An easy way to get parents and siblings of our current students to start training is asking. However, there are a few tactics you could use before you ask to make sure they say yes. Before I share some of the strategies that I use I would like to share a story with you that helped me change my mindset with regards to this.
In the quest to conquer my fears, I decided skydiving, flying an airplane, and a ropes course were must’s. After tackling the first two, it seemed a ropes course would be a walk in the park. However, as I’m standing at the base of a tree making my way up the 30 ft. ladder I feel myself begin to sweat, my hands gripping the ladder tighter and tighter each step I take. I’m about 10 ft. from the top and I freeze. I can’t hear the instructor, I can’t hear the people on the ground cheering me on, everything goes quiet. I notice my legs are starting to shake and I think to myself “I can’t do this; I should just go back down.” NO. Running from fear is not an option. I clenched my teeth, took a deep breath and pushed my way up the ladder. I hooked myself in the first stage, and once I was off and running the rest of the course was a breeze.
I share this story because it made me realize many people when trying martial arts for the first time feel exactly the way I did when I was 10 ft. from the top. They have a fear that freezes them in their tracks. We take for granted how hard it is to step on the mat for the first time because we do it every day, multiple times per day. Because people fear failure and looking silly, they will avoid anything they think would do that, i.e. Martial Arts training. So the real question is how do you get people to get past that initial fear?
For me, rapport is the single best tool you have to get existing parents and siblings to overcome that fear and train. By talking with family members every time you see them and learning about them, they’ll begin to trust that you will keep them safe from looking silly or failing. Please understand that before I implemented any of the following ideas I worked hard at developing a strong rapport with all my families.
- Give the parents and sibling opportunities to be on the mat without obligation. Have them high five students at the end of a line. Include them in the game at the end of class. Have them hold pads for students.
- Offer self-defense classes. May is moms train free month for us, so do a women’s self-defense seminar. June is dads train free month, so try offering a weapons disarm seminar.
- Do a parent’s buddy day where the students bring mom or dad to join them in class as their buddy for the day.
Depending on the rapport you have with them, you can start asking them to train. I will always conclude a group seminar by offering a month free of training plus a uniform for anyone that would like to start now. If I’ve built rapport, I will ask someone who I know wants to train to join me at the front of the group. “Brad, here’s your FREE uniform, is Monday going to be your first class?” Brad almost can’t say no. Once I get his commitment I ask, “Who wants to join Brad on Monday?”
Usually when I am speaking with a parent or sibling I ask them what they like to do? Yoga, dance, soccer, Zumba. A good question is always “What do you like to do to stay physically active?” Following up with “What can I offer to get you to try martial arts?” this forces them to think about it. Then I might follow up with “How about a FREE uniform? How about a FREE t-shirt? What if I even give you a FREE month?” If I get that person to say yes, I put a uniform in their lap ask them what day they are coming in and immediately ask the parent sitting next to them if they want the same deal. Then I put a schedule of classes in their hand and start highlighting times they can come in. Again, none of this can happen unless you or someone in your school is learning about the families and building that rapport.
In the meantime, I hope you tackle your own fears and try something new to better understand your audience. Good Luck.
Today’s blog is authored by one of our Success Coaches, Shihan Chad Shepherd. Shihan Shepherd has been training for over 20 years and teaches as the head instructor at our Roseville location.
For more tactics and effective techniques in acquiring more new students for your martial arts school, please be sure to download our free ebook "Rethinking New Student Acquisition." Click here to download.