Was: Cleaning Day, Now: A New Day

This is a strange post to be writing.

Initially, I was going to request everyone’s help next month to spruce up the school. I wanted to take a Saturday afternoon in the middle of May and do some painting, plant some flowers, etc. Here’s the email that I sent to the Senior Center.

Hi Judy,

Thank you for getting the floor cleaned so quickly last week. I don’t like to complain. The floor is usually bad after the weekend, but it was particularly awful that day. Continue reading “Was: Cleaning Day, Now: A New Day”

Two for One for Two

I neglected to post this earlier in the month. I might be persuaded to continue the offer if there is interest.

During the month of July two people can join Kuk Sool Won of Muncie for the price of one and keep that price for the next two months! That means a 50% savings for Back-To-School Time.

I suggest you schedule a time to come in for the three class Introductory Program, which is free of charge, and see if our school is a good fit for you. Then you can sign up, order your uniforms and really start learning the traditional Korean art of Kuk Sool!

T-Shirts

Found a really snazzy little project on Facebook today. I decided that we’re going to do it.

First, take a look at these links:

Get the idea? There are several ways that we could do this. We could all start with black t-shirts and see how we like them. Or we could go with colored t-shirts that match your belt color. We could also get (or make) tie-died t-shirts.

Anyway, we’ve had trouble getting momentum going on school t-shirts in the past, and I thought that this might be a very cool way to get things going.

I need someone willing to make stencils of the fist logo from contact paper. I’ll supply that logo and the materials, you bring the t-shirts and your design genius. I reserve editorial privilege (keep things clean), but for the most part you can do whatever you want.

Reply to this post with your ideas. Brainstorming can generate new ideas for everyone!

How much should martial art lessons cost?

The cost of tuition is an area of vigorous disagreement among martial artists and people paying for martial art classes all around the world. It would be safe to say that you probably think you know what I’m going to say here, but I doubt if you really do. Let’s dive right in and see, shall we?

To begin with, I collected the data for this graph in a decidedly unscientific manner. It comes from a question asked on my school’s Facebook page. Several months ago I asked the question that is the title of this post. The responses that I got were interesting. The top line is a response that was added by someone else and got 18 replies: Students should be able to pay on a “Per Class” basis. I set the other answers. (I’ve adjusted the answers just a bit from the original to include amounts that were added by others that were similar to those already set by me. I rounded their answers down when necessary.)

I suppose that with the state of the economy and all other things considered, it is not surprising that a lot of people value martial art classes so little. If I could set the price of gasoline, I’d set it lower than it is, despite the fact that I would have a very hard time functioning without it.

It is interesting to me though that none of the people who answered “$50 or Less” is my student.

So, at any rate, I don’t really have a problem with this “cheaper is better” mentality. Consumers will try to get the best bargain for their money. That makes sense. What I can’t understand is why martial art instructors value their knowledge, ability and classes so cheaply.

Consider: in the distant past; martial art schools were communes of a sort. Probably based on the concept of Buddhist temples, family styles were passed down from teachers to students who lived with their teachers and helped support them for some years. The number of students that a teacher had determined his wealth and probably said something about his personality and ability to teach.

As times have changed, the working model for martial art schools has changed as well. People have their lives to lead, and want to learn martial art as a form of fitness, recreation, spiritual pursuit, and almost always lastly as a self-defense system. Despite the differences from ancient times, after a very short period of training martial art students usually develop a sense of loyalty to their school and will do what they can to support it. Since spending time at the school cleaning, gardening and maintaining the grounds is not possible or even necessary, students usually pay a sum of money toward the maintenance of the school and the livelihood of the instructor.

Problems arise when people (both students and instructors) lose sight of what they are paying for. Are parents paying for “krotty” classes for junior? Or are they paying to ensure that the school will be there for as long as they want it to be? Which is a broader, more forward thinking approach? Which approach benefits more people?

I remember one time when I was younger, and my dad had a problem of some sort with an order at a restaurant. It wasn’t huge, but it was something that had happened more than once. The manager came out to talk to Dad and offered a discount on his meal. My dad replied, “I don’t want a discount. I want you to do better. Fix the problem so that it doesn’t happen again. I want you to be here when I want to eat here.” That, I think, is similar to the mentality that martial art students should have. They should want to pay enough for tuition that their school is around forever and doesn’t have to have their hand out, doing fund-raisers endlessly, and otherwise begging for money.

Unless they operate their school as a charity or ministry, martial art school owners are small business owners. Business owners forced to ask for donations just seems wrong. Would you contribute if your mechanic was taking donations for a new hydraulic lift or a new tool box? How about your local pizza place soliciting donations so they could buy a new oven? I have asked for donations in the past and always felt weird about it. I won’t do it again.

Again, students usually feel loyalty towards their schools, and do whatever they can to support them. This tendency of martial art students should be treasured and protected, not taken advantage of.

After I had done the survey mentioned above, I came up with the following choice of pricing options for my school. I also have a scholarship program for students unable to pay (or pay full price) for their program. Feel free to let me know what you think of the pricing or the blog in general.

Edited 6/5/2015

Tuition

Private Lessons: $65

One class per week: $65

Full Testing Fees

Two classes per week: $85

25% Discount on Testing Fees
25% Discount on Private Lessons

Unlimited Classes per week: $115

No Testing Fees
Free Private Lesson Monthly

Black Belts: $125

Free Private Lesson Monthly

Yearly Membership: $1199

Unlimited Classes
No Testing Fees
Free Private Lesson Monthly
Uniform Included
50% Discount for Additional Family Members

Testing Fees

Colored Belts: $40
50% Discount for Additional Family Members

Marketing

One of the jobs of a small business owner is marketing his (or her) business to the public. As with all skills, there are some people who have talent in this area and others that do not. Marketing is not an area in which I have, heretofore, exhibited apparent genius.

However, as with other skills, practice goes a long way toward making one proficient. Lots of exercise, if done correctly and under correct supervision can render incredible results, especially to the untrained individual. The better we become, the more skilled our practice has to become to show results.

Now, the way that marketing usually works is that a business owner conceives a plan and puts it into motion by paying other businesses to talk about (or advertise) his business. This is usually an expensive endeavor and a risky one. Money is paid with no guarantee of return. For instance, the money that I have spent on newspaper advertising lately has been largely wasted. Most people don’t read the newspaper any more. Few look in the phone book, and even fewer, the Yellow Pages. So, business owners are largely turning to online marketing and what is known as “Internal Marketing”.

Internal Marketing is using existing clients and customers to spread the word about a business. That’s what this post is about. I have spent a lot of money using traditional forms of advertising over the years, and none of it does anywhere near as well as word of mouth (a.k.a. Internal Marketing). When my students and their parents care enough about the school to mention it to their friends and families, other than being a HUGE compliment (which it definitely is,) it is good for the school. The more people talking about us and the work that we are doing, the more people will come to want to be a part of that. When this happens, it is sometimes called “Viral Marketing”. The ideas spread from person to person like a virus (but in a good way).

Now, I have very specific goals that I am setting for the growth of the school. My wife and kids have committed to helping me achieve these goals, and I would like the to see a similar commitment from my students. Not for my financial gain, but for the benefit of the school itself.  We don’t need a mansion in which to train. We don’t require luxury training facilities, showers, saunas, espresso machines, etc. What we need is plenty of room to train, ample training equipment, a safe surface on which to fall, separate changing rooms for men, women, and families, separate restrooms, a comfortable viewing area, adequate office space, and a safe parking area. If I had my druthers, I’d like natural light, the ability to allow natural ventilation, a sound system, a video projector, mirrors, a large whiteboard, plants, and a smokin’ hot receptionist. Preferably female.

Just like in society as a whole, when you do things to help your martial art school, YOU reap the benefits too. If every student made it a goal of theirs to bring a new student to the school every four to six months, the school would at least quadruple in size every year! Can you imagine what we could do with that many more students? In addition to saving money on Yellow Pages advertisements and Newspaper ads (which could go back into purchasing equipment for the school) we would have enough tuition income to pay for a large, dedicated facility with all of the amenities that would make martial art training a real pleasure.

So, I’m not going to gamble my money on External Marketing right now. I’m going to spend it on some very nice fliers (which I’m designing at this moment), and I’m going to spend it on my existing students. What I want to offer is one month free tuition for each new (paying) student that you refer to the school. (I do want to encourage more scholarship students, but this post is about making the school financially viable).

I would love to be in a new facility by Seminar Time (the end of June). We can make this happen, but it will take working together as a team, or maybe as a family. It would be very cool to have Kuk Sa Nim participate in a Ribbon Cutting/Grand Opening when he comes through on the Seminar Tour this summer. If you think so too, please help by spreading the word. Use email, Facebook, Twitter, SMS Text, or just plain old talking to people. In a couple of weeks I’ll have some nice fliers, and you can post them in your place of work, church, clubs, schools, neighborhoods, etc.

And if we don’t have enough students to hire a receptionist by then, it’s ok. I’ll get by.