View Full Version : importance of location

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02-19-2004, 05:07 AM
Hello guys, I asked this on e-Budo as well, and would like to hear your opinions too.

I am considering moving locations of my dojo to a place that has much better visibility and is closer (within 1 mile) to a university and a community college. The rent is more, but my current space is invisible and we have not been able to attract peoples attention, even to the point of phone calls or visits. I would like to know how important you all think location is on a sucessful dojo.

Another question I have is how to attract other arts into the dojo to share space. I would be happy to have judo, jujitsu, tai chi or other like arts use the space and the mats, but don't really know how to go about approaching others who might not have a space. Would love suggestions please.

Thank you in advance for your suggestions and your comments about locations.

Rachel Massey, www.raisinriveraikikai.com (http://)

02-19-2004, 06:40 AM
:)Hello Rachel,

my name is Gary and I own a dojo. It's small and we have about 60 members training. We are in a strip mall and can't be seen from the streets on either side. You just have to work harder to let people know you are there. We use vinyl letters and a logo on the rear windows of some of our cars as billboards. We also have a martial arts supply store where we keep fliers posted. We do demos for corporations when they have family days.

If you work at getting your name out it won't matter if the location is not ideal.

02-19-2004, 06:47 AM
Thanks Mr. Chase,

Ours is pert near invisible. We've been diligent about getting flyers out, website, phone book, etc. (we've only done two demos, in both cases no one showed up).

I am lucky to get one phone call a month! maybe one email inquiry per month too! Think we've had a total of 5 people stop in to watch class over the last 8 months, and 4 have joined.....it's pretty bad!

02-19-2004, 08:49 AM
Hi Rachel,

My Sensei's dojo (which you've been to) is kind of tucked back from the road in a not-the-best-neighborhood location. We've got about 50 active people. Most of our inquiries come from 1) word of mouth, 2) the phone book. We do have the advantage of having been around, although in different locations, for a long time.

The multi-art dojo I teach at is located on more of a main road in what used to be a recreational motor sports dealership, complete with a big sign that we change on a regular basis out by the road (altough we didn't start there, we started very small and have since moved twice). We are just down the road from a major pharmaceutical manufacturer so many of the employees read our sign on the way to and from work. I've been told by friends who work there that people look forward to seeing what we've put up on the sign (currently "I'm uke. Your uke! :)) We've had some people come in because of it, but many more from word of mouth, the internet, and phone book.

As far as numbers go we are running well over 100 students dojo wide. The largest number belonging to the okinawan karate and weapons class. The second largest is the judo program. Aikido is 3rd. MMA group is 4th. Yoga is a seperate deal from the dojo proper and I have no idea how well she's doing. IMO, you should definitely look for a karate instructor. When most lay people think of martial arts that's what they think of. A yoga and/or tai chi instructor would also be a great thing to find. The trick is to find people who are interested in sharing their art and don't really care about turning a profit.

As to finding other people to share the space with, why not take out an add in the paper, the local college paper, hanging an add in local martial art supply stores, or health food stores. It will require you to interview people to see if they fit with you and what you're doing but I think it'd be a good way to get to those people who may be smaller and difficult to find. It'll be a lot of work for you but I can't think of another way to get the word out that you have space to share and are looking for some quality people to share it with.

Let us know how it all works out.


02-19-2004, 08:54 AM
Thanks Bronson!

Yes, I know you are rather tucked back at your main dojo and that you have a pretty good following. Part of my problem has to do with too much competition in the area coupled with a location in a small (pop. @ 4,000) city. I'm contemplating a move to Ypsilanti, which is closer to Detroit.

I ran an ad a couple of times for other martial arts or yoga. Got a great yoga/Pilates teacher in the dojo for about 7 months, but she could never make a go of it. She never had more than 3 people in a class, where in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti she regularly has 20! She thinks the dojo is beautiful, but the location is terrible! The rec center down the street has full to capacity yoga and Pilates classes, and Nia, a much more experienced teacher couldnt get more than 3!!!!

Thanks again, and I'll let you all know what happens....

02-20-2004, 06:26 AM
:) Rachel, don't give up, in the beginning we would have 2 or 3 people on the mat. That was ten years ago, now we have 12 to 25 on the floor most days. The students talking about and inviting guest to come and participate will help get your dojo's name out in public view.

Once we put out 5000 fliers on a Saturday and we got 1 phone call. We found that students referring people to the dojo was the way to advertise.

Another way is a web site.

02-20-2004, 06:29 AM
Thanks again!

My website address is www.raisinriveraikikai.com

I am going to make an offer on another place today. It is closer to a university and community college, within one block of the high school and rather heavily trafficked. If this doesn't work, I am going to have to conclude to the problem being me:eek:

Cross fingers all and wish good luck on expanding. We have gone from zero students a year and three months ago to eight on the books (although only three are really regular everyday practioners).

best, Rachel

02-20-2004, 11:18 AM
Just like in your practice of Aikido, ma-ai is important.

First in marketing you need to be both visible and conveniently available. You go to them. Later, your dojo will become a destination, people will come to you.

02-21-2004, 10:59 AM
Thanks Lynn, that is a good analogy.

Just curious from folks out there in cyberland; how would you feel about training at a dojo in a visible location but kind of high-crime area, as opposed to a quiet tucked away location that no one knows about in a very safe area? these seem to be my options.....

02-21-2004, 05:09 PM
how would you feel about training at a dojo in a visible location but kind of high-crime area, as opposed to a quiet tucked away location that no one knows about in a very safe area?
If the tucked away safe dojo wasn't open due to lack of students and all I had left was a visible dojo that was open, I'd go to wherever I could train.

Asking this group may not be the wisest marketing choice since we already train and our dojo is a destination.

OTOH, it maybe useful to survey why we picked our dojo so you can get a marketing strategy for new students. For me, it was convenient both in location and hours. I was lucky.

Good luck. Market wisely.

02-21-2004, 06:44 PM
Thanks Lynn, I think that Jun did hold a poll about something like that a year or so back. I asked if there was some way to do a poll about this question, but it was hard to word it properly. Think I'll stay put for another couple of months and spend a gazillion on advertising-just try to get the word out a bit. A friend who has a dojo said the phones have not been ringing or anyone coming in to watch either, and the visibility is better and it is a much older established dojo.....maybe things are just really bad out there for aikido right now....

02-22-2004, 12:44 PM
maybe things are just really bad out there for aikido right now....
In the recent newsletter from Aikido Journal, Stanley Pranin mentioned that it appeared that Aikido was on the decline and was asking if anyone had statistics.

IMHO, martial arts always has an ebb and flow.

Get a long term business and marketing plan in place. Spend your marketing/advertising money wisely. The ratio is 80% of your results will come from 20% of your effort. Word of mouth is the best and cost the least.

Jamie Stokes
02-22-2004, 11:52 PM
Hello Again Rachael-san,

one thing I have been doing in my store is...

asking everyone (and i mean everyone) "How did you find out about us?"

Prediction> Word of mouth. cheapest, steadiest, and will provide a constant growth.

So if you can find out what works, advertising wise, follow up on that, and ditch what doesnt work.

target market. Who is coming in the door? Who do you want coming in the door? how are you marketing for these people?

lotsa of other things, take each one as it comes.

One thought. Make it easy for people to find you. If they cant find you, it is effort expended for nil return.

warmest regards,

Jamie Stokes.

02-23-2004, 12:39 AM
Hi Rachel;

We are growing steadily with respect to both absolute beginners and dan ranked practitioners of other Budo. Latest addition is a Nidan from the dojo of a famous Western Aikikai Shihan.

There are two sources.

Internet. If your site does not come on top when you type in the name of your town and Aikido when you do a google search than either your meta tags are badly chosen or you need to get some other sites to link to yours. Top place is important.

Word of Mouth. Every now and then (let's say six months) directly ask your students to drag in a few friends. You know - just to try - no charge. My newest group of neophytes all know someone in the dojo - we'll see who stays.

Kevin Masters
03-01-2004, 09:14 AM
Hi Rachel.

Our dojo isn't very far out of the way, relatively speaking. It isn't all that visible either. We're up a country road that's up another country road off of a main state road. I found out about it at a demo that was held in one of the larger cities in the county. They advertised with flyers at my college. I still remember the masthead: AIKIDO IS NOT A DOG! I had heard a little about it and wanted to see what it was all about.

I read somewhere that a good way to get free advertising is to suggest your local paper run a story on your new business(dojo). I've seen a few articles in our Kingston paper showcasing business' grand openings/reopenings/expansions whatever.

Best of luck.


03-01-2004, 12:59 PM
I read somewhere that a good way to get free advertising is to suggest your local paper run a story on your new business(dojo).
We did this when I was taking tai chi and it worked pretty well. Call the local papers Lifestyle, or Neighborhoods or whatever editor and they should be able to hook you up. It lets people see you and the best thing is it's absolutely free :D If you have any local TV stations you may be able to get them to come out and do a local interest piece on you also...that worked nicely for us and again, it was free.

If you move that would be a great time to have them come and do a piece.