16 days ago
4/26/03
Posts: 29394

Can you guys give some insight into how you got to the point where you pulled the trigger? What were you doing for work before taking the step? Anything you wish you'd known at that stage looking back?

15 days ago
1/30/15
Posts: 609
I was teaching privates and had a big following.

Looking back I wish I had a better understanding of marketing and student retention.

It all worked out after many headaches but that's where my issues initially arose.
15 days ago
3/2/04
Posts: 463

I built towards it gradually, working part-time in an office for 5 years until the gym was making enough that I could switch full time. I initially started my school with a friend of mine back in 2014, doing all the admin via a spreadsheet. I set up some formula to tell me when income reliably (i.e., it stayed at that level for a few months) hit around £1000 a month before tax and after overheads (gym venue rent etc), which is enough for me to live on. Hit that point in Oct 2018, so I've been full time with the gym since then.

I'm lucky in that marketing has never been a problem: I don't actually have to do anything, the website SEO I did brings in enough people (it's at the top of results for the search terms I wanted). 

14 days ago
12/1/00
Posts: 17146
I've had mine for 7 years- it was profitable from probably middle of year one, and now it pays me as much as my full time job.

However, with three teenagers, I need both incomes- but once they are out of the house, I look forward to just working/teaching a few hours a day for the rest of my life :)
14 days ago
4/26/03
Posts: 29395

Good info guys. Thanks

14 days ago
11/9/08
Posts: 233

I had 20 years with the US Gov. I deferred my retirement, gave my two weeks, moved to L.A. and went for it! Just do it!

14 days ago
4/30/06
Posts: 390

I've just passed my 12th year of running a full-time school. But out of those 12 years, only 1 year I did it full-time. I hated it. Every student suddenly became a dollar sign.

Now I work at a desk job during the day and teach/train 3 classes at night. And pay others to run the 6am, midday, kids and other evening classes. I've grown as as businessman as a result too because I'm not doing as much of the technical work that I used to do but can sit back and look at the numbers like a business owner not manager. 

Plus, as your school grows so will the headaches. When relying on the school to put food on the table I had to keep all members happy. With about 100 members, that was impossible. Now when I have someone white anting me, or just not fitting into how I want my club to be then I show them to door. 

 

13 days ago
12/26/02
Posts: 11960

I started up at 22 and didn't know anything about business.  Did some things right, did some things wrong, learned a lot, and then sold it at the 10 year mark and learned plenty more after I had handed it over. (I worked in some non-BJJ franchises and learned a ton about their systems and priorities.)

I'll do it again in the future. I know so much better now. Ha.

OP - Michael Gerber has a book called "The E-Myth Revisited."  In it, he talks about entrepreneurs wearing 3 hats.  The entrepreneur hat is the one you wear when you dream big and plan where the business is going.  The manager hat is the one where the bills get paid, staffers are managed, phone calls made, etc etc.  The technician hat is the one when you're "doing the thing" (teaching the bjj, making the donuts etc).  Each hat needs to be worn regularly and effectively - but not necessarily by you. Figure out what you're good at, and what you're willing to do.  If, for example, you hate being the manager, find someone else to do it.  But there is no hat that can afford to be skipped. 

13 days ago
5/11/10
Posts: 4692

Was everyone who ran a school in this thread also a black belt? 

13 days ago
4/30/06
Posts: 391
Chaddderz -

Was everyone who ran a school in this thread also a black belt? 

I was yes, but while I went from blue to black (when living in Sydney) I worked at my coaches gym - giving classes and running the front desk. So I learned how to run it from him. I also wrote the CRM system which runs both our schools now (and a few others - https://www.gymdatabase.com.au - sorry for the shameless plug ) 

I remember being at a business seminar years ago (where the Michael Gerber book was often mentioned) and the speaker said - before you decide to go and buy a cafe ... go and work in a cafe first. Make mistakes at their business before doing it at your own. 

13 days ago
4/26/03
Posts: 29398
twinkletoesCT -

I started up at 22 and didn't know anything about business.  Did some things right, did some things wrong, learned a lot, and then sold it at the 10 year mark and learned plenty more after I had handed it over. (I worked in some non-BJJ franchises and learned a ton about their systems and priorities.)

I'll do it again in the future. I know so much better now. Ha.

OP - Michael Gerber has a book called "The E-Myth Revisited."  In it, he talks about entrepreneurs wearing 3 hats.  The entrepreneur hat is the one you wear when you dream big and plan where the business is going.  The manager hat is the one where the bills get paid, staffers are managed, phone calls made, etc etc.  The technician hat is the one when you're "doing the thing" (teaching the bjj, making the donuts etc).  Each hat needs to be worn regularly and effectively - but not necessarily by you. Figure out what you're good at, and what you're willing to do.  If, for example, you hate being the manager, find someone else to do it.  But there is no hat that can afford to be skipped. 

Thanks.  Good insight 

13 days ago
12/1/00
Posts: 17149
"Was everyone who ran a school in this thread also a black belt? "

I started as a purple, and am still only a brown :)

"I've just passed my 12th year of running a full-time school. But out of those 12 years, only 1 year I did it full-time. I hated it. Every student suddenly became a dollar sign."

This is a great point- I've been fortunate enough to also have another full time job my entire time having my academy. It is a huge relief to know I don't have to do things, just for "business" sake...I dislike a lot of that stuff (I just want to have fun teaching)- and I even have an MBA too haha.
12 days ago
3/2/04
Posts: 464
Chaddderz -

Was everyone who ran a school in this thread also a black belt? 

I'm a brown belt. Started my school as a purple belt, in 2014.

12 days ago
5/16/08
Posts: 888

When I 1st open, I almost had to close in my 1st summer. The reason was because I didn't want students to have contracts. My thoughts were that they will come because they love it and if they don't, I would not want to hold them with the school because of contracts. Well, 1st summer came, almost everyone took a summer brake and guess what? No one paid! But me... I still have to pay the lease, the phone, the utilities, etc... So, no one cares (friends or not) if you make ends meet at the end of the month.

My 1st recommendation is to consider in do contracts with options of 12, 06 or month to month contracts with auto renew option.

My 2nd recommendation is to find a billing company. I started with AAC which I had no problem for the past 10 years and now I upgraded to Zen Planner. Zen Planner is not cheap, however, they've been delivering what they promissed and I have experience an encrease in the membership. 

My 3rd recommendation is to find a good location but not necessarily a store front, a warehouse might be a good place to start. Your biggets expense will be your rent. You might be working exclusively for your landlord.

I hope it helps.   

12 days ago
12/18/03
Posts: 25595
Rodney Ellis - 
Chaddderz -

Was everyone who ran a school in this thread also a black belt? 

I was yes, but while I went from blue to black (when living in Sydney) I worked at my coaches gym - giving classes and running the front desk. So I learned how to run it from him. I also wrote the CRM system which runs both our schools now (and a few others - https://www.gymdatabase.com.au - sorry for the shameless plug ) 

I remember being at a business seminar years ago (where the Michael Gerber book was often mentioned) and the speaker said - before you decide to go and buy a cafe ... go and work in a cafe first. Make mistakes at their business before doing it at your own. 


Your software looks great man... good job.

12 days ago
4/30/06
Posts: 392
MarsMan -
Rodney Ellis - 
Chaddderz -

Was everyone who ran a school in this thread also a black belt? 

I was yes, but while I went from blue to black (when living in Sydney) I worked at my coaches gym - giving classes and running the front desk. So I learned how to run it from him. I also wrote the CRM system which runs both our schools now (and a few others - https://www.gymdatabase.com.au - sorry for the shameless plug ) 

I remember being at a business seminar years ago (where the Michael Gerber book was often mentioned) and the speaker said - before you decide to go and buy a cafe ... go and work in a cafe first. Make mistakes at their business before doing it at your own. 


Your software looks great man... good job.

Thank you. 

12 days ago
4/26/03
Posts: 29401
judoinmotion -

When I 1st open, I almost had to close in my 1st summer. The reason was because I didn't want students to have contracts. My thoughts were that they will come because they love it and if they don't, I would not want to hold them with the school because of contracts. Well, 1st summer came, almost everyone took a summer brake and guess what? No one paid! But me... I still have to pay the lease, the phone, the utilities, etc... So, no one cares (friends or not) if you make ends meet at the end of the month.

My 1st recommendation is to consider in do contracts with options of 12, 06 or month to month contracts with auto renew option.

My 2nd recommendation is to find a billing company. I started with AAC which I had no problem for the past 10 years and now I upgraded to Zen Planner. Zen Planner is not cheap, however, they've been delivering what they promissed and I have experience an encrease in the membership. 

My 3rd recommendation is to find a good location but not necessarily a store front, a warehouse might be a good place to start. Your biggets expense will be your rent. You might be working exclusively for your landlord.

I hope it helps.   

That's all good stuff thanks. 

12 days ago
12/26/02
Posts: 11961
Chaddderz - 

Was everyone who ran a school in this thread also a black belt? 


Nope. I started as a small club in 2002 and I wasn't even a blue belt, but I had permission to teach the basics as an entry level instructor. I earned my blue in 03, purple in 06, brown in 09, and black in 2012, just a few days before handing the business over.  I was a black belt and gym owner at the same time for less than a week. 

11 days ago
3/2/04
Posts: 465
judoinmotion -

When I 1st open, I almost had to close in my 1st summer. The reason was because I didn't want students to have contracts. My thoughts were that they will come because they love it and if they don't, I would not want to hold them with the school because of contracts. Well, 1st summer came, almost everyone took a summer brake and guess what? No one paid! But me... I still have to pay the lease, the phone, the utilities, etc... So, no one cares (friends or not) if you make ends meet at the end of the month.

My 1st recommendation is to consider in do contracts with options of 12, 06 or month to month contracts with auto renew option.

My 2nd recommendation is to find a billing company. I started with AAC which I had no problem for the past 10 years and now I upgraded to Zen Planner. Zen Planner is not cheap, however, they've been delivering what they promissed and I have experience an encrease in the membership. 

My 3rd recommendation is to find a good location but not necessarily a store front, a warehouse might be a good place to start. Your biggets expense will be your rent. You might be working exclusively for your landlord.

I hope it helps.   

Interesting. My place has been running since 2014, never had contracts (I don't like tying people down, especially as I get a number of people travelling through for a month or two), never noticed everybody disappearing over summer. So far at least, standing order has worked fine (which I guess is kinda like a month to month contract, except that it's fully in their control).

But then we're not a big club, only around 75 members or so.

11 days ago
5/16/08
Posts: 889
slideyfoot -
judoinmotion -

When I 1st open, I almost had to close in my 1st summer. The reason was because I didn't want students to have contracts. My thoughts were that they will come because they love it and if they don't, I would not want to hold them with the school because of contracts. Well, 1st summer came, almost everyone took a summer brake and guess what? No one paid! But me... I still have to pay the lease, the phone, the utilities, etc... So, no one cares (friends or not) if you make ends meet at the end of the month.

My 1st recommendation is to consider in do contracts with options of 12, 06 or month to month contracts with auto renew option.

My 2nd recommendation is to find a billing company. I started with AAC which I had no problem for the past 10 years and now I upgraded to Zen Planner. Zen Planner is not cheap, however, they've been delivering what they promissed and I have experience an encrease in the membership. 

My 3rd recommendation is to find a good location but not necessarily a store front, a warehouse might be a good place to start. Your biggets expense will be your rent. You might be working exclusively for your landlord.

I hope it helps.   

Interesting. My place has been running since 2014, never had contracts (I don't like tying people down, especially as I get a number of people travelling through for a month or two), never noticed everybody disappearing over summer. So far at least, standing order has worked fine (which I guess is kinda like a month to month contract, except that it's fully in their control).

But then we're not a big club, only around 75 members or so.

In my area, people tend to go out of town or do other things during summer since winter and cold weather last for the majority of the year. However, my former school in the central coast CA, people tend to show up and look for activities in particular for kids during the summer. So my place in California tended to encrease in numbers during summer. 

As for contracts, I offer month to month option for more money, 6 months for less, 12 months for less, 10 classes pass, privates. So they have options to choose and make a decision. Business has been solid and growing.  

8 days ago
1/1/01
Posts: 1037
I wasn't even a blue belt when my business partner and I started teaching back in 1994. There was literally no one in our area at the time and we were given permission to start a training group.

I have had two major schools, both of which are still open, and the second I am still involved in.

We do our own contracts, which include a 90 day cancellation clause. meaning that when you turn in a written notification of cancellation, you can either pay 90 days up front, or let it pay out for 90 days and then we cancel it.

That said, both my business partner and I have career's outside of the school, and we employ a gymnastics and tumbling coach to run the classes during the day. She also runs the business side of the contracts and such.
7 days ago
4/26/03
Posts: 29412

It's interesting to hear so many different perspectives on running a gym

6 days ago
4/26/03
Posts: 29413

What was your experience what was your experience dealing with commercial real estate. I'm in the beginning stages. Just throwing around ideas. Found a place that could work. I asked to see it from the inside. They've gone out of their way in two occasions to prevent me from seeing it. 

5 days ago
5/16/08
Posts: 890

So, in my experience, make sure you know exactly how much extra you're going to pay in CAM and property taxes. (Usually the don't include or disclose this information until you read it in your contract.) As for the building. Check for plumbing and roof leaks. A/C problems and maintenance. Normally, you will be responsible for it. 

5 days ago
2/15/14
Posts: 787
cycklops -

What was your experience what was your experience dealing with commercial real estate. I'm in the beginning stages. Just throwing around ideas. Found a place that could work. I asked to see it from the inside. They've gone out of their way in two occasions to prevent me from seeing it. 

That's a huge red flag

 

They want you to sign comething and agree before they even want to show you the place?