Dear Parents,

Thank you so much for your constructive feedback.  There was a lot I learned from that process.  Quite frankly, I wasn’t sure if parents were happy with our program yet as the results show, everyone seems VERY satisfied. 

The majority found our Curriculum and Class Structure to be OUTSTANDING.  Our graduations are Excellent while our schedule is good.  (Quick note on scheduling – it is one of the most challenging aspects of my job and a constant work in progress.  I will keep in mind this feedback as we go on.)

The parents have told us that our program EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS which I love!  That has always been my goal and chief aim!

There were two consistent themes that came up in the comments regarding what we can do better. 

The first was, “I wish the program was more affordable?” 

So do I believe it or not.  It would make enrolling more students and serving more people MUCH easier for us!  And while I would love to be lining my pockets with oodles of cash and saying that I am a Martial Arts Millionaire, I’m not.

Yet, I understand and respect this one.  Believe it or not, my wife and I have these same conversations about our program as well as other activities our kids participate in.  Remember, I am a parent and consumer too!  My wife and I (much like you, I think) would like EVERYTHING to be more affordable.  We definitely would like our mortgage to be more affordable, that’s for sure.  Same with our car payments.

There are a couple of things to consider though…   First, we are not the most expensive program in the area…  I know of other schools in Fairfield charging $150 per month; therefore, I think our pricing is fair.

I am confident that we have the best program in the Fairfield Area and I do believe in my heart that we do provide the GREATEST VALUE.  Although you might want to spend less, I think you still feel that we do deliver and that you get good value for your money – as the results of the survey show. 

Here is ultimately why we charge what we charge…

What is happening is that our pricing structure is a function of our rent.  We have close to 4000sqft in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the country.  Rent is by far my biggest expense…  and add onto that the maintenance of the facility (Landscaping, Lighting, Painting the building and the parking lot, Plowing, Sweeping, Rubbish Removal, etc… ) all gets passed down to the tenants.  Our CAMS (Cost and Maintenance) in this shopping center are some of the highest in the area.  And finally, my rent increases every year.

While there is supposedly a recession going on and a “real estate crunch”, it hasn’t hit Fairfield like it has areas like Norwalk, Danbury and Milford.  There are not many vacancies in Fairfield.  Therefore, I have no negotiating power to go back to the landlord and say… “Lower my rent or lose the CAMS.” 

Here is the reason I stay in this shopping center even though the rent is high…

It is safe.  I don’t have students trying to park on the post road.  You don’t have to walk across any major intersections to get to the school.  It is well lit at night when I have students leaving in the dark.  And ultimately, the landlord (although a little excessive) does take good care of the property.  You are not damaging your car with pot holes every time you come to the school.  You don’t have to fight for a parking spot…  and so on.

Now, if you happen to know anyone who wants to sell a 4000 – 6000sqft building with 30 to 40 parking spaces then please let me know.  I would be happy to go take a look. 

The second concern was that we are not pushing the kids enough and that rank is too easily achieved. 

This is a double edged sword.  Before, we left progress and belt promotion up to the instructor.  We then had parents asking “Why isn’t my child testing?”  And no matter how valid our comments were, it almost always ended in a “difference of opinion”.   😉

So that is why I chose to eliminate instructor discretion.  BUT…  I heard what you said and we will be turning it up a little for the kids.  We will increase our standard for the kids both from and endurance standpoint and a martial arts technique standpoint. 

I have one request though…  Please realize that testing is fair but not equal.  We are all born with different abilities and strengths.  Some people find physical challenges easy while others find them more difficult.  What we look for at Stryker Martial Arts is improvement from where the child was to where they are now…  we do not and will never hold them to some generic standard.  That would simply be unfair. 

Thank you again for taking the time to give us this feedback.  If I didn’t address your comment here, I still received it and heard what you had to say.  My staff and I will be discussing those too.  These were simply themes that were repeated by more than one person. 

Sincerely,

Master Dan

P.S. I am leaving the survey up for another couple of days in case you haven’t had a chance to fill it out yet.