Cris Rodriguez, owner of Gracie PAC MMA out of Tampa, FL, breaks down what has made her school so successful. Learn the exact marketing strategies that Cris has implemented to her business which allows her desired lifestyle.
Unknown Speaker 0:01
Welcome to the Market Muscles podcast, marketing insights and interviews with successful membership based businesses in the health, wellness and child activity center space, learn their exact strategies on how they market and grow their companies with your host, Stephen Reinstein.
Unknown Speaker 0:22
All right, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the Market Muscles podcast. Today we have a really special guest one of my best friends. Founder of Gracie pack MMA in Tampa, Florida, CEO of grow pro agency currently helping over 100 martial art schools with their Facebook ads and online marketing. My a consultant commercial real estate investor, new mom, what else can I say? What else can she do anything? Chris Rodriguez, welcome to the show.
Unknown Speaker 0:51
What an intro.
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Unknown Speaker 0:55
thank you. Thank you. Awesome. So how is your day going so far?
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Unknown Speaker 1:02
well, it's the first of the year that we're recording this on, right New Year's Day. And I got a text message from the contractor that is doing the build out at the office that we just bought. And he said, the air conditioning unit went out. And it was like, Oh, I hope this isn't what 2020 one's gonna be like, but you know, what, fortunately, got on the call with our AC guy, and he's meeting me after this to get it fixed. So every you know, there's always an answer. Always an answer. Otherwise, it's been a good day, though.
Unknown Speaker 1:38
Great, awesome. So this show we really want to focus on, you know, helping the listeners, which are mostly school owners, and, you know, child activity center owners and just kind of giving them some insight into, you know, what works best when it comes to their marketing. So, I think to kind of kick us off, you know, why don't you give us an intro, you know, specifically about kind of Gracie pack and grow pro agency. And, you know, kind of just like how long you've been a business number of Employee Services, you offer that sort of thing?
Unknown Speaker 2:08
Yeah, sure. So, you know, our listeners are our people. I've been a martial artist since March 15 1993. That was the first day that I ever stepped foot. And I can't even see on the mat because it was carpet, you know, like old school Taekwondo. And it was literally the day that forever changed the course of my life. My mom trained Judo when she was a kid in the Bronx and always talked about how much she loved it. And she used to take this aerobics class at the YMCA and in the room right next door, they had karate classes going on. So I would always want to watch the karate classes and was always super intrigued. Um, you know, by it. And when we moved down to Tampa, I'm originally from New Jersey. She picked me up from school one day and said, Hey, you want to try martial arts? And she brought me to a jewelry Institute of Taekwondo. I know one of the biggest licensee Taekwondo programs back in the 90s. And because I got my start in Taekwondo, I really got to see what a well oiled machine looks like. Gracie pack is actually a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA Academy. We opened in 2012, when I got my BJJ black belt. And we currently have three full timers, three part timers. And, you know, traditionally most BJJ and MMA academies usually have a strong focus on their adult program. And we're the complete opposite. Our main focus is on the kids and on families. You know, people ask me a lot like, What does pack stand for. And when I first opened the business, it was supposed to be parents, and children. And that's it. And those were the only clients I was going to take on only kids and only their parents. And then I had all of these non parents wanting to sign up. And I was like, maybe this isn't the best business model. So we changed it from parents and children to parents, adults, children, so that I wouldn't miss you know, this this huge market. And, um, you know, I absolutely love being a martial artist in a martial art school owner. But I recognized in order for me to provide more opportunities for my team and to make the table a little longer that I needed to look at different revenue streams. Um, me personally, I have never wanted to have multiple locations. I'm good with the one and done in regards to the school. So I needed to look at other avenues and I've been studying digital marketing for over a decade, fell in love with it due to one of my really good friends Matt Arroyo, former UFC fighter he basically got me started on building my first email list. And and that's really where grow pro agency was born. You know, I also consult a ton of school owners, which is super, super fulfilling. I'm not on the mat teaching classes nearly as much I teach two classes a week, and I was missing that fulfillment have that impact of being able to help change lives not just, you know, once a day, once a week when I'm on the mat, but every single day, and the number one question school owners have, is, how do I get more students? Right? I mean, that's the number one question and that's really how grow pro agency was born. You know, there are a ton of marketing agencies out there. But I don't believe there are a ton of great marketing agencies that solely focus on our industry, and that are ran by people who truly care and truly understand what it's like to be a homeowner. So there's a little history on Gracie pack and grow pro agency. You know, my two babies per se.
Unknown Speaker 6:02
Yeah, I mean, I remember I guess it was two years ago now, when we were hanging out in Cozumel at cars talks. And it was like in between sessions, you kind of showed me the girl pro logo. And you're like, Hey, what do you what do you think about this? I was like, cool. That sounds cool. What is that? Starting agency? And now here you are helping over 100 schools, which is it's pretty amazing. Yeah, I mean, I think just you're kind of background because like, obviously, we're going to talk about what works at your school, which is awesome. But you know, based on like, the location that people are in certain things work better than other things. So I think you're kind of background with consulting schools from all over the United States is really helpful here. Because you get to see what works in a rural area. What works in a, you know, City area, suburban area. So yeah, we can definitely hop into some of that. But I guess just kind of looking at Gracie pack first. Well, first of all, I learned something new today. I didn't know that pack stand for parents and children. I thought that was always like, like a culture thing. Like you're part of the pack or something like that. Which I mean, well,
Unknown Speaker 7:11
that was part of it. Yeah. One of the reasons why I wanted pack like, you know, we're like we're like a wolf pack together. Yeah. But yeah, parents, adults, children now.
Unknown Speaker 7:24
Makes sense. Makes sense. Cool. Well, I think like, I mean, obviously, you said as a jujitsu school, you've kind of positioned yourself really uniquely in your community. And something that you don't see pretty often from the Jiu Jitsu community, but you do see it kind of like in the greater martial arts community. But in terms of like, when you started your business and how you kind of grew your reputation with community, was there anything specific that you did? Because I mean, I think to the outsider, Brazilian jujitsu and kickboxing, and Muay Thai, it's really kind of tough to imagine yourself doing as a beginner because it looks rough. I mean, it looks, it looks really hard. So how did you kind of break through that? That hurdle?
Unknown Speaker 8:04
Yeah, great question. So a few things. So I don't want to be you know, transparent. I have my degree in elementary education. I graduated from the University of South Florida. I actually, when I graduated high school, I had a full scholarship to any Florida State School. And pretty much all of my friends went to us University of Florida. And I decided to stay here in Tampa, because at the time, I was the head instructor of my Taekwondo school. And I knew that I wasn't going to be teaching inside of, you know, third or fourth grade classroom, I wanted to gain the knowledge in order to be able to teach martial arts better to two children. So my background in education lends itself to working with kids. Here's the other thing. I'm five foot two, and I'm a female. And there's not too many solely female owned martial arts schools, nevertheless, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu schools, and I think it's important as an entrepreneur and a school owner to know what your strengths are, and know what your weaknesses are. And if a 250 pound guy that maybe had some background in wrestling, who can you know, benchpress three times my weight comes in and challenges me, regardless of how much time I have on the mat that could potentially turn into a not fun situation. So I decided to focus on the area where my strengths were and that was ultimately working with with children because I've been teaching martial arts. I mean, really, since I was about 10 years old, my Taekwondo school, they had an assistant instructor program you had to assist in order to get your next belt. And then what I did was I hired out the positions that I wasn't good at. So I've found a stud Grappler His name's Dan Martinez. He's actually a the the aebi World Champion, and if you know anything about nogi Jiu Jitsu, it's pretty big deal. And, you know, I just focused on what my strengths were and the things that I really enjoyed, to do. And that's really why we had a focus on the kids program. And from a business perspective as well, you have more opportunities in regards to your five profit centers, which are the five ways a martial arts school can can make revenue, and you just have more of those opportunities with with kids programs. So, you know, not only did it lend itself to my strengths, but I felt like it was a just a smarter business model in general.
Unknown Speaker 10:39
Yeah, no, that makes a lot of sense. You know, we got pulled into that conversation, in the seven figure agency, group, that one person that was, you know, interested in learning more about branding their school. And I know, one of the things that you had mentioned was, hey, you need to have a name and, you know, kind of like a culture that really resonates with children and parents, because that's going to be the driving force, but you know, behind most of their revenues, so cool, I guess, you know, just starting out, though, like, what was your main marketing strategy? And I guess this was before you really knew the internet marketing world and really mastered it. So how did you kind of get your name out?
Unknown Speaker 11:21
Yeah, it was, in my opinion, the best type of lead is a word of mouth and a referral lead, there's just nothing stronger than that. If you gave me the option of here's 100, Facebook leads, or here's 100 referral leads out to take the referral leads every day of the week and twice on Sunday. They're just so much more more powerful. So from the beginning, we had a referral rewards program. And every quarter, I did a referral contest, whether it was when an Xbox or Playstation and iPad, a TV or cold, hard cash, we really developed a culture of referrals. And I think that's, you know, I think huge. Very often, when I'm doing marketing audits, I'll look at people's Facebook recommendations or their Google reviews, and the school owner will go in and like for the Facebook recommendation, they'll like just like it or say like thanks for have some like automated copy and paste response that you would see like possibly a marketing agency that was handling the company's reviews. And then sometimes on Google, you don't even see your response, it's so important to make it a part of your culture. And for me that the easiest thing to do is just ask, I've never had a parent say no, if I have asked for any form of referral or a review, and then we make it a point to let them know how grateful and appreciative we are. And ideally, you want to try to automate that process as well. Right? There are email automations, you could put it in your your new student handbook that asks for those reviews. But again, I don't think there's anything more powerful than just me, as you know, the business owner coming to you as a family and saying, you know, Hey, how are you enjoying our school? And I think that's also a big mistake. Sometimes people just say, Hey, will you leave me a Google review? Well, how about you just ask how they're enjoying it. And lots of times, you're going to get a story from those families, like, Oh, my gosh, when Johnny first started, you know, it would take us 20 minutes just to get out of the house. And I'd have to repeat myself 17 times. And now all I have to do is ask once and he's ready to go. And those stories are what other families are going to resonate with. And now you have a great opportunity to ask them to share that with others, you know, online, or by, you know, a referral, maybe via like a VIP card. So initially, when we first started, it was it was word of mouth. And I feel like, you know, the majority of schools usually kind of get their start that way. But it's I don't want to say it's not super scalable, but it like it can eventually hit a tipping point where you just need more lines out in the ocean, right? Like, that's one line out of the ocean, but let me get, you know, let me get a few more. Yeah, no,
Unknown Speaker 14:21
I think, you know, that key of asking the person like about their experience first, it's really helpful because it's like they're writing their review, but like without having to think about it, you know what I mean? So when they go back to actually write it, it's like, okay, like, I already know what I'm going to say. And, and something that I see pretty often, you know, I would say from all businesses, but specifically martial arts schools is you'll check out the reviews and you'll see okay, they got like 20 reviews in June, and then you look and then the next couple of months, they get like maybe one or two. So building that system into you know, your business so that way it's a continually continuously flowing thing I think is pretty key as well because It's, it's really obvious when the efforts put in to get those reviews, if it's like, a bunch all at once, and then nothing and then a little bit more, and you know, anything that we can do to stand out, you know, from our competitors. I know that seems like a silly thing. But people read into that stuff they see, you know, one that you have reviews to what the reviews, say. And then three, like when they're posted, how often they're posted. It's like going to someone's social media page or a business social media page, and then seeing that they haven't posted in like, a year or two, you know, doesn't really Yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah, it doesn't put a lot of confidence in you to move forward with that business. So
Unknown Speaker 15:38
let me just add to this. Yeah, really quick, because I just think it's, it's so important. Um, Google, actually, this year started offering these badges in certain service industries. You'll see it in the roofing industries seated in the like the cleaning and the maid services industry seen in the H fac industry. Where when somebody Google's you know, let's say, you know, you know, Roof Service in Tampa, the company that has the highest reviews actually gets a badge underneath their business's name that says, top rated roofing company in this city. Now, they have not released this to martial arts, yet, they're still testing it out. But, man, if there's any motivation or inspiration for you to start, you know, making this a high priority, that should be it. Because imagine somebody Google's martial arts in your city, and now you have the badge that says top rated martial arts school, I think we have like 180, some odd five star reviews on which I want for my clients to aim for that triple digit. So I feel like once you kind of hit that triple digits, you're just like five laps ahead of everybody else. And listen, 10 years ago, Google reviews, people didn't trust them the same way that they trust them now. And it's just because our buying habits have changed, right? We go on Amazon, we scroll all the way to the bottom, and we're looking for the reviews. So because our buying habits are changed, we trust those. So it's definitely a super important aspect of what I would call your digital footprint.
Unknown Speaker 17:15
Yeah, I feel like once that badge hits our industry, you're gonna see everyone trying to like gun for it. Right. So if you do the work now, then, you know, you kind of secure your position. So yeah, I mean, totally makes sense to put that investment in. And I'm sure it'll, it'll hit our industry soon. Cool. So fast forward. You know, however many years current time at Gracie pack, I know you've talked a little bit about having those different lines in the ocean. What is marketing look like now for Gracie pack?
Unknown Speaker 17:45
Yeah, so um, they're, in my opinion, there are seven ways to market your Academy. And they kind of start easy, and they get a little bit more difficult. And usually with anything in life, the harder it is the the greater the payoff is. So our strategy is to utilize these different seven levels of marketing with every campaign that we put out, whether that's an offer for a free trial or a paid trial, or whether that's an event, you know, a parent night out event or a seminar or mass intro. And I truly believe that school owners should use this as a playbook. And this is actually my topic. We have the Maya elite Orlando conference coming in February, and this is what I'm going to be speaking on and actually providing a guide, like whatever your offer is, whatever your event is, just follow these seven steps, because so often I hear from school owners, yeah, Chris, you know, I tried to do a mass intro. And, you know, two people showed up and I said, Well, you know, what did you do? Oh, well, I boosted my Facebook event. say, Well, what else did you do? Well, that was it. Right? We want to be able to have all of these different levels. So this is what we follow up for basically, every single campaign. One of the levels of marketing sometimes we will use and sometimes we don't, it just kind of depends, but all of the other ones we use every single time and I think this will be really valuable to the listeners. So first is just organic social media content, right? Like content marketing is so important. That's what we're doing right here on this podcast. This is content marketing, and that's what you need to be providing to your followers so you can gain more awareness and move them to consideration before you ask for the purchase. Right so often are like bye bye bye. You know you got to give first like Gary Vee always say it's a Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook and that's really what content marketing is providing. And you know, the different forms of content marketing, whether that's posting, whether that's Facebook Lives, whether that's creating events. So that's kind of the first level. So, you know, if we're doing intro, we're gonna make sure that we have content out there. Let's say it's a bully awareness, mass intro, we're gonna put some posts on some bully statistics, we're going to do a Facebook Live on those bullies statistics, we're going to create that event on Facebook. And then the second level is our website. And we are proud Market Muscles, users a best website company in the game. And we're going to make sure that our website has a blog on bully awareness, so we can drive traffic to, and we're going to need a sign up link. So we're going to create a checkout page on that website. So that's the second level, right? The third level is going to be paid ads, and we predominantly focus on Facebook and Instagram, Google and YouTube. And I truly believe that YouTube is just kind of like this dark horse right now, with Facebook ad costs rising with the changes in the Apple iOS system and this ability to opt out. Um, you know, that's kind of really shaken up the digital marketing industry. And I don't think it's as scary as people believe in and nothing set in stone yet. But basically, this update would make your pixel not as valuable, right, so that pixel is just this piece of code that we put on our website, that when people go to our website, we can now track them and almost like stalk them everywhere they go on the internet. But paid ads need to be a part of your campaign strategy. If you put a post on your Facebook business page, you're lucky if 10% of your followers even see it. So let's say you have you know, 1000 followers, you're going to be lucky if just 100 even see it, that doesn't even mean that they're gonna definitely engage with it, or click on it. So Facebook really has become a pay to play platform. And if you want your stuff to get seen, you got to put some money behind it. Because there's only so much space on that newsfeed, right, it's an auction. And if you want to, if you want to populate on there, you got to put some money behind it. Right? So that's the third level of marketing. fourth level of marketing is email and SMS. Email is not dead for whatever reason people think, like, email doesn't work. One off emails don't work, right? I mean, just think about your own habits. When you go into your inbox. How many times are you hitting, delete, delete, delete, right. So you know, putting together three to five to seven part email campaigns, as well as text message campaigns, right? I, I don't know about you. But my voicemail, it says, Please text me, like, it literally says that. So if you call me and I don't pick up, it's gonna tell you to text me, most people prefer to communicate via text. So you have to have that ability. The next level of marketing is going to be print marketing and direct mail. And that's kind of the one level that we don't always do, right, a direct mail campaign can be, you know, 600 $800,000 each go. But, you know, utilizing the United States Postal Service, you can get some really, really great targeting, you can choose the routes that are around your martial art school and blast that out. And that was actually part of our strategy coming out of COVID is we did a direct mail piece, because everybody's being bombarded with digital content, everybody was at home on lockdown, you know, binge watching every Netflix show that we figured, you know, in order to get their attention right now, because everybody's on zoom, the kids are on zoom, the parents are on zoom with work, you know, maybe we we needed to get, you know, a tangible item in their hands. Um, the next level of marketing is the phone. And this is the one where I think a lot of school owners drop the ball on, they don't want to pick up the phone and call. And yes, you know, a lot of people prefer SMS, but you still have to pick up the phone and call. And then finally, we have face to face marketing. And that was pretty much completely stripped away from us in in COVID, unfortunately, and really kind of the only thing that was left around was was digital marketing. But there's nothing more powerful than getting face to face. So that is our strategy at our school. That's our strategy that we recommend to other school owners. So if I asked you, you know, well, what did you do to market your mass intro and you tell me Oh, I just boosted my event. And you know, that's why only two people showed up. Well, it's just because you don't have enough lines out in the ocean.
Unknown Speaker 24:42
Yeah, I mean, well, first of all, thank you for for breaking all that down. I think each individual topic could be its own podcast.
Unknown Speaker 24:49
Unknown Speaker 24:52
But I you mentioned an event in February. Is that open to any school owners or do they have to be my members specifically or
Unknown Speaker 25:00
Yeah, great question. So it is open to all school owners. It's February 19, and 20th. It is a business and marketing conference put on by Team Maya. And we actually have an instructor training certification that Roland Osborne is going to be doing on Saturday. So it's both, you know, it's off the mat training, and on the mat training, and it's in Orlando, you know, one of the coolest travel spots, I'm sure everybody is itching to travel. Um, and yeah, we're really excited. We do this every February for Maya. And traditionally, we've never marketed it to outside of, you know, my clients, but I'm glad you asked. Because, yes, everybody is welcome. And, you know, one of the questions I get is like, well, is it good to be a pitch fest? And it's like, Well, guys, the event is made for our elite clients. So it can't be because they're already our clients, you're getting to see inside of, you know, all of the Maya systems and how we help literally hundreds of schools with our programs.
Unknown Speaker 26:09
Yeah, I mean, just hearing you break down those those levels of marketing and then saying, Are you were saying that you're teaching a class on this, where you can give everyone kind of like, step by step, this is how you do each one of them. Because as you're going through it, I mean, it sounds like a lot of work is because it is a lot of work. But you know, like any of our other muscles, everyone has a mark. Okay, marketing muscle. I didn't start the pun there. But you know, just just hearing those things. I mean, I would assume for you guys at this point, because you've been doing it for so long. I mean, it's like, it's just part of your business. It's just something that you guys do. You know, for someone that doesn't have all those, you know, levels of marketing kind of firing for their business. It sounds really, you know, overwhelming, I would say so. Yeah, getting to that session in February sounds like, you know, it'd be worth totally worth the money just for that one session alone. Because, you know, you can learn the step by step. So that that sounds great. Cool. Well, I have this question here. I'm gonna ask it. I feel like I know the answer. And I want other people to hear too. The question is, what is the most profitable marketing channel for you? I assume it's hard to pinpoint. And it's going to be a mixture of a lot of things. But I'd love to hear kind of from from you what you think, the most profitable marketing channels?
Unknown Speaker 27:35
Yeah. 100%. And I saw that and send me the the show notes. And I put my answer with a little Winky smile. It depends on the time of the year. Right. So I just told you that, you know, we've got those seven levels and most powerful one is the face to face now. Why is the face to face maybe the one level of marketing where a school owner is going to like rolling her eyes? It's because it requires the most sweat equity, right? Like, I don't know, if you ask the school owner, how much do you enjoy going to set up a booth and standing in your you know, martial arts uniform at a festival, you know, in the sun for eight hours, how many people would say oh my gosh, that's my favorite thing to do. Um, but in our industry, there are ebbs and flows, there are times of the year where your marketing really needs to go pedal to the metal, alright. And this is something I learned from my mentor, Mr. Mike Metzger. And those three times in the year are going into summer, coming out of summer and going into the new year. And during those three times, the reason why we can potentially see a large drop off in our student base and potentially a large increase in our student base, which if you have both of those, just kind of you know, 00 gain, but it's because life changes, right? I know, for a lot of schools, they've been closed for the end, rightfully so right? I mean, we're a year round sport. So I'm not judging at all. But, you know, maybe you've been closed for the last two, two and a half weeks, right. And what that means is your student base isn't in the habit of coming and showing up. And because of that, life changes, right, maybe they went on vacation. So the New Year's is a time that we see that going into summer just because of summer traveling, and then coming out of summer because of you know, going into the school year. So the you know, my answer is it really depends on the time of the year if we're going into the back to school season, the most profitable marketing channel for me is going to be going to meet the teachers and open houses. Okay. If we are right now in this situation that we're in right now, like you know, during during lockdown in the new year, and there might not be a ton of events, you know, all of the schools are closed. Right now the most profitable for me is going to be paid online ads So, um, you know, I again, you know, I think sometimes people try to do one level of marketing and expect to get, you know, 10 1520 students, I don't think you should do that, I think you should do multiple and just try to get a few from each one of those, those channels. And I also think it's, you know, important to say that I can drive the most leads with online marketing, all I've got to do is turn that budget up, right, but I can gain the highest quality leads with face to face marketing. And I think that's an important distinction to mention.
Unknown Speaker 30:39
Sure, yeah. Well, that's kind of the, the answer I was expecting from you. I mean, the other thing to consider too, just looking at, like, where people are physically located, you know, in beautiful Florida, you've got great weather your rounds, but if you're, you know, up in the northern part of the United States, then you have part of the season where you can't, you know, have the opportunity to stand outside and, you know, be there face to face with people and get those sorts of things as well. So, I think they kind of key message through there, everything that we've kind of talked about so far is just having a multifaceted game when it comes to your marketing and to really focus on that. So cool, I mean, I guess, you know, bringing it back to, you know, these these past couple of years of marketing based on you know, different marketing efforts that you've tried, is there anything that you've tried and just said, it's probably not worth it, and you've stopped investing, you know, time or money into it? Or is everything a home run?
Unknown Speaker 31:41
Um, I would say one thing that we put a lot of emphasis on, um, was our Chamber of Commerce. This is a few years ago, my my I co own Gracie pack, this is a family business, both of our sons work there as well. And my wife, Stephanie, we just she just had a baby, baby cruise. So she has been on let's say, you know, maternity leave this year, but has been an integral part of the success of the the Academy. And she was really big into the chamber of commerce and actually became the president of the North Tampa Chamber of Commerce. And it's not something that we have put the same amount of time and energy. And, and it's not because I don't think it's, it's worth it. It's just the time aspect that is required of it right, going to those networking meetings going to the chamber meetings. I know that there's, you know, quite a few clients, you know, Kevin nebules, he's a Market Muscles client, a grow pro client, he sits on the board of his chamber of commerce. And I know, there's a lot of people that, you know, have had a lot of success with it. I think the difficult part is people ask, well, what's the ROI? It's like, you can't that you can't put a number on the relationships that you are gaining. So I don't know if that really answers the question. It's not we're not doing it because it didn't work. We're just not doing it, because it was very time consuming.
Unknown Speaker 33:10
Yeah, no, that makes sense. I mean, obviously, you need to, with with all these different levels of marketing, you have to figure out, which are the ones that I'm going to put more time towards, based on, you know, what type of return we're getting, or like, what, you know, what type of effect that's having on our business. So, yeah, just hearing that, you know, obviously, it's, it's probably important for the market or for the networking aspect, but just looking at a full picture and seeing all the other things going on. It's just, you know, picking like, what is the priority for us, essentially? So, yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Cool. So, I guess, with your existing customer base, because we've talked a lot about attracting new customers into your business with your existing customer base. How do you I guess, like how do you maximize, you know, their, their experience with you and you kind of getting the most value out of them as well?
Unknown Speaker 34:07
I love this question. I think there there is this misconception about marketing only being for prospects, right? It's like I got a new student. Now let me go get a new one. Let me go get a new one. Let me go get a new one. And every single time your students step foot in your Academy, you have to do a great job because you've got to convince them to come back. And that is marketing. And one of my favorite quotes is people flock to excitement but they stay where they are loved. And in order for our student base to feel that one, I believe it starts with great staff training. I'm currently in an off site owner. I go in on Fridays, I teach two classes. So I have a lot of trust in my team that they are going to treat our students the same way that that I would, and that starts with with staff training. But what we have implemented is, is what I call the customer journey. And in that customer journey, which is just, you know, the journey that our customers take in our business, right, like, there's six steps to it, awareness, consideration, purchase, onboarding, retention, and advocacy. And every business has a customer journey or a cycle, whatever you want to call it. And I believe that the schools that have a very low attrition rate which your attrition rate, you should aim to be under 5% a month, meaning that you're not losing more than 5% of what your student bases. And that's kind of average, you know, like a good schools at 4%. A great school is at 3%. And this is so important, because let's say you do your attrition formula for 2020. And you know that 2020 is probably a little skewed because you know, all of us lost, let's say your attrition was at 5.5%. If you can improve it just by one person, just 1% down to 4.5%. That's literally bringing in 10s of 1000s of dollars worth of revenue, if you can improve it by 1%. And so much energy and time and focus is put on gaining new students in our industry, which is important, you have to do it. But you also need to retain the ones that you currently have. And I believe the best way to do that is to implement what I call moments of impact. And at every single one of these stages, you have the opportunity to have moments of impact. So I truly believe that the the best way for you to market to your students is to walk a couple of you know, like Walk, walk a mile or two in their shoes, think about what they are going through, because we always look at it from our perspective as a school owner. I mean, you know, the last time I was a white belt, yes, it was like back in when I was just starting jujitsu when I was 16 years old. You know, I think we forget how scary it can be as a first you know, as a first timer, I think we forget how exciting it could be when we get our first class or we break our first board, or we're earning our first rank or getting our black belt. So looking at all of these opportunities where we can make an impact and the you know, the name moments of impact came to me because when I look back on all of my greatest memories of my childhood, I'd say 90% of them have something to do with my martial arts school. And my goal was, I wanted my students when they're in their 30s and 40s, to have those same moments of impact when they're looking back on their top memories that they came from Gracie pack. So I think the best thing you can do is map out your customer journey. What does that look like from the first second, somebody finds out about your Academy until they get to their black belt, and they ultimately become you know, a brand ambassador or an advocate and just know that people flock to excitement, you know, you can think you have the coolest new class or, you know, course or event but ultimately they're they're gonna stay where they're loved.
Unknown Speaker 38:19
Yeah, I think going into COVID I was just like, looking through my my Facebook timeline, and I had made a post back in, you know, February, March, that basically said that the culture of everybody's businesses was going to be tested through COVID. And I think that, you know, is pretty true, because the ones that didn't have a strong culture, the ones that didn't, you know, map out that, that customer journey and have those moments of impact are the ones that suffered the most, you know, through COVID by losing students, because, you know, when transitioning to the virtual world, you know, that that takes a level of commitment from your students as well, because it's, it's different, it's way easier when you're stuck at home to just like hop on the couch and watch Netflix and you know, binge stuff, but to get up and actually show up for class the same way. You know, that's, that's hard, but if they really love, you know, what they're doing, and they really love your school, and they love being part of that community, then yeah, I mean, that's, that's obviously something that they're gonna want to do. But, you know, it's always kind of said that it's way easier to, you know, get money from people that already trust you then to try and you know, sign someone new, or create a new customer essentially. So, I think that concept of like closing the back door is something that's overlooked a little bit too much in our industry, unfortunately. And a lot of the focus has been on, you know, the new students like you were saying, so, I think really taking a step back, obviously, you know, those those levels of marketing are extremely important. I think they apply to existing students as well. But I think kind of closing that back door is step one to really scaling and really growing the school so Yeah, I mean, I, you know, I'm just kind of thinking of, you know, where I were, I kind of trained growing up, and, you know, I have such fond memories of, you know, growing up in the dojo, even, like, things that probably aren't done anymore, but just like, you know, sparring with my instructor and like, you know, just everything we had, we used to do these lock ins on on Halloween, I don't think anyone does 24 hour kind of sleep over lock ins anymore, but I'm sure you remember those. But you know, there's just so many memories that I have that are just so like, near and dear to my heart, that it's why I'm a lifelong martial artist as well, it's something that's so important to me. So
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