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Why “More Students” is Killing Your Business

April 16, 2021

More students

“I Need More Students.” 

Sound familiar? That is, by far, the most frequently heard statement in the martial arts school consulting world. We’ve all heard the “how to get more students” ideas too many times to count – after all, there are as many ways to find new students as there are consultants. Free trials, family classes, open houses, referral programs, after-school programs…the list goes on and on. 

But before we embark on a path to find more students, we should first take a deeper dive into the “why.”

Let us pose a question: Why do you need more students? Of course, as school owners, we all want to have an impact on as many lives as possible. But we also need to explore the financial reasons. Because without profits, it’s impossible to pursue your purpose. 

On the surface, the financial issue is probably the obvious answer – “I can’t pay my bills” or “I need to make more profit.” It’s easy to stop there, but we have to go deeper than that.

Schools, especially those operating independently of an organization, are each characterized by different management styles and philosophies that drive business decisions. As President Truman once said, “the buck stops here.” As the owner, ultimately it’s your decisions that are driving the need for more students! 

It’s widely recognized that there are five stages to the growth of all small businesses:


  1. Existence
  2. Survival
  3. Success
  4. Growth
  5. Maturity

So…why does it matter? Identifying which stage you are at helps you determine the appropriate next steps to sustainable growth.


1) Existence

Let’s take a look at stage one – as the owner, you are the business. You teach all the classes, you market, you do the sign-ups. You clean the mats, tidy the restrooms, and pay the bills. You answer the phone and manage your Facebook page. What we’re getting at here – without you, the business doesn’t exist! And most importantly, you’ve determined that you can build a large enough student base to have a viable business. But if you’re reading this article, you’ve most likely made it past stage one, so let’s move on to stage two. 


2) Survival

Often, this is where we fall into the mindset of, “I just need more students.” But don’t get stuck there! A great place to start is by tracking a few vital KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators. Check out our recent article, “6 KPIs Perfect for Martial Arts Schools,” to learn more about KPIs such as student count, lead generation, lead conversion rate, attrition, and revenue measures.

Once you’ve reached stage two, you also need to seriously consider purchasing a member management software. Here’s a pro tip: look for a system that’s easy to learn and implement and has critical features such as student management, automated billing, and website integration. Kicksite has exactly what you’re looking for – a software that will free your time so that you can begin working on your business rather than in it.


3) Success & 4) Growth

If you are in stages three or four, hats off to you! You don’t need more students – at least not for financial reasons. It’s at this point that a school’s trials and tribulations typically shift to staffing issues. We all know too well the struggle of finding those perfect staff members that will match your passion and drive. But – you guessed it – Kicksite has the answers. Check out our blog post, “How to Effectively Select and Train Your Instructors,” for the secrets to selecting a rockstar staff.


5) Maturity

For those of you who have made it to stage 5, CONGRATULATIONS! You now have the staff, the cash, and the resources to enjoy the rewards of small business ownership. Building your retirement fund, time off for family vacations, the purchase of that dream car, sending your kids to college. You’re doing pretty dang good! But before you get too comfortable, we have a word of caution – don’t ever lose that entrepreneurial spirit that brought you here. Stay involved and engaged in your business. As we said earlier, as great of a team you may have assembled, no one but you can match your love for your business!    

So, there you have it. Sustainable growth comes in stages, stages we all must go through as small business owners. And there’s no question that it can be hard. Being a school owner takes guts, wisdom, humility, and most of all, perseverance. But hey, you got this – after all, these are the qualities we, as martial artists, already possess! OSS!