Do you need employees?
In Taekwon-Do and in the martial arts industry in general, a good employee can free you up to work on your business rather than in your business and be an enormous asset to your school, but a bad employee could take down your business.
Because of the personal nature of the relationships that are created and the enormous level of trust that exists between students, their families and instructors, working at a Taekwon-Do school isn’t just another job and must be treated as such.
First lets talk about who needs to hire employees.
Until your school reaches 125-150 students, there is no reason for you to hire an employee. You can hire a company to do your billing, someone to clean your school, and someone to do your books, but those are all services offered by other companies and not something you would hire an employee to do.
The only reason to hire an employee in your Taekwon-Do school is because you feel that their contribution will help you and your school to grow and reach the goals that you are out to achieve. You don’t hire employees because someone you know needs a job, you don’t hire employees because it’s what someone said you are supposed to do, you hire employees because you have determined that this new person is what you need to take your school to the next level.
At this point, if you feel like you need to hire someone, there are some things that you need to take into consideration.
1. They represent you and your school
For starters, whoever you bring on board is going to be a representative of your school. Because you and your school are an important part of the community, how this person acts inside and outside of the do jang is going to be a reflection on you and your school.
I learned this the hard way just after I turned 21 and we were celebrating at a tailgate party for an Arizona State football game. I (of course) got wasted while tailgating.
To my surprise, as I loudly and obnoxiously entered the stadium and was on my way to my seats, I ran into not one, but two families and their kids who trained at our school. It was quite the buzzkill, but you bet your ass my behavior changed instantly. I quickly realized that as an instructor and a roll model in the community, that I had a responsibility to those I teach and to the community.
I’m not saying you have to be a saint, but you do have to be responsible for how you portray yourself and are seen when in public. So whoever you hire must know that and adhere to it.
2. Teaching is not the most important thing
One big mistake Taekwon-Do school owners make is hiring that first employee to teach classes.
Why is this a mistake?
For two main reasons. First, if you hire someone to help teach classes then you will obviously be having them take over classes that you have been teaching and that messes with the structure, stability and continuity that your students are used to. If they are used to you and suddenly “Mr. Smith” is their instructor and they don’t see you anymore, it has the potential to cause many problems and damage your student retention. I’m not saying that you can’t have other instructors, but there is a way to do it that doesn’t cause any problems with the student base.
Second reason is that if you are going to hire an employee, that employee must be able to produce results that justifies the time, energy, money and training that you are going to have to invest in them. Or said another way, they need to be making you money and they can’t do that from the front of the room without understanding the business of running a school.
The first thing a new employee must learn is the business and administrative aspects of running a school. They must be able to interact with and take care of students needs and concerns. They must be able to effectively handle new prospects, answer the phone, schedule appointments, sell merchandise, and enroll new students – all things that will justify them being hired.
The other benefits of starting them in this role include you being able to be away from the Taekwon-Do school for extended periods of time and knowing business will still get done (also know as a vacation). And, when they have proven themselves proficient at running this part of the school, then and only then, should you start having them take over some classes. It makes for an easy transition because everyone at the school will already know them and have developed a relationship with them.
This will also help you avoid problems later on.
One of the most common pitfalls with employees in this industry who start off teaching is that they tend to think that teaching is the most important activity because that’s what you hired them to do, and all they’ve really seen you doing. They think their value is determined by how good of a teacher they are and how much people like their classes. They do not realize the fact that if they are not taking actions that generate more revenue then there is no reason for you to keep spending money to have them as an employee (unless you just really don’t want to teach).
This causes problems later on because when you realize that you can’t afford to keep spending money on someone who is not bringing any in, you could have someone on your hands who is a good or great instructor and still have to let them go because they are not producing any results that impact the bottom line. Start them off right and you can avoid this all together while simultaneously developing an instructor that could possibly open a new location for you in the future.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, most successful schools that have 150-250 students have a full time Chief Instructor, a Program Director and a part-time front office person. I’ll give you a very brief description below.
The Chief Instructor is often also the owner, but can do any of the other activities performed by the other two employees. They mostly handle student retention, upgrades and teach the majority of the classes.
The Program Director manages new students coming in, follows up on leads and takes them through the enrollment process. This person also handles renewals, manages school events and has a number of classes assigned to them.
Finally the part-time front office person is basically a receptionist. They must be able to answer the phone and schedule an appointment and handle walk-ins who are interested in training.
Again, unless you have 125-150 students, it is not necessary to have any employees. With all the companies out there that have services that help you with running your Taekwon-Do school, you should be just fine. And remember that you are running a business. If you are going to be spending money on hiring someone to help you run your school, they better be producing results that not only justify them being there, but that contribute to the continuous growth of your school.
Do you have employees? Are you thinking about hiring someone? I’d love to hear what you have to say. Please send me your comments and questions below!
About the Author:
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 winning 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