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Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture
PRE Booking classes
PRE Booking classes

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm getting fed up walking past body combat classes that are bursting at the seams then turning up at a half-empty dojo. Putting all things aside about the relative levels of intensity etc, I'm convinced that my fee structure is in part to blame. At the moment my students pay monthly. This is a bargain for the regular ones but expensive for shift workers who genuinely can't train every session. With some members, I get the attitude of "I've paid, it's my choice if I train or not". That's fair enough in a way, but hardly helpful. Sometimes we're packed out, sometimes just a few, thus making session planning difficult. I'm starting to wonder if a pre-booking system might cure this. I'm guessing that if class space is limited there's a lot of incentive to confirm you will be attending rather than just deciding on the night. From a coaching perspective, if I knew who was coming on any particular night I could plan accordingly. What I have in mind is simple. I'd circulate next months classes to each member on an A4 sheet, they tick the ones they will be attending and pay a discounted 'pre-booked' rate. Numbers will be set for each class and to encourage early booking once that number is reached the class is full. Of course, members would still be able to turn up and pay on the night, but only if spaces were available and at a higher fee. I'm wondering if anyone else here uses a similar system and if so how well you find it works? Gary
Jon Sloan
Jon Sloan's picture

Interesting idea Gary. I'm looking at teaching again this year and have been toying with different business models both for the "getting started" phase and the "going regularly" phase/ So, I'll definitely be interested to hear how this works for you.

Andrew Carr-Locke
Andrew Carr-Locke's picture

I'd be interested to see what other have to think on this matter. I have had similar experiences in the past. I think it was due to wanting to provide several different concepts and courses, or providing too much for those that train all the time (I mean what regular student wouldn't want to train 5-6 days a week!?!)

So my approach was to reduce the classes to only a few. I lost a couple of people who just couldn't make those days, but retained all the others and it forced them all to show up on the same day for the same class. As well as this I imposed structure on how they could choose their classes. Instead of running classes 5-6 days a week, and the student chooses whatever 2 or 3 classes best suits their schedule- I began to enforce the beginner program is on tues/thurs at 6pm. The advanced classes run at these 3 days/times- pick two, etc. By giving less choice you create busier classes. 

Paying monthly isn't necessarily to blame, just what are they paying for? Another option is to run seminar sessions for a set price for a one off class or a series of classes that run outside the regular training times. So students who are from other dojo's or beginners who aren't sure if they want to commit can take a one off or short term commitment to the seminars for the training experience. The monthly membership is then for the people who want to train, and their times are separate with a few days to choose between. Memberships include the seminars, but they still have to sign up for them so they commit to showing up if they sign up. At least then you have full classes on a pre-signed seminar to promote your regular training sessions. 

2 thoughts on the subject....

Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

I spoke to one of my former students at length last night. He runs a hugely successful gym now and presents all over Europe at seminars etc. His response was dead simple. a) Monthly is easier to collect and manage b) You know who the keen ones are. Help everyone but focus on them. Sometimes it takes someone else coming in to make you realise that simple is efficient (although I often give that advice myself viz other parts of training) My conclusion is: I'm sticking to monthly fees.

Thanks to everyone for the great ideas put forward. Onwards and upwards! Gary

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

I get excited when I have my monthly fees paid and the room is prepaid already and I have around 4-6 students. as we can work really well with application of our kata and they really enjoy it.

I suppose it goes back to when the Karate instructor from Okinawa had maybe 2-4 students at a time

michael rosenbaum
michael rosenbaum's picture


I always require a montly fee up front that way if they don't show up then it's their loss, not mine. I know that makes me sound brash and mecenary, but I've been stiffed so many times in the past that there has to be something to for my time and the fee for renting the space. If noone shows up then I have the evening off and with pay.

I do think what you're encountering has become very common place amongst non-McDojo instructors. Over here it's often difficult to keep a class going with all the new fads coming out that's why you see so many instructors teaching kids, running karate daycare camps and advertising after-school karate programs. It seems telling someone the truth, without all the sales BS, "that this is karate, its designed for self-defense and yes you'll get in shape because I'm going to work your rear-end off" dosen't draw them in the door like it used too.