Summer’s coming and I’m worried. A lot of our students, both children and adult students, took extended vacations last year and then never came back.
Any advice you can give? Ways I could be proactive … increase my chances that students will take part in training during the summer and return after vacation?
Korbett Miller’s Answer on Preventing Summertime Attrition:
You’re not alone. Summer is typically a challenging time for Martial Arts schools. We’ve had downturns in our enrollment and our gross/net almost every summer since opening our school in 1996.
In the beginning, when we didn’t have any financial cushion, it was desperation and panic in the summer. As my school became more viable, I began to just accept the fact that summertime was a down period and part of a business cycle. I resolved that there wasn’t much I could do.
A few years ago though, I realized that just isn’t true. You CAN do something about it. You CAN have a profitable, stress-free summer by taking some purposeful actions.
Here are two categories I recommend you consider. These will help create a sustainable summertime and a fun environment to maximize profitability and minimize member attrition.
#1 – Make Decisive, Positive Changes in Your Culture
First and foremost, everyone who has earned a black belt understands the value of commitment. Martial Arts is about consistency and commitment. Commitment is staying with something even when it’s a challenge or obstacles stand in the way.
Action Step: Make sure “commitment” is part of your instructors’ vocabulary and stump speeches, so that “commitment” is being reinforced with students.
Second, hosting events at your school is a great way to keep your culture fun and exciting, and your students involved and committed to training.
Action Step: Schedule fun events each week in your school. Take advantage of the warm weather. Go outdoors if possible to change things up.
Here are some event ideas for kids and adults:
- Balloon Training
- Water Balloon Toss
- Dunk Tank Day (each year we have a “Get Back at Instructors Day”!)
- Chux Days
- Obstacle Course Days Ninja Warriors
- Host a BBQ
- Go hiking with your students
- Host a special seminar
#2 – Change the Mechanics to Change the Mindset
Whether you offer ongoing or term memberships, I strongly suggest NOT offering summer holds or freezes. Here’s why:
If you “hold” people’s tuition during the summer, this is the mental conversation that you and your families will have come September when they are no longer attached to your school financially or physically:
Parents: “Johnny’s done Martial Arts for a while now. There’s that new sport, _______ or activity _______, he wants to try. I will just call and tell them we’re not coming back.”
Now here’s the mental conversation if you don’t “hold” someone’s membership for July and August, and they continue to make payments.
Parents: “Ok, I have paid for two months over the summer. I’m going to get my money’s worth with tuition. Johnny starts back right after Labor day.”
It’s a completely different mindset.
Action Step: Don’t offer summer holds or freezes. If you offer term agreements, credit the missed time to the end of the student’s enrollment period.
If you offer ongoing agreements, stress that you want to keep the student enrolled in the program and offer FREE private make-up classes for the weeks they missed.
This simple shift in the mechanics of how you run your school can dramatically change the complexion, cash flow and culture of your business in the summertime.
I hope this helps and wish you a successful, profitable summer! If you have any other questions, feel free to comment below or send me an email.
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 most recently received his Black Belt from the legendary Saulo and Xande Ribeiro and 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.Visit http://www.de-mythify.com to learn more about Korbett’s book and mini-course on finding freedom in a small business. Korbett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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