We, and when I say we I mean my MMA instructor Morgan Blanton and I, operate a small MMA gym out of a local athletic club. We’ve been in business a little longer than 6 months fluctuating between 6 and 10 paying students per month. Definitely not a windfall of revenue coming in, but I suppose it’s a start.

With a disappointing enrollment I dusted off my “Secrets of Owning and Operating a Successful Martial Arts School” DVD box set by Andrew Wood that I found on BudoVideos.com about a year back to see if I can’t glean some tips off of him that I failed to pay attention to the first time around.

It’s certainly outdated considering it was filmed in the early 90’s and he operated a traditional martial arts school not a MMA gym, but the principles of running any type of martial arts school are still the same.

Right off the bat he suggests that you should have a written set of goals. I’ll touch on the most pertinent one below.

Why it’s important to know, SPECIFICALLY, how many students you want to have 12 months from now

How many active paying students would you like to have 12 month’s from today?

Honestly I don’t think I’ve asked myself that question at any point during the process of setting up our gym.

I know that it seems trivial to answer that question with a specific number because if you’re a MMA gym owner I’m sure your first thought would be, “Well, I want a lot!”

Here’s why it’s important:

Let’s say I want to enroll 60 paying students by January 2010, and our Atlantic MMA Gym only has 6 paying students as of January 2009.

That means I need to sign up at least 54 students over the next 12 months, which translates into 4.5 students every month, and basically 1 per week.

Now if we didn’t know what goal we were specifically trying to reach, how could we possibly attain it?

Accounting for students lost and setting short term goals

Two paragraphs ago I said, “at least” when referring to student sign ups because we didn’t account for student retention in our calculation. Over the last 6 months we’ve had 12 different paying students, and we’ve only retained 6 of them.

At a 50% retention rate we could assume that those 54 sign ups we need over the next 12 months should actually be 108 sign ups if we really wanted those 60 paying students at year’s end—a significant bump.

So our numbers just jumped to 9 per month, and roughly 2 per week.

Knowing that you need a minimum of 2 sign ups per week creates a sense of urgency for you and your staff.

Short term goals must be met to be able to reach the long term goal.

About the author: Jonathan Stamey is the Editor and Director of Operations for Atlantic MMA, Inc. He can be reached at jstamey@atlanticmma.com.