How to Open a Martial Arts Business: A Comprehensive Guide
If you're planning to open a martial arts studio, you're going into one of the best-earning fitness sectors. Yes, martial arts business owners earn more, in the US, compared to other fitness professionals.
So if that wasn't already a big enough incentive, you'll also be glad to hear that the popularity of martial arts has been steadily rising thanks to various factors such as the popularity of MMA and an increased focus on personal safety. To add to this an increasing number of people are also recognizing the physical, mental, and spiritual benefits that martial arts training offers.
In fact, multiple statistics and reports back up these findings, suggesting that the fighting arts are growing steadily in popularity right now.
If you've decided that you're going to open your own martial arts school or dojo, we've put together this handy guide to get you set up right.
Section 1: Defining Your Vision and Mission
Before diving into the logistics of starting a martial arts school, you'll need to define your vision and mission. This will serve as the guiding principle for your studio and help you stand out from the competition.
This will also depend on the martial arts style you're teaching, or whether you're going to offer varied martial arts classes.
1. Determine Your Martial Arts Style and Philosophy
You may already be a trained practitioner in one of the main martial arts styles. But, if you're opening a general combat arts dojo, you'll need to choose which martial arts to focus on.
For example, if you're teaching kung fu or karate, there are many different styles that you could teach. Again this will likely depend on your own training or philosophy, but you could also be working with other professionals to offer a more general martial arts school.
Your philosophy and style of teaching will also affect how you attract clients. Are your target customers going to be kids learning the basics of martial arts, or are you hoping to attract experienced practitioners looking to get fight-ready?
Whether you're teaching karate, taekwondo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or Muay Thai, define your martial arts philosophy, emphasizing the values and principles you want to instill in your students.
2. Identify Your Target Market
Define and focus on the demographics you want to target. Whether this means children, adults, or both.
Determine if you want to focus on recreational martial arts, self-defense, or competitive training. While you can obviously focus on more than one target customer, it is good to have your ideal customer profile (ICP) in mind.
By understanding your target market this will help you tailor your programs and marketing efforts to attract the right audience, and build a more successful martial arts school in the long run.
Section 2: Planning and Finances
Like any business, starting a martial arts studio requires careful planning and financial preparation. You'll want to make sure you have a venue you can be comfortable in from the start, and not plan on expanding into a bigger venue in the future.
The reason for this is that you don't want to find yourself unable to accommodate your classes, but equally, you don't want a place that is too big.
A lot of this will depend on your available finances when you're starting out, but it is something to bear in mind.
As a martial arts business owner, you'll want to take note of the following steps:
1. Create a Business Plan
Develop a comprehensive business plan that outlines your goals, target market analysis, marketing strategies, financial projections, and operational plans.
Have a solid plan for the classes you will be offering, and factor in hiring staff for both teaching martial arts and general admin too.
A well-crafted business plan will serve as a roadmap for your studio's success. It can also be useful when seeking financing from investors or lenders.
2. Secure Funding
With a solid business plan, you'll be able to identify your financial needs and explore different funding options. This may include personal savings, loans from banks or credit unions, or seeking investment from partners.
There are many ways to secure funding, and you might even be able to crowdsource or secure sponsorship if you have an enticing enough business plan.
Make sure you comprehensively consider the costs involved, such as the lease or purchase of a suitable facility, equipment, insurance, marketing expenses, and staff salaries.
3. Choose a Suitable Location
Every business, especially those in fitness, live or die by their location. You don't want a martial arts school that is hard to find and a long way from your target customers.
Make sure to choose a location that is easily accessible and visible to your target audience.
Ideally, look for areas with a high population density or near schools, colleges, or residential communities. Consider the size of the space, parking availability, and zoning regulations. You might also be able to partner with an existing gym to hire their spare space to start out.
Leasing a space will likely be more cost-effective initially, allowing you to allocate funds to other essential areas of your business.
4. Obtain Permits and Licenses
Every business needs to follow the rules, so make sure that your martial arts studio complies with all legal requirements. This means you'll need to obtain the necessary permits and licenses to operate a martial arts studio.
Factor in business permits, zoning approvals, health and safety certifications, and liability insurance.
Make sure to consult with your local authorities and, ideally, legal professionals to ensure your martial arts business meets all the legal obligations. Fines are expensive and bad for business!
Read more about starting a gym business in our blog.
Section 3: Studio Setup and Equipment
Creating an inviting and well-equipped studio is essential to attract and retain students. You'll want to make sure you have the decor and lighting to match your dojo philosophy.
And of course, you'll also want to invest in the best quality equipment you can find.
1. Design Your Studio Layout
Plan the layout of your studio to maximize space and ensure a safe training environment. Consider separate areas for different activities, such as training mats, changing rooms, reception area, and viewing area for parents or spectators.
Arrange the space in a way that allows for smooth movement and minimizes the risk of injuries. You don't want to be dealing with accidents in every martial arts class due to lack of space!
2. Invest in High-Quality Equipment
Equip your studio with high-quality martial arts equipment, such as mats, punching bags, training dummies, mirrors, and sound systems.
Because of the high impact nature of martial arts classes, investing in cheaper equipment will be a false economy in the long run. Make sure your martial arts business plan factors in paying for top-quality equipment. And if you find the equipment costs are too high, try and work out what you could do without.
There are likely things that you don't need when starting out... Heated towel rails for the changing rooms? A high-end sound system across the whole studio? Widescreen TV in the foyer? Consider switching out cosmetic elements for better-quality fighting and training equipment if money is an issue.
3. Create a Welcoming Atmosphere
When it comes to making your dojo an inspiring place to train, pay attention to the aesthetics of your martial arts studio. Choose colors, lighting, and décor that reflect the spirit of martial arts and create a welcoming and inspiring atmosphere.
Display motivational quotes, martial arts memorabilia, and success stories to inspire your students and create a sense of community.
4. Choose the Best Business Management Software
Every business these days needs software to run smoothly, and this is especially true for martial arts schools. Whether it's managing classes, tracking membership fees or account sign-ups, or sending communications to your clients, using the right management software is key.
Arbox gym management software is designed for fitness professionals, including martial arts school owners.
By easily integrating with your website, Arbox allows you to take payments and keep track of what is happening at your martial arts studio. Whether this is paying your bills or making sure your clients know what new classes are coming up, Arbox makes managing your business easier.
Section 4: Marketing and Promotion
Promoting your martial arts studio is essential to attract students and build a strong brand presence. Here are some effective marketing strategies to consider.
1. Build a Professional Website
Every business needs to create a professional and user-friendly website that showcases your studio, programs, and instructors. Make sure to include compelling content, high-quality images, class schedules, pricing information, and a simple way for prospective students to contact you.
Having a website means you can focus on creating organic content, such as blogs or guides, which will attract traffic without needing to pay for ads.
2. Use Social Media
Harness the power of social media to reach a wider audience. Fitness and martial arts in particular are very visual industries. So building an audience with your regular social media content is going to be key to long-term business success.
Create regular engaging content, share student success stories, post training tips, and promote special offers or events. Encourage your students to share their experiences on social media using your branded hashtags and offer incentives for referrals so you can attract more new customers.
3. Offer Introductory Programs and Special Promotions
There are many ways to run promotional campaigns to attract more paying clients. But attracting new students by offering introductory programs or trial classes is a tried and tested method.
Provide special promotions or discounts for first-time sign-ups or referral incentives for existing members who bring in new students. Consider partnering with local businesses or schools to expand your reach and offer joint promotions.
4. Engage with the Community
Participate in community events, health fairs, or sponsor local sports teams to enhance your visibility and establish your studio as a reputable fitness provider.
Offer self-defense workshops or demonstrations to schools, workplaces, or community centers to showcase the value of martial arts training.
Section 5: Staffing and Training
While many martial arts schools are run by solo practitioners, leveling up your business will mean you need to hire new staff. In fact, the most successful martial arts studios rely on a roster of qualified and passionate instructors to help teach martial arts across a wide range of disciplines.
Here's what you need to know about staffing and training.
1. Hire Qualified Instructors
Make sure to recruit instructors who possess the necessary qualifications, experience, and passion for martial arts. Look for individuals who are not only skilled in their discipline but also possess good communication and teaching abilities.
Conduct thorough interviews and background checks to ensure you have a reliable and dedicated team.
2. Provide Ongoing Training and Development
Invest in the professional development of your instructors. Offer training programs, workshops, and certifications to enhance their teaching skills and expand their knowledge in different martial arts disciplines.
Encourage continuous learning and create a supportive environment for your staff.
3. Manage Schedules and Classes
While it is great to have as many classes as you can, you'll need to make sure you're getting the best out of your staff by not booking them into too many classes. Manage staff schedules so that they have ample time to rest between classes, after all, martial arts are a high-energy activity.
Manage your teaching staff by using Arbox to make sure there are no schedule clashes, and so everyone knows where they need to be and when.
Why Arbox Can Help Your New Martial Arts School to Succeed
If you plan to start a martial arts business, it can be a fulfilling and rewarding endeavor. But it also comes with many challenges which can trip up any business owner.
Arbox martial arts studio management software is the best tool to help your business run smoothly.
In fact, studio owners from martial arts schools or gyms to dance studios, trust Arbox to help them track sign-ups, take payments, send marketing messages and manage finances.
Find out how Arbox can help your martial arts dojo. Sign up today!
Join a live demo to learn how Arbox can help get organized and provide an amazing client experience.