Chief Instructor: Sifu John C. Loupos - Since 1968

The Value of Referrals

by Sifu John Loupos

This month's lead article is designed to give members some insight into the inner workings of the business end of our school.
I would like to begin by emphasizing the great pride I take in my role as Sifu and teacher at Jade Forest. I feel extraordinarily privileged to have had the opportunity over the past three and a half decades to share my knowledge with others in a way that makes a real difference in people's lives. In some cases Kung Fu or Tai Chi has brought about marked improvements in the health and well being, either physically or attitudinally, of those who have pursued its lofty goals. In many other cases the effects are more subtle but there nonetheless.
I have seen lives change course, or as is more often the case establish a steadier course, as a result of embodying the external model which Jade Forest provides in order for to get a clearer sense of one's internal capacities and potential in life. Aside from the eight or ten students I have groomed to actually go on to open their own schools, many students have shared with me that the impact of training at Kung Fu or Tai Chi has measurably enriched their lives. I say all this because each and every time I look back over my years of teaching I find myself newly enthused. And enthusiasm has a contagious quality to it. Enthusiasm keeps people coming back and enthusiasm keeps our school strong.
One of the premises of corporate success in America is that in order to make money you have to spend money. A second premise, if current trends are any indication, is that high tech is better then low tech. I question both of these premises on their merits. Rather, I have adopted a business policy based on a separate belief; a belief that people need to be treated as individuals, with respect and dignity as discerning consumers, and that people will naturally gravitate towards integrity.
If you look in the newspapers or various media it's common enough to see martial arts schools advertising cut rate deals; free uniform, free month of study, just $9.95 to enroll, and so on. I regard this as just so much misleading information. Nothing is ever free, what appears to be free now will surely be made up for in testing fees, renewal costs, lower quality of service, or some other surreptitious manner. I have often fielded calls from potential new students who, having had the aforementioned experience, want to ensure up front that our school has none of those hidden costs so common to other martial arts facilities. Any marketing approach not based on honesty and openness sends a wrong message, one of business versus consumer, rather then one of business/ consumer advocacy. Of course it is true that every business needs to remain profitable in order to stay in business, but being anything less than completely up front is no way for a school to endear itself to it's student population.
I prefer to keep advertising to a minimum, relying instead on the good reputation of my school as a means of generating community interest in the various programs we offer. I see advertising as a way to inform and educate the public about our programs, rather then as a baited hook to lure unsuspecting new members in to replace those lost through attrition. New students are almost always welcome, but the most valued students are the students I already have. In my mind there is no greater compliment then for a new student to inform me that he was referred in by another student or happy parent. This reinforces in my mind that existing students are themselves sufficiently enthused enough about their activities here to want to spread the word and share their positive experiences with others.
Now for my comments on this issue. As developing martial artists one of the most important qualities for students to aspire to is personal integrity. This often manifests in Kung Fu/ Tai Chi training as holding oneself to a high standard and performing to the best of one's abilities. Integrity is acting to do the right thing to the best of your ability regardless of the incentive or consequences. And this includes making your best effort to be your best for its own sake.
I want to thank all those of you who have supported our school over the years making Jade Forest the area's premier martial arts training facility. Your continued support helps to ensure the future and continued success of Jade Forest for generations to come.

Back to Contents