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Tue, Sep. 12th, 2006, 02:37 pm
kiasubookworm: Nationals / My 1st Taekwondo class

Yep, this is it. I'm participating in in the National Chapmionships this weekend, both sparring and poomsae. Will be performing Taebaek (despite my 2nd dan. I see no problem taking the seniors on. Huahaha. ;) Just joking, but it's going to be interesting I reckon. My only worry is that the events might clash, which my referee friend said might happen, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that poomsae is on Day 1 and sparring on Day 2.

OTH, after all that whining about the financial state of instructors and dojang expansion, I've finally figured out a way to start my own taekwondo class *and* still be able to go to university next year without having it die out. Classes start in October. Yay! I'm going to write out the details here, and I really hope you guys'll be able to give me your opinions and suggestions. It'll be great if you could elaborate for each segment too.

Basically the class is under my name, but I'm hiring a couple of "trainee instructors" and paying them 30% of the earnings after deducting class costs - so I end up with 40%.

These trainees are my juniors, 2nd dan and living in the area. Note that they aren't "assistants". They're basically untrained as instructors (they don't even assist in any existing classes because my father doesn't own enough classes for all his black belts to assist in) and I intend to train them over the next 9 months and leave the class to them when I go to uni. They'll probably be doing a lot of teaching and also covering for me when I sit for my important government exams (uni entrance) from Nov to Dec.

Hopefully I should be able to manage as I've taught for 5 years already, assisting in all sorts of classes ranging from orphanages to secondary schools. In fact, I'm teaching in a secondary school right now, and every year during the year-end holidays, the students miss out on classes so this class is going to allow them to continue training throughout the holidays, and since its a public centre, their siblings can join them too.

As I've mentioned before, Taekwondo instructors in my area are engaged in a "discount war", charging ridiculously low prices (the highest is RM17/month, which is peanuts considering all the sacrifice taken to even earn a black belt, let alone become an instructor. My schoolmate was charging RM18/month to teach art when he was 16 years old, and he didn't even need to take exams.)

I believe an instructor is only as good as what he charges and peanut rates only damages the reputation of Taekwondo. An RM10/month class means that what the instructor teaches is only worth that?? RM 10? Instead of recognising its value and worth as a highly-specialised field, people treat it like blah. So I've basically set the fee around RM20-25/month. Ideally I'm looking at RM25/month and RM70 for 3 months, so if the parents opt to pay 3 months at one go, they get an RM5 discount. I'm wondering: as a parent sending your child to a Taekwondo class, would you opt for the 3 month payment? Or would you think "Nah, RM5 is nothing. Not worthwhile." Or would RM65 for 3 months be better?

Advertising and Marketing:
This is the hard part. I'm trained to teach. I'm an excellent instructor, and a reasonably skilled martial artist (I'm not ready to say that I'm VERY skilled yet however. Wait till I get to the Olympics win a gold medal in the Olympics. Hehe.) But I'm not trained in sales.

I don't know if putting flyers in mailboxes will work, but I'll probably be putting up a banner (I'm renting the community hall). I live in the area, so word of mouth is going to be one form of promoting my class. Student transfer (i.e. the students from the school I'm teaching) might help as a good portion of my students live around. I don't know.

Previously there was a Taekwondo class there as well and he promoted his class using flyers, but the instructor disappeared after a few months. The students didn't even know the class closed down. I know that instructor though, he isn't a local, and he'd just passed his black belt test, no teaching experience.

The location for my class is pretty tough. There are at least 3 other instuctors teaching in the schools around my housing area. But none of them have attempted starting a public class. I do believe though, that if what we teach has quality, we'll still get students.

I've thought of organising an open day where the parents get to learn more about Taekwondo and what we're teaching, meet the instructors, know what we're getting at, our aims and goals, etc. But how to organise? I've never heard of martials arts schools holding open days before. Getting my students together for a demo would be a good idea, except that I'm prepaing for the nationals and don't have time to train them. I've also read that demos aren't worth all the effort put in. Not sure about that.

Anymore suggestions? Online marketing wouldn't work just yet. Haha. We're not that advanced. But marketing tactics that don't require too much money would be helpful.

Gotta go. Talk more next time. Thank you.

Thu, Sep. 14th, 2006 01:46 pm (UTC)

Payment: have you thought about Standing Orders - £££ a month until further notice. The family just cancels at their bank if they stop training.
I have found that doing it this way means people will come more often, and they see it as a long term commitment.

Also, you can do a 'Pay up front for a year and get 10% off' - this works quite well with parents too, and gets you money straight away.

Advertising: you need to get your students parents on board - if the kids love it, and the parents love what you are doing with their kids, they will tell all their friends about it. You could even do an intro offer: bring a friend to try a class or two, and if they sign up you get a free uniform / free month's training (if on standing orders or paid up front for year, you give the parents a cheque, so that their SO continues).

Standing outside a shopping centre on sat morning in uniform with cool looking fliers. Give them to the kids, who then say 'Mummy, i want to do this!!' Above all, be very happy that you are there - if you dont look excited, people will ignore you.

Mailboxes take a few months to get any return, and you need to do them about 3/4 times at least, with a different design on each one.

Open day / public demo. Not necesarily in the sam eplace as the classes. You need to be flyering on the street for the month before hand so that EVERYONE knows about it. Go into shops and give the staff fliers (Free TKD Demo and class etc), if you can, haved a board with you on the street saying the same stuff so that people you dont approach will see it. In uniform is good as it interests people straight away.
On the day, promo straight before it starts, in the nearest crowded area, shouting, banner, fliers etc. Do a demo to start, then get everyone up and do an actual class, tho make sure it is something fun that everyone can do.
To end, talk more about the benefits and fun etc, then give them all a page with timetable and directions, and some basic info about what TKD is an stuff like that.

I have tried many different things over that past few years, but these are some of the easiest and cheepest for quick results. This work for teaching both adults and childrens classes.

Let me know if you have any questions or want more details about what I've said..

Good luck !