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Kovar Systems
Student Retention

Quick Start to Get Students to Train Forever

By Dave Kovar

Some students are going to quit no matter how amazing your program is. Other students may never quit, no matter how much your program changes. The former is especially true during this time of year, when there may be conflicting activities for your students. The fact is the majority of students will stick with you for a long time, if you don’t give them a reason to choose another activity in place of their training.

Here are a few tips for life retention:

Be happy to see them - Everyone appreciates being appreciated. A simple, yet effective, way to practice this is to be happy to see your students when they come to class. Let them know you know they are there. Get your students thinking “I’m glad I came“ by letting them know they are important to you.

Encourage socialization – It’s important to get your students to be connected to your school beyond just their relationship with you. This is why it’s so important that you hold events that encourage socialization and camaraderie amongst your students and families. Some examples of this might be buddy nights, belt promotions, parent’s night out, self-defense clinics, potlucks, fun runs, and charity events to name a few. Remember, the stronger your students and families bond with each other, the longer they will train with you. 

Keep them challenged – One common reason for students quitting is that they get bored because they’re not getting challenged enough. Most everyone likes a challenge, and it’s up to us to keep our students hungry for the next belt, tip, competition, kicking combination or whatever else will make them eager to keep coming back. Try asking your students this question, “are you ready for a challenge?” and have them respond with “bring it on, sir!”  Watch what happens to the energy in the room when you do this. If you have any doubts this will quell them.

Hold them accountable – One of the most important things that you can do for your students is to get in the habit of asking them when they will be back to class again. You see, most students don’t quit because of one dramatic event. Most students simply lose interest over time. It’s important to remember that they are one really amazing, high-energy, dynamic class away from getting fired back up again. That’s why if they leave with a commitment to come back, even if they’re not fully excited about their training, they’re more likely to come back. And, that next class might be the one that gets your student back on track with enthusiasm and motivation

Be Flexible – It’s important for us to understand that people have lives outside of their martial arts school. It’s imperative that we make sure our schedule is flexible enough to accommodate our students’ busy schedules. Being flexible also refers to going out of your way to accommodate to the needs of your students, within reason of course. For example, if a student has a hard time making class, can you give them a brief make-up class once a month to keep them on track? If you keep a flexible mindset, and look for ways to accommodate your students, you’ll be amazed at the effect that can have on your retention. 

Give them feedback – Remember, feedback is the breakfast of champions. We all want to know how we’re doing. For many schools, this is a weak link. As instructors, we get so busy that we forget to take a moment to let our students know how they’re doing. Has Sarah nailed the new curriculum? Does Alex need a little help with his footwork? Give one-on-one feedback to your students about what they are doing well and on areas that they can improve. It’s amazing how a two minute conversation can keep students actively training at your school.

The reality is that there isn’t just one thing you can do that will guarantee your students will stick with you forever, but it’s a great goal to strive for. However, there are tons of things that you can do to stack the odds in favor of your student staying with you for a long time. If you can practice the six tips above, you will be amazed of the impact it will have on the retention for your school.


Keep Students Engaged - Keep Students Training Longer!

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by Dave Kovar