What is it that a new student or possibly a new student’s parents see when they first walk into your beloved academy?
Well let me first give you the extreme background of what I walked into when I went boxing every Sunday morning, when I was a teenager. After pulling up behind a scruffy pub in a part of Nottingham that leaves little to be desired, you would walk up to an eight foot metal gate covered in barbed wire and be met by a particularly cheesed off looking Germen Shephard with the one goal in life of eating both your legs! After plucking up the courage to get through the gate and run across the courtyard, dodging the dog of death and dancing over all of its droppings, I would get into the gym slamming the door behind me! This is not what you want mums and there bright eyed little cherubs to have to experience before an intro lesson. Fear of being killed by the death-defying dog of doom probably doesn’t help with converting prospects to students. Once inside the club it had all the equipment a world class boxer would need to train, from weights to punch bags to resistance training equipment but was dark, smelly, dirty and in desperate need of TLC, it really was a proper old school boxing gym. I know this is an extreme example but it leads me on to a couple of things you might be thinking now…
Q – Why in the name of all things holy did I keep going back?
A – I come under what I think is a very small number of Martial Artists that likes the rawness of a place like my old gym, maybe its something I have grown to enjoy after years of being in the Martial Arts world, or maybe I’m mad, but one thing is for sure, you will not gain many student from this approach.
The question I hope you’re asking yourself at this point is;
Q – Is there anything in my academy that is sabotaging the intro lesson before it’s even begun?
A – There is a great deal of different factors that could be putting prospects off your academy before they have even walked though your door. If we look at the beginning of the experience we start with finding your academy. Once you have an appointment for an intro lesson you have to make sure finding your academy is a piece of cake, or at least as easy as possible depending on your location. Clear signage is very important and yet has been overlooked at a remarkable number of academy’s I have visited over the years. You don’t want your prospects driving round in circles looking for you until they get bored and just go home to make a nice cup of tea and call another Martial Arts academy. Next you have what I call the shop front. Is there convenient parking? What does a fresh pair of eyes see when they look at your academy? For example is there litter scattered around? Maybe there is some maintenance that needs doing? Like changing exterior light bulbs that have gone out or painting parts or your building that have gone rusty? All these kind of things can reflect on how people view your business and remember they haven’t even walked through your door yet!
Once you have them inside the academy what are they seeing now? If you have a shop for drinks or equipment etc. Think about if the equipment on show is your current stock. If it’s changed then have you changed the display? Sounds daft but people do forget. With drinks are they looking smart all facing forwarded in the fridge? This sounds picky but remember “retail is detail” cheesy I know but it’s true. One last thing that really grinds my gears is that pile of boxes in the corner that have been sat there for two or three years now, so long in fact you don’t see them anymore, but guess what someone that has just walked into your academy for the first time does and its messy and untidy. Again this reflects on your business.
The last thing I will leave you with is keep it clean. Not many people in their right mind like being in a dirty unhygienic place especially when they’re paying to be there. You don’t want your student having to run round dog droppings like I did. It’s well worth investing a good cleaning company to send someone in to blitz the place once or twice a week.
Try asking someone you know who has never been into your academy before to walk through and point out the things that would put them off training there. You may be surprised!