Congratulations on starting your dream business! It’s an exciting time, but it can also be a stress-filled time too. The initial financial output for starting a school can be surprisingly large. Sure, bringing in more students is going to be the answer, and you’ll get there. But there’s another thing to think about while you’re building your student base: reducing overhead.
The good news is that you can begin working on this now, beginning with these five tips:
A methodical process of evaluating and purging things that inflate overhead — a spring-cleaning of sorts — is a step all fitness business owners can benefit from. It’s one the easiest things you can do to reduce overhead. It involves variables over which you have total control, which means you can make changes at any time.
A good first step is searching for non-essential costs and purging them. Look to eliminate or spend less on things for the your school and office, like snacks, beverages, paper goods and extra bathroom and locker-room items. Consider using energy efficient light bulbs and talking to your team about energy use and waste in general.
2. Give Your Students a Sense of Ownership; Require That They Help Maintain the Dojo
Many karate dojos and kung fu schools require all students to participate in the upkeep of their school. Not only does this reduce costs, it gives the students a stronger sense of ownership and community. They begin thinking of the dojo not as “your” dojo, but as “their” dojo, and this increases their long-term commitment.
It also gives the students a sense of teamwork and a feeling that “we’re all in this together,” especially when the students team up to do something great to make the dojo look amazing.
3. Use Powerful Business and Billing Management Tools
Businesses succeed when they operate efficiently. If you’re manually trying to juggle student scheduling, billing, new client registrations, staff scheduling and the tracking of student performance and belts, your efficiency is suffering.
Using a powerful all-in-one, martial arts management software will transform your day-to-day operations and improve everything from student retention to payment collections. It gives you the ability to efficiently manage your school with all the professionalism of a top-notch business. Plus, you’ll have integrated marketing tools that will help you bring in more students, which will boost your bottom line.
This also means you’re not paying for an outside billing company or collection agency to handle those tasks for you, which will dramatically reduce overhead.
4. Reduce Your Rent: Decrease or Share Your Space
It’s better to have a smaller space with lower rent than financially struggling in a luxuriously huge space in a prime foot traffic location. That’s because a large space and high visibility don’t necessarily translate into more revenue. Having a lower rent, however, will give you the financial space and time you need to build your student base.
In his book “Dojo Start-up Action Steps,” school owner Mike Massie recommends owners think carefully about their space and rental commitments. He says, “Remember that you don’t need more than a few thousand square feet to operate a thriving studio. Getting all that extra space is just going to put you in the hole before you even have a ladder to climb out on.”
Some martial arts school owners find creative ways to handle class space issues, such as making use of community centers or subletting space to massage therapists, acupuncturists or other similar services.
5. Remember the 80/20 Rule
Work to always focus on quality over quantity.
High quality, passionate, dedicated students matter, and they greatly influence your bottom-line.
FightingArts.com explains it this way:
Eighty percent of your successes will come from twenty percent of your activities. Eighty percent of a business profits will come from twenty percent of its customers. Do not be afraid of firing people in the bottom 80 percent. Sometimes you need to cut off a hand in order to save the body is an old saying and in a martial arts school, many times it is better for the school to get rid of certain students and parents because they can be a like a cancer and destroy the morale and attitude of others. Pick your teachers and students well, and your life as a teacher will be much more blessed.
The underlying theme behind these points is simple: disciplined and intelligent business practices, that help methodically build your community, are what you need to come out on top.
You opened a school to share your art, technique and passion with students in your community; not to become an accountant. Get your copy of our free guide, Six Building Blocks to Financial Health for Your School to get insights into funding your school, preparing for tax season, managing advanced financial processes and much more.
Zen Planner is a management and billing software for boutique fitness businesses.
We help gym, school, and studio owners streamline their day-to-day tasks so they can get back to doing what they love — helping their members. Enjoy all the features you need to manage your fitness business, including robust reporting dashboards, automated payment processing, skills and belt tracking, attendance history, and online retail.