Brian Corey lives in Indian Trail, a suburb of Charlotte, N.C. By day, he works in the textile industry. By night (and on Saturdays), he’s a martial arts master at Corey Family Martial Arts, which he and his wife founded in 2010.
We recently talked with Corey — who has 24 years of experience under his black belt — about how he became an instructor, why he launched his business at the end of a recession, and what he loves most about martial arts.
GoPayment: What do you teach at Corey Family Martial Arts?
Corey: We offer classes for children from age 5 to adults in their 70s. We teach three to four classes a day to about 70 students studying kung fu (to help someone defend against an attack) and Balintawak Escrima, a Filipino martial art that involves using a long stick as an extension of your arm.
Why did you get into this line of business?
I pursued martial arts as a kid and always enjoyed it. I was a schoolteacher for 10 years, and I’ve been in textiles for five. I missed the educational aspect of working with people.
What do you love the most about martial arts?
I’m passionate about teaching martial arts, and our studio gives me an outlet for that. I’m living a dream and getting paid for it. I’m the only instructor, but my entire family is involved in the after-school program: Our son is 7 and does kung fu, and our 5-year old daughter helps my wife as a receptionist. Working here gives me family time every day.
How do you promote the business?
I distribute postcards to my students to share with their friends, give out complimentary passes for free kung fu classes, and generally promote the Escrima classes because we’re one of the few games in town for it. I also have a Facebook page and add photos of the students all the time.
What is the biggest problem you’ve faced running your company? How did you solve it?
Initially, getting students in the door was the biggest challenge. Now I get most of my customers through referrals from current students, but for the first two or three months of operation, I didn’t know if I would be open for another few months. My business has grown steadily ever since.
What do you like about GoPayment?
GoPayment was recommended by a friend with a home-based business. Most of our customers pay in cash or with checks, but using GoPayment with my iPhone gives us a lot more flexibility. I now use GoPayment at the studio to accept debit card payments. It takes about a minute. Some clients like me to email them a receipt, but most don’t.
I also do a fair amount of traveling to teach martial arts seminars. At each one, people usually use cash or checks to buy embroidered fleece jackets and T-shirts. One day last week, someone said, “I don’t have much cash on me. Too bad you don’t accept credit cards.” I said, “Actually, I do.” That helped me sell an extra $600 of merchandise to one person. Customers love it when they can just sign their name with their finger on my iPhone.