If you’ve been practicing Jiu Jitsu for a while, this form of martial arts has likely grown to be more to you than just a hobby or a technique to learn self defense. It’s a way of living - your ultimate passion.
Suppose you have your own Jiu Jitsu academy, but time and time again your gym remains empty as bills continue to stack up. You want to share your passion with the world but the integral question of “how can I improve my gym business?” seems more like a burning question than one of mere curiosity.
Or maybe you’re ready to take that next step of opening your own Jiu Jitsu academy but you’re probably wondering how to be a successful gym owner.
Regardless of where you are on your Jiu Jitsu journey, running your own Jiu Jitsu academy can be a worthwhile endeavor. But no matter how passionate you are about Jiu Jitsu, knowing how to be a successful gym owner is crucial to turning what was once a hobby into a career.
Here are our top tips on how to be a successful gym owner and improve your Jiu Jitsu academy:
Understand Your Members
Know who your target trainees are or those who are already coming to your Jiu Jitsu academy. Consider your answers to these questions:
What are the different ages you’d like to provide classes for?
What are the different reasons an individual would come to your Jiu Jitsu academy?
What makes your Jiu Jitsu academy one that individuals would choose over other academies in the area?
Why would your trainees choose Jiu Jitsu over other forms of martial arts?
Once you’ve considered these integral questions, you can move on to creating services that align best with each group you’re targeting.
You’ll likely have kids learning Jiu Jitsu, adults learning Jiu Jitsu, individuals competing, those learning self defense, etc. Ideally, you should offer different types of training sessions for each of these groups.
When setting up your class schedule, keep in mind that everyone who practices Jiu Jitsu has to start at some point. It’s very likely that someone new to your studio is also starting Jiu Jitsu for the first time. No matter their reason for taking Jiu Jitsu, starting anything new can be intimidating.
Therefore, set up your curricula with these students in mind. It may be wise to have separate classes for complete beginners vs. students who have been coming to your studio for awhile so students are able to foster friendships and practice in a safe environment.
Just as important as varying training sessions is knowing what time is most convenient for each of these groups so that you can offer your lessons at those ideal times. Offering kids lessons when school is in session, adults lessons during typical work hours, self defense classes that leave out certain groups like teens, etc. is a recipe for an empty gym. Instead, time your sessions properly to optimize how many people can show up for each session.
Another thing to consider if you haven’t yet selected a location for your academy is where you will host lessons. Consider where the majority of your target members live, work, and go to school. Then see where you can open your jiu jitsu academy that provides the smallest average commute for all of these groups.
Hire the Right Instructors
While you may love the idea of teaching all of these classes, running a jiu jitsu academy takes a lot of additional work that you didn’t have to do when you were just training or teaching at someone else’s academy.
Also, the more classes/class times you offer, the better. And you realistically can’t teach them all.
That’s where finding others who are passionate about jiu jitsu and have the personality to cultivate a fun, engaging, and friendly atmosphere is critical. These instructors will become the faces of your business though, so don’t be too hasty in the hiring process.
While you need instructors to grow your business, those who are not experienced will reflect poorly on your jiu jitsu academy. So make sure to find someone who not only has the above qualities but also has years of experience training, has the qualifications to teach jiu jitsu, and that fits well with your business.
Don’t Neglect Content Marketing
When you start a Jiu Jitsu academy, or any business for that matter, you can’t be successful if no one knows your gym exists. There are a variety of marketing techniques you can invest your time and money into, but to start we suggest:
A website with engaging content and design
Listings on Google Business Listings and Yelp to increase visibility of your business and provide a platform for business reviews
A blog to improve your website’s SEO (search engine optimization)
Social media accounts on various platforms that you post consistently to
Email lists to develop email campaigns
The sky's the limit when it comes to your business’s content marketing, so get creative and show your community what your business is all about.
Keep Your Business Space Clean
No amount of online content marketing can fix the havoc a dirty gym can make on your reputation. Cleanliness instills a sense of trust between a member and a business that your gym has their best interest in mind. A germ infested space can make members sick, which will not only mean they won’t be able to make it to class but they probably won’t ever want to come back.
Develop a strategy to keep your gym clean for each and every training session. Options include adding cleaning responsibilities to your instructors’ job descriptions, hiring an individual or a company to maintain your gym, or offering member discounts in exchange for cleaning assistance.
It’s not about doing the bare minimum to prevent the spread of illnesses though. A business with a positive aesthetic goes a long way. Ideally, your space should look clean, organized, and modern at all times.
Sell Your Own Branded Gear
Even with people pouring into your business, you still have to pay rent for your academy space, your instructors for teaching each lesson, outsourcing your marketing, and more. If you want Jiu Jitsu to be more than just a side hustle, you’ll need to do a bit extra to gain profits for your business.
This doesn’t need to be complicated though. The idea is to make additional passive income for your Jiu Jitsu academy.
One opportunity your business has to make additional profit is to sell branded gear. Instead of sending your members to a separate storefront or online shop to purchase their uniforms, you can sell them yourself.
Don’t worry - you don’t need to now learn fashion design skills too. Keep it simple by ordering branded gis, rash guards, shorts and spats. By getting your gear at a discounted wholesale price, you save time and money on acquiring gear, while creating the opportunity to increase gym profits.
Make sure that you’re purchasing high-quality, well designed gear though with a comfortable fit. Members won’t be satisfied purchasing gear from you that makes movement on the mat difficult.
Branding is important too. By having branded gear with patches of your logo and business name, your members will promote your business every time they put on their uniform. Talk about free marketing!
Check out our wholesale semi-custom gear program with academy patches included completely free.
Running a Jiu Jitsu academy can seem like an intimidating endeavor, but the small details like who you hire, what time and location you offer training sessions, and where you get your gis can turn your gym from a ghost town to a profitable success.
Want to learn more about how to be a successful gym owner? Stay tuned for more blog content on how to grow your Jiu Jitsu academy.