Question on Finding a Good Location For A Martial Art School
Q&A On Finding a Good Location for a Martial Arts School
Jason wrote in recently to ask the following:
Q: “What factors should I consider with location? Do I need to be in the most perfect retail space out there, or could I consider 3rd place and if marketed correctly, can I get students? I don’t have the luxury of being the only guy in town. So, my other question would be what do I need to be concerned about with my competition?”
A: Competition is a fact of life. I once ran a martial art school in a town where there was virtually no competition for the first few years I was in business. Then, I had 3 schools open in a very short period of time.
What I found was that it actually improved my business, because of the increased awareness their marketing created, as well as the fact that it forced me to improve my game. Suddenly, I had to be better than someone else, and it forced me to step things up.
Just make sure you don’t open right around the corner from a competitor. Those situations never turn out well for either party.
Factors that are important to consider when choosing a location include
- How much money there is in the area,
- And how many people there are in that are willing to spend it.
Look for locations within a few miles of at least 2 or 3 elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school, and that are very close to heavily populated residential areas with a higher median income than is typical for your area.
Remember that you want your martial arts school to be located in an area where people have discretionary income, and where there are a lot of kids and families.
You don’t necessarily need to be in the best location, but if you can find a good deal on a prime storefront location that has a lot of foot traffic or a good anchor tenant that brings in a lot of cars and customers, take it.
Bottom line… finding a location is always a process of weighing pros and cons, and then finding the optimum compromise between the two.
– Mike Massie
P.S. – I go into the topic of how to find a great location for a martial art school in great detail, both in Small Dojo Big Profits (http://small-dojo-big-profits.com), and in the 100-level courses at MAbizU (http://MAbizU.com).
Yet more great advice. An instructor I met once was situated on a strip mall in Connecticut, between a Starbucks and a Blockbuster. Now there’s a GREAT location!
Following on from this, what would go to make a good facility? How important is having your own parking, for example?
Parking and ingress/egress to the facility are VERY important. I have a whole checklist in “Small Dojo Big Profits” that takes you through all the things you need to consider in finding a location.
Take your time choosing a location – jumping into the first place that looks good is almost always a costly mistake.
In 2003 I started out teaching out of the local community center until I built up my student base. It was only then I decided to go full time – when I knew I had enough students to support the move.
We moved from a place everyone knew to a dungeon dojo in a backstreet in an industrial area. Not my first choice, but somewhere I knew we could have no problem paying the rent, and I knew if I worked hard at it I could get people to go there.
As it turned out the school grew and grew until 18 months after that we had to move again – this time to the dream location, but again ONLY after I knew we could do it financially.
The point to this is that “you’ve got to start where you’re at”, so to speak. Don’t move into the Taj Mahal with 20 students because that’s what you want – be reasonable and plan it financially.
The biggest mistake I’ve seen time and time again is people who have 15 students, get offered a great deal on a rental space and sign a 3 year lease thinking that they’ll be able to get 100 students in the first month.
Very few people can pull that kind of thing off. Particularly when you are first going full time and have so much else to think about. You don’t need the financial pressure of not having enough students to pay for your space, and you having to dig into your personal account to pay the balance… that’s not a good sign.
Be smart. Think with your head and not with your heart when it comes to business decisions.
Hope this helps!
P.S. Here’s a link to the build out we did at the first “dungeon dojo”. You can see just how much was involved.
I’ve heard it’s good to get that first mover advantage. If your the first in and our established it’s going to be hard to be moved away. For example, I know a small town that doesn’t have any other studio’s there. I may open a school there. But I’m going to keep trying till I make it.