For part 1, click here
For the past 10 years, I have been working with my local club to recruit more members. In my experience, recruitment is the simpler part which is discussed in this blog. Retention of members is the harder topic which I would discuss about in a later date.
I highly doubt any club owner would reject the idea of having more members. Therefore this blog post assumes that the club owner is continually looking to improve its presence for expansion, and the sake of promoting Judo within the community
For those who don't know me, my name is Sunny. I've started Judo in year 2000 and have visited numerous clubs in Asia and Europe. I've seen clubs of a small mat area with more members than it could fit, and clubs with too large a mat space than was needed. I have had numerous conversations with people I've met all over the world as to why they've stayed or left a club, or continued to do Judo. I've started this small business in 2018 to promote Judo, in my own way. Check out my facebook page www.facebook.com/dojomats if you havent already.
In Part 1, I mentioned that reducing the wait time and engaging a person quickly has its benefits in forming a good first impression.
I have assumed that the said person is not so experienced in Judo (or not at all). He/She will be referred to as the "new-comer"
The benefits include:
- Having more time to learn, do uchikomi, randori, etc without the initial awkwardness of meeting someone when partnering up.
If the new-comer is meeting your current member DURING class, 2 scenarios can happen:
1) They start chatting and less time is spent on drills. Chances are, the newcomer's partner has their fair share of learning to do too and is wanting to get things done. Chatting during the drills almost allows for incompletion of the task.
2) They immediately go into drills and have yet to fully establish a familiar connection with their partner
As you can imagine, both cases are not ideal for the newcomer as well as the person taking care of him/her
- Having a go-to person in a foreign (new) environment.
Rolls? Handstands? Back breakfalls? The first few Judo lessons might include movement that the newcomer has never done in their entire lives. If the newcomer doesnt know how to do a certain activity, they would be able to ask someone familiar instead of embarrassing themselves trying to do it themselves. You will have to assume that the newcomer has the potential to be shy (or not so self confident in a new environment) if they're between the age 15-30 or even more
In conclusion, establishing a connection quickly allows you to get more done during training while also allowing the newcomer open up quickly to the members of your dojo.
What can be done?
You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression
Recently I've found myself reading an article about micro experiences and how it affects brand loyalty. The article mentions that small experiences can add up to the decision on whether to stay loyal to the brand.
This means that if the brand is the Judo club, it isnt always about the Judo which compels the person to stay. Reducing the wait time is classified as a micro experience.
Often club owners take it for granted and assume that a newcomer is only in it for the Judo which results in putting no effort in convincing the newcomer to be part of the club. At this point of time, the newcomer holds the leverage of potential business. The newcomer has already expressed interest in joining by taking the time to attend a single session. If done right, the newcomer will continue to give your club business throughout the years. The newcomer might even bring along their friends to try out from the positive experience. Therefore any opportunity to impress has to be taken.
I have found that allocating at least 1 person to meet and greet (if the Sensei is busy) easily solves any initial awkwardness
This person must/should be:
- a fairly approachable personality
- a regular member of the club. This way, there is no recurring worry about not knowing someone in the second lesson. Could be a parent of a child waiting for them to finish
- be able to introduce the newcomer to the Sensei and other members
- clear any questions/concerns regarding the club
This person(s) must understand the responsibility of putting the club in a positive light even before class has started. Sure it is the Sensei's club, but the club will collectively benefit and get stronger from the presence of 1 extra person as they improve throughout the years. Their selfless action to help their Sensei welcome members might be a turning point for the club.
A typical conversation might go like this:
Sunny: Hi there, I haven't seen you around before. My name is Sunny. I am a regular here/(im an assistant here)
Newcomer Adam: My name is Adam
Sunny: Oh have you done Judo before?
Newcomer Adam: No I havent, its my first time here.
Sunny: ok, why is it you want to start Judo?
Newcomer Adam: etc etc etc
Sunny: Sensei is a bit busy at the moment but I'll introduce him/her to you later on. Let me know if you have any questions and i'll try and help as much as possible
Newcomer Adam: Oh I dont have a uniform, is this ok?
Sunny: yes thats no problem at all, you can borrow one for now. Take this and i'll show you how to put on the belt
... (later on)
Sunny: Sensei, this is Adam, he's looking to tryout
Sunny: Adam, this is Sensei Jim
If you have read till the end, please comment on facebook roughly how many adult newcomers you get in a week, or a month. In this way, we can ALL get an understanding how often opportunities present themselves in a certain region/country
Even if this number is 1 a month, or 1 in 2 months, it is still 6 - 12 potential members per year.
Working a successful recruitment rate of even 50% results in 3-6 new members in year!
Next post I will be discussing other micro experiences you can improve, which makes a great difference to the customer journey of your potential customer
Do check out the rest of my site and look out for the TEAM SEOINAGE/ TEAM UCHIMATA tshirts soon to be released which can be sent worldwide!