When I was at the Martial Arts SuperShow a few weeks ago, I sat in on a number of terrific sessions. One of those, “Ten Things That Make an Introductory Lesson Great,” by Myles Baker was particularly helpful. Myles is the Vice President of the Martial Arts Management Group & Premier Martial Arts. Here are the tips that he shared.
Have a system
Myles recommends that you have a system that can be replicated over and over again. If you put a system in place so that introductory lessons always look the same, you can then teach other instructors what they should do during that all-important first lesson. If everyone is doing the same thing, you also can easily determine what part of the process might need tweaking if registrations after the introductory lesson drop suddenly. If everyone does things slightly differently, it is much harder to pinpoint areas for improvement.
Create a private environment
You want to have complete control over the student’s first experience with martial arts. By doing the introductory course privately, you can eliminate many of the variables that could be out of your control such as multiple people on the floor or distractions from another class.
Get your student into a uniform
Is there anything more powerful than physically changing your appearance in order to change how you think about yourself? You want both the student and their parents to envision the child as an active participant in martial arts. Putting the child into a uniform is step one in building that belief.
Set a goal for the child to earn their white belt
Having a goal provides a tangible way for a child to grasp what “success” might look like. And, a sense of accomplishment when the child earns that white belt will go a long way.
Break up the introductory lesson into two lessons
It’s easy for either you or your prospective to have an off day and if you only have one lesson together, your student or their parents will only have that one impression of you and your school. If you teach two lessons, you can build rapport and you’ll have the best chance of adding that student to your martial arts school.
Talk about character development
Parents often bring their children to a martial arts school for a few reasons that include character development, self-defense and fitness. Since character development is so important, it makes sense to address it upfront. Make sure that the introductory experience that you design speaks directly to character. And, relate the physical movements to the traits that the parent is seeking.
Engage parents during the lesson
I can tell you as a parent that I love when instructors or teachers speak and engage on a deeper level with my children. But I also want to get to know other grown-ups who will spend time with my child. Make sure that you provide parents with a very clear picture of the benefits their child will receive from participating in your program.
Myles notes that his instructors assign an act of self-discipline to the child and have them memorize the schools’ student creed. This lets the child bring martial arts into their home after the lesson is over and creates enthusiasm about joining the program.
Conduct a white belt test
If you did a solid job of getting the child excited about earning a white belt, he or she will be even more enthusiastic when they have earned it. And earning a white belt is much better than simply being given one.
Award the white belt
You’ve now created a martial arts student. Celebrate this achievement and make a big deal about the child earning their white belt.
Once you have lots of new students from your newly-improved introductory lesson, you’ll want to continue to track students with skills and belt tracking with automated alerts that will tell you when a group of students are ready to move to the next level. Zen Planner lets you track attendance and testing for new belts.
Looking for additional advice to keep your white belts coming back? Get your copy of our guide, 4 Essential Strategies for Student Retention, for retention advice from successful school owners and industry experts.
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