Defining Student Retention

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ITF Taekwon-Do Instructor Business Success Training System - Student Retention
This article isn’t about retention strategies, rather it’s about how to define retention in such a way that is beneficial to you and your business.

I’ve heard some outrageous claims about how many students people have training at their schools.  Upon further inspection I discovered that (not all, but…) many people have special and unusual ways of counting students.

Why does this matter?

It doesn’t matter if all you are concerned about is stroking your own ego.

It only matters if you intend on being able to accurately measure your performance and to project the amount of business you’ll be able to do in the next month, quarter or year.

Some instructors claim a number of students that represents the total number of students they’ve signed up over the last 2-3 years not including those who quit.  Some claim over 90% retention rates and have just as many students as they had at the beginning of the year.  What happened to everyone they signed up throughout the year?  My favorite is the school with about 100 students that claims a 95% retention rate because they only lose 5 students a month. That’s 60 students over the course of a year!

Instructors can get as creative as they want with their student counts to boost their egos, but when it comes to effectively running a business the bottom line is always how many students are on agreements and are paying… AND TESTING!

I want to share with you the best way I’ve found to measure your student count which will help you to accurately calculate your student retention.

For your student count, the best way to measure this is from testing to testing.  Your student count equals the number of people testing plus the number of new students you signed up that test cycle that are not testing.

This isn’t just a great way to measure student count, it also reveals many other things about your operations.

Why only the number of people testing?

Most schools do testing once a quarter and whether you like it or not, if students aren’t testing then they aren’t engaged in your program.

Before you pull your hair out about running a McDojo because I said everyone testing, notice that I did not say everyone passing.  I said, “if students aren’t testing then they aren’t engaged in your program.”

Three months is plenty of time for anyone attending class 2-3 times per week to put in the hours and learn what they need to know to promote to the next grade level.

Next is the number of new students you signed up that test cycle.  Obviously all of your new students will not be able to test, especially if they happened to have enrolled near the end of a test cycle.

So there you have it, new members for the cycle plus those who tested.

You may be asking, “What about the rest who didn’t test?”

This is your opportunity to shine!

These are your “at risk” or “C” students.  These are the students you want to have your eyes on.  Notice if they’re having trouble with training or if there’s something going on that would be a distraction their training.

This is an opportunity for you to make a difference for this student (at least in their training, if not their life).

It’s also not an absolute that those students will be quitting, but the likelihood of that happening has greatly increased.

Use this stat to give yourself an honest look at the health of your school.  Who knows what you’ll discover!



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taekwon-do phoenix, taekwon-do arizona, taekwondo phoenix, Phoenix taekwondo, itf taekwondo, taekwondo itf, tkd phoenix, taekwondo az, taekwondo Arizona, martial arts phoenix, martial arts Arizona, martial arts az, Phoenix Martial Arts, Arizona Martial Arts, Phoenix Karate, arizona taekwondo, karstadt, karstadt taekwondo, ITFJohn Karstadt

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

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