The dojo is a school where one can train in the art of traditional karate. Similar to a health or fitness club the dojo relies on membership to survive. Products (services) offered are: training in karate, self-defense, aerobics and weapons training.
Services currently provided are:
Martial Arts, specifically karate instruction is a very competitive field. Various styles such as karate, judo, kung-fu, kenpo, tae-kwan-do, etc., all offer the same basic "traditional" Martial Arts training, self-defense, building self-confidence and providing exercise to varying degrees. While we promote our dojo's style, we fully understand that style is a matter of choice and while style type may offer expertise in kicking, hand to hand, throws, etc., no "one" style can lay claim to being truly better than another. With this in mind, product (service) differentiation as a matter of Martial Arts style is not the key to success, rather we feel that promotion of a clean, modern, desirable facility, with knowledgeable staff that can work with students, at a reasonable price is what sets dojos apart.
Currently the City Dojo has very limited sales literature. There is a color brochure identifying the Shihan's (head instructors) background, history of the dojo and information on the dojo association it belongs. There is a one page monthly schedule of events published and available to students at the dojo and there is a nice but "limited" website presence.
Trained black belt instructors are our #1 resource. These instructors are well versed in the training of karate and are selected by the Shihan for their karate knowledge and ability to work with students. Instructors are not paid, rather they are members of the inner circle of the dojo, a club of top students (sensei). Instructors are given free membership and access to the dojo and receive payment for private lessons they perform on a contract basis. Instructor materials (gi, belts, weapons) are provided free for their participation in training of students. Currently there are five members of this inner circle of trainers.
Also, under the watchful eye of the Shihan there are several green and brown belts who have shown interest in training. As they move up to black belt status they will be given the opportunity to join the inner circle.
We want to maintain a "traditional" sense to the dojo, however we realize that technology will help us better meet our business needs. With this in mind, we are going to upgrade our software and computer system. Included in this upgrade will be two new computers, linked to allow sharing of data. Windows 2000 will be used along with Microsoft Office products.
Currently, the dojo is using a database software product designed especially for Martial Arts schools (Dojo Master) which is utilized for membership data and billing. This software has not been fully utilized for marketing and upon review we are finding that there exists a gold mine of data that will be emphasize in future marketing efforts. For example: the database has names, numbers, ages, belt status, and last testing date of over 250 past members of the dojo dating back to 1999.
The business plan is to get City Dojo up to 80% of capacity and run it as a business, not a hobby. The goal is to establish a "benchmark" school. Once established (2-3 years) we will copy the business model format and move it to other dojo's in need of similar "makeovers." Our studies show that over 30% of the independent dojo's are barely making it because they, like our dojo, have owners who are skilled martial artists, love to teach martial arts, but lack a solid business planning, business savvy or business drive to run a successful dojo.