Keeping your student records organized

I remember when I first started teaching and didn’t know if I’d be having new students that day or not. Because I started teaching at the local community center, they did the sign ups and I taught whoever came in.

The parents would then give me the receipts after they’d paid for class and I’d keep them in a folder, ordered by date. That was the extent of my record keeping.

I didn’t have a class enrollment form, and I rarely met many of the parents who dropped off their kids. I was free of responsibility and it was great!

Or so I thought…

What I soon realized was that I had no way of contacting my students because their contact information wasn’t present on the receipt, or if it was often it was illegible. This quickly became a nightmare when I had to cancel class, and had a whole bunch of uncontactable people. Worse yet – in an emergency there wasn’t an easy way (if at all) to get in contact with the family of an injured student.

And of course it was financially naive to trust students (particularly parents) to know if they’d paid for class or not – so I’d have students who were effectively training for free without my consent.

Trying to relay a message from child to parent and back about their financial situation, is kinda like speaking to an untrained dog – it’s one way communication. Sometimes you get a tilt of the head, a puzzled look and even some noise that sounds promising, but rarely does the proper action follow.

In short I was like many martial arts instructors who start out this way – disorganized. I was trying to do the best I could with what I had, but shortly realized there had to be a better way.

I needed to get organized.

I started using class enrolment forms to track student data. Like what rank they were, when they started, when they were due to test next, when they last paid for class, etc. I then kept it all in an excel spreadsheet, and for a while this worked ok. It was a far more effective system than what I had with the receipts in the folder.

Using this method I was able to keep good records for up to about 30 students, but after that it became challenging with the increasing numbers. There was a need to move to something that would work for a potentially unlimited number of students. That’s when I wrote the Dojo Organizer. (I now have over 450 student records available at the click of a mouse).

Why is it important to keep good records?

Good records mean you can contact your students quickly and easily…

Good records allow you to plan the financial state of your school…

Good records managed electronically save you time and frustration as you can perform time consuming tasks far more quickly – like printing grading certificates, emailing receipts, printing off a list of who is ready to test, etc.

Good records allow your club to grow – yes, it’s true. When you’re on top of things and aren’t losing students because of bad record keeping, you position yourself to grow your school faster.

All these things are difficult and time consuming to do when you’re not organized.

Think of being organized electronically, like a basket to carry your groceries. Without it you can manage a few things, but when the number of items exceeds what you can physically carry, the basket is a very handy tool.

Same goes for electronic record keeping.

Are you organized?

Toughing it out

On the weekend one of my 9 year old juniors was kicked in the face while sparring. His immediate reaction was to become instantly immobilized, clutch his face, and start crying.

I didn’t see the kick so I can’t validate how hard it hit him, but from his past reactions to pain (sorry, make that perceived pain) I leaned towards the side of “it wasn’t very hard”. There was no swelling, no mark and no blood.

In this instance like many before, I believe he was being overly dramatic, and seeking attention.

I took a quick look at it and said, “You’ll be ok. If this was a real fight you wouldn’t be able to stop and continue it later, so unless you’re really hurt badly and can’t continue, put your hands up and continue the fight.”

He sobbed and stood there in the same place making a mediocre attempt to raise his hands.

Clearly this wasn’t the reaction he wanted from me. He wanted me to console him some more, ask him if he’d like to take a seat, apply some ice and probably give him a hug for good measure.

Sorry, but that’s not going to happen.

With superficial injuries (and non-injuries) it’s extremely important as instructors that we don’t make them something they’re not. Martial arts (even for kids) is about toughening up mentally, emotionally and physically.

And every time a non injury is validated as an injury, the child (or adult) concerned is reinforced with, “it was a big deal”. This teaches students that next time they get hit, to subconsciously act the same way for reward (attention and coddling).

But when that reward ceases to be given, the behaviour will change.

After my student finished his fight I told him, “Good job. I’m proud of you for keeping your hands up and continuing the fight.”

This now became his reward (recognition for being tougher) and teaches him for the future, that’s what we do (complete what we begin).

Do you have any students who could toughen up a little?

Small Dojo Big Profits Review

Last week I told you about Mike Massie.

You may already have heard of him, but if not here’ a brief rundown.

Mike is known as the Martial Arts Business “Anti-Guru” and is the author of a somewhat controversial publication called “Small Dojo Big Profits”.

Controversial in that he exposes the real truths about how to set up and run a successful school, without ripping off your students. He shows you how to be successful in a small school (less than 2000 sq ft) and make a healthy living while working just a few hours per day, without turning your school into a McDojo.

To be honest I’d been thinking of writing something very similar as it practically mirrors my experience in so many ways, but I’m now glad I don’t have to because your roadmap to a successful and financially stable martial arts school is here.

I want you to go to his site and check out what Mike’s got to offer you. It’s more than just an ebook. There’s over 200 pages of important material that any martial arts school owner (or anyone thinking about it) should have. He’s also including 30 days of e-mail support, and loads of forms, marketing ideas, drills and exercises for class, etc.

It’s a no-brainer.

If you’re at all serious about expanding your student base beyond 30 students and going full time, or if you’re looking for some new ways to improve your exsiting dojo, this is for you.

I gotta say I wish I had this information when I started my school 5 years ago. I made soooo many mistakes and through sheer dumb luck I landed on my feet. But after reading Mike’s Small Dojo Big Profits manual I now realize how badly things *could* have gone if I chose differently.

Some people say it’s too expensive and my response is this…

If you’re not willing to spend a little to get educated so you don’t lose $1000s in costly mistakes like so many people I know, or if you’re not willing to spend a little to get educated in setting up your business for success, then I’m sorry but chances are you’re going to fail.

Plan your work and work your plan.

Fail to plan and you plan to fail.

Click here now to see what it’s all about.

Jason