Owner of Chosen Martial Arts Academy
Chosen Martial Arts Academy, located in Palmyra, PA, is a traditional martial arts school, owned and run by life-long martial artist, Lester Hicks. For the past 10 years, Les and his team have been sharing their love of martial arts with their community through a curriculum built around the central core of self-defense.
Les believes that confidence, self-discipline, strength and personal growth blossom best when an individual is able to live a life without fear. So he works hard to provide his students with the training they need to feel safe and be the best they can be.
Before finding Zen Planner, Les tried a downloadable software designed for martial arts schools. Unfortunately, it was disappointment. “Our first software didn’t work for us. There were so many problems with it,” Les said. “It was clunky and uncomfortable to use. It didn’t let us embed our class calendar in our website or send out monthly invoices in a batch. Plus, it wasn’t cloud based, so each time a new version came out I had to spend more money to get it.”
Les was also frustrated by the system’s lack of automations. Each time he wanted to share a message with his students or get back in touch with a prospect, he had to do it manually. He felt like he was always stuck sending and replying to individual emails, which was a huge waste of time. The manual process also meant that, inevitably, prospects fell through the cracks and business was lost.
Another problem with using their old system was that it didn’t handle test registrations, so the process had to be done on paper. “With our old system, we had test request slips mixed in with other papers, all waiting for me to process. When you’re stuck doing all this manually, it’s hard to make sure your students are signing up to test.”
Les knew there had to be better software to help him run his school, so he researched available options. When a friend and fellow school owner tried (and was disappointed with) another martial arts specific software, Les decided to look into Zen Planner. “I did the free trial with Zen Planner, and that was all I needed to know this is the perfect solution for running a school,” Les explained.
Right away, Les was impressed with Zen Planner’s ease of use and free onboarding support. “I couldn’t believe how easy it was to move my information over and get started. My Onboarding Coach was incredible,” he told us. “Even with the learning curve, I started saving time right away because all my tasks were so much easier.”
Les embedded his schedule on his website and social media profiles, which helped his students and parents stay up-to-date. Then Les automated his invoice process and started saving over eight hours a month with that feature alone. “What used to take me hours could be done instantly with one simple invoice batch,” Les said. “This made it easy for me get paid each month, and I could spend that extra time working on other areas of my business.”
Email automations were another favorite tool for Les. He set them up to send personalized emails after a student’s first class, second week and on special events like anniversaries and birthdays. “We’re big enough that if we don’t work at it, students can be lost,” Les explained.
Automated emails also go out to students weekly during the summer to keep them interested in training. “I noticed right away that my students and parents appreciate the improved communication. They even comment on how great it is that I’m keeping the kids engaged over their summer break,” Les told us. “Just this week I got a photo of a student doing martial arts with Chewbacca in the Disney Park.”
Les was also happy to see that automations ensure his prospects no longer falling through the cracks. “Each and every prospect is followed up with, and that means more students will visit our school,” Les said. The test registration process is also automated now, so Les is saving time and making sure his students test when they need to. “The automated test registration process is making sure students aren’t missed, which is great for my retention,” Les said.
“I love Zen Planner. It’s less expensive than comparable tools but gives you so much more. And unlike other systems, you can set it up to run your business the way you want. It saves time and money. I recommend it to all my colleagues.”