MA Business Success 43: How A Program Director Can Help Your Martial Arts School

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Phil: And we are from TIMA, The Institute of Martial Arts, bringing you great business advice for your martial arts school. But also giving you great tips, tools, and strategies on how to transform your life as well, because really, isn't that why we are in business? To try and give us the life that we want. Yep, well look. This podcast topic is a doozy! This is going to be one of those things that you have two camps. You have one camp believing one thing, and the other camp believing the other. And really we're just going to give you our thoughts and advice, and I really, really, really would love to get everyone's feedback on the pros and cons for both because I am sure people are getting results in both areas. And I guess, you're wondering what I’m talking about. Graham: Well.. Phil: Should we talk about this or not? Graham: I am sure they're hanging. It's about what we would call in our language a program director, or a program manager. What are they? They are a sales guy, sales person. Some schools are advocates and go you need them. Others are like, you are wasting your time. Jeez! Like I said, this is a hot topic. Now, we have, and can speak from experience, we've done both. So we are not just going to claim to know it all. We definitely have tried and tested, and we've come up with an outcome that works for us at our school. So team, we're going to share with you a little bit of both. I know that running a program director as a permanent position in your school, we found great success in that, once our school started to reach 300 plus. And for some of you listening, you think 300 is a number I never even thought I'd ever reach. So for those that are under that range, it's still a great way to have somebody there to meet and greet new potential clients coming in your door. Rather than just, welcome to the class. The instructor says hello, you throw them in a class, and away you go. So look. Let's just break it down little bit. Let's talk about a school that doesn't have a program director. How do they operate? How do they generally do things? And again, there is going to be some variations of this. So don't just say that this is the be all and end all. But as an explanation, when someone comes to, let's say Phil's school, you're a smaller school. You've maybe got one or two people there. What generally happens if there is no program director there, Phil? Phil: So what we've done in the past in this type of situation is obviously the inquiry call. They've called us up. Now they're coming in. Now, you would generally book them in to come in and view your school when your beginner class is on. And that person would them come and meet the receptionist. The receptionist would meet and greet them. Say, "Good day. Hello. How are you?" All that sort of stuff. I'm assuming all the paperwork needs to be signed out if you are doing..running a professional school, waivers etc. And then they would pretty much get put straight in a class right there and then. And that would be in a beginner class. They obviously would not be in there with black belts, but a beginner class. And their first time in the school would be their first time in the class. And you know, the class sort of just keeps rolling on as per normal. Although the instructor will, I'm sure, will help them out, and be mindful of the new member. That generally, will be the very first time the student or the hopeful student client sees your school and they are straight in a class. Graham, what's the pros and cons of that? Graham: Jeez look. The pros are, they are coming in. There is zero down time at getting the school. They are getting to sample it straight out. I can't list too many pros because of the fact that I've tried it and it worked to a point, but it's very much reliant on the personality of the class instructor. If you've got a bad class, or the instructor isn't firing all cylinders, there is a chance that that person has a bad experience and doesn't join your school. So there are too much variables there. So I don't particularly like that method. I'm not saying it doesn't work, but I don't like it because it is not scalable, and you can't have that exit strategy. You would have heard us talk about that in many different podcasts. That means that if you've got a red hot instructor and he is a brilliant person at signing people up, in other words, he runs a really great class, what if they leave? What if they are sick? There goes your potential way of attracting members and signing them up. If someone else steps into that, they may not be as effective and your business is at the mercy of that. The cons in there, well look, as I sort of pointed out you're at the mercy of the person and that personality [inaudible 00:04:17]. Number two is, someone may be shy. They jump straight into a class. It's got lots of energy and they just do not feel comfortable, or they are thrown in the deep end. They walk in. They've got special needs in a way that they learn a different way. They may have been in an abusive relationship, for example, as an adult, and they just don't interact well with others. You don't know that information before that occurs, or you can't monitor that. You can't shelter them from those experiences by just putting them straight into a class. So it's very much a hit and miss. I know that there is probably even a few listeners here that do group intros. And I guess, speaking a little bit further on this podcast, value versus cost. Again, charging money that is lower end of the scale. Group intros, it is not so much of an issue. People sign up because hey look, they are getting their value, they're in there. But when you are a high end martial arts school, which we tend to position ourselves as, and we charge top dollar, we want to make sure that we are really meeting your needs and sitting with you. And really making sure that you get that red carpet service, not just bulk buy. Phil: Okay. What you were just saying there Graham, and I'm just visualizing in my head. I sort of see it as like the difference between going to a backpacker’s hotel versus going to like the Hilton. Graham: Yep. Phil: From what I'm saying is that, you know, when you go to the Hilton, someone is there to open the car door. They get your bags out. They open the door. They take you to reception. They give you a drink. They give you the towel. They tell you where your room is. Whereas, the backpackers, basically you've got to figure it all out yourself. You know what I mean? That is sort of what I'm feeling in that regard as well. Now from that position there we are still talking about no program director for a minute. Meaning they've come straight in, again the instructor doesn't really know much about this person, and also the receptionist, or the person at the desk probably isn't educated I would say in finding out all the things that they want to get out of doing martial arts. All that back end stuff that we need. But from there, I guess, it really depends on what your trial period is. Whether you give them one or two free classes, whether it's a pay trial, or it's a month free, there are so many variables there so I'm not even going to touch on that because that is a two-hour podcast. But basically from there, depending on what you do to follow up to be able to get that person to a paid, or a client, that is where our program director also then does a lot of follow up. So if your sales person, or I guess your receptionist is doing that or trying to catch them when they come in, it just doesn't seem to be enough hooks for me or touch points with this possible member. And again, I take the analogy of the Hilton Hotel versus a backpackers. Like, we want that guided service, so you understand the value of why you are being charged what you are getting charged. Graham: You've pretty much hit the nail on the head. And I think, I'm going to throw it back to the guys listening and watching this, tell us. If some of this is rubbing you the wrong way, and you are going, "Bull! Dang! It's my school, this works really well." Great man. Tell us. Share it. I just know that it goes back to a lot of us that value what people are getting from it. If you are a school that provides really well, and you've got some fantastic classes, great! But have a look at what you are charging. And I'm not saying that that is the be all and end all. I've got some great guys that are listening to this, I definitely know that are in a school hall, they are a part-time school. That's how they operate. And good work to you. But if you are looking to raise the standard of your business and you want to grow and you want to continue to provide world class service, this why we encourage you to have that delegated, designated program director. Somebody who is ready to meet the needs of the potential clients coming in the door, and have them really be wowed. Wowed with that experience from the moment they make contact to when they become a paid client. So flipping over to being that paid program director at that sole person in that role, the benefits I find is they do really get to meet your needs. They get to diagnose what specific you need to make sure that I recommend the right course for you, plus they can really outline the value that we have in our school versus the investment you are going to make. So for us in our school, we charge 94 dollars a fortnight. Phil: That is Australian dollars. Just for you overseas people there. Graham: So if we were to sort of equate that to a monthly fee, again for those listening who don't understand the fortnightly payments. There are 12 months in a year, when broken down into fortnights, there are 13 months. So as a fee structure we are about $220 per student who joins. Now, we're not going to bulk them in a group of 20 other people and expect them to pay that amount. People are just going to go, "Man, for my money I want to know that I'm getting the best quality service and the talent package." So having the one guy, one girl, whoever that may be that meets and greets, takes the phone calls, they answer all your questions, guides you onto the right course, and is there for you to meet you at every step of the way, when the person comes to present and they are ready to sign up, they go 200 bucks, 250 bucks, hey look let's imagine there are two or three in a family. Man, we don't discount. So you are paying some serious dollars to be at our school, but we meet your needs. We know what you want, and we've explained how our program will fulfill those needs. And look, in a summary, that is one of the best benefits to why we have a sole person in that sales role at each of our schools. Phil: Look if you are out there, and you're thinking, "Jeez, I'm just a small business" or "I'm just starting out" I'm going to throw this at you. I know when I started my very first schools, so before I started with Graham, open doors, I had zero students and generally it was just me there especially for the first sort of few classes. I had a full-time table. You know, begin with the end in mind, we always talk about that. So I had time throughout the day. But I structured my school so I could do both. So I could be that 15 minute intro, so I could meet and greet talk to the person, find their needs, and then I could quickly be in class. So in that particular circumstance, I started off with 45 minute classes for kids with a 15 minute break, and I would book one appointment in there, in that 15 minute break, and deal with that person one on one. And then I'd be straight back in class for the next class. And I did that for quite some time, until I built up enough students, or someone to take that role for me. And that worked really well. That got me from zero to a 100 in one year. Graham's example of our second school that we opened. It was after a trip from America. We had done some research with the guys in Europe, and we were like, "Jeez, we've got to try this no program director thing." And we did it pretty well. And as Graham said, it took us to about 250-300 members in that environment, which for some of you guys might be just where you want to get to. That's fine. But for that school to get to 400-450 where it is now, and for us to get it to 500, where we want it, they need that dedicated sales person to meet the needs, to roll out the red carpet, to ask the questions, to follow up with them, to make them feel like they are the go-to person, whenever there are any questions, thoughts, feelings, cancellation issues, problems with class, all that stuff. So it's very important that with this topic, and I know I said it was going to be a doozy. There are two camp. And I know many instructors that I know very, very well, have a school that doesn't run a program director, and they are doing a fantastic job and awesome work. Please give us your feedback. Give us the one, two, three, five tips to what makes it work for you. And we'd love to share that with everyone out there into the wider world. Graham: Hey, guys. You know, Phil you've asked the tips, but what about the things that ruffled your feathers? Things we've said that you just completely disagree with. We are all about feedback and growing. And that's why we travel so much. And that's why we research a hell of a lot and see things. We can speak from experience, and we talk about charging high end martial arts, but consistent sign ups regularly. So our systems work. Is it the be all and end all? Definitely not. But if you want to find out more, and some of the stuff we said resonates with you, drop us a line and we'll share with you the entire process what we use and how we go about it. From a 0 to 50 school, 50 to 100, 100 to 500, whatever that may be. Whatever your goals are, we have a way that, we have done all of that, and we can tell you the pitfalls but the successes and the ways to get around some of those hurdles. Drop [inaudible 00:12:34]. Phil: So hopefully this has been of benefit for you. We try and broach the topics that are tough, that people might not want to hear, but need to hear it. The thing that is going to get you to ask questions within like should I? Shouldn't I? The one thing I want to leave you with is, if you are in that comfort zone, you are comfortable, but you are not growing, well there is a reason. That is because you are staying in the comfort zone. You are not willing to try anything new. We tried it without a program director, it worked a little bit, but not to the extent that we wanted it. We tried this. We tried that. Some worked, some didn't. But we were willing to give it a go. So that would be my question for you. If you are not quite getting the results you want, think of what can you try, and literally [SP] just try. It's okay for it not to work for you and you go back. It's all right. What can you try to make a difference in your business and in your life? Which leads us to the end of this guys where we've got our new segment which we've kicked off version 2.0 of the podcast, which is ask the boys. We are just asking for questions. Do you have anything specific that you want us to talk about? An issue that you are facing in your life, in your business that we can help you guys with. Send us through the questions there guys at [email protected]. Don't forget to leave your reviews at iTunes. That's what keeps us kicking and ticking. Catch us on social media because we leave some pretty cool little tidbits on our Facebook channel as well. And last but not least, don't forget our special podcast listeners deal we have going. You can get our silver level membership. We throw in gold for you for free at $99 a month, but we also throw in a free coaching call with you guys as well, which is going to give you some great value there as well. So guys let us know if you are interested in that. You can catch that at [email protected]. Let us know where you are at gang. Well, Graham. Graham: Hey signing out as always the TIMA way. Believe. Begin. Become. When you dive into them you'll understand. Believe in the processes. Believe in yourself. Begin that journey, like today, don't wait for tomorrow or next year. And become the version, the business that you were born to be. So again, believe, begin, become. Phil: Catch you on another time guys. Ciao. Graham: Take care.

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