You opened your karate or martial arts studio because it is a sport you are good at and have been excited about for a long time. Running a martial arts school to teach others the sport you love seemed like a natural next step. It sounds so exciting and adventurous, and you are confident that your school will be the best, but

sports skill, excitement, and confidence DO NOT necessarily EQUAL SUCCESS.

You don’t have to be super business-savvy to know how to run a successful martial arts school. If you keep your eye on what you want out of the business (the point of it all), and have cursory attendance to the points below, you will do just fine. If you nail the below items, you are likely to be the best in town.

  • Planning. First and foremost, your studio is a business. That means you need a business plan, especially if you will be seeking funding or investors. Business owners who overthink this unnecessarily get overwhelmed. Here’s a business plan template for martial arts studios to help.
  • Research. Understand your market.
    • How far will students travel to attend?
    • What are income levels and numbers of homes vs. apartments in your service area?
    • How many schools and children are in the area?
    • Are you close to shopping areas where the studio can be seen?
  • Pricing. What are you charging your customers? You can’t pick a number out of your head based on what other studios are charging, or what you think the area will bear. You need to closely examine your costs of doing business, and at what point you will be profitable, and to what extent. All business owners need an accountant, and he or she can provide guidance on tracking this data.
  • Marketing. If you want to grow your business, this is a must. Website, search engine optimization, PR, direct marketing, and flyers are all examples. Contact a marketing strategist like New Sky Strategies to help with these items.
  • Getting Paid. Have a good collection system for what is owed to you in customer fees. You’d be surprised how many business owners don’t track their books, until it is you, because you are so busy. Don’t make this mistake.
  • Quality Instructors. This is the heart of what your students want. They are there to learn and train, not to be wowed by your interior design.
  • Customer Service. Be professional, courteous, honest and fair, but tough, with your staff and students. Being a good leader will be crucial, both for your team, and your students. Watch for a future post from us on how to be a good leader in this context.
  • Safety. What is your plan for emergencies for attendees and your business? We wrote this article for JackRabbit Dance on dance studio safety. Don’t be deterred by the “dance” part; you can easily translate these principles to apply to your studio as well. Being well-insured falls in this category (as well as protecting your finances). AIS can provide a martial arts or karate school insurance policy that combines an accident medical policy for an injured participant, and a general liability policy that protects you and your studio.
  • Reputation. Pay attention to how students perceive your studio. Part of this is watching online reviews, and responding to any with that good customer service we talked about above. If you do that, and follow the rest of these points at least somewhat well, you will not only stay in business, your reputation will grow. Your customers will be able to feel confident that you will still be in business for the entire six-month membership they bought. Customers talk to each other, and happy ones have a snowball effect which can result in your studio being the best in town!