MA Business Success 41: How to Manage the Cancellation Process at Your Martial Arts School

Watch the video podcast below Listen to the audio podcast below Phil: In this podcast, we're going to be talking about something that everyone has to deal with in their martial arts school. What is it? Well, it's the dreaded cancellation process. Graham, now, the thing is with the cancellation process, how do we deal with that initial contact? I mean, people will either come in in person at reception desk, or they'll probably hide behind a phone. How do we deal with these type of cancellations? Graham: There's many different ways that I'm sure that people encounter and whatnot, but we can only speak from experience, really working and trying the testing here at our school at WAIMA. I know straight away, when the person they first make contact with is maybe inexperienced, it's important that they take as much information as they can to potentially prevent it. We'll talk about that shortly. But first and foremost, if they are adamant that they want to stop, they're going to cancel, they need to fill out a form. That's really important. And what that is it really gives us the information about why, what, what's happened, what has brought this to a head. Because the more information you have about the particular cause, the potential you have then to be able to solve those issues, and hopefully save that particular person. So first and foremost is we have that cancellation form where they need to fill it out in detail, and it's going to go through that application process. Phil: I just want to get that clear to all the viewers and listeners out there about an application. So, we've gone full circle, as we always do, you trial something else and you trial something out. It worked for a little bit, but then you revise and revisit what you've done in the past. The application is important because what I've found and what we've found is that people will hind behind a very fake or fickle reason on why they want to cancel. Unfortunately, you will lose many, many people if you just let them cancel right then and there. They might cancel on a whimsical thing, a missed tip or grading, or their friend's gone further than they have, a holiday. There are so many reasons out there why people will cancel. We want to make sure that we try and capture and save as many people as we can. So, we've gone back to every student has to fill out an application form to apply for their cancellation. And in that application, exactly what Graham said, we make sure we get all the details that we need to. The receptionist or whoever deals with that particular cancellation inquiry needs to make sure that they gather as much information as possible. Also then let them know that that application will then go to their weekly meeting where the program director and branch manager will then approve this cancellation. So, we don't want to put up too many road blocks or barriers where they feel like they're going through the ringer on getting a cancellation. We just want to be able to let them know that, "We'll get back to you within a week when it goes to the meeting, and our branch manager had a chance to review your cancellation." Graham: Just to reiterate, and some of the viewers and listeners might be thinking, "Why are you putting so many road blocks?" And you sort of mention that, well, that's not what we're doing, but we take our job really seriously about why they first engaged us in the first place. What were their goals? And we really take that seriously in the fact that, geez, someone may have just had a bad day, a bad experience, and we need to try and find a way to get around that. So, as Phil pointed out, it's not just about going, "Okay, you want to stop. So be it, and here you go," it's about really diving in and doing our homework to be able to really make sure that we provided, or if we do have a chance to continue to provide that great service, we'll do everything in our power to make sure that happens. Phil: Cool. So the next part is we're sitting in that meeting, and a branch manager, maybe we have all our branch managers there, if it's only you and your one school, you're having your weekly meeting, and if you're not having a meeting, you got to have meetings, guys. You can't run a business, as small or as big as it is, without weekly meetings and checking to your staff. So yeah, Graham, what we do? We sit down, we talk about a particular cancellation. What are some of the things that we want to ask our manager or instructor about this student before we either okay it or try and save them? Graham: Look, I know's a giggle [SP] for me, but most of my staff will say, "Your favorite question is the word why." Why did this happen? What did we do to drop the ball? Try and track back. And again, like any good detective, you need to follow that path to, "Here's the result. Here's the cancellation begin. What happened to make that occur? Can we prevent that? Can we save them? Can we make sure that this doesn't happen to another student?" So, first and foremost, find out what happened. That may be asking the student themselves, asking their parents, really trying to ascertain from instructors. There might have been a bad experience in a class, for example, that other instructors have input on that. It could have been some students that had an issue with each other, and we can potentially save that. So, first and foremost is find out what's going on. In that particular reason, too, is they may really be moving away, and there's not a lot that we can do, but, geez, we could find them a brand new school in the area they are going to or recommend something. So, it's really understanding what the issue is, and then prescribing the right course of action. So bringing that into play is, I certainly know that in those meetings, we discuss, are they a legitimate cancellation that need to go through that process? Are they unsavable, meaning that that's it, they've ran their course, there's not going to be anything we can do to change their mind. They're moving away, for example. What if they're on the fence? What if they just missed a grading or missed a tip testing with a buddy of theirs, they've fallen behind, they've been away? Geez, some people come back from injury and they've lost momentum and they want to stop. So this could be a few factors in there that we can decide what is the right thing that we need to provide for them, whether it's a catch-up class, whether it's a private training, whether it's a sit down and a personalized chat. Look, I know that we'll touch on that in a second, but we really do need to understand first and foremost what's going on to create the best plan of attack. Phil: That leads us to the next, probably the most important, link in this chain is the face-to-face meeting. Because we really want to sit across from the person cancelling and we want to find out if the reasons on their form is actually true. Is it legitimate? And not that we're calling anyone a liar, but we want to try and fix this issue because they started martial arts for a reason and maybe they've lost their way or their passion or it could be any reason. We want to sit across from the person. In particular, it would be good if their program director or class instructor sits with that person and really dives deep, very similar to the introductory lesson where the program director assigned finds out the benefits that they want to get from doing martial arts. They're really saying sort of, "What happened? What are the reasons behind it?" And really keep trying to dig deep until you find that thorn, the one thing, the straw that broke the camel's back of why they want to cancel. You know what? I'd say 50% of the time, there's a reason that can be fixed. Graham: Yeah. Look, I know that there are plenty of schools that are listening and instructors that we like to hear the good things, but sometimes find those negatives about your school or your performance as an instructor or your staff is hard to listen to. But we celebrate those times where people give us honest feedback. Hence, why we're so inquisitive about the real reasons, not just the face value, because that's where we can change things. Look, I hate to say it, but we've lost a few students over time that looking back on, if we had have changed a few things we could have saved them. But that honest feedback from them, we weren't able to save them, but we've prevented 10 other people, 20, 100 people from leaving for those same reasons. So, feedback is important so you can actively make some changes. And as you said, Phil, sometimes 50% of those reasons are something that can be resolved and fixed, or it's a misunderstanding. Sometimes the student has heard of something different or interpreted differently, but that wasn't our intention. So, clarification and communication can sometimes really assist in this process. Phil: Yeah. Now, I guess we've come down to what's the end result, which is we're at their cancellation meeting, we're face-to-face across the road from the person wanting to quit, whether it's an adult, a child and their parent, it doesn't really matter, but we've come to that point now. There's really going to be three outcomes, I would say. One, right there and then, you've solved the problem and they're back in class. The application for cancellation gets removed. Two, you work out a plan. Basically their application for the cancellation is still in. The cancellation will still take place. And in our schools, we have a 90-day cancellation period to three months, and within that time, you're allowed to train. I'll talk about that a little bit in a second anyway. So, whether you're going to work out a plan, and hopefully we save them within the three months that they actually leave, or two, we've just come to the point where there's nothing we can do and it's better to send them out on a good note with maybe a gift or a certificate, big open arms and wish them well and hope that they tell their friends about the great experience that they had, not just as a member, but also exiting as well. Graham: Just in that, Phil, you touched on something really well, is leaving with a good taste in their mouth. I know that we've had some experiences in the past where someone's left our school for whatever reason, it was the end of their journey, but they were so pleased with the process being done well and they left with that good feeling that they're always welcome back, that that ended up referring other students to us. So, how does that work? They've stopped training, but still yet, they've had a good experience, and really, that's what you're looking for. So, as you mentioned, it could be that exit gift, that reminder that you're always welcome back. It could be a letter a few weeks later that says, "Hey, guys, the doors are always open." Because sometimes when people leave and years have gone by, they sometimes feel embarrassed and think, "Am I welcome back? Will they treat me differently?" So it's really important to make sure they know that, "Hey, look, we all grow, we all change, life changes, but if in circumstances in the future changes to the benefit of you coming back, well, you're always welcome. You're part of the family." So, I definitely, definitely encourage leaving on a good note wherever possible. Phil: And then pretty much leaves with my kicker. This is gold. If you're not doing this, you've got to be doing this. Because our cancellation period is three months, and some people may have a month, a week, it doesn't matter what your cancellation period is, or it's a payout, I don't know. But what we do, is we offer them, in those three months' time, to continue training, and hopefully we save them in that time. Now, we still get those people at some stage that just want to quit, and you can't help it. So we ask them if they would like to pass the remaining part of their membership, the cancellation period, the three months, to a family member or a friend, so that they at least are making the most of the money that they're investing or missing out on if they're not training. And quite often than not, they'll go, "Oh, well, that's a great idea. Yeah, actually I will get my son, daughter, brother, sister, my husband, wife involved, or, at the very least I'll go ask a friend." And there, my friends, is where you could possibly, even completely exchange a student. So, yes, one may be leaving, but then you haven't had to market for the new person coming in. It doesn't happen all the time, but it is still an option, and it still another good taste in the mouth. We're not leaving like, "I just don't want to try anymore. You still have to pay." "Well, we'll either pass it onto a family member or a friend, or last but not least, if you want to come back or when you want to come back, we'll credit you those three months as well." So that way there, again, it's just that leaving with a good taste in the mouth, "These guys have done everything they can. I've got all these benefits from doing martial arts. My circumstance is that I can't continue, but look at this, they're just going above and beyond to make sure my experience here, even as an exiting member, is still 100%." So, Graham, any other tips and pointers on cancellation? Graham: I just think in summary for the guys listening and watching, it's we take this role as an instructor and a life-changing influence over people really seriously. So when people are joining our schools, we very, very clearly let them know what the cancellation process is, not to make money off them, but to hold them accountable to their goals. Now, don't get me wrong. There's going to be circumstances where they have to leave, and look, we will cut relationship straight away for whatever reason. But there's going to be times when someone changes their mind, something happens, hey, we want to help them break through and be the best version of themselves, which is why we hold them accountable. We don't just let them off if they go, "Oh, it's too hard." Well, life's hard. That's why we do this process. So, again, guys, all I can really encourage you guys to do is follow those processes, make sure that you are being systemized, take it seriously, don't let them off the hook so quickly, not that you don't want to hold people against their will, but you want to be serious about why they started and make sure you're there to fulfill wherever possible. Phil: Well, guys, that's almost a wrap for us. I just want to have a shoutout to both Fatima and Jemal from Olympic Taekwondo in Melbourne. This podcast topic came from them and some of the coaching topics that we've been talking about. We do have a new segment on version 2.0 of that podcast, which is "Ask the Boys." So if you do have any questions or topics or thoughts that you would like us to talk about during these podcasts, please let us know. We'd love to hear the pains that you're going through, or even if you're having a win in a certain area, maybe we can share that to the community, because we're not in competition with each other. That's why we're doing podcasts. We're all trying to raise the standard and lift the professionalism of martial arts and we need to do this together. That's the key. Just in finishing, guys, don't forget, if you haven't yet left a review on iTunes, this is really what keeps us going. When we're getting feedback on iTunes about the benefits of the podcast, then that keeps us going. It keeps us wanting to put more content out there for you guys out there, and make sure you're giving those reviews. Also, check us out on social media because we're doing different stuff on social media, although you may get e-mailed or see us on a podcast or a video on YouTube, but we're also doing other things on social media, like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. And last but not least, don't forget our special Martial Arts Business Success offer, where if you guys want to take us up on an opportunity, you can join our Silver and Gold level membership just for $99, and, guys, we're going to throw in an hour of coaching absolutely free. So if that interests you, guys, if you want to take us up on that opportunity, by all means, let us know. Send us an e-mail at admin@tima, that's T-I-M-A, Graham? Graham: Now, before I sign off and we let you guys at it, three things you've got to remember that TIMA stands for: believe, begin, become. Believe in yourself. Believe in the process. Begin that journey. Start the process. Now is the best day to do it and become the best version of yourself and have the best business that you possibly can do. So again, believe, begin, become, the most important things you can do. Phil: All right guys. Have a good week. Ciao. Announcer: TIMA, innovating the martial arts industry.

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