It was a pleasure to have been invited to the Grand Opening of a new venue for Chris and Amanda Saunders of Teach Me Kung Fu Worthing. The guys had never done an open day before so decided to tie in the Grand Venue Opening with an opportunity to sign up new prospects.
Having worked with them for years I knew that their retention rate had always been extremely good (they actually won the NEST Retention Award in 2018) so I thought I’d take the opportunity not only to get involved in their Open Day, but also to see first hand how and why their retention is so high. It didn’t take me long to understand why.
I’ll start with the Grand Opening. They actually decided to have an existing student open day on the Friday to give all their students and parents an opportunity to see the venue, eat and drink with them and celebrate the progression of the club. It went very well, the turnout was fantastic and it allowed the students and parents to feel like a part of the team and part of the School growth. Then on Saturday was the Open Day itself where adults and children could drop in and have a taster of 3 different classes which were all running concurrently in the hall. As well as the taster sessions, they had set up a craft table in the corner of the hall.
My main observations from the Open Day were:
- Having 3 different sessions running made the environment energetic, varied and lively whilst demonstrating the variety available to a prospect.
- 80% of the children that came in to trial sessions were extremely shy, scared and reluctant to try anything. One child even shed a tear which was heartbreaking but showed me how intimidated children actually are when they come into a club for the first time. This must be very difficult for Instructors to overcome and I’m sure must be a big barrier to conversion. I realised that they needed a distraction from the fear to ease them into the environment. This is where the craft table came into it’s own. All the children were happy to walk over to the craft table and begin creating their paper dragon which then gave them time to calm down and become open to the Instructor leading them to a taster session.
- All children love nunchucks! This got them all into the taster session immediately and once parents saw them quickly pick up basic skills, they were hooked too.
- All parents sign up to once weekly training, regardless of the discounted upgrade programmes.
- All Instructors had set roles with Amanda talking to parents and taking them through the sign up process which worked brilliantly.
All in all, in just a few hours Chris and Amanda signed up over 10 students which has been a fantastic start to the year and an addition to their organic January sign ups.
I was lucky enough to see a couple of classes in action as well as the open day itself. Here is where I got to see the structure and interaction of classes actually taking place and it gave me an insight into how they hold onto students for so long.
Here were my main observations:
- Their team of Instructors are all students who started training when they were very young. They are all very friendly, playful, polite, caring and professional.
- The lessons were energetic, split into 3 sections where students rotate and experience each of the 3 disciplines to be worked on in each class. This kept the lesson fluid and fast paced and allowed students to train with all the Instructors.
- Chris’ extreme technical ability is evident when he demonstrates techniques but his use of humour and playfulness in the class means that his ability doesn’t intimidate students. You can clearly tell that students have great affection for Chris and all the Instructors.
- Parent interaction and community is strong. Amanda works hard to chat to all Parents when they arrive and looks after them while they are watching classes.
- Chris and Amanda have a genuine interest to work with students and improve their lives. As well as Safeguarding, they embark on many other self development and Awareness courses that could impact on their students. They also work with other Instructors to bring exciting workshops to their team of Instructors. All of this translates into a warm, caring and nurturing environment that is fun for students, and reassuring to parents.
Being very much “behind the scenes” here at NEST, it was really enjoyable and insightful to see life on the matts. Thanks so much to Chris and Amanda for inviting me and huge congratulations on the success of your open day!!