Running a long-term, fruitful business is no simple task and martial arts schools, big or small, are certainly no exception. Masters who have a big passion for martial arts found most martial arts schools but there are not as many of these masters with an extensive business background.
With the right guidance and support, martial arts masters can learn what it takes to run a successful martial arts business. Business and marketing plans are essential, along with a solid digital marketing plan that leads to continual growth. Maintaining a significant presence online and doing business with integrity will build an excellent reputation for your school; something that will also help drive prospective students to your dojo.
A Solid Roadmap
Many who attempt to open a martial arts school for the first time underestimate the importance of a solid business plan and marketing plan. A well-thought-out and executed business plan can be the difference between your business making it past the two-year mark or barely scraping by. By working out your plan, you’ll know how you’re going to take your initial set of resources to a point in the future where your school’s resources and assets grow exponentially.
A good marketing plan is crucial for ensuring you’re getting the most out of your advertising dollars. This plan will break down the demographics around who your prospective students really are, how you will get them to join, and how to keep them coming back. You should be referring to the plan on a regular basis while, adjusting it as needed. It’s important to note that the more business savvy schools will realize that these are living documents; your original plan will need to adapt to many changes, from the evolution of local culture and changes in tax laws to the availability of new instructors.
Just like any good martial artist does in a fight, you always need to be thinking ahead. Consistent, long-term growth is the ultimate goal of a successful martial arts school; the rate at which you are gaining students needs to be exceeding your overall attrition rates. By doing whatever you can to help reduce student drop-off – while also optimizing your marketing that will help bring in new students – you can grow your school fairly quickly. Once it’s at full capacity, you can then think about opening a second location or even moving into a bigger one.
The way schools approach this kind of growth will differ, as not every school owner will want to grow to the point of opening more locations. While some expand to different cities and states or sell franchises, others want to build and sustain one quality environment with a close-knit team. Where they are similar is working towards reaching capacity, while continuing to delivery quality instruction.
These days, the marketing and communications focus for many martial arts schools is often in online marketing. With the decline of traditional forms of marketing, more and more successful small businesses are looking online to do the bulk of their advertising.
The best marketing plans now have an active, broad approach to online marketing. Generally speaking, digital marketing provides the best value and highest returns on investment, especially when utilizing a lot of the free tools out there like Twitter, Instagram and many aspects of Facebook. Remember to take advantage of platform analytics, so that you can create an effective quantitative analysis of your results, in order to better inform your marketing strategy.
The reputation of your martial arts school does volumes for your overall success in attracting new students. Building a good reputation starts at the core of your leadership team and your business. Well-run schools will realize that trying your best to improve your public perception isn’t always as effective as working to directly improve your school and your methods for running.
Doing business with integrity, teaching with care and passion, and providing high-quality classes are some of the things you need to do on a regular basis, in order to build an excellent reputation. Further boost this by communicating your values and your standards of excellence, through your events, digital marketing and other communications outlets, wherever appropriate.
Keep it True
We can’t forget the history of the martial arts we practice and our duty to pay respect to their foundations, especially the positive philosophical influence. Teaching from your heart and staying true to the principles and tenets of your martial art will keep your students disciplined and respectful, while also ensuring that your reputation with your community remains high. Leading by example is key; get your senior instructors and students on board, to uphold the traditional aspects of martial arts.
For more information on how to improve your digital marketing and ensure constant growth, check out this great webinar on how to master digital marketing for your dojo.
If you were to open a new martial arts school, which part of running a business do you think you’d need the most help with? Let us know on our Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Google+, to stay up to date with all of your ChampionsWay news.