It has been the standard practice for oooh ‘forever’.
If a new potential student walks into your school for Martial Arts or self-defence lessons, they are given a free lesson.
In this latest article, I am going to explain why this needs to stop and what you can do instead,
Can I Have That Chocolate Bar For Free?
I walked into the Supermarket the other day and grabbed a Kit Kat from the shelf, I really wanted to have that lovely chocolate taste, and I wanted it there and then.
So I turned to the staff and said ‘Can I try this chocolate bar, I’ll have just a bite and give it back’.
Of course, I didn’t say this.
Why? Because it is stupid, no one would eat it afterwards; they couldn’t sell it again.
So we pay for the chocolate in advance.
But what about other items such as hiring a film on Amazon?
Could we watch this for free to see if we liked it, without paying a penny upfront?
Ok, let us try another service.
What about buying clothes. Sure, you can try them on to see if they fit, but can you leave the store and wear them without paying.
So why do Martial Arts and self-defence instructors continue to work for free?
Why You Give A Lesson For Free
So, we have pretty much established that you can’t go out and get anything for free, so why do we feel that we need to give our hard earned knowledge away?
The cause of this is that we want to turn this free student into a paying one next time.
Or even better a monthly retainer contract.
So, we give for free with the belief we might get them hooked.
But does this really work?
Would that person have paid anyway?
If a person has gone to your website, chosen you ahead of others and come to your school.
I think it is safe to say they would have purchased from you anyway.
That does not mean they would have liked it enough to keep going but still, we are a business and not a charity.
You can’t please everyone.
Your job is to deliver professional Martial Arts, and self-defence lessons and professionals get paid.
And as we will see in a second, beginners should be charged more!
Beginners Get VIP Treatment So They Should Pay VIP Prices
When a beginner comes to a class, they get the red carpet treatment.
They usually get partnered with an experienced student (we do this because this allows the student to grow by helping/ teaching).
And in most cases the instructor will be watching them, coaching them more to make them have a great experience (so they come back next time).
This is all setting you up for failure.
Why, because after week 1 (and they pay), they will receive a far different level of service.
Already you have actually done the opposite of what most businesses do.
In 99% of cases, if you pay, more you get better service.
In Martial Arts, because you start off ‘free and overly helpful’ you end up reducing the level of service.
No wonder most people quit after 3 months.
How To Make More Money And Ensure A Higher Retention From Beginners
No one has ever said beginners should be free.
We did this to ourselves.
Beginners are awkward; we need to give them extra attention, we need to give them extra care.
We need to ensure they feel safe.
That they have our full attention and that the rest of the class also gets that same level of attention.
The answer is a higher paid beginners course.
This does not need to be a huge payment.
You could charge £60 for 3 ‘beginner sessions’ or charge just £20.
You could build them into your current classes, so the beginners class runs 30 minutes before the main session and then flows into the main class for another 30 minutes.
How you do this is up to you.
The point is that beginning Martial Arts is a big deal, the student is learning Martial Arts because they have an issue in their life.
It might be they want to make friends, lose weight, learn self-defence, who knows.
The point is..you won’t know until you ask.
As such you need to create a structured and professional induction process.
This process needs to be paid for, and it needs effort.
This Is How I Would Do This
Your beginner’s course should cost what a months training would normally cost.
So depending on what you charge you have your figure there.
Why? Because this is not teaching Martial Arts, this is an induction process.
This is important to get right, and this is time-consuming.
This should be a combination of induction and also training.
You should create a goals sheet, and ask them questions such as ‘Why do you want to learn martial arts’?
Write their goals down and ask them to sign it.
Then start the training.
This session should be full on training, give them value, show them something basic and then something more advanced. Get them focused on what their skill set might look like in the future.
At this stage, they need to join a regular class, this is what most people would start their journey in a free class, but they have paid for it.
Partner them with a more experienced student (they have paid good money for this extra treatment).
Now at the end of the lesson is where you sign them up, I would now offer them 50% off month 1.
They have just had a heavy hit with the induction course.
So make saying ‘yes’ as easy as possible.
We know people drop out between months 1 to 3 give them a reduced rate for month 1 and then move them up in pricing for month 2 onwards.
This also encourages people to complete the induction course, the future benefit of having 50% off their first month as a reward.
But What If I Hardly Get Any Newcomers?
Running a beginners course for just one beginner is going to be ineffective from a cost perspective.
Getting leads for your school is a whole other subject.
You need at least 2 people to make covering the room rent and your time worth doing.
You should be getting at least a lead per week for your school.
You can ignore this, and you can keep giving free lessons away.
Or perhaps take some of this advice and start earning money from day one!
It is up to you.