If you plan on setting your Taekwon-Do students up for success and creating an environment that is consistent with the values and principles of ITF Taekwon-Do, then you NEED to be doing new student intros.
It doesn’t matter if the student is a child or an adult, they need to experience that there’s something unique about what you do at your school that separates you from any and all other things that your new prospect could be doing with their free time.
For children, you have to separate yourself from other after school activities like little league, soccer, piano, etc. For adults, you need to separate yourself from other fitness classes, what’s on television that night and happy hour.
You do this by taking every new student through a structured, guided introduction to Taekwon-Do that allows the new student (and family) to experience physically and emotionally the difference that Taekwon-Do will make in their life.
At my school we have a detailed introduction process that walks students step-by-step through what we do, how we do it and the impact it will have on them. There’s nothing “salesy” about it. We’re straight forward with them and up front about what Taekwon-Do is and what it costs. Then they have the opportunity to choose if they’d like to train with us.
Based on my 1 TKD Instructor Survey of over 100 schools around the world, only 29% of ITF Taekwon-Do schools do an introductory appointment. That means that most of you have clearly been getting along without one. However what you are missing out on is the opportunity to have students and their families physically and emotionally involved with Taekwon-Do as a way of life from the very beginning.
There are many ways instructors introduce new students to Taekwon-Do, but the worst thing you can do is just toss them into class and talk to them afterwards.
Why is it the worst?
Because most new members have no idea what to look for in a good Taekwon-Do school. Therefore, you have no idea what they are basing their decision to continue training on.
You’re just throwing them in to class and hoping that they’ll get a clear and accurate vision of what Taekwon-Do is and what it can provide for their life after just one class, where they are doing moves they’ve never done before, don’t know half of the commands and most likely feel very awkward and uncomfortable.
Good luck with that.
I can’t remember where I heard this, but there’s a great quote that says, “If you don’t have a system for selling, you are at the mercy of the customer’s system for buying, or in many cases, not buying.”
You want to guide your new student’s entire experience from the time they walk into your door till the moment they agree to train with you and enroll.
There are five critical elements of a new student intro and I’m going to outline the first three here. What you need to do is make sure that you are addressing each of these five areas in some way with all your new members.
1. The First Impression
People judge. It’s not a bad thing, everyone does it whether they admit it or not. You’re probably judging this article right now as you read it.
Knowing that, you have the opportunity to impact the thoughts and judgements your prospects are creating about Taekwon-Do from the moment they walk into your school.
This is critical because you want your prospect to be moved by what they experience when they walk in the door. Not moved like crying, but moved like they know they’ve just walked into a sacred space. One of things we implemented (from Master Bill Clark) was bowing to prospects before shaking their hand.
Most westerners have never been bowed to before and it often catches them off guard, but they now know that there is something different about you and about this place they just walked into.
You also have another goal here.
This is where you want to collect their personal information. After greeting them and building some rapport, we ask them to fill out our guest card which is just their name, child’s name, phone, address, email, etc. This way we can follow up with them if for some reason they choose not to enroll with us that day.
2. The Tour
Here is where you walk a new prospect through your facility showing them where parents sit, the mats, kicking targets, kicking bags, and where bathrooms and changing rooms are.
This may seem silly on the surface, but you must remember that you are working with someone who has no idea what any of that stuff is or why it’s even there. To them it’s just “Taekwon-Do stuff”.
Allowing them to get familiar with your school, even something as simple as knowing where the bathroom is (even if they don’t have to go) goes a long way to making the prospect feel more comfortable and at ease in this new environment of yours.
It is also an opportunity for you to point out anything that may be unique to you and what sets you apart from schools.
3. Personal Interview
Two very important things happen here.
First, you are gathering information about their expectations and what they are looking to get from your training program.
This has to happen!
This matters because they are telling you here exactly what they want and you now have the opportunity to emphasize those aspects of Taekwon-Do during the Intro Lesson (Step 4), customizing it to fit them.
This also gives you insight into what, if any, objections they might have to training. With this knowledge you can address those concerns right away and remove any concern that they may have.
Second, you are determining if they are going to be someone who is a good match for your school.
I won’t hesitate to tell someone that they should go train somewhere else if they’re not a good fit and you shouldn’t either. If, during the Personal Interview you know that there’s something inconsistent with what they want and what you provide, then it’s imperative that you have the integrity to tell them that they would be better served somewhere else.
It can be something as simple as someone really wanting to train in another style, or something as complex as dealing with someone who has values inconsistent with Taekwon-Do. This rarely happens, but when it does it’s not worth sacrificing your integrity to get another student or another dollar.
4. The Physical Intro
Most instructors go overboard here. They think that the more they show the new prospect the better the chance of them enrolling. It may sound logical, but the amount of stuff you do with the prospect has little to nothing to do with their decision to join.
During this phase of the appointment your goal is to get the prospect to understand that Taekwon-Do is something they CAN do, and that you are the one who can help them achieve their goals.
We have a specific process that we use to make sure that what we are doing with them is preparing them for their first class. Learning simple things like “attention”, “bow” and “ready stance” can go a long way to making a student more comfortable entering their first class. You can even introduce a little Korean terminology here if you like.
With children we only focus on a few basic moves and allow them to hit some pads. Additionally, the entire time we are weaving the tenets, their meaning, and examples of them throughout the lesson.
The adult intros are very similar. We only do a few basic moves, use some pads and add additional stretching or some simple self-defense moves, something that is consistent with what they said they were looking for in a Taekwon-Do program.
This aspect of the intro should only take 10-15 minutes. They don’t need a big workout, they want to know if you and your program are going to help them (or their children) achieve their goals.
5. The Enrollment Conference
Now that you’ve built a rapport with the new prospect, put them at ease with you and the new space they are in, have found out what exactly it is they are interested in, exactly why they want to join, and have demonstrated to them that they will get what they came for from your program, it is time to ask them to enroll.
This is where you sit down with your new prospect to go over the programs that you offer and invite them to join.
Many instructors are terrible at this part or even ignore it all together. This is the most critical part of your introductory lesson. It’s very simple, yet not easy and must be practiced. Like every other aspect of the intro, it’s best if you have a script to follow here.
You want to review your program, the benefits, the schedule and the prices. If you have a visual aid to do this with, it makes things very simple. We use a small flip book that breaks everything down and makes things simple for the prospect. After they have all the information, you ask them to enroll.
When they do choose to enroll you get them set up with their uniform, belt and whatever else you determine they need to begin training at your school. We have a welcome packet that every new member gets when they enroll that includes things like the student oath, class schedule, Do Jang rules, a referral card, and other resources they need.
Some schools try to get tricky and offer free 30 days, but not really, and then they apply the value of the thirty days if you sign up for a longer program, blah, blah, blah.
You don’t need any kind of tricky sales process. What you offer and the difference it can make in an individual’s life is priceless.
By doing the complete introductory process, you have the ability to get that across to your new prospect and they will have a very high perceived value of your program allowing you to have a very simple, straight forward offer that they can choose or not.
This entire process should take about 45 minutes and your new students will be grateful you took the time to properly introduce them to what Taekwon-Do is all about.
You will also be rewarded with students who have more confidence going into their first class, who will stay longer because they now have a head start on their relationship with you and who know that you are the one who can help achieve their goals.
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