I thought I had put my consulting career behind me, then I decided to utilize a Value Analysis Model to better understand what Martial Arts students really want in a Martial Arts school. Do you know?

In summary:

  1. I developed a survey that could reveal the relative value (the value of a decision factor when being considered along with other important issues) of the factors potential students utilize and weigh in buying decisions,
  2. administered the survey to new and existing students,
  3. collected the data – enough to be reasonably certain that my sample size was representative of the larger population of adult martial arts students, and
  4. analyzed the data using a mathematical technique that illustrates the relative importance of the factors being rated (as well as factors that were written into the survey by respondents).

This was seven years ago now, but as I talk with students these days, the results seem to have passed the test of time – anecdotally if nothing else.

The survey revealed that the five most important factors that adults weigh in deciding upon a martial arts school are:

  1. Clean Facilities: This simple issue was the highest rated factor – by a slim margin – in how adults evaluate a martial arts school. So, ensure you facility is visually and experientially clean while effectively managing unpleasant odors.
  2. Great instruction: The second issue rated most highly was the perceived level of the instructional staff. From A to Z, how extraordinary, consistent, and supportive are your staff members when dealing with your students? It matters…
  3. Varied, Multiple Class Times: This factor was a close third, and makes sense. If you have a clean facility and an all-star instructional staff, your prospective student needs to know he or she can attend classes – given his/her schedule – regularly.
  4. Superior Programming: The one-trick-pony act doesn’t work with adults anymore. You must offer related classes that support your students – specifically fitness oriented training. The trick here is to offer classes that are fitness oriented in addition to your martial arts instruction. But, these fitness classes must be unique and contribute to your students’ martial arts growth. Otherwise, don’t bother, you’ll just water down your brand.
  5. Easy Access: Your martial arts school should be located near major roads and/or highways, offer multiple points of egress, offer lots of parking, and be easy to locate and access time and time again.
  6. Locker Rooms/Showers: This is an extra – bonus material! Locker rooms and showers rated highly, and in today’s busy world, I wouldn’t be surprised if this factor has continued to grow in importance over the years. Students I speak with today, as well as those that visit our facilities, inquire about showers with substantial frequency.

What I didn’t tell you at the beginning of this article is…these factors, when effectively combined together, create a much more fertile conversation when asking a prospective student to join your school. These factors also facilitate higher enrollment rates (up to 85%) and better retention.

When I looked at the data from the survey, I immediately realized that the story the data was telling was obvious. But, sometimes it takes a survey or an article to refocus our efforts in ways that mean the most to our students.

Take an objective look at your school. Ask your students or other trusted voices to help you identify how you can improve in these areas. You’ll be glad you did.

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1 comment

  1. Steve

    Great Article CJ- (as always)

    Just as a follow up:

    The Military uses the cleanliness of equipment and facilities as a major factor in determining the discipline level of a unit.

    It makes sense that a dirty facility with set off red flags and undermine your recruiting efforts.

    One rumor of ringworm or impetigo will destroy a facilities reputation.