....to studio owners

....to studio owners

Joined: May 31st, 2006, 4:12 pm

October 9th, 2007, 8:40 pm #1

I've read several post about how hard it is to run a sucessfull martial arts school. let alone a Kenpo School.

I just want to know how some of you studio owners actually managed to open up your own school. I'm talking about a nice commerical facility, have good equipment, mat, maybe a little pro-shop and most important a good solid student base.

Did you have to do a heavy amount of financial invenstment yourself initially and perhaps still are, like spending away your life savings, or did you get loans,donations, fundraising, outside investors?

I have many question because this is one of my goals. I know that several people started out teaching out of their homes, garages, etc. and I'm actually on the same boat. I actually converted part of my home into a martial arts school and i've got some pretty good complements on it, i busted my butt on it. I have several students, mostly kids from around the neighborhood and I seem to be doing well. I have a few adults coming as well.

Anyway, my thoughts were to start off small, you know. Which i have been doing and little by little, build up. Well, the problem that I have is that I don't have enough space to build up anymore. I pretty much topped my student base so that I don't overcrowd my area....and I just feel that i'm stuck.

So then i started to look at alternatives such as renting space at a community center, or dance studios...but had no luck. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places or doing something wrong....o simply not trying hard enough.

Every now and then I pass by other martial arts schools and see that they have nice facilities, ALOT of students in class and it's always packed. I ask myself, "HOW THE HECK DID THEY DO THAT?"..."how are they promoting"....but i've been too chicken to actually walk in there and talk to the head instructor.

Of course, i don't want to be a "MC DOJO" because I will not do a "buy a black belt program" you all should know what i mean, right?

any advice?

respectfully,

Maurice A. Gomez
Max Dojo American Kenpo Karate
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Joined: June 15th, 2005, 3:34 am

October 9th, 2007, 10:13 pm #2

They seem to be better at marketing and paying the bills than kenpo folk. I know of more than one senior who has emphasized that the sales route is necessary to keep the doors opened, and that you work the deep stuff with your best students after the main classes of hobbyists and soccer kids/moms have gone home.

Unfortunately, I never internalized this lesson. Opened and closed 3 studios cuz I wouldn't appeal to what worked from a business perspective. Kept saying "but I shouldn't have to do that". After some oldsters I highly respect basically just said, "why not? Says who?", it slowly dawned on me. But now I'm too damned broke to do anything about it. Maybe later, I'll be able to put the learning to use.

D.
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Joined: June 17th, 2006, 1:33 am

October 9th, 2007, 10:18 pm #3

those celebs Dave! Put a mystical, holistic twist on it and you'll be rollin' in it.

Or make video tapes.....

CT

but that's just my opinion I could be wrong.
Dennis Miller
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Joined: November 24th, 2004, 9:07 pm

October 10th, 2007, 1:47 am #4

I've read several post about how hard it is to run a sucessfull martial arts school. let alone a Kenpo School.

I just want to know how some of you studio owners actually managed to open up your own school. I'm talking about a nice commerical facility, have good equipment, mat, maybe a little pro-shop and most important a good solid student base.

Did you have to do a heavy amount of financial invenstment yourself initially and perhaps still are, like spending away your life savings, or did you get loans,donations, fundraising, outside investors?

I have many question because this is one of my goals. I know that several people started out teaching out of their homes, garages, etc. and I'm actually on the same boat. I actually converted part of my home into a martial arts school and i've got some pretty good complements on it, i busted my butt on it. I have several students, mostly kids from around the neighborhood and I seem to be doing well. I have a few adults coming as well.

Anyway, my thoughts were to start off small, you know. Which i have been doing and little by little, build up. Well, the problem that I have is that I don't have enough space to build up anymore. I pretty much topped my student base so that I don't overcrowd my area....and I just feel that i'm stuck.

So then i started to look at alternatives such as renting space at a community center, or dance studios...but had no luck. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places or doing something wrong....o simply not trying hard enough.

Every now and then I pass by other martial arts schools and see that they have nice facilities, ALOT of students in class and it's always packed. I ask myself, "HOW THE HECK DID THEY DO THAT?"..."how are they promoting"....but i've been too chicken to actually walk in there and talk to the head instructor.

Of course, i don't want to be a "MC DOJO" because I will not do a "buy a black belt program" you all should know what i mean, right?

any advice?

respectfully,

Maurice A. Gomez
Max Dojo American Kenpo Karate
The lion's share of kenpo schools, even if they've been in existence for many years, barely get by. There are exceptions, Mr. Bob White's school being one. Mr. White's key to success has been that his school is a highly reputable, now legendary, fighting school. If a kenpoist wants to learn how to fight, Mr. White is a top contender, along with the BKF and a few others.

Another well known key to success is to have a great kids program. There is no one in karate who does this better than Dawn Barnes because she expanded her kids program far beyond karate lessons. If you take 15 minutes to peruse her organization's web site, I think you'll find it instructive.

www.karatekids.net

Good luck!

tom bleecker
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Joined: September 22nd, 2007, 1:36 pm

October 10th, 2007, 2:57 am #5

I've read several post about how hard it is to run a sucessfull martial arts school. let alone a Kenpo School.

I just want to know how some of you studio owners actually managed to open up your own school. I'm talking about a nice commerical facility, have good equipment, mat, maybe a little pro-shop and most important a good solid student base.

Did you have to do a heavy amount of financial invenstment yourself initially and perhaps still are, like spending away your life savings, or did you get loans,donations, fundraising, outside investors?

I have many question because this is one of my goals. I know that several people started out teaching out of their homes, garages, etc. and I'm actually on the same boat. I actually converted part of my home into a martial arts school and i've got some pretty good complements on it, i busted my butt on it. I have several students, mostly kids from around the neighborhood and I seem to be doing well. I have a few adults coming as well.

Anyway, my thoughts were to start off small, you know. Which i have been doing and little by little, build up. Well, the problem that I have is that I don't have enough space to build up anymore. I pretty much topped my student base so that I don't overcrowd my area....and I just feel that i'm stuck.

So then i started to look at alternatives such as renting space at a community center, or dance studios...but had no luck. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places or doing something wrong....o simply not trying hard enough.

Every now and then I pass by other martial arts schools and see that they have nice facilities, ALOT of students in class and it's always packed. I ask myself, "HOW THE HECK DID THEY DO THAT?"..."how are they promoting"....but i've been too chicken to actually walk in there and talk to the head instructor.

Of course, i don't want to be a "MC DOJO" because I will not do a "buy a black belt program" you all should know what i mean, right?

any advice?

respectfully,

Maurice A. Gomez
Max Dojo American Kenpo Karate
I taught kenpo at a local kenpo school for 7 years. I developed my own style of teaching with the ultimate goal opening my own dojo. I ran every class and taught every student in this school and produced some excellent children and adult students. I really learned my way around the mat, but not the office. I opened my own school in 1998. I was very lucky with my location, I opened my 1600 sq/ft dojo in a sports dome. This was an indoor sports facility that had soccer fields, a baseball diamond, hockey rink and golf driving range. I was not under the dome like all of the other venues at the facility, I was in the main building leading to the dome, in my own room with glass doors and a big glass picture window looking out into the lobby and snack bar area. This was the perfect set up. Every person entering the dome walked right past my school, they couldn't miss it, and nearly everyone was instantly interested and intrigued by it. The rent was very cheap and I was able to establish a student base almost imediatly. Many of the girls who played indoor soccer had a brother who didn't, and they wanted to come to my school. Every boy who played baseball or hockey had a sister or brother who didn't, many of them ended up in my school. It was the perfect set up for parents,they could bring one kid to the dome for sport practices or games and also bring the other kids to karate, in the same building! The adult hockey players also loved it because in the evenings when they were there to play we would be banging on each other and sparring, I purposly tailored some of the work outs to impress the people walking by the windows, they couldn't help standing out there in the lobby watching us and wishing they could be punching each other too. The visibility was unbeleivable, many many people were exposed to the martial arts who never would have been if I were not there. Within one year I out grew the location, I think the dome operators were a little envious and even jealous at my rapid success at this location, I was inadvertantly kind of a parasite who gained everything from their existing clientel.
After the dome I moved to A commercial plaza in the busiest intersection in the city, a 2400 sq\ft school in a very high visibility and rather expensive location, the school was beutiful though. It was rough at first because of the overhead but I eventually maxed it out. I had a five year lease at that spot. One year ago I moved to my newest location, not in a strip plaza like my last school but in more of a commercial building. I built up my name and reputation in the area so now I can operate in a not so visible location. I am now in a 9000 sq\ft school, It is awesome, I have a great pro shop, sales are on the up, and a very large training area. I have rooms set aside for an after-school program which I hope to start up soon.
That is the progression and transformation of my school.
When I first opened the school I was a one man operation with the help of some good juniors and adults to assist. I used to do all of the office stuff, not very good though. My book keeping was aweful, and I would give away stuff any time I had the chance, (just the kind of guy I am) When I moved to my second location my girlfriend\wife started doing the office stuff and phone work. I thought I was good at selling the school over the phone but it seemed every person she talks to shows up and signs up, I don't know if I sound intimidating or something, I think moms like to talk to other moms, like her. That was a very good business move getting her in the office.
All along I have stayed true to the martial arts and hopefully that has helped my business, there are a few schools in my area that have more students than me but as far as I can see their students stink, I feel bad for them. Tae kwon do black belts (children) come to my school and can't even throw a proper side kick, They look like my white and yellow belts. Other kenpo schools are more concerned with fun and games than working hard to be good at something. As of now their numbers are declining and mine are rising. If anyone wants rank in my school they must learn the E.P. Kenpo material and test for it. My junior black belts know every technique and up through long form three. Long 4 gets them a junior 2nd black or adult senior black, American Kenpo International certified, depending on their age. All adults must learn the entire system up through black and long 4 to qualify for an American Kenpo International board test.
I keep the requirements and demand hard work, it pays off. I feel my kenpo technitions can go technique for technique with anyone. My competition team is one of the best on the tournament circuit, they work hard and have earned numerous state, national, overall, and triple crown KRANE titles as well as NASKA National champion titles.
My advice to you is to find a location similar to my sports dome experience. When you have a business that has already infultrated a market of young athletes and their families you can really feed off of them to aquire a quick student base, then the quality of your instruction and programs can carry you, (or drop you) from there.
This response was rather long, but I hope it helps.
You can check out my school and stuff at www.worldclasskenpo.com
Good luck, Dan D
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Joined: August 8th, 2004, 5:18 pm

October 10th, 2007, 2:52 pm #6

I own counterstrike kenpo karate in philadelphia. We have been open for over 10 years now, its amazing how fast it has gone by. It is not rocket science but much discipline is required.
I opened 10 years ago in a community center with 11 students. Used a community room ( 800 sq. ft) along with 3 other karate programs during the week. had a 60 - 40 split. they took care of the insurance and cleaning.

grew to 50 students and negotiated a lease and booted out the other programs. had exclusive rights to the room.

Grew to 80 students and moved into a 1300 sq ft facility in a gym. had mats -pro shop and a small office. real small.
Got with a consulting company for billing and advertising.

found successful mentors who had huge proffessional schools full time of course. do not take advice from anyone who does not make considerable more money and have a much higher student count than you.

grew to 160 and moved out of the gym into a 4000 sq ft facility this past march. with the help of my students who are like my extended family. we gutted the whole place and built up a beatiful facilty in a month. borrowed some money and had an investor.

we are now begining to grow again. I will be happy to discuss this with you on the phone....my typing is very slow and I have 2800 sq ft of matts to mop, lol

there are challenges though, staffing makes you want to tear your hair out. stress of bigger bills... but it is the ability to pursue your dreams when others doubt you that makes you a success. I have friends who doubted me. they hatre their jobs...i do karate for a living and love it.
215-677-5425
here are some quick tips.


Yes you do have to be marketable but you can do this without selling out or watering down curriculum.
Have a great curriculum delivery system. This is how the curriculum is portioned out over the journey from white to black.
Have short term goals built in along the way towards the long term goals.

advertise- direct mail-flyers-referrals etc

must have a great web site with content designed for the ADD web surfer looking for information

USP-Unique selling point-are you self defense oriented-sport oriented-fitness oriented what?

what makes you different

Have instructors who know how to teach people in a professional manner. It is not the karate stone ages-it is a service industry now. treat them well and have a clean dojo

being successful does not mean that you are a sell out.this is what most school owners say who cannot get past to 50 or 60 student mark to make excuses for themselves and their lack of income

Be honest and do not rip people off
Last edited by cstrike1 on October 10th, 2007, 2:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: May 31st, 2006, 4:12 pm

October 10th, 2007, 8:16 pm #7

I've read several post about how hard it is to run a sucessfull martial arts school. let alone a Kenpo School.

I just want to know how some of you studio owners actually managed to open up your own school. I'm talking about a nice commerical facility, have good equipment, mat, maybe a little pro-shop and most important a good solid student base.

Did you have to do a heavy amount of financial invenstment yourself initially and perhaps still are, like spending away your life savings, or did you get loans,donations, fundraising, outside investors?

I have many question because this is one of my goals. I know that several people started out teaching out of their homes, garages, etc. and I'm actually on the same boat. I actually converted part of my home into a martial arts school and i've got some pretty good complements on it, i busted my butt on it. I have several students, mostly kids from around the neighborhood and I seem to be doing well. I have a few adults coming as well.

Anyway, my thoughts were to start off small, you know. Which i have been doing and little by little, build up. Well, the problem that I have is that I don't have enough space to build up anymore. I pretty much topped my student base so that I don't overcrowd my area....and I just feel that i'm stuck.

So then i started to look at alternatives such as renting space at a community center, or dance studios...but had no luck. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places or doing something wrong....o simply not trying hard enough.

Every now and then I pass by other martial arts schools and see that they have nice facilities, ALOT of students in class and it's always packed. I ask myself, "HOW THE HECK DID THEY DO THAT?"..."how are they promoting"....but i've been too chicken to actually walk in there and talk to the head instructor.

Of course, i don't want to be a "MC DOJO" because I will not do a "buy a black belt program" you all should know what i mean, right?

any advice?

respectfully,

Maurice A. Gomez
Max Dojo American Kenpo Karate
for the wonderful responses, I really appreciate it. I will call those of you that left phone numbers shortly if you don't mind.

thanks again!

Full Salute,
Maurice A. Gomez Sr.
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Joined: September 17th, 2007, 5:06 pm

October 11th, 2007, 4:53 pm #8

I've read several post about how hard it is to run a sucessfull martial arts school. let alone a Kenpo School.

I just want to know how some of you studio owners actually managed to open up your own school. I'm talking about a nice commerical facility, have good equipment, mat, maybe a little pro-shop and most important a good solid student base.

Did you have to do a heavy amount of financial invenstment yourself initially and perhaps still are, like spending away your life savings, or did you get loans,donations, fundraising, outside investors?

I have many question because this is one of my goals. I know that several people started out teaching out of their homes, garages, etc. and I'm actually on the same boat. I actually converted part of my home into a martial arts school and i've got some pretty good complements on it, i busted my butt on it. I have several students, mostly kids from around the neighborhood and I seem to be doing well. I have a few adults coming as well.

Anyway, my thoughts were to start off small, you know. Which i have been doing and little by little, build up. Well, the problem that I have is that I don't have enough space to build up anymore. I pretty much topped my student base so that I don't overcrowd my area....and I just feel that i'm stuck.

So then i started to look at alternatives such as renting space at a community center, or dance studios...but had no luck. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places or doing something wrong....o simply not trying hard enough.

Every now and then I pass by other martial arts schools and see that they have nice facilities, ALOT of students in class and it's always packed. I ask myself, "HOW THE HECK DID THEY DO THAT?"..."how are they promoting"....but i've been too chicken to actually walk in there and talk to the head instructor.

Of course, i don't want to be a "MC DOJO" because I will not do a "buy a black belt program" you all should know what i mean, right?

any advice?

respectfully,

Maurice A. Gomez
Max Dojo American Kenpo Karate
Tips

In-order to expand the operations of a studio one has to make choices.

1) What is the purpose of the school?
2) What is it that you want out of your school?
3) What is the quality of the students that you want to represent you?
4) What marketing aspect do you employ?
5) What is the location?
6) What is the overhead necessary to cover expenses?
7) What incentives does the school provide to the students?

1) What is the purpose of the School?
The purpose is always to expand the art and to provide the public with a practical form of self-defense. One of three things must be considered also. (A) Does the school wish a commercial aspect to provide or supplement income? (B) Does the school support itself and only focus on training, taking modest donations. (C) Does the school have a business plan to get them where they wish to be?

2) What is it that you want out of your school?
Do you want your school to be one that provides many classes that require a full time commitment from you, or a part time hobby?

3) What is the quality of the students that you want to represent you?
If you focus on the commercial aspect at times you may have to accept students that wish only short commitments. Develop short term contracts say three months at a time. A lot of instructors are afraid to ask for this in advance. However this will ensure that they will come. If they don’t then you still cover your overhead. Offer a free month of lessons before you ask for the contract. Let them know prior to class that at the end of their free month you will be asking them to commit (this will remove any surprises)
I know some instructors will say but what about my time invested. One must show how much they will miss if they don’t commit, and PROVIDE GOOD INSTRUCTION DURING THIS TRIAL PERIOD.

If you focus on the non-commercial aspect then pick a handful of people to give your art to. Instruct many, but teach only a few. This will ensure that the art doesn’t get watered down.

4) What is your marketing aspect?
What type of advertising are you doing if any? Word of mouth doesn’t work well nor does the newspaper. You need to focus on areas that have young families and target that group.

5) What is the location of your school?
To keep overhead down we often teach out of our garages. I do this as well.
However if you want more students you need to be in a location that has visibility
6) What is the overhead need to cover expenses?
Overhead is a major issue, one must be prepared with 6 months of rent in the bank to cover the overhead. Also offer a special seminar every quarter to cover your tax load.
One quarter cover weapons like sticks, or knives.

7) What incentives does one offer the students?
Different programs will provide different clientele. I strongly recommend a cardio Kenpo aerobics class. This will open the school to mothers who wish to work out and learn some basic self-defense movement at the same time. Hire a young college girl who will conduct the class a few times a week. This will make the women fell more secure. Offer a kids night that will be a daycare kenpo party time and allow the parents to get out once a month without them.

Offer a free workshop to the public and get the media involved. This will be a great story and provide you exposure to the public for free. Make it a women and children’s basic self-defense day. You will need a place large enough so plan on it.

Children are a major money draw, make it fun, make it interesting, and make it affordable. The most import thing I can suggest is always provide the student with something new at each class. They need to feel that they don’t want to miss a class because of what they might miss in class.
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Joined: June 6th, 2004, 5:37 am

October 13th, 2007, 7:29 am #9

I've read several post about how hard it is to run a sucessfull martial arts school. let alone a Kenpo School.

I just want to know how some of you studio owners actually managed to open up your own school. I'm talking about a nice commerical facility, have good equipment, mat, maybe a little pro-shop and most important a good solid student base.

Did you have to do a heavy amount of financial invenstment yourself initially and perhaps still are, like spending away your life savings, or did you get loans,donations, fundraising, outside investors?

I have many question because this is one of my goals. I know that several people started out teaching out of their homes, garages, etc. and I'm actually on the same boat. I actually converted part of my home into a martial arts school and i've got some pretty good complements on it, i busted my butt on it. I have several students, mostly kids from around the neighborhood and I seem to be doing well. I have a few adults coming as well.

Anyway, my thoughts were to start off small, you know. Which i have been doing and little by little, build up. Well, the problem that I have is that I don't have enough space to build up anymore. I pretty much topped my student base so that I don't overcrowd my area....and I just feel that i'm stuck.

So then i started to look at alternatives such as renting space at a community center, or dance studios...but had no luck. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places or doing something wrong....o simply not trying hard enough.

Every now and then I pass by other martial arts schools and see that they have nice facilities, ALOT of students in class and it's always packed. I ask myself, "HOW THE HECK DID THEY DO THAT?"..."how are they promoting"....but i've been too chicken to actually walk in there and talk to the head instructor.

Of course, i don't want to be a "MC DOJO" because I will not do a "buy a black belt program" you all should know what i mean, right?

any advice?

respectfully,

Maurice A. Gomez
Max Dojo American Kenpo Karate
Maurice,
If anyone can do it, you would be "Da" man! We are all behind you, as well as beside you! Pretty cool about all the emails you have received, behind the scenes. Gives me a little hope about this website, yet!
See you Tuesday!

Jay
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