Don Alley is the owner of Center Stage Preschool in Ashburn, VA, and is an example of the results that unfold when you focus and dream big. Don has 30 years of experience in martial arts and has been running his three karate schools successfully for the last twenty years. He built his preschool from scratch in 2016 and quickly filled his location. He joins Kris for a great chat including ways to use playfulness and personality to stand out of the crowd and set yourself apart with high-level marketing assets, expert tips on how to delegate successfully, his future plans of expansion and growth within his schools, and how he manages running multiple brands.
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Key Takeaways From This Podcast:
Fun Fact: A Facebook ad with video usually outperforms a regular post with just a photo by double the amount. A professionally edited video is great, but even just a homemade one from your phone still does the trick.
Don is our newest Platinum Plus member in the Child Care Success Academy.
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Don merged his passion for karate, child care, and theater to create a place for children to experience a unique and challenging curriculum.
Don married his elementary school crush after he randomly bumped into her years later, and had the courage to ask her out.
Pick up the pen and journal. It’s therapeutic, and even just writing one page a day is a great way to get the flow moving. Don cites the book The Artist’s Way as a great way to get started.
Don leverages both of his businesses, and uses the customer base and geographic proximity as supportive tools for recommending the other.
To have ten locations by the end of 2020 is Don’s goal for the next several years. He also loves helping people figure out their “aha” moments, so consulting and some business-to-business endeavors may be on the horizon as well.
Don may be the owner of Center Stage, but he thinks of himself and his business assistant/partner Heather as the co-founders. Heather has been instrumental in helping him run his life and business in an organized fashion, so he felt great about both of them working in tandem to create their dreams from scratch with her as Director. He gave her a ton of autonomy within a structure, and she ran with it and is a leader herself while taking a lot off Don’s plate.
New hires and potential team members must have the right attitude and energy first, as that is something that is next to impossible to train into someone.
Center Stage’s capacity is 54 and they are currently full, especially thanks to the Enrollment Boot Camp.
Don uses person-to-person marketing for his karate schools. They will attend events, festivals and give away a guest pass to bring people in. He realized quickly that he needed a different strategy for preschool, and the internet was the best way to make it happen. He first created a flashcard video, and within a short time he had over 30,000 views and was getting recognized in the community as the “preschool guy”!
If you feel too shy or introverted to put yourself on camera, there are still many workarounds for making great videos, including using kids, another employee that would love to be the face of the business, or taking acting or coaching classes to develop on-camera skills.
Don’s karate training and mentors taught him to always learn, find solutions, and level up. He uses that mindset for growth in his own profession and the way he inspires others to think of bigger solutions to big problems.
Don’s definition of a rockstar is someone who is trying to add a tremendous amount of value to their communities with their business, at a level where they themselves have delegated the role of Director.