Why the standard industry advice is WRONG!

9 Oct

Improve your product and you don’t need gimmicks!


Opened my email to find a solicitation from one of the more famous (or should I say “infamous”) martial arts business gurus. To repeat an often used line on this blog “same crap, different box”! I’ve been in this industry almost 30 years and I don’t know which is worse, the fact that they are still trying to sell the same crap or just how bad that crap really is.

If as a martial arts instructor or school owner you’ve ever gotten the feeling that a potential client didn’t trust you and is treating you like a con man, you have our industry to blame. The cold, hard fact is that much of what the industry has been told to do is nothing more than gimmick and misdirection, bait and switch and just plain illogical.

– Lure them in with fitness then try to sell them a traditional program

– Lure them with something that is the latest fad, even if you are not qualified to teach it

– Lure them in with fear and promise to teach them self defense, only to teach point sparring and obsolete so called “traditional drills” which never worked in the first place

Female Patient and Front Desk Clerk Smiling

The average school owner would fail business 101 yet instead of focusing on the basics, things like customer service, they focus on the gimmicks. They puff their chests up with pride about their “traditional system” but in these times “traditional martial arts” has come to mean out of shape people who can’t even perform the basics correctly. They have gotten so into the gimmicks they have forgotten the basics.


Obviously, I don’t worry about uniforms, belts, ranking exams, lineage, kata, one step sparring, lion dancing, black belt clubs, S.W.A.T. teams, badges, pins, etc etc etc.

I worry about;

1) Offering a kick-butt workout where people have fun and see results

2) People learning correct technique, because people can see and feel the real thing.

3) My facility being clean and friendly. I repaint my school frequently. I replace heavy bags, lockers etc whenever there is anything the least wrong with them. My school is cleaned by a professional cleaning crew. I have spent money on real furniture, art and nice light fixtures, etc.

4) My staff being professional and efficient and most of all about CUSTOMER SERVICE.

We have no gimmicks, here’s your gloves, here’s your towel, you are going to sweat and you are going to learn to beat the crap out of a bag, you will have fun and we’ll go from there.

I don’t need any gimmicks to sign them up after that. I don’t even sell them. I show them what options they have and help them find the option that best fits their schedule.

The next time someone tries to sell you a new and improved extra special way to make money in this industry please remember that all the tricks in the world don’t replace a quality product.


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