We sat down with Master Tony Kook, Friday, March 20th for a discussion about ways to mitigate loss during the Coronavirus epidemic. We had minor technical difficulties so you can only hear Master Tony’s voice, but not see his face.
We got tips for actions all school owners should immediately take including: talking to their small business bankers, landlords and staff about how they could best navigate this time together.
Master Kook shared his idea for a Spring/Summer Rebuilding plan that could help generate lots of extra income and make up for the attrition caused by Coronavirus.
The talk ended with inspirational words for all school owners about the mind state they should try to cultivate as they navigate this incredibly difficult situation.
The video above has the live stream in its entirety but if you don’t have the time, we got you covered with these bullet points below.
Tips for School Owners to Take Right Now
I know these apply to Canada but they also have application in California and maybe in other parts of the world. 1) Call your banker or small business banker. Find out what they are doing in your area for small businesses. If you own your own unit or building there is talk of six month deferral program. Banks are offering 10 to 20% increase in credit to help small business keep going.
If you don’t own your own building then write a letter to your landlord. Talk to your landlord. Say listen we maybe closed for a while. It’s difficult for us to manage our budget. What can you do for help us out with a plan? Many landlords are getting a six month mortgage deferral. See if they can pass that savings onto you.
Depending on your reality right now you may have part time staff, you might only have contractors or full time. You need to communicate to your staff what your plan is going forward for their employment. You may not be in a situation to pay your all of your staff right now. If you can’t pay them, you need to provide them with resources for employment insurance benefits. You need to look after your staff and show them you care.
Important Note: In Canada, your staff can be eligible up to 65% of what your income is for this time period.
Tips for Good Communication
- We planned for beginning of April 1st to open again but that might not be realistic. You need to be ready to communicate the changes that are happening with your school day to day to parents as these deadlines approach.
- To communicate what is going on we are updating our answering machine, calling our parents, emailing parents. We are putting all of our communications to social media, our mobile app, to let everyone know we are suspending afternoon classes but going to our virtual training platforms.
- If you don’t have a well developed communication system we highly encourage you to do that as soon as possible.
- We are doing online training tools for each of our belt levels. We have been updating all of our current training tools over the last three days. Encouraging our parents to use that right now.
- We’ve announced that starting next week we are starting our live stream training . A lot of people are really looking forward to it. Our plan for next week is to go live on Monday and Tuesdays. We are using those classes to repeat on Wednesday and Thursday. Then we are going to use Wednesday and Thursday to record more classes.
- We are doing live training with Facebook and Instagram because many kids don’t have Facebook accounts.
- We are going to do prerecorded classes for quality control. Because the dynamic is quite different. And the quality is better.
Communicating with Parents
- We are planning to do Virtual until April 1st but will be working in accordance with local health authorities. We are going to do weekly plans that we are communicating to our students and parents.
- Depending on the current financial situation of your parents there are going to be parents who are supportive and want to help a small business continue going and because of the added value of the online training. We are also offering time credits and make up classes when we get back. For those parents we use the script you posted on your page.
- There are also people who will cancel or freeze their payments. We have people who aren’t in the financial situation to continue. For the people who can’t continue supporting us right now we ask them to place their membership on hold until the situation with COVID is over and we will make up the time. But not to cancel so that there is a dojang their child can come back to.
Focusing on Retention
- Our main focus has to be on retention. 1) Is how do we need to communicate to the parents to keep them on our side? 2) making sure the kids are having fun and seeing their progress. You have to make a plan to keep your retention as high as possible. Because you aren’t going to be getting the same number of new students.
Spring/Summer Rebuilding Plan
- We are planning to open April 1st it’s business as planned. If the reality is we discover our dojang is closed for another one or two weeks after I’ve been working on another plan.
- We are planning to have all day classes instead of 9-3 we are thinking of doing 9-9. A lot of public and private schools have said they aren’t going back until the end of the year in my area. My thinking is when people are ready to come back to martial arts class. My location falls into the larger school category. Students won’t be comfortable coming back to ordinary class sizes of 30. Social distancing is here to stay for a long while.
- Parents will feel more comfortable with smaller classes. It’s not like our government health authorities are going to say life is back to normal. We have to be realistic about how we go back to our day to day business. By offering all day classes I’ll be able to split up all of our classes into really small groups.
- Another plan we are coming up with is offering day camps. Half day and full day. You’ll have to limit the number of students you can accept depending on size of your dojang. Parents aren’t going to want kids to be stuck in the house the entire time. We need to be prepared for that. This offers a huge opportunity for dojang clubs and owners. Let’s say we offer day camps of 10 students and your typical day care will charge anywhere from $800-1500 a month. We are a training camp instead of 1000 dollars a month we are only going to charge 150 or 200 dollars for the week. We will offer drills, educational segments, we need for a curriculum. With just 10 students that $1500 extra a week, $6000 a month. With 15 students that is $9000 a month.
- With this strategy aren’t just catering to your current student base. You are reaching out to the whole community. You have to go with your local health authority to do something like this. But this is a great way to widen your student base.
- These are creative solutions to plan for the next few weeks, next couple months because we don’t know what is going to be happening in the near future. You have to keep on planning.
Advice for School Owners on How to Face This Situation from a Mental Perspective
- I always remind people taking their black belt tests on the inside that you may be feeling nervous. But as martial artists I challenge you to sound confident and something magical happens and you actually feel confident. That’s true here. Am I nervous on the inside? Of course. But all I can do is plan. All I can do is try to be as resilient as possible. I need to be persistent. I need to continue to keep networking with local school owners. On average I’m talking to 3-5 business owners every day. All we can do is brainstorm. We are in the profession of building life skills and we need to walk that walk right now. Focus on what you can control and putting all of your energy towards that. Your students are paying attention. You need to give them an example.
Rebuilding After Coronavirus
We are going to continue to provide resources for school owners dealing with the impact of the Coronavirus on their small business.
Sign up on our Rebuilding From Coronavirus page for regular updates and join our Facebook group to get all the insights from our live streams with experts from the Martial Arts Industry. We are going to do everything we can to help. We are going to get through this together.