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333kenshin
White Belt
White Belt

Joined: 09 Jan 2020
Posts: 6


PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:35 am    Post subject: getting buy-in from a skeptical sensei Reply with quote

Hi folks,
Hope you're all safe and healthy. Need some advice.

I train and teach at the same karate dojo under the same sensei I started with 30+ years as a kid. I REALLY want the studio to survive.

The studio has been chugging along, in the black but not exactly robust (the recession and MMA means we'll never see the 90s heyday). So COVID is an existential threat, and our best shot at survival is to leverage every silver lining possible. Luckily I believe there are some: people are more aware of the need for exercise than ever before, and the type who used to visit big gyms like 24 hour fitness are now open to more stimulating and engaging activities.

I've brainstormed a handful of ideas to try to increase student numbers once quarantine lifts. Not saying all my ideas are sound, but that we have to try something, preferably several things, and fast, to see what works before the next quarantine hits come winter.

But all this is contingent on getting buy in from my sensei. Thing is, he's a 60+ yo immigrant who for 30+ years has singlehandedly run his own business without almost any change. The concept of "business agility" doesn't exist. Free trial classes, automated online payments, partnerships with things like classpass, etc he digs in his heels at any suggestion.

So how do I get his buy in to try these things in an effort to get numbers up to survive the new normal? Please help me help my sensei!
Thanks,
-Dave
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 15153
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 12:29 pm    Post subject: Re: how to achieve buy-in from a skeptical sensei Reply with quote

333kenshin wrote:
So how do I get his buy in to try these things in an effort to get numbers up to survive the new normal?

If he hasn't bought into these things for the past 30+ years, then I seriously doubt that he'll buy into them anytime soon, if ever at all.

I speak from experience.

For as long as I can remember, our Founder has rejected any and all suggestions to boost new student enrollments and the like for the entire 46 years that I trained with him and my Sensei, before they both passed away. No matter just how promising the idea's might've appeared to be, they'd turn them down as though the idea's were a plague or something. Both of them were made of the same cloth in this regards; I too, am made from that very same cloth in this regards. Before I joined our Hombu back in 1964, our Founder and my Sensei were operating our Hombu for 7 years already with the very same marketing mindset, and their Student Body was nothing to be ashamed of...it was always steadily climbing.

Yes, they suffered what ever dojo faces day in and day out, such as dealing with every known sports program in their community during the year...vacations...public school programs, as well as this and that...name it, they faced it. No matter what, it never fazed them, and neither did they ever change their marketing ways.

Both, our Founder and my Sensei, were very firm believers in how they marketed our Hombu, as well as Shindokan. They hung up a simple shingle...they conducted demonstrations wherever they could...they blanketed a 25 mile radius from our Hombu with simple flyers...that was it. The rest, and this was their primary marketing tool, was to always teach effective and quality MA with an iron fist integrity; with that, students will find you. Finding them, they did...finding me, they have.

No website...no huge marketing budget...no auto payments...no this and no that; as old fashion as one can ever imagine...a rudimentary knowledge of marketing as one can ever get. It worked for them...it works for me.

I've been practicing their marketing ideas ever since I first opened my dojo in 1977, and I've never succumbed to any gadgets and/or gimmicks; I've followed their marketing methods, and it's served me extremely well ever since day one. I'm a firm believer in that change is inevitable, however, like our Founder and my Sensei, I've not came across any marketing idea that has peaked my marketing interest.

For the most, our Founder would strike down any and all ideas that we presented him. We tried and tried, and we were all part of our Hombu's Hierarchy, and have been with him/them for quite a long time, but his/their minds were made up, and that was that. We could only push so far before he'd push back. Even after they both passed away, and I was elected as our Hombu's Kaicho, I carried on their marketing ideas, even against the wishes of the Hierarchy. Sure, we'd discuss many marketing idea's, but in the end, we'd either table it or kill it, which of course was due to we couldn't receive majority votes or unanimous votes. We couldn't agree what color to paint the darn bathroom doors, let alone more serious matters.

If your Sensei is set in his ways in his marketing mindset like our Founder and my Sensei...and myself, then I seriously doubt that you'll be able to convince him any otherwise. As the old idiom goes..."Each to his/her/their own"



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333kenshin
White Belt
White Belt

Joined: 09 Jan 2020
Posts: 6


PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@Sensei8, if Coronavirus didn't happen, I'd be doing what you suggest - let him stick with his own methods.

In fact, that *was* my initial plan: start my own studio nearby as a franchise, I'll run mine my way, and let him run his his own way. If I find that my innovations are useful without compromising the studio's integrity, I can show him how it works in action and let him decide for himself whether he wants to adopt it.

But the fact is CoronaVirus *did* happen, and is the premise of my original question. So not only do I not have the option of doing my own changes in my own separate school, *he* doesn't have the option of carrying on business as usual if the virus comes back this winter.

Hence I don't think the logic of business-as-usual applies. If you don't think this situation has raised the stakes of evolve-or-die, then I'm curious whether your city/community has responded to coronavirus differently from where I live (Los Angeles).

Cheers,
-Dave
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 15153
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 4:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wholeheartedly agree with you, 333kenshin.

For to be sure; the Covid-19 pandemic has forced quite a lot of inevitable changes for any business, including, and not excluding, the MA school industry. How will these inevitable changes affect the MA school industry is still to be seen. Nonetheless, how a MA school address these inevitable changes will decide as to if they can or can't satisfy their bottom-line.

Without a Student Body on the floor, MA schools might need to find other effective and quality ways of teaching. This has to be decided by each and every MA school owner and operator individually, and not by the masses. However, the masses can generate a ton of effective and quality ideas for the individual to seriously consider.

While I'm not a proponent of teaching remotely through the many possible on-line venues like Skype or Zoom or to the plethora different videoconferencing tools that we could flock towards as the means, as a owner and operator of a MA school, I must seriously consider that alternative, whether I like that arena or not.

I've a responsibility towards my entire Student Body, and that is to teach them one way or another. Perhaps remote teaching might be my newest thing, if I must. If I must teach remotely, then so be it, but that will have to be the very last option. I'd rather teach face to face, and I will have setup a means to teach remotely if and when we ever experience another resurge of this pandemic.

Necessity is the mother of all inventions, so I'll have invented an alternative to face to face teaching at my dojo already in place; that's what I'm currently working on and developing as we speak.

Tomorrow, our Texas Governor will set in motion a plan that will allow some businesses, like retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls to reopen, but only at 25% capacity.

Second phase will allow other businesses, like barbershops, hair salons, bars and gyms could go into effect as early as May 18th, as long as the state sees "two weeks of data to confirm no flare-up of COVID-19".

25% capacity of my current Student Body is roughly 68 students at one time. While my Student Body is quite large, I doubt that I've ever had 68 people in my dojo at one time during any one class.



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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
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Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 28552
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2020 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I kind of agree with Bob, in that if your sensei won't listen and won't change, there probably isn't much else you can do, other than to continue to beat a dead horse. He might come around if it becomes very dire, as a last ditch effort. Otherwise, if you've already pointed out to him the benefits that you feel these other options offer, and he still doesn't want to try any, well, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.
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