10 Essential Retention Tips from Rondy McKee

Learn how the 2012 School Owner of the Year grew the largest martial arts school in the world!

Grandmaster Rondy McKee has owned and operated White Tiger Taekwondo & Martial Arts in Cary, North Carolina since 1996. McKee’s professional background in marketing and advertising combined with her expertise in martial arts led her to develop what is arguably the largest martial arts school in the world. Around 2,000 active students train with multiple masters at McKee’s facility. Now, McKee is sharing her 10 Essential Retention Tips with you. Apply these 10 strategies at your school to optimize your business practices and watch your numbers soar!

Tip 1
Retain your leads. Prospects may be reluctant to provide their name or contact info, but they will usually provide an email. Calls: As soon as you pick up the inquiry call, ask for their email so you can include them in your database for coupons and specials. This opens the door to tell them about your current special. Now that you have them in your database, they will be included in your weekly specials even if they don’t make an appointment today.

Walk-ins: As soon as the prospect walks in and asks for information, have them fill out a “request for information” form that asks for their basic contact info and email. Walk away. Keep your information such as flyer specials and schedules away from the counter. If you just stand there they will ask you a bunch of questions, and you will not be left with any contact information. You will now have their contact information for your prospect database.

Special Guests: Get into the habit of having all field trips to your facility, all birthday party attendees, all special event guests fill out a permission form to gather contact information. Log in all prospects. You will be surprised how quickly your will grown your prospect database.

Tip 2
Retain your web researchers. Imagine reading over the restaurant menu, deciding what you wish to order, then to be asked to please leave your contact information. A waiter will contact you within the next week to discuss your order. If someone is searching your website, they are interested in trying your program. Let them. Instead of just gathering information – only to get back to them when the iron is cold – let them purchase a low-cost trial package right now and provide information to show up for their first class. Paypal is easy to use and deposits the money directly into your bank account. You will find that most busy parents will do their research once the kids have settled down for bed and they have quiet time to catch up on their to do list. Most of our sales are made after 10:30 p.m.

Tip 3
Retain your trial memberships. Focus on their goals, not your prices. “Do you want to pay me every month for 1 year, 2 years or 3 years” versus “Are you interested in earning your yellow belt, blue belt or black belt”. Have upgrade information available during the trial so they have time to decide. Make life easy for busy parents, have programs easy to understand and decisions can be made by email. No more need for high-pressure enrollment conferences.

Tip 4
Retain your white belts. Retention is 0% about how good you or your school is. Retention is 100% about how good students feel about training in your school. Students and parents must feel:

Tip 5
Retain your middle ranks. Provide special privileges or perks only available when certain goals are reached. For example, our 7th gups can attend board-breaking classes. Sixth gups may try out for demo team, 5th gups may add a tumbling class, 4th gups may attend weapons class, and 1st gups may join the leadership team. Set and implement perks to fix your common drop of areas.

Tip 6
Retain high ranks. Get them involved. Join a team:

Tip 7
Retain Black Belt Candidates. The fear and cost of the Black Belt Test can deter many from achieving their ultimate goal. Organize your Black Belt Process. Our Black Belt Test is a 6-month prep course. A checklist-style training log outlines the physical requirements and Black Belt Life Skills – acts of kindness and compassion – that are expected each week/month. The Candidates must attend a monthly seminar to prepare for the test. The seminars cost a fee and are paid monthly. There is no fee for the actual Black Belt Test. This system ensures the students are mentally and physically ready for the exam, and provides a method for money management along the way. The investment in the seminars ensures 0% drop out rate at the time of the actual test.

Tip 8
Retain Black Belts. Immediately after the test, provide new opportunities. In our school, a Black Belt in Taekwondo is a prerequisite for a child to take more advanced styles such as Hapkido. Often, the student will re-enroll in a completely new membership the next day after they take the test. Money talks. Black Belt is seen as the end of the journey for so many American students and parents. A discount for achieving this goal is a great way to encourage them to enroll again. Our discount increases as the rank increases. Of a 3-year membership, a new black belt student may re-enroll and take advantage of a $360 discount. Second degrees receive $720 of and so on. This equals $10, $20 per month – equivalent to their degree. This has worked so well for our retention, we had to make a policy of “5th degree and you are free.”

Tip 9
Retain instructors. Your instructors are the ones closest to your students. Nowadays with social media, they are probably closer to your students than you know. Your own instructors can be the biggest threat to your future business. Include them in your business, or they may become your competitor down the street. If your doctor or hairdresser moves down the street, your loyalty is not to the facility they once occupied. It is to the relationship you had with that person. If your instructor leaves, chances are students will follow. Instructors can be made mini-partners in a variety of ways: percentage of testings, registration fees or their own licensed locations. They need to see a future for themselves if they stay with you

Tip 10
Retain your dignity. Despite your best efforts, some students will quit. Of course try to fix the issue if possible, but if you can’t, handle it with dignity. It is a small world, a smaller martial arts world and all of it gets each day with the increase of social media. The days of forcing the conditions of “non-use/still gotta pay” are long over. Time and effort is wasted if you try to collect on a membership you did not earn. Time is better spent focusing on enrolling new students who want to train with you. Negative reviews will cost far more than any fees you may be able to collect just because you had a contract. Our memberships are satisfaction guaranteed. The student may enroll by the month (auto draft) for a regular fee, or may take advantage of a discounted rate with a commitment of time. If that commitment is broken for any reason – no proof of anything required – they may end their membership and the time they used only is prorated back to the regular price. The fee is paid, hands are shaken. A very fair system with no hard feelings on either side. The door is open if the student ever wishes to return, and they may even refer others to your professional and fair school.

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