Profit & Loss Statements: What Every Business Owner Should Know

As an owner or manager of a business I’m sure you have heard of Profit and Loss (also known as P & L). But do you know what it is and understand its components?

It”s important to understand in order for you to talk knowledgeably with your managers, bankers, tax advisors, and investors. In this article, I”ll show an example of a P & L Statement and explain what the terms mean.

A Profit and Loss Statement or Income Statement is one of the documents that show the financial condition of a company. Other documents include a Balance Sheet, Cash Flow Statement, and the Statement of Retained Earnings.

Here is an example of a P & L and an explanation of each item:

ABC Example Company, Inc.

Profit and Loss Statement
For the Year Ended December 31, 2011

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The first section of the Profit and Loss Statement is the heading which shows the name of the company and the period of time for which the statement relates. Every Profit and Loss Statement is for a specified period of time. It is usually for one year but could be a week, month, quarter, or any other time period.

The first line of the P & L, after the heading, is Sales, or Gross Revenue. This is all the money reported for sales of products and services. The term gross is used in business to mean that the item is shown prior to deducting certain expenses.After expenses are deducted, the term used is Net.

Next are Discounts and Returns which must be subtracted from the sales to arrive at Net Revenue. On occasion, you will see these first three lines shown as one line which would read as Revenue Net of Discounts and Returns.

After that comes the Cost of Sales. These are costs which can be directly traced to the products or services sold. Examples of such costs are the purchase costs of items sold, labor associated with making the products or providing the service, and sales commissions.


Net Revenue Less Cost of Sales arrives at Gross Profit or sometimes called Gross Income.

Again, it is called gross because there are still some expenses that must be deducted to show the net profit or net income. Those expenses are called the Operating Expenses. These are the expenses that cannot be directly traced to the products or services sold. Occasionally you will hear these costs be referred to as Overhead Costs. Examples of operating expenses are owner and management salaries, marketing costs, utilities and the like.

After the operating expenses are deducted, we arrive at *EBITDA. This is an acronym for Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. EBITDA is a key indicator for companies that have a large amount of debt and/or property, plant, and equipment (fixed assets). This line shows the bankers and creditors how much money is available to run the business going forward. EBITDA is sometimes referred to as operational cash flow. This is generally not a line that you would see on the P & L of a small company with little debt or fixed assets.

Interest and taxes are self-explanatory. Depreciation is the term used to spread the cost of fixed assets over a period of several years. For example, a building is purchased for $500,000. Rather than showing this cash outflow as an expense in year one, the building would be placed on the balance sheet as a fixed asset and depreciated over say 30 years. So the depreciation expense that you would see on the Profit and Loss Statement would be 1/30th of $500,000, or $16,667.

Amortization is a similar term used to account for items over a period of time greater than one year. It usually refers to loans.

After interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization are deducted, we arrive at the last line which is called Net Income. This is sometimes called the bottom line. We started with Sales, which is the top rung of the company ladder, and as we deducted certain items, we descended the ladder to arrive at the bottom rung or bottom line.

I hope this brief explanation of a Profit and Loss statement helps you in all your future discussions regarding your business’s profitability.

Of course, should you have any questions, feel free to contact me at mconnor@membersolutions.com.

About the author: Michael Connor is the Director of Finance for Member Solutions. He is responsible for the financial reporting and budgeting process for Member Solutions as well as overseeing all cash flow and managing banking relations.

Opening Another Business Location? Consider This First

Client Question: I’m thinking of opening another location. What are the most important considerations to keep in mind before taking this big step?

Before taking this step, Martial Arts business owners must take a very serious look at their operations. They must ask themselves if the first location is built around them or if it’s built around systems. If the answer is that it is built around them, then I would suggest making some changes before opening another location … otherwise, the level of stress and burden does not simply double, it goes up exponentially. Additionally, if the business is built around “you”, it is kind of difficult to be in two places at once and you will either end up with one location failing or possibly both!

In order for Martial Arts school owners to make the jump from one to multiple locations, everything must function as a business … and a “successful location” does not mean it functions as a “business.” Let’s look at this a bit further …

FIRST THINGS FIRST

Michael Gerber, in his book, E-Myth Revisited, does an excellent job of describing how many people build themselves a job but not a business. I highly recommend this book to everyone considering multiple locations. If you are unsure of the answer to the question about your business being built around you or around systems, then I will simply ask you this … Can you leave your business right now and have everything still operate essentially the same with you not there for a day, a week, a month?The answer to this question (if you are honest with yourself) will tell you where you are.

Some may say, “Well, I would need another instructor or sales person if I wasn’t there” … and that’s fine … so if I put another instructor there, would your operations continue? Or do operations rely on the position being filled by you? If it relies on you, then it’s not a system, it’s your job, but there is hope … you can start today and build systems so you can step away or even promote yourself out of being tied down to the business. This opens up a tremendous opportunity for growth much like franchises do for their franchisees.

I am in a position where I can answer this question with an absolute “YES, I can step away and leave.” In fact, as I update this article, I am sitting under a cabana in Mexico with my wife and friends about 10 ft. from the pool and maybe 50 yards from the ocean. I say this not to brag, but as evidence or proof that it is possible – because, at one time, I was one of the WORST offenders of micromanaging and having the attitude of “I have to do it all because I can do it better”. Back then I was chained to my business and limited myself in many ways. Some may then point out that I”m working in Mexico, but that”s just because I enjoy it, not because I have to … and meanwhile all of my businesses are running, making money and growing.

A common trait among martial arts business owners is that we are passionate and willing to work very hard and long hours. This is both a strength and eventually a weakness. One of the reasons most owners work so many hours is because they know they can do things best (like I mentioned that I used to do). They do not delegate tasks for fear that others will not do it as well as they do, and they have so many things to do that they cannot afford to take the time to effectively train other staff. This is an ongoing problem that leads to burnout and frustration for many. Years ago I realized and accepted the fact that even though someone I train may not be able to accomplish as much as I do, eventually we can accomplish much more as a team.

Think of the math.If you have five staff members each accomplishing 80% of what you could do, that is still 5 X 80% = 400% of what you could do by yourself.

This is the mentality we need to take to move from being “achievers” to “leaders” in our businesses and is a must to move towards the goal of multiple locations.

I mention all of the above first in answering this question because far too many people in every business field (not just martial arts) have taken the step to open a second location and it has turned into stepping on a land mine rather than taking the step towards “doubling their profits,” which is what most people believe will happen.

In the majority of these cases, the likely cause of the problems was the fact that the business was too dependent on the owner or one key person, and systems were not in place to help others be successful in executing the business operations. Essentially it was a personality based business. Though personality is important, if you base your entire business on this, you are not building an asset you can sell. You are also not building a system to duplicate because we allow ourselves to overcome the shortcomings of our business through our own individual skills and relationships.

If as an owner, you can honestly say that your martial arts school is built on systems and that you could walk out on your staff and the school would still operate effectively, then we can move on to the next step in consideration of a second location.

This is not usually the case, especially for those out on their own. More often schools who work with an organization or a franchise have additional support for this, but in every case, an honest assessment here can save a school owner piles of money and grief from making a bad decision before they are ready by letting them know there is more preparation to be done.

In my next post, I’ll cover additional benefits and necessary planning steps to opening a new location. Until then, take a hard look at your business and honestly answer the question:

Is your business built around you or is it built around systems?

About the author: Jeff Dousharm began his martial arts training over 22 years ago with Senior Grand Master Bert Kollars, one of the founders of Tiger Rock Martial Arts International. He’s a 7th Degree Black Belt and a certified instructor in different programs ranging from Taekwondo to CDT. He currently operates seven Tiger Rock Academies in Nebraska and Florida, www.tigerrockmarialarts.com.

Jeff also owns several companies outside of the martial arts field including Tomorrow”s Online Marketing (websites, SEO and online marketing), Paradigm Impact Group (speakers, professional development and business consulting), J. Victorian Development (commercial properties), Point Blank Tactical Safety and Firearms Training, and a few other startup companies being launched in 2012. He can be reached at JDousharm@windstream.net or Jeff@paradigmimpactgroup.com

Planning & Preparation Tips for Opening Another Business Location

Question: I”m thinking of opening another location. What are the most important considerations to keep in mind before taking this big step?

In my previous post, I recommended taking a long hard look at your business ― well before taking the plunge to open a second business location.

After your self-assessment, if you can honestly answer that your business is built on systems ― that your business would function efficiently and effectively without you being there — then, in my opinion, you are ready to seriously consider opening a second business place. In this post, I’ll cover some of themust-have elements to successful expansion and the benefits of running a multi-location business.

Based on historical information, owners opening another business location must lay out a very detailed business plan

I sit on a board of directors for CDR (Community Development Resources) and for the SBA … and I am still shocked at how many small businesses apply for a loan and do NOT have a business plan. The same is true with most martial arts schools and fitness businesses … they have an idea but not a true business plan. Some put together detailed class plans and curriculum, but then leave the business to chance. You can still have a profitable (though not maximized) operation in this way, but it will definitely be built around you, not the system or a plan, and this can be even more dangerous as it leads to false assumptions and beliefs.

As part of the business plan, the owners must carefully consider the actual budget.

A unique benefit to opening multiple locations in a surrounding area is the concept of cost sharing. For example, two locations that are somewhat close to one another can share:

• Advertising expenses
• Operational staff expenses (some duties can be handled by the same staff for both locations)
• Event and seminar expenses
• Insurance expenses
• Inventory expenses
• Legal expenses
• Accounting expenses
• And more

Of course, some of these areas depend on the actual ownership and business structure so be sure to check with your CPA and attorney in planning this process.

If the locations are not in a close proximity to share some of these expenses, the second location can still benefit from the historical data and records of the first in the business plan. Additionally, the first location can serve as a source for more staff, instructors, and support for the second location. Take advantage of what you know from your first location to provide for a very realistic and accurate plan for your new facility and location. The more planning and preparation that goes into the second location, the greater your chances of success will be.

The final area I will mention is the idea of capital. Though there are some cost savings in shared expenses and efficiencies we have developed through experience (also known as making costly mistakes in our past), we all get the idea that we will be able to do our next location “cheaper.” This is good in theory, but it rarely happens.

We need to be sure we have enough capital up front to really make things happen.

Lease space, utilities, build-out, advertising costs and other expenses are always on the rise. These areas offset many of the savings.

I opened my first part-time club in 1994 and my first full-time “school” in 1997. The cost comparison to my more recent openings or moving facilities to new locations is an increase of about 3-5 TIMES the amount it cost before! Then consider the potential cost of employee turnover which generally has a greater risk of occurrence with multiple locations.

Ask yourself what roles must be filled to make that new location fully functional. If you put a key person into a role at the new facility and that person quits, do you have a contingency plan? These can be alarmingly large costs of doing business, so I would generally recommend that once you figure your capital needs to make the second location happen, double it, or at least raise it by 50% because experience in multiple industries shows that this is generally the reality. This is not a negative thing, but rather a positive because when you are fully prepared for a new location and have the capital you need, you can fire off the marketing campaigns you need and do the things necessary to make it successful versus cutting corners and hoping that you somehow make it.

In summary, plan for the worst, budget for the worst, realize you will not likely be doubling your profits, and then get ready for a lot of work to make your next location a real success story.

I say these things not to be “Mr. Doom and Gloom,” but mainly because I know that when you prepare properly, you come out the other end a lot better off and can avoid stepping on the land mines that destroy all the hard work we have put in to get to where we are now.

Some people imagine becoming Black Belts and that when they are Black Belts they will be able to fight off one, and maybe even multiple attackers and never even get hit! Reality says that in a fight you are going to get hit, and it’s those of us who are prepared to deal with the hits and keep fighting who make it through. Business is much the same way. We are all going to take hits, we just need to be prepared and train our people to win whether it’s a fight or a sale or the grand opening of your next location!

One of my favorite quotes I will leave you with is from Rocky:

“The world ain”t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain”t how hard you hit; it”s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That”s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you”re worth, then go out and get what you’2013-10-17 18:50:44’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain”t where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain”t you. You”re better than that!”

Rocky Balboa Speaking to his son in Rocky Balboa (2006)


About the author: Jeff Dousharm began his martial arts training over 22 years ago with Senior Grand Master Bert Kollars, one of the founders of Tiger Rock Martial Arts International. He’s a 7th Degree Black Belt and a certified instructor in different programs ranging from Taekwondo to CDT. He currently operates seven Tiger Rock Academies in Nebraska and Florida, www.tigerrockmarialarts.com.

Jeff is also a member of the Member Solutions Business Advisory Team and owns several companies outside of the martial arts field including: Tomorrow”s Online Marketing (websites, SEO and online marketing), Paradigm Impact Group (speakers, professional development and business consulting), J. Victorian Development (commercial properties), Point Blank Tactical Safety and Firearms Training, and a few other startup companies being launched in 2012. He can be reached at JDousharm@windstream.net or Jeff@paradigmimpactgroup.com

Buying an Existing Martial Arts School or Fitness Business? 8 Tips to Hit the Ground Running

Are you considering buying an existing martial arts School or fitness facility? It’s essential that you cross all your T’s and dot your I’s prior to pulling the trigger.

Here are eight tips for you to consider so you can hit the ground running.

1) Get comfortable regarding the reason that the seller is selling.

Retirement would be a great reason as they would want the school (and their reputation) to have continued future success. Other reasons that the seller may disclose are: family issues, change in profession, focusing their time on another school location or the like.

Rarely, if ever, would a seller tell you that they are selling because they are losing money. Take every reason they give you with a grain of salt and remember that if everything were peaches and cream then they would most likely not be selling. Be very wary of a seller that has only owned the business for a short while.

2) Insist that the seller signs a non-compete agreement, no matter what reason they give for selling the business.

The non-compete prohibits them from owning, working for, or forming any alliance with another gym or Martial Arts school for an agreed-upon time and geographic region.

3) Be sure to perform due diligence on the business location.

It’s been said many times, but cannot be stressed enough, that location is one of the most critical components of success for a business. Get comfortable that there is adequate traffic flow, adequate parking, and access to potential members. Also consider the physical safety of members at your new location, as safety is a top priority.

4) Meet with a reliable commercial real estate agent.

Discuss the future happenings of the business community that may positively or negatively affect your location.

5) Get professional help.

Hire a CPA to review the tax returns of the business for the previous several years. You want to see years of steady, reliable cash flow. If you see losses for reasons other than a high salary for the owner, then you need to honestly ask yourself how you will turn the business around.

Have the CPA work with a commercial real estate broker in putting together the offer price on the business. The first offer should be a lowball offer. It’s easy to increase future offers but very difficult to lower future offers unless you find deficiencies during due diligence. The CPA should also assist you in getting proper licensing and tax identification numbers for both federal and state.

6) Hire an attorney

Have an attorney review any past, present, or pending lawsuits regarding the business and associated property, as well as to prepare all related paperwork regarding the purchase. If you know the seller on a personal basis, then one of these professionals should do the negotiating for you.

7) Be clear on your expectations.

There are several questions that you need to address prior to owning your own facility. How many hours per week will it take to successfully run this business? Is that more or less than the hours you’re currently working and are you (and your family) comfortable with those hours? Do you expect to make a profit in the first year? What will it take in terms of hours worked or losses incurred that would cause you to pull the plug and either close or sell the business? Doing a little self-reflection and honestly answering such questions will assist you in future decisions and help keep your family relations intact.

8) Analyze your personnel skills.

Are you a Martial Artist with a burning desire to own your own school or are you a business manager? They are not one and the same. The quality of the staff at your facility will be critical and dependent upon proper personnel management, delegation, training, and correction. If you do not have these skills then you will need to hire a business manager that does.

Make Direct Mail a Part of Your Back-to-School Marketing

"Back to School" chalkboard on desk with school supplies

I’m a huge fan of using direct mail to market my martial arts studio. Being just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, I’ve always had to find creative, low-cost alternatives for my marketing. My overhead historically has been high, so a costly marketing plan has never been an option for me.

When I first started to use direct mail as part of my marketing plan, I did everything wrong and wasted a lot of money. The difference between then and now is that I have a strategy. My ads work, my list is hot, and it’s coupled with an email.

Think of your marketing plan like your fighting plan. When you first started, you closed your eyes and just went in swinging. As your martial arts skills developed, you became a smarter and more strategic fighter. You picked your shots wisely and with laser-point precision. In the end, you were less tired, less beat up, and more victorious.

Thinking through your marketing plan is extremely important. It will take some time to execute properly, but the results will be worth it. Here’s what to consider.

1) Mail to a Good List of Prospects

The first step of having a successful campaign is to keep a good list of prospects. If you are just starting out, purchasing a list is always an option. However, if you can create a list of people who have visited your school through special events or have taken part in something you’ve offered, you will find that your results in turning them into students will be much higher.

2) Create a Professional-Looking Advertisement

Once you have your list in place, it’s time for your advertisement. I create my own because, over the years, I’ve become pretty good at graphic design and making my ads more specific to our offerings. If you aren’t at this point yet, Get Students has some really nice, professional-looking cards that will help you get started.

3) Keep in Mind You Have to Pay for Postage, Too

Regardless of what you use, there are some important tips to remember with direct mail. First, you need to understand that in addition to the cost of printing the cards, you’ll also have to pay for postage. A postcard stamp is cheaper at $0.34, but if you mail 5,000, you’re still looking at $1,700 in postage. It still may be worth the cost, but I personally try to keep my budget lower and more focused on the hot leads I mentioned above.

4) Consider a Bulk Mailing Service

What’s worked best for me is to create oversized postcards and mail them through a bulk mailing service. Standard rate postage is much cheaper—the only drawback is that it will take a couple weeks for your pieces to be delivered. With a little planning, it’s worth the money you’ll be saving versus mailing first class. Plus, you don’t have to be the one putting the labels and stamps on each card.

5) Present an Attractive Offer

I’m getting ready now to start my mailing for the Back-to-School rush. My postcards are set to hit 500 mailboxes on or around August 29th. The 2nd set of 500 will be delivered to the same prospects two weeks later on or around September 15th. We’re offering a $100 discount on enrollment if they sign up prior to September 30th.

6) Include a Call-to-Action and Testimonials

It’s very important to have a call-to-action, or CTA, on your postcards. If you don’t have an expiration date, there is no sense of urgency for them to call you now. Figure out what type of promotion works for your school and make your offer. Always include a testimonial from a happy student or parent. Testimonials are worth their weight in gold when it comes to marketing your school.

7) Send Emails Between Mailings

In addition to the postcards being delivered, send emails to the prospects between mailings. This helps with reminding them that you are the one extending an offer.

8) Look at Your Return on Investment

Lastly, always review your return on investment prior to spending any money on marketing. My direct mail campaign will cost me roughly $700 from start to finish. One student who signs up from the efforts will bring in $2,600 for the year. I’m confident I’ll get more than just one new student from this campaign, but regardless what that actual number is, I think it’s a pretty good gamble.

If anyone has questions about direct mail marketing at your school, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m happy to help.

About the author: Steve Giroux has been training in the martial arts for 30 years and is a 7th Degree Black Belt in Chun Kuk Do. In 1999, he graduated from Bentley College with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accountancy with a minor concentration in Law. After founding his studio in January of 1999, Steve has successfully grown revenues over the years after starting at only $7,000 in his first year. You can contact Steve via email at Steve@GirouxBrosMartialArts.com

Fitness Boot Camp – Brick & Mortar vs. Dirt & Grass

Tire jumping during outdoor fitness boot camp event

Let’s have a look at two completely different scenarios.

Scenario one:

You have been running a boot camp outside for the summer and have built up a fantastic group of regulars. However, now that the colder weather is here, not many clients are participating. The indoor boot camp is looking more and more promising. But is it really the way to go?

Scenario two:

You have an indoor boot camp with a room of raving fans that love your energy and everything seems great…until the first of each month when you write that huge check to the landlord. Monthly rent and sunny weather makes the outdoor boot camp look more promising. But again, is it really?

The explosion of boot camps has created a debate among participants and instructors as to which is best: the indoor or outdoor. Both have strong arguments that we will explore to help you make this decision. Remember, there is no right or wrong choice here: only what is best for your fitness business and the target demographic you want.

This is, and always should be, why you make your decision. We will look at 4 key factors that your fitness business will need to consider when making this important decision.

Fitness Boot Camp Factor 1: Cost to Operate

The first thought here is that an outdoor boot camp should win hands down. However, that is not always the case.You will need to do some research here before you make this decision for your fitness business. Many cities and regions require permits to use park or field spaces for commercial purposes. These fees can be high in some areas. Where I live, it is $20 per class. If you are running the usual 4-6 classes a day, then that is $90.00-$120.00 per day fee.

A 1,000 sq. /ft. space is typically $2,500-$3,500 per month. That comes out to $85-$115 per day. You would also need power and utilities for the indoor space, but the outdoor space requires a van or truck for transport. The huge savings may not be there. Another factor is that outdoor fitness boot camps require additional insurance coverage in most states and provinces, so please check this out before you start.

Overall winner: If no park fees are required, outdoor boot camps will win; otherwise it is a tie.

Fitness Boot Camp Factor 2: Climate

This is one that indoor fitness enthusiasts will champion because of not wanting to work out in the snow and excessive heat. However, I know some people that have successful boot camps in harshly cold and hot climates. The catch is that these classes are specialized. This gives them a unique demographic that is not weather dependent. If you are running an indoor space, you need temperature and air quality control. Climate control can add to the cost of the space per month, but it will keep the gym smelling better and the temperature where it is comfortable for the masses.

Overall winner: Since the masses are what most of us market to, indoor wins.

Fitness Boot Camp Factor 3: Atmosphere

Outdoor camps always have nature on its side. This could be beaches, mountains, beautiful parks, or wooded forests. All have the fresh air and natural stimulus that people love. Indoors has music and multiple tailored or branded surroundings. You can logo walls, keep it a brick or garage feeling, or soften it for a specific demographic. While indoors, you can have access to facilities like bathrooms and showers. Easy access to these staple facilities gives you a powerful argument for the indoors.

Outdoors will build a better connection to getting your people active outside of the boot camps, and this may build long-term success for your campers that some forget to take into consideration.

Overall winner: I am going to call this a tie as I think that both offer many pros and too few cons to make it a deciding factor.

Fitness Boot Camp Factor 4: Equipment

This is also a deceptive one. At first glance, most people will say that the indoor boot camp will have greater access to equipment. This may be true, but I have never seen this as a limiting factor for the fitness boot camp operator. After talking with hundreds of operators and campers, it appears that almost all indoor and outdoor providers use the same tools; BOSUs, TRX straps, med balls, ladders, ropes and various other dynamic exercise pieces that are easy to set up and portable.

Rarely do I see or hear of fitness boot camps using free weights, benches and machines, so I do not see this as a huge advantage for the indoor people. However, access to other amenities such as toilets, change rooms, and showers is a huge plus. Also, the indoor camps can easily upsell additional products that they keep ready, such as bands, nutritional products, or training gear.

Overall Winner: Just for the access to amenities, the victory is the indoor camp.

After everything is tallied up, the indoor fitness boot camps win in two key categories: climate and equipment, both of which will allow the fitness business to have a much wider target demographic. I really like that part. With a tie going to atmosphere, it leaves the outdoor fitness boot camp with the big win of cost to operate.

Before the outdoor people all run off to sign a new lease, there is one more factor that I need to mention. Do not ever sign a lease on a space if you have not built up that much-needed group of campers. Before you move your fitness business to the great indoors, test things outdoors. Then find a nice cheap space close to where you have been doing your outdoor camps.

The bottom line is that outdoors is where you should start and then move to a nice indoor space once you have established a great following.

David Chang’s Answer: What Steps Should I Take to Add Extended Child Care to My Summer Camp?

Client question: We run a Summer camp that’s held from 8 am to 3 pm. We’re considering offering extended care from 3 pm to 6 pm. What issues do I need to consider when setting up this option?

Offering extended care for your Summer campers is an excellent idea. Not only can it provide an additional stream of revenue, more importantly, it can make the difference between whether or not a parent signs up for your camp!

For many working parents, picking their child up at 3 pm is not an option. You need to be capable of watching their child until the parent gets off work, or they will find another camp that can.

Here are four steps to get started …


Step 1

Check with your legal counsel to determine whether or not there are specific requirements in your state with regards to caring for children. Depending on your state, licensing may be required.

Step 2

Make sure that any staff members you hire to watch the children are properly screened. I recommend running a background check on every employee in your organization, but this is particularly important for any employee who will be caring for children.

Step 3

Protect yourself by training your staff on how they should care for children. Have clear-cut policies on safety standards and disciplinary procedures. For example, you want your staff to know exactly where the children may not go. You need them to be clear on what to do if a child is misbehaving. Your staff should not be allowed to go into a restroom alone with any child.

Shield yourself from potential lawsuits by ensuring that everybody under your employ understands and follows your procedures.

Step 4

Provide plenty of games and activities to keep the children entertained for three hours. Some suggestions are board games, puzzles, Lego blocks, and stories.

With a well-thought-out plan, providing extended care can be a real boon for your Summer camp.

Meet the author: Sifu David Chang and his wife Elizabeth Chang are the owners of Wushu Central Martial Arts Academy with two locations in California. Sifu Chang is a former Wushu style forms national champion and Elizabeth is the brains behind the business. They teach over 600 students and currently employ 17 instructors.

Martial Arts Summer Camps: Tips to Heat Up Student Retention and Revenue

Girl practices punch at martial arts outdoor summer camp

Our three-week martial arts summer camps usually bring in $12,000.00 to $15,000.00 each. We look forward to these events as a way to generate more revenue for our school and to engage students during a time where attendance usually thins out.

Whether you’re running your first martial arts summer camp or hoping to optimize your upcoming events, our marketing and logistical plan can help you increase income and attendance.

Martial Arts Summer Camp LogisticsScheduling & Length

We hold three to five three-week camps throughout the summer. Typically, we host camps in June, July, and August. We prefer to offer full-day camps; however, half-day camps can be more manageable if your school is not equipped to run full-day camps.

Themes

Themed camps are popular and can command a higher price. In June, we host a Ninja-themed camp. Each camper receives a ninja outfit and every activity corresponds with the theme. For July’s army-themed camp, attendees receive nerf blasters. In August, we hold a Star Wars camp. Camper get their own light sabers and we watch the movies during snack and lunch breaks.

The Price of Admission

We charge $169 per week for our camps. Beginning in February, we offer the following pre-sale discounts:

  • 17% off three-week camps
  • 13% off two-week camps
  • 10% off one-week camps

Early-bird discounts are applied per registrant; therefore, if you registered two family members for one-week camps, each would get 10% off each camp, rather than 13% off.

Food & Beverage

We provide snacks in the morning and afternoon. Campers must bring their own lunches and drinks.

Field Trips

We occasionally include field trips in our martial arts camps to keep attendees interested and involved in the programming. We take the campers to a softball field to play kickball, whiffle ball, and soccer. We also plan a pool party and provide a picnic lunch, which includes hot dogs, chips, and soda pop.

Staffing

As a school owner, I do not have the bandwidth to manage our summer camp program. Instead, I incentivize our Head Instructor to oversee these events in exchange for a substantial share of the profits. To supplement our regular staff, we offer a discounted price to any campers between the ages of 13-15 who will serve as “camp leaders.” We accept up to four leaders per camp.

Martial Arts Camp MarketingPromotional Pricing

We begin marketing early to ensure we fill our summer camps. Five months prior to the first session, we begin offering discounted pricing as follows:

  • February – March: 17% off three-week camps; 13% off two-week camps; 10% off one-week camps
  • April – May: 10% off all camps
  • June – August: full-price for all camps

Marketing Communications

We communicate about our events through a variety of channels to maximize our reach:

  • Posters and handouts in our school and local businesses
  • Mat chats during classes at our school
  • Facebook Event posts
  • Facebook Ads
  • Emails marketing campaigns
  • Text messages

Scarcity & Urgency

We impose a limit of only 30 campers per week. We advertise these limits to creates a sense of urgency. We state the current number of spots available in our mat chats, blog articles, Facebook posts, emails, and text messages. We do this consistently so that it feels to our audience like we are counting down the limited availability.

There’s Still Time!

Think there’s no time left to run a camp? Not true. Simply adjust the timing of the promotions I’ve described to apply them to your event. Start today by creating your registration form so you can start marketing your camp.

Questions?

If you have questions, please feel free to contact me. I would be happy to help. You can reach me at tristarkarate@gmail.com or 815-932-5425.

About the author: Duane Brumitt is the co-founder and owner of Duane Brumitt’s Tri-Star Martial Arts Academy in Bradley, Illinois.

3 Event Registration Software Tips to Increase Your Turnout

A camp. A clinic. A tournament. No matter which type of event you’re hosting, you have to get the word out and you need to get people to sign up for it. However, getting a significant amount of event sign-ups is not simple.

Online registration tools, like Event Manager, can make it easier.

Event Manager enables you to go paper-free by taking your event sign-ups and payment processing online. The software also comes loaded with management and marketing tools to promote events and accelerate registrations.

Use these three techniques to maximize your turnout and get more event sign-ups.

1. Waitlists

Give interested registrants the option to join a waitlist for currently-filled events, and receive notification by email when an event spot becomes available. By enabling the waitlist feature, you maximize your chances of keeping your events at capacity and maximizing your turnout.

With Event Manager, you can specify the number of registrants that can join a waitlist. You also have the ability to designate the amount of time a waitlist registrant has to register for the open spot before it is released to the next person on the waitlist.

How to do it:

Click your form name, then click the Advanced tab. Enter a seating capacity in the Maximum Form Capacity box. By doing so, you’ll activate the waitlist option. Click the Waiting List check box, then enter your waitlist capacity and response time limit.

2. Promo Codes

Using promo codes is a great way to drive demand and increase event registrations. Through Event Manager, you can set capacities, activation dates and expiration dates to promotional codes. Event Manager will automatically deactivate the code for you once the code’s capacity or expiration date is met. This feature is particularly useful if you run specials on Groupon, Amazon, or other deal-of-the-day sites.

How to do it:

Click your form name, then click the Pricing tab. Click the Enable Promotional Code Discounts checkbox under Promo Code Discounts to activate the feature. Next enter your promo code, dollar or percentage discount, along with your start and expiration date and promo code capacity.

3. Custom Messaging for Closed Events

You want your event promotions to be everywhere your prospective registrants are. That’s why we added the ability to create messaging for closed events. Through this feature, you can post messages on registration pages that are not yet active or have closed because the event has passed or reached its capacity. This provides yet another place to promote upcoming events and specials that will increase engagement and facilitate registrations.

How to do it:

First, click your form name. Then click on the Advanced tab. Click on the Customize button next to System Messaging. There you’ll have the option to customize the messaging that prospective registrants see when the event form has not yet been activated when the event has reached its seating capacity, and when the event registration cut-off date has passed.

Do you have a favorite Event Manager feature to share? Or a tip of your own to increase event registrations? Let’s talk about it below.

Create an online registration page in minutes and take payments online that very same day. Event Manager r comes with a full set of management and marketing tools to make the sign-up process easier and more efficient. Use it for camps, buddy days, birthday parties, tournaments, and more.

Book a Demo to learn more.

How to (And How Not to) Run Your Martial Arts and Fitness Events

Two young men sparring, practicing kung fu martial arts

I’ve tried special events. They don’t work. I never get new enrollments from them.”

I’ve said the same thing, but I still run special events. Let me tell you why.

I’ve been teaching professionally since 1993 and started working for my well-known instructor right out of business school.

Light the world on fire. That was my outlook.

In college, I worked on a project in management class: How to run a martial arts school effectively. I produced TV commercials that I wanted to use to bring in new enrollments by the dozen.

I moved to Seattle, lived in the back of my instructor’s school, and was so excited to start to build my empire. Running events was one of the ways I intended to build that empire.

I Handled the Registration Process on My Own

The first special event I ran was a women’s martial arts self-defense program. I promoted it through flyers that I distributed at the library. I gave the flyers to wives and parents of our martial arts students. I spent hours talking on the phone. I got sign-ups.

When the day of the seminar came, no one showed up. You could hear crickets chirping in the background.

On to the Next Event

Undaunted, my instructor had a great open space. Probably about 6,000 square feet of training space. I knew that lots of people were running Parent Night Out events. I figured why not supersize the concept by having a sleepover? A free event. Free to students and free to their friends.

The new approach? Like night and day. I had parents dropping off kids by the vanload. I remember one parent dropped her kid off and out the window she handed me his pullups.

“Just make sure he changes into this before he goes to bed,” she said. Then she closed the window and sped off.

Over 90 students ended up camping out on the floor of my instructor’s school. It had to be the worst night’s sleep I’ve ever had. And after everything was said and done, I reassured myself thinking I’d at least get 10 new students from my efforts. Wrong! Not one student signed up. Plus I had to feed pizza to 90 kids!

Fast Forward 20 Years: What I’ve Learned

I’m still hosting special events. Some are home runs. Some are stinkers. But I’ve learned the planning that goes into it — the process through which students register and the follow-up that takes place after — determines the overall success of your event.

Here are some steps to hosting special events and making them something that could potentially pay off to gain new members.

1. Make your special event compelling.

Ideas for martial arts schools:

  • Bring a buddy, break a board, and meet Kung Fu Panda (need to have a Kung Fu Panda costume)
  • Regular buddy night pizza party for Juniors. Spend $60 on pizza. The students have to bring a buddy to attend.
  • Jedi training buddy night
  • Nerf Night (buy a bunch of nerf taggers on eBay, buy the goggles too for safety). This could easily be your most successful buddy event.

Ideas for fitness businesses:

  • Kickboxing class
  • Boot Camps (indoor, outdoor, or both)
  • Kettlebell class
  • Nutritional seminar

2. Use online registration.

Remember how a bunch of people registered for my first event, but no one came to the event? You need to get a commitment from people.Having an online registration process is the way to go.

I use Member Solutions Event Manager online registration software to create online registration pages and collect payments (or I can keep the event free and still collect registrations through Event Manager). Having an online registration page gives me a link I forward l to my students. I also share the link on my social media networks.

I always suggest limiting the number of people who can sign up. Use that as your way of getting a commitment.

Pen and paper are things of the past. Think about it. If you have a paper sign-up sheet and people can see that no one signed up, that can really work against you. When you use an online registration process, no one knows how many people have signed up. It creates an invisible urgency because they do not want to miss out.

3. Follow up and continue to follow up without going overboard.

We need to be careful about how we follow up with non-members. I know that people expect there to be some sort of offer to join your school or gym. I’ve done “get 30 days of classes free and a uniform” limited to certain amount of students. I’ve also offered 6 weeks of classes for $69.

I think an email followed by a phone call is one of the best ways to follow up after a special event. I know there are some people who will email every week until they get the person back into their facility.

Keep In Mind

Here’s something that I did not understand until just recently. It’s very unreasonable for you to think that every person that participates in a special event is ready to join your school or gym. They may be interested but just not ready to raise their hand.

Let’s get something else straight. No matter how compelling, no matter how slick of a persuader you are, there are going to be those that will not join–at least not right away. That is why keeping their info in a warm lead pile is key. This way you can go back to them when you have another program or event to offer.

Let’s be real; let’s be smart; let’s work hard.

About the author: Korbett Miller has been teaching at his martial arts school in Kirkland, WA for the last 17 years. Korbett still actively trains in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and received his black belt from the legendary Saulo and Xande Ribeiro. He’s also won the Brown Belt Senior II World Championships in Jiu Jitsu. He is most proud of his three daughters and 17-year marriage to his wife, Elise. Korbett can be reached at korbett.miller@gmail.com.