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Martial Arts
Benchmark Report

Why Every School Owner Must Have These Insights From Zen Planner!

Zen Planner's passion to power the martial arts experience for owners, instructors and students is palpable. That urgency to serve especially shines through in its Annual Martial Arts Benchmark Report. Zen Planner recently published its fourth report, and the company regards it as the strongest and most comprehensive edition yet. The purpose of the report is to lead martial arts school owners through every aspect of their business by combining unparalleled data with expert insights and actionable takeaways.

The Annual Martial Arts Benchmark Report is segmented by number of active students into three primary classifications: Small, Medium and Large schools. In addition to the standard size classification, there is a fourth classification nicknamed "Champions" that highlights the most profitable martial arts businesses in the survey. These Champions earn at least $7,000 in monthly profits.

Two different classifications give two different ways to benchmark your own success, set goals and achieve even greater success as you grow your school. There are two primary data sources for the Annual Martial Arts Benchmark Report: the annual survey and the Zen Planner customer database. As we will cover later, a new addition to this year's report revolves around data pulled directly from Zen Planner's database of more than 2,400 martial arts customers.

Zen Planner's objective with the Annual Martial Arts Benchmark Report is to help school owners expand their impact and reach the Champions level of financial stability. They drive this by applying the key takeaways they have assembled through years of experience working with business owners and leveraging their longstanding partnerships with some of the industry's top leaders.

We asked Zen Planner a few questions about its Annual Martial Arts Benchmark Report and even got a sneak peek.


What value does the Benchmark Report provide for martial arts school owners?

The Martial Arts Benchmark Report is a one-of-a-kind resource that shares quality data and expert recommendations for free. School owners can use the data and recommendations as a playbook for their own business decisions. Whether you are deciding where to invest your marketing dollars or how much mat space you need, we have already done the research for you. We analyze every area of the business and collaborate with the industry's leading experts.

Over the years, we have identified consistent patterns in the data, and this year's version is unquestionably the strongest yet. With that, we feel an intense responsibility to make sure as many school owners as possible have access to this knowledge.

Bryan Nay, general manager of Kovar Systems, reviewed the financial section of Zen Planner's 4th Annual Martial Arts Benchmark Report. Kovar Systems and Zen Planner are close partners who frequently collaborate on industry-leading educational initiatives. Here is Nay's key takeaway from this year's financial data:

Champions charge for the value they deliver and contain costs. Champions know the only way to stay in business and keep doing what they love is to understand both sides of the profit equation: Maximize revenue coming in and minimize expenses going out. A key part of maximizing revenue is pricing. Many school owners undervalue their service. We change people's lives for the better, and it's fair for you to earn a living doing it. As the data show, Champions understand this and charge appropriately for the value they deliver: a median price of $152 for unlimited monthly agreements.

On the expense side, control your wage line. Do you really need three instructors for a class of 10 students? Probably not. Also, revisit your monthly expenses. Are your office supplies, meal expenses or other "minor" expenses creeping up month over month? These things add up. Don't be afraid to ask for decreases on bigger items, too. For example, renegotiate your lease terms, if possible, and check for lower rates on collection fees and prices for wholesale gear. Small changes yield big results for Champions, allowing them to stay in business for the long haul and help more students.


How is this year's Benchmark Report different from previous versions?

The 4th Annual Martial Arts Benchmark Report contains data directly sourced from our martial arts customer base of more than 2,400 schools and the Zen Planner software platform. The addition of our system data from all our martial arts customers has strengthened the report by reaffirming the trends and takeaways we have seen over the past several years while also adding more insights.

The Martial Arts Benchmark Report evolves every year thanks to feedback from school owners and readers. We organize this feedback and carefully review every question on our survey to identify new topics that need to be examined. While we publish the Martial Arts Benchmark Report once a year, it is truly a year-round project.

Key Takeaway

Champions and Large schools invest in marketing, especially digital and local advertising.

Champions and Large schools see the value of both digital-marketing tactics and local advertisements. Facebook and Google Ads can help any school attract prospects beyond its event and referral marketing strategies. Champions clearly see the value in both Facebook and Google, with a combined investment of more than $10,000 a year. Paid ads also allow you to create highly targeted advertisements based on the ideal audience you want to reach. Before you invest in digital marketing, make sure your website is optimized to convert these new visitors into prospects.

Beyond these proven digital-marketing tactics, local advertisements allow martial arts schools to capture the local market's attention in an alternative way. Champions invest in local advertising, too, spending more than $3,000 a year. Local advertisement sources are less noisy than social media and should be trusted in the community. Whether online or on paper, make sure you have a hyperlocal focus in your marketing strategy.

Key Takeaway

Champions commit to the journey and focus on the long term.

Building a profitable martial arts business takes time. Eighty percent of Champions have been in business for at least five years, with an astounding 30 percent having been in business for 16 years or longer.

In the same way, building a large student base takes time. Eighty-five percent of the Large schools have been in business for at least five years, with 32 percent having been in business for 16 years or longer. Use each year in business for learning and refinement. Be patient, strive for profitability and keep delighting your community.

Zen Planner will share more insights like these at the Martial Arts SuperShow, where the company once again will present a keynote address on the Martial Arts Benchmark Report findings. The 2020 Martial Arts SuperShow takes place June 29-July 2 in Las Vegas.

Key Takeaway

Champions save time and grow their community by hiring trusted, external solutions.

Owning and operating a martial arts business is hard work; don't try to do it all yourself. Champions create margin in their daily lives by using solutions like student-management software, accounting software, tax services and website development.

Student-management software and website development improve the martial arts experience for students, instructors and owners. Tasks normally completed by you or staff members can be completed by software so you can focus on growing the business and engaging the community.

Modern, lead-optimized websites help martial arts schools attract and nurture more prospective students. Autopay and detailed reporting help you generate reliable revenue, manage your finances and get the bills paid. The ability to organize and share your curriculum with students connects and inspires the community, fueling skill progression, engagement outside the school walls and student retention.

With these examples, it's easy to see why 75 percent of Champions use student-management software and 51 percent hire website developers. Before investing in additional personnel resources, consider adding solutions like these for a fraction of the cost.

Actionable Item

Master your business to transform more lives.

Every person measures success differently. For many martial arts school owners, that metric is not income; it is number of lives impacted. The business reality is that the more financially stable your school is, the more opportunities you will have to create a more massive impact. This opportunity is why Zen Planner is so eager to share the Annual Martial Arts Benchmark Report and so passionate about promoting health and wellness throughout the world.

To master your business and transform more lives, review the data in Zen Planner's Martial Arts Benchmark Report and create an actionable strategy framework based on the expert insights. Get your free copy of the Martial Arts Benchmark Report at and don't forget to visit Zen Planner at the 2020 Martial Arts SuperShow.

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