Rank Up Podcast: How to Schedule a School Talk Every Week of the Year

By Michael Hodge | Instructors

Sep 11

At my school, we have the goal of doing a full school presentation every week or a flyer approval. One year, I personally presented to over 20,000 students in the area, which resulted in many new students! Not to mention, becoming partners in education with all of my local schools, which are invaluable relationships for years to come. In this episode, I will teach you how to:

  • Create your own school presentation. One that is so good that schools would want to pay you to present.
  • Schedule the presentations. Exactly who to contact, what to say in the email, in the phone calls, and follow-up steps.
  • The types of school talks that you can do.
  • Alternative methods for becoming a partner in education with a school.

And, this week’s question: “Can you discuss some important legal compliance related to starting a school?”

The King of School Talks? Maybe.

Welcome to Rank Up. This is Michael Hodge. I’m very excited about this three part series that I have planned. Today we’re talking about how to schedule a school talk every week of the year. And then in the next episode, I’m actually going to walk you through how to run world-class school presentations that will actually help you enroll new students. And then the third part of this series, we’ll actually be running mass intros, which is whenever you have a large group of new students or new prospects really come to your school at one time, and you can enroll many new students at once.

Now on this episode, I’ll be honest with you. I was going to title it The King of School Talks. I don’t typically self-aggrandize, and I decided against the title. Although I have very good at school talks, I have done a lot of them. I did more in one school year than probably anyone ever has. This was at my full time commercial school. We had the goal of every single week either doing a full school talk, which means literally seeing the entire elementary school. Going and doing seven 45 minute presentations typically, or doing one flyer approval every single week for an entire school. Meaning that everyone in the whole school received a flyer for a special free community event that we were going to do that following Saturday. This is a pretty aggressive schedule. But it was the most important marketing action we took the entire time that I ran this full school. Again, we were more of a children’s or kids focused operation, and this was very important for us to be partners in education with all of the local schools. And we took that very seriously.

I’ve Done School Talks at More than 100 Elementary Schools

In 2010 to 2011, that was one school year. I personally did school presentations to over 20,000 kids. That’s because every single week, typically on a Wednesday or on a Tuesday, I had a school presentation schedule. And I went. Again, I did seven 45 minute presentations, one for each grade level. So it’d be like kinder, all of kindergarten, all of first, all of second, and then a short lunch break. All of third, all of fourth, all of fifth, just as an example. Or even all of sixth, depending if they had sixth grade or not at that school. And I did that every week, the entire school. Which meant we consistently had new students enrolling every Saturday morning. And really this is something that costs little to nothing. You don’t actually have to pay to do the visits. You’re actually offering a very high quality service and these workshops to the elementary schools for free.

And we’ve done things like billboards before. We’ve even done TV ads, we’ve done Facebook ads, we’ve done lots of different types of marketing and advertising. Regarding return on investment for your time and money, school talks are significantly more important than anything else for enrolling children. 

So I’ve really worked on perfecting a system of contacting, scheduling, and presenting the school talk, which we’re going to go over today exactly how to find the right contacts, how to contact them, how to schedule these different types of school talks that you could potentially do. And again, in the next episode, we’ll actually talk about presenting the school talk. 

Now, not only have I done a lot of school talks for my martial arts school, but I’m also a published children’s book author. I created a series of books that help children learn a new language. It’s called BookLingual, books that make you bilingual. And I wrote 32 short eBooks, and I also had six paperback print books and a series called Bilingual Benny. They were mildly successful, and I did go on an author school tour in 2014 and 2015. I visited 80 elementary schools on that tour. So I went to, for example, San Antonio. And I would do a school in the morning. I would do three 45 minute presentations. And then in the afternoon, three 45 minute presentations. I remember going to San Antonio for example, and visiting 12 schools in six days. Which was pretty incredible. Then I also had a special book fair that I was presented to get as an author. But the point is I have a lot of experience teaching children’s presentations, a large group of children all at once as a martial arts instructor. And also as a children’s book author.

So I’m actually not currently scheduling and doing school talks. And the reason why is it’s not really necessary for my fully enrolled private academy. Because I have a private academy with a smaller amount of students on purpose right now. It’s fully enrolled. I don’t actually need any new students. If I was to do a school, I could actually do a school talk right now at our local elementary school. I literally had the son of the PE teacher coming here for quite some time. We have a great relationship. I know a lot of people in the school. We have a really good reputation with them. If I offered to do a special program for the school, I know that they would say yes and would enjoy it. But then I’d have 20, 30, 40 students show up on Saturday that would want to enroll. Which how is that a problem? That sounds amazing. It is amazing. But again, I’ve chosen to have this smaller footprint academy on purpose at the moment. 

Now if I was running a much larger full time school, I would definitely be doing those full presentations, which is what I did. But currently, I would explain it like this. I’m farming the community organically over time and just allowing for those new students to come in when they need to. Rather than casting a fishing net in attempting to catch a lot of fish all at once, which is something you might need to do in your situation though, which is why we’re going to talk about how to do this. 

The Kinds of School Talks

So I want to go over the kinds of school talks. First of all, full school PE presentations. This is when you visit the entire school. You typically do a presentation for an entire grade level at a time. Now you might go to a school that is only pre-K and kindergarten for example, which I’ve been to schools like that as well. And you’ll do multiple pre-k and kinder presentations. But you’re visiting the entire school in one day. That’s what a full school presentation is. That’s really our goal. We would prefer to spend the whole day, see all of the students, make it a very exciting event, and get as many new students as possible to show up that weekend to our special community event on Saturday morning.

Full School PE Presentations

The other type, and mentioned PE presentations because we’re typically becoming a guest PE teacher for the day. We’re doing our workshop by setting it up through the PE teacher, and then the other specials show up, meaning the art class, and the music class. And the PE class are all going to come together at once for this particular workshop that you’re doing.

It could be an assembly. It could actually be 600 kids all at once. I’ve done a few of these where I have the entire school all in one large gym or cafeteria at once. Or even just two massive presentations. I don’t prefer it that way. There’s actually a little bit more of a dynamic personal touch with these smaller groups. And by smaller, I mean 90 to 100 students for example. But that is still a possibility.

Classroom Talk

The next type is classroom talk. This is when you actually go to just one classroom. A classroom of 20 kids, 25 kids for example. You work directly with one teacher to set up a talk or a workshop, whatever you want to call it. Just for that particular class. It takes 30, 45 minutes maybe. And you work just with them. This is usually whenever you have one of your own students in that classroom, and you’re able to set up the talk or the workshop for the benefit of all of his or her peers.

Private School or Daycare

Now you could also do a private school, or a daycare, or a preschool. And actually doing a talk at one of these locations. These are also great options. Especially during the summer, you could actually be continuing on your school talks program by doing special things with daycares or summer camps. So this is generally going to be a smaller amount of students, but it’s a really good place to start if you have not yet done any of these. 

Middle or High Schools

And then we even have middle or high schools. You could also do something like a school talk at a college. I’ll admit these are much harder to do from my experience just because younger kids are really excited about things like martial arts. And it’s really fun to show them breaking a board or just simple things, and it’s a lot of excitement and energy for them. Whereas with middle school and high school students, you have to try to be really cool, or really humorous, or have something very particular that you planned to make it very successful. And I have done a few of these, and I’ve had a lot less students show up to the events afterwards. I’m not saying it’s not possible though. Maybe this is really where you shine, and you have a particular message. Maybe even something about drugs, or alcohol, or other issues like bullying that are very relevant, that you could actually be talking about.

Give First – Become a Partner in Education

The purpose really of the school talks to be honest with you, it’s about being partners in education with other educators. You need to show up and let the community know you’re also an educator. You’re also someone who is helping the children to grow into the very best person that they could become. It’s the parents, it’s church, it’s the academic teachers. As a martial arts instructor, we’re really there to be the character development guides. And that’s where we want to position ourselves.

We also are helping students to become bully proof and not be bullied. We’re helping them to have that confidence and be able to defend themselves in the event they go to potentially a dangerous school. There are schools where there are a lot of dangers. So we want to be known as the authority in our community on these topics, and become a part of the conversation, and become a partner in education with our schools. So rather than just being some business where we’re over here marketing and selling and trying to advertise and promote, we’re trying to partner up with the school. How can we help? How can we make sure that we’re all raising children together that are whole, and much greater than just being great at mathematics and being able to read at a high level?

And even understanding the scripture or whatever else that they’re learning at their particular spiritual institution. We want to make sure that they’re also well-rounded from what we offer as martial arts instructors. So we always want to give first, which is what I’ve been touching on. Always look for opportunities to give and help. How can you help out your local schools? Maybe by making a donation, volunteering at special events. Just having a relationship with some of the teachers of your current martial arts students. Or if your own kids go to a school, right? Letting them know that you teach martial arts and this is what your school is all about though. And actually making that known and not keeping it a secret.

So look for opportunities to just help without asking for something in return. And when there’s an opportunity for you to ask for something in return but really still give, such as a free workshop. Something that’s beneficial to everyone involved. It’s going to be a lot easier to do that. 

So another thing you could do if you really don’t know how to get your foot in the door, is to meet with a counselor or even the principal potentially, or a particular teacher to discuss how you would like to participate as a partner in education.

Now after this, I’m going to be talking about how to schedule school talks, which is primarily communicating with PE teachers. I’ll admit, PE teachers are always my first point of contact. But in the event that’s not working out, you could always have this meeting with the counselor, or principal, or someone else. Counselors generally a good person to meet with. 

So in this meeting, it’s just about getting to know the counselor. Talking about the character development focus of your school, mention any of your students who attend their school. You can also offer a scholarship for a student in need. So this is a really good idea and a great way to help out. You’re talking to the counselor about how you can help students that have issues with behavior, they have issues focusing in class. And you’re like, “Do you know of anyone who might be lower income or that really couldn’t even afford something like a martial arts program, but that would incredibly benefit them in their life?” And the counselor could actually offer a scholarship like this to the student in need. You might even offer two scholarships per school. And this could be where it’s a free, six month basic membership with a uniform. And even the testing fees pay for that whole six months to help out. So not only are you going to get the opportunity to help out this student, which is going to be incredibly rewarding for you anyway. You’re going to be winning the trust of the counselor and the school because you’re showing that you’re giving something to someone who’s in great need. And there’ll also be an opportunity for you to talk about your school talk whenever you’re meeting with the counselor. So you could be bringing that up as well. 

Other things to do are to attend PTO meetings, meet the teacher night, other school events that are open to the community. And even ask if you can set up a table as a partner in education, and mention that you’re offering a special free workshop this weekend that’s going to help kids concentrate in school this year. It’s called karate for concentration, and it’s going to help them develop their focusing like a muscle, and strengthen that. Or that it’s about becoming bully proof and having the ability to stand up for yourself, whatever it might be. 

And I’ve done a few meet the teacher tables in the past. They’ve been really successful. So even if you can’t set up a table and you’re just there to assist or get to know people, it’s definitely worthwhile to attend some of these events.

Another thing to do is to buy the entire faculty breakfast, and then give every teacher a mug with your logo on it full of pencils with your logo on it. Or something like this. We did this for one school every year at the beginning of the school year. It’s typically good in that week of teacher service before the actual school year begins for the students. This is a really good time anyway for meeting with PE teachers and getting things ready, and even setting up some initial presentations in the first few weeks of school, which I always did successfully. And again, you can buy the whole faculty breakfast, say that this is from your martial arts school, and then also give them some sort of special gifts.

So now not only are they thankful that you actually supported them and did something for the school, but all of the teachers have a mug with your logo on it. They have all these pencils, they know who you are. They’re going to be more aware if you come and do a school visit, or if you contact them about doing a classroom talk. You’re not just some stranger, someone who’s trying to advertise, and promote, and take advantage of their school. 

Create an Amazing Presentation

Okay, so before we actually go into how do we schedule the school talks, I know you’re waiting for that. I need you to understand that there are a few things we need to consider. We need to first of all create, you don’t have to do this. Okay? But it’s very beneficial for what we’re going to be doing next. Create a community focus giving initiative, or even a registered nonprofit organization. Maybe you already have one, maybe you don’t. That’s okay. It could just be some giving or community initiative that you have. What I call an abundance project.

It can be something called kick down bullying, or kicks for books, or punch out homelessness, or whatever it is. You might have some sort of special thing in your heart that you’re called upon to serve in the community. That’s already incredible. That’s already something we’re going to talk about more in the future because it’s incredibly important to me. I run something called the Abundance Projects. We donate a percentage of our proceeds every month to people and projects in need. It’s really important to us, and we’ve been able to make massive change and a large impact in a lot of people’s lives. 

So having some sort of giving initiative not only is something that I hope you would want to do anyway because it feels amazing and it’s purposeful for your life. But secondarily, whenever you’re setting up these workshops, whenever you’re working with schools, you can always talk about how this free event you’re doing is going to benefit this. Or how your community initiative is actually get to pay for this, so it’s free. So the school doesn’t even have to pay for the workshop. This is typically something schools have to pay $1,000+ dollars to have a special presenter come in. Whenever they’re looking to hire an author, I know a lot about this world for example. Hiring an author to come in and do a school visit typically costs the school, 1,000, $1,500, sometimes $2,000. They have to get the district to approve it. They have to go through rounds of funding. They look for grants, it takes several months. And they’ll also do things like have a magician come in. They’ll have a special presenter of some sort, a special program come in. And schools do this to enrich their kids’ education and do something special for them. You’re offering something very impressive, very high quality. But for free.

So that leads me to the next thing, which is creating a great school workshop. Don’t just come in there and plan on saying a couple of words, showing a few punches, and giving all the kids a car to come to your school on Saturday morning. Create something unique, something special, something you could actually charge for. Something that it’s going to have its own webpage, its own name, its own cool logo, its own design. You’re going to have some videos, you’re going to have some photos. It’s going to look very legitimate. It’s going to look like something that again, if a PE teacher, or a counselor, or a principal looks it up, they’re like, “Wow, this looks really cool. How much are they charging? [inaudible 00:17:26] $1,000, 800 bucks?” “No, they’re actually offering to do this for free as they’re partners in education with us.” And then the principal is like, “Well, that’s incredible. This looks like a really good thing for our students, and we don’t have the budget right now to bring in an author that costs $1,500 this year. We can do this instead,” or etc.

So create something. Maybe you call it bully proof workshop, karate for concentration. Whatever it is that you’re doing, whenever you’re trying to help the students with. Whether it be setting goals, go after your goals, a goal setting seminar. Whether it’s, I even did a seminar that was for the STAR test, which is the standardized test that you have to take in Texas. And I actually had elementary schools that wanted me to come out and do a special presentation. It was hyping the students up, getting them motivated to kick out the STAR. I don’t even remember what they called it. But it was fun. It was exciting. And it went so well. After I did one presentation, I had seven other schools in the same district they’re like, “You’ve got to come and do this for our students. STAR testing is next week. I heard such good things about it.” And I did.

And I’ll be honest with you, some of those schools were really far away. They were like 35, 40 minutes away from the school. And we didn’t really enroll students from some of them. But, I was able to get my foot in the door in a lot of schools, have a good name, a great reputation in a really important school district, which is really important. And I was able to hype up and get a lot of students excited to do a great job on their standardized test, which was ultimately what my job was anyway, even though it was a free event. 

The point is create something special. Whenever I was doing my author visits for author visit program, I created a really unique program and I marketed it, and I had a webpage, and it looked very professional. So it was easy to set up these visits, especially whenever I said typically you have to pay $1,000+ to have a published author to come into your school to do visit programs like this. But I’m offering it for free. They’re like, “How are you doing this for free? I’ve never heard this before.” I’m like, “What I’m doing is I’m doing a free author visit program. In return, I just ask that you do a book sale.” Which they always do a presale anyway so that the author can come, and sign, an autograph the books. That’s something that’s very typical anyway. 

But I also did something unique, which was I left a box full of books and inventory after the visit as well. So that after the visit, I knew even more students would be excited about buying the books and about learning and Bilingual Benny and everything else. We sold even more books after my visit, and then they just mailed in the inventory with a prepaid stamp that it was a prepaid label, that was not sold. So I had it all done for them. They didn’t have to deal with anything. And that was with the librarian. That was my contact for author visits was the librarian. But my contact for martial arts school presentations would be for typically the PE teacher.

Okay. So I hope this doesn’t sound too daunting, having to organize and create this amazing webpage and workshop. At least do something though to start. And you can always improve this over time. So we’re going to go ahead and move into how to actually schedule these school talks.

How to Schedule the Presentations

Step #1: Create a School Information Database

So the first thing is create a school marketing information database. You’ve got to keep track of everything, every contact you ever made. In this database you could use just a Google sheet, an Excel spreadsheet, whatever you want. But you have the contact info of each school. So you have the school’s name, their address, maybe the principal’s name. You have their phone number, their fax number. And then any contacts that you know in that school. Maybe you know a teacher that works there. And then the PE teacher for example, anything like that. And then there’s a section for past actions. Anytime you do anything or anyone on your team does anything with the school. Let’s say you bought this school, the school’s faculty breakfast, and you give them mugs. Let’s say a year later you do a school visit. Three years later you do a flyer approval. You’re going to have longterm relationship with these schools. You need to have all of this documented. 

Step #2: Collect Information to Put into Your Database

So, the next thing you’re going to do is collect information to put into your database. So if you’re starting from scratch, go on the internet and Google these schools. You can typically find PE teacher’s name, you can find their email. You can find a phone number, or even their direct extension oftentimes. Again, we’re mainly focused on the PE teacher right now, but you might potentially need to find the counselor, or the principal, or a teacher. You just do what you got to do to find information, and then put it into your database.

Step #3: Email all PE Teachers or Other Contacts

So the next step is going to be email all of the PE teachers or other teacher contexts that you have in the event that there’s another person that makes more sense. And what we’re going to do here is follow a bottom up strategy. So rather than saying okay, I need to go to the administrative building. And I need to get the entire district to approve me as a presenter first. No, we’re not going to do that. We’re going to go to our direct contact. Who really is going to be helping us and setting up this visit? The PE teacher. We’re going to be the guest PE teacher for the day and do a special workshop for the entire school. And they’re going to be our direct contact. They’re going to be championing what we want to help do with the school. They’re going to talk to the principal. The principal will talk to other people in the administrative office if need be. So always start with your direct contact from the bottom up.

In this email, my subject line might be something like Guest PE Instructor Workshops-Karate for Concentration, or go after your goals, or whatever your workshop is called. In the email, mention who you are. Quickly explain the workshop and the benefits. Include a link to a webpage that has a more detailed breakdown of the workshops like I was mentioning. With actual video clips and photos of one in action. Have some actual testimonials from other PE teachers that mentioned things that they enjoyed about the visit for example. And make that a big deal.

So again, if you haven’t done one of these full schools yet, start at a daycare. Start at a private school, start at a little organization, do a tiny school talk. Get photos taken, get videos made. Even if it’s a small group event, so that you could start marketing this in a more professional way. 

Point out that it is safe, nonviolent, non-aggressive, and no contact is made between students at all. That this is a personal development motivation workshop, or whatever your workshop is about. We’ve got to make sure that they’re not afraid, that we’re going to go in there and show their kids how to beat each other up. That when people hear martial arts, they’re not totally sure what’s going to happen. So we’ve got to really calm that potential fear. 

Finally at the end of the email, mention the name of another school that you have visited in the past. Whether it be in their same district, or just some other elementary school or daycare, or wherever that you’ve been in the past. That’s Jones Effect. It’s really beneficial, especially if you’ve been to another school in their same district. They’re going to be like, “Okay, someone else in this district has already had this presenter. Sounds great. Let’s go ahead and get him scheduled.”

Step #4: Make Follow-Up Calls

Now the next step would be one to two days after you send the email, make follow up phone calls. So what you do is you call into the school, because you probably don’t have the direct extension to the PE teacher. Now if you have the director extension, that’s awesome. Just call in and enter their extension, and go directly to them. Now if not, ask to speak with a PE teacher. Of course stated who you are, ask to speak with a PE teacher. The secretary will usually say something like, “Mr. [Thomas 00:24:49], or Mrs. So and So is busy. I can take a message.” So always ask for the PE teacher’s conference period. “Oh okay, no problem. I can call back. When is Mr. Thomas’s conference period? That way I can call in and speak with him directly.” And then she’ll be like, look it up. “Okay. Yeah, his conference period is 11:30 AM to 12:10 PM.” “Okay. Awesome. I’ll just call back then.” This is something we used to do.

Now I would also ask, “Hey, can I just send over a fax real quick? That way he has all the information he needs.” You probably already have their fax number because it’s typically on their website.

Now it’s 2019. I imagine schools probably still use faxes sometimes. I again, haven’t done this in a little while myself because we are not doing school talks right now. But if they are still using a fax number, I recommend doing this. Because if they are, they’re not getting many faxes anymore. So whenever you can be a very little used communication medium like this, they’re going to be more likely to get it and read it because their secretary is going to put it in the PE teacher’s box compared to the PE teacher getting 50 emails every day. So it’s just a little trick there to fax over literally your emails. So just print out the email that you had sent to the PE teacher, the exact email. Or just save it as a PDF and use an online fax service like hellofax.com. And use it to fax it over by just uploading the PDF. So that’s just a little trick there that could get your information in front of their face before you talk to them.

And remember to get all the information you needed from the secretary. Secretaries usually rush you. They act like they’re extremely busy. Just be calm, be cool, be collected. Be pleasant and sociable on the phone. Have a light, fun tone of voice. Don’t make it sound like a telemarketing call. Act like you know the school well and that you’re partners in education, and that you’re just getting in contact with PE teacher. 

Keep in mind also it’s best to call once students are already in their classrooms at 9 to 11:00 AM, and then maybe 1 to 2:00 PM. Don’t call when school is starting or when it’s about to let out. It’s a really bad time to call. 

Now the next day or that same day potentially, you can call back during the PE teacher’s conference period. And I would say something kind of like this. “Hi [Jill 00:27:10], this is Michael from the Global Martial Arts University. I spoke with you a few days about our PE program. I just need to speak with Mr. Thomas. Can you transfer me?” Or you can just call in directly to their numbers. 

So you’re calling in, obviously making it known to the secretary because you asked for the secretary’s name, so you know the secretary’s name. Like you actually had a conversation. And then you had already spoken a few days ago. And now I just need to speak with Ms. Thomas [inaudible 00:27:35]. 

Again, how you state these things on these phone calls is everything. If you’re like, “Yeah, this is Michael from the martial arts school. I was just wondering, can I please speak with the PE teacher?” They’re like, “I can take a message for you.” Because you didn’t even know the PE teacher’s name, you didn’t know the secretary’s name, etc. You’ve got to take notes on everything and you’ve got to actually build relationships with people.

So when you finally get the PE teacher on the phone, reiterate what you mentioned in the email with a lot of confidence. And just knowing that you’re doing something special for the PE teacher. Because the PE teacher is going to get a day off, which is already really cool. They love it whenever they get to take the whole day off. They’ll still be in there watching and helping with the kids some, but they’re pretty much relaxing as you’re doing everything. And then finish with something like this. “Also, you will get a day off because we will take care of all the classes the entire day as they do the workshop with us. We still have a couple of spots left next month. Is October 6th or 13th good for you guys?” So you always finish by saying that, and then mentioning two dates.

Don’t say, “Would you guys like to do this?” Always have the confidence and give them two options on two dates. And then always do your presentations on Tuesday or Wednesday. For the Saturday morning  special events that we’re going to talk about later on, we’re going to actually be inviting students to come back on Saturday. If you do it on Thursday or Friday, there’s not enough time to get the kids scheduled and to really build up the excitement. If you do it Monday, it’s a little too early in the week and the excitement wanes. So something like Tuesday or Wednesday is usually best.

Step #5: Visit In-Person

Now, hopefully you’re able to schedule it on the phone call. If not, you can follow up with the PE teacher a week later or so depending on what they said. Definitely overcoming any objections that they might’ve had. If that’s still not working, a few weeks later, go and visit the PE teacher or the other contact in person. This takes people by surprise because most people are just too lazy to do it. Most people don’t really care enough about the relationship to get in their car and drive over and talk to someone face to face. Face to face meeting I’ve set up presentations on the spot quite a few times before, and I really solidified a real relationship with someone. And a lot of times I show up, and I’ll show up right when school lets out, or during their conference period. Those are the best times. 

Because during the conference period, the PE teacher still potentially has some extra time on their hands. And again, right after school, they might be wrapping some things up before they go home. So pretty good time to visit with them, and a lot of times they are just like, “I’ve just been so busy,” etc., “Things have been going on.” But when you come in person, you’re able to just hash it out and really see what’s happening, and get something scheduled or overcome any other objections. Remember to tell them that the music and art teachers need to bring their classes to the gym for that period. That way you don’t only teach the PE classes for the day.

If you accidentally forget to tell them that, you might only see a third of all students for example. Whereas you want all of the specials to be combined. Now your school might not do PE, music, and art. They might do totally different specials or a different rotation. But you need to make sure it’s known that this is for all of the students in the grade level at a time. And also, mention that you’ll be handing out a card that will invite them to a free community event on Saturday. That really solidifies the benefits that you’ll be talking about during the workshop. And it’s also going to benefit your charity or community initiative. So making sure that they see that card in person or you email it to them, they need to know about it beforehand. Don’t show up on the day of the event, and never had mentioned anything about the card. “Oh yeah, we’re just going to hand this card out to all the kids.”

That can be a big red flag depending on the district. Some districts have very specific rules about what can be sent home with kids. Some are more laxed with their rules. But you at least need to mention it in advance and see what the PE teacher says, and to make sure it will be okay to send something home. That’s really critical. Because if you’re not able to send home any sort of information, that five-year-old, that six-year-old might be incredibly excited about karate, incredibly excited about showing up and learning more from you. But there’s no information. And then I don’t know if you have any, I have a six year old son. If he comes home and he’s talking about this guy who came to school and excited about everything, I’m like, “Yeah, that sounds good. That sounds great.” He’s like, “You should go on this website and sign up.” But if you really don’t know the information, it’s hard to follow up on and to take any action. So that’s really, really important. We’ll talk about that later on in the next episode as well.

So you might be having trouble setting up these full school presentations with the PE teacher or even potentially with the counselor. Which I mentioned earlier about those standardized testing workshops that I did. Those were set up with the counselor because it’s the counselor’s job to be doing these sort of things for the entire student based typically.

Alternative Method – Home/School Graduation Approval Form

Now another idea which can work quite well is the home school graduation approval form. So you’re going to send this home to all students that are graduating two to three weeks in advance before their graduation. So on one side or on one part of the form, parents need to sign and approve that the student has had good behavior at home. And then their teacher needs to sign and approve stating that the student has made good grades and has good behavior in class. So not only does this show that you have even higher standards for ranking up and grading beyond the martial arts side, but it also gives you the opportunity to have your teacher get to know you and get to see that you actually care about how your student’s doing in their classroom. And then at the very bottom, you can have this little paragraph that talks about your classroom visit program. And if they’re interested in you coming out and doing this for their class, to just put their phone number and their email, and to check a box right there.

So if you have this sent home with all of your students, let’s say you have 100 youth students, every time you graduate, every three months. How many do you think will have an interested teacher? You’re going to have some that are interested. So there are a couple of ways to handle it. If the interest could be multiplied into actually doing a full school visit, that’s a possibility. So obviously you’re going to contact the teacher via email and/or phone. 

And then if not, just doing a classroom talk. So like we mentioned earlier, classroom talk. You’ll go out there and just have a little workshop for that 20 students right then and there. And it’s pretty simple usually. You’ll have your flyers or your cards, and you can hand them all out to the kids. It’s just between you, and the teacher, and the students. You don’t necessarily have to, “Let me check with the district if I can hand this flyer out to these 20 kids.” So it’s a much smaller group, much easier to do. Out of 20, you’re going to be getting to know these kids. You might get two or three that are really excited to come to your event on Saturday and sign up. So a very, very good things to do still.

Flyer Approval

Another thing I’ll point out is called flyer approval. So I mentioned at the beginning of this episode, we either try to do a full school visit or a flyer approval every single week. Flyer approval means that you actually send home a flyer that’s talking about a special free community event that you’re doing. Again, let’s say Saturday morning at 10:00 AM. And the entire school is invited. So you might not be able to get your foot in the door to school to be able to do a full presentation, but you could still invite these students to a program.

To get the flyer approval, you might have to just ask the front desk and the secretary will tell you who to talk to. It could be the counselor, it could be the principal. You might even have to go to the district. I’ve literally gone to the district and met with the director of community relations a few times. You do whatever you have to do. 

Now, there are some schools that are even more laxed that we would literally just walk into the elementary school. We already had all of the flyers, really nice. Eight and a half by 11 inch full color, well-designed flyers. They’re community events. They’re not marketing or advertising looking flyers. It was on the front was in English, the back was in Spanish. It was a bilingual flyer, so great looking flyer. It was already pre-sorted. We had 22 in each stack, and they had rubber bands. And we got so advanced at this that we even had them pre-sealed with shrink wrap at some times and the future as well. We changed it to shrink wrap.

But the point is it was very simple. It was already done for each classroom. I’d walk up to the front desk, I’d say, “Hey, this is Michael Hodge with the local martial arts school. Just wanted to let you know that we’re doing this special free community event called karate for concentration that helps kids. And we’re actually inviting all the students here. Already have the flyers here to send home to all the kids. Did you want me to go put it in the teachers boxes right now?” And then sometimes they’ll be like, “Oh yeah, that’s no problem.” And I’ll just walk back behind the desk and just drop it into each teacher’s box. And then the teachers will get it later that day and hand it out to all of their kids. 

Okay, so that’s a possibility. Now again, depending on if you’ve had approval, if you’ve worked with the district before, this was with the particular district that I know we had done flyer approvals with before. And we had a really good long term relationship with them. So we could just walk in the door and do a flyer or approval. And again, you’ll have less people respond to come to your event than if you did a school visit that week because there’s less excitement. It’s just a piece of paper, but it’s still a very unique way to invite the entire school to a particular event that might again be benefiting your charity or your community giving organization.

Question: Can you discuss some important legal compliance related to starting a school?

That takes us to our question of the week. This one is from Daniel Smith. And the question is, “Can you discuss some important legal compliance related to starting a school?” Thank you Daniel for this boring question, but one that is very necessary nonetheless. So no one wants to look at legal compliance and the paperwork and the accounting side of things, but they are so important. Especially when you’re getting everything set up at the beginning. 

So now, I’m not able to give you legal advice. I’m not able to give you correct guidance regarding taxation and everything else. This is just general advice. And again, this varies depending on what country you’re in. It could vary depending on what state or province, or region you’re in as well. 

First of all though, you’re probably going to need to have liability insurance for your students. So this really doesn’t cost that much. The insurance that I have right now, it’s for $1 million liability. And it’s got an accident insurance for up to $250,000, something like that. And you just pay us a flat rate per student. It’s not that bad. It’s $10 per student maybe. We use Westpoint Insurance. There are lots of other martial arts insurance agencies out there depending on where you’re at. But you definitely need a liability insurance in case someone gets injured in your facility or some other type of incident happens in your facility. 

You might also want contents insurance to cover your mats, and your equipment, and everything else in there. That’s something I don’t currently have at the moment. But I did when I had my larger full time school. You could also look into getting contents insurance. 

You also need a sales tax license, and other required business licenses. So here for example in the state of Texas in the United States of America, we have to have a sales tax and use of license. And actually collect sales tax and remit sales tax, and have that licensed on the wall where it can be seen in your place of business. 

There aren’t other types of business licenses we need here to operate, but depending on where you’re at, you might need a license to operate a particular type of business. You might need a particular license from the ministry of sport or something like that.

Now, you should also form a business entity to separate your personal and your business finances. So I recommend an LLC, a limited liability corporation or limited liability company. And also something like a corporation could work. You could be a sole proprietor just doing a DBA. But actually having a separate entity that protects you for liability reasons is very beneficial and highly recommended.

So it doesn’t cost that much. You can do business formations online. You could get your own business attorney and get that done in a very custom way if you’d like. But there are a lot of good online business formation, legal websites essentially that can help you do this and make sure you have everything separated and protected. 

The next thing is a teaching certificate or instructor certification for the Ministry of Sport. There are certain countries where you’re required to actually be a certified instructor or have a teacher’s certificate to be teaching a martial art or coaching. Something along these lines. So something like the certified martial arts teacher course and certification through us through the Global Martial Arts University. Or something similar could be very useful for you there.

Also, anytime you enroll a student … actually, before you even enroll a student, if they’re going to come and participate in a free workshop, in a free class, anything like that, they have to sign a liability waiver. So clearly, the parent will be signing for children under the age of 18. And adults will need to be signing for themselves. That’s so important that you have a liability waiver. And also within your agreement whenever someone actually enrolls into your school, make sure you have a clear cancellation policy. Also, already include your video photo release within your student agreement. Make sure you have a very good student agreement, one that’s very, very well-worded. That’s something that it’s worth having an attorney actually write out for you. Or if you’re working with a billing company or someone else, they might already have something made for you. But having a video photo release already built in is really nice. Because in this day and age, we want to be able to put up photos and videos on social media and be promoting our school, and having to ask each and every person, “Do I have permission, do I have permission, do I have permission?” It was already legally signed that you do have permission to do that. Now clearly, if they ask you to take something down, you can do that. But it’s something that should really already be built into your agreement.

Also, having surveillance cameras for your protection is a really good idea. Just making sure that you don’t have a student, or a parent, or a family that claims sexual harassment. Or something else happened, or just even for the safety and security of your facility. It’s a really good idea to have those up. 

Also, please do background checks on your employees, and only hire great people. Especially if you’re working with kids, you need a picture that you’re hiring amazing individuals, people that you would trust your own children with. So take those extra steps to do that.

So I know there are other things related to legal compliance that you need to look into, and I don’t all the answers for you. But Daniel, hopefully you and everyone else who is listening, this gives you a little bit of an idea as to things you need to be considering when you’re getting started.

And I hope you guys really enjoyed this episode. Join me next week for the next episode. We’re going to be talking about giving legendary school talks that actually enroll new students. Now that you did all this work setting up school talks, and you have one scheduled every week of the entire school year, right? So we’re going to talk about how to get that done. And then in the next episode, we’re going to talk about guaranteed new students every Saturday morning through mass interest. Until next time, I look forward to receiving more questions from you guys. I really thank you so much if you’re enjoying the podcast by writing a review for the podcast. That’s really, really helpful so that other people can find it. I hope you continue training hard, continue learning, and spreading abundance.

Ask a Question for a Future Episode!

If you have a question, please ask it below in the comments section and I will try and answer it in a future episode! Thanks for any other comments or for simply discussing the topic of this episode.

About the Author

I am a Lead Instructor at the Global Martial Arts University. I live with my three energetic kids on a prairie in Texas. I also lead The Abundance Projects.

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(2) comments

Wayne September 11, 2019

Awsome education motivation

    Michael Hodge September 11, 2019

    Thank you sir!

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