Are You Creating a Great First Impression?

A prospective student walks through you front door.  What is their first impression going to be?  Are they going to say to themselves, “Wow!  This is much nicer than I expected” or will their eyes water and as they are fighting the gag reflex running out the front door will they be wondering if you’re related to the Addams Family?

We have all heard that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.  But guess what?

It’s done all the time.  Years ago I went into the school of a local competitor to introduce myself.  The owner was in his office sitting on a couch, well to be candid; he was slouching on the couch with his feet on a coffee table.  His dog was sitting half on the couch and half on his lap.  Dog hair covered the couch, his office floor and him.  To make matters worse the office smelled like wet dog hair.

What do you think my first impression was?

Yes, people make judgments based on their first impression.  While there isn’t anything we can do about that, we can make sure that we run a professional school and ensure that the interior of our academy is first class.

Here’s a checklist that you can use to make sure that your academy (which means you too!) is putting its best foot forward.

If you don’t think that you can do this with objectivity, you can ask a trusted friend or family member to do it.  Or ask some of the parents in your school to go through your school with the list and give their honest evaluation.

School Check List

Rate your school on the following:

1) General – Are all the lights inside the school in working condition?

Are there any flickering or burned out lights, etc?

Are the ceiling tiles clean and in good condition, or sagging, water damaged, and/or missing?

Does the school have a working air conditioner/heater?

Are exits clearly marked and lit?

Are light switches for bathrooms, changing rooms, etc., easy to find?

Is there a first aid kit?

2) Sitting area – Is it comfortable?

Does the noise level disturb the classroom?

Are students distracted by the visibility of visitors watching classes?

Are there posted rules and regulations for the visitors and spectators?

Is there an area to view students / monitor classes?

Is there mood music in lobby?

Is there a Video/DVD playing in lobby of a martial arts movie or past events to peak interest?

Do you have greenery, fake plants/flowers?

Do you have a message board listing upcoming events, with sign-up lists?

Is the paint up to date, moldings, etc.?

Are there any loose moldings, nails, uneven floor surfaces etc.?

How does it smell?  Is it pleasant? (Use incense, candles or air freshener)

Are there magazines or some other non-martial arts related reading material for parents/visitors?

Is there information about the school that can be taken, given to friends, etc.?

Is the sitting area changed/re-arranged/updated regularly?

Does the look/atmosphere say that you are the best school around?

3) Pro-shop area

Do the items in your pro-shop have good visibility?

Is there an area for specials to be displayed?

Do you have a list/description of what items are necessary for training?

Do you have any gear tied into the curriculum?

Are students aware of gear requirements, if any?

Are discounts offered to students in Black Belt Club, Masters Club, etc?

Is the pro-shop area changed/re-arranged/updated on a regular basis?

4) Training area – What is the overall look?

Are the walls clean and free of scuff marks?

Are the mirrors and windows cleaned regularly?

Are there any pictures, martial art themed posters, or frames?

Is the entrance easy to access?

Is the equipment stored away?

5) Facilities

Are the changing rooms clean and maintained?

Are the changing rooms free of odor?

Are the bathrooms clean and maintained?

Are there any areas where foul play can occur? Make sure that the changing rooms are safe.

Are there secure places such as lockers for students to hang coats and store valuables, or do they just lay their stuff on the floor?

Are there shoe racks?

Is the bathroom stocked with toilet paper/soap/paper towels?

Are there locks on the bathroom doors?

Is everything in the bathroom functioning properly? (no running toilets, dripping faucets, etc.)

6) Visibility

Is there a light-up sign on the building?

Do people driving by know what business you are in and how to contact you?

Can people easily tell if the school is open or closed?

Is the outdoor lighting working?

If you have signs/posters in the windows, are they current?  Can they be easily read?

Are any of your signs old, yellow, faded, etc.?

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