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Does Your Martial Arts School Have The Right Management Software?

I just recently helped out a Karate school with management software that can help run their business more efficiently.

I’ve written on this website about my experience managing gyms and being in the fitness world. After this recent experience I had an epiphany that I need to bring these lessons to my articles. Share my experience and lessons with readers who may operate a dojo or martial arts school.


A dojo is no different than a fitness gym in many cases.

The intimacy you have with your members (students) can be a huge advantage in a Martial Arts school if leveraged properly. Hopefully all Martial Artists who open a school are in it for the love of the art. They want to teach, inspire, and hand off skills they’ve learned.

The reality of the situation however is it’s also a business.

It’s an income to support yourself and your family, it’s your career.

Similar to any fitness gym, memberships need to be sold and new members(students) need to be acquired. Often martial arts schools make the same mistakes as the fitness gym down the road. A high emphasis is placed on acquisition and bringing in new revenue (students).

Retention and maintenance of the current base of students too often get neglected.


Most calculated reports detail that acquiring a new member costs  10-20% more than retaining a current member. Even more astounding, increasing your retention rate by 5% can boost profits by almost 25%!

Understanding customer spending growth and referral impact are critical to a membership-based business.


Building Trust

Consumers develop spending trust with a brand as they would building personal relationships. When you first meet someone most of us won’t fully open emotionally. Step by step we open ourselves over time as the trust is built.

As consumers we take the same approach in our spending habits. Over time we are willing to spend more money on a brand or product because we trust it.

In a study conducted over a 12-month period consumers average spending increased by almost 24%. Over 24 months you can expect to see close to a 47% increase from the same consumer!


Create The Relationship With Your Member

Six months seems to be the common time frame most behavioral studies will give you on the life of a gym membership. Even more alarming is when we look at these studies over a longer time period.

We see a 73% termination after two years and an alarming 86% after three years! It is critical that you take the steps necessary at the start of a membership!

  • Ask yourself, do you have an engaging onboarding experience for your new students? 
  • Has your sales staff each had their own on-boarding experience so they can genuinely reflect on their personal experience?
  • Have you as the business leader reiterated the importance of properly on-boarding each new student?

With a dynamic and engaging on-boarding procedure you can expect to improve your retention and save these students who are going to cancel in the first six months by up to 17%.

After a full year many clubs can have a 32% gym member retention increase with properly on-boarded students versus those who were not on-boarded.


Continuing The Engagement

Most schools have an introductory period or complimentary individual session with an instructor. Of course we want to sell individual training, but hopefully this session is geared towards engagement and relationship building, not just selling.

Remember what our goal is here, we are trying to build trust to increase consumer spending over time!!


Often, we forget that the dojo isn’t a comfort zone for most people. It takes a lot of will power and drive for many to place a foot within the four walls of your dojo. Creating that relationship and building that trust should have started initially with the first interaction. Then this relationship is handed off to an instructor or next in line for on-boarding.

Any deviation in the trust line can break this bond and lose the trust of the member.


Taking The First Steps

Consistent interaction is the key to retention. Use data to identify which students visit your dojo the least.

This particular karate school school had no management software in place. They weren’t keeping very good records of transactions and were losing money. Most importantly in regards to retention, they didn’t know which students were coming or not.

A 2017 report found that 2 interactions a month with a member in a traditional gym will result in an additional visit the following month.

Why not use data to find out which students attend the most?

Reward them for it, let them know you notice, and you appreciate it. Offer them a free individual session or product if you’re school has these offerings.


We’ve already learned the longer a student’s tenure, the more likely they are to add additional revenue.

Why not entice their spending?

Just as if you are priming a gas tank, samplings and free offerings have consistently been shown to work. Mistakenly however, many businesses use these offering to entice NEW students instead of focusing on current students who are more likely to buy in the first place.


Are The Right Tools In Place?

Now we understand the cost factor in acquiring a new student versus maintaining a current student. We know an engaged and connected student is going to stay with us longer. Also, we’ve learned that over the lifespan of an individual membership spending is likely to increase.

Do you know if you have the correct karate, martial arts school, or gym management software in place?

If you are an owner of a dojo or martial arts school please share your ideas for student retention in the comments below.


This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Michael Blanco

    I highly appreciate your post! As a martial artist who taught many students, I personally seen how some schools can neglect on maintaining current students. We tend to focus so much on getting new students that we neglect the students that are consistent and currently enrolled. The fact that new members costs 10-20% is not a surprise. Thank you for the post!

    1. Lee Goupil

      Thanks for commenting Michael 

      I’ve seen it often myself, at the end of the day it’s a business. 
      I believe sometimes owners get consumed with the month to month struggle of the operations and creating revenue.  
      They have employees to pay, rent, insurance, managing payments, and all the other tasks. 
      I don’t believe it’s purposeful neglect, but creating the time and putting systems in place to “cultivate” your currently enrolled students get forgot. 

      It’s more then just scheduling and performing great classes for a good % of your enrollment. 
      Business owners need to create a culture or belief with their students and family that their monthly dues are a necessity and not an extra expense they can do without. 

      When you have that “cultured” base of students you get a much higher participation in camps and other extra offerings that help your bottom line tremendously.  

  2. Parveen

    Hey Lee, I enjoyed your awesome ideas to run a good business more efficiently. We have to build trust first, if trust is build then we become open minded  and become fully emotional. We have to create the relationship with our member applied every where in business not only gym membership. I think so. Your article very knowledgeable for me.

    Thanks you .. Parveen

    1. Lee Goupil

      I agree 100% 

      Trust is a critical aspect I believe in all relationships, business and personal.  
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. John

    A friend who I have list contact with for a while now has just contacted me recently and in out engagement, he pointed out that he is planning on opening a martial arts school but is contemplating the possibility because he is thinking there might not be so much gain from it. I think he can use your services seeing how you are able to help others with the right management software. Your work is good and I will share this with him.

    1. Lee Goupil

      Thanks John, I obviously would appreciate the referral. 

      Take Care 

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