16 Retention Tips & Tools for Your Martial Arts Kids Classes

Two boys sparring in martial arts class

Client Question: Could you provide some in-the-classroom retention tips that work for your school?

At Combined Martial Arts Academy, we implement several techniques and tools within our Kids Martial Arts programs. The tips I’ll provide here are used within our Little Dragons Program (3 to 6 year-olds) and in our Beginners Program (6 to 10 year-olds).

  • Age-specific classes – All students are grouped in their respective age group. This is important as it helps with learning and stops bullying. Grouping by age group also builds up confidence and increases the student’s self-esteem.
  • Achievable curriculums – We set a grading curriculum that is achievable for the student’s age.
  • Break it into four – Each class is broken down into four stages. This helps with students’ concentration as they are not repeating the same thing over and over again for 45 minutes.
  • Disguise repetition – Changing the order, instructors and equipment enhances and disguises the repetition of learning.
  • Use students’ names at least 3 to 4 times throughout the class – This shows the students that you care about them. I believe this is one of the most important things in student retention.
  • Special Events – We continually host special events throughout the year. This allows students to show their friends and parents how well they are doing.
  • Take photos and give out awards – We take a photo whenever a student makes an achievement, such as white belt. We also present an award. The award says: “a black belt is a white belt that never quits.” We present the award to the student in front of their peers in the class.
  • Stickers – A constant reinforcement and recognition of the hard work and dedication to training.
  • Training certificates – 3 to 4 are handed out in each class.
  • Monthly attendance awards – These awards are handed out to students who have not missed any classes for the month.
  • Shihan’s Super Star Award – This award is given monthly to a student in each division for their effort in school, at home and in class. The student also receives a special badge that is put on their gi.
  • Birthday cards – Cards are mailed to each student and they get to wear a black belt for their class. Photos are provided of them wearing a black belt.
  • Report cards – Done on a quarterly basis.
  • Get well soon and miss you cards – These are sent on a weekly basis to connect with the students so they are not away for too long.
  • Pizza party – Students who bring the most awards from school receive a pizza party. This encourages students to not only do well in Martial Arts class, but also other activities, including school.
  • Free birthday parties – All children under the age of 10 can sign up for a free birthday party. We include details of this in our information packet.

Consistency and persistence breeds results. These 16 retention tips need to be consistently carried out every month if you want drop-outs to stop. At Combined Martial Arts Academy, we try to be as consistent as possible with these retention efforts. I meet with my management and office staff every third Monday to remind them of these systems and to make sure they are comfortable and using the techniques. Every two weeks I have an instructors meeting and training as well to check to see if they are implementing these systems.

Bill Wakefield is one of Australia’s pioneers of growth and success in the Martial Arts industry, www.c-m-a.com.au. He is a well-known and prominent speaker on the subject of Martial Arts business, as well as a Member Solutions Advisory Team Member.

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4 Ways to Build Solid Customer Relationships in Your Fitness Business

Personal trainer and client smiling while discussing workout scheduling at fitness center

Are you focusing as much energy on your current members as you are with your new ones?

Having engaged, happy customers not only helps make your business more successful, but it also makes your job worth going to every day. When you open your doors on day one, it’s pretty easy to remember the important details of your first clients’ lives; birthdays, family events, career successes. As with any relationship, these are the details that form strong bonds and create customers that will stay with you for a long time.

As your member base grows, it becomes increasingly more difficult to have enough time in the day for those meaningful conversations—it’s not that you don’t want to, but if you spent even just five minutes a day with 200 members, that wouldn’t leave you with time to do much else. It is, of course, still vital to engage your customers. As with so many parts of your business, having systems in place helps to ensure that your customers know how important they are to you should be a key part of your operations.

1) Technology

Most modern technology is geared towards one thing: convenience. In this case, let technology do the work for you. If you have only a few short moments with one of your members, would you rather spend that time collecting an overdue payment or asking them how their weekend was? Assuming you answered the latter, letting your members know that they can make payments online will help you to forego the often times awkward conversation you need to have about their tardy payment.

If you have an event or class that for which they need to register, let them know that they can register from the convenience of their home. Don’t make them stand at your front desk signing forms and writing checks when you could be asking them about their goals or soliciting their feedback.

2) Go Above & Beyond

What may seem like a little thing to you may alter the entire scope of somebody else’s day. You never know how an email to one of your customers may brighten their mood. Because it would be nearly impossible to manually send an email to each and every current and former member you’ve ever known, have a system in place to do it for you.

At a minimum, make sure you’re collecting birthday information and setting an email to be automatically sent on the right day. Remember, every email you send doesn’t necessarily have to contain information about upcoming events or sales. Sometimes a simple “Happy Birthday!” will go a lot further for your business.

3) Connect on the Phone

Of course, not everything can be an email or text message. Speaking to your customers directly, even over the phone, can help cement the relationship you’ve built. If you’re worried you may be missing someone, set yourself a reminder. Assign an ongoing task for someone on your staff to do touch base calls. Most importantly, don’t wait until the member hasn’t been there for a while; engagement is proactive, not reactive.

4) Hold Member Appreciation Events

Everyone wants to grow their member base. Holding “Bring a Friend” events is an effective and often times lucrative way to hit that goal. Remember, though, you can’t grow your member base without doing your best to keep the current roster engaged and happy.

Holding member appreciation events can do just that. Host a free event in which your only expense is your time (a special group class) and only invite your current customers. Some may argue that the value gained from these events can even far exceed the cost of an event you pay for out-of-pocket, such as hiring a special speaker or trainer.

Before and after the event, give them the chance to mingle with each other. Take the opportunity to talk to them on a personal level. Cultivate a community within your business. If you host these events regularly, not only will your relationship with your customers improve but your customers’ relationships with each other will improve, too.

As always, Member Solutions is invested in your success. We offer a variety of tools that can help you systemize important aspects of your business so that you can focus on what you do best. If you’d like to learn more about how you can make the most of these tools, don’t hesitate to contact the Training and Support team at 877.600.3811 or support@membersolutions.com to schedule a training session today.

About the author: Justin Bodamer is the Product Support Manager for Member Solutions. The Training & Support team is dedicated to helping you and your team make the most of your software and services. You can contact him at membersolutions@membersolutions.com.

Killer Customer Service: 5 Quick Tips for Your Fitness Business

Two young women hand credit card for membership payment to representative at front desk

Upon entering a sushi or Japanese restaurant, you may be greeted by the chefs with the expression, Irasshaimase, which means Welcome, please come in. It is one of the reasons I love going out for sushi, and I eat a lot of it.

Whether you’re a personal trainer, a fitness club operator, or a yoga studio manager, you want to create that same special feeling when people enter your business’s door or even walk into a class that is being taught.

The policy at our personal training studio is very simple: Every trainer greets everyone. They do not pass a client without saying hello. If the client is leaving, they say goodbye. These greetings and salutations go a long way to making our clients feel at home in our gym, which is exactly the feeling we strive for.

The easiest way to provide killer customer service in your fitness business is to do more for your members.

Here are five quick and simple ways to amp up your customer service:

1. Offer Towel Service—Provide clients with workout towels and shower towels so they do not need to carry around a wet towel all day in their gym bag. If you do not have access to laundry services, you can brand the towels with your business logo and use the towels as promotions by giving them to new clients as a welcome gift. The towels will serve as additional advertising should your clients visit another gym.

2. Provide Online Appointment Scheduling—Your clients deserve quick access to your schedules so they can make changes and book the sessions that they want, when they want them. The great thing with using fitness software like Member Manager is that frees up your time from answering the phone or emailing people back and forth to book appointments. Online scheduling will end appointment errors (no more double-bookings), and keep your clients happy and in charge of their scheduling.

3. Run Internal Events and Contests—Contests and events can be easy to put together and fun for your clients and trainers. Track the number of steps and reward those that hit 10,000 steps a day, or use the elliptical and stair climbers to track against the elevation of mountains like Everest or Fuji. Internal competitions, contests, and events will keep your clients engaged and your trainers focused.

4. Host an Online Store—This is another double-purpose service offering, one that clients love and that you can use to generate more revenue for your fitness business. Sell your memberships, personal training sessions, your fitness gear, and even your events through an online store. Add your affiliate’s websites to this same store to generate even more revenue for your fitness business.

5. Spa-Up Your Bathrooms —Your clients are busy and need to get ready for a day of work or a night out. Provide soaps, shampoos, and accessories to transform your change room into a spa-like space. If you do this right, you can also sell these same products to your members by setting up distributor agreements with suppliers.

When you deliver superior customer service like this, you can use it as a competitive advantage to contend with other fitness gyms and studios, to justify your price points, and to promote additional revenue streams, all while making your existing clients raving fans of your fitness facility.

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How to Respond to Membership Contract Complaints

membership contract signature with pen on paper

A written billing agreement―otherwise known as a membership contract—is a standard business document used by many membership-based businesses. Every day, martial arts schools, fitness clubs, yoga and Pilates studios, and MMA gyms establish agreements with their members. The membership business offers classes, lessons, equipment, and/or training in exchange for payment from the member. Through the membership contract, the member agrees to use services provided by the business and pay for them at an agreed price under certain terms and conditions.

Sounds clear-cut, right? Unfortunately, issues surrounding membership contracts arise, and those issues can be anything but clear-cut. Members often oppose the terms of the signed billing agreement, stating, “That is not what I was told when I joined.” Membership contract complaints turn into a ‘contract dispute’ and can then escalate to a formal consumer complaint filed with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and/or the State Attorney General.

Formal complaints issued through the BBB and/or State Attorney General aren’t to be taken lightly. Here are 6 tips you should consider before responding to these complaints:

  1. Make sure you fully understand the membership contract complaint before you respond. Angry customers tend to throw everything they can into a formal complaint in order to prove their case. Before you formulate your response, find the customer’s proposed resolution. Once you know of the requested resolution, you can better address the complaint.
  2. Keep your personal feelings out of it. Your anger or disappointment has no place in a formal response letter. Many local BBBs post responses online for others to review. State the facts only.
  3. Back up your responses with documentation, e.g. a written billing agreement or cancellation form. Be sure to black out any bank account or credit card numbers if they are included in your documentation.
  4. Keep copies of the complaint and your responses. If the issue is not resolved with the first correspondence, you may receive a rebuttal complaint. Having a copy of the first letter helps in responding to the second letter.
  5. If you do not agree with the customer’s suggested resolution, offer an alternative. This displays your willingness to compromise and end the dispute on amicable terms.
  6. Whether the consumer complaint is filed with the BBB or the State Attorney General, it is very important to respond by the suggested deadline date. This is especially true of Attorney General complaints. The Attorney General has the power to investigate further and can prosecute if it finds wrong-doing. Your best bet with Attorney General disputes is to find a way to resolve them as quickly as possible.

As I’ve mentioned before, your ability to resolve the membership conflict complaints is an extremely important part of keeping your business successful and your business reputation protected. Often times it is best to find a resolution that works for both parties.

For additional guidance, read my post on how to properly handle member cancellations.

About the author: Margo Stauffer has extensive experience in managing customer service teams in several industries, including eight years in the health and fitness area serving franchisees throughout the world.

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Help! Our Front Desk is Costing Us New Members

We’re in the middle of the New Year’s resolution rush, but no one is joining. We think our front desk and approach to sales might be scaring people away.

Can you give us some tips to make our facility more welcoming, so it’s likely members join?

Chuck Heacock’s Answer on Making Your Front Desk More Inviting and Sales Approach Less Intimidating

Most of your competitors view January as just another start to another year. But if you’re reading this, you’re preparing to surpass your 2014 accomplishments … so congrats!

You’ve heard it before but I’ll say it again: first impressions cannot be changed. You can have the best program director in the world, but that won’t mean a thing to your business if your front desk — and the first impression you make — turns people off.

So here’s a quick look at my consulting notebook from 2014. Although they are in no particular order, these were the most consistent issues found in touring over 50 Martial Art schools and gyms last year:

Problem: No one greeted me upon entering the facility.

Solution: Very easy fix. If you’re open, make sure you, your assistant, your sales personnel, (anyone!) is there for a big warm hello.


Problem: Price list on the front counter.

Solution: More times than not sticker shock will occur. You need to build value to the prospective member’s dollar — or you just lost $1,200 to $1,500 by letting them leave. Brochures are for folks going on vacations. You need action now.


Problem: No action when walking in.

Solution: Hang pictures. Display trophies. Have monitors running that show you teaching class or highlight programs offered. Have something to build visual credibility.


Problem: Front desk is a tornado aftermath.

Solution: Throw everything away at the front desk that does not make you money. Clutter will kill a sale almost every time.


Problem: Walls are dirty. Paint is chipped, cracked and outdated in color, such as a pastel.

Solution: Take a picture of your location. Show it to your neighbor. Ask them what they would change to make it more inviting. Your opinion is irrelevant. You are there every day. You will not see what other folks see.


Problem: Hardcore vibe

Solution: I found that the family vibe locations are more profitable, and I will be the first to agree that money is not everything; I need to pay the mortgage. More importantly, I never want any of my members to feel intimidated, it would really defeat my favorite thing about my job: helping people become better humans.


Bottom line: Set your goals to be consistent, not explosive. Take 5 minutes at the end of every day to plan tomorrow. Ask yourself: “What can I do to make my business better?” By doing this, you will surely surpass every goal you ever set.

Chuck Heacock is a Sales Professional located in Los Angeles. He is best known for leading the licensing program for Krav Maga Worldwide, which has grown to over 240 schools throughout the world. He has been involved in every aspect of membership development from sweeping floors to owning 30,000 square foot facilities with over 35 years of experience. If your business is suffering, he will find a solution to get you back on track with his all-new 10-hour sales training course for you and your staff. You can reach Chuck at betterdojo@gmail.com.

Success in Your Business: Creating a Sense of Belonging & Purpose

I am a big advocate of encouraging others to get creative with their ideas. In fact, about a year ago, I opened Fitness Compound, which offers a variety of fitness classes, programs, and training options including Zumba, cardio, Pilates, spinning, baseball, climbing, and basketball. Since then, I’ve added Mixed Martial Arts for kids, Zumba Tone, and Krav Maga to the mix.

Even though I’m offering services beyond traditional martial arts, I’m still creating the very same sense of community, purpose, and goal-driven environment as all other fitness-related businesses.

It’s critically important for your members (and prospective members) to get a sense of belonging and have a purpose when being a part of your gym or school. People want to be a part of something and feel good about themselves. Therefore, all your enrollment and retention efforts should include ways to fulfill those primary needs.

For instance, don’t shy away from holding free events. Many think that when they hold an event, they should charge a fee. They think their objective should be to make a certain amount of money on ticket sales. This shouldn’t be your main objective at all.

Your main objective when holding most events should be to create a sense of community and commonality to build rapport with your prospects. Hold a fundraiser for a worthy cause or a special springtime or summertime event to fuel business activity and to bring families and friends together. You will, in turn, build a business that people will want to be a part of and a contact list of prospects.

To strengthen retention, keep your members focused on achieving a goal. For instance, we hold a special internal campaign during the summer called 12 weeks of Summer, 36 Workouts. Anyone can sign up for the campaign. If they reach the goal of checking in at the gym for 36 workouts during the summer (three workouts a week), they get a T-shirt that says “I stayed in shape all summer at <Place of Business>.” You wouldn’t believe how this motivates members to stick to their fitness goals and get to the gym.

Remember the integral wishes of each and every human being: the need to belong and the need to feel good. When you keep these two intrinsic human needs in mind, and better yet, fulfill them through your business services, you’re well on your way to optimal success.

How have you created a sense of belonging and member community within your business? Share below.


About the author: Chuck Heacock is the owner of the Fitness Compound, a training facility that provides unparalleled fitness activities including Martial Arts classes, special boot camps, personal training, baseball, basketball, spinning, Zumba, cardio and more. Chuck is also a sought-after fitness industry consultant.

How You Handle Membership Cancellations Is Just as Important as How You Handle New Enrollments

"I Agree" checkbox on membership contract Terms & Conditions

20% of calls to the Member Solutions’ call center are about customer cancellation inquiries. It can be the most challenging type of call. A member has stopped attending class, has stopped making payments, and wants out of the membership agreement.

Although you as the business owner are legally correct to enforce the terms of the contract, it doesn’t change the member’s view on what they perceive as “the right thing to do.” Most times, the member does not understand why he/she is being held to terms when he/she voluntarily stopped attending. This situation creates conflict and a disgruntled consumer.

An unhappy consumer will communicate the experience to as many people as possible. With social media and review sites readily accessible, we often see disgruntled consumers post untrue and negative statements. Readers of these posts do not have all the facts, and many times perceive the biased version as the truth.

The good news is that you have the ability to turn a negative experience into a positive by implementing any of the following suggestions into your business policy.

Here are a few ideas to help defuse this situation for your business:

1. Send Member Solutions a hard copy of your signed membership agreement to store.

Many disputes are averted simply by our representative’s ability to immediately present a signed copy of the agreement. The signed document reinforces the terms, including the rights for cancellation. Seeing the terms again in writing is sometimes enough ammunition to diffuse the dispute.

2. Build a cancellation fee in your membership agreement.

Select a dollar amount that may be equal to 30, 60 or 90 days’ notice. Some of our most successful clients use this option.

3. Create a term rate that is more attractive than a month-to-month rate—and include a cancellation fee.

If a customer wants to cancel prior to the end of the term, the cancellation fee equates to the difference between the two choices multiplied by the number of lapsed months in the agreement.

Here’s an example: The month to month rate is $100.00 per month. The term rate is $75 x 12 months. The cost difference is $25.00 per month. If the term customer wants to cancel 6 months into the agreement, the cancellation fee would be $25.00 x 6 months = $150.00.

4. Make sure your cancellation terms are clearly part of the signed agreement.

 
Discussing Contract Membership Cancellation

 5. Offer a settlement when the account becomes 90 days delinquent.

Most Member Solutions clients choose to settle for 50% of the remaining balance. This option saves relationships and provides you with some of the principal balance that you may have not collected otherwise.

Additionally, a contract cancellation opt-out method may assist with your lead-to-membership conversions. Many people, especially in this economy, don’t want to commit to long term agreements and therefore won’t sign a term agreement that doesn’t allow them a method to break it.

Implement these suggestions to effectively handle membership cancellations. Ultimately, ending a business relationship on a positive note will aid member retention and referrals.

What membership cancellation terms have worked for your business? Have a tip to share? Comment below.

Margo Stauffer is the Director of Customer Service for Member Solutions.