Subject: Fads, and Growing Your Dojo...


Every so often, someone will contact me and say something like, "Hey, have you seen what Master so-and-so is doing? What do you think about that?"

My answer is always the same. Avoid getting distracted by fads, and focus on what really matters to your business.

See, there's a new fad every five minutes in the martial arts industry. Right now it's doing weird crap with social media, and in another five minutes it'll be something else.

Not that you shouldn't be using social media to market your school - far from it. It's just I see a lot of school owners jumping on fads before they get a handle on the fundamental business basics that will do 80% of the work in growing their schools.

This is a perennial problem. Call it shiny object syndrome, self-destruction by self-distraction, or bird dog disease, but whatever you call it, it'll hurt your school.

For example, not too long ago I was working with a school owner who had seen business fall off drastically in his schools. He wanted my help getting his schools back to a healthy state, but he also wanted my help with showing him how to market products and services online.

He'd heard of some instructors who were making a lot of money selling informational products to the martial arts industry, and he wanted to cash in.

However, I told him that he needed to focus on his school and get his enrollment stable before distracting himself with side projects. It's not what he wanted to hear, but the last thing he needed was more distractions to take his focus off his schools, and especially at such a critical juncture.

I've had people criticize me in the past for teaching the same things over and over again, which has to be the silliest form of criticism I think I've ever received. That's like saying you're wrong for teaching the basics of your style over and over again to beginners, or that you're wrong for teaching your style in a systematic progression.

You know as well as I do that if you skip the basics, you'll never be good at any of it. Same thing goes for running a school. A lot of you are trying to start with the high-level stuff, instead of focusing on the foundational material that 80% of your success will be built upon:

Step #0 - Setting your school up to be profitable from day one. This means low overhead, period. Probably the one thing that most often tanks small businesses before they get off the ground is starting with a lot of debt and overhead. Avoid both like the plague.

Step #1 - Lead generation. Minimum 30 leads a month, generated from multiple sources, so if one source dries up (think "internet marketing changes every five minutes" here) you still have a dozen other lead sources bringing you new prospective students.

Step #2 - Sales. Learning how to turn those leads into students, consistently. Often a skipped step, which leads to school owners wasting a lot of marketing dollars.

Step #3 - Retention. Keeping students around for the long haul. This basically amounts to two things - promise fulfillment, and customer service. This is another step many school owners skip, which leads to stalled growth and a poor community reputation.

Step #4 - Staff and Leadership Training - To grow your school, grow your staff (and not necessarily in numbers).

Step #5 - Profit Maximization - This consists of financial efficiency + added profit centers. Most school owners start here by adding profit centers before they get their issues with the previous four steps fixed. This leads to all manner of problems, such as school identity crises, perpetual peaks and valleys in enrollment numbers, and unstable cash flow.

My advice to you when it comes to distractions is this - focus on getting a firm grasp on the above five areas, one at a time, in sequence, until your school hits one of two distinct milestones:
  • 150+ students for 12 months solid
  • +$10,000 net (take home) profit for 12 months solid
Hitting both those milestones is a pretty good indication that your school is healthy, stable, and humming along nicely. Which means that, at that point, you can afford to get distracted with silly internet fads and adding combat pole-dancing classes to your schedule (don't do that - the poles tend to get in the way when you want to practice kata).

Seriously though, focus on the basics until your dojo shows at least twelve months of prosperity and stability. Then you can move on to the high-level and microscopic stuff that will add another 1% or so to your bottom line.

But get the 80/20 stuff down first. Otherwise, you'll be passing up 80% of your potential income to chase a 1% increase in revenue for the rest of your career.

Until next time,

Mike Massie

Quick-start Guide to My Books and Resources:
- Looking for a list of books and resources I've written? Click here! 
- Starting a dojo? Wondering where to start? Click here...
- Looking for one-on-one coaching to grow your dojo? Click here...

P.S. - One other thing I should mention... It is to your benefit to recognize that, as a school owner, someone is always trying to sell something to you in this industry. And, rarely do new products and services come along that are so revolutionary as to be "must-haves" for school owners who are in the early to middle stages of growing their schools...
MD Marketing LLC, PO Box 682, Dripping Springs, Texas 78620, United States
You may unsubscribe or change your contact details at any time.