Key Principles for Providing World Class Service in Your Martial Arts School
Lesson 55 Module 4
People often speculate about the future of our industry. Have we reached our prime, are we past our prime, or are we still growing? The answer lies in the way that we, as an industry, run our schools now and into the future.
If some schools decide to take advantage of the good reputation that we have all worked so hard to create and begin “hard selling” and using lots of gimmicks, then we may see a significant decline in business.
If, on the other hand, the majority of schools decide to improve on the already good reputation we have created, then the sky's the limit. In other words, we just have to remember to put the students before the money and the money will follow.
This concept is not new, nor is it controversial. The challenge for many instructors is finding a way to keep this truth in sight: The key to our long-term success as an industry lies in our ability to focus on improving other people’s lives.
The only way to do good business is to do good business. Because we are in the business of teaching martial arts, the most vital element to the success of our business is employing quality, passionate instructors who are committed to their job. Once you have that covered, you can concentrate on the details of running the business.
The location and cleanliness of your school, advertising and marketing, bookkeeping and phones skills are all extremely important elements and have to be superior in order for your business to thrive. But remember, for long-term success, be a martial artist first, a teacher second and a businessperson third.
Today, let’s talk about being a martial artist first and a teacher second.
Be A Martial Artist
Martial arts as we know it today has its roots in “bushido,” the code of the Samurai. The word “samurai” means “to serve” and the best Samurai did not take their position lightly. They held themselves to the highest standard in all aspects of their life.
Because they were warriors, they constantly honed their martial arts skill and fitness level, as these literally meant the difference between life and death. Perfect health was their goal, so they lived their life accordingly, constantly aware of how their environment and habits of consumption affected them.
Most importantly, the best Samurai lived a life of service – giving to their community and being a noble example of human potential. Commit yourself to living the life of a modern day Samurai.
Here are a few traditional Samurai phrases that are as relevant to today’s martial artist as they were the first time they were spoken:
Bushi-ni-nihon-nashi = “No two words“ or "Don't speak with forked tongue" – In modern times, we call this living with integrity.
Hou' shi Sei-shin = “Spirit of contribution” – Being service-minded.
Chou you de ari = “Moderation, variety and balance”
Gan batte kuda sai = “Always doing your best”
Be A Teacher
Is there a better way to contribute than teaching? What is more rewarding than giving to others the gift of what you have learned and discovered over many years? The best teachers teach by example. By being a martial artist first, your job as a teacher is already half done.
The next step is to sincerely believe in your students’ potential and make their needs a high priority. Excellent teachers do their best to live up to the Instructors’ Creed:
“I will teach this class because it is the most important class I will ever teach. I am patient and enthusiastic. I lead by example.”
Many “old-school” instructors were of the mindset that their students were lucky to have them as a teacher. A new, more empowering mindset for an instructor to have is to appreciate your students, for without them you can’t be a teacher.
An old paradigm that many instructors still have is that since a student enrolled in their program, they will be successful in their training and someday be a black belt. Reality paints us a completely different picture. Unfortunately, most students who enroll in a martial arts program quit, usually quite quickly, unless we intervene with superior student service.
How can we provide superior student service? One way to begin is to ask yourself these empowering questions:
What can I do today to ensure that Von Ike will come back to his next class?
What can I do today to ensure that Von Ike has the best possible class and will return for one more?
What can I do today to ensure that the parents of Von Ike bring him back to class one more time?
What can I do today to ensure that Von Ike leaves class thinking, “I’m glad I came”?
What can I do today to ensure that Von Ike likes how he feels about himself when he is at my Martial Arts Academy?
Asking these questions is the first step to providing superior student service. The real key, however, is taking action on your answers. Most likely, whichever question you ask, the answer will involve teaching a great martial arts class.