How important is the website quality for your school? | Page 2

Discussion in 'Grappling Technique' started by BJJ Coffee Drinker, Jan 8, 2018.

  1. Auspex Brown Belt

    Auspex
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    Not about being secretive - We know we are one of the more expensive gyms. And you also get better facilities, mat space, bathrooms, weight rooms, etc that you don't get elsewhere. Not gonna try to sell you a Mercedes on the phone when you're only looking for Kia prices. It's not intended to be rude or secretive, but it's how higher quality items are sold...

    And if you don't have a little bit of time to check out the gym in person, then we don't feel you're taking the idea of training all the seriously. Put some effort into it and check out the gym in person.
     
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  2. Forceof1 Blue Belt

    Forceof1
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    I think you have to remember who is looking at your page to determine what / how much content.
    You have basically two customers- those who do BJJ and are looking for a new place to train, and those who know nothing about the art.

    The first group is easy- make sure there is a schedule, and I can not overstate this enough- brief bio's of your instructors. I need to see who they are and who gave them their rank. I won't train somewhere, even dropping in, if I can't find this out. I'm in Balto's camp of going both ways on posting prices, though I probably lean a bit more towards posting given todays market.

    For the new students- you probably do need a little bit about what BJJ is and the benefits. You also need to emphasize getting them in for a free trial.

    I'd also break down all the classes / programs you offer.

    Perhaps a brief video isn't the worst idea, especially if you can include kids classes so they can see the difference between grappling and punching air.
     
    #22
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  3. Balto Silver Belt

    Balto
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    The other thing is that to really have a discussion about posting prices on a website, we need to break it down into the further categories too. Because there really several different levels of price transparency that are commonly being used now.

    The posting prices on the website is the most transparent. It's also the rarest in any form of business. Many common business types don't do this. The most clear example I can think of is something like Amazon where you can compare different goods easily right from your computer and you know the price exactly every time. Also a lot of restaurants post menus online so this is possible in that industry as well. I'm sure we can think of more examples too, but there are tons of businesses out there that do not post prices on a website. They fall into the categories below.

    The next level is something more like a gas station. The price is posted publicly and easy to see just passing by casually, but gas stations don't typically post on a website. Nor do they facilitate easy online comparisons between all the gas stations in town. There are definitely apps now that do this, but I don't think gas stations like them at all or actively participate.

    Next level down is a grocery store. You can't drive by and see the prices. The prices are clear once you go inside, but unless you stop and go in, you probably won't know the price of eggs. The casual passerby won't know the grocery store price unless he takes time and effort to go in. This makes comparison on price much harder. (P.S. I know grocery store circulars break this rule, but those are typically the temporary sale items that they are intentionally pricing low. This method of advertising doesn't apply for most goods in the store.)

    Last level down is the typical price obfuscation hard sell, high pressure fitness contract tactics we all fear. Even once you physically step into the place, you still can't know the price. You have to go through a sales pitch presentation, and even then the price isn't totally clear.

    The problem is that everyone is naturally assuming if it's not the public website posting top level, that means it's the hard sell bottom level. There's quite a bit of room in between.
     
    #23
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  4. lechien Gold Belt

    lechien
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    Lol.

    If you cannot put your prices online, there is something wrong.

    I get the concept of not putting the price.

    You want the customer to see the site and service so you can explain how expansive you are.

    Also I want to add that no matter what strategy you use. ..you shall be successful because Bjj is popular.

    Even fake bb and worst douche managed to grow their business.. So basically would do fine. ..

    If you don't. Then I don't think the pricing advertising policy is to blame.

    Gym culture and student retention and behavior is really more important.

    People just keep singing newbies all the time and make the money.
     
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  5. EGDM Blue Belt

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    I respectfully disagree - withholding information essential to the transaction is the definition of being secretive. That's your prerogative, but it might lose you my business. If you feel like your facilities are an important part of your value proposition, put up some good photos along with your price. I wouldn't go into a Mercedes dealership that didn't provide pricing guidance, either. Just because I want to know the price doesn't mean I'm shopping at the bottom of the barrel.

    And don't kid yourself. You may consider your school to be on the higher quality end of the spectrum, but you're still just selling a gym membership. The kinds of luxury goods and services you're trying to compare yourself to are orders of magnitude more expensive than BJJ and are not aimed at a mass-market clientele.

    I'm a brown belt and I'm in this art for life. In my pre-BJJ TMA days I helped run a 100+ member school for a decade. I've had enough experience with different gyms to realize that obfuscation around the financial costs is a good indicator of cultural problems in the school. Maybe that's not the case with you, but IMO you're grouping yourself with a suspect crowd by withholding pricing information.

    Yes, but we all know that grocery stores compete primarily on price and you can reasonably expect the price of eggs not to vary by more than a few percent between competing locations.

    Maybe, but there's enough precedent in in the BJJ community that I'm not willing to extend the benefit of the doubt any more. I've trained at famous schools that ultimately alienated me over their one-sided, myopic approach to the business relationship.

    I just don't understand how transparency is a negative. I see how there might be some perceived customer acquisition benefits for the owner, but that's really not my problem as a customer and I suspect it's not even in the owner's net best interest as they have no visibility in to the lost business of reactions like mine.
     
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  6. Balto Silver Belt

    Balto
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    Grocery stores are definitely not anywhere near within a couple percent where I live. There are dramatic differences. It can easily be >100% difference on some items. Eggs and milk are probably closer since they are staples, but something even like apples can dramatically vary. They can sell for $1.50/lb at one store and $3.50/lb at another store. From week to week too.

    Walmart is the grocery store in my area that has online shopping (and thus prices for everything easily available on a website). It just so happens Walmart is the cheapest too. So they are intentionally competing on price.

    But all the competing grocery stores focus on things other than price so they won't be posting their prices for comparison on their website any time soon.

    Your point about the precedent in the BJJ community is well taken. That has caused so much damage, it has truly changed the nature of the game these days. The trends are being reversed to some extent. Anyone else notice how only coral belts and beyond now are commonly called Master anymore? That's a big change from five years ago when any blue belt with a gym who went to a marketing seminar took on the honorific.
     
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  7. Balto Silver Belt

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    If you can really just do anything and keep your gym running well in NZ, then it must be a very different market than the US right now.

    US is pretty saturated. Plenty of black belts around these days in most locations. It's real competitive in a lot of spots.
     
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  8. lechien Gold Belt

    lechien
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    Australia is doing well as well.

    Gyms are full. Instructors are flying their mates from UK to open another 3 gyms.

    Edit: I can see that us is crowded. People are opening close to other service providers and have to hide their priced in order to get a potential customer thru the door for a sales pitch...

    I think you cannot blame the success or failure of a gym before they put their price on a website. I think you have different gyms with different prices for different demograohic.

    Let put this way. One of my student went train at another gym. He likes the expansive state of the art machines and premises but it did not like the cold business superior attitude of the gym and instructors.
    The price was actually not bad at all but they don't advertise it.
    It was telling me on how he was going to teach them how to do a Facebook campaign to get more customers.

    I laughed and replied that it is useless because they need to change their gym culture first because no matter what pricing strategy you offer, if your service crap..... It is crap.
     
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    Last edited: Jan 9, 2018
  9. Balto Silver Belt

    Balto
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    For sure. Can't put lipstick on a pig. It might work for a bit, but it tends to sort itself out on its own one way or another.

    But I do think there are definitely things you can do to help yourself out more assuming you have a quality product underneath.

    It's kind of like BJJ competition. Most people win/lose because they just aren't as good as the other guy. Skill is by far the most dominant factor at play here. You can be in incredible shape, but if you suck, good luck even winning at white belt.

    That being said, it's still worth it to do S&C as a supplement. Assuming you have skill and so does the other guy, it can turn your Ls into Ws.

    Same idea here. A whatever approach to your business style is the same as prepping for comp by just doing a bunch of pushups randomly or something. That that might even be considered "traditional" in BJJ, but is it really the best? A more thoughtful approach to business methodology is similar to planning out a training camp based on sound principles.
     
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  10. Balto Silver Belt

    Balto
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    The negative is mostly what you've already stated: a loss of perceived customer acquisition for the owner.

    It's definitely not your problem as a customer. But the price is not yours to post as the customer either. It is the owner's price, so it's normally evaluated from his perspective instead of yours when the choice is made.

    The debate over whether it's net best interest is ongoing right now it seems, and it isn't totally resolved yet. I see some lost business potential, but I'm also unsure of how it really plays out in the real world given I've seen one real world example up close in which, despite arguing with me on Sherdog actually a few years ago about how posting prices is so much better, some students chose to just switch right back over to a non-posting model as soon as they had the chance.

    I studied economics in college, and one of the principles of behavioral econ they taught us was that you just can't trust what people say they will do. This is a major flaw with all polls and surveys about behavior. What people actually do when real money (or other consequences) is on the line is commonly quite different than how they would answer the poll. There is quite a bit of academic research on this disconnect.

    Thus comes the principle of letting the market vote on matters because those are real world transactions. I value the real world BJJ market equilibrium the most. And I currently see several similar markets in which price posting and non price posting schools are successful. This leads me to believe that it's not clear cut which one is best. Neither approach is crushing the other right now, although I think I see a slight edge in favor of the non price posting schools as far as success goes.
     
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  11. EGDM Blue Belt

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    I have an economics degree as well, and own a company selling business analytics/optimization/forecasting tools. The same disconnects exist on both ends of the transaction. There's no guarantee that the seller/owner is evaluating rationally either. My suspicion is that they're greatly over-valuing the loss of business and personal hassle from dealing with cheapskates vs the loss of more ideal customers whom they never contact for lack of transparency. I'm not sure that "successful gym" is a good metric of those effects, since success is the amalgamation with a huge variety of other factors including brand/coach recognition, culture, convenience, etc, etc. It's entirely possible that the successful gyms would be able to leverage those other positive attributes even more efficiently by increasing price transparency.
     
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  12. Balto Silver Belt

    Balto
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    Best test is to just change one variable at your gym and see what happens. If you aren't posting prices, post them for a few months. If you have them posted, take them off for a few months.

    I can't think of real world examples I know the details of within the last year so my data is a little old, but I've seen the experiment played out maybe a half a dozen times. Only once did they go from non-posting to posting. The rest always took the price off.

    Oddly enough, they all reported greater success with their new method. Even the one who switched to posting.
     
    #32
  13. EGDM Blue Belt

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    Right. Doing a controlled study would be difficult. You'd really need a large number of data points across several years and many markets to infer significance. Within a single school in a narrow time frame there are too many inertial and confounding factors to learn very much.

    Despite how it came across in my previous posts, even for an excessively-principled customer like myself price transparency isn't a binary deciding factor. Other attributes roughly equal it has influenced my past decisions, but I've also audited and then joined non-posting gyms because their instruction and facilities were obviously a cut above. I'd still have been happier with more information up front, though.
     
    #33
  14. lechien Gold Belt

    lechien
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    I still don't get it.

    Sorry.

    But if you have to hide your price in order to do the hard sale face to face.


    Have you not out priced yourself so to speak?

    And if you are over priced, maybe it us time to look at yourself and not blame the market?

    Even expansive car come with a price tag?
     
    #34
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  15. Balto Silver Belt

    Balto
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    Yeah I just tell gym owners to test for themselves if they're unsure. Not exactly controlled or significant but the best someone can practically do. I mean even measuring objectively for a short period of time is a step up for a lot of gyms I've seen that operate basically on lore.
     
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  16. Balto Silver Belt

    Balto
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    Car price tags don't mean much in the US. Maybe it is different in other countries?

    In the US, the window price tag is MSRP. That will give you a rough idea of the range, but the actual price you will pay will likely vary by thousands of dollars (typically thousands less, although occasionally for really high demand models it can be more).

    Car prices are one of those things where you typically don't know until you've made personal contact with the dealer and worked out all the details ahead of time.

    Even for the exact same car which costs each dealer the same from the factory and has the same MSRP sticker in the window, the price tends to vary by thousands. This is for dealers that are within a couple of miles each other too.

    An MSRP car price sticker in the US is the equivalent of knowing that gyms in your area will charge somewhere between $100-$200 a month. If you're looking seriously, you probably already knew that range whether they post prices or not. Now whether a particular gym will be $100 vs $200 is not known up front. It's the same with the car. A nice Mercedes that costs $50K at one dealer might cost $53K down the road at the other dealer.
     
    #36
  17. BJJ Coffee Drinker Amateur Fighter

    BJJ Coffee Drinker
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    why do schools not put up their schedule? what advantage is there to that practice?
     
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  18. Balto Silver Belt

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    I don't like the practice (and it seems to be pretty rare), but the rationale is:

    If you post a schedule, a student might just show up unannounced without making contact with you first. This means they just walk in when you aren't expecting them, and thus you lose the ability to carefully craft their initial experience.

    A soccer mom with two kids might walk in during your hardcore comp class, see everyone going super hard with the coach yelling, and then be scared away. Whereas you'd rather them walk in during your friendly family intro class and see that instead. You'd have them come in at specific times on your schedule if you had a choice, so making them contact you first for the schedule ensures you get a chance to set it up that way.

    Typically gyms that do this have a very specific image they want to get across on the first visit, usually specific down to an exact walkthrough order of the facilities.

    Personally I think it's excessive and the utility of posting a schedule outweighs this. It's also usually an indicator of a hard sell (much more so than not posting prices I think).

    But that's the rationale as I understand it.
     
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  19. EGDM Blue Belt

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    ^
    What Balto said. I'll add that it also speaks to an unwillingness to invest in the development of quality marketing material so the public can form appropriate expectations. Do you want BJJ-naive students to show up at a particular time? Make it explicit on your website that new students should call in advance as opposed to hiding your schedule. Also, the example of the soccer mom and the kids' class wouldn't be a problem if your website had enough properly-linked material about the different training groups such that they could learn what to expect from competitive vs basics sessions.

    Also, I think there's honestly an inherited cultural Brazilian bias against planning and timeliness. My mother's family is from Rio. "Brazilian time" is absolutely a real thing, and it's frustrating as hell. I've trained at a school where the owner decided to cancel the kids class for *Presidents's Day*, only providing an hour's notice on his personal athlete Instagram account. He actually showed up to the gym at the scheduled time just to tell parents to go home. This did not win any goodwill, but he somehow thought it was appropriate even after receiving the expected feedback.

    The lack of professionalism in Brazilian-run BJJ school management can be horrendous. This goes even for successful and famous gyms.
     
    #39
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  20. BJJ Coffee Drinker Amateur Fighter

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    wow, that is very unprofessional. He was already at the gym, may as well have run class. I'm very familiar with Brazilian time and unprofessionalism.


    I'm not worried about people showing up unexpected, I have lots of experience with this and am confident I can handle most customers well. I already planned to announce on the website that brand new students should call and schedule their free introductory private session and to check out the gym
     
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