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Does your school have contracts?

OOOHHH man! This is going to be a hot one. This is one of those hotly debated topics that make me feel all squishy inside. Contracts, or no contracts? There seems to be two major components of this argument. The first one says," If they were serious and committed, signing a contract is not a big deal." And on the other side, there is the "if they want to come, they will come on without any financial obligation." I personally struggle a lot with this. As a person with a dojo, this is a topic that really interests me. I have gone back and forth with myself a great deal in the past couple of months, so I will tell ya what I think.

First of all, contracts are not so bad in and of themselves. The reason that I think that they can be good is simple: paperwork. If you are doing your own accounting, dealing with 100 different checks a month, every month can be a headache. Keeping track of who has paid, and who has not can be a real nightmare. So setting up a contract with automatic withdrawals can be a real life-saver. On top of that, most people who join gyms are almost expecting a contract, since that seems to be the norm in dojos these days.

Now to make my serious gripe. I think that there is no reason, and I mean NO REASON to have contracts longer than six months or a year. People don't like contracts that long because they don't want to feel that they are locked in to something. A lot of very unscrupulous folks have these contracts that are unbreakable. If I may paraphrase a quote from a guy named Steve Doyon," I don't even consider someone a student until they have signed a one year or three year non-cancellable contract." Does anyone else find this disgraceful. A lot of these contracts must still be paid even if the person moves out of the state, or even the local vicinity of the school. Martial arts are supposed to be about fairness and understanding. What is so understanding about making someone pay for something that you are not benefitting from? I personally do not see a whole lot of compassion there.

If your services and your teaching are so good, why do you have long contracts? If you believe that your product is better than the rest, why can't your students join a gym of dojo in the same city? If you believe in free enterprise, then you should not be afraid of straight up competition. Well, I am going to go folks, I am off to motivate my students!!.................

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