View Full Version : How do you get people into your school and how do you charge them?

Sensei Andy
24th January 2001, 23:55
What methods of advertising/ where do you prefer to advertise if you do. Do you use contracts? Monthly?

Paul Wollos
25th January 2001, 07:28
Originally posted by Sensei Andy
Do you use contracts? Monthly?

I don't use contracts, or rather never apply that rule. When someone resigns and doesn't pay, there is very little we can do. IMO making a case against that individual creates quite "unhealthy" atmosphere in dojo.

Usually we work on monthly payments, however 3 & 6-monthly options are available (with discounts).

There is also a membership fee at the beginning, payable in first 3 months.

I'm interested what others use?


Robert Wolfe
26th January 2001, 13:13
Tuition to our dojo is $75 per month for individuals, and $115 for families (regardless of the number of participants). We also have a "commuting student" rate of $40 per month for members who live far enough from the dojo that they are unable to attend more than half the practices in a month. We do not use contracts.

As for advertising, we employ every method we can dream of. We enroll only teenagers and adults, but since most of the general public now seems to regard martial arts as a young children's activity our advertising is designed to educate as much as spread awareness of our dojo.

We do rely on a Yellow Pages listing and, in fact, we're going to upgrade to a small display ad with photos in the next directory. In 2000, the Yellow Pages generated 63 contacts and 11 enrollments -- a 17% rate of conversion. In previous years, conversions from Yellow Pages contacts have run as high as 23%.

We print a very professional brochure and distribute copies any place that will allow it to be displayed -- Japanese restaurants are good spots, but the most productive location has been a "Neato Burrito." We also print book markers and place one in every book in the martial arts sections of the local book stores (we refer to this as "guerilla advertising"). Brochures in 2000 generated 8 contacts and 1 enrollment, for a 12% conversion. We're currently making a push to place more brochures and book markers, and the rates of contacts and enrollments are increasing in 2001.

The local Sunday paper runs a "For the Participant" page in the sports section, and our free listing there generated 13 contacts and 2 enrollments (15% conversion).

Word-of-mouth referrals yielded 31 contacts and 11 enrollments, for a 35% conversion. Members of the dojo earn a $50 credit toward tuition for each person they recruit.

Most surprisingly, our web site (www.koryubudo.com) generated 11 contacts and 5 enrollments -- a 45% conversion rate, which far exceeds other advertising methods. In the last few months of 2000, the Internet generated more contacts than the Yellow Pages, which I would not have believed possible.

We require potential students to make an appointment to observe a class, and then conduct an admissions interview for those wanting to join. The interview is intended to insure both the student's and the dojo's expectations are clear, and questions are encouraged.

Although we're still in the building phase, and all instructors paid full tuition in 2000 themselves, we do on occasion turn people away (but happily that's pretty rare -- someone has to really create a bad impression to be refused a chance). We don't expect "civilians" to be familiar with the conventions of a traditional, Japanese dojo, so people aren't judged according to criteria they've never (yet) heard of. The interview itself is part of the education.

[Edited by Robert Wolfe on 01-26-2001 at 08:16 AM]

Roger Lake
31st January 2001, 20:23
I was just wondering if the bookstores actually minded you putting bookmarks in their merchandise. Did you get their permission beforehand? Sounds like a good way to advertise(As long as the store doesn't mind).
Yoy brought up a good point about children. It is very hard to educate people on the fact that this is a serious activity, not just someplace to "drop the kids off" to keep them occupied.

Roger Lake

Robert Wolfe
1st February 2001, 16:59
It's a safe bet that formal permissions were not secured in every store book markers were ever placed, but in most cases permission was requested and the managers we have spoken to have always been amenable to the idea. In almost two years of employing this advertising method, there have never been any refusals or subsequent complaints.

Really, the best way to pursue this particular avenue would be to make an arrangement with the store to have sales clerks place a book marker in the bag with *every* book sold. This would be an expensive undertaking just to print enough book markers, let alone pay to compensate the store for its efforts. It would be a viable initiative if we could think of some service of comparable value to offer the store in trade.

Steve Williams
1st February 2001, 21:54
Hi Sensei Andy

Just a quick question, what do you use in your school?
You seem to have the internet advertising sewn up, and call me cinical :confused: (I apologise profusely if I am out of line) but why do you label yourself sensei when you teach 'Praying Mantis Kung Fu' and should refer to yourself as sifu (as you do on your website).

As I said I do apologise if I am out of line (hanging around the bad budo forum has made me suspicious of any abnormalities :up: )

3rd February 2001, 19:50
Good topic!

My dojo has utilized every method of advertising there is. Yellow Pages, newspaper, flyers, and something I'm not proud of, TV commercial (hey gotta try and compete with the Mcdojo down the street.) However, the most reliable and consistent method, not to metion the one that fosters the best students, remains word of mouth. In fact, I too am a referal product (my brother got me into it.)

If you instill a good referal program in your school, you will be amazed at the benefits. We don't offer anything, but we make it well known to everybody that without students coming into the dojo to replace the natural drop off that occurs, the dojo will not be able to stay open. My dojo utilizes a PTA- style parent-instructor meetings every so often, and during those we express to the student and their parents (if applicable) how important referals are to the survival of a modern day dojo. They have responded immensely. We see more students coming in now than ever.

So I guess the point is this: It's free. It's available. It works. The one thing is, do you have the humility to go to the ones you teach and ask *them* for help? (The reason I say this is because I mentioned our referal system to another well known instructor, and he scoffed at the idea that we stoop ourselves down to asking for help! My response was one to the extent of I don't need to be a tough guy bully type who basks in the glory of his own presence to be a good instructor) :laugh:

OOPS almost forgot. We use monthly contracts, but as mentioned if someone doesn't stick to it the most you can do is throw them out. To pursue legally money which is owed gives a real negative vibe to the dojo.

[Edited by kenshorin on 02-03-2001 at 02:53 PM]

Jeff O
4th February 2001, 18:30
I guess I am going against the grain here, but at our dojo we use 12 & 24 month contracts. The reason is simple - I do not want to be worried about where the money is to pay rent, power & light (WOW! did our bill go up last month!), phone, insurance, etc. However, none of us make money on the dojo. We all have careers, and started the dojo so that we could continue to train in a quality dojo. Students who join our dojo pay $150 first month, $65 a month for their entire contract. There are ways to cancel the contract, (such as medical reason, move away, etc,) and those are listed in our liability & agreement form. We also let students suspend their contract if they need to go TDY or back to school, etc. We are not in the practice of bringing people to small-claims court for abandoning their contract, but we are very upfront with every student who joins our dojo. In the state of Ohio, there is also a 3-day right to rescend, so if the student feels like they made a bad decision, they can cancel.

Two dojo near us use to do per-class payments, and monthly only payment. Both dojo no longer exist, or had to move to a recreational center because they didn't have enough money to pay rent. With our system, for the last four years anyway, I know that we have money coming in to pay for everything, and at the same time, extra money on hand to buy good training weapons, mats, targets, and pay for teachers to come in and do seminars.

Train safe,

[Edited by Jeff O on 02-04-2001 at 01:33 PM]

Warrior Don
16th February 2001, 09:07
Dear Andy;
First, let me begin by saying that "Sensei" is not the correct title for a Kung Fu Instructor. "Sifu" is the correct title for Chinese arts. Be careful, many Chinese Instructors/Practitioners would take that as a direct insult. As would the Japanese!
Second, how long have you been studying? How long teaching?
Doesn't your Sifu have any tips or suggestions for you to aquire clientele?

Yes I do use contract for the first year. After that I as well as the student knows whether they want to stay or go. If they stay, then by that time they have learned the responsibility of paying on time. Also for the first year I get the monthly payments a month in advance. That way there is no worry about a student paying!

I have found over the years that the 3 most productive methods of advertising are flyers, brochures and word of mouth.

Do you have a computer? Make up a flyer on it. Print it out.
Buy a ream of single or multi-colored paper and go to a copy center like Kinko's and print out about 500 of them. Have your current students hand them out in their neighborhoods, school, work, etc.. Give them a weeks free lessons for every 100 that they pass out. Give them a months free lessons for every new student they recruit.

Take some to local video or book stores.

Hope this helps!

16th February 2001, 12:31
We use no contracts, and charge our students for half a year. Our fee is about 25 usd for 1/2 year. In that sum is menbership in our national organisation, Hoku Shin Ko Ryu World Federation and World Kobudo Federation included. And of course insurence are also included.

Most advertising are done by putting up flyers and mouth to mouth.