A Fall Enrollment Season Like No Other?

If the recession has gotten you to tighten your belt, perhaps you should consider sticking to those habits once things improve

If the recession has gotten you to tighten your belt, perhaps you should consider sticking to those habits once things improve

It looks like consumer confidence may be picking up, based on what I’ve been hearing from school owners around the country.

After a relatively flat October, enrollments increased sharply in November and the upswing is continuing into December… all factors that point to this being a highly unusual fall season for many schools around the nation.

However, it also could indicate that consumers are feeling more confident about the economy and are becoming more willing to spend money on luxury services again, in spite of the holiday season.

And, although the consumer confidence index has only seen a slight uptick since September (although it has increased dramatically after it hit near record lows earlier this year), it bears mentioning that at least in our industry there are plenty of schools that are going great guns despite the recession.

(Note: My take on this is that people are looking for something to take their minds off everything going on in the world, and activities like martial arts and fitness classes are a great way for them to do so. So, make sure your ads are focused on how fun and enjoyable your programs are – many people are more than willing to pay for escapism during difficult times. – MM)

If You’ve Tightened Your Belt A Notch Or Two, Don’t Start Loosening It Yet…

What this all means to those who have survived this recession is that you’ve developed some really good business habits in order to keep your martial arts businesses going.

That means you’ve been…

  • Creating and following a marketing plan each month that includes multiple marketing methods, instead of cutting back on marketing to save money (this is so backwards, I can’t believe it when people tell me they’re planning to cut back on marketing to save money – that’s like saying you’re going to quit your job to cut back on your fuel bill)…
  • Doing online marketing on a daily basis (blogging, articles, press releases, etc.)…
  • Keeping your overhead costs as low as possible without sacrificing customer service or comfort…
  • And, working your hardest to keep the students you have through showing them that they are valued members of your school!

Good Business Practices Should Be Adhered To In Every Economy

The fact is, the economy goes through regular cycles of highs and lows. Remember when the dot-com bubble burst back in 2000? How about the unusually harsh recession in the early eighties?

Knowing this, it only makes sense to stick to sound financial practices in your school during both strong financial times and lean.

So once this recession blows over, don’t do what most school owners will do and start to coast… or worse yet, to bog your business down with excess spending and overhead bloat. Instead, stick to those good habits so they become second nature… and then sock that extra money you make during the “good times” away so you are ready for the next low period.

By doing so, you’ll be protecting your business against any future economic dips… and at the same time you’ll be maximizing your profits while decreasing your liabilities.

Sounds like the smart way to go to me.

Until next time,

Michael D. Massie
Blog: https://martialartsbusinessdaily.com/
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5 Comments

  1. Jason Stanley on December 9, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Quote: “Planning to cut back on marketing to save money – that’s like saying you’re going to quit your job to cut back on your fuel bill”

    Ha! That’s awesome.

    So let me get this right – so now if I quit marketing I won’t have to teach, so I won’t have to drive, AND I’ll save on fuel!



  2. Mike Massie on December 10, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Yeah… I think that almost nearly makes sense!

    Seriously though, I do hear school owners say they’re cutting back on marketing to save money… a lot more often than you might think.

    For anyone who is contemplating this… bad idea. Very bad idea. When business slows you INCREASE your marketing, not decrease it.

    And if your budget is tight, you find low-cost and free ways to increase your marketing.



  3. Jason Stanley on December 10, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Absolutely!

    You know a parent of one of my kids said to me the other day, “Would you mind if I included your flyers with my real estate brochure/door hangers in the neighborhoods around town?”

    I asked her, “How much will it cost?”

    She said, “That’s ok, I’d be happy to do it for you… I’m sending out 1,000 flyers every 2 weeks starting next week. Just email me the artwork, I’ll print them, cut them and deliver them for you”

    So of course I said, “No thanks. I’m trying to cut back on teaching to save on fuel!”

    Ha ha!

    Just kidding… I jumped on that one like a ravenous dog!



  4. Mike Massie on December 10, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    That’s a testament to your perceived value, Jason.

    You should be proud – your clients appreciate you!



  5. steve siverling on December 17, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Greetings,

    Depends too, if your job is paying you enough to pay the fuel bill :)
    I’ve heard that first earnings will pick up (might be there), then economy, then employment. The last several recoveries have been a jobless ones. So I’m wondering if it will be that way in this case.

    I’m going to try a different approach. Instead of starting a traditional martial arts school, I’m planning on starting a larp chapter. I’m getting more support them then I ever did the former organization. So yeah, this will be “interesting”, as I like to say.



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