Sunday, May 19, 2013

What would you like to see posted?

What would you like help with?  Send an email to with your request.  If your question is picked to be featured, I'll include a link to your school's website!

How Much Should I Charge?

This is one of the most important questions you'll need to answer.  In order to figure this out, we'll need to look at a few things:

1. What is the income level of your target demographic?  Are you catering to the working class?  Is your target market upper class families?  Once you know this, you can get a good idea of how much disposable income they have and how much they spend on related goods and services.  If you don't have a good idea already, just ask!  Start asking people how much they spend on dance classes/gymnastics/music lessons/sports/art classes. etc  If you are trying to get the most profit, I suggest going for upper middle income bracket and pricing higher than your competition (more on this below)

2. Where are others pricing themselves? I have started a few programs in rec centers and other martial arts studios.  When they ask me how much I want to charge, or how much I want to be paid per hour, I ALWAYS counter with "I would like to be priced in line with other similar programs that you offer"  This will ensure that you aren't overcharging or selling yourself short.  If there is a range, I insist that I am placed at the high end of that range.

3. Here is a big one that is often overlooked in martial arts.. read closely now... The value you place on your classes is the value that others will place.  If you charge 50 bucks a month, people will value your classes as such.  If you charge $150, 200, or more per month, your customers will perceive a higher value.

4. Supply and demand.  If you get a chance, I highly recommend taking a basic economics course.  The short of it is, if there is more demand you can charge more.  If there is more supply, the price is driven down.  This can be looked at a lot of different ways - number of classes you teach, number of schools in the area, number of teachers you have, etc.

5. Teach FREE classes.  Especially in the beginning.  I use free classes to generate interest in my programs.  I often have had "feeder" programs for both youth and adults.  Also, teaching free classes in underprivileged areas comes with its own rewards.

6. Lastly, you can just do some simple math.  If you want to bring in 5,000 month and you are planning on teaching 50 students, you'll need to charge $100 per student!

Happy Pricing!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Great Response

So lately I've been getting a lot of emails from all of you.  I know I haven't posted anything in a long time but you have inspired me!  Keep an eye out for new posts coming soon!

Friday, February 5, 2010

How to select a location for your own space

This is the holy grail for a lot of people starting their own school.  Its a big benchmark.  You are going to be on the map now!  Its so exciting you can taste it!  This is also the thing that can crush your school and all your hard work that got you to this point.  Make sure you take your time and do it right.

First off, as I mentioned before, make sure your programs are all within close range (less than 5 miles driving) of where you want your space to be.  You should have a good idea of what part of town you want your space to be in before you even start teaching anywhere.  I've seen a successful school with over 100 students fail completely after they moved just across town.  They wanted to expand to a bigger space but when they moved, they lost almost their whole client base.

Next big thing, make sure you have plenty of money in the bank and plenty of students to support not only the expected expenses, but also your salary and also unexpected expenses.  Plan to be able to afford to lose some students in the move.  And if you don't have money in the bank for all the deposits and all the basic remodeling needs of the new space- DONT DO IT!  Trust me.  I've done it twice.  If you have gotten this far, then you are smart enough to figure out how to get the money you need.  Be patient.  Its worth it.  I won't even think about opening my own space again unless I have at least 10-50k in the bank and enough students to cover expenses plus my salary (even if its small to start) and extra for unexpected things.  Its just not worth it to me and it just isn't smart.  You will spend all of your energy just trying to stay afloat.  Money is the lifeblood of any business.  If you don't have cash on hand, your business won't have the fuel it needs to survive the first years which of course are the hardest.

OK. You have your plan and you have your cash- or will have it by the time you are ready to make the plunge.  Now what?  How do you qualify your potential spaces?  How do you know if a space is good for you or not?

1)Location Location Location- Can't stress this enough. Don't be tempted by that big cheap space that is hidden in a maze of side streets.  Trust me, you will make up the extra rent easily just in the extra number of students that will see your sign on a more busy street.
2)Curb appeal- Drive by your space during what will be your peak hours.  Is there parking? Is it well lit? Does it look nice?  If you have women and kids training, can you envision them being ok with coming to your space at night?  Martial arts teachers and hard core students will train anywhere but they don't pay the bills.
3)Inside remodeling-  How much work will you have to do to get your space looking good on the inside?
4)Price per square foot-  Is the space a good deal compared to others in the area? Shop around and don't be afraid to offer less than what the owner is asking.  Don't be afraid to walk away either.  The more emotion you can take out of moving into your own space at this point, the better for you.
5)Are there other complimentary businesses close by?  Schools, restaurants, bars, shopping, dance, gymnastics, other martial arts schools?  This will help with getting more traffic to your school.
6)Are you close to major roads or freeways?  Depending on your city it might be nice to be near a turnpike or a major throughway of a town.

You can add any number of factors depending on what exactly you want to offer at your school.  Again, the best thing is to plan ahead, have money in the bank, and be patient.  Your time will come.

If you have any specific questions feel free to email me or leave a comment on the post!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Basic Marketing Tips

"If you don't have a marketing plan, you just have a hobby"

I just heard a business consultant tell us this the other week. Its really true. You can be the best at your art, a super nice guy, great at keeping books, and have all the best intentions in the world.. and still fail miserably if you don't have a good marketing plan.

Look at McDonalds. Worst hamburger on the planet. But everyone knows them and they rake in the money. Why? Because among other things, they are always marketing and marketing well. Its unfortunate but true. So what can you do?

Before you do anything else, read some books and articles on basic marketing concepts. The basics go a long way. I'm going to assume you know the basics or are about to learn about them. These ideas I'm about to present aren't super advanced or anything so don't worry. Here are some things that have worked for me.

1)Google rank. Get a website and get your google rank up. Google rank is the importance that google puts on your site. The formula itself is complicated and secret. But it pretty much comes down to how many people clink and link to your site. When you have a higher rank, your site will appear higher on searches. Learn about SEO. "Search Engine Optimization" This will help your google rank a lot. My websites have always been my best marketing tool.
2)Web site. Make sure you are really getting the most out of your site. Does the feel of the site appeal to your target audience? Do you have call to action phrases with links to promotions or sign up pages? Is it easy to navigate? Does it look good? Making a good martial arts website really needs its own blog post.
3)Have a marketing budget. Take a percentage of your monthly revenue and always put it into marketing.
4)Marketing isn't just advertising. An ad is what you expect to see on TV or in a newspaper. Marketing is the whole plan. How are you presenting your service (your art)? What are the stages? What media outlets are you using? Just passing out a flyer isn't marketing.
5)Track your marketing. There are many ways to do this and this could really be its own post as well. Just make sure you know how many people are calling you or coming in from your marketing efforts. This is so you can know which ads to keep running and which to pull.
6)Be great at what you do, and be different from your competition. This is very important. People want to train with talented teachers. You don't have to be a Michael Jordan of your art but you should be constantly working on improving yourself. Students like to see that. At the same time, you need to find a way to differentiate yourself from your competition. Do you appeal to a female audience? Kids? Do you like to teach inner city kids while everyone else is in the burbs? Or vice versa? Do you give an amazing workout? Find your niche. People might really like one particular art but not really fit in at a particular school. I have gotten tons of kids in my 3 to 5 year old program simply because no one else in my city offered classes for kids that young. People drove literally an hour each way for a 45 minute class for their kids.

I'm a big fan of looking at what everyone else is doing, then doing the opposite. I like filling in the vacuums left by other schools. Its great business for me and its great for keeping a good relationship with other schools. Its great to see what other schools are doing right, but if they are all gung ho on college kids, no problem! Look to see about starting teen classes or family oriented classes. Or vice versa.