Reader Question: How to Build a Huge Martial Arts Kids Program

Recently I put out a couple blogs that have produced a TON of questions, which I love because it makes my job of thinking of content that much easier 🙂

The two blogs were How To Make More Money Teaching Martial Arts and the other was the 7 Tips to Scheduling More Private Lessons for Martial Arts Instructors.

Louie Miller, Instructor from Gracie Barra Alaska asks:

When someone comes in to let their kid try their first class, what do you say to them and how do you “sell” the program?”

I will get really comprehensive in the video below, but 90-95% of the work in building a kids program boils down to 3 main areas:

  1. Atmosphere
  2. Protocols and procedures
  3. The class itself.

When these steps are put in place properly the only reason left not to join is price, which is a myth.

Here you go, just about everything you need to know on how to build a martial arts kids program.

Building an Enormous Martial Arts Kids Program: Atmosphere

From the moment a family walks in to the door you are being judged. Just like that guy with a grungy appearance or tattoos, sorry but you are being judged.

I am a young entrepreneur, and I am being judged every day. It is my job to shape a potential clients point of view through my demeanor, my service, and my knowledge. The atmosphere that I create.

The same is true for your academy. The moment a potential student walks in the door your academy and it’s employees are being judged. Their appearance, the cleanliness of the facility, how long it takes to be helped, and every step along the way.

  • Employee appearance
  • Cleanliness of the facility
  • How long it takes to be helped
  • The energy of the other parents and kids

Atmosphere: If you build it… they will stay

As I mentioned in a previous blog about building a successful academy, it is the owner’s responsibility to build out a culture that is self-sustaining.

All to often the world champions of the world have a hard time transitioning to world class instruction because their attention is drawn elsewhere in a time where it is not easy running a small business.

If you could run a small business off of your name alone the players of the NBA, NFL, and MLB wouldn’t be broke within the first 2 years of retirement and the 30 for 30 documentary “Broke” wouldn’t exist.

If you want an academy that is self-sustaining regardless of who picks up the phones, regardless of who makes the sale, there needs to be a culture in place where your students are so happy with their service that they become your own brand evangelists .

At our academy not a lot of work needs to be done in signing up a student, not only do our classes speak for themselves but the parents speak for us. It’s at the point now where I’ll look over at the bench and our parent’s will be giving the new arrivals the lowdown on every we kick ass at.

Like I said in that last blog, you have to own your space. Once you own it you have to get people to know who you are, and once they know you, you have to deliver. Here’s how you deliver..

How Do You Build an Enormous Martial Arts Kids Program: Protocols and Procedures

This is the most simple and least executed step in the process of building out a kids program and it comes down to organization.

Having protocols and procedures in place for when the:

  1. Lesson is scheduled
  2. Student arrives
  3. Waiver is signed
  4. Uniform is given
  5. Student is introduced
  6. Tour of the facility takes place
  7. After class routine
  8. Sale is made
  9. After sale routine
  10. New uniform sold
  11. Follow up call
  12. Attendance card made
  13. Etc., Etc., Etc.

And not to mention all the steps in between… Each and ever step that you use to acquire a new student needs to be documented, organized, and known inside and out by everyone involved.

Your ability to acquire a new student in a kids class in the martial arts game has SO little to do with what everyone expects:

A. How well the kid likes the class

B. How well you can sell the membership

The membership is sold through concierge level service. Have you ever taken your raggedy ass car to a BMW dealership for a repare, what do they do? They loan you a brand new Beemer!

You walk into their dealership looking like death, wearing the same clothes you wore to the club the night before, and how do they treat you? Like you are a million dollars.

Don’t compete on price. Price is a myth. Compete with a level of service and organized policy/procedure. When they do an intro lesson at your facility it should be clear that you are the only game in town.

How to Grow a Kid’s Program in Martial Arts: The Class Itself

Ahhh yes… the reason they came to the academy in the first place! The way you run the class is important because if your goal is to have 200 kids then you better know how to manage 200 kids.

Whoever you have running that kids program needs to be a world class composer. The kids, the parents, the staff, needs to know that when they are on the mat things are taken care of.

This past week we had an issue where my right hand man couldn’t make it in to class, another assistant couldn’t make it, and our Jr. instructors were hungover from 2 weeks of Mickey Mouse pancakes on a Disney cruise.

So I had one assistant and because of this I had to combine the classes. We had over 40 student and 2 instructors. In this scenario you have to be able to take charge of a room and let everyone know: the captain is here and there is nothing to worry about.

It turned out being one the best classes on record but this is because of, again, going back to organization, protocol and procedures, and ATMOSPHERE.

Not only did the 20 or so parents in attendance know everything was handled (atmosphere/evangalists), but the kids themselves are leaders.

Through the steps we’ve put in place with our level of organization and sense of community we have an incredible level of retention.

When there are 40 kids on the mat, I strongly believe that at least 10 are technical enough, confident enough, and mature enough who to teach the damn class themselves. They have been there so long it’s like “OK, let’s go new guy here’s how to do it, let’s go.”

Put It All Together!

It is impossible to give the in and outs of running a successful kids program in one blog, but if you follow the 3 pillars of growing an enormous kids class you will be far and above your competitors:

  • Build an Infectious Atmosphere: From the moment they step in: WOW, NEXT LEVEL.
  • Concierge Level Service: Treat every single person that walks in not like a new sale, but like an interview to your their family.
  • Build an Academy of Evangelists: The sale doesn’t stop when the CC has been processed. Each and every day you must be re-enforcing their decision by continued development of that sense of community.
  • Show up: You want to travel around from country to country. You want to take 30+ days off a year as a small business owner? You are going to get left in the dust when it comes to your kids program.
  • Protocol and Procedures: Each and every aspect of your student acquisition process needs to be a formula mastered by each member involved. Ever watch Shark Tank? Know your shit…
  • Find your inner Babe Ruth- Every time you step up to bat as an instructor you are auditioning for your last performance. You better swing out of the park because if your goal is to grow to 200 kids but you can’t manage 10 with your eyes closed, you have problems.
  • The sale: When your academy is next level; when all the steps have been put in place, you do not have competition. Never compete on price. Like I mentioned in the blog on getting more private lessons, never devalue yourself and your academy by diluting prices. As a financial advisor I am telling you that it’s not people’s inability to pay for BJJ, it’s their inability to stop buying shit they don’t need.Remember: You are building a community of supporters. You don’t have to be all things to all people. Don’t be desperate for your next sale (even if you are) and don’t treat the customer like your next sale. An introductory lesson is an interview to see if they are a good fit for your family.

Go Out and Dominate

This is more than enough ammo to get you started building an enormous kids program. Use these tips and I assure you that you will become much closer to reaching your potential. If you have any questions on the material, whether it be sales, managerial, instruction, or anything personal finance, I am an open book. Just send an email to:

That’s how to make more money and here is how to keep it…

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