The 3 A’s of Good Business Practice
A gym that intentionally bills you more than once each billing cycle. A phone company that destroys your life with astronomical and irrational charges. And any other possible shady situation that leaves you regretful and resentful.
Too many martial arts instructors are great martial artists, but are horrible business people. They struggle and suffer at their own hands because they do not know how to handle adversity, or they have personalities themselves that are rather off-putting.
In my opinion, if everyone incorporated these three concepts into their business practice, they would dramatically improve their business, their clients’ experience, and their own quality of life.
My parents always told me when growing up, that if I did something wrong or made a mistake – that if I told the truth about it I would be in less trouble than if I lied and got caught. They were trying to teach me to take responsibility for my actions. This goes a long way in business.
I try very hard not to put myself in a position where I will have to apologize and be an inconvenience to someone. But if I do, I don’t play the blame game – I accept the responsibility for my mistake and I will offer not only my apology, but also something above and beyond to make up for the mistake. That could be free lessons, free merchandise, a gift card to a restaurant…the options are endless.
If you do this, your clients are likely to be more forgiving of your shortcomings.
Sometimes random things happen that aren’t your fault. But that won’t stop people from blaming you.
I remember one year back in college, I was flying across the country to get from my parents place to my school. When we got to the airport, we were told that the airline’s head office had a major shutdown and the computers were offline, delaying every single flight that day. That company was WestJet. This was a make or break moment for WestJet in the eyes of all those affected.
My flight was delayed for 5 hours. Some were less, some were considerably more.
WestJet began by apologizing for the inconvenience, ordering pizza and drinks for the entire airport, and announcing it over the PA system. That was cool, but what came next was amazing.
Two weeks after the incident, my family got a letter in the mail from WestJet. It was an official apology for the mishap, with a note that for every 2 hours our flight was delayed, we would receive credit equivalent to the fare of our purchased ticket. Because my flight was delayed 5 hours, and I had only booked a one-way flight, we received $598.00 to apply to future WestJet flights.
I will now always speak positively to people about WestJet and their customer service. As long as they keep up this behaviour, they will be here for a long time.
Sometimes things happen that are out of our control and that are not the fault of anyone. But if you can adopt responsibility for whatever happened, and go above and beyond for your clients, you will gain far greater value than you could ever lose.
Finally, people want to know that you care. People are social creatures, and we gather around other people of similar values, likes, dislikes, etc.
There are few feelings more nauseating than going into a gym or membership-based business and feeling like a dollar figure rather than a valued person.
I had a woman come up to me just last night after seeing a portion of my class, and asked me when she could come try it. She is on a one-week trial membership, and she told me that in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class she took the instructor was too busy texting on his phone and talking with his buddies to offer any assistance to the students in class. Sounds ridiculous, right? I have seen worse. That class is just a paycheque to him.
My good friends Gordon and Ashley Wood run a highly successful martial arts school in Ancaster, Ontario, Canada called Evolution Martial Arts. They are always expanding, and they are always getting voted as #1 martial arts school in their area by anyone and everyone who has had the pleasure of training there.
I equate their success with 4 things.
- They plan their classes. They do not just show up and wing it. Their curriculum is structured and this structure allows them freedom to invest most of their time into their students.
- They make you feel important. They know you by name, and they make you feel like a part of a family.
- They are highly skilled martial artists, and highly skilled martial arts instructors.
- They do not have contracts. If I want to leave them for any reason whatsoever, I can do so with absolutely no penalty. I will also not be made to feel guilty or negative in any way. This, I believe, has led to positive word of mouth that has launched their business into a rarified atmosphere that few other schools can claim to know.
If you can create a positive atmosphere where people are genuinely cared for, you will be amazed at the positive yield that it brings.
If you can both accept and adopt responsibility for mistakes that are or aren’t your fault, and create an energetic and caring atmosphere – you will improve your business exponentially in several ways.