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What Every School Owner Needs to Know

By Dave Kovar

Do not let the lure of the latest gimmick distract you. Having success is not beyond you or so complicated that it is out of your reach.

Let me show you how we have built our own martial arts schools by using the following 9 principles...

9 Must Haves for a Successful Martial Arts School

Time flies. I can't believe that it has been over 40 years since I opened my first martial arts school. It was November of ’78 and I had been training for nearly 6 years. I had just graduated from high school, so I thought I knew everything. Generally speaking, being optimistic is a good thing, but sometimes blind ignorance can be good as well.

Looking back at it now, if I had any clue as to how much I didn't know, I may never have gotten started. So much of what I did for so long was total guesswork, complete trial and error. As a matter fact, it’s still a lot about guesswork and trial and error.

However, I have to say that after all these years, my team and I have really come to understand this business. The thing I’m really aware of now, the thing that’s probably most different than it was “back in the day” is you can’t just be really good any more. Everyone is really good now. Being a really good martial arts school operator is just the starting point.

If you want to be successful in the martial arts business, you have to be excellent! You have to know the business inside and out. You have to be a great teacher and of course, you probably ought to be a pretty good martial artist as well. Gone are the days when a mediocre school can thrive.

Here are 9 Things That All Successful Martial Arts Schools Must Have:

1 - Passion for What You Do

If you’re feeling burned out and you don’t have the same level of passion, find it. Being burned out is just a sign of losing sight of your vision. Yes, this IS a hard business. Yes, you DO have to work hard. Yes, you HAVE to stay motivated. Yes there IS a lot of stress that goes along with this job.

But honestly, what successful professional in any field doesn’t encounter these things? You can keep your passion strong by creating a clear vision of where you want your school to go and then visiting that vision often. You also might find it helpful to frequently read through those thank you notes you have from raving fans of your program. Finally, don’t forget to stay a student of the Martial Arts. That always helps keep your passion strong.

2 - A Strong Base of Knowledge for Every Aspect of the Business

The bottom line is... You’ve got to know your stuff. Without strong business practices, outstanding teaching skills, and high-level martial arts education, you are doomed to just survival and mediocrity.

3 - On-Going Education

You have to stay relevant. This industry is constantly changing. You don’t have to jump on the bandwagon for every new product that comes out. But you need to keep your eye on what’s going on. You need to be constantly “sharpening your saw.”

4 - Consistency

Sometimes we forget that success is not something that we “arrive at." It is an ongoing process. It is not a destination, it is a journey. If we are not careful, success can be fleeting. Past successes can be an excellent indicator of your potential, but you can’t live off of them for very long. Consistency is king.

5 - Ethical Business Practices

The only way to do good business is to do good business. Not only is having ethical business practices the right thing to do, but in this modern era, it is the surest way to success. Bad business practices will expose you quickly, just as good business practices will. The challenge for most people seems to be that good business practice takes longer. Cutting corners may seem like it helps in the short-term, but it will always cost you in the long-term.

6 - The “Likability” Factor

This might seem rather obvious, but it is important to remember that most people, if they have any choice in the matter, will not have an ongoing relationship with someone that they don't like.

7 - Trust

If you want people to do business with you, they have to trust you. They have to know that your word means something. This can only happen if it does mean something. Trust doesn’t happen overnight. It can take years to develop and it can be lost quickly if you try to cut corners. As Stephen Covey says, “You can’t talk yourself out of a situation you behaved yourself in to."

8 - Have a Great Team

Hire the right people. Train them right. Treat them right. Of all the things I am most proud of, my team would have to be at the top of my list. This is undoubtedly the “X” factor of a successful school. Do your best to surround yourself with great people.

9 - Cultivate a “Whatever It Takes" Attitude

Student service, student service, and student service. The modern Martial Arts school should be willing to do whatever- it- takes to keep their student body happy and engaged in their program.

I think we can agree on the above, in fact I would be willing to bet a number of the things mentioned are second nature for you. I can assure you that finding systems, procedures, protocols and the discipline that is necessary to have success is the difference between thriving and surviving. 

Martial Arts School Owners

Still need those business systems and coaching to grow a successful martial arts school? Join today or ask our team for a walkthrough of all of our resources and coaching that have helped many school owners reach success in the industry. 

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by Dave Kovar