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Ten Android Apps Every BJJ School Owner Should Have
Moving into a strip mall in 2012
Explosive growth at my gym!
As a result of some good marketing decisions and moving to a better location, my gym hit sort of a "critical mass" a few years ago (late 2011 and early 2012 marked the beginnings of exponential growth). In a very short time- less than six months- we went from 35 students to over 100. This kind of growth was not sustainable in the long run, and it became debilitating for the day to day functions of the gym. That is, it was debilitating until we began to scramble, and as a result, I started using more and more intelligent technology to manage the gym's growth. What follows is a very concise list of the ten must-have apps for an Android smartphone (although all are available on the iPhone as well). I hope these help you if you're running a gym!
1. Google Drive
Drive is a must-have for any small business, but if you're in the martial arts business, you absolutely have to track monthly revenue from students. One very simple, affordable way to start doing this is with Google Drive (formerly "Docs"), and you can indeed access this on your smartphone. If you can't get to a computer, but you want to look up someone's name or history with the gym, this will be tremendously helpful.
If you don't have a spreadsheet with student tuition yet, start there. You may also want one for people who have come in to try a class at the gym, or for competition results, attendance, or a number of other things. Drive isn't ideal for all of these things, but it's a really great way to get started tracking all of these really important "metrics" (statistics that matter).
A better look at our storefront and window tinting
Music is absolutely imperative at a BJJ gym. It sets the tone. Are you going to be an aggressive MMA gym? Are you going to listen to the 80s and laugh at yourselves the way we do at Revolution BJJ? Considering the choice in music is a crucial step toward establishing the right atmosphere - and, ultimately, culture.
Pandora allows you to "set it and forget it." You can just pick a station and it'll play, ad infinitum. You will want to upgrade to at least Pandora One, and possibly to Pandora for Business, but having this luxury and time-saving device is crucial for any gym.
3. Timer App
There are numerous timer apps, but having one on your smartphone allows you to keep timed rounds if your timer isn't functioning at your gym (or if you simply haven't been able to purchase one yet). One quick hack: you can hook your smartphone up to some small speakers so that your students can hear the countdown or buzz (there are so many great timer apps, and most are free to download, so just check a few out).
Timed rounds are important, although the culture at your gym might demand a looser structure. If so, go with it and embrace it- but be sure you figure out what the culture is, and stick with it!
Inside my old gym, when I was partnered with a karate school
A peek inside our gym during the recent expansion
4. Audible App
If you haven't discovered the amazing productivity you can add into your daily routine by listening to business related books vs trying to plow through them on paper, do yourself a huge favor and start listening today. There are so many great books out there with advice on how to run your business more professionally, marketing (growing and attracting students), and so much more. Trying to read this stuff on paper is tedious and taxing, but listening while you're in your car? Priceless and so easy.
5. Calculator App
Oh, so simple, and yet oh, so useful. I can't begin to imagine how many times over the past 3 or 4 years I've wanted to do a quick calculation about the cost of a T-shirt with our logo on it, how many square feet our mat space was (it's a total of 2500 now, by the way), or how many days we've been open. The calculator app on your smartphone is a lifesaver and a no-brainer.
I use Google Maps all the time to run errands for the gym. This is particularly useful if I need to get a storage space I've never been to (as I did immediately following our most recent expansion), but it's also great for checking to see what other businesses are in your area. Just turn your GPS on, type in whatever type of business you're looking for, and start thinking about how you can synegize with them (okay, I kind of hate the word "synergize", but it really works here!).
What do you use to market your gym?
The Facebook app is an absolute must have nowadays, regardless of whether you run a business. You've got to stay connected! I use Facebook every day to promote the gym. It's free (or very low cost, if you advertise, and ads are much more targeted with Facebook than with Google Ads). When a picture is taken at the gym, it can be uploaded, geo-tagged (so people know it's at Revolution BJJ, not just some random gym), and faces of students can be tagged... right there from the smartphone app (although I love to use a laptop for this due to convenience). It's also great for maintenance, like answering questions on posts on your gym's page. Be careful, though, to be sure whether you're posting as your gym or as yourself!
Video we shot with my phone and uploaded via the Youtube app
If you have any interest in shooting videos for your gym's page, you can absolutely do this yourself. You can, of course, go the professional route, and if you have a student at your gym who is willing to do editing, go for it (or, better yet, if you have the skills and patience to do this, it's a great idea!). However, to get an online presence, all you really need is a to hold the camera steady. You can edit video in Youtube. See the related video I shot with my phone and uploaded via the Youtube app! So easy. Tripod Stand Holder
There is a great company called Waiver Forever out there. We use 100% digital waivers nowadays, and the headache of having to transcribe all the info students would write down is now in our distant past. Waiver Forever has apps for both Android and the iPhone, and you can check recently signed waivers from anywhere in the world, as long as you have an internet connection, right from the app. If you go this route, consider using an iPad for the waiver itself (although we also use a Samsung tablet).
10. Amazon App
We order just about everything we need for the gym via Amazon. What a great way to get stuff delivered right to our doorstep and not waste hours a month going to Sam's Club or Costco! The app allows you to do it from your smartphone, along with tracking other orders, checking statuses, or just generally shopping around. Incredible business hack.
Training BJJ at my gym
If you'd like to learn more about my gym, or visit us any time you're in the Richmond, VA area and want to train some BJJ, just stop by Revolution BJJ any time! I've written extensively about everything from how we keep our gym clean to how we tripled our student base with marketing. As you can see, I'm not shy with sharing information. If there's something you are curious about, please just ask in the comments here! I'm glad to help.