Biggest Martial Arts Business Misconceptions (7 of 8)
This is the grey area where customer service and martial arts collide.
It is true that you should strive to provide excellent customer service. For example you should always make sure you do what you say you would do, and on time. You should make things as easy as possible for Taekwon-Do people to purchase new uniforms and equipment. You should return all your phone calls that night or the next business day. And I could go on and on.
But your classes are another matter.
In Taekwon-Do class, students are expected to perform, to behave and to do their best. They are introduced to new techniques and patterns. They are challenged, pushed and tested. There are expectations on them.
Hopefully nothing I’ve said so far is news to you.
Then there’s the few who are the complainers, the whiners and the “delicate” ones in the group. They are perfectly capable of fully participating, yet have special requests for everything. They don’t like to sweat, don’t want to get hit, only want to go to your class, don’t like the mats, don’t like the lighting, blah, blah, blah. But they really want to do Taekwon-Do!
If you haven’t had one of these students, then you will. They do exist.
So what do you do with them?
Do you let them off the hook? Do you give them special treatment? Does the whole class have to adjust for that one student?
You can’t ignore them and you also can’t let them control the way you run your school.
Many Taekwon-Do school owners bend over backwards to keep people happy for fear of losing a student. This often results in losing other students who are being ignored in the process. On the other side of the coin are the instructors who have a “my way or the highway” attitude which doesn’t work either.
With the first method, you are training students and parents that they can walk all over you and get their way anytime they throw a big enough fit about something. Translation, they don’t respect you. With the second method, you spend most of your time being right about things, forcing people to participate and defending your bad attitude while not listening to your students needs and concerns. Translation, they don’t respect you.
You don’t need to cater to every student or their parents, but you do need to LISTEN.
You need to be able to get and understand what they are worried, concerned, or just complaining about. Most of the time people just need the experience of being heard. There’s nothing more frustrating than speaking (or arguing) with someone about something you care about and feeling like you are not getting anywhere. (Ask my wife about taking to Dish Network today!)
When you are actually present with them, paying attention to them and listening to them it’s easy to find a solution.
9 times out of 10, the problem is something that can be easily tended to, or there’s something about Taekwon-Do, about what you do or how you operate that they don’t understand and need to be educated on.
It’s your job to provide great, professional service and exceptional Taekwon-Do. It’s also their job to be a great student (they have a job too!). If you need to, reference the student/instructor relationship in the Taekwon-Do Encyclopedia (Vol. 1, pg. 81)
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