How to Open Up a Martial Arts School Part 1

You’ve been training long enough in a martial arts style and have always had in the back of your mind that maybe one day you would open your own school and run a successful business.  You are passionate about teaching and training and as a result you are convinced the public will see this in you and flock to your school.  After all, you’re a better instructor than Master XYZ, who has a lousy reputation.

People throw around the term “McDojo” way too easily these days.  They view this as a school that is watered down and pandering to the public.  While this can be partially correct, but not always, there are certain things to keep note of.  These are successful business owners.  McDonalds (where the term McDojo originates from) is THE most successful restaurant in the world.  They have two things going that they do correctly.  Their food is tasty (never mind void of sustenance) and they have incredible marketing/advertising campaigns.  The food doesn’t have to be 5 star quality for people to want to buy it.  They just have to enjoy the experience of eating it.  They are also the first restaurant that comes to mind (for most people) when wanting fast food.  This is not by accident.  This is a model of consistency and innovation while keeping their identity.  McDonalds has never changed what it is at its core: a burger joint.

Martial arts schools that promote a clear message and deliver on their mission statement (every successful business has one of these) consistently will attract a parents that want their kids involved and adults that enjoy the experience.  Regardless of quality, all students are better having trained than not trained.  These students will never go to the school of blood, sweat, and tears.  The commercial school fills this niche.  Anyone can develop warrior skills but not everyone has what it takes to be a warrior.

There are many ways to open a school.  What type of school you want should be in correlation to the amount of risk you are willing to assume financially.  Everyone single martial arts instructor in the world has their “dream school” that they fantasize about.  Many might have had them for a time only to wind up in bankruptcy not too long afterwards.

The Park

This is the easiest place to get started with any martial arts class.  They are free to use and for the most part easy to find.

Pros:  Free!  Open space.  Built in marketing from onlookers and passer-bys.

Cons: Adherent to weather conditions. You are displaying your technique outside.  Limited growth potential in a United States market (typically you top out at 15 students).

Parks and Recreation

Parks and Rec programs are a great place to start a class when you have zero students.  All parks and rec departments have a listing of courses that they send out to all residents of the city they are located in (huge cities, not as much but still there is adverting).  A class that fills a niche can fill up quickly with students.  Kids programs are most successful in this type of venue.  Pay is modest but you have no worries on overhead or advertising.

Pros: No rent or advertising!  The city handles all you promotion and you start off with several to many students.  They city will also provide you with the proper equipment that is reasonable to the practice.

Cons: The city can cancel your class at anytime they choose.  You can’t start right away but rather have to wait until they next cycle of classes are available.  You are limited by what space is offered to you and the times you are given.

 

I’ll continue this post in a “Part 2” going over the other types of schools you can open with pros and cons.  Coming soon.

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