Market – Just BJJ and/or MMA?
There is a big difference between a gym that is just BJJ and one that focuses on MMA. The main difference is that one gym will have to offer a large variety of disciplines (wrestling, muay thai, jiu-jitsu etc.) while a pure BJJ gym focuses on one main aspect. Although, you can add classes to your BJJ program that support it, like yoga and conditioning classes. This decision will define the type of managing you will have to do because you will need more instructors at an MMA gym and that will raise your costs, but will also give you a larger market to work with. If your passion lies solely with BJJ, it’s better to start a smaller gym and see how you grow from there. You can always add MMA type classes to your program when you’re ready.
Location, Location, Location
This should go without saying, but choosing the right location for your gym is of paramount importance. But one detail that can be overlooked here is that you should prefer to find areas that are family populated, rather than urban areas with young professionals. This is not always the case, but family areas can be far more lucrative. Rather than pulling in a young professional and maybe his friends, you can register an entire family, which will always hold a higher value for your business.
Your instructors are going to be the heart and soul of your business. Whether you’re going to be the instructor or if you’re hiring someone else, you have to make sure that they will have the proper charisma, technique and professionalism you would expect from a leader, because that’s exactly what he will be. If your instructor is a gem, then you will get many new students from word-of-mouth alone. So when choosing an instructor, be picky, it’ll be worth it.
Affiliate or not to affiliate?
In the past decade affiliations have become a huge part of opening a gym. Many schools prefer to represent a large international team. So the question is, should you? Usually, your instructor will use the major affiliation of his lineage, however, that’s not always the case. Sometimes instructors are not associated to larger schools and gym owners have the choice for marketing purposes. Both options have benefits and losses. But the simplest suggestion is to consider the competition in your area. If you’re the only school around for a long distance, an affiliation will not be necessary. An affiliation is really only useful from a business standpoint if you’re in need of some organization of your curriculum and you want to market the name.
The gym schedule is far more important than people think. You’d be surprised to see how many people walk away from a gym because the arrangement of the classes does not suit their needs. Don’t forget, the majority of your members won’t be full-time jiu-jitsu junkies. It will be people with full-time jobs that work different hours of the day. Although it will be hard to satisfy everyone; having morning classes, lunchtime classes, weekend classes and more than one evening class, will help you retain more members.