Key Lessons Learned From Martial Arts and MMA Business Owners (Part 1)

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A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid the mistake altogether.

~Roy H. Williams

Our team has had the honor of getting to know thousands of fitness business owners during our eight years serving this community. Throughout countless conversations, we’ve picked up some recurring takeaways that can help you steer your business to success. Told with stories of our wonderful customers, here are the first three of eight key lessons we’ve heard from Martial Arts and MMA business owners.

Lesson 1 – Automate payment processing

Don’t let administrative work stand in the way of you fulfilling your mission. Automating payments saves you time and keeps you on the path toward your goals.

When Tracie and Michael Ide started Idaho Krav Maga, their mission was extremely modest. They simply wanted to share their love of Krav Maga and make their community a safer place.

Tracie and Michael taught classes in a garage and used spreadsheets to track their students. Their payment processing solution was SQUARE and it was installed on their mobile phones. This process worked for a while but as they grew their business, they outgrew the ad-hoc system they were using.

Since they needed to ask for each student’s credit card each month, the process of collecting member payments was pretty stressful. Tracie and Michael researched solutions and started using member management software.Now that students are on automated payments Tracie and Michael don’t have to spend time tracking down students and their credit cards. Automating this process has freed countless hours a week for them and they have noticed that automated payment processing has even helped improve member retention.

Now the Ides’ modest mission has turned into a successful business that has nearly one hundred active members. We think that’s a definite success.

Lesson 2 – Pick your ideal student and grow your business accordingly

By knowing exactly who your target student is, you’ll do a better job of reaching them with your marketing. You’ll also be able to more effectively devote your efforts toward that student demographic.

Located just south of Fort Worth Texas, the founding partners of this elite fighting gym made the decision early on to serve only serious fighters. They state this mission clearly on their website: “Texas Fighting Syndicate isn’t everything to everyone and that is how we like it. We hold ourselves and our fighters to very high standards. If you want to fight then we are the gym for you.”Along the way that’s meant they’ve turned away prospects, but it also means they are better at serving the clients they work with. In fact, they are now one of the most respected MMA gyms in the country. They focused on the target market (elite MMA fighters) and as a result, they have seen their gym flourish.

Lesson 3 – Make sure your members can serve themselves

You know the adage- work smarter not harder. As a business owner, this is an adage you can’t afford to overlook. By giving your members access to self-service features, you’re not tied up at the front desk when you could be teaching classes.

Leo Dokutoshi Pimentel, owner of SKH Quest Center NYC, has a deep love of Martial Arts that began when he was five years old. Throughout his life he invested in this love, frequently traveling across the country to train in a dojo. Because of the time and financial investment needed to take such long trips, Leo vowed he would one day open a dojo and make teaching “accessible for many.”

When he opened SKH Quest Center NYC, part of his dream was realized. But in order to make his teaching accessible for the many, he needed to be as efficient as possible with his time and resources. Otherwise he would be overrun with administrative work and unable to spend time with his students.

Leo adopted software early on to help him run his dojo and manage scheduling, billing and reporting. Although this functionality is important, Leo says the one feature he couldn’t live without is the ability to let his students access everything they need on-line. By enabling students to schedule classes, pay for their membership and check in on their own, he saves countless hours each week and doesn’t need administrative help for these tasks. All of this helps Leo share his love of Martial Arts with the many.


Interested in seeing what leading schools from around the world are doing to create success for themselves? Get your copy of our free Martial Arts Benchmark Report.

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Shilo Lucyk

Shilo Lucyk

In her spare time Shilo enjoys teaching yoga classes, doing CrossFit® and reading anything she can get her hands on.

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