A case for small town small schools.
I live in the great state of Wisconsin. It’s a wonderful place about 8 months a year, and all year long if you like snowmobiling and ice fishin’ ( I don’t…)
We have some world class “Big” cities like Madison and Milwaukee, and we have some school kickin’ butt there (400+) but we also have a ton of small cities and towns in the 10,000-50,000 population range, Over the years I have owned and helped open many schools in the “big cities” as well as these small towns (about 25+ of them) Most people would recommend opening in larger market, it makes sense; more people, more lease space available and more employee’s to recruit.
Sounds good at first glance. After all there’s 10 million people in New York, 30,000 in Neenah Wisconsin, why in the heck would you open in Neenah Wisconsin???
But…what if you don’t want to live in New York? What if you don’t like traffic, crime and smog? What if you don’t want to raise your children in a big city with all the associated problems? Can you still be successful?
Let’s look at three small Wisconsin towns are see what’s possible;
We’ll start with a small town called Appleton in the northeast corner of the state about 30 miles south of Green Bay (Go Packers!) with population of only 70,000 people.
I started a Karate America school there in 1994 and years later sold it to a Black Belt student of mine named Jeff Denu.
In the past 20 years Mr. Denu has been able move out of the original school and build a million dollar 8,000 sq. ft school, his student body is in the 400+ member area and his income is about the same as the local brain surgeon. He owns a beautiful home, has rental property and is able to provide a great future for his three children, not bad for a little town is Wisconsin…
Next let’s look at Greenville, it’s located about 8 miles from Appleton. This small town has only 10,000 people. I started this school in 1996 and again sold it to one of Black belts named Shawn Fargen.
Mr. Fargen has been able to buy the building AND the one next to it, has a beautiful home and is able to travel, hunt, and provide a future for his twin children, he’s now expanding into the afterschool/summercamp market and his income is more than four times what he made as a public school teacher.
And next is Neenah, about 10 miles south of Appleton. I started this school in 1995 and later sold it to Matt Schaefer. This small town has only 25,000 people but Mr. Schaefer has build a student body of 400+. He recently build a great brand new home for his wife and 4 (yup count’em 4) kids. The school is extremely profitable but more importantly Mr. Schaefer has built a team that allows him virtually unlimited time to spend doing his favorite thing, which is spending quality time with his kids. His level of income is 5 times what is was as a police officer (and 10x as much as he made as a micro-biologist, which he also was…). Needless to say, he lives a very comfortable lifestyle, is able to provide a home for his mother and is secure in knowing his five kids will be able to attend the college of their choice.
What does this tell us? First it tells us that we can live a wonderful lifestyle comparable to the best paid earners in the US, and we can also have a the “small town” lifestyle that families love.
Now some things need to be done a little different in “small town America” but some people actually like the “difference” of living in a small town.
I’ll discuss some of the differences between running a school in the big city vs a small city in a later post, but for now ; Go Packers!