The TURNOVER Rate
Rickson Gracie said to me, “There is a problem in our industry. The turnover rate is too high. People are quitting everyday. Those people who are quitting, NEED Jiu-Jitsu the most!”
This really resonated with me. It was a powerful statement. The entire year before, I was intensely focused on STUDENT RETENTION. Keeping customers that I already have instead getting new ones.
I would welcome anyone in the door, but keeping the ones locked in are gonna create future instructors and also your best SALES people when it comes to word of mouth.
The turnover rate is disastrous. Some academies use unbreakable contracts to force people to stay on. Others chalk up the students lack of commitment to their discipline, weakness, willpower, and on and on. This is unfortunate. A true leader accepts responsibility for the problems that arise with their “team”. Solves it from the top down. Looks at themselves first and really PAYS ATTENTION to what is happening.
What Is The Problem?
That is not that simple. Let me try and break it down...
A Jiu-Jitsu academy opens its doors to all genders, ages, and individuals with various backgrounds and lifestyles.
It is a community of like minded individuals who may be very different from one another, but share a common bond on the mats.
The PROBLEM is this...
Not every student is ready for every aspect of Jiu-Jitsu right away. The student who starts out shy, perhaps was picked on their entire life. They are starting Jiu-Jitsu as a way to empower themselves, yet the thought of being pinned down and strangled is a NIGHTMARE. Yet, this may be the first thing they experience.
So what seems normal to the common Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, competitor, instructor, etc. is a NIGHTMARE to some new students. To put them in a situation carelessly in which they are give too much pressure, too soon isn’t going to help them until they are READY to feel it.
Some people begin their training and are ready to take on everything. Others begin and barely have the nerve to walk onto the mat.
To to create an environment that is welcoming for both, you must give each what they NEED.
The shy and timid student should be “protected” until they are skilled enough to take on the pressure with some confidence. This means no sparring/rolling for awhile. They need to feel like they know what they are doing before they get thrown to the wolves. If they don’t learn progressively and are given too much pressure, they will become a ghost in your academy. Baby steps.
Last year, we had over a 90% retention rate with a 300% student increase. How? I paid attention to every person that walked in through the door and made sure they were given what they need.
Are they an intense person who wrestles and is fired up to train again? Put them in the mix a bit.
Are they very timid and fearful from past life experiences? Hold them back. Let them learn. Maybe even give them an early false sense of security. Over time, you can strip them of that sense and they will be ok to deal with it because they are skilled and prepared to.
Fight To Keep Them
Jiu-Jitsu isn’t natural selection. It isn’t survival of the fittest. If the place where the “weak” learn to become “strong”. Where a 120 lb man who has been bullied his whole entire upbringing has a chance to transform and reverse the cycle.
Guide then along their Jiu-Jitsu journey. Don’t push them into the deep end until they are ready to swim a little.
Dont say that a student quits, ONLY because of a lack of discipline. Maybe they have a lack of inspiration. Maybe they feel out of place. They have felt out of place their entire life. Do you think they want to willingly put themselves in a situation where they feel those feeling again?
Be a leader. Take responsibility. Give everyone the experience they need. I promise you...in the long run, it will make a HUGE difference.