7 - The Smarter Way To Go About Martial Arts School Student Retention With Paul Veldman - Martial Arts Marketing For Martial Arts Business

7 – The Smarter Way To Go About Martial Arts School Student Retention With Paul Veldman

Paul Veldman from Kando Martial Arts shares how to improve martial arts school student retention by spotting the ‘quitting signs'.

IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN:

  • Knowing your demographic without being everything for everyone
  • Market for a season or a reason
  • Growing young confident students through Leadership Programs
  • Who your real competition is
  • The real reason why your students leave
  • The one thing you need before your martial arts business will flourish
  • And more

*Need help growing your martial arts school? Learn More Here.

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

Personal development is a big thing. And as you know, as most martial artist instructors know – the bigger you get, the less trouble you seem to get into.

GEORGE: Hey, it’s George Fourie from martialartsmedia.com and welcome to the martial arts media podcast, episode number 7. Today, I chat to Paul Veldman from Kando Martial Arts. Another great chat, very inspirational. I’m getting a lot out of these podcasts. My focus is always to start with something martial arts related, but I see it evolving, with all the chats that I'm having and all these great martial artists and business owners that I'm speaking to. It always evolves to the deeper stuff behind the business, what makes the business work, the message behind it and so forth. And that's what you're going to discover in today's podcast as well, so more about that in a minute.

I have a few excellent interviews coming in the next couple of weeks, and I'm going to continue with this week by week, interviewing top martial artists, top martial arts top business owners, top business owners, top motivational people, coaches – you name it. Anything that relates to martial arts in a way and can help you build your martial arts business. From my side, I am preparing to do a series of martial arts podcast with a few live pieces of training, about different aspects of online marketing. How you can grow your business through online media. And the more I speak to martial arts business owners; I see there's a lot of confusion out there on what is the right thing to do, what they should be doing.

Some people that have gone down the journey spent a lot of money on somebody to do their SEO or something stupid. They forked out thousands of dollars and pretty much wasted their money and came away none the better. And I see there's a lot of distrust because of people out there that give advice; that shouldn't be giving advice. Old school methods and just taking a chance to provide real crappy services. It’s something that drives me nuts, but it’s unfortunately out there. And I can see the frustration that people have by going down these avenues and not doing the right things first, which is very, very costly.

So I'm going to embark on a bit of a journey and do a few live training. I've got a few things in mind that I want to teach that I know the essentials. If you've downloaded our martial arts business plan for online media, you will get an idea about what those essentials are, and I'm going to shift a few of those things around and elaborate on them. But I would like to know from you: what would you like to learn, what would you like to know about? Obviously, I'm not going to teach about anything that I'm not qualified to do.

If it’s something that is pressing, that everybody is requesting, I will get an expert to help with that. Or if not, I will do the research and make sure I do my homework before I offer any advice. But anything else that we talk about, that I talk about, I’ll make sure that it’s tried and tested, that it’s been done before, that's it’s not a thumb suck idea. I would like you to get in touch with me. My email – I'm going to say it on the show: george at martial arts media dot com. Very easy, george at martial arts media dot com. Email me directly, tell me what you would like to learn about, what you're struggling with, what your biggest obstacle is in your business now, and I would like to focus on that and give a few training.

So that's it for now, that's what's coming up in the next few weeks, but we still have a few interviews to go before we get to that point. Ok – show notes is at martialartsmedia.com/7.  Show notes; you can also download the transcript from there. And that's it for me for now; please welcome to the show – Paul Veldman.

GEORGE: Good day everyone, today I have with me Paul Veldman, all the way from Victoria. You're based in Melbourne, is that correct?

PAUL: Based in Melbourne, yes.

GEORGE: Based in Melbourne. And Paul is from Kando Martial Arts, and Paul has been in the industry a long time, and it’s funny enough, as I was researching for people I can interview, a lot of people said, “I've been mentored by Paul Veldman.” And that's kind of how I got knocking on Paul's door, and I thought I’d like to get him on the show and get him to share all his industry experience and knowledge with us. So welcome to the show, Paul.

PAUL: Thanks, George, good to be here.

GEORGE: Awesome! So, I guess to start right at the beginning, how did you get into martial arts and what's your background story?

PAUL: Martial arts training, I probably started when I was around 13 years old. And there was no real reason, I wasn't bullied, I had a nice stable house, a home. It was just something I thought I might like to do. Spoke to mom – mom said, you can do martial arts, and I’ll pay the fees, but you've got to find somewhere you can walk to, because I'm working, and these are the jobs you've got to do around the house to make up for your fees. So back then, 30 years ago, there was a judo club or a freestyle karate club in walking distance, that was the choice. So I went with freestyle karate, and I've been training ever since.

GEORGE: All right, awesome. You were also in the police force, weren't you?

PAUL: Yeah, and that was the tipping point as to why. So I trained as a kid in the freestyle karate, I went into traditional karate in the Shukokai stream. And training with my instructor, as we were all young and fit and having a great time and training two or three classes a day, a few days a week, then in conjunction with that, I was going to have a crack at our special operations group on the police force. And in training, I blew my knee up. So I had a full knee reconstruction, and I went from training five or six days a week with my instructor, training at my workplace, training at the gym, to answering phones in a room with no windows.

And as you can understand, it drove me crazy. So I went down to my sensei, and said, I am going nuts here, can I come and help out on the mats? And he said, yeah sure, come on down, help the kids classes. So there I am, in my knee brace, with my crutches, hobbling around. I got off the crutches, and he says to me one day, why don't you open up a club, there's a place down the road? And I went, oh yeah? How hard can it be to run a business in a martial arts club? So for the next ten years, we ran it very, very, very badly as far as the business side went. We taught what we knew. We didn't market; we didn't advertise, we didn't know anything of that.  I worked full time in the police force; I worked six days a week in the club.

We had a young family, and we went through burnout phases regularly. And then, maybe ten years ago now, the first martial arts SuperShow was running Queensland and the first martial arts business seminar I ever went to was with a local Roland Osborne. And the first thing he said to the class was, everybody will leave you in your school. Everybody who's in there now will leave you. They might leave in thirty years time when they've fallen off the perch, or they may turn and quit tomorrow.

So enjoy it, make the most of the time you have with them, but don't let it become personal when they go. And that resonated with me, cause I just lost one guy who was helping me out, and he got a promotion at work, and he left. So I was back to running the club by myself after eight years of running, and I was just in total burnout stage. And so it was then I realized – you know what, there's so much more to the industry than just learning to how to throw a punch or a kick. We might be black belts in what we're doing on the mats in whatever style we're doing it, but boy, we're a white belt or less in the administration, business owner things.

And so that's when we discovered, if we're going to do this, let’s do it properly. Let’s reach more people, let’s do it well. Let’s give people the same goals and career opportunities that we had. So we started getting some business mentoring, we started looking into the subscriptions around, which back in those days were very American, but it was the turning point, it was a real tipping point for us.

GEORGE: Ok. So two things I want to get back to the American vs. Australian systems, and how you adapted that. But going back: you said your first ten years, you guys sort of run it badly. What were the core mistakes that you were making at that time?

PAUL: I think, especially in the first couple of years, you try to be everything to everyone. We were a Shukokai karate base, but with what I was doing in the police force, we were just starting to blend some Brazilian jiu-jitsu, some Filipino martial arts. So you have somebody come in and say, do you guys do Cato, and we say, yeah absolutely, we do Cato, we're Shukokai. And you have someone else come in and say, I want to do sparring, but I am a bit scared, do you do it no contact? And we say we can do non-contact.

Next bloke comes in and goes; I want to get on the mats and punch on, and do full contact. And we go, we can do full contact. And you make a little note to yourself, looks like I'm sparring with this guy most of the time. So we didn't know what our demographic target was. We ran classes that we enjoyed, and to be honest, that's still the basis of our club today. I enjoy the traditional karate, the values, the strength, the style. I enjoy, although I'm not very good at it, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I enjoy the Filipino martial arts, so that's what our styles evolved into.

But we're a lot clearer now on who we want training with us. We don't want the knuckle-dragger who's going to come in and hurt people, who want a professional fighter because we can't cater to them. So identifying who our ideal customer was looking at who do I want to train with? Who's my perfect training buddy? And that evolved into, well – who's the best customer for what we offer?

And so when someone comes in, who's wants don't suit what we have, then we're really happy to recommend a couple of clubs nearby, there's a couple of really good mixed martial arts clubs, there's a couple of smaller clubs that are maybe a little bit cheaper than us and a bit less full time. And to be honest, I'm more than happy: as long as someone's training, I think that's great. If they're training with me, that's fantastic, but I would rather have someone not join me, and go to another martial arts club, than not train at all.

GEORGE: For sure. Ok, so that solved a lot of problems, when you defined exactly who that audience is that you can zone in with your market, and it’s something that comes up in the interview yesterday as well. So, moving on from that: you mentioned you learned from the American systems. I've worked in America for a long time, and I had a shell shock when I came to South Africa, and going to America, coming to Australia – I was adapting myself to those different styles. Now, you've mentioned that you've learned a lot from the American way of doing things: how did you take that and applied it to the Australian market, without becoming too Americanized as such?

PAUL: Our first package we joined up was a Mayer package. And what it gave us, it started giving us structure. It started to say – have a plan. Because I think I've run my club for nearly two years and nearly closed the doors, before I put the pamphlet out. You know, the old adage – if you build it, they will come – build it and they will come if they know about you! So we found with the American Marketing, one – it was all there was. There was nothing local back then. And so, it gave us a structure; it gave us things like marketing for a season or reason.

So when father's day came around, the father's day workout, New Years, Spring specials. And tying it with all that makes sense. Their senses might be opposite ours, so the package we're getting is no good for now, but it gave us an idea. It gave us an idea of making things colorful, and not just putting a sign in the window. But then, the artwork was never for the Australian market. They don't look like Australians. We're relatively similar on the outside, but the artwork looked very American, the Mother's Day or thank you, mom, M-O-M – never translated. But it gave us a start; it gave us a bit of an idea of what was happening.

The first guy, a mentor I know, was a chap called Keith Scott. A fantastic little Texan, he's just a wealth of knowledge, a guy who shared everything. And he came to Australia a couple of times, and we started to bring him around to the Australian way a little bit, and he would help tweak things. He came and did a two-day assessment of a school, where he stayed with us for two days. He came to the school, sat through all the classes, all the instructor meetings, etc., to feel the difference.

We made those mistakes through trial and error – some ads worked, some ads didn't work. It was a little bit of a shotgun effect, where we'd throw everything out there and the ones that came back, we'd go with them more. So we gradually fine-tuned things. Nowadays with Facebook and social media, that's a massive part of it that we're still getting our head around.

GEORGE: Yeah. Well, one thing you brought up, and this is something key that we try and teach: if you're doing social media and stuff yourself, the easiest way to do things and to get traction is just pay attention. You had a name for it, season or reason I think it was?

PAUL: Yeah, the market for a season or reason.

GEORGE: Yes, and that's such an easy way to get traction in social media because, when you're talking about what's already been talked about and you can tie that into your marketing, people are automatically paying attention. They're already paying attention to the Father's Day, so piggyback on that promotion that's already happening and then make that your marketing.

PAUL: Yes.

GEORGE: Ok, cool. So, how many locations do you have at this point?

PAUL: We have three locations, the main one is in a place called Hughesdale. We run… I think we're seeing around 670-680 students out of that one. We've got another one that's two years old as of yesterday, they're seeing around 250 students, and we've got one that's six months old, and there are about 80 students.

GEORGE: Ok, so let’s go back to how did this all evolve? At what point did you decide you were ready to branch out and go for that number two?

PAUL: I guess, with working through the police force as well, I got out of police force about 6- 7 years ago. Not because I didn't love what I was doing, but the time just came to jump, one way or the other. I was finding I wasn't doing anything properly, I was half doing the club, half doing the police force. And so, when I went full time with the club, it gave me so much more opportunity to develop. Not just the style or the students, but the instructors. That was one of the key points, after that first mentoring was to understand that you can't do everything by yourself.

You've got to build your team. And your team might be your guys on the mats, your guys on the desk, it might be your accountant, your solicitor, but your team has to be there. I’m very lucky that I've got still with me now some really good young guys, kids, that are now in their mid-twenties. And I always earmarked an area, that demographic. I lived here; I thought this would be a great club one day. And a couple of young guys that talked about running clubs, and one day, James came in and said, I know you've always said you'll do this area, but I wouldn't mind starting something – what do you think?

And I said, look, I'm not in a position to do it, so, we could do that – what do you think we do a partnership? And he said, well what does that involve, and I said I have no idea at all! So, we formed this idea of a partnership, which is an interesting demographic. Like I said, James has been with me since he's been five years old, and he's now an extremely competent 23-year-old instructor practitioner. So we went – let’s just do it. And the stars aligned to a certain extent, and I think it’s like anything: if you've gotten things on your checklist that you want to have happened before you proceed to something, good luck if you get 6 or 7. So do we prepped in some areas? Yeah, absolutely.

James is a fantastic instructor. The premises came up quickly, which was unusual down there, so we thought let’s just jump at that. Areas we could have worked more on if we had more time, was the admin side of things, the business side of the club. But we're up and running. We had some teething problems, we fixed things that we needed to go, and as long as the face of what was happening, to the students, to the customers, was OK, and then the behind the scene stuff – we scrambled where we had to scramble. So it wasn't an expansion plan as such, it’s just that we had such great success here.

And the guys who helped me make this place so successful by taking classes and being such great instructors saw it as a genuine lifestyle choice. And so, we thought why not? It’s not your traditional career path, but we know that financially it can be rewarding, and even more so rewarding in the way that you interact with people through what you can do. So the plan to expand was never “I think I want to open up two or three clubs.”

And one of our mentors, Fred DePalma, says, “When you think about opening your second or third club – don't.” Headaches do come, things get to a certain critical mass, then things start to come together. The clubs support each other; you bounce ideas off each other. So yeah, I guess to answer that – I never planned on opening multiple schools, but we a have a really good instructor development program, where we almost develop the instructors to the point where, if we don't let them go at it under us, they're going on their own anyway.

GEORGE: So what does that involve? I’ll probably skip this step as well. Were you balancing your full-time job and then the school part time?

PAUL: Yes.

GEORGE: So you went full-time with the school first and then opened the second one?

PAUL: No, I’d run the school six days a week from the day I opened it, this was just, again, not knowing what to do. My instructor ran his school six days a week, so I did the same, I ran my school six days a week. But I was also working a full-time job – he wasn't. So that was probably mistake number one, it was too much. And doing that for multiple years, where every working week was 80 hours +, was just crazy. The kids paid the price; the family paid the price; we don't do that anymore. Even the new schools on their full time only run four days a week. And we won't run more than four days a week until we create a critical mass. So there was that.

GEORGE: Ok, so you have this program then where you sort of groom the instructors. Can you elaborate a bit more on that?

PAUL: Yeah. There's a very solid element of self-defense involved in martial arts. And my background, my street background with policing and so forth, has helped with that, what works and 14365348_10208838587554765_1464196218_n1what doesn't work. But in this day and age, especially the demographic we live in, our area – 14365348_10208838587554765_1464196218_n1personal development is a big thing. And as you know, as most martial artist instructors know – the bigger you get, the less trouble you seem to get into physically. You don't have that need to get into a confrontation, you've got nothing to prove.

Your awareness of what can happen, both to you and from you is there, so we work very much in developing the kids and their confidence. We start off with what we call a leadership program, and kids can join that at ten years old. And simply, that involves them coming down to help one class a week and then once a month we do a leadership training hour. We'll cover things like public speaking, how to break down teaching.

And I’ll tell you what George: these kids are amazing. They might be 10 or 11 years old; they're like sponges. They will get up and explain to you the three attributes of teaching, what a good instructor should be like. So, from there, when they hit 14 years old, if they're really good, we put them on what we call a traineeship. It’s like an internship, so we're looking at how can this person get. So they come along for one night a week, and we want to see if they can maintain that balance of training because that's first and foremost – they've got to be a student.

If they can do that one night a week, they can maintain their homework. Because we have to work with parents into this. At 15, if they've gone through that pretty well, we’ll put them on as part-time instructor. And then they'd stay with us really, up until most of them finish university.

GEORGE: Oh wow, awesome.

PAUL: In my main club, we've got in the vicinity of 50 to 60 leadership team, and we run at about 15 staff. We've got three full-timers, and the rest of them are part-timers or casuals or students.

GEORGE: Awesome. I see the value in that. Where my son trains, they have the similar type leadership program, and he's been talking about it for a few years and very much is what you've explained, the whole progression, like you say, the public speaking and things like that. I’d almost argue that they get more value out of that from going to school because you see these kids in martial arts, they're at this maturity level that you can't compare with when you look at anybody else in their age group.

PAUL: And where do you get an 11-year-old these days, who can stand up in front of a class of 20 kids, take charge and give clear instructions? It just doesn't happen.

GEORGE: Yeah, it’s invaluable. I think it’s probably the most underrated skill, that confidence to be able just to present something. They say public speaking is what most people fear more than death.

download3PAUL: And I think you've touched on it there, when you say it’s underrated, I think if people knew the value of martial arts and not just the punching and kicking, they'd be lining up around the block to join clubs. I think as an industry, this is what we need to push across. It is the inherent value of what we do, and I know this sounds cliche, but I believe it: our competition's not the bloke down the street with the different martial arts club. I don't lose students to other clubs: I lose students to basketball or football or cricket or whatever that team activity is. But as martial arts instructors, if we can teach parents especially – look, this is what your kids get out of this it’s not about making them become thugs in our industry.

GEORGE: Do you use that in your marketing? You've hit the key point there; I guess that's the ultimate thing: it’s not the kicking, it’s not the punching. That's really what the kid is getting out of this martial arts training. Is there a way that you use that to communicate it to a parent?

PAUL: Yeah. And I guess I look at it in two ways: one, what I talk to parents, and two, what I talk about people that I mentor. To the parents, I say it straight up: we will teach your kid self-defense, and we teach age specific and school appropriate.We also give them tips on how to avoid bullies etc., like a lot of clubs, do. As I said to the parent, what we're going to give to your kid is more valuable than just being able to defend themselves.

If they're in a fight – initially, we're going to teach them how not to get into a fight. We're going to teach them environmental awareness, we're going to teach them verbal skills, we've got some download1fantastic instructors, who work with the young kids, and they're just guns, but the message they deliver is not just about punching and kicking, there are life skills there.

We've got a great book, where every week there's a lesson. Now, the lesson might be on good manners, or it might be when day comes up, a bit of history. So we're trying to make these kids more than kids. And as I say to the parents, think about the last time your kid had a real fight. And they go, well he hasn't yet. And we say great; we want to maintain that track records, with a few skills to back it up if need be. We talk a lot about kids, but it’s the same as with adults.

When you sit down, especially in our area, I say to the adults – when's the last time you had a real fight? Knock them down, stomp them in the head, poke them in the eye fight? And most adults, 95% of them will go – never. I say good, so who the enemy here? It’s cholesterol and stress and not having something to do for yourself. So these are the triggers we use for our marketing because they're true.

I’m 45 years old and to find something for me, when I'm not busy at work, I'm not busy with my kids or spending time at home, working around the house, finding something that's my outlet, is gold. And that's why, in our adult class, probably half of them are parents. And when we talk to business owners, we say, we'll put a value on your punching and kicking, and again, you've got to find your demographic we talked about at the start. Find your perfect market. If you're a fight school, and you want to groom fighters, then you're looking at a different market.

But I say, punching and kicking – man, that's worth $50-60 a month, I can get that anywhere. You add in nice venues at that, where the parents who are your customers, can come in, sit down, there's a coffee machine, it’s maybe a bit warm in the winter, a bit cooler in the summer – add another $30-40 a month on. Then you show the parents how you're going to develop their kids as people, and you've got a  good match-up program or life skills program – add another $30-40 a month again.

So you're constantly building value in what you're doing. And, when you think about it, the worst quit you have is the email from the parent – little Johnny is quitting, please cancel our fees. The best quit you have is the parent ringing up and saying, little Johnny wants to quit – how can we stop him from doing that, what can we do?

GEORGE: And how do you handle that? If a parent says, look – this is the situation, he wants to quit. What can you do?

PAUL: We try to be proactive before. So, what we look at, we look at training patterns. When the kids or even adults come in to train, they have a card, like the old punch card. And they take it out of the rack during the class, and they hand it to the instructor. Now, it’s old fashion; we have databases and things as well, but what that does is, it gives us a point of contact at the very start of the class.

We run a rule of three: that every student at every student at every class has to be encouraged and acknowledged at least three times. So the first one is: good day George, how's it going? I have a look at your card, I flip it over, and I can see your training pattern. And I saw you were doing great at the start of the of year, mid-year you've dropped off, and the last two months I've barely seen you.

So that's the indicator for the instructor to flag up with the parents before it happens before they stop coming. The instructors are OK to give out free private classes. So maybe he's having a bit of a problem with him picking up a kata or form, or maybe he's taken a knock in sparring, and his self-confidence is down. So we try to schedule just a quick chat with the parents and/or the student to say, hey – you're not training as much, what's going on? Is it something we can help with?

If we don't catch them before that, and they do cancel out – now, I should say, we don't run contracts. I have nothing against contracts; we just don't do it because if you don't want to train with me, I don't want to keep you here. We do have a 30-day cancellation policy. They can train in those 30 days, in those 30 days what can we do to reverse it? The biggest thing is finding why and the bottom line is, students leave because they're bored. Sometimes they leave because they don't feel like they're making progress, but they leave because they're bored. So we have to look for patterns in classes. We have to look at is it a certain class, a certain belt level, a certain instructor, and then we need to pay our due diligence there.

GEORGE: Ok, excellent. So this is going to lead in great with retention, because I think you're addressing this right now, it’s a question of really paying attention to what's happening with your students. It’s not like they just come in, and then you're in shock when a cancellation letter comes. You're actually in tune with that and watching for the patterns that might arise to address them. So, expanding on that, what do you guys do to manage retention within the club?

PAUL: Now, here is that piece of string and how long is it!

GEORGE: Yes!

PAUL: People want to be part of a tribe, I think. People like to be part of a group, and organization, where they feel valued. So I guess we have two parts: on the mats and off the mats. On the mats, your staff has got to be good at highlighting the hotspot. Highlighting on the go, recognizing someone saying something well and just making a comment along the way. Or spotlighting, where you stop the class and go, hey, show me that again, that was fantastic.

So people feel recognized for the class they do. Something as simple as a high five or a fist bump for a kid, and again, if you've got a class of 40 people, you can't do it yourself, your staff have to be able to do this. So the system, being acknowledged in class. They need to see progress; this is why we have a belt system. But then again, as you know, it’s self-sourcing. If they're not training and not progressing – not progressing, they're frustrated and won't come to training.

So you need to have a belt system with the goals that are tangible for them. We have Good Joe cards. Every kid in our club gets a Good Joe card every turn. And again, there's a spreadsheet where the instructors need to find something they've done well. And it might be he mastered a kick, it might be his consistency in training; it might be his general effort. But every shift, the instructors have to have the Good Joe cards before they go on. And they write them like, and some of the Good Joe cards are amazing! They're almost like pieces of art. The instructors believe what they say, which is important. You and I, we get a letter in the mail, and we go, how much is this going to cost me?

A kid who is anywhere from 4 to 11 years old, gets a letter, and they're excited! My instructors recognize I did well in class, and they've acknowledged it! My three kids train, they've all been training since they were four years old. And even last year, my boys will get a Good Joe card, and it will go up in the mirror, even after all these years. So there is that acknowledgment. We have birthday cards go out when it’s your birthday or birthday week. We have little events, retention events, where we'll do pizza and DVD nights, we'll run in-house tournaments.

There's just a lot of things, and I think what you've got to realize is that there's no one quick fix. You've got to have a system of retention. And interestingly, if you do some math, say an average $130 a month student: if you can save two students a month, just by showing some extra attention, working some retention strategies, over two years, you're setting yourself to $70,000. So it’s not we're talking about here. Plus, that student who's left, he's not saying fantastic things about your club necessarily, they're not referring people. They're not with you; you don't want to lose students because some of the students you lose are fantastic people, and it hurts when you lose some of them.

GEORGE: Yeah. Alright, excellent. Awesome, I'm sure I could keep you going for hours, but I've got two more questions for you. One: taking all this experience that you have, where you're at now, what would you do differently, starting all over again?

PAUL: Wow! I didn't have a “Why.” I didn't have a “Why I want to open up my club,” and these days this is my main thing with someone who's an instructor, it’s having a why. So I opened up my club because I was frustrated and bored – that's not a good enough why. I didn't have a goal of, I want to help people, I want to generate income, I want this to take over my full-time job. So I would make my why a lot more solid because that would make it easier to focus on through the harder times. And it would just keep me in tune.

The second thing I would do is say, get educated. Especially these days, there's so much marketing around. When I started off, there was not the Internet. There were no packages, no one was allowed to cross train, to find different skills, it was very tabooed, not to go to another club. So get educated. Acknowledge the fact that you might be the most fantastic martial artist in the world, you might be a fantastic instructor, but if you don't know a Facebook boosted post from a  newspaper ad, you've got no hope in building your club, not in this day and age, there's too much competition.

So treat yourself like a white belt. I can't tell you how much the industry frustrates me, that I will get people who will spend $300 on a seminar, to learn a sparring technique or a new kata, but won't spend a $150 to go to a weekend business summit, where they could put 20 new students down in the next month. So what I would do differently, I would start off slower. I would educate myself on the marketing and business side of things. And if you're not running a business, if you're in a school hall, and you're charging $10 a class per person, then you're just not running your business very well.

So that would be my two big things: focus on the why, get educated earlier with the business and administration side.

GEORGE: Excellent! Paul, thanks a lot for your time, just lastly, you've got the vast knowledge to share and so forth: if people want to learn more about you or from you, is there anywhere they can go or find out more?

PAUL: Yeah, absolutely. I’m very excited; a lady called Michelle Hext, and I are launching an online mentoring program, Martial Arts Business Success. That launches in October. So if you jump into Facebook and look for Michelle or me – Michelle is an absolute whiz on Facebook and in IT. I’m dysfunctional with IT, but the strengths I have, we work very, very well with our staff, our growing schools, our retention. So it’s going to be a great little partnership there.

But have a look at that, talk to people more successful than you, talk to people who have made the mistakes. This is like training: we're training martial arts, so we don't have to go through the mistakes that the early guys made. Same with martial arts business: walk into the Facebook works, go to the summit weekends and just get educated and start to build up your network of guys that share the same goals that you do. Because as you know, you get energy from those guys. You look at what they're doing, and you're like, man, that a good idea!

And I’ll let you in on a little secret, you and your couple thousand of people that are going to watch this: all my best ideas are not my best ideas! Out of the hundred great ideas I've had in twenty years, probably three of them are original. And the other 97 I've gone – that's good, I'm going to do that. I might tweak it, but, yeah. So get invested in your industry and get to know people who are like you and just enjoy your journey.

GEORGE: Excellent, that's awesome. Thanks a lot, Paul, and what I’ll do is, once your program is out for those people that are listening to this later, I’ll make sure that the links are all in the show notes so that they can get access to you.

PAUL: Alright, great, thanks, George.

GEORGE: Awesome, thanks a lot. I’ll talk to you soon.

GEORGE:  And there you have it, a great way to end off. And thanks again Paul Veldman from Kando Martial Arts. Transcripts of the show, show notes is at martialartsmedia.com/7, the number 7. And I liked the last message there from Paul – having your why. Having your why it’s so important. Why are you doing this?

Is it just to earn a paycheck, is it just that's what you're doing – what's the real why, what's the real motive behind building your business and doing all this? And the clearer you are with the why – it’s funny enough, everything else falls into place. We tend to look for the solutions and strategies and everything, but when you get clear on where it is that you want to be, everything else tends to fall into place.

All right – thanks again for listening. Tune in again next week, I have an excellent interview with you, going real, real deep on the why. Looking forward to getting that interview up to you, and as I've mentioned before – if you'd like to get in touch with me, george at martial arts media dot com, and let me know what you'd like to learn about and what you would like to listen to more on the show. Thanks again, I’ll chat with you next week – cheers!

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George Fourie

Hi I'm George Fourie, the founder of MartialArtsMedia.com. When I'm not doing dad duties or training on the mats (which I manage to combine when my son is willing! :), I'm helping Martial Arts Gym owners grow their business through the power of online media.

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