Martial Arts Musings – When is it Time to Cut a Client Loose?

One of the most difficult things about owning and running a martial arts school is knowing when to drop a difficult client. At some point we have all tried to hang on to a individual past the point where we knew that the relationship was probably not good for us personally or for the school. Unfortunately, when you try to salvage a toxic business relationship the fallout can have dramatic effects.

Often the school owner or instructor struggles with the concept of trying to fix things versus parting ways. Few of us want to admit failure and this can be our downfall. We can not accept responsibility for the actions of our students beyond what occurs during a class we are teaching. Character or lack there of is a difficult concept to teach in a hour long increments.

There are some general guidelines you can utilize to help you make the decision.

1) Is it an issue that can result in the injury of an other student? If you have an overly aggressive student that shows little regard for the well being of others after reasonable correction then it is your duty to cut them loose. Waiting could result in lawsuits and worse could result in a needless injury falling on your conscience.

2) Does the student continually fail to pay for classes or fees in a timely manner? We all want to help our students out, but if lack of payment is tied to lack of character it is time to cut them loose. The “I want something for nothing” syndrome is contagious and if one client finds that the can manipulate you … then beware. It may not be long until you are dealing with a group of problems that can pull your business down quickly.

3) Does the student or family continually find something to complain about? Cut “ball sport” clients as soon as they raise their heads in your school. Owners and instructors should always be aware of and try to fix valid complaints, however; when you start noticing that an individual or group is creating drama for the sake of drama then it is time to part ways. It is true that one bad apple can spoil the barrel if given enough time.

4) Is the student unhappy? This is the hardest pill to swallow, but the most important. Sometimes a client is just not meant to do martial arts (or at least do martial arts at your school). From a purely moral perspective we as instructors should not tie students to something that they do not want to do. It is ultimately bad for business. Complaints and community perception can be tied to how you treat people. I know there is a strong argument for utilizing and holding people to contracts as a method of insuring revenue. It has, however; been my experience that this is not the best way to insure long term revenue. Quality instruction and caring instructors have won out over legal documents every time in situations that I have encountered.

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