How to Create a Martial Arts Referral Program for Your School

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martial arts referral program

In many cities, it’s not uncommon to have multiple martial arts schools close to one another–and it can be hard to tell what sets yours apart from the outside. The students you’ve done business with for years, however, are in a position to tell new students all about what your school has to offer. They’re your best advertisement! Unfortunately, if you aren’t taking advantage of referral program opportunities, you might be missing out on that critical advertising power. If you’re ready to create a student referral program for your martial arts school, consider these key questions.

What are you offering your current students?

Will referrals help them earn monetary credits toward their next promotion or help them save money on their regular tuition? What about special gear that you sell throughout your store: can referring students gain discounts on it as part of their referral? If you don’t have a referral program yet or your current program is failing to attract the attention you’d hoped for, make sure you’re asking students what they’d like to see from the referral program. By listening to your students, you’ll be able to design a referral program that will have them eager to bring in their friends and family members.

What incentives are you offering new students?

If a new student comes in as part of a referral program, do they receive an incentive that will help them choose your school instead of the others in your area? Many programs, for example, may offer a free gi with the first month’s membership. Others will offer the first couple of lessons for free to let students see whether or not they are interested in continuing in martial arts without a large financial commitment. When you offer something that other schools aren’t, you’re able to set yours apart and encourage them to visit your school.

How do students receive credit for their referrals?

Depending on the age of the student that they’ve referred, they might not be in the same class. In some cases, referred students might not even remember who recommended the school to them! Make sure you have a solid platform in place to track how students were referred to your school so that you can be sure to appropriately reward the individuals who brought them in.

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How do you handle online referrals?

Is a particular student zealous about sharing your social media posts? If so, they might be attracting more traffic to your school than either of you know. Make sure you’re taking steps to track online referrals to be sure that students receive credit for the effort they’ve put forth on your behalf.

Is there a limit to how many referral credits a student can earn?

Some students are eager to receive credits wherever they can, especially if their parents are struggling to afford the cost of their martial arts training. Make sure your referral program is clear about the number of credits they can earn, when they can be cashed in and how they work. You should also consider when you’ll offer the reward. Do you offer credit to the referring student as soon as a new student comes in, or after they’ve signed up and paid for their first month of classes? The way you structure the reward may make the difference between students who only show up once or twice and students who become dedicated members of your martial arts school.

Quality martial arts schools are always looking for new students. You want a steady stream of incoming white belts to help balance your older, more experienced students as well as provide regular revenue. Creating a student referral program is one of the best ways to encourage your existing students to spread the word about your school and bring in friends, family members and even those people they chat with casually at the grocery store.


Looking for creative ways to get more students into your school? Get your copy of our free Insider’s Guide to Student Recruitment.

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