The back-to-school season for Martial Arts schools is similar to the holiday season in retail … a huge opportunity to ramp up business and revenue. It’s your chance to rejuvenate your current student base, reclaim the students who took the summer off, and capture new members.
What should you be doing now to prepare for this critical, time-sensitive opportunity?
First, it’s time to redirect focus and energy. While summer camp and summer promotions may be at the top of your thoughts, it’s also time to get into the back-to-school mode. I’m sure you’ve seen recent Target or Wal-Mart ads. These big-boy retail stores feature back-to-school offerings with ads and price promotions during the heat of the summer … weeks before school actually starts … in order to stir up demand and create top-of-mind awareness.
The point is: first and foremost, for any big seasonal push, you need to get ahead of the curve in planning, production and mindset – ideally two to three months ahead of the start of the season.
Next, start mapping out your plan and get it on paper. It may sound oversimplified, but creating a spreadsheet or a simple list of your ideas and tasks is well worth the effort. A plan on paper will help reinforce your objectives, and you can share the document with staff to spread accountability and responsibility, and to encourage staff members to think strategically.
When you make a plan, chances are good that promotional campaigns come to mind. While that’s certainly a big part of building awareness and driving activity, you can also stimulate activity with retention strategies. Contact the students who took the summer off, along with your summer campers. Encourage them to bring friends or siblings to your school, and tell them about your new events and happenings.
Your plans for promotions and retention are great, but the action steps ― the real heart of your mission ― are critically important.Spell out every specific task you can think of (e.g. determine Groupon deal, launch Groupon deal, create web ad, post web ad), then designate who will be responsible for what task and set a due date for each action.
Remember that the goals you set are the goals that are met. Include specific, measurable goals within your plan. When you set goals for the specific number of new sign-ups you are aiming for and the number of members you want to retain, and then take the next steps to communicate those numbers to your team, everyone becomes more involved and motivated to reach those goals. And involving your staff shows you believe in their ability to contribute to business development, which in the long run will help team members feel valued and appreciated.
Last but certainly not least, measure, evaluate and refine.
How many calls did you place this week?
How much time did it take to place those calls?
How many students came in as a result?
Remember, what gets measured gets done. By quantifying your results, you’ll be able to make strong, data-based decisions, further refine your efforts for better results, and know what to repeat and what to nix next year.
Here’s to your successful and profitable back-to-school season!