I suggest you have your first color belt exam for a new student within the first six weeks. Get color around a student’s waist as soon as you can, so they can feel that they have made some progress. I use the gold belt as the first belt instead of yellow. Yellow is associated with fear and cowardice, while gold is something we all want.
The three-step cycle of creating Black Belt Club students works in conjunction with the exam cycle. Our goal is to find students who are highly qualified to join the Black Belt Club, which means:
1 They have black belt as a goal.
2 They are willing to train at your school to earn that black belt.
3 They have the support of their family for this goal.
4 They are ready and willing to pay additional tuition for membership in the Black Belt Club.
The key is that, when you sit down in a Black Belt Club conference, you want to know that this person is fully qualified. You don’t want to make a Black Belt Club presentation and then hope you’re talking to the right person. There are two reasons for this.
1 You want to present your Black Belt Club as being a prestigious club that students can get into only with their instructor’s recommendation. If you offer the Black Belt Club to unqualified students, you give the impression you are desperate.
2 Students who are not yet ready for the Black Belt Club know they are not. Everyone knows what the requirements are, because a good Black Belt Club is highly visible within the school. Making a more expensive tuition presentation to a student who is not qualified creates tension and can deteriorate your relationship with the student.
Unlike the prosecution in the O.J. Simpson trial, you want to make sure the glove fits before you ask them to try it on.
Every Monday or at least once a week, go through all your student attendance cards with your staff. Briefly discuss each student with your team. How is he doing? Why has she been missing class? Rate each student with A, B, or C.
- A. A-rated students are like us. They really enjoy the martial arts, they don’t miss class, and they have a great attitude.
- B. B-rated students are good students but are not as visibly enthused as the A students.
They may come to some special events, but not all. Their attitude may be good but a bit inconsistent.
- C. C-rated students seem to be less motivated. They come to class less than they need to in order to progress, and they seldom, if ever, come to special events. These students are at the highest risk for dropping out.
By the end of the rating you will have three piles of cards. Target your C students for private lessons or extra attention, to prevent them from dropping out. Target A students for potential Black Belt Club presentation appointments.
When you get the Student Progress and Goals Sheets back, look for students who have set black belt as their goal. Match those students to your A pile. A-rated students who have set black belt as a goal are prime candidates and usually are quick to upgrade their program to Black Belt Club. B-and C-rated students who turn in a Progress and Goal sheet with black belt listed as a goal need to be carefully considered before receiving a Black Belt Club presentation.
Many people set goals they have no real intention of following through on. These goals are often more of a wish than a goal. We all have a goal of being rich but, if we’re not willing to do the work to become rich, then it’s just a wish. This is not to say a B or C student would never upgrade to Black Belt Club. It just means your odds are less with them, and their joining could water down the prestige of the program. I suggest you stay focused on your A students for Black Belt Club presentations.
Set appointments with students for presentation of the Black Belt Club membership. A good method is to show a Black Belt Club presentation on DVD, then replay it and stop the tape at certain points to explain why certain questions were asked the way they were and how any objections by potential students were dealt with.
Widely recognized as the man who revolutionized the martial arts industry, John Graden launched organizations such as NAPMA (National Association of Professional Martial Artists), ACMA (American Council on Martial Arts), and MATA (Martial Arts Teachers Association). Graden also introduced the first trade magazine for the martial arts business, Martial Arts Professional. John Graden’s latest book, The Truth about the Martial Arts Business looks into key strategies involved in launching a martial arts business and includes Graden’s own experience as a student, a leader and a business owner. Graden is the author of six books including The Truth about the Martial Arts Business, The Impostor Syndrome: How to Replace Self-Doubt with Self-Confidence and Train Your Brain for Success, Mr. Graden has been profiled by hundreds of international publications including over 20 magazine cover stories and a comprehensive profile in the Wall Street Journal.