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Old 05-22-2014, 03:00 PM   #51
Keith Larman
Location: California
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,550
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Re: Aikido Dojo Recruitment...????

Quote:
Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
Except a dojo has high fixed costs -- rent, instructor support, etc. -- but very low incremental costs. Adding an additional student costs very little, and most of those costs (uniform, organizational fees) can be passed on to the students themselves.

Moreover, each individual class is like a theatre performance: once it's over, it's done. You can't put it on a shelf and sell it later. So, like day-of-show "rush" tickets on Broadway, you'll take any revenue that you can get from a teaching slot that would otherwise be empty.

Katherine
Pedantic man replies -- Again, if you are selling "below" cost (fixed plus incremental) then *by definition* you are making less than it costs you. Honestly, being a dojo cho myself and cutting the checks monthly I'm fully aware of the high fixed costs and the fact that bringing more bodies on the mat is almost cost-free. I was replying to the comment that even if you're losing money by selling below cost you can make it up on volume as a general concept.

Taking off my pedantic-man cape now and getting back to doing the dojo invoicing...

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Old 05-23-2014, 06:15 AM   #52
allowedcloud
Location: cincinnati
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 68
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Re: Aikido Dojo Recruitment...????

Quote:
Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
A little additional context might be helpful, too.

This particular dojo is co-located with a Buddhist temple, where the chief instructor is also the senior Dharma teacher. Sliding fee scales are unusual in the commercial/retail world, but quite common in the non-profit/social services world. Buddhism in particular has a lot of tradition around community support. So I suspect this approach works better in this context than it might in a for-profit dojo with a more "fee for services" attitude.

Katherine

PS Please say hi to Jay from me when you see him next.
Thanks for this, it's absolutely correct. The idea is that people paying at the higher end of the scale effectively subsidize those that are paying at the lower end. This helps ensure that no one is financially excluded from training at the dojo.

And Jay was very happy that your Sandan test went so well
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Old 05-23-2014, 06:36 AM   #53
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Dojo: Wherever I am.
Location: South Korea, Yongin
Join Date: Jun 2004
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Re: Aikido Dojo Recruitment...????

Partly joking, but partly true: 99% of new students walking through the door have little idea of what Aikido is and expect to learn to defend themselves. After a couple of weeks they will have 'converted' and would likely tell a new newbie about relaxation and non-resistance and so on and so forth. After some time, the 'converted' wake up and realise what happened and that their black belt won't protect them. I think many leave because of this miss-match of expectations leading to a feeling of loss/betrayal both by their school/sensei and because of their own foolishness. They just wake up to the actual reality.

All true: The best way to attract people is to be good yourself. The best way to keep people is to teach them all the waza really well and to make them faster, fitter, stronger and more confident. You must also continue train hard yourself and to do your best to remain better than your students. If you do this, your club will be good - it will attract students by word of mouth and retention will be high.

Common sense: if you do demos in public places for recruitment purposes, plan them well - show what Aikido is - not just your favourite waza - and don't do sword taking as most people, especially other martial artists, will laugh at you. Possibly, quite loudly. And while it is good to have everyone participate, keep those with an obvious lack of skill (especially black belts) out of the demos. But do include low grades that have skill - they are possibly your best advertisement as they are what your newbies will become.

Last edited by Rupert Atkinson : 05-23-2014 at 06:46 AM.

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Old 05-23-2014, 07:01 AM   #54
PeterR
 
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Dojo: Shodokan Honbu (Osaka)
Location: Himeji, Japan
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Re: Aikido Dojo Recruitment...????

Quote:
Rupert Atkinson wrote: View Post
The best way to attract people is to be good yourself. The best way to keep people is to teach them all the waza really well and to make them faster, fitter, stronger and more confident. You must also continue train hard yourself and to do your best to remain better than your students. If you do this, your club will be good - it will attract students by word of mouth and retention will be high.
I was mulling over whether to relate this little story and you pushed me into it.

I was leaving for Canada after several years training in Japan and was undergoing all sorts of anxiety about starting my first club in my new abode. An old hand in starting clubs both abroad and in Japan (may have been the first non-Japanese to open a Aikido club in Japan) told me that if you are any good people will come. He left me hanging for a bit - but after awhile wandered back and said "Don't worry they'll come". They did of course but basically what worked is exactly what Rupert described. Word of mouth is a powerful tool - and so is leading from the front. I have only started a club one other time but in both cases the type of student I wanted did not come from flyers, cutting prices (OK they were always low) or dragging in friends and relations. Those things worked for the initial start to some degree but I think that for long term growth they are probably not the best way.

Aikido will not pull people away from other arts whether martial or otherwise, and it wont drag in previously disinterested people off the street.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 05-23-2014, 08:33 AM   #55
lbb
Location: Massachusetts
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Re: Aikido Dojo Recruitment...????

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
I was replying to the comment that even if you're losing money by selling below cost you can make it up on volume as a general concept.
As has already been explained, it was a JOKE.
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Old 05-23-2014, 09:10 AM   #56
Keith Larman
Location: California
Join Date: Apr 2005
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Re: Aikido Dojo Recruitment...????

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
As has already been explained, it was a JOKE.
Sigh. I know. I was replying to Katherine as the topic of incremental costs and students in a dojo is a topic of daily concern to me and I do recognize the issue.

Never mind... Time for a break. As *another* joke goes, if someone is having a hard time communicating, the least he can is shut up about it. I'm shutting up now.

damatte keikoshiro.

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Old 05-29-2014, 08:18 PM   #57
Stephen Nichol
Dojo: Aikilife, Canberra
Location: Canberra, ACT
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 90
Australia
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Re: Aikido Dojo Recruitment...????

Quote:
Joe Curran wrote: View Post
Hi Stephen,
What cookies would you suggest you give potential students?Chocolate Chipped, Coconut flavoured, Milk chocolate, minty ones?Do you also provide them with a cup of cocoa, tea or a Starbucks special? Do you find the local cafes take umbrage on you for taking away some of their trade?Are you planning a food kitchen in the near future?I think soup and a crusty role would be a more effective ploy to generate interest than a cookie.
Cheers, Joe
Hey Joe,

Sorry for the late reply. I spend more time using the search feature on this forum looking for gold than anything else these days.

We have found that a sweet tooth to the optimal 'introductory food' and we will supply our customers... err, students with whatever flavour they prefer for free... the first time..

To avoid the local cafes and 'suppliers' from taking umbrage we approach them and arrange to act as 'distributors' of their cookies and beverages and other 'product' and provide them a increase stream of customers.

So it is a win/win situation

Repeat business is done via the basic positive re-enforcement with reward practice: "Your technique has improved. Would you like some chocolate?" "If you correct your posture like 'this' you may find this easy to do. Ah good, just like that! Would you like some coco?"
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Old 05-29-2014, 08:49 PM   #58
Stephen Nichol
Dojo: Aikilife, Canberra
Location: Canberra, ACT
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 90
Australia
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Re: Aikido Dojo Recruitment...????

On a more serious note to address the OP:

It is an interesting experience trying to grow the membership at a dojo as well as your practice space. The later being the case for those who rent out a shared training area of any sort and have to set up and take down mats and whatever else several times a week to train.

Finding that next level of growth in membership to make it possible to open a full time training hall/dojo is an interesting endeavor.

The content of what is on every medium you use to advertise is 'key' (not to be confused with Ki and Chi and ... well you get the idea) to be clear about what you do in simplest but still interesting terms.

So you have your web based advertising.
Word of mouth.
Flyers located in places you feel give you exposure to people from all over who may be curious.
Perhaps T-Shirts and other clothing with any logo you may have. The design of clothing logos and slogans can speak volumes about the personality and atmosphere one could expect from your club which will affect who you attract and why.

In our case, our current location is rather decent size and a very functional space however it is a shared time venue as a scout/guide hall. As our own Dojo matures and continues to grow (slowly) we find ourselves looking around for a place to expand/move to for the right cost and the correct balance point of membership levels to sustain that move.

We are currently limited by only being able to train certain evenings of the week due to the shared venue. A full time location will open up the options to train every night which in turn opens up the options for more people to come and train as they can fit it into the schedules.

Obviously the question we ask ourselves is: Even if we had a full time location, how many existing students would take advantage of being able to training any night of the week and how many new students would start based on the fact they could train on nights that are currently unavailable?

To summerize (nothing expecially new here I imagine):
Growth of membership and retention of students can come down to:
- Training costs
- Training nights available based on other things in their lives
- Personalities of everyone involved fitting together. (not always essential but helps if they do)
- Catering to new people not only with beginner classes but also each person's reason for trying Aikido.. or your style of it. Many people in our dojo have done Aikido in the past, often many years ago and want to get back into it. A little special attention in the right places and quantity can go a long way to making someone feel like they learn 'their way' to do what you are trying teach them 'what you do'.

Hope some of this is useful. I am always learning myself about... well, everything. So this is based on my limited experience so far.

Kind regards,

Steve

Last edited by Stephen Nichol : 05-29-2014 at 08:55 PM.
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Old 05-31-2014, 04:07 PM   #59
JP3
 
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Dojo: Wasabi Dojo
Location: Houston, TX
Join Date: Mar 2013
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Re: Aikido Dojo Recruitment...????

We tried a Groupon. Serious. We structured it to give a half-price 60 days trial period, and since our dojo is "in" a BJJ school, what we did is voluntarily pick up the slack on dues as a group to see if the $$$ special could lead to some new folks. Got a few hits, and got 2 new couples and their older kids from it. Total of 6 new students. Cost our club people about $90 out of pocket to do it.

I find it interesting that the kanji character for kuzushi illustrates a mountain falling on a house.
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