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An Update On The All-American Fencing Academy
by Gerhard Guevarra Tue, 01/25/2011 - 11:41
In the past, I've done several articles about tips and tricks that our small business has been using, so let me take a step away from that theme and just give an update about how my small business is doing and where we are.
A quick recap, the All-American Fencing Academy provides instruction and training for beginning/new, advanced, recreational and competitive fencers. The All-American Fencing Academy aims to introduce fencing to youth, teens and adults interested in starting a new hobby and physical activity as well as training competitors to compete at the state and national level.
In addition to our regular classes at our main location, we also provide after-school programs at several private school sites. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the school year in the fall of 2010, we lost a few of those satellite sites and our income dropped significantly. We were still making a profit, but marginally. Of course, at the same time, our coaches were working less hours because of the decline of classes.
With the additional hours, however, we were able to split up our larger regular classes and add 1 or 2 additonal programs at our main facility. Primarily our academy teaches 1 of the 3 weapons in fencing, we have 1 additional coach that teaches sabre. The All-American Fencing Academy had been intent on building fencers in sabre, but the popularity seemed to have remained in foil. Late in the 2010 year, we began pushing all new fencers into the sabre program.
Then a fortunate/unfortunate turn of events. Our sabre coach was accepted into an internship program in Washington DC. Thus we were losing an extra coach and possibly a few classes. Some classes had to be combined and some classes had to be retired, but the All-American Fencing Academy was determined to thrive with two coaches (both of which had other full time jobs, in addition to coaching).
The temporary loss of a coach also yielded some good results. Unlike the start of our program (when we originally started with 2 coaches and some students), we had almost 3 times the amount of students with the same amount of coaches and we are now making a decent profit during the absence of one coach. That's about 70 hours of work time that the All-American Fencing Academy doesn't have to pay for.
With the additional income, we're using the opportunity to upgrade some new equipment and finally put outside signage up.
Quick digression...On January 6, 2011 Idea Café posted my blog about giving back to the community and I touched very lightly on advertising/marketing through giving back to the community. I just noticed smallbiztrends.com just posted an article called "Small Business Marketing and Community Service". Hmmmmmm...
Anyway...ah, the signage. I've been putting off for quite some time now. Something about parting with close to the tune of $2000 makes me hesitant. Especially when it's not that big a deal for our small business and we don't have much foot or vehicle traffic around our area. Call it more of a New Year's Resolution. Fortunately, we do qualify for a signage grant that will pay for half of it.
Sigh, there goes $1000 I could use for something else.
Now onto another goal, taking another look at our business plan and where we want to go from here. Lord knows I’m not the foremost expert on business planning, but I know what I want and where I want this business to go, and this includes getting an additional coach, which would push my final 3 year plan to 5 coaches.
5 coaches? Yep, remember the two part-time coaches, 1 other part-time coach at an internship that will return in May, 1 hopefully full time coach by the summer of 2013 (I didn’t mention this one earlier) and currently searching for a full time coach to punch up our program.
Unfortunately, finding fencing coaches isn’t easy, especially finding one that’s not far away (preferable within your own city)…especially finding one that willing to transition to a new city. By 2013 we will have one of our own returning to us. This coach started with our program early in middle school and fenced competitively as well as assistant coached through our program. He is now fencing for UNC-Chapel Hill in their Division I NCAA fencing program. He has a standing offer to return and coach for our program, so far, he’s still in line to do so. Between now and then, however, we’re looking to hire an additional fencing coach. Again, as I mentioned, that’s not easy to do.
So here we are at the beginning of 2013 with new challenges and new goals. The All-American Fencing Academy is determined to face the dead on and with any luck, we’ll continue to come out on top.
About the author
Gerhard Guevarra is the owner of All-American Fencing Academy. With his impressive enthusiasm for teaching and training new and competitive fencers, he instantly grabbed the hearts of our regulars and won the 9th Idea Cafe Small Business Grant.