I get a lot of questions about this from instructors who are looking into opening a storefront location. They all want to know what is the “perfect” size for a new school. My father and I also had to tackle this question ourselves last month because we are moving to a new location.
Some instructors think they are going to start small and eventually grow into their own 10,000 sq. ft. facility. While others are happy with a smaller scale operation.
I’ve seen large school models work just as effectively and profitably as small school models and the truth is, there is no size your school “should” be. The question you should be asking is:
What do YOU want?
There is no perfect martial arts school model out there for everyone to follow. If there was then we’d all be doing it. It all ultimately boils down to your personal preference and creating the business plan that will allow you to have the school you desire.
There are examples of large successful schools like Randy Holeman in Washington with Karate West where he’s got a 6,800 sq ft. school with 900-1000 students. There’s also Master Bill Clark in Florida with 23 Karate America locations. Both have their own pros and cons.
Personally, I prefer the small school model. With the proper schedule you can run 200-250 students in a 1800-2500 sq. ft. school. When that school fills up then it’s time to open another location.
To do business, you really only need a small space for parents, a nice front counter area to greet people, a small office to conduct intro lessons, bathrooms, a little storage and the rest is the workout floor. Nothing else is really necessary.
If you have a location bigger than 2500 sq. ft. and have less than 200 students you’ve got room to downsize. Or, if you have plans on a bigger location you better make sure you are getting the bigger space because your business plan calls for it and you’ve got a marketing plan in place to fill it quickly. Otherwise you’re just paying for your own ego. However if you want to spend money on that, then that’s up to you as well.
We had a 3000 sq. ft. school and last year hovered around 100-120 students and it was obviously too much. It was really nice though. Other than the bad visibility from the street and poorly lit signage we had a room to greet people, another for parents to sit and watch, two workout floors, another office and a kitchen in the back. I wasn’t complaining but we were definitely paying for it.
When it came time to move it was an easy decision. The new location is a quarter mile away, in a great strip mall right out on the main road with great signage, is 1800 sq. ft. and is a perfect fit. What’s even better is that we’re not losing any revenue as we cut our rent expense by $1500 a month. That’s called profit… in our pocket! Not to mention the money we’ll save on utilities.
Classes start at the new location April 28th.
There’s obviously a lot involved with this business model that makes that size school successful, but for now this is a good place to start.
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. 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