Did you know that the average cost to open a martial arts school in the US is $50,000? Does that number surprise you?
In this article we’ll go over all the key items that add up to that cost, and what to consider when planning to open your own place – from location to mat space, to administration and marketing. We’ll even go over a couple of options for you to finance that cost. By the end, you should have a good sense of whether opening your own school is within your means.
Let’s start with one of the key aspects of a new martial arts school – location.
Thinking about opening your own school? There are many things to consider and plan for before taking the plunge. In this article we’ll go over the top 10 things to think about in preparation for starting your own school.
The first rule of sales is to get the product into the customer’s hands. And if you run a service-based business like a martial arts school, the only way to get your “product” into your customers’ hands is to let them try your service.
Trial offers are an effective method of driving more people into your martial arts gym, but they often leave owners frustrated at how so few “convert” to regular memberships once those trials have ended.
Does this mean trials are actually ineffective at driving memberships? Not quite. If you take a look at trials that have low conversion rates, you’ll notice a few patterns…
When building your gym’s marketing, there’s a basic conflict for every gym owner. On one hand, they opened a gym or martial arts school because they love the sport and art they train in, and would like to make it as accessible as possible to people in their community. On the other hand, they are now running a business with their livelihood on the line.
From a business perspective, gym owners are worried about their bottom line. From the sports-fan and instructor perspective (which not every gym owner is), the goal is to provide the best experience and value to gym members.
Social media has pervaded our daily lives to the degree that you’ll be hard pressed to find a member of your gym who doesn’t use it at all. Over 90% of young adults (18-29) and 2/3 of all Americans, use social media in some way.
Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram provide you with a great opportunity to reach and interact with your gym members and potential visitors, for a relatively small investment of time and effort.
Member referrals are an extremely valuable source for finding new members for your gym. When we analyzed how people find martial arts schools, 21% of people found their current gym through a referral. However, 41% of people decided to visit their gym for the first time based on a referral. This means that an additional 20% of people looked for an opinion about a potential gym from someone they know, before trying it out.
In our previous article, we covered the main acquisition channels for new members at martial arts schools. It may or may not surprise you that search engines accounted for a whopping 46% of new gym members. If you add map services such as Google Maps to it, which is another form of search, that comes to a staggering 63%. That means that on average, almost 2 / 3 of your member acquisition will arrive via online search.
The survival and growth of a martial arts gym is tied closely to the influx of new members. Members pay the bills, and without a steady flow of new ones, a school cannot grow or even maintain its current status, as there is a constant churn of existing members.
To understand how prospective members might find your place, we ran a survey on Reddit’s BJJ community. Being that the results are from an online community, you would expect the data to somewhat prefer online acquisition channels. However, I believe it is still representative of how most people conduct their martial arts school search.