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#383100 - 02/13/08 11:50 PM How to answer the phone..
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
Its a strange topic title, I know, but I'm highly considering opening a school of my own soon and I find I have alot of trouble with this. My own instructor has been teaching me all the points on how to do it (i.e. ask all the questions, get them to come in etc.) and we'll play the game where he calls me and tries to throw me off so I know how to deal with difficult people, but I would like to be able to practice this on my own as well.

My question is to all the instructors and business owners out there, how do you do it? When they ask the cost question, how do you turn that around into "come in and see if its for you" and what to do if they are persistent about it. As well as anything else a person usually asks.

Advice, pointers, any kind of help is greatly appreciated especially considering that I am a female in the male dominated business aspect of martial arts. To open this kung fu school I've got to have stuff.

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#383101 - 02/14/08 12:13 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
BrianS Offline
Higher rank than you
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 5959
Loc: Northwest Arkansas
Are you a salesman or an instructor?

I find it more credible when someone is just straight forward and honest. If you are giving me the car salesman crap I'll hang up.
_________________________
The2nd ammendment, it makes all the others possible. <///<




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#383102 - 02/14/08 12:16 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: BrianS]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
Instructor, and I would agree with you there I don't want to sound like the telemarketers I hang up on

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#383103 - 02/14/08 12:36 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
JAMJTX Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 12/01/02
Posts: 585
Loc: Fort Wayne, IN
Unless your running a McDojo, there is no reason to not just answer the questions.

Most people will be calling just to find the location, hours and cost. They want to go to either the closest, most convenient or cheapest place. Nothing else will mean anything to them.

Just answer the questions straight up and offer them a chance to come watch or take a class and they can see for themselves if this is what they want to do. One class can answer dozens of questions.

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#383104 - 02/14/08 12:41 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
clmibb Offline
Veteran

Registered: 08/31/06
Posts: 1035
Loc: South Texas, US
I'd give prices over the phone. If you are charging $200/month and my limit is $50, then there's no reason for me to come in and see if I like it or not. I can't afford it, so why waste your time and mine? Like Brian said, straight forward and honest is the best policy.

Casey
_________________________
"It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first."- Ronald Reagan


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#383105 - 02/14/08 07:12 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
NewJitsu Offline
Member

Registered: 12/14/06
Posts: 130
Loc: Midlands, UK
I run my own business and I am always suspicious when someone can't give a straight cost answer! So yes, be up front. If you are ridiculously expensive then people won't join no matter how great the instuction.

But... (!) on the other hand I wouldn't go into every single cost breakdown either, but rather "It's £5 an hour but your 1st lesson's free" kind of thing. If you start going on about joining fees, insurance fees, the cost of buying a gi, etc etc. then you'd start to detract from the training you are offering. Simple and straight always the best!

Unfortunately there will always be people who's sole determining factor will be cost, so if you're £5 an hour and a competitor down the road is £4.50 an hour they will go to him regardless of what kind of teacher he is. That's life!

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#383106 - 02/14/08 08:53 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: NewJitsu]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!
Prolific

Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
Agreed with the others. Tell them the price, and offer them a free class (or classes), so they can decide if they like it or not.
_________________________
"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin

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#383107 - 02/14/08 10:48 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5822
Loc: USA
Danny

Excellent advice above---really good.

If someone is buying anything stright on price they either already know everything they need to know---and how often does that happen?
Or they know almost nothing and they are not takeing their choice of school very seriously.

If someone does not care enough to check out the school personally before they decide---then you probably don't want them as a student.

If its a question of cost--as in they can only afford so much---then its best to know that up-front....time is money and you only have so much to waste on people that are not interested.

Somebody asks how much it is---I'd tell them.

Then depending on how the call is going I'd ask them some questions--, how did they hear about you? What got them interested in martial arts? What are they wanting to achive? could help your business.
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#383108 - 02/14/08 12:39 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: cxt]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
So lets say one of you guys were to call me at my business and ask "How much do you cost?"

Would you feel like I'm avoiding the question, or trying to be sincere and learn more about you (I'm really aiming at the latter of the two) if I were to say

"First can I get your name?"

(John)

"Alright John, tell me what intrests you about the martial arts?"

Yes I know I have just avoided the cost question, but I don't want to be judged on cost alone, because that would make for a really short conversation, and I might have different programs. you know?

Would you answer with what you enjoy about the martial arts, or press the cost question again? Its not like I don't want to tell you but wouldn't it be worth trying a free lesson first

what do you think

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#383109 - 02/14/08 01:12 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
JAMJTX Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 12/01/02
Posts: 585
Loc: Fort Wayne, IN
There's nothing wrong with getting someone's name first.
If you have more than 1 plan, then you can answer the "cost question" by saying "we have different plans. What are you interested in?".

This question is usually asked upfront by people interested in going to the cheapest place. They're not going to pay extra because you are a 10th Dan Soke or you teach Karate instead of Tae Kwon Do. If there is something more important to them than cost they will ask that first.

Some may call and ask "how long does it take to get a black belt?" then ask either "how much does it cost?" or "Are you a black belt? What rank". If the rank of the instructor i smore important to them they will ask that. Again, they may very likely be interested in only going to the closest school and cost, style, teachers rank, etc mean nothing to them.

When I was training directly with my teacher I gkadly drove 40 miles past dozens and dozens of schools and there were another dozen or more closer in the other direction. But I wanted something specific. So I never called and asked "how much?". etc. It didn't matter.
But this is the way of thinking of only 2% of those who train in martial arts. The other 98% want fun at the closest and cheapest place.

One of the original answers was "are you a teacher or a salesman?". The teacher answers the questions and spends as little time on the phone as possible. The salesman tries to be slick and keeps the caller on the phone until they sell something.

So really, the answer to the qoriginal question depends on the goal of the dojo operator.

Are you looking for serious, committed students? Or are you looking for people who need a cheap place to drop the kids off for few hours a week and maybe people who are going to spend the nesxt 3 months at place that's on the way home from work where they can exercise.

I personally wouldn't trust someone who was too afraid to just tell me the cost if that's what I ask. It's a straigh forward simple answer. But sadly, what we are seeing in the Mcdojo industry is "charge what you can get". When someone is afraid toi just tell me "class is $80 month", I start to think maybe they are just trying to see how much they can get from me.

I had one student here who came over from one of the local mcdojo. He was in an "instructor training program". Part of the training was to figure out how much you can screw each person out of. There was no set monthly fee. If they drove up in a nice car and had nice clothes, it was one price. If maybe they looked more working class and on a tight budget they offered a plan. For a place like this they would be afraid to set a price over the phone. They would be disappointed if they told you $70/month and then you pulled up in a Mercedes and they realized they could have gotten a $100.

Reputable people, regardless of thier business, are not afraid to set prices and quote them over the phone.

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#383110 - 02/14/08 01:19 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: JAMJTX]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
You know...when I was first enquiring about starting MA...the hardest part was just getting a live person on the phone. The phone messages were usually completely worthless, and I NEVER got a return phone call. Ergo...I kept moving on.

I think the best way to handle phone calls, as probably MOST of the calls are from noobs that haven't a clue what they really want...is to tell them the best time to come and view a class...and meet the teacher in person. Get them in the dojo...don't play 20 questions on the phone.

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#383111 - 02/14/08 01:19 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
NewJitsu Offline
Member

Registered: 12/14/06
Posts: 130
Loc: Midlands, UK
There is a current school of thought that encourages reverse selling, i.e. getting the price out of the way with then launching into the pitch, rather than the other way round. It is each to their own but I personally have found this effective. If somebody's 1st question is "How much?" then they tend to have a figure already in their mind. Why not answer it and save everybody's time?

With many businesses there are different sales packages, hence different prices depending on a client's specific needs; but with an MA school I presume there is just one cost, either per lesson or per hour or whatever. Just answer them then if he finds it acceptable you can move on and concentrate on the real stuff - how good your classes are!

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#383112 - 02/14/08 02:18 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5822
Loc: USA
Danny

Depends on if I get the sense your trying to "sell" me instead of just trying to be accurate and clear.

Very few people just call up a business and ask for just the cost.

If that really is the ONLY information they want--again, I doubt that I would like to have them as a customer.

They either already think they know all they need to know---a very questionable idea and probably indicitve of other attitudes you don't want to have to deal with or they are "price shopping" and don't really value the service--they are just looking for a "deal."

One easy way to fail in business is to try and be all things to all people.

If some calls me up and right of the bat---no other information asked "what do you cost?"

I'd ask them "What do you know about what we do here and the arts we teach?"

If they say "I just want the cost?"

I'd ask "How many days week do you plan on training? And for how long each day?"

If they AGAIN just say "what do you cost?"

I'd ask "Are you interested in just weapons training or just empty hand skills or both?"

What your trying to find out is if this person just does not know what questions to ask or is being a jerk or is competitor doing a "secret shopper" call.

If at this point all they keep doing is asking the price---I give it to them and move on to more profitable work.



Edited by cxt (02/14/08 02:30 PM)

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#383113 - 02/14/08 02:20 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: NewJitsu]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
In that case then answering it straight up...

"How much do you cost?"
"so and so" amount per month

"Ok thank you goodbye"


I understand that as people we need to save money... (I'm always broke, its college, what can I say) but sometimes don't you want quality over quantity (in a sense)

how can I word that statement from "so and so a month" into this is what we cost in a program what are your goals?

I don't want to be judged on cost alone... but I think we all agree that as Martial Artists, and more importantly business owners, we never lie to customers

So I'll need to discuss with my instructor how the payment plans are set and specifically what we offer (I know what it is, but looking for more detail)

I thought about this too, What makes for a really good phone experience? - (like using the persons name and thanking them)

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#383114 - 02/14/08 03:39 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
JAMJTX Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 12/01/02
Posts: 585
Loc: Fort Wayne, IN
There certainly is nothing wrong with saying "we offer a variety of classes and programs so cost will vary. What are you interested in?". But once they tell you, there is no reason why you can not say "that plan is $80 per month" or what ever your price is.

What makes a really good phone experience is that you give the caller the information they are looking for, you don't waste thier time and they don't waste yours.

Of course you can prefix your "price quote" with, "we have a unique program here that can not be matched any where for the $80 that we charge". Then maybe they will ask "what do I get for my extra $10/month?". Then you can tell them of your style, lineage, etc. But the problem is that 98% of the schools are mcdojos and have nothing unique that can justify a a higher price. Not to mention, that more often than not, the best teachers charge less and often nothing.

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#383115 - 02/14/08 03:48 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: JAMJTX]
wiggy Offline
Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 123
Loc: Massachusetts
Dan,

Good thread and excellent points brought up by everyone.

Several questions I have: What is your style? What is your goal in life (you say you are going to college but is it for business or other)? Where do you live (city/suburban/country)?

All these questions will make a difference… If you do tai chi, then you don’t really need a lot of equipment and you will market differently than if you do thai boxing… If you plan on doing this as a hobby rather than a career, then you may not want to open a formal school and just teach at people’s houses or at the YMCA….

As a consumer, if I ask a question regarding price, I already did or am currently doing my research and am just looking for price and price alone… If you try and sway me by asking my name and other information, I get frustrated and start to feel like my name is being put on a list (I shouldn’t feel this way but it is the overall bombardment of marketing these days that has made it this way).

Saying in the beginning that you prefer that the consumer see the class and facilities up front so that both you and him/her can ‘interview’ each other in order to make an informed decision (and not waste time) is always positive… If they ask what the cost structure is again, then just briefly repeat the above and give them the price.

However, do your pricing comparisons beforehand so you know what you are up against. Know what your overhead is so you know what you need to pay rent.

Since you are just starting up, ‘quality’ is untested to the public and your reputation is minimal at best. So in essence you will be getting a lot of people asking the question about price.

My teacher had several schools and shut them down for many reasons due to poor quality of instruction, high cost of overhead, and the public’s opinion as to what it meant to study the martial arts…. Yet he still taught a number of people at his house, at the YMCA, at various colleges, etc…
Therefore it is possible to do it but it will be tough in the beginning.

You don’t necessarily need a facility to teach. Your cell phone can act as a business line. Liability insurance is always a good idea… The rest is up to you.

Good luck.

Carl
_________________________
"There is no right or wrong way, just a better way"... Soke Robert Murphy

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#383116 - 02/14/08 04:02 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: wiggy]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
Thanks for the advice Carl!

Education is very important to me, but as for an overall goal in life, I love to be active and I love to interact. Teaching gives me both. I only recently started living in town but grew up in the country for a majority of my life.

style: shou shu

And thats why I place so much emphasis on the phone - thats where a majority of my first impressions are going to be made, and the follow through when we meet in person.

What concerns me is when you research Shou Shu on the internet you will get a significant amount of forums sites that bash my art saying its "shady"

It because they judge on what they read on "THE INTERNET"

I will never judge another Martial Art till I have tried it, and even then if I don't like it I just won't do it. There is no need for me to bash an art because its not for me. I keep an open mind so my ideas don't grow stale

Thats why I ask the members of this forums how they feel about there past experiences.

What do you think makes a good phone experience, and what do you want to know when you call? Do you know what you are looking for? Has the person done any previous research... some have not. You know?

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#383117 - 02/14/08 04:05 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
What is usually the most asked question?

My guess is "What style do you teach?"

But theres also "Do you teach "so and so" style"

How often do questions like that get asked

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#383118 - 02/14/08 04:24 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5822
Loc: USA
Danny

IMO a potential customer should generally know what it is you do with little prompting--if they have to ask "what style do you teach?" your not being clear enough.

You don't want to get too wordy or technical either--soemthing along the lines of "Chinese martial arts" or "okinawan karate" etc should cover it.

Then you can get more in-depth with those that need more info.

"What style do you teach is kinda a different question than "do you teach Hsing I?"
The former might indicate a general interest in the martial arts--the latter a very specific interest.

If someone asks for "X" style and I don't teach it---be upfront and steer then to someone that does...if possible.
Heck, you might even work out a deal with the "other" school.....I know a guy that ought ot be formal partners with the school on the other side of town---they focus on different thinsg so they are frequantly trading leads---and students.


Edited by cxt (02/14/08 04:26 PM)
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#383119 - 02/14/08 04:35 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: cxt]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
Thanks CXT!

It'll be a whole new school in a different town, so in the case of a potential customer calling would it sound to wordy if I say

"The style is called Shou Shu"

- "what do you teach"

Then i'll say whatever it is we teach in a "nutshell"

joint locks, different kicks, punches, block, and etc.

but thats if thats there first question. Lets say your calling around, doing a little research because your intrested in starting an art, what would you as a customer be looking for?

(I'm practicing conversations in my head)

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#383120 - 02/14/08 04:37 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
**P.S. I hope this helps not only me, but all the other new instructors out there too... I getting a lot of insight out of this

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#383121 - 02/14/08 05:09 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: BrianS]
schanne Offline
breaks things

Registered: 02/18/04
Posts: 4370
Loc: Woodbury NJ
Brian...You have to be both if you have your own business. One out of three small busines's fail after the first year because people do not have the proper education or business skills. Like it or not a karate school is a business. Running a karate school is no different than any other business. You are selling a service vs someone else selling apples, same business principles just a different product.
_________________________
The way of the warrior does not include other ways... Miyamoto Musashi Schanne

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#383122 - 02/14/08 09:54 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: schanne]
BrianS Offline
Higher rank than you
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 5959
Loc: Northwest Arkansas
Quote:

Brian...You have to be both if you have your own business. One out of three small busines's fail after the first year because people do not have the proper education or business skills. Like it or not a karate school is a business. Running a karate school is no different than any other business. You are selling a service vs someone else selling apples, same business principles just a different product.





I agree. That's why I'll never make money off of it. I'M NO SELLOUT!!!
_________________________
The2nd ammendment, it makes all the others possible. <///<




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#383123 - 02/15/08 01:54 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: BrianS]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
Ok, so new question. Well its not so much a question but an opinion, I played this out in my head earlier.

(phone rings)

"Hello, (school name) this is Dannyl, how can I help you?"

"Yes, how much do you cost"

"Well, we have several different payment plans.. tell me is this for yourself or for a friend/ relative/ child"

"For myself"

"Ok, and what are your goals in learning martials arts"

"Well, I would like to get into shape and learn self-defense"

"Ok then, well our school teaches a wide variation of joint locks, kicks, punches (etc.) that will work the entire body as well as warm-up workout, why don't you come in for a free private lesson to try it out? We can discuss our various plans and see if it is something you would like to pursue"

...... then I would get there information if there intrested

I'm looking to be as honest as possible, and trust me I do care about much more than how much money they have.

If you called me, does my response come off as straight foward and sincere, or something else

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#383124 - 02/15/08 01:56 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
(Note: the reason I ask so much about the cost question is its my phone weak point - constructive critism helps, everything you guys have told me so far helps a lot)

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#383125 - 02/15/08 09:18 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
clmibb Offline
Veteran

Registered: 08/31/06
Posts: 1035
Loc: South Texas, US
Maybe you could add in a price range. Try saying something like, "Well we have several different plans that range from $30/month to $150/month all depending on how many times a week you want to come in. Tell me, is this for yourself/friend/relative/child?" You can still go with the other parts of your conversation. I would also have something typed up that has a breakdown of the differnt plans so when they come in they could see it and not have to memorize everything you say.

Casey
_________________________
"It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first."- Ronald Reagan


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#383126 - 02/15/08 11:46 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: clmibb]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5822
Loc: USA
Danny

Don't know about the private lesson---might work very well.

But if I'm looking to check out a class I want to see what other people are doing--what a class really looks like. See what other "newbies" look like and see what people that have been training a while look like.

I'd probably just invite them down to check out a class and if they like what they see let them "test drive" a class a later date.

Like I said I am probably coming from a completely different place--but a "private lesson" right off the bat would not really interest me--I'd be more likley to wonder what it was that you didn't want me to see until after you had me "on the hook" so to speak.

In my neck of the woods I run into far more people that have had "some" training than people that have never set foot in a dojo--even it was just as kids--they have some frame of reference.

Still having a hard time with the people that ONLY want to know "the cost."
Don't generally have such interactions in my professional life.

From a business standpoint--as a rule--people that are shopping for goods and services ONLY on the basis of price--with quality and ulitity and long term value etc being esentially irrlevent to them--make poor customers--less interested in the good/service and more interested in a "deal."
Its hard to do--esp when just starting out--but if your looking for long term profits then being selective in your choice of customers is important.

Unless your Walmart its hard to compete on "deals" there is always someone willing to cut their margins smaller than you are--always someone willing to take home a little less to get some business.

And BTW such people often end up poisening the well for other businesses.


Edited by cxt (02/15/08 11:56 AM)
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#383127 - 02/15/08 11:57 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: cxt]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!
Prolific

Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
Quote:

Danny

Don't know about the private lesson---might work very well.

But if I'm looking to check out a class I want to see what other people are doing--what a class really looks like. See what other "newbies" look like and see what people that have been training a while look like.




Semi-private lesson may be the answer. What we did at my AKK school was to have prospectives come in to a regular class. They would then be split off with "their own" BB instructor. They would get the attention of a single instructor/student, but be in plain view of the rest of the class. After their lesson, they could watch the rest of the group, or whatever.

Worked pretty well for us.
_________________________
"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin

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#383128 - 02/15/08 01:01 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: MattJ]
cxt Offline
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Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5822
Loc: USA
MattJ

Good information!

Never done such myself so I had/have nothing to base it on.

I was picturing just a newbie and the teacher all alone in the school.

Good to know you have gotten good results with that.
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#383129 - 02/15/08 05:17 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: cxt]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
Good point MattJ, So I'm thinkin that combining the two is the most beneficial option. Lets say come in for an adult class, and give them a short intro private lesson into what exactly we do, teach one of our techniques.

Ok so while I'm picking your brains on it - Quoting cost

If we have a family plan, group plans, 6 month, one year (we never go above a one year contract) etc. Would I quote them along the lines of

"If your looking to get your family active in this, we have a special program where the price ranges $_________ depending on how many"

Gah..... no, let me think on this for a moment.

I'll have to ask what the different programs are, but in general

1) Get them intrested
2) Ask for a little bit on info on them (taylor the program)
3) Talk about which would best fit there needs

When I'm "making the deal" this is basicly the set up for how to do it.... do you agree?

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#383130 - 02/15/08 05:25 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
I have to bring up another point... I'm getting the jist of handling cost question (but thats not always going to be the first question they ask)

Lets say someone calls and asks

"Hello, do you teach (certian style)"

No we don't, but how do you tell if they don't really know what to ask, or if there just looking for a certain school.

I did no research before joining a school I just knew what I wanted in a school, thats it.

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#383131 - 02/15/08 05:51 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
MattJ Offline
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Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
Quote:

"Hello, do you teach (certian style)"

No we don't, but how do you tell if they don't really know what to ask, or if there just looking for a certain school.





"We teach XYZ here. XYZ is a system that focuses on ABC. What is it exactly that you are looking for in your training?"

<they answer>

"Well, we would love to have you come in and try out a free class. You will work with one of our instructors one-on-one, and be able to get a good idea of how the training is at our school. This will give us an opportunity to get to know each other, and see if training here is right for you. You've got nothing to lose!"

Something like that.
_________________________
"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin

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#383132 - 02/16/08 03:19 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: JAMJTX]
bwhite55 Offline
Member

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 59
not being an instructor or martial artist, but being in retail or in sales for the past 3 years, making a living off of commission to some degree(yes, horrible), the best advice is to not sound like a salesman. don't give people what they wanna hear. don't make them try to ask a million questions and go around it, because i hate it and everybody else hates it when you seem like you are trying to either hide something from me or just giving me a load of what i want to hear. don't be afraid to say you don't know the answer if you don't know it. don't bs them, they know, you can tell when somebody is bsing you to make a sale. be straight and to the point. its also better if you have different packages(again coming from selling point of view) to make sure you can pick the most affordable and economic thing for everybody(ie, depending on what MA it is maybe have a kid's package, family package, couple package, self defense package, ground or standing grappling package, total packages etc) and call local businesses to see how you can drive in business. say, give a local business or women's gym 10% off the self defense package or something like that. but as far as phone etiquette, this is one of the hardest parts to get down regardless of what you do. in normal circumstances 75-90% of first impression is based on body language, and out of the rest, probly around 75% comes from tone, and that only leaves a total of about 5% or less of what you actually affects the first impression, and in the phone situation, about 80% of the tone will determine whether or not you made a good first impression. somebody might not even remember what you tell them, even when it comes to price, but what they will remember is if you were up front with them from the beginning and had a pleasurable tone, or in the other case if you were dodging questions and had an attitude or had a "i don't care" tone.

hope this helps.

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#383133 - 02/16/08 07:17 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3113
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello Dannyl K:

"...Dannyl when our time together is done what will I have learned..."

Jeff

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#383134 - 02/16/08 07:18 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Ronin1966]
Ronin1966 Offline
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Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3113
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello Dannyl:

"...what is different about you than any of the other places I've called tonight..."

Jeff

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#383135 - 02/16/08 07:34 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Ronin1966]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
bwhite55 - oh yeah, that does help especially since you do that for a living its advice well taken, considering that people (despite all the weird things we do) manage to remeber the worst of what happened before the best.

and adding on to that I like how MattJ worded that statement considering someone who askes what style you teach

Practicing in my head with myself as a consumer and not the seller, I would try it even if it wasn't the first thing you were looking for.

I'm considering as a response for those who have previous exprence as well something along the lines of

"What did you enjoy about that class"
Then a slight rewording of the statement Matt made earlier

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#383136 - 02/16/08 07:54 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Ronin1966]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
Jeff, if your speaking of what our trial lesson would entitle what I would say to that -

"Shou Shu is an unarmed self defense system, you will learn pressure points, joint locks, as well as many different kicks, punches, throwing, falling, and fighting techniques. Why don't you come in a try out the adult class, then I'll have an instructor give you a private lesson on some indiviual techiques. Try it and see if its for you"

..... then from there if you agree I would get your info and set up an appointment


__________________________________

As for your second statement ("...what is different about you than any of the other places I've called tonight...")

We give the personal attention that you won't find in many other schools through our private lessons and open floor sessions after adult class. The adult class itself offers a great workout and an opportunity to practice your techniques with a partner(s) to achieve a level of confidence that you know you can use what you have learned!




**Practice round - what are your thoughts?

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#383137 - 02/16/08 08:23 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
So I have an enlighting moment and considered this

I can't win them all, and if I call any fitness place in town they would tell me rates but also give insight as to what there about

and thought of more a structured conversation than scripted - we both get the info we need and take it from there

For the past (lord knows how many posts) I've been paranoid over cost - and what is it doing, making me sound like a salesperson.

I'm not concerned about money so much as I want to teach, and don't want to be judged on price alone. Thats the source of all my paranoia. I need to let it go and get a new stradegy. peroid. (gahhh, I'm running myself in circles)

So I try a structured conversation over a scripted

1. Who is this for
2. What are your goals, and a little of what we teach
- this allows me to figure what program they'd like best

3. If they inquire cost, then well discuss the basic stuff but nothing that sounds like an auctioneering

4. Have them come in for a trial

I thought about everything thats been posted since I started this thread.... honesty is best policy

** compared to all my previous post I feel I'm on the right track, do you think that the structured conv. sounds better than the scripted by a long shot? its basicly what we've been talking about the entire time, but this time I'm starting to get it (ish)

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#383138 - 02/16/08 09:06 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
bwhite55 Offline
Member

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 59
sales pitches don't work unless the person who you are talking to are completely ignorant. you can structure statements and conversations to make it sound better, but if i feel you are giving me a scripted sales pitch then i politely thank you for your time and hang up. i use structured statements all the time, but if i am a robot, then people aren't gonna respect me.meet several times a week

think of all the questions or things that might come up: ie costs, programs, info on your style, location, etc.

Conversation:

You: "Hello, Thank you for calling So and So, my name is So and So, how can I help you today?"

Me:"Yes, my name is Brian, and I was looking for a nice place to help me get in shape and teach me self defence. I was wondering what you guys offer and how much it costs?"

You:"Hello Brian, we actually have a program for people just like you. We start off with a simple warmup with some stretching followed by some exercise, then we go straight into real life situations. We also have different payment plans as well. I'm sure we can find something in your budget."

Me:"About how much are we talking here?"

You:"Well, we have different options, they range from $amount to $amount per month(or session, or however). Our cheapest for a single person would be our military or senior discount, which gives you 15% off. Besides that we have different companies who support us, and if you work for any of these companies you can get a 10% discount on any plan, and 15% off on your gi. Also if you work out at Powerhouse(or whatever gym you choose), you can also get a 10% discount with us. We also have a family or group package, in which you, and up to 3 immediate family members can join us for 15% off, OR up to 3 friends can join with you and you get a 15% off as well. If none of those options are availabe, we have contracts that you can sign for 1-3 years, which would be our next cheapest option. We also have a month to month package, which is our last option, and also the most expensive. You can, however, choose to drop the program at any time with this package with no cancellation fee."

me:"Well, is the military option a contract?"

you:"Yes, it is. But there is a military clause, so if you get restationed and choose to continue, not only will we waive the contract, but we will also prorate your membership to help you get into a credible school where you move to."

me:"oh okay. See, I'm in flight school right now, so I've got a tight schedule. When do you offer classes?"

You:"We've got a schedule with so and so amount of classes each week, and that program also gives you X amount of private sessions each month, and X discount on any other private sessions, so if you miss one, it won't be too much trouble at all to keep you on track and catch you up to speed."

Me:"Oh, okay, that sounds good, I'd like to check out the studio sometime, what are your hours?"

You:"Well, we close in an hour tonite, but we have a class that sounds like what you'll be wanting on X days and X times, if you'd like to come and check it out?"

Me:"Okay, if I come and check it out on Saturday, does it mean I have to get a gi and everything?"

You:"Oh no, you can just come and dress comfortably. You can join us if you want, or you can just sit and watch, and we can talk afterwards and see if its right for you."

Me:"Okay, I'll do that, thanks for the info."

You:"Alright, its nice talking to you Brian, I will look forward to seeing you on Saturday."

ME:"Alright, I look forward to it, have a nice day."

You:Alright, have a nice day."

CLICK


okay, so, i told you what i was looking for, then asked the price in the same question, then you answered them one at a time in the order that i asked them. You laid out everything about the type of program I'm looking for, as well as told me about the prices without being dodgey, 100% on that. you also let me know that you would be more than able to accomodate my busy schedule since i'm in flight school in the military, 100% for that. also, when i asked about the military contract, you gave me bonus info that i didn't know about, and i was pleasently surprised about that, +10 points, so 110% on that. you actually remembered my name, so you recognize me as a person, not just another customer, + 10 points. total phone call score = 110%

small things like this matter to customers. they wanna know that they are an individual that deserves not only your respect to them as an individual, but also that although you aren't reading a script or saying a memorized script, that you know enough about your business that you know everything right off hand and are willing to work with them however you need to because they are important to you.

sorry for the long post, also all the figures were just examples. just make sure you give them plenty of info when they ask for it, that way when you meet them face to face, closing the sale will be much easier. if you took the time to talk to them, then chances are, that by the time they get to the school, then unless its a totally horrible class and you are a horrible instructor, they have already made up their mind because they know there's something a little bit different, and a little bit better about your school.

hope this helps. and i'm not calling you a horrible instructor btw.

***EDIT***
a key to the success is driving new people to the school. if you have benefits that the other dojos don't have, like programs for military or families, thats gonna drive in business through word of mouth that wouldn't otherwise be there. that's why the key is to find some way to be innovative and very flexible. lots of small things add up to more than a few big things, especially when they multiply. i'm not saying make it a McDojo by any means, but to continue teaching, you need students and money to keep it open.


Edited by bwhite55 (02/16/08 09:18 PM)

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#383139 - 02/16/08 10:03 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: bwhite55]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
Oh no I'm not taking it as I'm horrible at all BWhite.. any constructive critism helps (a lot, btw) so I don't become a robotic sales-pitcher when I open my school. (a.k.a mcdojo)

The area that I live in now has an Armory and an Air Base on the edge of town so the military discout would be a huge benfit to them and myself for business. I like the idea a lot.

By the time I open my school I hope to have wrinkles ironed out so I have that reputation as a honest and trustworty instructor. Once again to everyone who has given opinion and advice I say thanks

What I would like to do is some research on the plans that our school offers, (or make some mock ones for practice) then do some mock phone conversations with anyone who visits this thread

(its doesn't have to be the same person replying everytime)

Example: Lets say (phone rings) I answer, some one will reply with a question and I'll reply back to it and we'll keep this going until I close a deal (a.k.a you come and "visit")

be honest - don't hestitate ask if something sounds questionable (thats the point)

anyone want to try this?

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#383140 - 02/17/08 05:57 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
Ok, anyone ask me a question they would usally ask about a martial art school (what do we teach, cost, classes, etc.)

I would like to get some practice answering them (feedback on what you like and didn't like helps too)

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#383141 - 02/18/08 12:16 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3113
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello Dannyl:

"Trial" anything (to me) is retroactive . It may well be the correct marketing approach, the right business method... the correct words however consider if I'm tentitative... I don't want to meet you... I'm flipping through a blessed phone book, and curious enough, motivated enough that I've made the initial contact.

In my head you'll have really spooked me ... because in my head you've locked me in some little room with your best instructor (sic "closer") trying to get me to sign up. Sounds even more scary... IMHV

I cannot tell if it is merely a semantics issue, or a fundamental approach question. I don't want to COME in and
talk... if I wanted that I can do that via the phone/internet. Naaah, I want to see what happens on the other end of the phone. If, if I like what I see, we'll definately talk.

If it doesn't meet my needs (whatever they might be) I won't visit a second time. It can be a very scary thing just to make 1st contact... second contact (sic. the 1st time in person) I have to be the initiator even more so as I see it.

Merely my opinion, I could surely be mistaken

<<We give the personal attention that you won't find in many other schools **Practice round - what are your thoughts?

Some genuine ratio, (that you truly use) might do better for you?! personal attention, we have 4 to 1 student teacher ratio (whatever your number)... sounds very personal. But the generic certainly works...

Will you recommend other schools for comparitive purposes?
I don't know does this still get done?

"...Come see me, go see her... you might like them two blocks over ... then come back let us know what you think, when you have some questions... or would just like a second look..."



Jeff

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#383142 - 02/18/08 05:24 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
trevek Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/15/05
Posts: 3337
Loc: Poland
I don't know if I'd ask them what interests them straight away, folk can get flustered by a question like that. I'd probably ask if they have done any MA before and whether they know what kind of art you do.

Example:

"OK John, have you done any martial arts before?"

"Errrm, no, but I've been thinking about it"

"OK, well that's ok, we take beginners and we start slowly, so you don't have to worry about being super-fit."

"Now we do an MA called TaeKwonDo (for instance), do you know anything about it?"

And then you can explain things first, rather than wait for the questions.

Like everyone else says, always be up-front. It's better to lose them early than lose them angry at having "wasted" a journey.
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#383143 - 02/18/08 11:32 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: trevek]
bwhite55 Offline
Member

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 59
i actually prefer to do poking and prodding early on using open ended questions. for example, in the close ended question that you ask, he could just say "um, no" and leave some akward silence. you could rephrase it to ask, what experience in martial arts do you have? or what are you interested in in a martial art? then they can't leave it at yes or no, and chances are they won't leave it at no over the phone, but why give them the opportunity? i've lost several potential customers in the future just by asking "is there anything i can help you with" or something like that and they say no, i'm just looking. whereas, if you ask them something like "hey, my name is dannyl what brings you in to Dannyl's McDojo today?" or "Thank you for calling Dannyl's McDojo, my name is Dannyl, how may i assist you?"

basically, if you can get them talking, then it'll lighten the mood and make it easier on both of you. open ended questions lead to conversations(ie, how may i help you? what are you interested in?") and close ended questions shut the door on conversation quickly(ie can i help you today? would you like some help? etc.). the quicker you get them talking, and talking about themselves, the better off you'll be. let them be the center of attention regardless of what the topic is. you are providing a service to THEM. find out what THEY want. and see how you can accomodate THEM. if i'm talking to a salesman and they go off in a tangent, that takes away from me, and me being selfish, i wouldn't like that. most people are gonna be more open if they start talking about themselves and stuff like that. and if they are open, then you can see what you can do to better serve them. after all, you are competing w/ several cheaper mcdojos(not by any point calling your school a mcdojo, so please don't misinterpret that, just saying they are everwhere) the thing that'll set you apart from them is the service you are able to give them. its gotta be much better than anything else around, and one of the best ways to figure out how you can make it the best school in town is to listen to people's wants and needs and accomodate them to the best of your abilities. people won't open up to you unless you give them the opportunity, so give it to them.

just another thing that you learn when you are in sales for 3 years.


Edited by bwhite55 (02/18/08 11:41 PM)

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#383144 - 02/19/08 12:11 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: bwhite55]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
Haha ok, so not exactly the "how can I help you" (yes I would like a hammbuurger - reminds me of pink panther)

getting them to open up and talk (but not turning it into a cocktail party) about themselves does have a friendly sense about it, however I would still like to be the one in control of the conversation. need my happy medium there

I'll need to reword my greeting to something more basic like what I had before minus the "how can I help you"

My reply to Jeff - You make a good point verbally and theoretically. Everyone is different, so I find I need to hit that key note with every phone call to make the person feel comfortable

You said that the private lesson idea would be a little akward (if I understood you right) and that you would rather ease your self into class instead of me setting you up. You aren't the only who would feel that way, then there are those who are gung ho get me in NOW people.

Then there is the people who like to get business done NOW, and those who do a little more through investigation into what they are doing.

.... once again I understand I can't win them all


But, I need to work on hitting those key note. The thing that would "turn on" a potention student. For me it was practicing doing techniques with partners and the private lessons, for other it is the workout we offer

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#383145 - 02/19/08 12:16 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
Ok so what I have learned so far ...(some I have from before)

1) Smile before answering the phone
2) be straight up honest
3) Use there name when talking to them
4) Keep it short and sweet, but take time to know them a little

5) Give a little insight in what we do
6) If possible have them give a class a try
7) Explain the different programs (cost, workout, etc.) and what fits best to there needs - (thanks you bwhite, mattj, and everone's insight on this)
8) everyone has different tastes - find that keynote


any other good one to add on here?


Edited by Dannyl_K (02/19/08 12:20 AM)

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#383146 - 02/19/08 12:24 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
I did some extra research and found some site dealing with this too. I put them on here to keep my thoughts organized

http://www.fightingarts.com/reading/article.php?id=246 (how did I miss this? its on this site holy cow)

http://www.nhbgear.com/forum/index.php?topic=70524.5;wap2

http://martialarts.about.com/library/bl_phoneprocedure.htm

http://books.google.com/books?id=rSZntU-...L6GystlE#PPA117,M1

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#383147 - 02/19/08 06:30 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
bwhite55 Offline
Member

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 59
in one reply you said you'd still like to have control of the conversation. this is a must. there's a fine balance between having control and having the conversation being about them. if you lose control, then you lose the sale.

it'll take time, but don't worry, rome wasn't built in a day and just like anything else, talking to people is a skill that you sharpen and hone over time. the key is to learn from every person you talk to. just think to yourself, you can even keep a notepad in your desk for info like "this worked for people like this, this didn't work for people like that, etc etc" and that'll help the learning process several times. i replay stuff all the time in my head and say to myself "i can do it better this way or i shouldn't have said that" and then if you catch that then you are ready for next time. don't think of a lost sale as failure, think of it as experience to help you make a sale down the road. if you think of lost sales as failures, you'll get down on yourself big time, and confidence is one of the biggest parts of selling. there will be far more people that visit that don't sign up, so be prepared and keep a positive attitude.

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#383148 - 02/19/08 12:50 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: bwhite55]
Kujaku Offline
Member

Registered: 10/04/05
Posts: 80
Loc: Rockville, Maryland, USA
errr, regarding the previous post, I personally disagree. I believe that if you are talking to a new potential student on the phone, then you should do everything you can to show them that you are interested in them as a student. Do everything you can to build up their interest by showing interest in them. If you only talk about what you can offer them and don't show any interest in them as a person, then you risk the chance of losing a student by only appealing to a certain small group of people.

I would say that you should avoid talking about cost and the likes until you speak with them in person. You should definitely avoid talking about cost until they try out a class as an intro.

No one wants to hear that they have to spend $100-something dollars a month for lets say 2 classes a week. That sounds like they are getting ripped off, unless of course they know what they are paying for. And the only way to know what they are paying for is for them to actually try out a class in person.

So here's the thing, when talking to a potential student on the phone, do everything you can to show interest in them as a person, but avoid being invasive. (You can do this by just asking them about why they want to try the martial arts, what sports them have tried, any previous martial experience, etc) Then you should get all of their contact info, make sure to be very sincere and honest. And make sure to insist upon having them come in for an interview and an intro class. THESE ARE A MUST!!!

Now, besides talking to potential students specifically, here are some things that I have learned when answering the phone in general.

*You should always answer the phone with a smile.* --This is a must, people can feel your sincerity through the phone.

Let the phone ring a bit before you answer, otherwise you seem too eager and it seems like you aren't busy enough to make them wait. It will seem like you are a hawk sitting by the phone waiting for your new potential prey. Making them wait a little bit makes them want it more, but don't make them wait too long!

Always be interactive on the phone. Be in control, but don't be controlling! People don't like to be controlled by people they don't know!

Talk to the person with respect, call them sir/ma'am, be very kind and sincere. Listen to what they have to say. Always talk and treat them as if they were one of your Masters on the phone--(People like to be shown respect).

Basically, don't come on too strong. Be kind and do everything you can to keep the conversation about the studio brief and keep talking about them more. After that, do what you can to get them to actually come in and visit the studio at a set time. Make an appointment. Don't say "come in whenever" it seems unprofessional...

Anyways, that is all that I can think of ATM...I hope that this helps! (And I apologize if it seems like I ranted or repeated anything already said)

EDIT: One more thing, regarding the "cost questioning", here is what I have been told to do. If they are persistent about asking about it, then usually you haven't set up the conversation properly and you haven't followed the basics of what I mentioned earlier, but this does happen, so no need to worry. Here is what I do.

I tell the person the truth. I tell them that we have various programs available to choose from. If they want more info, I might describe some of the more basic packages and tell them what is included, etc.

Basically, with regards to the cost question. Try to give them as little information as possible but enough to satisfy their need for an answer. No one likes to be jerked around, but you don't want to intimidate them with a huge cost to attend the studio. So do what you can to make them feel comfortable and make them feel that you are willing and able to work with them and any of their concerns.
--I hope this answers your question better =).



Edited by Kujaku (02/19/08 12:55 PM)
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#383149 - 02/19/08 01:46 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Kujaku]
cxt Offline
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Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5822
Loc: USA
I'm all for good business and doing business.

(personally think focusing so much on the "business" side of things is what is killing the martial arts--but what the heck)

But most this discussion has revloved around how one "makes the sale" and very little on how one plans to provide good service for the cusotomer.

We have a person starting a new school--and the only real question thus far is essentialy how to "sell" on the phone????

No questions on cash flow, insurence, licesure--if applicable, lesson plans, teaching skills, class structure, business plans, bank loans, valuatiuon of the business, legal protections, evaluation of the TEACHERS skills and how to addresses any shortcomings etc

I'm a little troubled by that.

Could be that discusion is coming--and we just have not gotten there yet.

But when "makeing the sale"--up to and including methods of how to "gain control" of the coversation--let the phone ring a bit, using their name etc--ie "sales tricks" becomes THE focus----its not a good thing...IMO.
People are much more savvy than they used to be and nothing hacks people off faster than getting the impression that they are being "sold" to.

If nothing else its poor business pactice--"makeing the sale" is only the FIRST step in keeping a customer--ie "repeat business"--you have to PERFORM as promised.

If you don't or can't--your just a short step away from the contracts discussion and the black belt club discussion we just had.





Edited by cxt (02/19/08 02:03 PM)

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#383150 - 02/19/08 02:16 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Kujaku]
MattJ Offline
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Quote:

Try to give them as little information as possible




This is McDojo rule #1. Sign of a dishonest business, IMHO.
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#383151 - 02/19/08 02:55 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: cxt]
Kujaku Offline
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Registered: 10/04/05
Posts: 80
Loc: Rockville, Maryland, USA
Quote:

nothing hacks people off faster than getting the impression that they are being "sold" to.




With regards to MattJ's post, this is what I meant when I said not to give much information.

If you are sitting there on the phone telling the person everything there is to know about your school. Then you risk the chance of appearing as that used car salesman. For this reason, I would rather tell them less over the phone and tell them more in person and have them sit in on or try out a class so that they can form their own opinions about the studio; rather than tell them what I think they want to hear, I would much rather have them experience things for themselves.

I hope that this clears up the misconception about my comment. If not, feel free to question it more thoroughly .

EDIT: No disrespect intended MattJ, but please, if you are going to quote me in the future with such a statement that might look to be very deceitful when taken out of context, please make sure to include the entire context of the quote. I believe that the following sentences of that quote more than justify the statement and have no connection to Mcdojo's as you said.

After all, I said try to give them as little information about cost while talking over the phone, I never said to give them as little information as possible when talking in person. Which do you think is a better and more formal setting to do your business-over the phone? Or in person? I much prefer to see the person's face with whom I am speaking when talking anything business related...but I guess that's just me?


Edited by Kujaku (02/19/08 03:02 PM)
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#383152 - 02/19/08 04:09 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Kujaku]
cxt Offline
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Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5822
Loc: USA
Kujaku

Don't know---kinda with MattJ on this one.

If that is the explination then Ok---problem is how is the consumer to know if they are talking to someone that is trying not to give them to much info instead of someone that just wants them to come in for the "hard sell" face to face?

Same goes for having to stress beinging "honest and sincere"--chances are if you have to TELL PEOPLE to be "honest and sincre" their motivations might differ from the instuctions.
Its like having to tell people NOT to steal--if you have to keep telling them to be "sincere and honest" your essnetially tellig them to FAKE being "sincere and honest."

When you say:

"Do everything you can to build interest by showing interest in them."

Sure that argueably a good thing---thing is its ALSO a sales tactic--how is one to tell the difference?
The seller wants to gain as much info as possible so as to angle their product to whatever THEY preceive as YOUR needs.
Your only "showing interest" because you want my money.

(of course should you REALLY share my deep love of say fly fishing your going to available for long discussions about it AFTER I sign up--right????? )

"Let the phone ring a bit before you answer"

Sales tactics to give whomever is answering some control.

"regarding the cost question--if they are persistent about asking about it, then you usually haven't set the conversation up correctly."

Sales tactic..........with some really negative implications as far as I'm concerned.
This is the mark of someone that spends A LOT of time on their conversion ratio's--ie a professional "salesmen" or "salesmanager"

I tend to agree that its better to talk in person---but if you have to explain your reasoning to folks on line--then it stands to reason that people might be getting/might get the wrong idea elsewhere.

How is one to seperate all of those suggestions from being "sold?"


Edited by cxt (02/19/08 04:45 PM)
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#383153 - 02/19/08 05:18 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: cxt]
Dannyl_K Offline
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Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
Yeah I know I haven't gotten onto the other points of running a business, thats because I can handle those. I can handle customer service and what I need to set up. It was the phone conversations that always killed me when my instructor and I practiced setting up a business

In my earlier jobs I worked as customer service, and right now I am teaching kids classes, and sometimes adult classes too. I'm also teaching 7 students of my own (private lessons).

See, I'm alright there but I'm glad you brought that up... A business isn't just to benefit you and you alone (big time) otherwise I would not consider doing this

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#383154 - 02/19/08 05:29 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
Kujaku Offline
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Registered: 10/04/05
Posts: 80
Loc: Rockville, Maryland, USA
cxt,

I understand where you and MattJ are coming from, but the thing is, a martial arts studio is still a business! You can't help the person if they don't pay the bill, at least, not in today's world, because then, how will you pay your instructors? Or how will you afford rent?

It really boils down to the fact that you have a product, and you are trying to sell it. So why is it bad to use sales techniques in the process? If you really want to help the person, then you have to do whatever you can to honestly sell your product.

The problem is that sometimes people will get lost in their sales pitch and forget to be sincere, forget their original goal which was to help their potential student to build a better life through studying the martial arts. For this reason, I stressed the point of being sincere.

Sincerity is never a bad thing. Even if you may not believe it at first, you may be able to become a more honest and sincere person by putting on the face of that person. Now, you might see this as being dishonest, but it is a simple fact of human psychology. Why do you think a businessman wears a suit and not a t-shirt and jeans? The reason is not only so that he looks to be more professional to others, but also so that he feels to be a more professional person himself.

We, as humans, for the most part, cannot assume a new role instantaneously and act it out without it being or feeling "fake" at first. But by donning this new mask, we will eventually feel comfortable wearing this new position and it will eventually become our actual face.

These are just some basics of human psychology. By telling yourself to be sincere, you will be sincere.

Once again, I hope that this clears up the misconception of my previous posts...or am I just digging myself deeper? hehehhe
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#383155 - 02/19/08 05:58 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Kujaku]
cxt Offline
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Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5822
Loc: USA
Kujaku

Also a sales tactic to spin YOU making money as HELPING others.

If one is seriously interested in helping others---there are many non-profit avenues open---teaching free classes for example at the Y or at various schools.
Of course that is assuming that your being "sincere" when you state that helping other is THE goal.

"sometimes people will get lost in their sales pitch and forget to be sincere."

"forget to be sincere"

Need I say more?

BTW a business person wears a suit and tie when and where the situation requries---a professional is a professional rergardless of what they are wearing---"sincere and honest" is not a mask you wear until the deal is inked---you either are or you are not.
Thinking the general public is not capable of feeling the difference is one reason why so many business go belly up so fast.

"their original goal which was to help the potential student bulid a better life thu studying the martial arts."

Is THAT what the "goal" is?

Huh, so in your view--what your offering is not really martial arts training but the abilty to help one "build a better life????"
Are you qualified/licensed as either an psychotheripist or educator?
Who are you to judge a paying customer as in need of YOUR help to "build a better life?"

By what authority are you wishing to be a "stand in" for my parents??"
I'm here to train--not to have the hired help judge me as being in need of their help to have a better life--as THEY define it.
Much less suffer the hubris of the hired help presuming to judge ME in need of THEIR intervention.

Does the guy that fixes your car, mows your grass, paints your house, works the customer service desk when you call for help with your computer etc offer to help YOU--- "build a better life????????"
And how would any resonable person react if they were so arrogant as to make that assumption.

How presumptious is that as an attitude-----to judge paying cusotmers as being in need of your services to "build a better life" simply because they call you on the phone/walk thu your door to inquire about martial arts classes.

That kind of attitude is a serious red flag...IMO.


Edited by cxt (02/19/08 06:00 PM)
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#383156 - 02/19/08 06:19 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: cxt]
Kujaku Offline
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Registered: 10/04/05
Posts: 80
Loc: Rockville, Maryland, USA
I guess I can't win. Whatever I say will be dissected by you, so either way I lose. You contradict yourself here. You say that if I wanted to help people, then I would go and teach for free at the YMCA, etc. Well, by saying that, you assume that people can be helped from the martial arts. Well, tell me this, do the martial arts not make your life better? If not, then why do you study them? Do you not enjoy studying the martial arts? Is it so far of a stretch to say that they make your life better?

By your comment that a professional is a professional with or without the suit, this is true--but not at first. Look at the example of the martial artist. We aren't a black belt until we have a black belt. But once we have the black belt, then we are a black belt even when we aren't wearing the belt. But does this make us a black belt before we earn the belt? No. Until we earn our black belt, we must learn what it is to be a black belt. No one is born a black belt, and by that token they must learn how to be and what it is to be a black belt. This is similar to how I said that sincerity might not come naturally to all people, but does this mean that just because you aren't sincere in the beginning that you cannot learn how to be sincere?

But I guess that everything is a "sales tactic" as you say, so what does it matter? What do you want me to say? Enough of this "Red flag" stuff. Just because something is different, or doesn't go along with your own ideology doesn't make it a "red flag". Maybe you should focus less on what you see are "red flags" in my posts and look more at what is positive...need I say more?

...My intention here is not to get into a flame war. I was just trying to help someone here with my own opinion of how to address his problem. That's all.

EDIT: And I never meant to make it seem like I was presuming that that potential student had a bad life. Even if you think your life is great already, then it can be even better still. Things can always get better, just as they can always get worse. There is never complete and utter perfection in anything.

Furthermore, to compare a martial arts instructor to a gardener or car mechanic is ridiculous. No of course they have no right to offer to make my life better. But it is a martial arts instructor's job as a teacher to teach not only the physical side of the martial arts, to teach self-defense, etc, but to also teach mental training. It is their job as a teacher to do such a thing and offer such help.


Edited by Kujaku (02/19/08 06:24 PM)
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#383157 - 02/19/08 09:59 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
Ed_Morris Offline
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Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6768
Quote:

Its a strange topic title, I know, but I'm highly considering opening a school of my own soon and I find I have alot of trouble with this. My own instructor has been teaching me all the points on how to do it (i.e. ask all the questions, get them to come in etc.) and we'll play the game where he calls me and tries to throw me off so I know how to deal with difficult people, but I would like to be able to practice this on my own as well.

My question is to all the instructors and business owners out there, how do you do it? When they ask the cost question, how do you turn that around into "come in and see if its for you" and what to do if they are persistent about it. As well as anything else a person usually asks.

Advice, pointers, any kind of help is greatly appreciated especially considering that I am a female in the male dominated business aspect of martial arts. To open this kung fu school I've got to have stuff.




I have the perfect solution for you: get a phone with an answering machine, practice the greeting and mention for them to come by to watch a class and ask questions, etc give the hours that the dojo is open and the hours of class, website address and whatnot. after recording the message you are happy with, put the phone on first ring answer mode, then mute the ringer.

that way you don't have to worry about answering the phone and can concentrate on the real first reason you are there in the first place: to teach and train. not run a business.

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#383158 - 02/19/08 11:18 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Ed_Morris]
BrianS Offline
Higher rank than you
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Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 5959
Loc: Northwest Arkansas
Quote:

Quote:

Its a strange topic title, I know, but I'm highly considering opening a school of my own soon and I find I have alot of trouble with this. My own instructor has been teaching me all the points on how to do it (i.e. ask all the questions, get them to come in etc.) and we'll play the game where he calls me and tries to throw me off so I know how to deal with difficult people, but I would like to be able to practice this on my own as well.

My question is to all the instructors and business owners out there, how do you do it? When they ask the cost question, how do you turn that around into "come in and see if its for you" and what to do if they are persistent about it. As well as anything else a person usually asks.

Advice, pointers, any kind of help is greatly appreciated especially considering that I am a female in the male dominated business aspect of martial arts. To open this kung fu school I've got to have stuff.




I have the perfect solution for you: get a phone with an answering machine, practice the greeting and mention for them to come by to watch a class and ask questions, etc give the hours that the dojo is open and the hours of class, website address and whatnot. after recording the message you are happy with, put the phone on first ring answer mode, then mute the ringer.

that way you don't have to worry about answering the phone and can concentrate on the real first reason you are there in the first place: to teach and train. not run a business.




I agree. I teach,but it's not a business. It's more of a hey let's train together type deal.

Here's what I expect and here's what you should expect. No sales,but no money to be made either.

Actually works out rather well. I like to keep the student population to a minimum. I don't have to worry about teaching morons and the like if you know what I mean.
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#383159 - 02/19/08 11:21 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Kujaku]
bwhite55 Offline
Member

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 59
Quote:

errr, regarding the previous post, I personally disagree. I believe that if you are talking to a new potential student on the phone, then you should do everything you can to show them that you are interested in them as a student. Do everything you can to build up their interest by showing interest in them. If you only talk about what you can offer them and don't show any interest in them as a person, then you risk the chance of losing a student by only appealing to a certain small group of people.





did i not say earlier to make sure they know you have an interest in them as a person. i re-read the post you were referring to, and i can see how you can misinterpret it. you need to let the conversation be about them, but at the same time keep in control of the conversation, and what i meant was, its hard to do.

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#383160 - 02/19/08 11:40 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Kujaku]
cxt Offline
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Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5822
Loc: USA
Kujaku

Nice passive-aggressive post BTW.

Actually no, that is a COMPOUND idea---not exactly mutually exclusive.

Its 2 seperate claims---1 being your purpose is to "help people"---which can be examined in all the ways you have to "help people" that DON'T involve you stuffing your pockets with loot.
The other being if you are in any way, shape, or form qualified to "help people build better lives.

See what I mean???

One question does not invalidate the other.

BTW--NOW your using an overly loose interpretation of making lives "better"--by that interpreation the guy that held the door open for you made your life "better."
Certainly not how you used it prior.

Its not "different" its a "red flag" when YOU say things like "sometimes you can forget to be sincere" etc.
Don't blame me for pointing out how that sounds--blame YOURSELF for having expressed that kind of outlook.

And had I not taking the time to rather pointedly point it out you would STILL be running around claiming your "goal....was to make peoples lives better."

If you can't see how pretentious it is to simply assume that people that ring you up and ask about martial arts classes are in need of YOU making their lives better---or that you, because you teach martial arts are in any fashion qualified to do so....I can't help you.

I'm just a martial arts student and sometimes teacher--I'm not a guru, not a life coach, certainly not anybodies therapist...nor do I pretend to be.

Treating martial arts as if you were such is a problem.

IMO treating it like a "business" is problem----a problem you illustrate rather well---you want to treat it as a business when it suits you---but you wish to cast yourself as so much more otherwise.

Case in point:

"Its part of a martial arts instructors job........to teach mental training"

What kind of "mental training" exactly do you mean?

And how are you qualified to claim to be able to teach "mental training?????"


Edited by cxt (02/19/08 11:44 PM)
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#383161 - 02/20/08 12:58 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Ed_Morris]
Ronin1966 Offline
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Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3113
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello Ed:

Excellent idea.... just do what we do, if they like the sound/feel of it they'll come.

I've floated this idea before, and seen different places use it as well on occasion (No idea if its done widely/elsewhere). The idea being actively encourage multiple visits(sic. via the telephone message). Minimum of two, (3 preferable) and at minimum one visit with the child themselves... THEN once without Tammi/Mark beside me, so I am able to ask the questions I truly need, without them listening in.

Fewer surprises that way, IMV....

Jeff

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#383162 - 02/20/08 01:17 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: cxt]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
And this is where is gets me... all you guys have an opinion how on how something should be handled. We have those with experience and those who express there feelings as to what people would feel more comfortable with.

Handling the diversity


I hear where you are coming from, and from the "making lives better part" you are building there strength, there confidence, and new control over there body (via katas, techinques, etc.)

If you are first starting its an entirely new experience - not like going to a store getting new clothes. And for those who have an understanding you know where I am coming from. Those dedicated to the martial arts have felt a life change. You can't tell me you haven't. The mental training is the confidence and overcoming fear. The ability to handle new situations you never thought you could before. Heightened sense of mental awareness. Its not something you can completely teach. It just happenes to you if you let it.

So in the opening of this business - yes it is for them, the students.... but how to you get the students into a school? Of course I could send them anywhere to try, but that is a decision I will let them make on there own. I'm not here to send students away I'm here to teach them. I want to persuade them, not make the decision for them.

But everyone is -different- I'm full and willing to get to know those differences better and teach anyone. And it starts with the first impression which may be made over the phone. This is not an average business its a life change for some people, and yes it has business aspects but its a foriegn animal in the capitalistic zoo

If I stutter or sound like a creeper selling watches in my trench coat whos going to want to learn from me. NO ONE! This is not what I want.

Don't get this wrong, the advice you have given has helped me ALOT in practicing the phone game. (the akward pauses are almost gone, and I can handle harder questions) But one person says one thing, and another contradicts.

When you (the potential student) talk to me I want you to feel comfortable and welcome. Not like I'm backing you into the corner over top a trap door.

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#383163 - 02/20/08 01:23 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Ronin1966]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
Quote:

Hello Ed:

Excellent idea.... just do what we do, if they like the sound/feel of it they'll come.

I've floated this idea before, and seen different places use it as well on occasion (No idea if its done widely/elsewhere). The idea being actively encourage multiple visits(sic. via the telephone message). Minimum of two, (3 preferable) and at minimum one visit with the child themselves... THEN once without Tammi/Mark beside me, so I am able to ask the questions I truly need, without them listening in.

Fewer surprises that way, IMV....

Jeff




Instead of one session, do like a week session. I can definiately see that for the people who need a little more time to get a feel if it for them. This can work for random meetings too if it needs too. People may be encouraged to bring a friend too to lessen first class akwardness

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#383164 - 02/20/08 01:27 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
Keep in mind I'm not disagreeing with anyone, I'm using ideas and mixing ideas - honestly what would make you feel comfortable over the phone

Using Sir/Ma'am or your first name?

Answering all there questions, or asking my own to learn about you (a happy medium of both?)

A cost question that has a short sweet answer or in depth explaination down to the last penny

In general a longer "get to know you conversation" (not super long though) or one that quickly answers your questions so you can go do something else?

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#383165 - 02/20/08 10:34 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
JM2007 Offline
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Registered: 04/30/07
Posts: 37
Loc: San Antonio, TX
Dannyl_k, et al,

I think one of the confusions here, which also seems to complicate many other areas of this and other martial arts forums, is that we have to understand the two main halves of running a martial arts school (as opposed to just teaching martial arts) which are teaching and business management. As much as many people don't like to associate making money with teaching martial arts, the fact is that sometimes they (necessarily) go hand in hand. It is often assumed that if someone is making money they are a McDojo, which I personally believe is not always the case. You may be able to teach a part-time class for free, but I don't know of any schools or instructors who teach full-time and are open every day who don't charge or make money. Just because a school is non-profit does NOT mean they provide better instruction.

Having said that, there have been, in my humble opinion, some good suggestions here. From good conversational techniques to ensuring that you're not coming across as a "salesman", I think (almost) everything said here, pro and con, is worth listening to. You definitely want to make sure your ability to speak on the phone is natural and creates interest in the person on the other side, however, you certainly don't want to sound like a salesperson. In fact, in my opinion, if I have to "sell" you on training in my school (as opposed to sharing some information about what we do and simply offering you the oportunity to watch or experience), then you probably wouldn't make a good fit anyway. In my experience, many people who had to be convinced to sign up at a certain martial arts school a) didn't really want to be there, b) tend to wish they had researched more schools and had better choices, c) felt like they were pressured into joining, and d) had a bad taste in their mouth about the school. So, in essence, I think it is important to NOT have to "sell" them on joining your school, but rather to help them make an educated decision about what you do and why you do it better...if in fact you TRULY believe your program is better for their needs than someone else's program. If you believe that everyone who walks through your door is right for your school...you're a McDojo.

Now, I am going to contradict myself a little. When I mention "sales" or "selling", I am speaking in terms of using particular sales tactics that are pressuring, in ANY WAY to the potential student. The reality of the situation, or of life in general, is that almost everything you do is sales in some way, shape or form. When you ask someone out...you are trying to sell yourself. When you ask for a raise, you are selling your worth to the company. When you make a suggestion to a boss, co-worker, friend, you are trying to sell your idea. When you write a paper for school, you are trying to sell your knowledge (the more you know and better you state it...the higher you are paid...just with a grade). The point is, everything in life is sales, so I think it is important to understand how to sell yourself, your program, and why you think whatever you are doing is right for that person. Even if you are teaching for free. If you are teaching for free and truly trying to help someone out, isn't still important to be able to properly explain to them WHY and HOW what you do is good for them. I would rather pay someone who teaches a better program than train for free under someone who has a poor program.

The real question is, how do you get to the point where you can determine whether or not what you teach is best, or even suitable, for their particular needs? I personally think if you can articulate that piece, the potential student is much more likely to come in and look at the school and see if it's a good fit.

If all they want to know is how much you cost, tell them. Don't lie...be upfront. However, also find out what their needs are make sure you can fill them...then invite them to come take a look and talk more in-depth with you.

Just my opinion...respectfully, Jason

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#383166 - 02/20/08 11:37 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Ed_Morris]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!
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Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
Quote:

I have the perfect solution for you: get a phone with an answering machine, practice the greeting and mention for them to come by to watch a class and ask questions, etc give the hours that the dojo is open and the hours of class, website address and whatnot. after recording the message you are happy with, put the phone on first ring answer mode, then mute the ringer.

that way you don't have to worry about answering the phone and can concentrate on the real first reason you are there in the first place: to teach and train. not run a business.




Ippon for Ed Morris!
_________________________
"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin

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#383167 - 02/20/08 12:44 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: MattJ]
Kujaku Offline
Member

Registered: 10/04/05
Posts: 80
Loc: Rockville, Maryland, USA
cxt,

I do understand where you are coming from. I can see where some of what I am saying could be perceived to be a red flag as you say. I guess that this is really the difference between styles?

I study in a very traditional martial art. We do not simply focus on getting a good work out but also emphasize a lot of things that some (not all) modern martial arts (or untraditional, without ritual, etc, ex. lets say Krav Maga or other CQC/Combative arts) may not teach.

Some of these things that we emphasize are manners and discipline. Not to say that other arts don't emphasize this, but we are very traditional in this manner. We try to teach that the martial arts are not meant for hurting others, and they are not meant only to defend yourself, but more so to defend your family and community.

The martial arts, when combined with mental training, are here to help make us into better (honest and caring, etc) people. The martial arts help people to find discipline in their lives, to bring order to the chaos of daily life.

We teach breathing techniques and meditation to help calm emotions. We emphasize such things as loyalty to your parents and teachers, to think before killing any living thing.

You might say that we have no right to teach philosophy in our classes, but we are not making people come to our studio. They come to us because they don't want to just learn how to defend themselves--they also want to learn (and I speak from experience here) how to find harmony in daily life.

No, I am not saying that the martial arts are a cure-all to any problem. Nor am I saying that my martial art is the best, I am not saying that my martial art is better than yours. The best martial art is the martial art that you feel the most comfortable learning in, the one that you gain the most pleasure from studying.

And just so you know, I teach for free. I have been teaching at this studio for over a year now and have not been paid a penny for doing so. So no, I am not stuffing my pockets. I am there to help people the way that the martial arts have helped me. But this does not change the fact that I understand that running a martial arts studio is a business in that you do have to pay the rent, and the instructor's do have to earn money to support their families. Don't get me wrong, free instruction is great. But I don't think that there are many people out there that teach completely for free full time (unless of course they have some other source of income or are already wealthy). After all, we do live in a capitalist society.
_________________________
Proud student of Grandmaster Yong Sung Lee, founder of Hapmudo

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#383168 - 02/20/08 03:02 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Kujaku]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5822
Loc: USA
Kujaku

Nobody says you can't or shouldn't make money.

But the standard business model and martial arts does not mix well.
Its 1/2 of the reasons you end up with McDojos--putting profits before performence.

(For that matter show me a MA school that is willing to actually put its preformence against anyone else in town----a "business" does so all time--MA schools seldom.)

And its not just a problem with martial arts---its a problem with all to many other industries.

I see it every day---once profitable comapnies taking a nose dive when the economy goes south--and most of it is due to poor decsions from a managment that should know better.
The "standard" business model--used all to often IMO is constructed around short term rather than long term profits.

Said it once, I'll say it again---the problem is not exactly treating MA like a business--its ONLY treating it like a business when it comes to getting PAID---and quite something else at all other times.
Its a "business" when it comes to detailed plans for how to handle "control" issues with folks that call in. Its a "business" when it comes to using contracts and black belts clubs to retain customers--THEN its a "business."

But somehow that perception changes when comes to how they want things tio function the rest of time--THEN people get a lot of talk about "loyality" and "tradition" etc.
From where I sit---the "business" is assumed to only run in one direction--and its NOT in favor of the student.

If someone wants to be a "business" then be a GOOD one.......Stans Plumbing should not have better customer service than you do.

I don't know what you do or how you do it----you have been all over the board on this issue--so at this point I have no idea what to belive.
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#383169 - 02/21/08 06:44 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
trevek Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/15/05
Posts: 3337
Loc: Poland
Using Sir or Madam really depends what the everyday protocol is where you live. I imagine in Tennessee it would be the order of the day.

In Britain I'd always say Sir or madam when I first answer the phone until I find out what they want. Then I can ask their name. Depending if they answer John or John Smith, or Mr Smith I then decide what to call them.

Remember, you aren't trying to sell them anything, as such, you are helping them make a decision which is good for both of you.
_________________________
See how well I block your punches with my jaw!!

Supporting everyone saying "nuts to cancer"

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#383170 - 02/21/08 08:14 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: JM2007]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
Quote:

Dannyl_k, et al,

I think one of the confusions here, which also seems to complicate many other areas of this and other martial arts forums, is that we have to understand the two main halves of running a martial arts school (as opposed to just teaching martial arts) which are teaching and business management. As much as many people don't like to associate making money with teaching martial arts, the fact is that sometimes they (necessarily) go hand in hand. It is often assumed that if someone is making money they are a McDojo, which I personally believe is not always the case. You may be able to teach a part-time class for free, but I don't know of any schools or instructors who teach full-time and are open every day who don't charge or make money. Just because a school is non-profit does NOT mean they provide better instruction.

Having said that, there have been, in my humble opinion, some good suggestions here. From good conversational techniques to ensuring that you're not coming across as a "salesman", I think (almost) everything said here, pro and con, is worth listening to. You definitely want to make sure your ability to speak on the phone is natural and creates interest in the person on the other side, however, you certainly don't want to sound like a salesperson. In fact, in my opinion, if I have to "sell" you on training in my school (as opposed to sharing some information about what we do and simply offering you the oportunity to watch or experience), then you probably wouldn't make a good fit anyway. In my experience, many people who had to be convinced to sign up at a certain martial arts school a) didn't really want to be there, b) tend to wish they had researched more schools and had better choices, c) felt like they were pressured into joining, and d) had a bad taste in their mouth about the school. So, in essence, I think it is important to NOT have to "sell" them on joining your school, but rather to help them make an educated decision about what you do and why you do it better...if in fact you TRULY believe your program is better for their needs than someone else's program. If you believe that everyone who walks through your door is right for your school...you're a McDojo.

Now, I am going to contradict myself a little. When I mention "sales" or "selling", I am speaking in terms of using particular sales tactics that are pressuring, in ANY WAY to the potential student. The reality of the situation, or of life in general, is that almost everything you do is sales in some way, shape or form. When you ask someone out...you are trying to sell yourself. When you ask for a raise, you are selling your worth to the company. When you make a suggestion to a boss, co-worker, friend, you are trying to sell your idea. When you write a paper for school, you are trying to sell your knowledge (the more you know and better you state it...the higher you are paid...just with a grade). The point is, everything in life is sales, so I think it is important to understand how to sell yourself, your program, and why you think whatever you are doing is right for that person. Even if you are teaching for free. If you are teaching for free and truly trying to help someone out, isn't still important to be able to properly explain to them WHY and HOW what you do is good for them. I would rather pay someone who teaches a better program than train for free under someone who has a poor program.

The real question is, how do you get to the point where you can determine whether or not what you teach is best, or even suitable, for their particular needs? I personally think if you can articulate that piece, the potential student is much more likely to come in and look at the school and see if it's a good fit.

If all they want to know is how much you cost, tell them. Don't lie...be upfront. However, also find out what their needs are make sure you can fill them...then invite them to come take a look and talk more in-depth with you.

Just my opinion...respectfully, Jason




Yes, yes, and yes. That is a big part of what is on my mind.

How do I tell if this is right for someone, well if they are looking for a good challeging workout that they can still take at there own pace - then yes. Sport karate and tournaments - no.

We don't do tournaments and thats because the stuff we teach is only self-defense, we could use very little of what we learn in a tournement because they would be illegal hits (from the rules I've seen in tournaments).

However, If your looking for personal instruction to get better - then yes

This list can go on and on. I'll know the signs if its not for them, and if it leaves a bad taste in there mouth, then I understand this isn't for them.

At least, however, I want them to have a good impression of the school even if they don't stay.

Its going to cost money, I'm not made of it. I'll need a building, equipment, supplies, uniforms, insurance, and etc.

Teaching for free? Not and opition for me

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#383171 - 02/21/08 08:26 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: trevek]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
Quote:

Using Sir or Madam really depends what the everyday protocol is where you live. I imagine in Tennessee it would be the order of the day.

In Britain I'd always say Sir or madam when I first answer the phone until I find out what they want. Then I can ask their name. Depending if they answer John or John Smith, or Mr Smith I then decide what to call them.

Remember, you aren't trying to sell them anything, as such, you are helping them make a decision which is good for both of you.




Yes on the last sentence too - everyone knows where I am coming from and I understance where your coming from. That is what the phone conversation should be about, making the decision. So what effects your decision? Depends on what kind of person you are

1) Are you partial to sir/ma'am or your name
2) How to do want to try out a class
3) How much information do you want (that one shouldn't be hard to tell
4) and Are you comfortable talking to me


My dad said something to me when I asked him about this. He told me

"You as a lady, no guy is going to want to tell you no. It makes him look like he doesn't have money. A guy is a bit self conscious if he doesn't have money when meeting girls."

Ok this makes no sense and he's dead set that he's right. Guys, if I was going to open a contract with you or talk to you over the phone, does that stop you from saying no?

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#383172 - 02/21/08 08:35 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
Don't mean to be cynical here...but this is starting to sound like 'telemarketing'. Having worked that dreadful job, I know it's all about 'getting something', a committment or a sale, before one hangs up the phone.

I don't think students should be 'selling' their teacher's product. If you are doing anything other than answering general questions, such as style name and time and place of class...I think you are being used.

Personally, I think Ed's suggestion was spot-on. My phone message would be:

'Hi. You've reached the phone of XXX MA studio. Thank you very much in your interest, but we only meet and interview potential new students in person. We would be happy to answer your questions either immediately before or after class. If you are still interested in our school after that, please bring comfortable clothes and be prepared to participate. We are located at XXX and class times are XXX.'

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#383173 - 02/21/08 08:53 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: harlan]
tkd_high_green Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 1031
Loc: Vermont
Harlan,

Telemarketing or not, as a student of a school, especially if you are a black belt or instructor at that school, it's important to know how to talk to prospective students, whether it's on the phone, a walk-in, or someone you talk to on the street. It's important to answer their questions knowledgeably, but to also encourage them to come to the school and get more information.

Fortunately, we don't have to answer the phone, but I've had to answer questions of people who walk in off the street, or even in completely random places, like the gas station.

Laura

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#383174 - 02/21/08 08:55 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: tkd_high_green]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
Oh. I forgot that in other systems 'black belt' means they are knowledgable.

I know how to talk to people, and give a general history, prices (if applicable)...but the 'selling' aspect should not be done by students. It should be done by the teacher, in person.

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#383175 - 02/21/08 09:35 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: harlan]
tkd_high_green Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 1031
Loc: Vermont
Harlan,

Anyone who works for, trains at, or is anyway associated with a school is capable of "selling" the school. Word of mouth is the biggest "seller" of our program. Friends and family of students already training, etc.

I was "sold" the program by my cousin, who spent months convincing me I should join.

Granted most people are not in the position to have to answer the school phone, but that doesn't mean they won't have to answer questions asked by someone who walks in off the street, or by someone they talk to at the grocery store.

If and when you are the highest ranked representative of the school available, you are responsible for answering questions of anyone who walks off the street. In many cases, you can be very polite and say, well based on my experiences...x...but if you want more information, you can call this number, or come back at this time to talk to the owner.

Laura

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#383176 - 02/21/08 10:15 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: tkd_high_green]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
Well, I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

There is a fine line between 'selling' something...and indirectly or directly representing a school. I've known people for years before I discovered that they trained in a Martial art, and had BB's. Do they 'represent' their art? Hard to say. But they definitely were not trying to 'sell' me anything before, or after, I learned of their involvement in MA.

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#383177 - 02/21/08 04:17 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3113
Loc: East Coast, United States
An "open house week"? Hummmngh, an interesting thought. I wonder how many places still keep a "closed door policy"? In the context of the topic, do you invite them to bring a friend with them?

Does that also fly if it were a wrestling, Judo or MMA class? (ie something with ~armpit distance~ contact as a normal funcion of their classes)

Jeff

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#383178 - 02/21/08 05:02 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3113
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello Dannyl:

Its an interesting question... what value does their name have? Not being disengenous, truly not sure I understand the "why" it would be helpful? But, I would think you'd get theirs when you steered them to the specific class they'd learn most from visiting...

"... we have two (X number) of beginner classes for adults one on Monday and the other Thursday at 6:22pm . The parking lot is to the left... park there and simply come through the door.... class lasts for 49 minutes and if you have any questions... anyone can certainly help but please feel free to ask for me, my name is Dannyl... yours is.... ? I'll be more than happy to answer any other questions that come up you might have then..."

As for sir/maam .... perhaps when you meet them, as a "politeness" possibly. But phone formality I think could have certain risks... a personal bias on my part. As for which.... ask, or answer I suppose depends on the personality on the other end of the phone, I would think. If they have questions, "would you like me to send you an email with our FAQ brochure" attached? I could also send it via mail if you prefered, however that obviously takes a lot longer... May I send you one? I can have that out between the next two classes tonight, if you'd like.



Merely my opinion, I could surely/easily be mistaken,
Jeff

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#383179 - 02/21/08 05:09 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Ronin1966]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
Heres the deal, if you don't get the student "committed" to coming in, will they ever come in? Will they just forget and in a sense leave me hanging?

As customers - selling, persuading, convincing sound like dirty words we don't want to associate with. But nevertheless its is a business - business cannot survivor without people.

The trick is to take away the cliche commercialism, the "telemarketing vocabulary, and the usual slogans.


Staight up since I've started this thread it began with cost. How to handle the cost question. Answer: be honest and just lay it on the line, but get them to try it too regardless of cost you just never know.

Then we switched to what would be the best way to "convince people to come in" and we agreed to disagree on how to do this. Its like trying to get a stranger to do something for you - its easier when its your friend so get to know them.

But I have to ask: if you call of course I have to tell you about my school, cost, etc. thats why you called. Besides basic phone ettiquette we aren't agreeing on anything here.

But I think we can agree on this

Talking to someone on the phone, what throws up the WARNING flag in your mind? (like when people dodge questions) and for those with past/current experience in this (like Bwhite and harlan) what mistakes did you make that you knew you had screwed up?


Edited by Dannyl_K (02/21/08 05:13 PM)

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#383180 - 02/21/08 05:10 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3113
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello Harlan:

No means no.... they all led the conversations. Once upon a time, and once in a whole since then, I called several schools I was curious about... and had never studied anything (originally). The first conversation lasted far too long and he wanted me to come in to do the contract...
The second conversation waved me off, not really having time to JUST TALK with a potential new student. "Come down and take a look, CLICK" The third individual spoke with me and was kind, and simply left the proverbial door open for me if I ever wanted to visit him.

A human being, not a demigod, not an omniscent Mr Miyagi, simply a man talking with a younger person then themselves who was scared to death but fascinated in what they seemed to do...

Jeff

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#383181 - 02/21/08 05:13 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: tkd_high_green]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3113
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello Laura:

Ummmmngh... I'll bite why would someone approach you at a gas station, you wearing that flashy billboard thingy over your head again....

Jeff

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#383182 - 02/21/08 05:21 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Ronin1966]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
Quote:

Hello Dannyl:

Its an interesting question... what value does their name have? Not being disengenous, truly not sure I understand the "why" it would be helpful? But, I would think you'd get theirs when you steered them to the specific class they'd learn most from visiting...

"... we have two (X number) of beginner classes for adults one on Monday and the other Thursday at 6:22pm . The parking lot is to the left... park there and simply come through the door.... class lasts for 49 minutes and if you have any questions... anyone can certainly help but please feel free to ask for me, my name is Dannyl... yours is.... ? I'll be more than happy to answer any other questions that come up you might have then..."

As for sir/maam .... perhaps when you meet them, as a "politeness" possibly. But phone formality I think could have certain risks... a personal bias on my part. As for which.... ask, or answer I suppose depends on the personality on the other end of the phone, I would think. If they have questions, "would you like me to send you an email with our FAQ brochure" attached? I could also send it via mail if you prefered, however that obviously takes a lot longer... May I send you one? I can have that out between the next two classes tonight, if you'd like.



Merely my opinion, I could surely/easily be mistaken,
Jeff





When it comes to ideas there are no mistakes. You see I know a few people who would be comfortable with that. My door is open to you I hope to see you here, then there are those who don't take that as a sign that yes you are truely welcome. - the e-mail and brochure is a good way to get information out there


Between Titles and Name, I like hear my name said over the phone, it makes me feel like if I tell them something they'll remeber it and the conversation is a bit more relaxed. Sir/Ma'am feels generic but some people like the respectful titles. Thats just my take on that

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#383183 - 02/22/08 10:05 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
tkd_high_green Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 1031
Loc: Vermont
Quote:

Ummmmngh... I'll bite why would someone approach you at a gas station, you wearing that flashy billboard thingy over your head again....




I stopped wearing the big flashy billboard a while ago. It was giving me a headache. I prefer more subtle advertisement, t-shirts from tournaments, and my school jacket.

Heck, I've had people come up to me and tell me "he's not worth it" because of the bruises I've sported.

Laura

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#383184 - 02/22/08 10:47 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: tkd_high_green]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5822
Loc: USA
TKD

"T-shirts from tournaments and my school jacket"

Reminds me of an interesting discussion I had with a buddy recently.

He noticed that many students from a particular MA school often often wore their school T-Shirt.....good advertising for the school.

But as a LEO he was also aware that such "I take martial arts" advertising is pretty much the LAST thing you want to let people know...that you have skills.....as almost any serious self-defense study will tell you.

Not only makes you a target:

A-If something goes down it tends to "justify" your attackers actions.

"Hey I was just minding my own business when this "krotty" weirdo started hassling me---wearing that "Black Belt Club" jacket/t-shirt--I was scared so I hit him first."

"look at the way he walking around showing off that he was "tournament fighter---he was trying to intimadate me--push me around!"

B-Say something goes down---the first thing some lawyor is going to do is present your t-shirt/school jacket as "proof" your a "trained" fighter........and that his scumbag of client is actually the victem.

C-Might led to escalation---"I hit him with that pipe/stabbed him/shot him because I knew he was a "krotty" fighter-----he was strutting around in that jacket/t-shirt, I was scared everybody "knows" what somebody like that is like---what they can do."

Many of the military officers and esp the special forces folks I know are being told NOT to get visable "military" tattoos these days----makes them targets for the bad guys when they are not on base/out in public.

When your business is Geek Squad its pretty safe to wear the T-Shirt.

When its Jays Karate school---might lead to problems for your students.

Just something to think about.


Edited by cxt (02/22/08 10:50 AM)
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#383185 - 02/22/08 01:31 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: cxt]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
We're getting off topic, but I will add two cents to that. We have t-shirts that we we wear around often and people really think nothing of it here. There aren't a lot of martial art schools where I live and a majority of time if anykind of fight breaks out its very rare that lawsuits are pressed. Now if it was out in CA or TX. I can understand that, lot more people. North Dakota doesn't have a lot of people

Please stay on topic - What throws up warning flags in your mind when talking to MA school owner (on phone or in person)

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#383186 - 02/22/08 01:50 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5822
Loc: USA
Danny

And no offense but your getting a ton of free advice from people that know alot more than you do about starting a business.

Out in the real world---people get PAID, and paid well for the freebies you have be getting from all sorts of people.
Check out what Graden alone would charge you for similer services.

Something came up that I think a business owner might need to think about and I'm a little more concerned with student safty IN GENERAL than I am with your hypothtical phone calls.

Call me crazy.

Maybe you should be a little less snippy with telling people to "stay on topic."
Were already 9 PAGES into what should be a relativly simply procedure.....discussing increasingly hypothetical situation I might add.

If people that are going out their way to provide you with free advice go out on a tangent a bit----isn't it just a little ungrateful to essentially say"

"Hey, what doe s THAT have to do with me making any money????
Lets get back to giveing me free advice on how I can make money for myself."

What throws up "warning flags" in my head is when someone OCD's about a single issue of running a business to the exclusion of even wanting to discuss other factors/potnetial problems.
The assumption that somebody has EVERTHING EXCEPT phone calls well covered is seldom correct in ANY business.
Such blithe assumptions are what is behind the staggering failure rate of any new business.

There is an old joke about lawyer's--the punchline being that when a person that makes $300 an hour wants to talk to you for free----you really should listen.

But that is up to you.

And BTW, if its a new school--what are you comparing it too???
And you don't really know where your students might be wearing their stuff either---course if all your students are gradeschoolers---then its less of a problem.

And there are a lot more people than just YOU on this site---might not matter to YOU--but if your in a differnt area--might matter to THEM--maybe.



Edited by cxt (02/22/08 02:04 PM)

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#383187 - 02/22/08 02:02 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: cxt]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
CXT please don't take that as being snippy, and I don't want to start an arguments. If you feel that we've convered this adquetly then alright lets move on, but don't bite my head off over it. I don't want this going back too all I care about is money.

I'm sorry if I got snippy

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#383188 - 02/22/08 02:05 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
I'm glad you care about more than just one aspect of this, I should've listened

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#383189 - 02/22/08 02:10 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5822
Loc: USA
Danny

Nobody is "bitting your head off"---certainly not me.

I think something came up that could do with a bit of "hey lets think about this for second" and I essentially get told to:

"shut up and get back to giveing me free advice on how to market my new business."

Don't mind covering it---just think just a little flexabilty might "ok" as well.
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#383190 - 02/22/08 02:13 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: cxt]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
No, I didn't intend for it to come off as that, but yes, agreed. Flexibility is good....

Once again I apologize you guys, your just trying to help. Any advice is good advice

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