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How Martial Arts Academies Can Survive the Coronavirus Closures | De la Costa Academy Ottawa

Well, I’ve been all over social media trying to convince academies to close while we figure out this coronavirus pandemic.  To mixed results, to be honest.  And I’ve found myself repeating some of the same points trying to tell them they’ll be ok if they do.  So I figure I may as well post them here.  (Full disclosure, I’ve shamelessly lifted some from the smarter people in the community)

  1.  Close now.  Don’t wait.  If your gym supermind guru coach is telling you to stay open, close.  Sooner or later (spoiler alert:  sooner) your city is going to shut you down anyway.  Best thing is to get ahead of it so at least you can say you shut down for the good of the community, and not have it said you stayed open as long as you possibly could.  People remember.
  2. Straight up ask your members for support.  I said this:  “If you support my decision to close the gym, I’d ask you to support the gym while it’s closed”.  I also told them that if they wanted me to pause their memberships, I would, with no hard feelings.  To date, only two have taken me up on that offer, and they’re brand new students.  I’m unspeakably grateful to my team for their support.  Your students will support you in this if you ask them to.  Maybe not all of them, and maybe not indefinitely, but for now.
  3. If you find your students are asking for pauses, see if they will accept credit for future classes instead.  If they accept, this will ease the cash crunch now and move those losses to when you’re open, which will lessen the pain.
  4. Speak to your landlord.  If your students are still paying their dues, no worries.  But let the landlord know your situation and let him know you’ll keep him/her in the loop.  He or she will appreciate your being pro-active.
  5. Understand that your landlord, if he’s not insane, will only evict you if he thinks he can fill the space.  How many businesses do you think will be looking for commercial space over the next few weeks or months?  Your landlord will prefer a guaranteed tenant when this settles down to a maybe possible tenant once things pick up again.  Of course, you may have to come to an agreement as your landlord needs your rent too, but if you’re pro-active now, it will make for an easier conversation later.
  6. Keep in touch with your students.  We present ourselves as a team and a family.  Put your money where your mouth is. Reach out.  Ask them if they need help.  Many of them will be self-quarantined over the coming weeks.  Ask if they need groceries.  Use the time you would have been teaching to be of service to your students.
  7. Plan for ways to thank your students for their loyalty when this is all over.  There’s a great idea making the rounds about exchanging seminars.  I go visit your team and teach my specialty, you come to mine and do the same.  Free for members who continued paying during the crisis, at a cost for those who didn’t.
  8. Talk to your competitors.  We may compete, but we’re suddenly all in the same boat.  It’s time to row in sync.  Discuss ideas.  Coordinate when you’re going to open so it’s not a rush to be first.  Be the community.
  9. Finally, and it bears repeating:  remember this is a service industry.  Be of service to your community.  Lead from the front.  Encourage your students to buy gift cards from local businesses to be used in the fall, so that those businesses too can weather this storm.  We talk about community, walk the walk.

    We’ll get through this. I believe in you, and I believe in our community.