programs. It includes a background. All have done this multiple times so it is something of a formality.

I agree it is something that should be mandated. Plus it reduces our insurance burden a little.
 

Gerry Seymour

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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.
That's a very different attitude than the US. People tend to trust a well-organized...well, organization...more than a solo person working on something. It leads to even solo businesses using the pronoun "we" to talk about themselves.

That's changing, though. There's less trust of larger corporations in some areas, more people seem to be looking toward the high-touch handling from small businesses. All of that might help the small dojos over time. At present, many more people want to sign up with a big fitness center, gym, etc., where they can get lost in the crowd.
 

Tez3

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That's a very different attitude than the US. People tend to trust a well-organized...well, organization...more than a solo person working on something. It leads to even solo businesses using the pronoun "we" to talk about themselves.

That's changing, though. There's less trust of larger corporations in some areas, more people seem to be looking toward the high-touch handling from small businesses. All of that might help the small dojos over time. At present, many more people want to sign up with a big fitness center, gym, etc., where they can get lost in the crowd.


Many years ago sport was a pastime, for mostly well off people so amateur sport was the norm, as in the Olympics, and considered 'the thing'. Where there was chance for a sportsman ( I'm using sportsman deliberately as rare were women offered a chance to earn at sport) to earn money they were looked down on. For example it was common for the aristocracy to have cricket matches. They either play other teams like themselves 'the gentlemen' or against professionals 'the players'. In rugby it was worse, rugby league players were almost always working class player who were paid, rugby union were amateurs, so much so that you would be thrown out of your union team if you dared be paid for playing any sport, if you went league you were excommunicated!
This attitude is slow in dying, amateurs nearly always are given more respect and we love the plucky and gallant loser. We also will always support the underdog rather than the big successful team, don't get me wrong, we like winning but the people we love best are not the winner but the tryers. Very martial arts don't you think?
 

Gerry Seymour

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Many years ago sport was a pastime, for mostly well off people so amateur sport was the norm, as in the Olympics, and considered 'the thing'. Where there was chance for a sportsman ( I'm using sportsman deliberately as rare were women offered a chance to earn at sport) to earn money they were looked down on. For example it was common for the aristocracy to have cricket matches. They either play other teams like themselves 'the gentlemen' or against professionals 'the players'. In rugby it was worse, rugby league players were almost always working class player who were paid, rugby union were amateurs, so much so that you would be thrown out of your union team if you dared be paid for playing any sport, if you went league you were excommunicated!
This attitude is slow in dying, amateurs nearly always are given more respect and we love the plucky and gallant loser. We also will always support the underdog rather than the big successful team, don't get me wrong, we like winning but the people we love best are not the winner but the tryers. Very martial arts don't you think?
I can see that being a natural progression from the long history of aristocracy. America, being a blend of so many cultures (even early on, it was French, Spanish, German, etc.), and perhaps influenced by the hands-on needs of the early immigrants (the pilgrims, etc.), perhaps had a chance to shed some of that class separation...though we by no means shed all of it, nor even the majority of it, I think.
 

Tez3

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I can see that being a natural progression from the long history of aristocracy. America, being a blend of so many cultures (even early on, it was French, Spanish, German, etc.), and perhaps influenced by the hands-on needs of the early immigrants (the pilgrims, etc.), perhaps had a chance to shed some of that class separation...though we by no means shed all of it, nor even the majority of it, I think.


Ah but the upper class aren't all aristocrats. Old families here go back to the Norman Conquest ( 1066 CE) and don't necessary have titles, we have people who have titles they received just a couple of years ago and are by no means aristocrats but just people with titles, often working class people. They will always be working class even if they are in the House of Lords. Class here isn't about how much money one has, you can be very poor and still upper class if you come from the right family. For example and this is NOT a political comment, your President, a very rich man, would never be upper class here because his parents weren't nor their parents, his ancestors won't be considered upper class either. Kit Harrington, the actor who plays Jon Snow in GoT is upper class because his family is a very old upper class family, his wife Rose Leslie however is an aristocrat. Charles Dance, despite his accent is working class. Hugh Laurie is upper middle class as is Damian Lewis, Tom Hiddleston and Emma Watson. I would be regarded as middle class however being Jewish I'm not actually included in the British class system!
 
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gorilla2

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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.
That is a revenue source for us...
 
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gorilla2

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Thanks everyone for all of the great comments...
 

Tez3

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Our instructors go through a certificate program each year before we start our summer programs. It includes a background. All have done this multiple times so it is something of a formality.

I agree it is something that should be mandated. Plus it reduces our insurance burden a little.


All after school clubs, kindergartens, nurseries and child minders have to be inspected and pass government certification as well as have official police checks.
Sports clubs don't have to have the DBS ( police checks) but won't get far if they don't as parents now expect them and won't put their children into anything that doesn't use them. The martial arts associations here which most clubs get their insurance from, even the unaligned ones stylewise, have child protection policies in place. It a good protection for instructors and club owners, it covers all sorts of situations and what to do. It helps instructors be confident there's little they can't cope with outside of martial arts such as a child abused by adults, bullying etc. They know where to report to, when and how. Sadly something that's needed these days.

It's very worth while if you teach children to have a safeguarding policy for children, even if it's not mandated by your authorities either 'governmental' or from your style association. This is the one from Sport England, the national body for sport here, most clubs follow this and have their own safeguarding policy too.
Sport England Safeguarding Code - Martial Arts: Log in to the site
 

Gerry Seymour

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Thanks everyone for all of the great comments...
I, for one, would be interested in hearing any results that come out of these ponderings. If you make some change, or decide not to, would you come back and update this thread and let us know about the experience, and how it turned out?
 

WaterGal

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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!

It's possible to make a decent living running a martial arts school. If you're in a very poor area, that may be a difficult prospect, though. In that case, you might do better by reorganizing as a non-profit and seeking grant money instead. I knew someone who ran his school as a non-profit in a lower-income area and supported his family that way, though I'm not sure of all the details of how that worked. Moving to an area with better-off families is another option, like you suggest. You'll probably lose most of your existing students, but if they're paying you peanuts anyway, that probably won't significantly affect the financial well-being of the school.
 

Flying Crane

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It's possible to make a decent living running a martial arts school. If you're in a very poor area, that may be a difficult prospect, though. In that case, you might do better by reorganizing as a non-profit and seeking grant money instead. I knew someone who ran his school as a non-profit in a lower-income area and supported his family that way, though I'm not sure of all the details of how that worked. Moving to an area with better-off families is another option, like you suggest. You'll probably lose most of your existing students, but if they're paying you peanuts anyway, that probably won't significantly affect the financial well-being of the school.
It does kind of suck though, if youve got some dedicated students who have been loyal for some time, to just tell them see ya because of the money. Maybe some arrangement could be made for them, might get complicated. Its part of why I generally feel that martial arts ought to be separated from business. Thats my opinion.

I get it, some people feel that making a business out of it lets them offer consistency and be dedicated to it. It can go both ways. But the business aspect definitely has a down side in terms of the teaching.
 

dvcochran

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It does kind of suck though, if youve got some dedicated students who have been loyal for some time, to just tell them see ya because of the money. Maybe some arrangement could be made for them, might get complicated. Its part of why I generally feel that martial arts ought to be separated from business. Thats my opinion.

I get it, some people feel that making a business out of it lets them offer consistency and be dedicated to it. It can go both ways. But the business aspect definitely has a down side in terms of the teaching.

Sorry Crane, but I just read this.
If you have debt for your brick & mortar school/garage/gym space/park space, whatever your MA teaching project is held in, and it generates bills, how to you separate the two? That said, the quality and purity of your teaching never goes past the business office wall nor vice/versa. Best case scenario is when the teachers have nothing to do with billing and payments. This is written very early on in our student manuals. I only remember someone trying it on rare occasions. Usually a parent.

I honestly don't which scenario is worse: someone who already works a fulltime or part time job opening a school with debt & bills who gets in a financial bind and starts making ethical sacrifices in their business/teaching to stay afloat or the full time owners who are truly only in it for the money. It gets hard for me to get on board with MA franchises, regardless of style. I think the line is more often crossed with them and MA quality goes down, especially if they have made up their own style or system such that they have no accountability.
I commend people who want to take a few people in and teach them for free. I think that speaks to traditionalism in some styles.
 

WaterGal

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I honestly don't which scenario is worse: someone who already works a fulltime or part time job opening a school with debt & bills who gets in a financial bind and starts making ethical sacrifices in their business/teaching to stay afloat or the full time owners who are truly only in it for the money.

Why would you assume that someone who's teaching martial arts full time is only in it for the money?
 

dvcochran

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Why would you assume that someone who's teaching martial arts full time is only in it for the money?
I certainly did not mean to imply ALL full time schools are unethically in it for the money. Although money is the driving component for staying in business if you have debt/bills. That said, the "in it for the money" inference has different meaning.
I believe the much larger majority are the totally legit full time schools. Using my analogy, I believe the full time (or part time for that matter)school who knowing goes into it with unethical intent is the much worse of the two.
 

Balrog

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What are your thoughts on a TKD Dojang as a business that can bring a decent return on investment!
It's very doable. I strongly recommend getting a mentor, someone who runs a successful school (preferably in your style) and then pick their brain. I just got back from the ATA World Championships and I did a LOT of business training there. This old dog learned a lot about social media marketing, etc., and these seminars are taught by people who run one or more schools with over 100 students in them.

You might look at Stephen Oliver. In addition to running successful schools, he does m. a. consulting. Very worth taking a look at.
 

Bruce7

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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.

Your post is right on the money.

Tiger Rock is a real money maker, located in an area where parents have money and care about their children's development.
Parents will be glad to pay for a program that children enjoy and develops disciple, a belt system that makes you money and gives the children a sense of achievement earn or not. It is a cool physical activity and if they learn Taekwondo that is just a bonus.
Kids is where the money is at.
 

J. Pickard

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Haven't read all the comments yet to know what others have said but here is my (recent) experience:
The school I train in and now own was established 30 years ago. The original owner (my head instructor) ran it purely as a hobby and worked a separate full time job. It was never run as a business, no advertising, no special kids game nights, just pure martial arts and about 20-30 students at any given time. He retired and in 2019 was going to shut down the school so his wife and him could enjoy retirement, it didn't make sense to keep running it when what money was brought in barely covered rent. Instead of letting the school close I bought it from him. I began running it as a full time business in early 2020 (covid definitely made that a slow crawl) and now we are seeing tremendous growth just from advertising to our targeted demographic and from showing that we are a no frills school with no hidden costs. I started to actually get a regular paycheck from the school in late 2020 and we are continuing to see growth. We don't do pizza nights, we don't do after school daycare disguised as "karate", no special exclusive master's class, just no-nonsense martial arts. Taekwondo can be a great business if you do it right, and if you are okay with running it more like a daycare, youth recreational type thing with little actual martial arts you can be even more successful.
 

skribs

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Taekwondo can be a great business, but the truth is that most folks dont care about martial arts.
There are at least a dozen BJJ schools within a 30-minute drive of my house. At least half a dozen TKD schools. Plus a bunch of other martial arts (karate, hapkido, etc). I don't think these schools would stay in business if there wasn't a market for it.

My last TKD school did 0 advertising and we had enough people signing up every week that we had to implement a waiting list.
 

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