Here are some of our tips to help you open a successful martial arts school. Not many successful martial arts school owners do it for random reasons. Most school owners are in it not only to make a profit but more to explore their passion in martial arts, while having a business that is all about their ideals. When someone turns their passion into their profession , there are many things you have to be mindful of. Perhaps the most important part of opening a successful martial arts school is writing a solid martial arts business plan.
Check out this blog post on the key to writing a successful martial arts business plan. While most people write a business plan, not everyone writes a marketing plan. This is a big mistake! A martial arts marketing plan will make clear who your prospective students are, how you will get them to join, and how to keep them coming back. Various countries and organizations have tried over the years, from the Dai Nippon Butokukai back in Japan pre-war and post war trying to coordinate all Japanese martial arts.
That didn't work. There have been so many organizations over the years try and bring all martial artists together, but martial artists are as diverse as language groups and cultures. You know, it's like saying that everybody's the same.
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And they're not. The martial arts themselves are not homogenous. They're very diverse. People practice martial arts for different reasons. Some people want self-defense, or they think they do. Some want to get fit. Some for cultural reasons. Some do it because their friends do it. There's no one reason why people do martial arts.
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So, you know, we're not all covered by the sporting bodies, for example. We're not all covered by international organizations and bodies because of the politics that are associated with those. It's a hugely diverse industry. And that's one of its strengths but it's also its biggest weakness. What do you think are the first steps that need to happen? You know, most small businesses fail in the first five years. They fail 'cause they fail to plan.
You need to do a basic business plan.
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That basic business plan will ask the questions that you need to look at and address in relation to planning, zoning, insurance, accounting. Like, you know, what's the best business structure for you? Are you going to be a sole trader, are you going to be part of a club or an incorporated not-for-profit association? Are you going to be a company?
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Is a family trust required? You know, you need advice from experts in the martial arts and the martial arts business sector, like you do in any business sector. So I'd start with Google and a business plan. The business plan will set you on the right track for asking those questions. So let's just touch on advertising. And I actually want to, you mentioned Japan and I know you've done some extensive traveling there the last couple of months.
But let's talk about advertising because, you know, you mentioned that there's misleading advertising. And right now, at the time of recording this, there's a big shuffle on Facebook. A big change in structure in valuing more one-to-one interaction, valuing more local news. So there's a lot of changes happening. And the first thing that marketers always do is they shut. Do they? This is the end? And marketers destroy everything. It's normally marketing becoming easier and people pushing boundaries, doing advertising and just it's becoming too easy. And because it becomes too easy there's not enough control.
And, I mean, I've seen this over the years in different platforms.
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Google being number one, known as the Big Google Slap where everybody lost all their AdWords accounts. Search engines being slapped. I mean, it's just a trend. It's a trend of the platform gets popular, there are eyeballs. Too many advertisers come onto the platform, make silly errors, it devalues the actual platform. And because the platform gets devalued, peoples' eyeballs go elsewhere and they've got to protect what they obviously own.
Like with Facebook and such. So, I mean, that's the things I'm seeing like in what's relevant right now with advertising, is there's a big cleanup happening. And I would suspect that if a lot of school owners had to lose their Facebook accounts, which happens, ad accounts get suspended on a day-to-day basis, their business will go with it. Because that's their one lead generation source. So your take on advertising and being within the boundaries? To have all of your eggs in the Facebook market or the Facebook basket, so to speak, is a bit short sighted.
You need to have those other methods out there. You've still got things like referrals, signage, people just knowing where you are. You know, there's a lot of other methods. Some things don't work anymore. Yellow Pages, for example, doesn't work for us at all. Because we test and measure just about everything. Flyers in the letterbox don't work anymore.
Again, we know that because we test and measure. We used to do the first four weeks of every year we'd do 10, flyers a week around our local area and then watch the associated web hits go up as people type in the web address and looked at our website and everything. That just stopped. It's not like it dwindled. It's one year it worked, the next year it did not. Or the year after. So if we were putting all of our eggs in that particular basket, that would have been disastrous for us as an organization.
You've just got to be somewhat diversified while staying on trend for the more current ways that people shop and think. You know, maybe Instagram will work for you in your area. Maybe it won't. Maybe Facebook is good in your area. Maybe it's not. Maybe Google AdWords works better. Maybe you're in a country town and the newspaper advertising still works. You know, there's a lot of variables.
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You've got to know your own marketplace, your own client base and who comes to your school and who buys your services. A lot of people don't. They try and take a cookie-cutter approach. And, you know, for years everyone was buying their ads from organizations in America. MASuccess, those sorts of things. And one thing I found early on in the '90s was that if there's an American flag on a uniform in an ad, that ad doesn't work in Australia.
It might work in America but it doesn't work here. So you learn what your individual market requirements are and you've always got to be testing and measuring. I mean, we've seen that with the same franchise, same marketing, same everything. Two different locations, two different results. Everything the same.