She stood outside the dojo peering in watching the class in progress.
As I instructed my juniors I saw her then read the information on the front door including the training schedule and the sign that blatantly asks people to use the other door to enter and to follow the signs. It’s really quite obvious, and not too challenging.
Of course she ignored the sign and opened the front door and stepped directly onto the tatami, interrupting my class with, “Sorry, can I get some information?”
“Sure… please come around back to the reception. Just follow the signs.” I responded.
“Around back? Huh?”
“Yes, just follow the signs.” I signaled.
Perplexed by the complexity of my request, she closed the door and then quizzically reread the sign as if I’d asked her to do something absurd.
After a few minutes when there was a point during class I was able to leave the floor to attend to my new best friend’s inquiry. She requested some information about our classes, times and prices for her kids (aged 13 and 15) – you know, the usual stuff.
Since according to her that her 13 year old was as tall as me at 6′, I suggested he would be in our adult class (15 and up) with his elder brother.
“But he’s only 13!” she exclaimed.
“Yes, but you just told me he’s as big as me. If that’s the case it would be better for him to be in the adult class, otherwise he’ll be working with 8 year olds 2 feet shorter than him,” I explained. “But it’s up to you, he’s welcome to train with the younger group if you prefer.”
“Well, when are the class times?” she barked.
I gave her the class times for the afternoon junior class, at which point she complained, “That doesn’t work for me.”
“Ok, well that takes care of that,” I said, “He’d have to be in the adult program with his brother at 7pm.”‘
“Well those times don’t work either. Don’t you have something else?”, she demanded.
Ok… now she was getting on my nerves. “No I don’t. The rest of the afternoon is taken up by other classes for younger kids and other junior classes. For your kids, the only times I have for their skill level and age are the times I gave you.”
“Well how much is it anyway?” she asked.
Now irritated by her demeanor I responded, “The price doesn’t really matter now if you can’t bring your kids to class at those times, does it? But to satisfy your curiosity the price is $99/month per student. Sorry I can’t help you…”
“Well no, those times work fine,” she said. “I’ll ask my boys if they want to do it and get back to you…”
What the heck? That’s when I realized it was a matter of convenience for her.
It was inconvenient for her to follow the signs and use the correct door to enter the dojo. It was easier to just open the front door and interrupt class.
Then it was emotionally inconvenient for her to bring her younger boy to the adult class. Seems to me like her 6′ tall “little baby” wasn’t quite ready for that in her mind. But then it was also inconvenient to bring him to the junior class at the earlier times for whatever reason. It would just be EASIER to bring him whenever SHE wanted.
Finally when I stopped trying to help her figure out what would work best, things immediately became convenient for her. She decided that since perhaps she wasn’t going to get it all her way, she might have to compromise her incredibly hectic lifestyle to give her kids something worthwhile, even if it was rather inconvenient!
Forgive my cynicism, but can you imagine how high maintenance this lady would be as a customer, if she’s this difficult as a prospect? These are exactly the types of selfish people I don’t want at my club. People who think the rules don’t apply to them, that they’re above everyone else and will get their own way every time.
And unfortunately when I first started out with my full time dojo I bent over backwards to try to please everyone, and wound up with a bunch of students and families just like that, who drove me nuts.
(Get this – if a student ordered a uniform on Tuesday, I thought it imperative he have it Wednesday. I would drive 30 minutes one-way to my supplier to pick up one uniform and have it for them the next day. Whatever profit I potentially would make was pretty much chewed up by gas money!)
Thankfully I came to my senses, fired those families who ticked me off (that was fun!) and recruited those deserving of my time and attention. Now I’m fortunate to have a wonderful group of students and families who support each other and the club.
If there is one thing I can share with you it’s this: Think of each new student as a friend you’re welcoming into your own home. How long would you allow them to visit if they wanted to enter through the back door, climb all over your furniture and argue with you at every opportunity? You wouldn’t put up with that would you? So why enroll families at your dojo who display this type of behavior?