Want to know the number one way for keeping better relationships, pretty much across the board?
Give rewards and incentives?
Pay people for referrals?
Give appreciation, accolades and recognition?
Respect people's time.
Remember that everyone wants to make the most of the hours they have in a day. If you are running behind schedule, don't wait until you are already late to notify the other party. Give an update as quickly as possible with a new arrival time. Late happens, but late without notice is an act of disrespect, and a terrible path to member engagement. Start classes on time, end classes on time, ask permission to go longer or keep someone after class for a few minutes.
Respect their experience.
It kills me that in the martial arts world, so often instructors demand respect for their experience but oftentimes disregard the experience of their practitioners. They may have been former athletes, trained at other schools or in other styles, or participated in an equally demanding sport during their day, and know a thing or two about a thing or two. It doesn't hurt to acknowledge that this previous experience brought them to you. Avoid downplaying their accomplishments or the differences they may have when performing techniques or learning things 'your way.'
And if you have a young staff, with little work and life experience, respect that, too. Remember you were young once and there was time you made mistakes on things that may have appeared obvious. I know you remember the way you felt when someone treated you rudely for the error. And I know you also remember how you felt when someone helped you improve. Be the person that helps someone improve; nicely.
Respect their place in your company.
This pointer is intended for staff members, but it is also applicable to students and the parents in your school. If a parent of a child student is making the sacrifice to get their son or daughter to your lessons, they certainly do have a place in your company. When it comes to employees, look to enhance their performance with positive feedback and from a place of nourishing growth, instead of negativity. Understand the most important role for each person that has a relationship with your martial arts school:
- The Parent: To support their child.
- The Student: To learn and progress
- The Staff: To maintain the daily duties of operation
- The Instructor: To teach classes and promote students after progress is achieved
- The Neighboring Businesses: To co-exist with shared common area, noise volumes, parking and patronage
Respect them with a smile and proper greeting when you see them, always.
Perhaps the best way to show respect and maintain Member Engagement with your students, staff, families and guests... Don't be a jerk. Smile when you see people, greet them, thank them for being there. You do not need to have lengthy conversations, but you do need to practice civility at all times. And if you run into a family currently practicing, or that has formerly practiced, do the same. Don't pretend you didn't see them (even if they are a former member). And if they are a former member, don't ask them when they are coming back. Simply say, "It was great seeing you today!" (And smile.)