Study and Master Student Retention
This is a subject I have been studying for years. I have not fully learned it, or learned it well, but I would like to share with you what I’ve discovered (rather than claim to “teach” you what I know… Man’s gotta know his limits!) in my few years of teaching.
See, as businessmen we are told to accept certain things that I don’t think we should have to accept: that 90% of us will fail in a year or less, that most of our students will stink at the martial arts, that 95% of our students will not make it to the instructor level, that only the gifted will excel at this art, that Black Belt first degree is the beginning….
Blah, blah, blah.
We all search for the next new thing that will add to our bottom line so that we can have the school we really want, or teach the way that we really want to teach, or choose the students we want–you know the deal. So I figured that over the year, most of us will lose 75% of the students who sign up in our schools. So I also figure that we are spending a disproportionate (or not) amount of our time trying to replace the guys who quit. So I figured… what if?
What if we could slash that figure, and actually keep most of the students who join our schools?
Wouldn’t that be something? By my guess, if we could cut by 2/3 the number of students who who quit over the year (and I’m no mathmetician), next year this time–hypothetically–we’d have 25% more enrollment next year, and that number should grow year after year after year! Man, we’d all have McDojos without actually adding “After School Karate”. Imagine that!
So, the next question is, why do we lose people? Is all about contracts? Or students not being “serious enough”? I don’t think so. I think there is something in the way we run our schools that causes people to lose interest. It can’t be plain old fickleness. Many of these people have stuck with other activities they completed for years, like high school, marriages (okay, not that many!), beauty school… We just have to find out why students have lose interest.
I have a theory.
I believe that most of these people who quit do so for several reasons.
- they aren’t seeing results
- they’re bored
- it’s too expensive
- they’re bored (no, this isn’t a typo)
- classes are too hard
- classes are too easy (see #’s 2 and 4)
- they don’t see the end of their journey on the horizon
- maybe… they’re bored
When a student feels his body getting stronger, he feels more and more like he can take on 10 men, he is going to keep going. When he looks in the mirror and sees himself getting slimmer and more muscular, he will keep going. When he experiences an increase in sparring ability (what? you mean you DON’T spar???) he will keep going. When he doesn’t see his fighting ability (not drills ability, but fighting ability) improve, it will discourage him and he will quit. When he doesn’t see himself progressing–in skill and in rank–closer to that day that he will become an “expert” or whatever the pie is in the sky at your school, he will feel like he isn’t getting anywhere and quit. And if he’s (get this) bored, he will quit.
None of us want to admit this, but boredom is perhaps the number one reason people quit. Trust me it ain’t the money. How many men with a beautiful wife will say one day, “Baby, you’re getting too expensive for me to keep, I’m breaking up with you”? Only the guys on “Unsolved Mysteries”… And the mystery is, not that he killed her, but why this idiot didn’t work harder to keep this beautiful prize he has. A man will take on an extra job to keep his sports car or to support a gambling habit, or something else exciting. But he will cancel a gym membership if he’s still fat/skinny after 12 months.
Does that make sense?
We will work hard for what excites us and makes us happy, and will leave what bores us. Money is never an issue. It is why people allow their lights to get cut off, but will still buy chrome wheels for their cars and eat out. It’s why they bring peanut butter sandwiches to work, but will still get their nails done every pay day. We finance what we want, and scrape for what we need. Even in this recession, the cigarette shops and liquor stores are flourishing.
Your job is to find out what you can do to make your school more exciting and encouraging so that your students absolutely can’t wait to get to class again. When you can figure that out, you will keep more students and ultimately grow your school every year.
Thanks for visiting my blog.