I’m not in it for the Money!

I’m not sure how many times I’ve heard it said, but my blood pressure goes up every time I hear a coach say, “I’m not in it for the money.”  This is quickly followed, or preceded, by statements that suggest the coach is having a hard time building his program.  Don’t get me wrong, coaches are free to charge or not charge for the services they provide.  However, there are unintended consequences when you don’t charge for Judo lessons.

Not charging, or charging little, sends the message that there’s little value to your product and services, or there’s something wrong with your sport, or your coaching abilities.  While bjj charges $150-200 a month, too many of our coaches are in the $20-40 range, or are giving the sport away for nothing.  This adds to the feeling that Judo is cheap for a good reason.  While giving back to the sport might make you feel good, it does little for Judo’s image.  And, many times, it does little to grow your club membership.

When students don’t have skin in the game or an investment in the program, they are more apt to take you for granted, and not take ownership of the program.

So, if you are still one of those kind-hearted coaches who’s not in it for the money, here’s an idea.  Charge going rates, and use the funds to better your program.  You could:

  • Buy much needed training equipment whether it’s better or more mats, a crash pad, or a throwing dummy.
  • Use the funds to get your students to out-of-area or out-of-state tournaments and training camps.
  • Purchase a nice 32” TV and some good DVDs to use as part of your instructional tools.
  • Create a small library of books and DVDs, and loan them out to your members for a nominal fee.
  • Invite a special guest instructor to run a clinic for your membership.
  • Hire someone to help you coach.
  • Get yourself to coaching clinics to better your teaching skills.
  • Start a small scholarship for whatever reason you desire.
  • Get some good advertising.  If you’re computer illiterate, hire someone to create a website and a Facebook page or group.

These are just some obvious purposes for the funds you raise.  You can probably think of some others if you think outside the box.   If you do just half of the suggestions, your membership will grow.

One more comment on growing your program.  If you’re stuck in a YMCA or community center that gives you one or two days at non-prime time hours, it’s hard to grow your program.  So, use those funds to move into a commercial site that allows you to expand the number of hours and days you have class.  Greater choice of classes results in greater membership growth.  That way, you can give more back to the sport, and reach more students.

Above all and for all our sake, quit reinforcing the idea that Judo is cheap, and has little or no value compared to the other arts available.

9 thoughts on “I’m not in it for the Money!

  1. These suggestions. All of them. Do them.

    Gerald, I absolutely, 100% agree with these. I now have a small commercial place and I run classes any time I want. I can also rent space to other programs that will help my bottom line and are beneficial to my brand/reputation.

  2. realism is hard to accept for many coaches. The casualty list goes on and on, as a coach leaves the area; so does the club.

  3. The article byGerald Lafon is correct’; having experienced the too cheap price. Our membership tripled after the club doubled the charges.
    The club is now looking At another increase in charges because of new overhead costs.

  4. If your judo coaching is worth more than you are charging, then you have people in your club wanting more lessons. It is an easy question to ask the adults, or the parents: would you pay extra money per month for another class? If everyone is enthusiastic – charge more. Some instructors should be offering free judo, because the quality of their product isn’t worth the time.

    For a $200/month judo club membership, I think you need to offer:
    1) Competition-class instructors.
    2) Clean gym in a safe part of town, free parking, lockers. Clean spacious restroom. Stock of band aids. An ice machine and a stock of zip loc bags (for treating injuries).
    3) Written schedules, planned 3 months in advance, with logical progression. I want to know what I’m missing if I stay home or work late, so I can plan.
    4) Four 90-minute advanced judo classes per week. 1 black belt per 6 students.
    5) Three 90-minute basic adult judo classes per week (open to advanced members).
    6) Enough judoka in my weight class, and the weight classes above and below mine, for me to have good practice partners most of the time.
    7) Being able to pay for additional 1 on 1 classes, to prepare for competition or promotion.
    8) Antiseptically clean mats [which wears them out faster]
    9) Comfortable mats. None of the ‘just get tougher’ responses to complains about worn-out mats.
    10) Crash pads, for learning new techniques and drilling tough falls. That we actually get to use in practice.
    11) A discount for people who help roll out and pick up the mats. [Of course judoka do this at non-profit gyms. But if you want to run a for-profit gym, then the customer’s time is a factor]
    12) You’ve already talked to local high schools, and bargained to get high school kids whatever class credit / volunteer hours / recognition / benefits you can.
    13) Well written, personalized, and positive letters of recommendation for high school kids wanting to apply to college.
    14) In-club shiai once every 4-6 weeks, with visitors welcome. Video taped (either post the videos to a website, or give out CDs at cost].
    15) Host a local-area shiai at least once a year.

  5. Hi,

    I was wondering about what your thoughts are on schools that teach more then one art?

    I pay about $150 now, but I learn BJJ, judo, And kick boxing from 3 different instrutors.

    Also may i suggest you put some social buttons on your site. I tweeted this article out, but you can probably get a lot more if you made it easy for people to do so.

  6. Thanks for the social buttons suggestion. I’ll be making my site mobile friendly soon.

    Schools that teach more than one art are fine provided there is stability in the teaching staff. My own dojo is shared with a Kempo karate instructor who teaches on the days I don’t.

  7. This is great advice. It’s reminds me a lot of Master Lloyd Irvin. He has helped turn around many under-performing BJJ academies.

    It’s like, does the customer wanna be doing Ford Pinto judo or Maserati judo?

  8. Hi I stumbled on this article. I am a parent and not an instructor but hope my input will add some value.

    I have recently started classes with my son as a result of escalating bullying. I reviewed a number of clubs with different instructors and facilities

    Obviously with a family, lower costs is helpful. There is an absolute price-point that my budget cant tolerate (I was close to it). My desire was to get the best instructor in the the best club as I could afford.

    Now all that was said, When considering the club and total cost, I understand that the club must eat. What I mean is there is a daily cost to operate the club. The better the club (current equipment, good maintenance, etc), the higher the cost per month I would expect.

  9. Let’s face it. Not all coaches know what they’re worth or know how to validate what they’re worth. Thanks for posting this. Keep it up!

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