2017 is quickly approaching and as with each new year this brings with it a rush of new potential clients looking for help in achieving their fitness, personal growth, and life goals.
This time of year can really set the pace for the rest of your 2017. Whether your academy will see real growth (in member numbers and gross income) or if you will continue to just get by.
I won’t lie.
Most Jiu Jitsu academies ignore the potential that the new year brings.
But I can assure you that other martial arts academies and the entire fitness industry are already preparing to take full advantage.
Think about this for one second.
People with cash in hand. Looking for a fun way to sweat and to release stress in a safe environment.
If this sounds like your academy why not help them and yourself?
From bring in the new year (2016):
“January is to the fitness and martial arts industries what black friday and cyber monday are to big retailers. If you’re not marketing your school for the influx of people looking to make good on their New Year’s Resolutions, then you’ll really miss out on the best time to grow your martial arts school.”
In 2016, I talked a lot about the importance of having systems in place. Specifically, in creating marketing systems to help you generate more leads. I plan on doing a quick review of that but I want you to think bigger picture.
You should have a system in place for everything!
There should be a system that you use in planning your classes.
A system for training new employees and instructors.
You should even have a system for how to clean your academy.
By implementing systems you make your business more efficient. Which means more time and energy for making money and doing what you love.
Examples of systems
Your website is often the first experience a potential client will have with your business.
There should be a process by which visitors (new prospects) can go to your website. Leave you their contact information and you continue to market to them until they try out your services.
There are a few ways to set up a system for your academy that does exactly this but for now I will leave you with a simple checklist of things your website should contain.
Branded Items. Have your logo, image, and social media information available so that they know that you are a real business.
Contact Information. Phone and email so that interested prospects have a way of contacting you.
Schedule. Self explanatory.
Instructor information. Post about yourself, who you’re associated with, and of course your credentials.
Lead Generator. Have some way of collecting prospective clients contact information. At least a first and last name, a phone number, and an email address so that you can send them more information.
Address. Don’t underestimate the power location has in turning a prospect into a paying client. Place your address some where easily accessible and include a map and landmarks if possible.
Live Telephone Answering Service
It seems like common sense but you never know when a prospective client will call.
The worse thing you can do is let your telephone calls go to voicemail.
It’s like having an attractive girl text you late at night to see what you’re doing.
If you’re wide awake at that time and able to respond to her message. All is good.
But what if you happened to be really tired that night and end up sleeping through her message.
You can bet she’s going to be less interested the next time around!
That’s why you have to strike while the iron is hot.
With an automated telephone service, new prospects will call your number and speak to a virtual receptionist available 24/7 when you’re not able to get to the phone. This works really well because they can forward calls to your sales staff to close the deal, or they can collect the prospects contact information and even input their email address into your other systems.
Once you get a prospective student’s email or phone number you can gauge their level of interest and react accordingly. If they’re really gung ho, go right ahead and sign them up, but if they’re not quite ready to give your program a try, use email to build a relationship with them. Inform them of the benefits that you offer, tell them your history, offer them free guides and videos. Whatever it takes to build interest and eventual get them in your doors.
Lesson Plan for Fundamental/Beginners
Coming up with a lesson plan each week from scratch is really time consuming and it sucks.
I’m talking from experience here.
With more advanced classes you have more freedom in planning classes and working different concepts.
But when you’re dealing with with beginning students it’s best to stick with the basics and have a structured game plan.
At my academy we implement a system of lessons for our beginner (white belt) and intermediate level (blue belt) students. That’s designed to teach them the basics of Jiu Jitsu without overwhelming them.
If your academy is smaller and just starting out then it doesn’t make sense to divide your members up. But as you continue to grow and you have students at all levels. It will become increasingly harder to add brand new students to your (mixed) classes without the higher belts feeling like they have to slow down in order get the lower belts up to speed.
At that point, it becomes more effective for the newer students to work on techniques that are appropriate to their experience level (i.e. learning how to shrimp before learning heel hooks).
Eventually you will need to have a system in place that will help your beginner students learn the fundamental techniques of Jiu Jitsu and prepare them for more advance techniques/classes.
Again, developing systems creates less headaches and worry for you. Which means that you can focus you energy and attentions to other areas of your business.
Marketing Your Academy
You should be marketing your academy and your services year round. Especially during the first quarter of the year (January to March).
This time is great because people are actively seeking solutions to their health and fitness goals.
I know a lot of Jiu Jitsu academies have a negative view on marketing.
Why do you have to market your academy when you are the best in the city, or you have the best competitors, or the highest ranked students?
While this is all good. I can tell you right now that the average person off of the street or visitor to your website has no clue how good your academy is compared to the academy down the street.
They don’t care about how many tournaments you’ve won.
They don’t care about how many champions you’ve produce.
But I do know what they do care about.
They care about themselves and how your business can help them reach their goals!
“Our job is to connect to people, to interact with them in a way that leaves them better than we found them, more able to get where they’d like to go.” – Seth Godin
An easy way to get started is to research the local academies in your area.
Check out their websites.
See what they’re offering prospective clients to try out their programs.
Then use that information to create your own marketing strategy.
A strategy that will set your apart from all the rest.
“Think different” – Apple Computer, Inc.
Online Marketing This is a fairly broad topic but it includes all of your online marketing efforts and social media, digital products, etc.
We talked about setting up your website earlier. Above all else, it should be informative and simple to use and share.
A few questions to help you get started
How is your social media presence? Are you posting new things about your academy and programs daily/weekly/infrequently?
Are there any videos of your classes, you teaching, interviews, etc?
Are your clients sharing your posts, pictures and other content?
What comes up when someone searches your name or your academy? How can you use that to promote your brand.
Direct Mail I’m talking about good-old fashioned physical marketing tools such as flyers and mailers. It may seem old school but it’s still effective and relevant for a physical location. A well designed mailer, with a modest list depending on the population in your area could generate massive returns.
For example if you purchased a list of 10,000 lead addresses and only had 5%(0.05) of those leads contact your academy. That’s potentially 500 new clients.
Referrals Your biggest resource and best ally is going to be your loyal clientele.
Do you have a system by which your clients can refer their friends, family members, and coworker’s?
A free trial pass.
A business card.
Even a brochure that your clients can give out would be a low investment -> high reward tool that you can easily implement.
Improving Your Academy
There are going to be a few days during the holidays when you’re academy will be less busy or even closed.
Why not take this time to make some minor (or even major) improvements in and around your academy?
Little touches like:
Deeply cleaning your entire academy
New coat of paint
New/different furniture in your reception area
Adding more fitness equipment
Wifi for members
Complementary body wash
Show that you value your current clients as well as helping you sell your brand to prospective clients.
There is no shortage of things that you can do that will help prepare your academy for the new year.
Having systems in places to help run your academy and focusing on those little touches that will set you apart from those other martial arts/fitness businesses in your area is a good step in the right direction.
The more value you give in terms of the programs you offer, the amenities, and instruction.
The easier it will be to market and sell your services.
This could be the difference between running your academy like a side hustle that barely covers your living expenses versus a business that can generate wealth for many years to come.