View Full Version : Location, location, location...

Terry Ham
21st December 2003, 14:21
Hi Allie,

I know one of the most important things when starting a Martial arts school is the location. Do you have any ideas or tips as to what makes a great location?

Also thanks for hanging out with us here at e-budo!

David T Anderson
21st December 2003, 15:31
Easy to get to by public transit... A reasonalble amount of nearby parking spots.

My dojo isn't terrible in these regards, but It used to take me the better part of an hour to get there by bus [bus downtown, wait to transfer, bus to street by dojo]. Quite a few of my dojo-mates have the same problem...

It takes me 10 minutes to drive to the same destination....

21st December 2003, 16:15
Dear Terry;

Well they say, Location, Location, Location. When people say that this is true. I have a friend that only opens up schools in Kmart shopping centers. He lets them do the research and then takes it from there.

The only thing that I stress is that if you can't get the perfect location, through marketing you can make the dojo a huge success.

The only things that I say to avoid are locations with bad elements in them. For example, adult shops, bars, and areas that are very difficult to get to. Due to highways loops and other things.

People are creatures of habit and convenience. Going into philosophy. There is only one human desire........ That is to be happy. Anything thing that makes people's life difficult will create them to be unhappy, so they avoid it at any cost. You don't want you location to be in that category.

In closing I can't give you the criteria for a perfect location, but it should be visable, easily accessible and in a very friendly environment.

In spirit;

Jason Chambers
21st December 2003, 16:22
I am glad to see that John finally put a forum to discuss the 'free trade' of the martial arts business here at E-Budo.

All can benefit here.

John Lindsey
21st December 2003, 16:32
3 Mile Rule: the school should be within 3 miles of a major grade school or high school.

Can you sign be seen from the road? Is there enough parking? This can be a real problem for some students!

Terry Ham
21st December 2003, 17:50
Thanks Allie and everyone else!

John you bring up a good point about a school being close by, Allie was this a factor for you when looking for a location for any of your schools?

Thanks again!:)

21st December 2003, 21:53
Dear Terry and John:

Actually the 3 mile radius is true for many places, except some of the areas were people are used to traveling. Ther majority of my students do come from a three mile radius of my school. The school radius isn't that correct, because in some areas the students come from quite a distance from their homes to get to school. I would look for a population that can support your school. Then go three miles from that.

In spirit;
Allie Alberigo

Mark Barlow
22nd December 2003, 16:31
Proximity to a school is definitely important and high visibility is a must. We're on the main drag going into a small town and whether they train with us or not, everyone knows where we are just from the simple fact of seeing our sign everyday.

23rd December 2003, 01:09
Dear Mark:

Visability is important. I realize that people driving by see you everyday but they may not see you.

Let me explain. Every year I do something new and extreme to my headquarters building. New signs, new paint and so on. Each and everytime I do that I end up getting many new people coming through the door. They ask me when I opened. I reply by saying 12 years ago.

In spirit;
Allie Alberigo

Mark Barlow
23rd December 2003, 03:14

That's a good point. Periodically we put signs out at the street and have even used balloons on the old sign just to catch the folk's eye. You're right, it is all too easy to become so familiar you fade into the background.

Thanks for the input.


19th April 2004, 19:43
My sister just gave me a book and in it the author
states that he has two locations, one in a high traffic
area and one not. They both do the same amout of business
but the high traffic one has higher over head. He states
he pays 3000 a month for that one where he only pays 2500
for the other. Is this an accurate picture? In the end
he states location doesn't matter.

I have a simmilar opportunity. One location is within 3 miles of
6 elementary schools, 2 middle highs and across the street from
the High school. In the complex are shopping, pizza, coffee,
ice cream, smoothies and a hobby shop. My other choice is on
the outskirts of town where there is not as much availible
but cheaper.



Wounded Ronin
19th April 2004, 20:02
It's not enough to be near to a school. You also have to market yourself effectively to the students.

There was this one kempo place that was less than an acre away from my old high school but no one ever went there. They never marketed themselves.

20th April 2004, 00:06
Mr. Nagai
I agree that marketing is a BIG part of it.
The idea I'm trying to convey is if all
things are equal, this might be a concern when
choosing a location.

20th April 2004, 03:40
Hi Everyone:

It is awesome that people are still posting info here. Again, the key to a good school is more than one thing. The location is just a small factor. I have friends in basements of office buildings way in the back where no one can see them, yet they are thriving.

In spirit;
Allie ALberigo

Steve McGovern
20th April 2004, 22:27
From a straight business perspective I believe there are several factors involved when opening a school from scratch which I assume you want to do.

First if you know nothing about business you need to get educated (I happen to have a Business Degree and it has definitely helped). Yes most of us open school because we love our arts and love teaching however "love don't pay the rent (add taxes, insurance, etc.)". As martial artists we do not train for failure. Do your research and demographics. As with any business venture you should develop a sound Business and Financial Plan. These are tools you will need for funding and future decision making. There are many online services for this as well as SBA organizations. Also you can negotiate for many things when working up a lease. I negotiated 7 months of free rent and a substitue space while my school was being built and have almost reached my break even point! This goal should be met this summer before the 1 year mark. Currently I only teach two nights a week until I retire from my current career (in two more years at age 46) when I can start teaching full time.

Yes location is important but there are buget constraints that must be realized. Personally I would try to find the largest space I can afford in the best location I can afford. Industrial Parks work well for this and are usually located close to major shopping areas or freeways. There is always plenty of parking and the price per sqft is very reasonable. Also, depending on the city, constraints on what you do in the space can be non existant. This will allow for the growth of your school withotut having to change locations soon after opening. If this is not possible then try to lease time at a local Junior High School (thier gym is not as heavily utilized as those of High Schools). Schools need money and you might be able to rent it by the hour or set up a monthly lease agreement. Now you have an almost captive student base and free advertising!

Second in my book is marketing. Within this you should already have a teaching curriculum developed outlining what you are offering and to what age groups you are targeting. For example; the male age group 45 to 65 represent a wealthier and growing retirement population. This group has far more desposable income than the 15 to 30 something group yet I have seen very few programs directed to the retiree's needs.

The McDojo rule of thumb is kids programs. Also don't be afraid to get into Home Schooling Organizations. Counties subsidize athletic programs for home schoolers to obtain thier credits for State Physical Education Requirements. Here's an example: San Diego County provides $300.00 per student per month for home school with up to 50% for extra-curricular programs (Martial Arts, Gymnastics, etc.) Riverside County (CA) provides $100.00 per student per month and 50% for extra-curricular programs. Your school is placed on a list of vendors providing these services (Riverside has over 600 students in one program, San Diego is almost double that).

Also you must be able to tell the prospective student (or Parent) why they should choose your school over Joe Blow's Karate, especially if your prices are higher. What is it that makes you different from everyone else?

For me opening a school is as much a life changing event as when I started in the MA's and I put a lot of thought in this decission. If I could do one thing better that would be to improve my advertising strategy.

Anyway just my 2.5 cents and I wish you much success in your endeavor.