There are many ways to do an after-school Taekwon-Do program. I’m not here to tell you which one is the best one, but I am going to share with you how I do an after-school Taekwon-Do program that is only one month long and reliably brings in 15-20 new students every time I do it.
I only call it an after-school program when talking to you because that’s what you know it as. But, I call it something different, and that’s the reason why I can get my program into the public schools in my area.
I don’t know how much experience you have dealing with the public school system, but it can be a real pain in the ass… and I don’t blame them, it should be! In Phoenix, unless you are a non-profit or an “approved vendor” you can’t get access to the kids. It’s a pain in the ass for me as a business owner who sees a school full of hundreds of future Taekwon-Do students, but the rules are in place to protect the kids from being blasted by advertising all day in school. Could you imagine what school would look like if businesses could advertise there? You’d have desks “Built by the Home Depot”, recess sponsored by the local health club, lunch sponsored by Taco Bell and homework sponsored by Pepsi.
The rules are there for good reason, but it often makes it difficult to get your foot in the door. And often times, when you do get in, they want you to do a program that meets once a week for 9 weeks, you can only charge $30-$60 for it and you are just listed on a flyer along with 10 other after-school activities. You can’t control the marketing, you are only getting 10 to 20 kids (if you’re lucky), a few of them are the because the parents need someone to watch their kids for an extra hour after school and whatever excitement they had about Taekwon-Do usually dies in the 6th or 7th week. If you’re lucky you’ll get one or two to join your school.
You wind up making $500 or so for two months and a week of work, but you also paid for the uniforms or t-shirts you give them, gas driving to and from the school and it takes up prime class time when you could be teaching students at your school. Then there’s the really adventurous instructors out there who think you can make more money doing more programs and drive more students into your school. You try doing the same thing at five different schools and quickly discover that this isn’t worth the time and energy for the little bit of reward.
I know because I did this. I had even given up on trying to get into the public schools for a while because of how little return on investment there was.
Then I discovered a new way to execute the program that was short, exciting, produced amazing results and was loved by the teachers, parents and school administration. After doing this, the schools can’t wait to have me back.
How is this possible?
They love me because I make them money. If you’ve ever spent any time in a PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) or PTA (Association) then you’ve heard them talk at length about the fundraisers they are always doing. Since the beginning of this school year at my son’s school they’ve had a fundraiser at McDonalds and Culvers, sold cookie dough, sold crap you can buy with kids artwork on it, did their fall festival and wont stop talking about the damn box tops that are worth 10 cents each – and that’s just since September!
They celebrate when something brings in a few hundred dollars like they’ve hit the jackpot. Now I know they need all the money they can get, but I was blown away at how little they were able to generate. For example, their Fall Festival (that dozens of parents and teachers worked on for months) only generated about $2000. That’s not chump change by any means, but for all the hours of work that went into it by all those people, it’s still frustrating.
So when I said, I’ll do a fundraiser for the school that will make at least $750 and usually makes around $1500, they were all ears.
Here’s how I did it.
First you need to get an “in” at the school and use your “in” to get to whoever is in charge of fundraising for the school. Most often this is someone in the PTO and not the principal or some administrator. I’ve learned that when the right parents speak, the administration listens.
Then you need to give them a break down of your program which is a fundraiser that teaches character development. You lead with what’s in it for them ($$$ and well behaved kids) and follow with how the program works.
Here’s how it works:
I take over the P.E. classes for three to four days. Long enough for me to see every kid in every class in the school. In the P.E. class we talk about the rules of Taekwon-Do and I interact with them as if they were at class in the school. They learn attention, bow, Yes Sir, and we talk about courtesy. Then I do a few moves with them. I only do blocking drills because otherwise you’ll have kids throwing kicks and punches in class for the rest of the day. Then they use the blocking skills they just learned and we do some pad drills and they have a blast.
I ask them if they want to do more, they all scream, “YES SIR!” and I hand out the flyers. The kids are all talking about it, the teachers love me because I told the kids they had to say YES SIR and YES MA’AM for the rest of the week and the school is buzzing about you being there. Kid’s see you walking around campus in your do bok and are super excited. Then they go home and won’t leave their parents alone about this program. Oh, and the teachers are all incentivised to fill the program as well because it benefits the whole school.
The flyers explain the program and the cost. I make a big deal about how all the money collected goes directly back to the school. They even make their checks out to the school, not me. Not only are they signing up for a great program, they contributing to their school as well.
They have the rest of the week to register and the program starts the following week. It meets twice a week for 3 weeks. There’s character development homework that they must do. Part of that is the parent signing the homework sheet and sharing what happened (which provides you stacks of testimonials). When they turn in their homework they get a stripe on their belt or a sticker and there’s a competition for who gets the most. There’s ways to earn extra credit stripes and they become rabid trying to get them.
We only work on one or two techniques each class and if they are a good group, I might teach them 4 directional punch. We finish talking about a tenet and I send them home.
In between the third and fourth class I hold a special class at the Taekwon-Do school for the kids to come “do it for REAL” during the program and they love it. After the sixth class, that following Friday we have a graduation for students at the Taekwon-Do school. Now I’ve got all the parents who are already impressed with the homework these kids are doing and the kids are impressing the parents with what they’ve learned during the class. After the graduation I give them the opportunity to enroll.
It’s common to get 10%-15% of the total students you taught in the P.E. classes to do the after-school fundraiser. Then you should be able to enroll 20%-30% of those kids into your Taekwon-Do program.
The best program I did was a few years ago and had 69 kids in the after-school fundraiser and we enrolled 27 of them at the end of that month. What would you do with 27 new students? How about just 10?
I know in this article I focused on public schools, but this works just the same with private and charter schools. Actually, it’s easier to get in with those schools because they have much more flexibility with what they can do with and for their students.
If you guys are interested, in doing a training on executing this program let me know. Just send me an email (email@example.com) letting me know you’re interested and if we get enough I’ll put together a training. I’ve got some feedback here and there requesting a training that we could do a training over a webinar, google hangout or something like that.
About the Author:
Senior Instructor – Karstadt Taekwon-Do
Mr. Karstadt is the founder of 1 TKD Consulting and owns the longest running ITF Taekwon-Do school in Arizona, Karstadt Taekwon-Do in Phoenix, AZ with his father Master David Karstadt. He has been training since 1984, earned his Black Belt at the age of 8 and is currently an internationally renown intstructor teaching the culture, discipline, leadership and business skills of Taekwon-Do in classes and seminars to Instructors around the world. He has been a member of eight U.S. Taekwon-Do Teams and has traveled to 14 different countries competing in Taekwon-Do. He has won numerous medals at the World Championships and in international competition, most notably winning the 2004 World Championships in South Korea with two gold medals and the Men’s Team All Around Trophy. Mr. Karstadt currently resides in uptown Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and three children. Mr. Karstadt can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org