One question I get asked a lot by people is "what should I pay for martial arts classes?"
I'm not sure why people ask because they look worried when I answer them with the amount I think is right. All martial arts should be priced as follows:
£55 per month- one session a week.
£90 per month- 2 sessions a week
£150 per month - unlimited sessions ( if you have a gym or have various schools and styles)
I know many of you may gasp and be in shock when reading this so sit down and I will explain.
I started some years ago teaching a class of Ju Jitsu and the failure of that class caused me to go off and learn everything I know today about marketing and digital communication. Prior to that point I never had used the web much and knew nothing about blogs. Now I will tell you that I truly thought that a martial arts club (A modernised form of traditional Ju Jitsu) would be an instant success and provide me with a very decent second income. Boy was I wrong!
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The Cost of Learning
I have spent a small fortune on the martial arts. From books, travelling, seminars and equipment. I don't regret a penny of it however my tuition fees actually were the cheapest aspect of my expenses. So when I set up my club I made 2 decisions, I was going to be pretty cheap at £5 per class and my training would be world class. You can see straight away an issue there. If I am world class then why am I charging so little?
This really is a terrible first message to send out but I still see people doing that today. Charging the same as exercise classes is not going to help you one bit. Learning costs! You go to a university and see what they charge for tuition. The reason is simple, because the university knows that they will add value to a person's life no matter what course you do or what grade a person achieves.
So your price does actually speak volumes about the quality you deliver and the value you add to a persons life.
So they charge just £3 down the road for a high intensity exercise class, wow, great. It means nothing.
You are teaching martial arts. You are not an exercise class, you are an artist and you are teaching art.
Now this may seem strange but martial arts create change in people, huge changes. You deliver fitness, skills, balance, co ordination, confidence and the ability to protect yourself and your loved ones. Fitness only delivers a few of these aspects. Art changes people and martial arts are no different. If you meet a black belt in a martial art you sense something that is hard to put into words. They have a certain presence. Granted not all (given that the grade has been cheapened over the years) but the vast majority of high grades in martial arts have a certain 'secure' aspect of themselves that only comes via hard work and training.
You wont get that 'secure' sensation from fitness alone, it comes from years of working on your art and yourself. The martial arts take a lot of dedication but they give an awful lot in return.
You might not like the idea of charging your customers more but you have no choice.
I had a kebab recently and it cost about £6 with a drink. So if you dont charge more you are selling yourself for the price of a kebab. Yes, all the years study, hard work and injury has allowed you to gain knowledge but for some reason you are selling that knowledge for less than the price of a kebab?
Now you might not realise this but shall we do the math:
If you charge £40 per month for tuition and have 10 students you will see £400. Simple.Then take off rent, equipment, your insurance and your own development from seminars etc. The result is that you cant survive and you wont earn any profit. At that price you need 20 paying students, but that isnt a full time job, its not even a decent side income after tax.
When I started teaching my rent cost the earth. They charged me £40 per session, so I asked them to use their mailing list to advertise. The answer was no. They were a college with hundreds of students but they wouldn't allow me to send out an email to their students. To this day I don't understand why, as I was a paying customer renting their room. Needless to say I had to get a lot of people in to make it work but I couldnt sustain this as my marketing money was being taken up by rent. Only now do I realise what an idiot I was.
Now its interesting that since I left that venue a very successful Krav Maga club opened at the location, this shows the other issue that my product was all wrong. I was teaching what people didnt want. Google my club and you found nothing,Google Krav maga and you get tons of information.
Now to get the club off the ground I was trying to be everything to everyone. Boxing, Judo, Ju Jitsu. If someone called up and said they want MMA I would try and make it an MMA style class. That was due to desperation to gain students to meet the rent costs. I was on a hiding to nothing.After that I decided to learn all about business so I share this information with today.
So if you like the idea of charging the same price as a kebab then carry on but trust me that the Kebab shop owner works on volume. They have far more customers than you and still charge more. They are a business, not a hobby.
Now if this wasnt enough to get you to charge more have a think about your future. When your skills start to erode due to age, when your not as fit as you used to be. What then? Who is going to pay your pension?
It is all well and good charging peanuts but in the long run its your life! When you get injured the government and your students dont rush in and send you lots of money. The students, no matter how loyal are simply students. They came to you for tuition and were willing to pay for it. It was you that set the price so low that you cant survive without teaching. Charging more allows you to build for the future
But My Students will leave!
OK so those same loyal students will jump ship if you charge more? That really isn't loyalty.
If you put up your prices by just £10 this month (I urge you all to do this) you will be able to lose a few students anyway. Trust me they would leave sooner or later. The simple truth is that you are not a distraction. People play 5 a side football for a distraction, or 'something to do'. You are teaching real skills, you are changing people.
Beer or Martial Arts
I had a discussion about price with a friend. They told me they would pay that kind of money to learn martial arts. So I asked why?
"I cant afford it"
"ok, so how much beer are you drinking this Friday?"
"Not sure, perhaps 4 cans"
"what about Saturday?"
"same I reckon, but I go to the pub on Saturdays to watch the game"
"and you do this every week?"
"so Im guessing you spend about £40 a week on beer or £160 a month. But you wont pay £55 a month for martial arts?"
"well I like my beer and the match"
"have them both, but drink less beer and do martial arts. That way your belly gets smaller and you get fitter and should it kick off down the pub you will be able to deal with it"
Some people really wont come to your class because they cant afford to. However you are not a charity. Dont second guess the amount of money a person will spend on your training. You have no moral obligation to price things so everyone can afford it. The martial arts are specialised, not everyone will or can do them. So stop pricing yourself for everyone.
Putting Money Back into Your Club
Charging more will allow you to invest. You can buy pads, gloves, mats and whatever else you need. Your logo will be great, your uniforms and T Shirts will be cool. Money makes your club look polished and professional.
I Cant charge that much, I just Cant!
I hear this one all the time. "Students will stop coming if I do that". How do you know? They dont stop driving when fuel goes up. Price goes up because of inflation. A person doing martial arts 3 times a week shouldnt need to go to the gym, they dont need to lift weights 4 times a week. You actually save them money.
If you cant charge that much then it says more about you than your students. It says a lot about your self worth.
Phase price increase
If you are still nervous about putting your prices up you can do it slowly. New students pay the 'new' pricing scheme whilst you increase old students fees by a few pounds over the next few months.
For example students pay £40 per month now, ask them to pay £45 per month for the next 6 months than go to £55 after that.
Its your club, your prices, your rules. But don't be under the belief that you cant earn money from martial arts. You can and should be able to earn a good living from the arts.
Unless you start believing in the value you offer and reflecting this in the price you will never have success in the long run.
Lawyers get paid, traffic wardens get paid, kebab shop owners get paid, taxi drivers get paid and so does everyone else.
Do yourself a favour, charge for the value you add not for the amount of time they spend with you.