martial arts student retention

92 – How To Stop Students From Canceling

In uncertain times, cancelations can escalate quickly. Here's a strategy you can implement right now to retain more members.


  • How to adjust your martial arts business plans in uncertain times
  • Tips on how to run engaging online classes 
  • Sympathize vs. empathize
  • And more

*Need help growing your martial arts school? Learn More Here.

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If students want to cancel, what is the plan? What is the plan that we need to implement, and how do we really install certainty? Let's look at this. Why do people want to cancel right now? Well, they're uncertain and there's some fear of the unknown.

Hey George, I hope you're well. I want to talk about how to stop students canceling their memberships right now. Right now we are in a bit of a challenging time in the martial arts industry. People are fearful, they aren't making rational decisions and they want to cancel their memberships. I want to give you a plan to navigate through that and stop your students from canceling and do what's the best thing for them right now. Let's explore the situation.

First up, and I was just discussing this with one of our Partners members, Peter, in a game plan session. We were looking at, all right, well if students want to cancel, what is the plan? What is the plan that we need to implement and how do we really install certainty? 

Because, let's look at this. Why do people want to cancel right now? Well, they're uncertain and there's some fear of the unknown. There's some fear of the unknown, and because there's fear, people would rather cancel things, horde, sit back, try and protect. So conversation has changed from aspirational to survival, okay?

That's the first situation that we're facing, is the whole frame of people's mindsets have completely changed in the matter of a week as of the time of recording this. People want to cancel because they are uncertain. Now, how do we remove uncertainty? Well, we give a plan. This is why it's so important to be on top of the situation about what's happening in the world right now, because you want to be that source of inspiration.

You've been training for this your entire life. As your martial arts school owner, you have been teaching confidence, resilience, all this that you've been through is what's going to count for you right now, because this is your opportunity to lead. Let's be realistic. These people are fearful. If you can be that source of confidence, and help people see a plan for the future, then people are going to bond with you more than they ever did before. Right now is your time to lead, and step up, and show the path to how we are going to navigate through this.

First up, what are you going to need? You're going to need a plan. You're going to need a plan, and I'll share with you how you can get a plan for free from us right now. You're going to need a plan. Now let's look at how we handle this conversation. In our Partners program, we've got a program called Sales 101. Sales 101 Strategy. It's all about really establishing the value, more so pointing out the real value, focusing on the real reason why people want to train martial arts.

I'll give a quick example. I'm sure you get the objection. How much is this? Our strategy for that is to steer the conversation away from price and to the real reason, because let's face it, it's never about the price, it's about they just don't know what to ask, right? So, it's easier to ask for the pricing. Yep. It might be for the price sometimes, but really people don't know what to ask, and they don't know what martial arts is going to provide for them.

It's important to always take conversations back to, well, what is it that you actually want out of this? So, if somebody does ask you for the price, it's good to say, “Cool, I'm happy to talk about the price, but is it okay if I just ask you a few questions just to make sure if our martial arts programs are right for you or not?” Okay, cool. Now you've shifted a logical price conversation to an emotional drive conversation, okay?

Let me show you how we use this strategy right now to stop cancellations. Well, somebody wants to cancel. Now we can approach this with two mindsets. One, sympathize. Sympathizing is not the right way to go, obviously. Now, why would you sympathize? Because, potentially if you've been soaking up everything that's going on in the media, and you're feeling fearful, and you're scared of what's coming, your head might be in the sand right now. 

If your head's in the sand, and not looking forward, and somebody else is saying they want to cancel, you might just sympathize because you actually feel the same way, and you think that there's no other alternative. You might just say “It's okay. We totally understand.”

Okay, so sympathizing is one way. We don't want to go there. What would we want to do is empathize, empathize, and then we want to lead, okay? How that might play out is somebody says, “I want to cancel.”

We don't disagree with them and say, “Yes, look, totally cool. I get that you want to cancel, and I know that things are a little uncertain right now.” But then we transitioned to leadership. “But is it okay if we just stall this cancel conversation just for a little bit, because what I really want to talk about more importantly is about you.”

Maybe you can even pause there, right, let's talk about you. What's going on in your life right now? How are things going? This is an opportunity for you to bond with your students, lead and bond. Now you can get someone talking about their situation and what's going on. This is where you really just need to listen. The more you can listen, the more you're going to connect, and the more you're going to establish a relationship here. 

Now you can start shifting the conversation back, as we did with a price objection, and we can look at it and say, “Okay, just curious. Can you recall why you started training martial arts with us?”, and get them talking about that? “What was the real thing that you needed to get out of your martial arts training?” It was X, Y, and Z.

Okay. Now, person, let me ask you a serious question yet here. With all this happening in the world right now, do you think it's going to be a wise move to start neglecting your health, and not exercising, and not training anymore? No, of course not because it's not, right? What is the most important thing right now? It's health, it's safety, it's security, it's looking after ourselves. If we don't look after ourselves, then we can't be our best for everyone else around us. If there's one thing that's more important right now it's martial arts, and now the conversation has shifted.

This is where you have an opportunity to present your plan. Say, “Look, I understand things are like this right down. But if your health is important to you as you say it is,” Or maybe not frame it in a way that sounds, just come from a good place of intent, because you care, and that's why you are having this conversation, and this is why I'm having this conversation with you, because I really care about you staying afloat and you making your business navigating through this, right?

Now you can shift and really discuss your plan. Say, “Look, as you say, your health is important to you, and this is important to you. So, here is what we are going to do.” Affirm it. “This is what we are going to do. Right now, we've reduced our classes, we've done this, we're going online.” Now you've got to present the plan. 

But here's why it's important that you've got the plan. Because if you don't have a plan, you can't deliver an alternative, and right now you want to be ahead of the plan. So if anything else happens, you know governments, things, start to do things and shut things down or whatever they do, you want to be ahead of this.

You need a plan. Now, if you don't have a plan yet, I spent the last weekend when things started to unfold and I spent 48 hours. Told my family I'm staying at the office, and I recorded in total about 15 videos to show you exactly how you can make a pivot. It's called the Martial Arts Pivot Plan, and it's about how to take your classes online.

Now, a lot of people are talking about this. I've been doing this for about 10 years. I've been living in this digital world for 10 years, and that's why I really wanted to get this out. Because, if there's something that I know that I could really help with, it's a world I already live in, and for me it's just backtracking, taking a few steps back, and showing you how you can go about this the right way. 

Because, a lot of guys are talking about doing it and I see a lot of guys showing off fancy TVs and equipment, and to me that creates obstacles because it's not about that. There's other elements that are way more important than fancy equipment. It's about getting it right and getting it going fast and being able to leverage what you do on the back-end.

So, look, I've put this training together for you. It's 100% free, as in 100% free. It's there, it's uploaded into our member’s area. If you go to, so, that will take you there. Just log in, we'll email you a username and password, get stuck in, but please, if you're watching this, do that right now. Do not delay. Do that. Go through the videos. 

If you get value out of it, just share it. Please share it with someone else. Please share it with another school owner that could benefit from this right now. If you've got any questions, reach out to me wherever you watch this video, and ask me a question or you can join our free Facebook group,, so,, .group and just click to join there. I will approve that and let you in and all of this.

Good luck. There are options, right? This is not doomsday. This is a little dip, and we're going to move through this, but it's important just to do the right things right now, and capitalize on the opportunity. Because, if you have time now to add value to your existing programs, add value to your existing membership, and really an opportunity to provide more value to your existing student base, which is really what this is about, they make use of the time and do it.

Look, I hope that it's useful. Grab that course, get it going and let me know how you go. All the best. I'm rooting for you. You've got this. Speak soon. Cheers.

Awesome. Thanks for listening. If you want to connect with other top and smart martial arts school owners, and have a chat about marketing, lead generation, what's working now, or just have a gentle rant about things that are happening in the industry, then I want to invite you to join our Facebook group

It's a private Facebook group and in there, I share a lot of extra videos and downloads and worksheets – the things that are working for us when we help school owners grow and share a couple of video interviews and a bunch of cool extra resources.

So it's called the Martial Arts Media Business Community and an easy way to access it is, if you just go to the domain named, so, g-r-o-u-p, there's no .Com or anything, That will take you straight there. Request to join and I will accept your invitation.

Thanks – I'll speak to you on the next episode – cheers!

Here are 3 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. Join the Martial Arts Media community.

It's our new Facebook community where martial arts school owners get to ask questions about online marketing and get access to training videos that we don't share elsewhere – Click Here.

2. Join the Martial Arts Media Academy and become a Case Study.

I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, message me with the word ‘Case Study'.

3. Work with me and my team privately.

If you would like to work with me and my team to scale your school to the next level, then message me with the word ‘private'… tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details.

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George Fourie

Hi I'm George Fourie, the founder of When I'm not doing dad duties or training on the mats (which I manage to combine when my son is willing! :), I'm helping Martial Arts Gym owners grow their business through the power of online media.

  • […] Students are canceling. What do we want them to do? Well, first up, we want them to commit. This is where the video gets a bit better, right? You're not focusing on the problems. Let's look at the solutions, right? So first up, we want them to commit. No normal classes. Instead of them getting hung up about the normal classes, we want to change their perspective and make sure they show up, start showing up to the new medium, which we'll talk about in just a minute. And then we've got no new sign ups. Instead of having no new sign ups, we want to split this around and, once again, have a full pipeline, a full pipeline of new prospects that want to get started with martial arts. Not in the same way of course, but they want a get started. If this is resonating with you, let me know in the comment below. We'd love to know your feedback. […]

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