101 – Costa Prasoulas – Applying Philosophy And Martial Arts To The Fight Of Life

Martial arts school owner Costa Prasoulas shares how philosophy influences his life of acting and martial arts.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • Costa’s ancient ancestral history of martial arts 
  • The philosophy that Costa upholds in his martial arts academy
  • How Costa’s career in martial arts movies began
  • Observing martial arts fight scenes from a different perspective 
  • The self defense approach to Covid-19
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

I think of philosophy and its beautiful relation to martial arts is the fact not that it gives you answers, but it creates questions. It creates an open channel of thinking. In relation to martial arts, there's not one answer. There's many ways from a technical avenue, from a stylistic perspective and many answers, there's not one thing, right? That's why there's so many variations and so many possibilities.

GEORGE: Good day, this is George and welcome to another Martial Arts Media™ business podcast. So today I'm joined with a special guest all the way from Marrickville, Sydney, New South Wales. We were going to, actually like a lot of things, do this interview a couple of months back, but at the time of recording this, as we all know, the world changed and so things got delayed. So welcome to the call Costa Prasoulas. How are you today Costa?

COSTA: Yeah good thank you George, I'm very well thank you. It’s nice to be with you.

GEORGE: Cool. Costa has an interesting background and who better to tell us – look, if somebody has a Wikipedia page, it deserves mentioning, right? So who better to tell us a bit of an intro and then Costa can take over, but… Costa Prasoulas is an Australian actor and martial artist trained in Muay Thai, Hapkido, Taekwondo, Pankration and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, having won the Australian Open Martial Arts Championship in 1992, Intercontinental Kickboxing Champion and won a silver medal at the 2009 World Games. His acting credits include Cop's Enemy and Z-End.

How cool is that? My work was done for me and a really good intro.

COSTA: It's quite interesting, you know, I didn't even know that I had a Wikipedia page until about last year when my daughter came up and she is like, “Dad, guess what?” I said “What?” She goes “Oh, we were looking at you at school with some friends of mine. My daughter is in year 12 mind you. And she goes, “You’re on Wikipedia!” I said, “Really?” I had no idea. And so it only came to my attention that I was actually on Wikipedia like maybe over the last sort of what, 18 months. So it's quite interesting. But it's cool that you said that, I didn't even know myself.

GEORGE: That actually makes it a lot better, you know. If it was instigated from the marketing standpoint and, you know, it's still good that you can get it. But the fact that it was up there without you knowing…

COSTA: Yeah, I had no idea. I had absolutely no idea, no idea.

GEORGE: That can lead to the next question, like: how did it come to that? I mean, you've obviously done some cool things within the martial arts space and then movies. So give us a bit of a background, how this all got started for you and where you came from?

COSTA: Sure. Primarily, from a very young age, I was about five and a half or six years of age when I started really sort of getting involved with martial arts. And the primary reason was my father. My father was actually, he dabbled in amateur Greco-Roman wrestling in Greece. When my parents sort of settled then in Australia, in Sydney and I was, you know, my dad was always sort of in the combative arts anyways, so I had that primarily from a cultural background, that Hellenic combative ideal of you know, mind, body and spirit. My ancient ancestors you know. And so that was kind of like, I never really sort of, I kind of grew up with that sort of mentality. To me that was normal because of the way that my life as a young kid sort of was involved in that.

So I kind of like progressed with some other martial arts as well. With Hapkido, Taekwondo, I moved on to Muay Thai, I spent quite a number of years competing in kickboxing, sort of Muay Thai and stuff like that. I spent a lot of time in Europe, because we have quite a bit of family in Greece, so I kind of lived over in Europe for quite a few years. I competed quite a bit in Europe, spent a bit of time in Holland, sort of Muay Thai kickboxing style is more dutch or European K1 style, which was quite sort of not very popular back then, especially in the 90s. It was sort of very new to the sort of Australia South Pacific region. I spent a bit of time in Thailand, travelled to South Korea, traveled quite a bit. Over the course of those years, I was involved in quite a few sort of choreography and martial arts sort of scenes. You know, doing bits and pieces for commercials and stuff like that.

Then finally I had one of my friends, and she's sort of like to me, well, why don't you get an agent and do this professionally? And it kind of sort of led to that, there was a production that was happening maybe about 10 years ago, 11 years ago and I was kind of involved behind the scenes for choreography. I think it was half an Australian-Indonesian production and we’ve got a lot of Asian cinema mates. You know, there's always combat and there's lava death and revenge, there's always something happening, so it's pretty cool, you know, it's our style, right?

And there was this fight scene that I needed to create between the main actor and three villains. And these guys were all fantastic actors, but their martial arts skills left a lot to be desired. And they were wonderful actors, great guys, but they needed a lot of training. And I primarily turned to the director, I said, “Listen,” I said, “I need to work with these guys,” because when you do stuff like this on screen as opposed to competitive or real sort of situational combat, it's very different. It's very, very, very, very different. You know, you extend your kicks, you need to do your thrust. And you always take use of your environment.

So if we're say for example doing a scene, I don’t know, I’m just going to pick say in a coffee shop or something, right? We're utilizing tables, chairs, stuff that could be used as weapons and you take all this into consideration. Then you know, the number one priority is safety. And usually with action things, I think that it's hardcore action movies especially martial artists don't get enough credit as much as they deserve, simply because it's not just dialogue where if you make a mistake, or there's a slip-up or some kind of retake needs to happen, it can be done.

Whereas with fight scenes, especially when you're dealing with weapons, the tables and chairs and you’re looking all of a sudden like Jackie Chan, what these guys do, they’ll spend easily eight to nine hours to pull up a two to three minutes scene. It's just massive, because you're doing a number of different takes and angles and there's mistakes and then you’ve got injuries and you’ve got… So there's a lot at play, there's a lot more to handle.

Anyway, I said to him, you know, we need to do this, we need to spend X amount of time. So we kind of sort of started to progress down that avenue. And then he was sort of running out of time, so it was going over budget, it was going over time so there's all these little factors to take into consideration. And he goes, “You know what mate?” He goes, “Stuff it, you do it.” Because it's an Asian movie, right? So you've got to remember that the Europeans are usually the bad guys, you know, in a lot of the Asian movies. So you’ve got to understand the historical context of why that happens. So he goes, “You'd be perfect for it, so no problem.” So it kind of like took off from there, and it was a major movie, especially in… That movie was quite big in Indonesia.

It kind of like stems from there, it's been an interesting sort of… I really enjoyed it, especially because I don't really compete much now. Now I'm focusing on my Academy and my acting, I love my family as well, so I try to juggle my time quite effectively at work. It's pretty cool, it's pretty cool. I've been getting a lot more drama serious roles, I kind of like being stigmatized, kind of like a mafia boss, you know, that kind of role. So the last couple of years my roles have been primarily more of a, like a godfather, you know, like a stand over guy, like that “Don't mess with me” kind of dude, you know, which is pretty cool, you know, it’s nice.

GEORGE: Yeah, I saw a few clips and you match that persona pretty good. Yeah, you’ve got the martial arts experience, you were with a bunch of actors, they’re actors, but they don’t know what they’re doing – how does that process work to actually get actors on par with a scene and how much of it is orchestrated and improvised? Is it 100% orchestrated and is that why the length of the time, or…?

COSTA: Mmm, that’s a good question. So you'll find that with straight out actors, it takes a long time to train them. So if they’re doing usually a big budget production, where you get big Hollywood actors, or you know, mainstream high end actors, they’ll spend the time to train them and they’ll, for example look at the film that we all love, like John Wick and yeah you can go look and see that Keanu Reeves was already trained, he had been training in martial arts for years.

But in this particular one, they wanted to change it, so they brought in Jean Jacques Machado, they brought in a lot of guys with another element and he was just training relentlessly for like 3 to 6 months. And this guy has been consistently active and they were able to pull off this scene. So there was a combination of choreography and sort of go with the flow, let's improvise. So with guys like him, you can.

If you take someone, let's say for example, that’s had no sort of athletic training and really hasn't been evolving in forms of martial arts or combat, it's really difficult. So that's why you'll find, depending on the region, depending on what they're doing is they'll use people that will have a background in it. Or you know, a lot of the extras, all the supporting actors, will be very highly trained martial artists to make the flow seem effective.

You know, when you think of Liam Neeson in “Taken”, where he’ll do… the camera angles are very close, so you know where you see he’s not doing much, and he’s very sort of like a one hit, one finish and done. That’s how they get around working with guys like that. So they don't have to overly train them, because they’re more drama based actors, they’re not fight actors.

Whereas, if we go back a bit, where you’ve got guys like Keanu Reeves and Van Damme, you know all these guys. Like Jason Statham, he’s a classic example, you know, these guys are all trained. It's much easier for them to flow, so they can work well. So if you and I both trained and you were in a supporting scene, we would improvise a lot and we would work off each other, so that would reduce that flow. And that's why you'll see scenes, have you ever seen the movie called “The Raid”?

GEORGE: No.

COSTA: Ok. watch “The Raid.” So… it's pretty cool. They did like a 15 minute high impact fight scene where they were just going with the flow. And this probably took them, whereas with a normal actor it would take him 3 days to shoot a 10 minute scene, they did it in a span of like 12 hours, just like that. And some people are highly skilled, but they're terrible on camera. Like they’ve just got no reaction, because you've got to fake it. If you punch me here and I don't react to that, well it doesn't look very realistic on film, does it? You're trying to sell it.

GEORGE: That's interesting. I've always tried to look at movies just from the devil's advocate point of view of, hang on, was that really your hand and how was the angle and how did the punch land? Was it from you, was it from someone else, and was it a double? Yeah.

COSTA: Accidents do happen though. They do happen, a lot of people get injured, you know? There's many people who have had broken foot or broken ribs or mishaps and stuff like that. And it just depends on sometimes you just get caught up in the moment, or you could be on uneven terrain and you’re working off ladders or tables or chairs, accidents do happen. People do get hurt – it’s not intentional, but it can happen, especially when you’re dealing with weaponry in another sort of environment and stuff. And there's also, there's many things, there's also the continuity factor.

So for example, when you’re looking at a base movie, let’s say for example we're doing a scene, we’re doing a dialogue scene, we’re sitting, let's take the coffee shop like we did before – this is where you'll notice things like, they're having a conversation but we’re doing a number of retakes, so we’re there for an extensive amount of time, where you’re drinking say for example, I don't know, sparkling mineral water. But your glass is half full, you're wearing your Breitling watch on your left hand and your hair is styled this way and your shirt has got one button untucked. And then you'll see the same thing later on, but the glass is empty, your shirt looks a little bit differently. That's because they're doing a number of retakes, all this stuff comes into effect too.

So if you've caught a punch on your right side and you're kind of like tripled with bleeding, the makeup comes in and the director of photography to create continuity purposes, because it's very difficult. If you have to do for example a sidekick to the knee, and we’ve got a kick, you’re doing this, you might end up shooting like 50-60, a 100 sidekicks over and over and over again. Say, you start to sweat, all this stuff comes into it. It's quite…it's a lot harder than what people think, it's not that simple. That's why I said to you in the beginning, I said, there's a much higher appreciation for those action sequences and what some of the big actors and the stunt guys actually go through to produce the final product, it's actually quite an intense process.

GEORGE: I think I'll be looking at 2-3 minute fight scenes with a new level of eyes.

COSTA: Yeah yeah, you tend to appreciate it a lot more, a lot more.

GEORGE: So you've got Zeus Academy?

COSTA: Yes I do.

GEORGE: And so with your background of acting, have any of your students followed that same path? Or have you directed them in that way when you spot some talent?

COSTA: Not necessarily. I have offered my students when there has been opening for extras roles, or you know, like background roles and they need people, I will offer it and some of them have been involved in a few short films, like for the Toronto film festival, Sydney film festival, you know the Cannes film festival, they're doing a lot of short films, productions and stuff like that. Nothing major, like not big budget productions or sort of mid budget productions.

I think it's not something that I push them to do, it's something that if any of them are interested in that avenue, at some point I'll probably look into it, but I have offered when there has been opportunities arisen and some have taken part, but I don't really push them down that avenue. As a professor, a martial instructor of the academy, people have different goals. Primarily all of our students that come don't come for that reason. It wouldn't be for martial arts choreography or for that, you know, it will always be something. If something changes in the future, especially some of the guys that have been with me for 10-15 years and they enjoy this and they want to pursue this, definitely.

But I think it's a very oversaturated industry, to be honest with you. It's very little, like the way that the industry works now is very different to what it used to be. So most of the time now, you know, people will make a lot of short films, they’ll make a lot of black pilot productions with the goal to eventually get it on Netflix, or Stan, something like that and get picked up. And if that’s a success, you get a percentile cut and you’re progressed to a seasonal production, whereas… and most of this is free work, you know, it's a very, very oversaturated industry. Especially, here in Australia it's very difficult, especially with action movies, very few productions get done here, they’re more in the hardy tardy kind of thing, they’re not into that kind of hardcore Asian, that John Wick sort of Transporter style movies. You’ve got a lot more Europeans and Americans and Asians that do that style, you know?

GEORGE: Fantastic. So behind you there's a nice display of different trophies and so forth. Give us a bit of background on what's going on there.

COSTA: Yeah. I just mixed up all of my intercontinental kickboxing title belt, a couple of trophies like some, a gold medal from the Sydney BJJ comp, I've just… it's bits and pieces. It's nice, this is some of the stuff that I have. I'm at home now, so I’m not in the office, this is a small one, my home stuff, there's a lot of stuff in the gym. I don't primarily like to make the Zeus Academy about me, I like to have the impression that it is about the academy, you know?

GEORGE: Lovely.

COSTA: That way it gives me a little bit more freedom to do my acting and do some other stuff that I do. So the way that I work with Zeus Academy, we’ve kind of got 5 branches. So we've got our standard martial arts training and different classes, where we offer Muay Thai, high level Muay Thai. High-level Brazilian jiu jitsu, Pankration, mixed martial arts, Hapkido and we have our kids’ taekwondo/kickboxing programs. So we have those styles that we teach there. So then my second avenue is, I do quite a bit of work, I used to and I still do occasionally, but not as much as I did before, due to all the circumstances that have happened throughout the world and stuff. I do quite a bit of work with corrective services and security, sort of protection, sort of area. I do a lot of the training of the guards personally myself.

I also do my film work and we run quite a few anti-bullying programs for schools and we also have remedial massage, personal training, weight control and you know personal sort of little things that we work on with individualistic sort of people, depending on, you know, their personal issues that they're dealing with. And we've also got our manager in Zeus, she's pretty much our psychologist and does a few other things as well.

So I kind of run it with those five sort of little sub branches, but all under one academy. So there's many things that I kind of like to do with Zeus Academy in that respect, so it’s kind of like a little bit different from your average martial arts Academy. And it's not that I kind of like planned to take it to any of these specific avenues. I truly believe like if you work hard and you have faith and you believe in what you do, you're very passionate about what you’re doing and you know, you keep at it things fall into place, you know.

And that's kind of like, it’s kind of happened, with the competitive scene, I love competition. I'm not, I don't push it. We have a few very, very high-level competitors. Not a huge amount, but I do find that they take a lot more of my time and a lot of time that I would like to spend. And it’s great, I understand it because I did it myself, I used to compete quite a bit over here and in Europe as well and Asia. But it's not something that I'm a big fan of going down that avenue. I will support it as much as I possibly can, but to go into that sort of fight lifestyle it's just a whole lot of time consuming with very little return, to be honest with you.

GEORGE: Yeah, totally. So I'm curious just on your, on your academy, you mentioned your you know you've got five sort of different pillars.

COSTA: Mhm.

GEORGE: So different audiences. So when it comes to marketing, is it, do you focus on one primary target audience and then there's a bit of cross-promotion in between, or you sort of just have people coming in from all angles across all five pillars?

COSTA: So from a marketing perspective, I just market the academy, primarily I always market the Academy for its philosophy. The philosophy of the Academy, because I do a lot of, I actually studied philosophy quite extensively ever since I was young. So I studied a lot of Socrates, Aristotle and stuff like that. I think of philosophy and its beautiful relation to martial arts in the fact not that it gives you answers, but it creates questions. It creates an open channel of thinking. In relation to martial arts, there's not one answer. There's many ways from a technical avenue, from a stylistic perspective and many answers, there's not one thing, right? That's why there's so many variations and so many possibilities. And I think that's what philosophy does.

So when I market Zeus Academy, it's more about the philosophy of the academy. We try to make the fist work as a whole in terms of, you know, mind, body and spirit. If one of the fingers are injured or damaged or is not functioning properly, then the whole unit is not going to be able to form at its maximum capacity of power. So we try emphasizing that balance. I think people are in there, we look at sort of those various aspects of it, but in other terms of marketing, we work a lot with referrals. So we work a lot with referrals. And I also get a lot of clients through my acting. So there's a lot where I’ll be on set and they go “Wow man that's great! What do you do?” It's like, ok, yeah.

So I actually had a guy join us, he actually signed up last night. It was a fellow actor. “I've always wanted to do Muay Thai, I’ve always wanted to do BJJ, I always watch the UFC,” and it's like, that's great. You know, I didn't… I hate the UFC, yeah I'm not a big fan of the UFC. But I get that through my own individual thing.

So from terms of marketing from all the five different aspects, it'll be more by referral, sort of personal thing. But when we're doing general marketing, we just sort of market the academy. I keep it very simple, like it's very rare that I’ll, you know, “Come now and get this free,” I'm not a big believer in things like that. I'm a big believer in “Less is more.” Like one of my marketing strategies that I sort of do on social media will always be related to something that I do to the philosophy of life. And I think as the leader of the Academy, I think you’ve got to lead by example.

When I think back to my ancestors, Alexander the Great, Leonidas, or Constantine the Great, which is where my name comes from, Constantine, they were always in the front line. They were the first one on the battlefield. They weren't sitting behind, directing, they were saying “This is what we're going to do and this is how we should do it.” So I’ve always kind of had that philosophy with myself and with my students, you know? So I try to do the same. I try to lead, it's just been one of those things that I kind of do. And it's kind of worked for me and I'm also a big believer in, you know, knowledge is power, but I think yes and no. I think knowledge without action is okay, but you need to take action. So that kind of like means that’s philosophy too, well let's take action. If I can do it and I'm almost 50, you can do it too, you know?

GEORGE: I love that! I was going to ask you about, I was looking at your social media posts and the essence of the philosophy coming through that – it kind of reminds me that the day I started training martial arts and I don't know if you know my story, but I mean my martial arts lifespan is really short, I started when I was 36. But one thing, when you were mentioning the connection of mind, body and spirit, you know, that's what was the selling point for me.

It was all the personal development work and everything that I've done over the years and really trying to master myself and find myself, you know, finding martial arts was kind of the vehicle of the physical, you know. That was the body part which really connected for me. So if you look at the philosophy of Zeus Academy, what is that one core philosophy that sort of stems over all five different styles and avenues that you have?

COSTA: I would say one word. If I could sum up my Academy in one word, it would be family. Because family gives you a sense of security. It gives you a sense of protection, it gives you a sense of strength. It gives you a sense of knowing that there's going to be someone there, or anything there beside you to be there at your best points, but also at your worst points. Because we all fight different battles and strength is not just a physical thing. It's like you just said before, it's all those three attributes, right? I think our family, not so much when I say the word family, I'm talking about encompassing all of those avenues and those attributes and those qualities that we all possess.

And it's one of those things and I think really you know what I'm talking about. But it's really hard to explain this to people that don't train. They don't want to get involved, especially when you real hardcore, tough like in close, like heavy, like kind of like grappling systems or really, really, really up close and personal hard style Muay Thai and stuff like that, you really develop a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood and family. And that's what I mean by the term family, you know, you get that vibe and you get that sense of belongingness, again you know that you're part of something that is within you as well as external. I don't know how else to explain it, but that's what I meant.

GEORGE: It's 100% clear, what you’re saying is 100% clear. I love that perspective that you share, because I don't hear a lot of people talk that deep, you know, about this. For me it’s an ongoing learning cycle. I mean just everything, the mind and martial arts. The mind, the body and spirit as you mentioned.

COSTA: 100%. And I think we always start… I mean it doesn’t matter what you do, I don't think what age… it doesn't really matter what your mind frame is when you begin with. I think once you spend an extensive amount of time, we all link to that, right? And it doesn't matter what you're doing. Whether you're working on losing weight, you get that mental, emotional and internal satisfaction and understanding that you start to apply to your everyday life.

You know, whether you're a hardcore competitor, you know you start dealing with nerves and soft control and composure and feeling pressure. And no matter how many times I step into that ring, my heart is pounding! And I’ve got to channel that energy to my advantage and the more I do it, the more I'm able to channel that fear to a more positive approach. It doesn’t mean it goes away, it’s there and that’s where it’s always going to be.

And I don't care who you are, I don’t care how many fights you've had: every time you step in that ring your heart pumps and you feel that, right? But you just start to channel that energy to a more positive effect. It's like saying don't be happy, don't cry, don't laugh, and don’t feel fear. It's not going to happen, it's not going to happen at any point in time. It's just how you channel that, right? And I think the more you stay involved when you train you really start to learn these qualities about yourself a lot more.

And eventually, you might start young and you see in many aspects and I've seen this throughout a number of decades of their training. So now I'm a bit closer, this would be like my 40th year probably, like training from young life. And so when you're young you know, your parents are trying to develop that strength, confidence, that eye contact, all those qualities right. And then you sort of get to your teens, when you start to be a little bit more mentally aware how your physical presence, your mates. And you may start to compete, even if you don't like, you know, you may be trained with people that do compete.

So it gives you that sharpness. And then you go through that whole sort of phase and if you learn to battle through those, you know, those points where, you know, you're going to get hit. You're going to get knocked down. You're going to get beaten up, you're going to get some shocking injuries. I don't even want to start with my injuries, I'll be here for like ten minutes. Blown out knees, knee reconstructions, fascitis in the elbow, disc fusion, you know. Dislocated ribs, dislocated rib cartilage, you name it. It's like, it's just consistently it hasn’t stopped.  So you know, we don't play long balls for a living, do we?

But it teaches you to fight through life. And I think it was actually Sylvester Stallone that said the best thing in the Rocky movie, no one hits harder than life. So when you learn to overcome and channel these things, and the only way you’ll learn to overcome and channel through them, is by using what you said before, that is mental, any internal physical strength and attributes.

Because the external physical presence doesn't matter at this point. And you learn to overcome and become a fighter in life. And as you progress, irrespective of age, I think when you get to sort of our age and over, you’re kind of like, you are more appreciative of this. And it's a constant learning thing, isn’t it? Like, “Oh master Costa, master Costa!” Yeah for sure, it's a title man but it doesn't really mean anything, you know. I mean at the end of the day, we're constantly learning. Constantly, constantly. There's always something to it. I think the day that we think that we know it all is this day we stop growing.

That's my philosophy as a whole thing through the Academy, from the top. And I try to sort of slowly, you know, nurture our instructors that have, you know, that work at our Academy, that teach for me. All my instructors have been with me for a minimum of six to seven years, if not more, that have been featured in our Academy. And the idea is, I want it like that, because I want this philosophy to talk to it. I don't want it to be because it's me; I want it to be because it’s the Academy.

As you keep getting older and older, you know, we’ve got some, you know, students that are in their sixties. Yeah, one guy's almost seventy. So it's really nice to see these people, you know, and they're pushing and challenging themselves and they're doing stuff that they never thought was possible. So I never think it's too late to start, but I think we, all at some point after a level of training, at some point in time, especially within these systems, especially in the system that I teach at the Academy, we really appreciate this mind and body evolving and the connection to life.

When you see that, I think you also create a lot of longevity in your students. And it also gives them a sense of attachment. So for example, we'll go through little things. I was talking to one of my students yesterday and he asked me a question about Muay Thai. And, you know, how it's more of a sport and stuff like that. Actually, I said this when we were at the convention together, when I did the Muay Thai as well. And you know, a lot of people don't know that Muay Thai is actually a very traditional martial art and it comes from pre-Thailand, before Thailand was actually called Thailand. It was Siam, right?

So it was the Siamese people, their military forces were trained to defend the people of this land.  And there were a lot of weapons involved in, there was archery and there was ground techniques and it was stone throwing techniques. And there was all of this stuff that was used in those times back then, you know. And in order to preserve this beautiful art, they were training it and they made it into more of a ring sport, which is what we have today.

But there's a lot of traditions, you know. The way that we bow, the Mongkon and what that symbolizes. And I don’t know if a lot of people know the Mongkon actually comes from the ancient times, which was embedded into the warriors back then. But before they would go on the battlefield, then it was either blessed by a holy man or a priest. And there's always some, you know, amulet or stone or something in Mong Kong and it would never be touched by the warrior.

So even to this day, when you see a Muay Thai fighter get out of the ring, and you will see the ropes, come around, you come to your instructor, your corner man, they will whisper a prayer or you know a blessing of some sort and then he will remove the Mong Kong, the warrior doesn't touch it. So it was to keep the evil spirits away, to keep the warrior and the fighter safe on the battlefield, or in the arena.

And you know, we talked about this thing and I hear people like training like seven, eight, nine years in Muay Thai, and they’re like, “Wow man! it's like, it's good stuff!”  And this is where the mental stuff comes in and you start to appreciate. And not only that: mentally, you make a connection to way back in history and thinking, “Wow man, I'm doing something that was done centuries ago,” you know? And I'm carrying this tradition on.” And you feel that sense of connection. And I think if you're able to touch people like this, you create a very, very, very, long journey. A sense of, you know, lasting students. Yeah, I guess.

So this is the core approach I kind of like to use with all my systems. And I think it's important because I think that the past has a lot to teach us and a lot of stuff that we can take. You know. I'll learn something from you and you might have learned it from someone else. You know, it kind of like carries on. It's not always something new, it's something that was always there, but we just adapt. And that's the secret, I think the adaptation of taking these things and adapting to how we see fit in our current circumstances. I think that's an important point, you know?

GEORGE: Yeah, exactly why I do these interviews, it's just, I learn so much. It’s a very selfish thing, you know, like I mean yeah, people saying “Yes, it's marketing,” and stuff, but the podcast interview is for me, it's selfish in the way that I like to learn. And that's why I can just talk and listen – well, I listen more than I talk, fortunately, in the podcast. It's just exploring and you’ve got such a wealth of knowledge to share, just those things you just shared about Muay Thai. You know, it makes me think of, you know, I’ve never stepped, you know, in a ring like that, but I just love watching that ritual of fighters walking around the ring and blessing, walking along the rope and there’s just something magical to it.

COSTA: When you hear stuff like this and even if you… you get a much nicer appreciation. And I think if people had this appreciation stylistically as well, we all would understand that we're kind of like trying to get through the same journey through different paths. But in the end, we’re trying to meet the same kind of goal, you know? In that heightened level of spirit and awareness and achievement and you know, progression, success, learning and all of those things, you know.

GEORGE: I wanted to ask you just before we wrap things up but here we mentioned the things in the world have changed and so forth in a… I mean, I don't like to talk about it that much, but in the context of what we spoke about, I mean, let's be real right: people faced challenges in different lights, you know? Some people saw this as an opportunity, some people were really struggling with it, you know. I think it was a… to me, I look at it as a real test on humanity just in general, you know. How do we cope with diversity and you know, how do we adapt when things don't go the way we had them or are used to living, for example.

With all this perspective that you have and the philosophy that you shared, how did you approach all this? And what are the things, when all this started to develop, what are the things that sort of really resonated with you from all the years of study that you've done of philosophy that you really put to practice to pull you through?

COSTA: It's a really good question. It was an interesting time. I viewed this as a form of self-defense. I mean, it wasn't a direct or physical – well, it was and it wasn't, but you know in a way it was a self-defense sort of like situation, or kind of like scenario that the world had faced. Like, we needed to protect ourselves in a different way of course, but nonetheless the overall sort of theoretical way is, “Okay, we need to protect ourselves. What do I need to do?”

You know, we all have good days, we all have bad days. We try to have more good days than bad days and I think once you accept, I think the key point here is accepting the fact that you're going to have bad days. You're going to fail, you're going to trip, you're going to stumble, and you’re going to be pissed off. You're not going to be your best. You accept the fact, but you know the next day is a new day and you know, it's a good thing to step up your game and get a little bit better and make amends and change things.

And you know, then we kind of like minimize the bad days as opposed to the good days. They’re going to be there and we need to accept that they're going to be there, but if it’s a 50/50 ratio, we try to make that you know, a 60/40 and then a 70/30 and 80/20. And you know hopefully we get to a 90/10 ratio and that's where we want to be, right? But it's going to be there. It's going to be there. It's like one of those things that we said before, you can’t eliminate, and you can't get rid of fear. It's going to be there. It’s how you channel it and how you react to it.

So this is how I kind of viewed the whole situation. What did I do? I probably did a ton of things that I probably never would have done, you know? I started writing a book about what, six years ago. It's about internal strength, unleashing the warrior within kind of thing. So it's got to do with a lot of the stuff that we've been discussing. So it’s got to do with some training, it’s got to do with some physical stuff, it’s got to do with some mental stuff, it's got to do with historical moments in history and the way that things had adapted, had changed to that particular individual who’s taking part and what the mind frame might have been like. Some of the stuff that's happened to me and I've encountered, I got a chance to actually work on my book, which was great.

GEORGE: Great.

COSTA: We really got our online platform working. Just something that I had the intention of doing, but never really got around to it. Got an app, online training done. Yeah, I hooked up a major partnership deal between Zeus Academy and Nike.

GEORGE: Oh yeah?

COSTA: Yeah. So I don't even think a lot of this stuff would have been done if that wasn't the case. Did I plan for, you know, to do these things? Not entirely, but I think the best way that I can explain it and this is why I use the term self-defense was, if I'm in a self-defense situation, I look at my options. So the first thing that I would look at where we’re sitting now, yeah, I would look at what I have in my environment, right? I've got this chair right next to me, so it can be used as a defensive and an offensive tool. This is how I think, right? With my tools.

So this is the kind of way I thought about it. I'll write a book, the online training, will do this, I’ve got to look at maybe attaching the Academy  to something unique, prestigious and world class that people can associate with, and I have this ability to do because of my acting, you know? It's not something that’s simple and it's not something that I can solve, “I'm going to attach myself to it.” It kind of like fell into it, opportunities arose and I just took it.

What I do think though, I think that depending on people's circumstances, you know, some people have got it a lot harder than others, depending on where you are and what you have access to. I think that people that have been in the game for a lot longer, whatever game they're in, whatever industry they’re in, I think the ones that have been in there a lot longer are always far better, because they're able to ride the storm a little bit easier.

So with us, you know, teaching for how many years, over 20 years, I've had Zeus Academy for about 20 years, I've been teaching since 93. I could ride that with that wave a little bit longer. And also we had a lot more students that were loyal. I was kind of blessed from that perspective. I think it's tough for different people facing different situations. I mean, there was a guy who's only been open for a year or two and couldn’t sustain it, so he had to close. I think that's a key role as well.

I also think that people don't get into survival mode. So this is why I look at this as self-defense. So the first thing that happened was like, I was in survival mode. So my clear objective is to survive. I don't want to win, I don't want to gain, I don't want to get anything – I want to survive first.

Once I survive and I've gotten myself to a point where there's no threat to me now, I can then look at progressing. So I think from a philosophical mindset I portray that this is important. And I think people panic. Either they go too defensive, or they go too offensive. You’ve got to ride your time, you've got to be patient. I think it's a classic example of… Like, if you have someone in side control. And they’re big and they’re strong and they’re battling you, it’s time to attack. The time to defend, you're on top, right? You’ve got to gas them,you got to ride them out, you’ve got to wait for the right moment until you attack the man, you go to attack the mount or you go for submission, or whatever the case may be, that's just from a technical perspective.

So when I take that approach and that's how I kind of handled that situation. That's how I think of it. Did I think of it intentionally? No, that's just the way I think, that’s just sort of my mentality, how I do things, you know? And on a positive note, it gave me a lot more time with my kids that I probably didn't get a chance to spend, you know what I mean? And I can't put a value on that.

I just truly hope that, just in terms of a humanity kind of thing, people become a little bit more compassionate and understanding with each other. And you know what, at the end of the day George, sometimes you need shit like this to happen that people can just come out of it and say, “Hang on: there are far more important things to life than just running around like a madman, becoming a slave to the system.” Because a lot of us, and I'm sure you’re guilty of it, and I'm guilty of it and we're all guilty of it at some point in time, right? So it kind of makes you take a step back and, you know, analyze it. So that's how I work, I sort of thought about it and built a sort of approach.

GEORGE: Fantastic. Hey Costa, thanks so much, this was awesome. If people want to get in touch with you and know more about you, what should they do? Where should they go?

COSTA: Very simple. Our website is zeusacademy.com.au, but .com works as well. And email is info@zeusacademy.com.au. Instagram is, I'm quite active on Instagram, a lot more than Facebook. Instagram is my name, Costa Prasoulas and Facebook is the same as well. I'm usually quite active on my social media, I try to answer and talk to as many people as I can. I usually get through all of my emails and stuff like that, so if someone wants to get in contact, I'll be more than happy to, you know, touch base and say hello and answer questions people have and stuff like that. It’s great. I look forward to catching up with you too my man, soon!

GEORGE: Yes! When we can cross borders.

COSTA: Yeah, definitely, definitely, definitely, yeah.

GEORGE: Fantastic. Costa, thank you so much, thanks for doing this. Great speaking to you and I'll speak to you soon.

COSTA: Thank you for having me, it's been a pleasure.

GEORGE: Awesome. Thanks for listening. If you want to connect with other top and smart martial arts school owners, and have a chat about marketing, lead generation, what's working now, or just have a gentle rant about things that are happening in the industry, then I want to invite you to join our Facebook group.

It's a private Facebook group and in there, I share a lot of extra videos and downloads and worksheets – the things that are working for us when we help school owners grow and share a couple of video interviews and a bunch of cool extra resources.

So it's called the Martial Arts Media Business Community and an easy way to access it is, if you just go to the domain named martialartsmedia.group, so martialaartsmedia.group, g-r-o-u-p, there's no .com or anything, martialartsmedia.group. That will take you straight there. Request to join and I will accept your invitation.

Thanks – I'll speak to you on the next episode – cheers!

Here are 3 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. Join the Martial Arts Media™ community.

It's our new Facebook community where martial arts school owners get to ask questions about online marketing and get access to training videos that we don't share elsewhere – Click Here.

2. Join the Martial Arts Media™ Academy and become a Case Study.

I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, message me with the word ‘Case Study'.

3. Work with me and my team privately.

If you would like to work with me and my team to scale your school to the next level, then message me with the word ‘private'… tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details.

Enjoyed the show? Get more martial arts business tips when you subscribe on iTunes for iPhone or Stitcher Radio for Android devices.

***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

Podcast Sponsored by Martial Arts Media™ Partners

100 – The Story & Lessons Learnt From 100 Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast Episodes

Reflections of 100 Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast episodes and where it all began.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • Why you should keep a close ear to the ground like never before
  • Reflections and celebrations for 100 Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast Episodes
  • How I got started helping martial arts school owners 
  • Why there could still be a ‘gold rush’ coming your way
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

If there's one thing that's more important than ever, it's to have a real close ear to the ground. There's a thing in marketing where we refer to speaking to the conversation going on in people's mind. Now, the interesting thing in the last few months has been that kind of conversation has sometimes shifted on a day to day basis, sometimes multiple times a day.

Hey, this is George Fourie and welcome to the episode number 100 of the Martial Arts Media business podcast! How cool is that? I've been waiting to say that number for quite a while. 100 episodes. Cool! So that is, I don't know, 30-40 hours of interviews with top martial arts school owners, top martial artists, top leaders from around the world and just sharing great resources and marketing tips and things that have worked for us in the work that we do with martial arts school owners.

So, look, thanks for listening if this is episode number one for you. Welcome! Here's to the next hundred episodes and there's 100 behind us that were pretty cool. I'd like to think. And if this is your 100th episode, or close to that, thanks for all the support, really, really appreciate it. Love the feedback that I've gotten from the podcast. And if you are listening and I don't know who you are, and we haven't had a connection, then do reach out to connect with me on Facebook or leave us a review on iTunes or Spotify or wherever you listen to this podcast, it would be much appreciated.

So I've had a few things planned for episode number 100. But in all honesty, I just want to kind of sit back and reflect and share a couple of things that I've learned over my journey of doing this podcast, and more importantly, a couple of things that I've learned especially the last few months. At the time of recording this, martial arts has faced a few hardships around the world. And yeah, I mean, it's been some interesting chart times with the whole pandemic and everything.

And for me, it's been really, really focused on keeping a real close ear to the ground and being real present all the time. And especially, you know, doing, especially in our Partners group where we have martial art school owners that we work with from all around the globe. It's really interesting to just see the different perspectives from where school owners that you know, from across Australia and New Zealand, I mean, every state in Australia, different opinion, every state in the United States different opinion, then New Zealand, UK, so never before have I seen just so many, you know, there's just so many different nuances and different variations of where you can be in and, you know what approach you can be taking.

The great thing is being able to ‘predict the future’ based on who's ahead of the curve. And that's been New Zealand and Perth, where, where I'm based. And if you're not in any of those places, I can tell you that there's been a huge influx of a student boom, you know, of people getting back into training and getting on the mats and, you know, some of our clients have had some of their best months. So if that's not you, I hope and you know, and things aren't great for you right now, I hope that's some of the most positive news that you've heard. And so there's one tip I can give you from that is just have a close ear to the ground because the minute things shift for you, you want to be on top of it and just grab on to the gold rush if we can call it that.

So look, I want to share a couple of things that I probably don't talk about as such, and it's probably a bit more about my story. And I don't like to talk about my story. I like to speak to people or share stuff or learn from people. And that's why I do the interviews. But I mean, there's a big reason why I do all this. And some of you know, some of you don't, I'm not a martial arts school owner, if that's the first time you've heard this, now you have. And for some people, when people hear that they would be like, ‘why do I want to work with school owners?’ Some in just curiosity. And then, you know, some people have really taken offense to it. Why would you work with school owners, you're not one of us.

I've heard things in that line, which I always find interesting because I mean, you don't go to your doctor and ask them if they've got  Covid-19 before they diagnose you, you kind of expect that they understand the problem or, you know, you don't go to your accountant and make sure that he's a martial artist before helping you with numbers. Unless His name is David Simpson, who is a martial arts accountant. So, you know, in the same sense, marketing is the same for any type of business.

Predominantly, the principles are the same, but the details differ and the details you learn by experience, but you know when you work in marketing, it's really I wouldn't say it's simple, but I mean, it's really easy to adapt to whichever industry you are interested in. In my case, passionately. So if we had to, if we had to compare stories, I mean, our stories would be very different when it comes to martial arts, but we're not when it comes to purpose and why we do things, I think we share a lot of similarities. And I'll tell you why.

So, you might have heard this story before. But the way I got into martial arts was really following my son's footsteps. So I enrolled my son into martial arts when he was about four and a half, five. And that was his first activity. I'm from South Africa. I just moved to Australia that time. And so young parents want to do the right thing and put my child on the right path. And so I enrolled my son into martial arts and I was really impressed by just how martial arts played out and the things that he was doing, the uplift in energy on how the classes were running, the confidence, the you know, just the real enthusiasm that was happening in the classes and the link for me.

For me, you know, in my life I've I mean I started out as a drummer and a surfer like those were my two things that I just wanted to do and then I studied computer programming, I opened a computer business. I did great but also failed super hard to the point that and I lost…a complete sidetrack, but we did well, we did really well. And in 1999, when the big, you know, computers were going to crash, which they never did. Well, our business did crash and I was 21 and ended up with a huge pile of debt. Ego crushed.

And I actually didn't switch on a computer again, until I was 30. Until I ended up in Australia. I didn't touch a computer, that's how destroyed I was by losing the business. So in the time between that I was really trying to find myself and I ended up in sales jobs and doing a lot of extensive work in sales. But trying to find myself in the sense of there's a lot of personal development, there's a lot of things going on to really find and master ‘the self’.

And so, when I saw martial arts, in practice, to me, the link was, this is personal development in the physical form. This is everything that I've been trying to learn and adapt my mind for focus, discipline, and confidence. This was it happening in the physical form, and I could just see how the accelerated way of achieving all those things through martial arts. So I was really hooked and inspired. I took my sons to martial arts about three times a week. Maybe I was more excited about it than he was, but he loved it. And you know, he kept training. And so that was my introduction to martial arts.

So my son was training and somewhere along the line there, I offered the school where he was training, some kind of advice on marketing, a couple of things that I've done in marketing outside the industry that worked super well. And I was watching what they were doing and I said to one of the instructors. Look, there's a couple of things that I've done, that can really help you and I just want to share them. There was no intention of wanting a client or wanting to do business. At this point in time, there were no Facebook groups, or maybe they were, I just weren't hanging out in them. It was just things that I knew that would work so I shared it with him and… actually what happened, they asked me if I just wanted to do it. And I didn't really want to take on a client. I was happy doing what I was, you know, selling products and doing things online.

But at that time, I had been doing online marketing for quite a while, but I thought, “Hey, there is an opportunity to learn here.” So I took it on, they got results, and they asked me, “How can you do that as well?” And I said, “Well, yeah, okay.” And I did that. And so look, things happen. And I kept helping the school that kept getting results. And so it went on and you can listen to the first couple of episodes on the podcast to get a better perspective on how that went.

And so anyway, somewhere along the line of me helping them, helping the school and my son training, somebody asked me why aren't I training in martial arts? And I'd kind of avoided the question for a long time. I was 36 at the time 43 now at the time recording this and they asked, “Why don't you want to go training?” I said, “I don't know.” And so I came up with all the excuses you hear, I'm too old, but it doesn't work like it used to.

But then I thought why not? Good question. Why don't I give this a go? And so I did. And so without a cliché, I was hooked. I really was. I took my first class and I was like, “This is cool.” The timing for me was just great. Been going through a separation, a change in life.

Really trying to find something that I am really passionate about in business. So I've come from this computer background. I had some business skills. I was building a business online, but there was a piece missing in my life. And that was something that I really cared about, right something that I could really sink my teeth into. So anyway, life goes on and  I reached a point where life was getting too much, my son was training in martial arts. So I was trying to juggle a business, was helping the school and I kind of just had to make the choice and I think this is where our stories probably align.

If I were to ask you, “when did you decide to become a martial art owner?” Like at what point in time were you training martial arts and then you decided that this was going to be your life? Now maybe that was for personal gain for what you got out of martial arts. Maybe that was for the impact that you wanted to create through martial arts. Either way, that’s what happened for me and there was a distinct time in my life, where I looked at myself in the mirror and said, Well, this is how I want life to be. If I want life to be about something, it's about this. It's about martial arts. So I'm going to just do this, help martial art school owners grow because I'm passionate about the transformation. I knew what the results delivered.

And for me, I couldn't think of what could be a better life than to support and apply all my marketing skills and learn and grow from that, towards something that delivers the outcome that martial arts delivers. And that was it. That was the shift for me. So I decided to turn it into a business and it's become that martialartsmedia.com. It's interviewing martial arts school owners, helping martial arts school owners with marketing. We've shifted a bit from websites and things like that just because I want to make sure that I give the best value in the things that I'm most passionate about. And that's martial arts and marketing. So, that brings us here today, a hundred episodes later.

So no, I didn't buy a course. And somebody told me ‘you got to pick a niche’ or market to work in and are we? Hmmm martial arts is a good idea. No, this happened way before that. I didn't decide, “Hang on, I'm going to apply. I'm going to choose something and then go and do it. Yay, it looks like this money there. Let's go do that.” No, it came from a sense of the transformation that I received and that I witnessed, and that I wanted to support. And that's kind of how this has evolved for me. 

So how does this look from here on? Well, it's refinement of the way I interview, the questioning, the questions that I'm going to ask, the resources that we are going to provide with podcasts. And my goal is just to be the top resource for martial arts training and for martial arts school owners on the planet. And I know that's not all from me, that that means a collective effort. And there's a lot of things that we are doing right now to really bring that collective effort together.

I'd like to say I feel really comfortable where I am at this point in life and what the value that we deliver and I mean, look, if, when, whenever, as a self-critic, right, you're like, “Wow, am I really doing the right thing?” And then when you look at your clients results, then it's like, “Alright, cool. We're doing good things. People are getting results. People are signing up as students. Schools are growing, and that's all I could really wish for.” So, look a bit long winded there. But uh, first and foremost, again, thanks. Thanks for tuning in. And thanks for listening to the podcast. 

And it is if there's one piece of advice I can give you right now, you know, going through the whole pandemic over the last few months, depending when you're listening to this. If there's one thing that's more important than ever, it's to have a real close ear to the ground. There's a thing in marketing where we refer to speaking to the conversation going on in people's mind. Now, the interesting thing in the last few months has been that kind of conversation has sometimes shifted on a day to day basis, sometimes multiple times a day. And predominantly it's based on what the government's saying, what are the legal entities saying is the ‘get go’ in your area? What are you allowed to do and what are you not allowed to do? Now if you choose to do your own thing, no matter what the rules, it's a bit risky.

You know, I was on a coaching call yesterday and somebody was telling me about running classes with 12 people instead of five based on their restrictions. In Perth right now there's no restrictions, We can almost do whatever we want. But this was, I think, in the UK where they were pushing the limits now. Whether you feel and whether governments are being unrealistic or not, hey, that's a debate and a rabbit hole. I don't want to go down because, yeah, there's not a lot that makes sense. But there's not a lot of people that have navigated through a pandemic, either. All that I know is if you're going to break the rules, and something goes wrong, or somebody gets injured, or somebody gets sick or even somebody gets injured, and you weren't abiding to the rules and the restriction rules, you got a whole bunch of other problems on your plate which you don't need right now. 

So reasonable, unreasonable? Safer to play things by the book and you do have options, right you do have options, you do have options to sign people up to, if you have overflow to run the classes on Zoom, you do have the option to create a wait list. There's options if you are smart about it. There are always options to keep growing, keep taking names. And the big secret of that would be obviously keep a close ear to the ground and know where people are at.

And if you are going to be marketing, don’t feel weird about it. And I say that because some people have felt weird about marketing during a pandemic. And if you are running ads and you know people get sometimes people keep hateful or stupid comments. It's just an ad and it's just someone's opinion and they don't know you, they don't know who you are, whatever they say is just on their limited perception of what they experiencing in the moment, they're probably just having a crap day and they saw this and it triggered them in the wrong way. Problem of social media, right?

People see one thing and then they attach their own story and context to it and make it super vocal. And if you are sitting on the receiving end, it can be a bit disturbing. Remove all emotion out of your marketing, you know, and just see it as marketing. And if people don't like it, sometimes people will hate it and be signing up. You know, that's a sign of good marketing because it means you are polarizing it super well and it’s very direct and attracting a certain crowd and not another crowd.

So anyway, I'm going to leave that at that. But hey, thanks so much for tuning in. Look forward to taking you on the next journey of the next hundred episodes and if you haven't yet, please leave us a review, you can just go to martialartsmedia.com/itunes, martialartsmedia.com/spotify and just get give us give us a thumbs up. TIf you got any value over the last hundred episodes, that's one thing I can ask of you is just leave us a great review and if there's somebody else that can benefit from this podcast, then please pass it on. And if you want to reach out to me, you can just go to messagegeorge.com, that opens up Messenger. Send me a message and I would love to chat and see if we can help you grow and scale your school.

Thanks again. I'll speak to you soon. Cheers!

Awesome. Thanks for listening. If you want to connect with other top and smart martial arts school owners, and have a chat about marketing, lead generation, what's working now, or just have a gentle rant about things that are happening in the industry, then I want to invite you to join our Facebook group.

It's a private Facebook group and in there, I share a lot of extra videos and downloads and worksheets – the things that are working for us when we help school owners grow and share a couple of video interviews and a bunch of cool extra resources.

So it's called the Martial Arts Media Business Community and an easy way to access it is, if you just go to the domain named martialartsmedia.group, so martialaartsmedia.group, g-r-o-u-p, there's no .Com or anything, martialartsmedia.group. That will take you straight there. Request to join and I will accept your invitation.

Thanks – I'll speak to you on the next episode – cheers!

Here are 3 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. Join the Martial Arts Media community.

It's our new Facebook community where martial arts school owners get to ask questions about online marketing and get access to training videos that we don't share elsewhere – Click Here.

2. Join the Martial Arts Media Academy and become a Case Study.

I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, message me with the word ‘Case Study'.

3. Work with me and my team privately.

If you would like to work with me and my team to scale your school to the next level, then message me with the word ‘private'… tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details.

Enjoyed the show? Get more martial arts business tips when you subscribe on iTunes for iPhone or Stitcher Radio for Android devices.

***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

Podcast Sponsored by Martial Arts Media Partners

98 – Brett Fenton – Evaluating Your Martial Arts Life & Transitioning To Virtual Gradings

Lifelong martial artist Brett Fenton talks about taking action fast, navigating through obstacles and transitioning to virtual gradings.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • How Brett navigated his martial arts business through the pandemic
  • Evaluating if it’s your time to throw in the towel
  • The steps Brett took to pivot his business successfully
  • How Brett's agile leadership helped his team to adapt the right mindset
  • Brett's recovery plan
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

It is a great time to evaluate where you sat as far as life goes. So you can go, “Do I really love doing martial arts? Do I love teaching? Do I love turning up and doing all of this?” Here's the perfect opportunity for some people in the world to go, “You know what, I'm gonna actually jump out of this, because it's not actually something I enjoy doing anymore.” But for me, it actually made me assess the other way and go. “I love this so much, I've got to keep this going. I will turn over every rock to find a way to make this keep happening.”

GEORGE: Hey everyone, this is George Fourie from martialartsmedia.com and welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast. So I have with me today something that I speak to quite regularly within our Partners program. Great martial artist, great school owner, Brett Fenton from Red Dragon Martial Arts. How are you doing today Brett?

BRETT: I'm awesome George, thanks for having me on your podcast.

GEORGE: Thank you. And so a little bit of an insight: this is round two, but round one.

BRETT: Correct.

GEORGE: So we actually did a podcast… Well, it would be a good six months ago?

BRETT: Yeah, absolutely.

GEORGE: Yeah. And I had my laptop stolen unfortunately and there were two files that did not upload into the cloud. And one of them was Brett’s podcast. So it's been a long time in the making. Lots of change in the world, but here we are.

BRETT: Absolutely, a bit of a different environment now.

GEORGE: Exactly. So we can chat a bit about that, but first up, just for anyone who doesn't know who you are, just give us a bit of a roundup: who you are, what you do and a bit of your background.

martial arts virtual gradings

BRETT: Absolutely, thanks George. I’m a lifetime martial artist. I've been training since I was a kid, and jumped around different styles depending on which family member taught it to me, or friend. Didn't have a lot of money as a kid, so I latched on to anyone that looked that knew any martial arts and basically got it for free as a kid. Moved to Brisbane in the late 80s and basically started training with my still sifu Tom Lowe for the last 30 years. I trained with him in Wing Chun, Jow Ga Kung Fu, Wu Style Tai Chi funnily enough, because he thought I was an angry young teenager that needed some calming down, so he taught me that. Later on, taught me crucial lion and dragon dancing, so I did all the whole Chinese culture, immersed myself in their culture for a very long time. 

Lived over near Sunnybank for a long time as well, then obviously went down the route of when the UFC came out, MMA, Brazilian jiu-jitsu with John Will. Trained and traveled overseas a lot, started with the extreme martial arts in the mid to late 90s and 2000s and started bringing that out, probably late 2000s started teaching that, and Kali and Escrima with Ray Floro. So just basically, just gone on this journey of trying to find the very best martial arts to suit me. And funnily enough along the way, a lot of other people that I've taught have gone, “That's cool, I want to learn it.” 

And so now we have over 400 students. We run nearly 100 classes a week, full-time facility with multiple rooms. But we started in 97’ in a community hall, so we've done the usual kind of thing for most professional martial arts instructors. Community hall to full-time school over about 23 years. And that's pretty much my story, so that's all I keep doing today.

GEORGE: Perfect. So you were mentioning you were on this search for the perfect martial arts for you. Now, knowing, working with you from my perspective, you're a guy that sort of, you just jump in head-on into different directions and you're pretty quick to take action. But also get in front of, you know, what is going on with whatever you take on. So for you that you've done all these styles and all of these different things, what’s the sort of martial arts that resonates with you the most?

BRETT: Yeah, I get asked that question quite a lot, especially by my students here, which is my favorite. They always go, “Sifu. what's your favorite style?” I go, “It's like asking which is your favorite child; depends on the day and the time.” So depends on which one is upsetting you the most. I like… again, I still train, I love my kung-fu because I grew up in the Bruce Lee era, so for me it's still a big part of who I am. But I also love the nuances and the complexities of the Brazilian  jiu-jitsu. I was only just watching UFC yesterday and just watching two high-level jiu-jitsu guys in a cage, throwing crazy control, like twisters and stuff in an octagon. And that was exciting. So I still find that exciting, I love hanging out with, chatting with my coaches like John Will, he's like, he's a wealth of knowledge that I love to just chat to all the time. And so just that kind of stuff is really exciting. 

I love blades, I had my first knife when I was six years old and I've got a collection, probably not as good as Ray Flores’ collection, but I have a pretty good collection of knives that have been given to me over the years by students or family and friends. So I've always loved any kind of bladed weapon. So yeah, at the end of the day, I'm fully immersed in it. I gave up being a top-level sportsman in tennis, cricket, volleyball to just pursue martial arts and that was hard, as like a 20 to 22 year old, I could have gone down there. Martial arts was just such a pull to me that I went… I preferred myself as far as the martial arts goes, preferred myself as a person when I was doing martial arts than I did as an athlete in other sports and stuff. So I went down that road fairly early on as a young adult male and it's paid off, because this is all I do for a living now.

GEORGE: Got it. So, a quick backstory on how you transitioned to where you’re at with your school and everything and then we can take on a bit more of a conversation just on current matters, the current climate and how you plan on getting through that. So what was the… You stepped into martial arts: what was the transition for you going into school owner? You mentioned, from the school hall, etc. Elaborate a bit more on that.

martial arts virtual gradingsBRETT: Yep. So I started with my sifu at the moment in 1989. Started doing Wing Chun and then later on, about a year or so later Jow Ga Kung Fu and then Tai Chi. Early on, he probably recognized that I had a passion for passing on knowledge. I probably did it just organically with my classmates. Like, when I saw someone having an issue with learning something, I would always go over and help them. And so it was very early on that I found myself up the front doing the warmups, probably within a year or so and then after that running small group classes. And we actually had a very big martial art school for the time back in the early 90s, ten schools, like all satellite schools around Brisbane, running one or two nights a week in community halls with hundreds of students.  

And so for me, I was like “Wow, this is amazing.” I would literally drive from one school, I'd finish teaching – this is probably like 1992, I would finish teach at our Indooroopilly headquarters at 7:30 or whatever and then I’d drive into the city, the YMCA in the city and teach a class there 8:30, finish at 9:30 and then probably head out to Jindalee All sports and do a white session. And so for me, six – seven days a week of martial arts training and weight training and fitness training was not, I didn't think of it as anything special, I was just completely wrapped up in the whole thing. So that led me to running my own school in 94’. Like, one of his branches, was quite successful at that. Then I moved up towards the Sunshine Coast and I've made my school in 1997 and we've been running that one ever since. It obviously has evolved and grown since then.

GEORGE: Gotcha, okay. So quite the story. Now, I mean things have dramatically changed obviously, talking depending on when you listen to this podcast, but I think it's important to just address the current situation of where things are at. Because I think anyone in the world has never faced anything like now and some people have obviously, you know, really felt the pressure. And also not, you know, kind of waited in freeze mode and didn't take any action. And others have really sort of embraced the change as much as possible, you know, to really get through this pandemic that we're facing right now. So walk me through just how's it been for you and what have you done to navigate through this?

BRETT: Absolutely, thanks George. One of the biggest things I think was that I noticed it is a great time to evaluate where you sat as far as life goes. You can go, “Do I really love doing martial arts? Do I love teaching? Do I love turning up and doing all of this?” Here's the perfect opportunity for some people in the world to go, “You know what, I'm gonna actually jump out of this, because it's not actually something I enjoy doing anymore.” But for me, it actually made me assess the other way and go. “I love this so much, I've got to keep this going. I will turn over every rock to find a way to make this keep happening.”  

We started on March 23rd, we were given information, which was a week ahead of what I thought the schedule was going to be and when we were going to be told to basically close down physical training. So I know that I was chatting with you, leading up to that, saying we're gonna set up Zoom classes and we already were thinking that way and overnight it happened. And so within 24 hours, I had to go from being on this side of the camera, where I would sit and have conversations with you and the Partners and I was the person watching, I was being the viewer most of the time, to actually steering the ship on the other side of Zoom. And so 24 hours of educating myself from how Zoom worked, creating like breakout rooms and doing all that and we were up and running the very next night with our full Zoom classes, with everything still running, same timetable. 

For me, I reveled in that excitement. I like being challenged, I like being out of my comfort zone. I sometimes get stressed out by doing it and I know that meditating is good for that and I do do that every day, but I get excited when there's… when it's kind of like ice skating. I found that very exciting and challenging. Stressful, but exciting. So for me, I was a lot for that I and I still am. Like, I'm always thinking ahead a week or two ahead, going “Alright, this is what we're gonna do over the next couple of weeks.” and I'm already planning, it goes into my calendar, these are the things I need to do. And I know that you see on a Monday, when you ask every single Monday in Partners, “What's your plan?” So I already know what it is, so I just type it straight in. So I already know what my plan is for the week. And I go ahead and execute. And that's what I do.

GEORGE: Yeah. Personally, I think entrepreneurs were made for this. I mean, you know, that's what we do right? We solve problems. Interesting that you mentioned, you know, where a lot of people jump ship. Maybe it was just the easy way out. I think it also, it really… like you were saying, it really makes you think deeper. Like, am I… Is this what I really want? And I think that's where, you know, if people have been following their niche or, you know, trying to make money in an industry or something. And you didn't have that gut check before you started it, you were just hoping to make financial gains, which is – hey, it's, obviously, that's okay as well, because that's what, you know, people do in business. 

But it's a good time to reevaluate and really sit back and think, “Okay, well is this what I really want?” And then how to go from that. Now, how did you say to see this playing out? I guess, you know, at the time of recording this, where you're at in Queensland there's been some restrictions left. I know in Perth we can… there's already gyms or training outside, restriction of up to ten people, that's moving over I think next week. So what's the plan for you? Where do you see this evolving?

BRETT: Absolutely. One of the things that I've noticed like, we've got a week and then we go to having ten people in an outdoor space, so we can do I suppose boot camps, or outdoor classes. The biggest issue for us is that mostly our classes are at night and it's winter, so once we hit five o'clock, it's going to be too dark to do classes. So in fairness to everyone that trains in our school, we can't fit everyone into their classes. We'll get the three to six year olds done and then everyone else wouldn't be able to. So we're going to continue to run our Zoom classes, but we're bringing our instructor team now into the school, because up until now we've only been allowed to have two people in the building. And when we run two floors, three instructors to a floor, it's a little bit hard to do that. But now we can do that, we have multiple cameras, multiple laptops going, multiple TVs going. 

And that'll allow us to use our breakout rooms to break everyone into small classes. It'll actually be probably easier, because they'd actually be able to verbally tell each other when they need to move people from one breakout room to another. At the moment, we'd be messaging each other, “Can you move such and such over to me, I'm teaching them to do this,” and I have to sit there and pretty much just be a DJ, so it's… my job on Monday, Wednesday, Friday classes is, I'm DJing the whole Zoom classes and I'm shuffling people around. 

It's an interesting time and I saw in the U.S. just the other day, someone's… because they've lifted restrictions now a little bit there. And they said, we're not doing Zoom gradings now, we're not doing our virtual grading. We're gonna do them in person and there was actually quite a bit of backlash about that, because people aren't ready for such a quick change. And so it's, we're gonna keep our gradings going this weekend. We've got Friday, Saturday, Sunday scheduled for 50-plus gratings. They're all private one-on-one gradings that I'm doing and because – again, we can't change people quickly. 

Like, I know I can change quickly because obviously we've got that entrepreneurial kind of spirit thing going on, but for most people it's gonna take a leading of a month to see any kind of changes and we have to plan that for them and slowly bring them up to the boil. And so having them watch Zoom classes while we're teaching back in the school starts to build that familiarity with the students, to see the school again, they start getting excited about doing it. We started booking in our Calendly bookings, started on Saturday. So straight away, as soon as that notice went through from our Premier, I created calendars for all of our classes to allow ten people to come in from June. So June 12th, we are allowed to have 20 people in the building and so that basically means ten people in each room. 

And so we've done our booking for an entire timetable and I literally on Saturday night, watched my phone do two hundred and something emails while people booked in for their classes. So they're excited and it gives them a month to get themselves sorted out. We've got to set up all of our stations for sanitary stations, signage, all of that stuff. We've got to get our processes in place so that we are above and beyond the call of duty as far as what we implement when June 12 comes along. We want to make sure that we're one of the… I suppose the spearheads of that and we showcase how to do this the right way. So it's very important.

GEORGE: Yeah totally. I mean, there's so much that goes into it, right? I mean, if you ever thought your processes were in place, now your processes just change after every premiere announcement.

BRETT: Yeah.

GEORGE: It's new systems, it's new things. You know, interesting things that I see, I think where a lot of guys might find it challenging, where people just shut shop and thought that everything would go back to normal. Well, I know about you, but I sincerely doubt that… you were just mentioning that, I mean, there's been this whole behavior. People have adapted their behavior. You know, there was shock and there was fear, there's all this and… yep, things are gonna slowly return back to normal, but what is that? 

Does that mean 100% physical classes? Does that mean a bit of a hybrid and a balance of, there's online and there's physical. And how do you see this playing up? Another thing that I want to really ask you is how are you managing with your team throughout this? Because I know you've got a large team and how are you managing them and getting them to have this right mindset with all the changes? I know that's two questions, but…

martial arts virtual gradings

BRETT: Yes, that's okay no worries. So again, it's one of those things, you've got to go slowly. I think that we're lucky, we've been reasonably lucky in Australia that they've given us plenty of lead-in time and they've planned this fairly well. There's no knee-jerk reactions, which is good because people don't react well to that. They don't like… We saw when they released a little bit of the rope and allowed people to go shopping – it was literally Boxing Day sales every day for the last two weeks since they did that. So people have gone… They've been cooped up for so long now, they're exploding. 

So we're trying to make sure that we're very, we're over communicating with all of our students to make sure that they understand that there is a limit of how many people can come in and if you do not book in, you'll still be doing the online classes. We're going to give them both and my idea is to keep doing that even beyond like, let's say six – twelve months to still be running that system. Because we have students that have been on the spectrum ADD, DHD, Autism, doesn't matter, Asperger's, where they don't like being around people, but they love martial arts and they love the benefits of martial arts. And so they will be able to still do it from home with Zoom. The hardest part is to train the staff and the instructors to not just focus on the class, the physical class they’re teaching and the physical students they’re teaching, but also to focus on the ones that are up on the TV doing the Zoom class. 

And so like, we've got massive TVs that are going up in each room, where they'll be able to look up and just see who's up there training. And it's just about teaching them to not forget about them. They've had to undergo a very big learning curve and most of them aren't entrepreneurial. Some of them are, they do their own little side gigs as well, but to most this is overwhelming most of the time to them. So some of my team haven't been out to teach online classes, because they don't like looking at themselves on a camera, they don't like being in that environment and so basically, we've put them into hibernation. We keep contact with them, make sure they're okay, but I've already spoken to one and as soon as we can go back, we're gonna actually up, we're gonna start doing Sunday classes and we expect it to be quiet, so she's the perfect person for that because it'll introduce her back into normal classes and she'll just do the set there Sunday classes and give her a row back in the school without putting her under too much pressure. 

And again, most of our instructors are old students. They've all gone through from white belt to black belt, they're homegrown and so we treat them still like they're our students as far as the way we kind of bring them into new situations like we were experiencing at the moment, but slowly doing it is I think the key.

GEORGE: Cool. So what's the situation that you actually navigated someone through that? Because that obviously brings up a lot of beliefs and you know… I guess block for people where they go, “Hang on, I just don't feel comfortable being in front of the camera.” You know, for some people that might just be that introverted personality and they’re just never gonna be that. You know, we’re all different and that's all good but what's their situation, that you actually manage to navigate someone past that and just say, “Hey look, well…”It's kind of just like having a conversation, it's not a Hollywood show, you know? It's like you’re doing a normal class, but you've just got this screen in front of you. Did you manage to navigate past that? Was there anybody in your staff that they were struggling with that, but you managed to push them past that point?

martial arts virtual gradings

BRETT: Well, we've had obviously with our team, they've gone through a gamut of emotions. For a lot of them, their first biggest worry was, I’m going to lose my job, so a lot of our instructors not just work for me, they work for other businesses. And on that day, the other ones shut them down and they went, “No, we can't keep going.” I kept going even though we were like, they were teaching from their living rooms, or their bedrooms, or their garages. They kept going, I kept paying them for their classes and I tried to maintain as much normality for them and reassure them that we will get through this, looking to the future and saying that when we get through this, we're not going to change what we do now. This is just a different version of what we do. 

And so 90% of our teams were teaching through this. And one actually seemed to prefer it, because the whole social distancing was doing her head in, trying to stop children from touching each other and just frustrated her. As soon as it went to the virtual environment, she didn’t have to worry about that, that was not a problem and an anxiety she had to experience anymore. So that actually, it was like she was happy when it happened. So she's gonna have to prepare for the other side now as we come back in and whether that means that she still teaches from home via Zoom and she doesn't lose Zoom kids, that's fine. And we have that ability to have them teaching, if they're not happy to be in here and be around students because they're worried about it, they can still be able to teach because we'll still have students at home doing Zoom and so they'll be able to take care of the Zoom students.

And so again, I think it's about being flexible. It's about being able to like Evan, flow with the times and I think one of the things that I think everyone probably, particularly in the business world now will quantify, is that small businesses had an advantage because we've been known to like to chop and change directions quickly with the times, with whatever we were given. We could change and adapt, whereas a lot of the big businesses fell over because they had certain systems and procedures. They ended up having to just kill their staff and here's why so many people are out of work. And it's from the big businesses, which I know like in Australia kind of mindset is, they're always considered safe. Like go work for a blue chip company, or a big business. 

Who would want to work for Virgin at the moment? You wouldn't want to work for a lot of those big companies because they couldn't adapt. They’re just too big, they're like the Titanic. Whereas a lot of the small businesses, we can zig and zag and not feel that pain as much and also be able to connect with our staff and our team to make sure that they're feeling okay and navigate them through this minefield of emotions and turmoil that they could be experiencing.

But I think we've done really well, like I'm proud of my team. They've handled it really well and we're preparing now to go back into semi normal classes and then in another months’ time after that, so July, it should be mostly like we were before we went into lockdown. Hundred to a building, like this mostly social distancing, but I think this will play out till the end of the year. I think by Christmas we might be out actually to give a high five and hug some people.

GEORGE: Yeah, I mean, hats off to you, because I know you've just been on to it then, you know, everyday we checked. You've implemented this and you've jumped into a new direction, implemented new strategies and really taken it on. What are you excited about, coming in the next… I know, excitement for a lot of people when I ask that, they’re like…

BRETT: It’s fear.

GEORGE: What does that word mean? But I mean, if you really put the opportunity hat on and really look at it, “Okay, things have changed, things have shifted,” – what are you excited about in the next coming weeks?

martial arts virtual gradings

BRETT: Well, again, I've tried to maintain, I actually turned one of my students who wanted to do an in-person grading and they don't want to do a Zoom one, it's not like a real grading. And I said, “Well you know, it's not the same as an in-person grading – it's different. It could actually potentially be better, because you're doing it one-on-one.” Now, it's gonna be a different feel, we may never get to do this again. This may be the only time in history where we do every single person in the school as a Zoom grading. 

So like, and that's the truth, it basically may never happen again. So for me that's exciting. I've pulled out all stops to make this grading the most spectacular grading that they'll ever experience virtually, because it may never happen again. So I'm excited to do that like, literally from this Thursday, it’s Monday today, so from Thursday, from 7AM until about 7PM, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I am grading every thirty minutes and I know how exhausting that’s going to be. But I also find that exciting and I'm a big fan like, I'm a… what do you call it, I’m a podcast savant. I just like, I just go and listen to podcasts 24/7. It’s my favorite thing, I don’t listen to radio, but that's what I listen to. And it used to be tapes in my car, then it was CDs, now it's podcasts. 

And so I’ve always been a big fan of Tony Robbins, lucky enough to have done some training with him, done UPW and a few other things with him. And one of the things that he always talks about is to the professionals, like the professional athlete, or a professional entrepreneur: when they see something that could be scary, feel fearful, they look at the same thing and they look at it as excitement, because your body goes through exactly the same chemicals, endorphins, okay, the adrenaline. It's exactly the same thing as fear. Like, if you looked at it side by side, okay, anyone that's ever fought in the ring, or competed in a jiu-jitsu tournament, or done MMA, or just been up in front of someone to do a grading, you've got two options: fear, which is, “Oh, I'm going to stuff this up,” or “I'm gonna get hurt,” or “I'm no good at this,” to exciting “Oh, I can’t wait, this is so cool.” Exactly the same experience, it's the outcome that's different. 

And so for most martial artists, I think most should have done pretty well through this, if they've got that kind of background. They would have gone, “Wow this is exciting. This is just like another competition, this is another chance to to show my skill, to really challenge myself,” because I think if any industry was really prepared for this, it'd be the martial arts industry, because that's what we do. We live for the challenge, that's what makes us different. Most normal people can't understand martial artists, they look at them and go, “Do you enjoy touching each other and checking each other out and…” – really? Because that's not normal behavior. 

And so that's kind of set us I think apart from everybody else in the world who's freaking out and putting their head under the duna as Scomo likes to say. So yeah, and I think we're well prepared for that and for me, I'm excited to do it, literally, I'll be doing a 65 hour- 70 hour week, this week and 60 of those hours are in four days. That's like, it's insane, but I'm up for that. I love that stuff.

GEORGE: Yeah cool. So if you don’t mind, before we finish up and I think this would be really valuable for other school owners, can you walk us through what you are actually doing with your virtual grading? How's the day going to plan out, what have you done prior and how's the whole process going to roll out?

BRETT: Yep. So similar set up to what we would normally do with a grading and here's another thing, that's the one of the things that I'm looking at as positive coming out of the COVID-19 thing is that, we now have some new systems that we never had before. So everyone that ever wanted to have their curriculums online and available to their students and we're struggling with like, getting like, whether it's IT departments of your website, website developers to actually pull the trigger and do it – they all jumped to it the night this happened. Within two days you had all of the ability to do this. 

And so that was a benefit, being able to schedule all of our gradings on Calendly. I know I can just look at my Calendly now and it is literally 200+ appointments long. It's just like this big list, but I know who's next and in all of my Zoom gradings, they all have their own unique code. All I have to do is click on there, then next I'll click and it brings me to the next Zoom invitation and I'm ready to grade them on my laptop right here, right where I am now, this is exactly where I'll be Thursday through to Sunday. I will shift from one room to the other depending on the grading, and basically one of the other things I'm doing that's pretty cool is, we've over delivered, which I think is really important. So every student normally only gets a certificate and their belt; this time they’re getting a backpack with a certificate, their belt, a bumper sticker and a gift. 

So there's probably $200 worth of value in there for a $50 grading. So they're gonna see that. We're also developing a virtual certificate that pops up on their screen saying “Congratulations, you've passed your virtual grading.” And that'll be branded, but it'll look really space-agey kinda like, very new looking, sparkly, I don't know. Liam and the design team did that at our printers to do that, so he's designing that this week and everyone's coming in to pick up their backpacks. So every 15 minutes, they're picking up a backpack. We're videoing the whole process and we're going to do a video at the end where it basically just crunches it into a little, probably three-minute version, well they call those videos…

GEORGE: Time-lapse.

BRETT: Timelapse, that's it. Yeah, we're gonna do a time-lapse video from the four days to show it with a soundtrack behind it. So that's something cool. I'm also photographing myself this Wednesday in front of all the logos, so in front of the school like, we're all buzzy here with all the different uniforms that I wear for all the different styles. So we’ve got seven different martial arts styles in the school, so I'm going to be basically getting changed, doing a new photo with a plain background, with this background sorry. And then every single student when they grade, there's going to be a list inside their backpack of all the things they have to do so they have to take a photo of themselves with their new belt on, their new certificate with a plain background. 

So like, white, yellow, as long as it’s not dark, nice clear background, then send the photo to me. I'll then superimpose that into the photo next to me on the wall back and then post that onto our Facebook page. And so it will be like they were there. So we're just going to make this virtual, because again, it's a virtual grading, so we can use Photoshop and make it look cool in a virtual world. Like, you know, everyone's been loving the Zoom backgrounds that create their own, I've got a few, I’ve used the matrix dojo in one of my classes one day. Everyone over the age of 30 thought that was cool; everyone else was going…

GEORGE: What’s that?

BRETT: Yeah, exactly, they had no idea what it was. And again, it's about building hype and excitement around something that they may never ever experience ever again. And one of the things I've been talking to the parents is, that a lot of people under the age of 25 have never, ever, ever experienced any kind of thing like this, like any kind of hardship. they've been pretty cruisy for the last 25 years as far as the world economy, the way the world's gone, no big wars, it's been really good, okay? Since 9/11, it's been pretty cruisy. So this is really something that's bonded the whole world together, an experience that everyone's going through. 

So let's make something out of it, let's come out of it and say “What did I get out of doing that? Did I get better about my relationships? Did I get better at learning new tools and skills? Or did I just watch Netflix for 12 hours a day?” So like what did you do with it? And so it'll be an interesting year, next year will be an interesting year to see what tools did people get and where did they take those tools. Like for us, I want to go VR. I want to put VR goggles on students in the home environment, so they're part of this class that we run here. So if this leads us down the road to that, then I'm happy because I was already thinking about it two years ago as adding it to my already system. Because I’m a big fan of Gary Vaynerchuk and I’ve spent some time with him and he's keen to get VR up and running so I'm like, “Cool, I'll look into that at some stage.”

GEORGE: Yeah, totally agree with you. and that's the thing: if anybody thinks this is a phase, nope, it's just the stepping stone, because it's brought this… it's funny you know, I've been doing these Zoom webinars about three to five a week for a long time. And inviting anyone to a Zoom meeting was always a weird thing. This Sunday my two-year-old daughter was having a Zoom party.

BRETT: Yep.

GEORGE: Because that's what you can do. But it's brought a lot of these technology things, it's just accelerated the normality of it. And people just really had to step into it, so it was that or nothing. And now that everybody's so accustomed to it, it's definitely not going away. This is leading to the next thing and if you think of, I had a chat with someone about virtual reality the other day and she was showing me what they were doing in the automated mining industry. And when I saw that, I was like “Oh, okay, this makes sense.” You know? It's taking objects and putting it in the lounge and you can walk around it… it's like a whole new experience. Now, yep martial arts: it's never gonna go away, the physicality of it. But I think the learning experience is definitely going to enhance in ways that we can't even comprehend right now.

BRETT: Yeah.

GEORGE: Yep, for all those thinking that we're just going back to normal – I’d relook at that perspective and really think of “Okay, well how are things gonna be different from here on and how are we going to embrace this.”

So yeah, there's so much good that's come from it. Yep, there's been a lot of hardship, you know, there’s been a lot of industries that are wiped out. There’s a lot of things that, you know, by no means are okay. But then there are the things that are okay, you know? I see people are friendlier, you know? When people see each other, you know, a lot of people are more… just friendlier greetings. My teenage son that used to just skate has spent a lot more time at home. It's been really good for us, he's been doing a lot of work around the house which has been interesting for a 13 year old boy to be repainting the door and doing things. I mean, those are little things, right? But I think there’s just so much benefit to what's happened and…

BRETT: Mmm.

GEORGE: It's good to just sit back and reflect and think, “Right how am I gonna play my part in this next chapter moving forward?”

martial arts virtual gradings

BRETT: Absolutely, absolutely. I think that humans have always been like… aren't very good at adapting to situations and then thriving in it. And so I'm sure back when Henry Ford was designing the first motor vehicle, everyone was like, “Yeah, that'll never exist,” like planes didn't exist and it was just… computers! I think back to when I was a kid: when I was 6 years old, not only did a computer not exist; the thought of one didn't exist. And how fast technology has come in a very short period, what's the next 10 to 20 years going to look like in this space? And I think yeah, you gotta be open-minded enough to go, “Okay, I'm going to adapt to whatever comes that way and I'll try it.” And I think that again, as martial artists, we're usually pretty good at failing forward so we’re adapted, like learning to fail and then get back up and go again. 

And so the last 2 or 3 months, it's been all about failing and learning, failing and learning. I had to reschedule my entire Zoom calendar because I did a Zoom code for every single class and that meant I got messages and notifications every day for every single class that came up. So I just went. “No, we have one place where we all go and then we'll go into breakout rooms.” And that took me about a week to realize that that was not a great idea, So yeah, but you learn, that's what it's all about.

GEORGE: Yeah, that's it. A simple thing that I did was, I actually just purchased one domain name and had one meeting link. And because I just got sick of going back and forth.

BRETT: Yep.

GEORGE: What was the meeting number, what was the ID. So just create one link, one domain name, forward it automatically. If anybody wants to meet you, just give them the domain name and now you've just got back-to-back meetings.

BRETT: Yeah, exactly, yeah. I learnt that really quickly. And again, love learning, so it's been fun. Challenging, but fun.

GEORGE: Awesome, that's it. Hey Brett, thanks being on the second time, actually nailing it this time. Perfect, thanks so much for being on. Thanks,it's always good to chat to you, because you're always on top of what's happening and you're always quick to implement and do things. If anybody wants to connect with you, what's the best way to do that?

BRETT: I'm on Facebook, Instagram, our website reddragon.com.au. Just easy enough, a Facebook message is the easiest one these days I think so. Just look me up on Facebook, it’s pretty easy to find people these days. And yeah, just give me a shout out if you need any information or any help in any direction. I do a lot of mentoring for school owners, the smaller schools that want to try and go full-time, or they're having troubles with staff and how to train up instructors, I do a lot of work on that. So I'm always available, just hit me up. And yeah, my only thing would be, George, make sure you upload this one to the cloud, right after we finish.

GEORGE: I was thinking that just when you were saying that, just when I was giving props about how cool this episode was, I was thinking, hey I'm gonna make sure this one uploads to Google Drive – now.

BRETT: Absolutely, absolutely, because we’ve spoken in the past, I don't do retakes. The next time we interview, it will be different again. You could redo this one straight after, it would be different again.

GEORGE: Yeah, that’s cool.

BRETT: I’m not good at sticking to scripts.

GEORGE: Perfect, thanks so much for being on Brett.

BRETT: My pleasure!

GEORGE: I'll speak to you soon.

BRETT:  All right, see you guys, bye.

GEORGE: Awesome. Thanks for listening. If you want to connect with other top and smart martial arts school owners, and have a chat about marketing, lead generation, what's working now, or just have a gentle rant about things that are happening in the industry, then I want to invite you to join our Facebook group

It's a private Facebook group and in there, I share a lot of extra videos and downloads and worksheets – the things that are working for us when we help school owners grow and share a couple of video interviews and a bunch of cool extra resources.

So it's called the Martial Arts Media Business Community and an easy way to access it is, if you just go to the domain named martialartsmedia.group, so martialaartsmedia.group, g-r-o-u-p, there's no .Com or anything, martialartsmedia.group. That will take you straight there. Request to join and I will accept your invitation.

Thanks – I'll speak to you on the next episode – cheers!

Here are 3 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. Join the Martial Arts Media community.

It's our new Facebook community where martial arts school owners get to ask questions about online marketing and get access to training videos that we don't share elsewhere – Click Here.

2. Join the Martial Arts Media Academy and become a Case Study.

I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, message me with the word ‘Case Study'.

3. Work with me and my team privately.

If you would like to work with me and my team to scale your school to the next level, then message me with the word ‘private'… tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details.

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97 – Updated Jobkeeper And Financial Essentials That Every Aussie Martial Arts School Owner Should Know

David Simpson, the Martial Arts Accountant, shares up to date financial advice for martial arts school owners to combat the crisis.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • What is JobKeeper and are you eligible for it
  • The common pitfalls that you should avoid during a financial crisis
  • Should you opt in or out of bank's cash assistance and loan deferment programs
  • Helpful survival tips for managing your martial arts business during an economic downturn
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

There's a number of areas that there is some sort of assistance and that is the banks allowing you to defer payments. I've not gone into their nitty-gritty, because it's one that I'm not overly in favor of. I've spoken about this with a couple of our clients. They may delay payments, but the interest my believe is, will continue to accrue and that's going to put you behind. So if you can continue to meet those loan repayments, yep, or restart them as soon as possible. There's the offer from the banks to lend you an unsecured amount. Once again, the pitfall is, tomorrow, or the day after, or the week after, or the month after, you've got to pay it back. And that's the thing that really concerns me that people will rush in and borrow money or defer payments.

GEORGE: Welcome to a live recording of the Martial Arts Media business podcast. We are doing this via Zoom, we are doing this as a live session. If you are in the Martial Arts Media Business Community right now, you can look for the link attached to this video. Jump on, that way you're going to get the most out of this call. So the purpose of this call is to bring you up-to-date information about finances, what to be doing with your finances at this point in time and stimulus packages, JobKeeper updates, things that are relevant to you right now. So to deliver that for you, I've brought on the one and only martial arts accountant David Simpson. How are you today?

DAVID: I'm fine George thank you, how are you?

GEORGE: Pretty good, thanks. Look, so we did the session live in our Partners group, where we work with school owners on marketing and so forth. Obviously, that's not the core topic right now. We are more focused on a lot of attention and doing pivoting with videos and keeping businesses afloat is a lot of the focus. And so I wanted to come and do a rerun of that session.

And I wanted to do this as a podcast, just that, number one, obviously, things are changing day to day, information is constantly updated. There's new information coming out that we need to be up-to-date with. So I wanted to bring David on and get this out to you and there we go. So David first up, just before we get started: if you can give us just a two to three-minute round up, just who you are, what you do and so forth?

DAVID: I am a martial artist. I run a dojo here in Cowra, plus another one in Cootamundra about an hour away. And I’ve been a martial artist since 1978, this goes back a few years. I've been running the school for the last 12-13 years. In all that time, I've also been an accountant. I did my studies and I took over running my own practice back in 1988. I would say to people that I've been in the industry for 40 years. I've probably got 25 repetitious years, where I've done the same thing over and over again. And on top of that, another 15 years of real experience where you're doing stuff and changing what you're actually doing.

I move my accounting practice, or I’m moving my accounting practice to focus on gyms and martial arts schools, because that's where my passion is and I think I've got a lot to offer to them. In my own personal training as a martial artist, I am a third degree black belt and also a black belt equivalent in Muay Thai. I go over the seas to train in Thailand, but that's been cancelled because of things happening now. But I've also managed to travel to China, New Zealand, Japan, all as part of my martial arts.

GEORGE: Oh fantastic. Okay, so if you're on this call live, please use the chat feature and ask questions. If you're watching this on Facebook, jump onto the Zoom session. That way you'll be able to ask questions and you're going to get the most out of the session. So I'm going to first ask: when the whole pandemic started and as the shifts have happened over the last couple of weeks, what are the first things that you did in your business as an accountant?

DAVID: What did I do in my business as an accountant was, I just went back and had a look at what we could afford to do as far as what can happen to our income. We've made decisions on how we were going to proceed forward as far as, we decided, we're going with the video classes and things like that. And then we had to decide what was going to keep us in good with fair trading. We had to make sure that we weren't asking people to pay for a full service which we weren't delivering, so we went back and restructured our fee system for the time being. We notified our students and their parents of this and we moved forward from there.

We also then looked at what we could afford to do without government support, that was really important for us. We knew we wanted to keep this going. In my own case what is also interesting is, I'm actually constructing a new building for the dojo at this very time. We were about a third of the way into it when the pandemic hit. We're about 80% completed now, so that's still happening. And so that's in the back of my mind as well. But it was a matter of restructuring, looking at our staffing situation. What we could do without killing ourselves.

GEORGE: Gotcha, okay. So what information is pressing that martial arts school owners need to know right now? And let's just start there, then we can elaborate on some of the specs of JobKeeper and all the other things as well.

DAVID: Well I was going to say, the main thing that is important now is the JobKeeper. That is the major assistance that is being offered to all businesses and in particular the martial arts schools. A lot of the other assistance out there that they're talking about – and I haven't looked at individual states as far as the state's own grants, but I know in New South Wales, the 10,000 grant that they're offering in New South Wales is going to be useless unless you have employees. So it just doesn't appear. So it is looking at what's going on in these various areas, because that is what's going to financially keep a lot of us afloat and allow us to walk out of this at the end of it with a very, very strong business again.

GEORGE: Okay, so more on that: are you saying that if you don't have employees you don't qualify whatsoever?

DAVID: Okay, if you don't have employees, you qualify for JobKeeper or you can qualify for the JobKeeper. But you don't qualify for some of the earlier assistance packages that were announced. So there was the cash flow business one, which was between $10,000 and $50,000 in the first instance, only applies if you have employees, or had employees. So that's not going to apply to some but it will to others. The non-assistance ones as I call them, the increased write-off of assets and things like that, if you spend up to 150,000 – it sounds good, but for most of us, it's not going to be anything that applies, because we don't have the cash flow to go ahead and do those things.

So a lot of the initial stuff that came out was actually of no major assistance to anyone. It was just to make people feel good and that's a horrible thing to say about the government, but sorry that's what I said. JobKeeper on the other hand offers assistance in retention of our employees, and actually in a lot of cases assisting them more than they would have had if they just worked their job. But it also provides assistance to some of us as business operators, or business participants, depending upon what your particular structure is of your dojo, as far as the legal entity it's running through. So if you're running as a sole trader, you’re up for some assistance there for you potentially because you dropped your turnover, even if you don't have employees. So that's what the big thing is.

GEORGE: All right. Ross said in the chat here, “Queensland has the job support loan based on PAYG.

DAVID: Okay. So as I said, I haven't looked into those. Victoria and New South Wales have two very similar ones and basically they're linked PAYG, but you use the funds for any other expenses. It's not necessarily supporting the employment of your staff, it is to do with other expenses. I'm guessing that because someone is going to be entitled to JobKeeper if they have employees, that Queensland one is still going to be linked in to, whether or not you have employees. But the utilization of that money can be for anything else. But the fact that they've gone with the loan, yeah, think twice before you take it on, because you have to pay it back.

GEORGE: Yeah, gotcha. I saw somebody post in Canada, he was using… The bank actually offered him all these delays on payments and so forth. And when he calculated it, it was costing him five grand to actually do it. And he had no way to actually get out of it, so there was no way he could back up. What are the pitfalls in this? Like, if we had to be a real devil's advocate, you know, a lot of it looks great. Yep, here comes the money, you can do this. You know, you were saying it makes the government look good. What should we be really looking out for that looks great on the outside, but long-term has got some potential damaging effects?

DAVID: Okay, there's a number of areas that there is some sort of assistance. And that is the banks allowing you to defer payments. I've not gone into their nitty-gritty, because it's one that I'm not overly in favor of. I've spoken about this with a couple of our clients. They may delay payments, but the interest my believe is, will continue to accrue and that's going to put you behind. So if you can continue to meet those loan repayments, yep, or restart them as soon as possible. There's the offer from the banks to lend you unsecured amounts. Once again, the pitfall is, tomorrow, or the day after, or the week after, or the month after, you've got to pay it back. And that's the thing that really concerns me, being able to… That people will rush in and borrow monies or defer payments.

The other one is landlords. You are able to negotiate with your landlords to get some rental relief and that's one that hasn't come out in the… awful lot of how they're going to be supported. But they also have issues that they've got to look at, as far as their ability to pay their debt or whatever. But the thing there quite often is that you're going to then have to find the resources at a later stage to compensate for that, depending upon the agreement you come to with your landlord. So once again, be very careful of what you are doing. Expenses… There's also support in relation to power and electricity and gas and things like that.

They seem to be a little bit more honest at least, if they're going to knock back the payments, they're not going to come back and bite you again then. They're looking at doing reductions in the actual cost to you. The thing you've got to look at is, anything you are doing – and this is probably not for our group so much, but for much smaller operators who are doing this as a hobby is, is it worth putting yourself into potential debt and then looking at where you can go in the future? Can you reopen, really reopen or not? I think we're going to find a lot of our compatriots are going to actually disappear out of the system because they're not going to be able to come back in. So the big thing is future debt. That's what you should be careful of. What future debt you put yourself into.

GEORGE: Gotcha. Okay, cool. So if you guys have questions like, this is your opportunity, right? You've got an accountant giving time, it's free, right?

DAVID: I'm going to send a bill later, don’t worry!

GEORGE: Okay, cool, cool. So anything you need to know this is your opportunity to ask questions. And I'm going to keep probing, but I would love for you to jump in the chat, because anything that you need to know about finances, money and what you should be doing, what you should  look out for, please let us know. Ross saying, good debit as in stock of or business development. All right, perfect. Let's just go to the worst-case scenario, right? I'm a school, I haven't been able to pivot, cash flow is starting to wear real thin and I'm faced with a couple of choices, not many. Firstly, what are your choices? You know, at what point do you actually say to someone, “It's time to get a job,” or get some assistance? Go, you know, make a call and go into some debt and take that risk. Where would you go with that?

DAVID: My feeling is, as I said, JobKeeper is probably the strongest assistance, which is $1,500 a fortnight. If I can qualify for it, I would be applying for it straight away, even if I don't think I need it. Because we can then turn around and put that back into the development of the dojo once we reopen, which could be as soon as what, July if we're lucky. But yeah, I would be making the decisions. Look at it now and really go through your stages. Look at the worst-case scenario and find out, you know, how long you can keep going.

But you should not go to the stage where you're going to go into massive debt if you can't get out of it in a short period of say, six months. And I'm… Because really when you look at it, most of our businesses are the sort of business that don't have a strong asset backing. They're based on current cash flows. And if it means closing it down now and then reopening in six months time and starting that up, that's going to be a better option than digging yourself a really deep financial hole now and trying to trade out of it later on.

GEORGE: Perfect. You might have to make the call and just say, “Look, let's temporarily close doors,” and then it's really just starting from scratch. Oh well, it might be something from scratch completely but… yeah.

DAVID: You won't be starting from scratch completely, because you've got your database of all of your old students. You can come back in and make contact. I think this group has been able to do a lot with their live classes, their streaming classes, their video classes and that has kept a lot of interest and kept their students connected. And I'm getting messages now for a while saying, “Yeah, when do you think we might be back? Because we're so looking forward to getting back again. The classes are great, it's helping us, but we want to get back together again.” And so, being able to contact them on that level is going to work, it really is.

GEORGE: Alright, perfect. I've got a few questions just in the Facebook group in here. Yes I guess just on that, you know, we are discussing the doom and gloom, like the heavy consequences. But I mean, you know, my advice for anyone is: there is a choice to go down that route and there is a choice to choose and adapt. I'm just looking on, you know, a part of this group yesterday, one of the guys, I think it was Ben, yeah, 33 online trials, he's replaced everyone that's canceled and it's growing.

So it's out there I know for summer, so it's a hard thing to swallow. That, you know, you’re venturing into this online world that you didn't initially plan. But it's… The online business is definitely better than the consequences of no business. Yeah, definitely so. Alright so David, let me just cross over here. David was asking, “Is JobKeeper tax free? Does it add to your gross turnover?”

DAVID: JobKeeper is taxable income. That is something that we were hoping to get around before, but no. They came back and said it is taxable income. It does not have GST on it, so basically it's not a matter of 1/10th of it or 1/11th of it goes back to the tax department’s GST. But it will be taxable income to the entity. So basically, if you are doing, if your employees… yes, the $1500 a fortnight comes in and then you pay at the $1500. So it has a zero impact on your income. So you're paying them and not having to pay tax or to supply the income. If you registered as a business participant, it will be taxable income to the entity. So maybe if you're a sole trader, or the partnership, or the trust, or the company. it will be taxable income to the entity. Yeah, so there is that. But if we then turn around and use that money either for our own income, or to support the expenses of the dojo, we've got the offsetting expenses as well.

GEORGE: That's good to know – Brett, I'm going to jump to your question and then just want to make sure… just to keep it congruent. So David's follow-up question was “Details on the ultimate income tests for schools, less than 12 months old?”

DAVID: Yes.

GEORGE: It's registered for GST.

DAVID: Okay, so going back, we'll take that the other way around: if the school is not registered for GST, that is not an issue because what happens is that it’s being based on your tax returns. So as long as you have lodged a tax return for the year ended 2018 and showing that there is income from it, if the tax return is also launched for 2019, that's even better. But if not, so long as you've got a tax agent or an accountant who's got you an extension of time, everything there is going to be sweet. You don't need to be necessarily lodging business activity statements. Going back to if the school is under 12 months old, the alternative is, you look at when it was started and there are two or three sort of tests you look at, which depends on what's going to suit you the best, starting from the first full month of operation.

So you can take all of the income for the period up until the end of March from when you started. So if you started mid-October from the 1st of November and use that to work out your average monthly income, or average quarterly income, depending upon what you're using and then compare that to the current now, it should be easily done and those records are all there. They've actually come to the party and said, yes, if you've got a new start up, but also the new start up can be where you have increased dramatically your turnover.

So if you've had a massive growth, you can use that as the basis and a massive growth can be as low as 15%. So they've got a couple of different scenarios with 50% 25% 15%, but if you've got a massive increase in your student base and your fee base, you can still use that. So even though you may have been in business for two, three, four, five years, you can still turn their words to your advantage.

GEORGE: This is good info. All right, so now I'm going to jump to your questions in a minute. Brett’s asking in the chat here, “George, my 70 year old instructor hasn't done anything to help himself and he's overwhelmed. He has an ABN and hasn't learned…” – learned, earned?

DAVID: Earned.

GEORGE: “…earned anything since March this year. What do you recommend as far as JobKeeper, versus JobKeeper with his age?

DAVID: Question: is he on the pension? Age pensions are a big thing. Because if he’s age 70, this may be something that is running parallel, so he would need to go into those. Basically, if he has just closed shop, we may have a little bit of a difficulty in proving that he's still active in the business, so he needs to be possibly doing something there…

GEORGE: Brett’s saying not on pension.

DAVID: He's not on the pension? Okay. So basically, he should get in contact with his accountant. Is it a very large school, as in would his GST have been registered in the past?

GEORGE: He says “Doing private lessons, only twenty students, no GST.”

Okay. So he's still like a micro business. That's not a problem: get in contact with its accountant and get the registration for JobKeeper done. It's a lot simpler dealing with the ATO to do JobKeeper than it is with the Centrelink than the ATO with JobKeeper. I believe it's a much better way of doing it. So yeah, I'd be looking at that because if he's not in the age pension at 70, he may be in receipt of some personal superannuation pension. If that's the case, being 70 it's not taxable income. The only taxable income is going to be his investments, his school fees and JobKeeper when he gets that. But it sounds like he's dropped his 30% quite easily. I'd be getting that registered.

GEORGE: Cool, Brett’s saying “Thank you.” All right, checking the Facebook group here. You have a question from Darnell. “I had 192 tax dollars taken from the staff for the $1500 JobKeeper, is that correct?”

DAVID: Yes, it is. So 750 a week, the tax on 750 is 96 dollars, so that's 192 for the fortnight.

GEORGE: Cool and Darnell is saying “One thing we have found as an advantage is having staff with excessive annual leave. Take this leave under the JobKeeper program, this might help some schools. Yep, actually my wife's a radiation therapist as well, they've all been on annual leave.

DAVID: Yep, yep.

GEORGE: Annual leave at home, great.

DAVID: What we all want.

GEORGE: All right, cool, let's see… Diana, hey Diana. “I didn't have employees. I've applied.

DAVID: Only to JobKeeper and it has been declined, as my partner earns $2,000 more of the threshold.”

GEORGE: “However, he has spent more money on his salary, trying to adequate his home office. Any suggestions to make it fair for us?”

DAVID: Okay for you for starters: so you run your own school as a sole trader? That's the question. Wait till we get a yes or no back on that. So if you're running in as a sole trader, you can still register for JobKeeper for yourself, so long as you qualify under the reduced turnover. So if you can meet that, what you do is you register for jobkeeper, but once again, the tax department – I know everyone hates them, but they're a lot easier to deal with than the Centrelink. And you will qualify for that.

GEORGE: Diana is saying “Yes.”

DAVID: So it is a sole trader, yep. So that's fine. So it's just simple, you can do it yourself, but seriously, I recommend that your accountant does it for you, not because I'm trying to get more fees for them, but it just keeps it nice and simple. What has to happen is, you will sign a declaration saying “`Yes, I qualify,” and then on a monthly basis within seven days at the end of the month, you will have to report your turnover each month. But once you qualify, that stays in place until the 27th of September.

So you'll receive payments all the way up to there. So even say for example, if we go back to running our dojos at full speed from the 1st of June, if we've qualified for jobkeeper, we will continue to get those fortnight payments made and we would continue, with our employees paying them of course. But if it's for ourselves, we continue to get that and that it's going to help subsidize getting up and running again.

GEORGE: All right, perfect, this is really good. I hope you guys are getting great value from it. If you are, just give me a thumbs up. If you're watching this on Facebook, give us a thumbs up and let us know. So two questions – Ross I'll jump to you in a minute. Jack Leung is asking “Hi David, George: if we get to reopen our school soon and the business gets better, say in three months in July. Say the drop in turnover is less than 30%, do we still get a JobKeeper?”

DAVID: Yes. Okay, so the way it works is, when you've qualified through your drop of income, so we're looking at say month of March, month of April, whatever. Once you've met that qualification, it’s in. It keeps going until the end of the program, which is a six-month program to the 27th of September. You are going to be reporting your monthly income, but that isn't to make sure that you're still qualified; it's merely to look at what the numbers are doing. And we've been told that it's so the government can use that to see how the economy itself is going on a monthly basis, to look at whether there's any growth happening there, or if we’re returning to normal. So categorically they're stating that, once you qualify, you don't have to re-qualify every month. It's, you've qualified and it just moves forward.

GEORGE: Perfect. Jack, let us know if that was sufficient. “All right, cool.” And let's jump to Ross: “Looking forward, do you believe that banks will ease lending policies, as I'm looking to buy a building for my dojo over the next six to twelve months.”

DAVID: Honestly, no I don't. The reason for that is they are scared as hell. With all the, not just with this, but prior to this the investigation, they went into the banking system. They clamped down really harshly on what they were doing there. They're looking at supposedly giving some leniency at the present time and if they do do that, they're going to put themselves in a situation where they can't afford to be too lenient once we come out of this again. They're going to stay fairly harsh, because they've had their fingers burnt.

It's just no way they're going to be, oh, back to the… the 80s was a wonderful time for borrowing. Yeah, you walk in there and say “Look, I don’t really need the money, but can I have a couple of hundred thousand dollars,” and they just give it to you. But in more recent times the investigations into them, the Royal Commission, it just brought up too many things. and because of that they're very, very downshot.

GEORGE: Okay, perfect. So follow up here from, Jack “Some people got PAYG boosting when they lodged their BAS on the 28th of April. Some lodged two weeks and got nothing – do you know what's happening? System over crashed. Some lodged two weeks in advance, but got nothing. 

DAVID: That's interesting. I'm not sure how they can launch two weeks in advance, because depending if it's a BAS, though they've got to report their GST sales etc. Basically it is just a system thing, they're doing their best. They’ve still got a two week time frame. Of course, to be eligible for that cash flow boost, they had to be registered before the 12th of March for PAYG withholding. So some of those who aren't getting anything may be the ones that were not registered for the PAYG withholding, but I've seen the ones that my clients that have been launched, they've been coming through fairly quickly.

GEORGE: Cool. So just to go in for some questions. Jack, let us know if that was sufficient. If you are on the Zoom call David, Ross, Diana, any other questions from you. And if you're watching this on Facebook live, give us a shout if you have a question. I know there's a bit of a delay in the Facebook group, while we are just waiting for one last take off question. Anything that you'd like to add? Anything that I haven't asked or haven't explored or that, you know, it's good to pay attention to now and in the next coming months, and especially in the next coming months obviously in the lockdown states, what we’re in at the time of recording this, versus you know, when we start swapping things around?

DAVID: I suppose I've been focusing on what's happening now on the lockdown stage and looking from the point of view of what's going to be coming to us in the form of assistance. Once we come out of this, we haven't got a big time frame to make use of any of the benefits that the government is offering us from a tax point of view, because 30th of June, it switches off unless they decide to extend. I think the main thing is that we really need to look at what skills we've picked up over this period and how we incorporate that back into our business.

I mean, it's time to look at our business not as just what we've been doing and we were talking about the 78 year old sensei who has just not done anything. That may not be to do with his classes or anything else, but I think we've gone into a very, very rapid learning period here that gives us a chance to take a little bit of time to step back and look at our businesses, our day shows from the point of view, “Gee what can we do here? What can we do to expand and make this even better? How should we be using technology,” and things like that. I know it's not the Australia counting thing but they're the things that are going to provide you with extra income streams and also the way to move forward.

I think we should also be looking very seriously at what is the structure of our business. And an example that I'll give is, if you have a situation where you have two or more business owners running their business through a partnership and they're just doing it as a partnership and not taking any sort of salary in the form of PAYG withholding, under the current circumstances you can only get support for one of them.

GEORGE: Wow.

DAVID: You may have three people who are actively working in the business and working it hard and are drawing their salary, their income from it – only one will get supported. You can only have one business participant, unless they are an employee, which means, solo traders, yeah, there’s only one of you here anyway. If it's a partnership, that could be up to 20 technically, but if it's running through a trust or a company, you really need to, you have the opportunity there to do a PAYG withholding and so everyone who's on wages can be supported. So yeah, we're not going to have another pandemic we hope, but there are a whole lot of reasons why we should look at how we are structuring our businesses. That's the big thing.

GEORGE: Perfect. So just, and I'm going to take this as probably the last question Jack saying, “Session’s very helpful, thanks once again for putting your time together.” yeah thank you so much. A couple of questions jumping in, yes so Ross asking “How long will you ask for rate relief from the landlord? I've asked for six months, then offered two months. Structure of business you would suggest a company and trust.”

DAVID: Okay. I would ask the landlord for six months and see what they come back with. And then if they've given you two months, depending on what you're talking about relief – is it a 100% relief or is at 50% relief. And then once we get close to the end of that period, enter into the negotiations again. Talk to them again, because the thing is, they don't want an empty building. Any intelligent landlord knows that having a tenant that is paying less than full market is better than no tenant at all, especially in this period where you're actually not doing any damage to the budget. There's no wear and tear, it's empty, it’s not doing anything.

So they have got cost, granted. If they've given you a 100% relief for the couple of months, I would approach them and ask them to seriously consider doing another two months or three months at half rental, even after we’re reestablished, because there's a lot of ground to be recovered to get us up and running again. And yeah, even if it means that we pick it up a little bit later on. But yeah, I'd be asking that.

As far as the structure side of things: it's horses for courses. It depends very much.I mean, if you are a sole trader, you are the only business owner, going into a company may not be necessarily the right thing to do. Having said that, my dojos run through a company. I am the only business owner involved in that company or in the dojo, but I also have another business to the side.

And because of the way I've done that, I'm fortunate in that I don't have to aggregate the income from my accounting practice with the income from my dojo in working out if either one of those businesses qualifies for JobKeeper. And it also means I have the ability to do different things moving forward. It's very much a matter of talking with someone who knows what they're talking about to see what suits you. And they've got to listen, it's what suits you, not what they want to pedal.

GEORGE: Okay, so Ross saying 50% is what he requested and levels of protection as a question.

DAVID: I'm assuming you're talking about the structure.

GEORGE: Yeah.

DAVID: You've got to have the appropriate insurance in place is a big thing. Levels of protection are not with companies and trusts and not what everyone expects them to be. They think, “Yeah, I have a company, I’m safe.” No, it depends upon how… because you'll be in there as a shareholder and a director and it can come back to how you act and what you have in place. So levels of protection may not be a 100% there. If you're talking about asset protection as a different thing, that depends upon what assets you have and what people you had in your life as far as partners and things like that, the best way of putting all that together. So once again, it's not a “one size fits all” matter, you really need to get it tailored to fit your circumstances. Very much so.

GEORGE: Awesome. I think that does it, I mean that was a lot. Thanks so much, that's being super variable.

DAVID: My pleasure.

GEORGE: I'd like to just put this out to anyone listening, you know. David is a martial artist, martial arts school owner, knows the business side inside out and fortunate enough to be an accountant as well, so has a different set of eyes looking into the business. So if that's something you need help with, you need a new accountant, or if you just want to chat with David and ask advice, definitely reach out to him and I’d like to ask what is the best way that people can reach out to you David?

DAVID: Okay, well you can get me through Facebook and things like that of course, but probably an initial email is probably one of the quickest ways, or a phone call. So my email, George the one that you have, it’s david@bailliesimpson.com.au, or you can get me on my mobile which is 0427 400 222.

GEORGE: And it just started ringing.

DAVID: Nah, I’m not here! If it comes through without any identification of the number, I won’t answer it. So you’ll get a message back, you leave me a message and then I’ll leave it back, but you get to many scam calls coming through, trying to sell you something.

GEORGE: Yeah.

DAVID: I'm quite happy to speak with anyone, because it really is difficult to give a generic answer to a lot of things, especially when you start talking about structuring and things like that. It becomes a relationship, you need to sit back, have a chat, find out where the person is, what they're doing, what is their situation and then talk about it.

GEORGE: That's perfect. So I mean, this was really good as in, to give those generalities, the general consensus of what we were discussing. But if you need the real structure, you know, for your particular situation, do reach out to David. We'll be sharing this video, but we’ll also be publishing this on martialartsmedia.com. David, thanks again for your time.

DAVID: My pleasure, my pleasure.

GEORGE: Much appreciated and I'll speak to you soon.

DAVID: Ok, thank you.

GEORGE: Awesome. Thanks for listening. If you want to connect with other top and smart martial arts school owners, and have a chat about marketing, lead generation, what's working now, or just have a gentle rant about things that are happening in the industry, then I want to invite you to join our Facebook group.

It's a private Facebook group and in there, I share a lot of extra videos and downloads and worksheets – the things that are working for us when we help school owners grow and share a couple of video interviews and a bunch of cool extra resources.

So it's called the Martial Arts Media Business Community and an easy way to access it is, if you just go to the domain named martialartsmedia.group, so martialaartsmedia.group, g-r-o-u-p, there's no .Com or anything, martialartsmedia.group. That will take you straight there. Request to join and I will accept your invitation.

Thanks – I'll speak to you on the next episode – cheers!

Here are 3 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. Join the Martial Arts Media community.

It's our new Facebook community where martial arts school owners get to ask questions about online marketing and get access to training videos that we don't share elsewhere – Click Here.

2. Join the Martial Arts Media Academy and become a Case Study.

I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, message me with the word ‘Case Study'.

3. Work with me and my team privately.

If you would like to work with me and my team to scale your school to the next level, then message me with the word ‘private'… tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details.

Enjoyed the show? Get more martial arts business tips when you subscribe on iTunes for iPhone or Stitcher Radio for Android devices.

***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

Podcast Sponsored by Martial Arts Media Partners

The Martial Arts Business Pivot Gameplan

How to get your martial arts students to commit, show up, and fill your pipeline with new prospects in uncertain times.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN: 

  • How to shift from being a fear consumer to a content creator 
  • The new 9 accelerators that you should focus on in the ‘new normal’ 
  • Getting back into growth mode
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

Hey, George here. Hope you're well. I've just put together our new Martial Arts Pivot Game Plan. I want to go through just the big picture of the plan with you. Over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to be sharing probably a bit more in depth in regards to the certain topics that we're going to discuss here. Been having a lot of conversations with a lot of martial arts school owners over the past couple of weeks and really trying to refine what is going to happen from now, moving forward. So I'm going to map it out for you. I'm not the best at handwriting and drawing, but I think it will give you a good context of what the plan looks like and how to move forward.

First up, let's start with the now. Let's work it from the inside out, but let's work it where we are at. Right now, most martial arts school owners and maybe for you too is, we're consumed in a state of fear, fear from the media, the social media. Just there's not a lot of positivity out there, right? We're kind of consumed with a lot of fear, right? At this point, you're kind of sitting in a, well, we'll just call it a fear consumer stage.

Now, what makes us scared, if we look at the business side of it, is right now we're in a situation where students are canceling. With students canceling, that's going to obviously, as a… within the business, impact your cash flow. And then personally, wait from here. Like, how am I going to provide for my family if the cash disappears and people aren't paying? And it's going to have a bigger impact on your family.

Then on this side, number two. For number two, we've got no normal classes. The platform has changed, hasn't it? And depending on where you're at, I know for most school owners at this point in time still in lockdown, not able to run classes other than virtually. So we're sitting in a situation of no normal classes and that kind of makes the students feel a little uncertain. Like what's going on? What's going to happen? And for you, it's a fear of the future, for fear of the future for them as well. Like where does this go if we can't have our normal classes?

And then number three, which is important but hasn't been really the focus of anyone right now, is no new sign-ups. Impact on the business, if you're not bringing on new students in this type of climate, if you're stagnating, you're really declining because things aren't just the way they are, right? So if you're going to stay the same, then there's going to be a dramatic decline in the business.

By the way, if you're watching this live, just give me a thumbs up or leave me a comment below that says live. If you're watching the replay, just comment replay just so I know. All right, cool.

So here we are, right? Students are canceling, no normal classes, no new sign-ups. And we want to flip this fear consumer mindset. And instead of being on the fear, on the defense, we really want to dial into the offense. And we've got to flip things around and we've got to become the creator, right? Creator versus consumer. Okay. So let's flip these around.

Students are canceling. What do we want them to do? Well, first up, we want them to commit. This is where the video gets a bit better, right? You're not focusing on the problems. Let's look at the solutions, right? So first up, we want them to commit. No normal classes. Instead of them getting hung up about the normal classes, we want to change their perspective and make sure they show up, start showing up to the new medium, which we'll talk about in just a minute. And then we've got no new sign ups. Instead of having no new sign ups, we want to split this around and, once again, have a full pipeline, a full pipeline of new prospects that want to get started with martial arts. Not in the same way of course, but they want a get started. If this is resonating with you, let me know in the comment below. We'd love to know your feedback.

So let's map this out further and let's dive into what I'd like to refer to as our new nine accelerators that we need to focus on. If we've got to stop students canceling, get used to the norm of no normal classes and there's no new sign ups and we want to flip these around, we want to get them to commit, to show up and have a full pipeline, then here's how this looks.

First up on the commit side, we've got to over-communicate. Right now, coming in the position where we can't communicate enough, we have to constantly keep communicating. And taking into consideration that there's no physical location right now, so there's got to be a lot of communication online, back and forth, whether it's one-on-one, whether it's in the groups, you name it.

Number two. We want to engage our community. This is one important aspect where I think a lot of people are missing the point when it comes to creating online videos, is you've got to engage your community, now more so than ever because… I mean, all your students and yourself, you're used to going into the physical location. There's that physical connection. There's that ability to shake hands, how dare we, high fives, all those things, there's connection. We don't have that right now. So we really got to focus on how we engage our community in the time that we show.

And number three, we got to multiply the value. This could be a mindset shift as well, right? Because if we're really focused on that the only value we provide is physical martial arts, within the contact, then we might struggle with that. So we've got to find other ways to multiply the value. Over-deliver in other ways within the online hemisphere.

All right. Number two. No normal classes, we want them to show up. So how are we going to do that? Well, first up, we've got to really embrace online. Because here's a fact, and again, this could be done in 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, but as of right now, for most school owners, you're an online business and you're not a physical martial arts business. That's just where you're at right now. So it's important to embrace online. I think what's important to also look at is whatever you do now in this current climate is going to add so much value to your memberships down the line when things return back to normal or the new normal, right? So we've got to embrace online.

Number two, we want to dial in the discipline with our students. So we're going to make sure they still show up and we've got to build systems around the fact that we want to make sure that they are still arriving at the classes, the virtual classes, because if we're going to lose the discipline, then slowly but surely the commitment to martial arts is going to disintegrate. So dial in the discipline.

And number three, here, is present a plan. Present the new plan because as we were talking about earlier, uncertainty, there's uncertainty and not knowing where things are headed, then that creates doubt and it enhances the fear and then people are going to start canceling and so forth. So if we have a clear plan and we show them how this is going to work, how the classes work, where this is going, how your gradings are going to work in the future, now we've got something to hang onto, it gives us certainty in a time when most people need a lot of certainty, right?

That's been most of the focus for most school owners right now. But let's look at the growth side, because we got to keep this business going, we got to keep the economy going, we got to keep our business moving forward. So we want to turn no new sign ups into a full pipeline. How are we going to do that? Well, we've got to change a couple of things. First up, we need a new offer. The offer that we ran a couple of weeks ago before all the climate changed, where we got sent to our cocoons, where we got to stay indoors, before that happened, that used to work then, but this is now. Yep. And will we get back to the previous way we used to have our offers? Perhaps so. But right now, our offers need to change.

With that, we need a new message. Where our messaging was potentially focused on something aspirational, confidence and goals and a future, we're now looking at more of a survival of how we're going to get through this and support our messaging so that it's a message of how do we get through this versus how do we go for these big goals and so forth.

So for a new message. Then with that, we've got to embrace the new medium, the new delivery. Going back to our point up here, if you're running an online business, which right now you are, then running an online business is more than just streaming classes, right? It's more than just streaming classes. So you've got to embrace the medium and really look at it in a way of, “All right. Well, if we're going to bring new students in, then how does our on-boarding change from now? How are we going to onboard our students? How are we going to deliver the right content at the right time for them so that we are in effect selling the consumption of our content?”

I'm going to leave that. But just as a quick recap. On the mindset shift, this is really important. We want to move out of the fear consumer mindset, and that means maybe turning social media off just for a little bit if it's needed to be done, right? If you need to spend less time on social media, then maybe that's a good idea. Less consumption, less consuming the fear of the media and take the creator stance. Create more content, create more videos and be on the offense instead of playing the defense.

The problems that we're tackling head on, students canceling, no normal classes, no new sign ups, and we want to flip all those on their heads. Instead of students canceling, we want to make sure that they commit, we want to make sure they show up to the new classes and we want to get back to having a full pipeline of prospects we can speak to.

Then the nine accelerators that we're going to focus on. We've got to over-communicate. Over communicate right now. Make sure that we're engaging our community. Multiply the value over and above what we used to do in the past. Embrace the online space. Take note that you now have an online business versus a standard brick and mortar martial arts business. Dial in the discipline and make sure that your students are showing up. To do that, make sure that you've got a great plan in place that they're engaged. Then how are we going to scale or how are we going to start growing again? How are we going to get that curve happening? Well, we've got to have a new offer in place, a new message and a new medium.

So I'm going to leave that with you. I'm sharing a lot of this in our Facebook group. You can find that at martialartsmedia.com… Sorry, martialartsmedia.group. You can find us there or just comment the word group below, I'll get you the link. If you need more help in implementing this plan, then just type help below or send me a message and we can have a chat and I'll see if we can help you with a plan that we are rolling out in the next couple of weeks, expanding on this game plan right here. All right. Hope that was helpful. I'll see you in the next video. Speak soon.

Here are 3 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. Join the Martial Arts Media community.

It's our new Facebook community where martial arts school owners get to ask questions about online marketing and get access to training videos that we don't share elsewhere – Click Here.

2. Join the Martial Arts Media Academy and become a Case Study.

I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, message me with the word ‘Case Study'.

3. Work with me and my team privately.

If you would like to work with me and my team to scale your school to the next level, then message me with the word ‘private'… tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details.

Enjoyed the show? Get more martial arts business tips when you subscribe on iTunes for iPhone or Stitcher Radio for Android devices.

***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

Podcast Sponsored by Martial Arts Media Partners

93 – Strategies From a High Performance Salon Coach To Pivot Your Martial Arts Business

Jason Everett, a high-performance salon coach, shares 3 main pillars to take advantage of with your martial arts business during uncertain times.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN: 

  • The 3 key strategies to implement before you pivot your martial arts business
  • Why you should double down on coaching
  • The hidden opportunity all martial arts school owners have right now
  • How to use your Facebook community to strengthen relationships with your students and instructors
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

Now the question is, if you're being tested right now, how do you show up to be tested? Are you going to double down? Are you going to get more coaching education, understand more about your business and get lit up and on fire for what you're doing? Or are you going to be like, “Well, I guess we'll just shut this thing down and I'm going to go on vacation for a few weeks and come back.”

GEORGE: Hey, this is George Fourie and welcome to the Martial Arts Media Business Podcast. The first live Martial Arts Media Business Podcast, and… 

JASON: Wow man, that's exciting. First live. 

GEORGE: First live, and I've got a really awesome guest here today. Now, Jason Everett is not a martial artist, but- 

JASON: I'm not. I'm not afraid of some martial arts though, let's be clear. I think it's amazing. I'm just not very good at any of them. 

GEORGE: Here's why I'm bringing Jason on. So, first up he brings good energy. Good energy, a wealth of knowledge and he's in a completely opposite industry, but facing challenges way more than any martial arts school owner is right now. 

JASON: Probably true, probably true. 

GEORGE: And so let me just hand it over to Jason. If you could just give us a quick couple of minutes, who you are, what you do and we'll go from there. 

JASON: Yeah. Well first of all man, thanks for doing this and what you do for martial arts studio owners is extraordinary. I mean I know you do some incredible work for them and I would just say to you guys as a community, now more than ever you need what George is doing. And I say that because I just have seen inside our own group and because I run a group of salon owners. 

So basically what I do is I work inside the salon, spa, beauty industry, barber shops all over the world to help them to increase the amount of take home income that they have, to grow their staff, to grow in locations and to really start creating wealth in their lives for salons. And the reason why I do that is that only 7% of salons actually make a profit, 20% of them are breaking even and the rest of them actually go backwards to go to work every single day. 

So if you run a martial arts studio or a dojo or whatever you would call your place that you operate, is that if you could imagine trying to run your business and knowing that only 7% make money, that's pretty crazy, right? So salon owners very often, like for you guys in the martial arts industry, they love what they do but they're not always the best business owners. Right? And I know that's very true and the reason why I say that… so I work with these salon owners all over the world. I've worked a lot in the corporate space with the salon and spa industry and I've done tons of work there, but I want you to know my background is actually… I come from being a dance instructor.

I was a ballroom dance instructor over 20 plus years ago and I've worked in outside sales, I've worked in advertising and marketing and all these different arenas. And the reason why I say that is because martial arts, dance instructors, even a hairdresser, all those things, those are very hands-on professions, right? 

So if you think about the massage industry, you physically touch people. You guys might… I was going to say I'm going to make a karate joke about chopping them, but you know what I'm saying? The idea is that you guys are a hands-on industry. Gyms, dojos, all these places are very hands on and so when they say, “Hey, social distancing. Please do me a favor and don't ever touch anybody again,” or at least for 30, 60, 90 days or into the future, this whole idea of ‘don't touch your people’ becomes a very big challenge, especially for our clients.

We have salon owners all over the world, and by the way if you can relate to any of this, do me a favor and comment in the comment section below and say relate, because I want to know if you guys are connecting with this and it's helping you. But this idea is as soon as in the US and probably 90% of our clients have now completely shut down, they can't run any sort of business.

And like George and I were talking before, you guys, if you really want to, you could run martial arts classes online right now and it's really hard for a salon owner to say, “Okay, take out that really crappy pair of scissors in your drawer and take your hair, hold it up and let's go to town.” That's not going to happen, but you guys have a unique opportunity right now to pivot and to change some of your business model, even though it's going to be probably like a baby deer trying to walk on ice for the very first time, you at least have the opportunity to still maintain your income. 

I was just on the phone and hope it's okay for me to tell you this. I was just on the phone, literally about five minutes before this with a friend of mine who still owns a dance studio. The guy, one of my good friends, he's been my best friend for over 25 years, he owns a dance studio and I was watching him in his living room teach classes. He had his phone up and he had his iPhone and he had the lights up and his wife is walking around showing me he's teaching lessons on Zoom and I was like, “You go man, that's awesome.” He's still teaching private lessons in his house and walking around and dancing and showing people what to do. 

So I guess background, but the other thing I would just say is would you guys please do me a favor and not get discouraged? Because when we look at what's happening right now, I just believe it's a test for you to decide, do you have really the chops that you need to have as a business owner to make it in a really tough time, or are you going to be one of those people who throws in the towel quits and says, “Forget it, I'm out of here. I guess I better go get a job doing what I've always loved, being a garbage man.” Which is probably not any of you, but I'm just saying that's the choice you get to make here and the universe hands you this choice and it's asking you to step up and I love George, you're doing so much to serve these people and really help them and grow the community because the community needs to be tighter than it's ever been before. 

GEORGE: Jason, so you're talking about having chops. I'd love to know what are you doing to inspire your clients because there is not really plan B. So what do you actually- 

JASON: There's not really a plan B. There's one little plan B. The only little plan B that's going on right now is a lot of our clients very quickly pivoted and they're doing what's called root rescue, which they're giving… They're doing hair dye, because a lot of people come in and get the hair dyed or blow dried and all the other services, so they're actually still selling retail products because people still are on video calls. You've got to make your hair look good. People still have their roots growing out, they have all these other services, so we do have some clients who are able to go in and do some very basic Amazon style. Sell some products and half come out of their business. But we're talking to people about literally laying off their entire workforce except for some key employees and making it through. 

So, here's what we're doing from a strategy standpoint. There are three main pillars that we're talking about with all of our salon owners. Number one, you need to be able to stabilize what the heck is going on. You need to be able to stabilize your team, stabilize your business, decide what can I stop paying for? What can't I stop paying for? And we were really clear is that we said, “Look, you've got to stop paying for things that you don't need right now and double down on the things that you do need.” In fact, I have doubled all of my coaching sessions with every single one of my coaches in the group that we're in. 

I just upgraded them now going to the board room group, which costs me twice as much money to do what I'm doing. And I'm doubling down on the amount of mental health and strategy that I'm getting as a professional. I'm asking my clients to do the same thing, but I'm telling my clients, because they're not closing, I'm like, “Look, I'm going to go…” We normally provide inside any given month for our clients, we do two webinars a week and we do a destination training once every four months. I was like, ah that ain't going to cut it, so I literally started doing every morning at 6:00 AM, we're doing mindset calls. So Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday I do a mindset call at 6:00 AM. I have called in every personal favor that I have with every one of the highest profile, coolest friends that I have, to come in and jump on that call. And we've actually been doing that for over two weeks now. We're in our second week of doing that and it's actually second week plus. 

So we're doubling down and I'm like, “Look, we're running a call every day, plus we're running our Monday call and we're running our Wednesday call.” And our group is on fire because they're talking every day and people are sharing, here's what I'm doing, here's what I'm doing, here's what I'm doing. And so if you're not engaged in the Facebook community that I'm sure George has, make sure that you're sharing what the best ever practices are because that thing that you might not think a big idea, what's happening in our group right now, is people are sharing an idea and then it's snowballing. 

So one gal said, “Hey I'm doing this root rescue thing,” and this other gal said, “I'm using baby food containers to fill up hair color,” and then this other gal said, “I got on TV,” and this other guy… So they're one upping each other on all these cool things that they're doing and the whole group is elevating in spirits and in ideals and all those things. 

And in addition to doing all of that, I'm literally doing daily lives. Anybody who calls to ask, I'm doing a live with them. I'm also bringing them on my shows and doing everything I can to make sure that every single day people are encouraged, because in a world where everyone is discouraged, there needs to be more encouragement. I'm just on that path, trying to be as encouraging as possible because hell yeah, it's hard, but this is where business owners are made or broken. 

I don't know about you guys, but you guys are martial arts guys, right? You know you got to break people down sometimes to build them back up. This is just the world breaking you down. It's just saying, do you have what it takes? Are you that business owner that's going to rise to the occasion and do something extraordinary, or are you going to remain an ordinary business owner? 

Because ordinary business owners, ordinary martial artists… you know, I'm like a loser martial artist. I've had a couple of sessions. My dad used to be big into Tai Chi and we used to do all kinds of stuff and I've done some karate, but I'm just like a baby junior cub scout, right? I've had some exposure. I can't imagine that every single one of the owners that is in your program is not an absolute consummate professional, expert, award-winning champion tournament winning expert. 

So now the question is, if you're being tested right now, how do you show up to be tested? Are you going to double down? Are you going to get more coaching and education and understand more about your business and get lit up and on fire for what you're doing? Or are you going to be like, “Well I guess we'll just shut this thing down and I'm going to go on vacation for a few weeks and come back.” 

So, I was in my list and then I just started ranting, sorry. So I went into… The first thing we're doing is we're teaching how to stabilize, stabilize is number one, right? Stabilize what's happening in your business. Number two, you've got to get organized. You've got to organize what are you going to do between now and when you can open? And by the way, that might be 30, 60 or 90 days. I'm hoping it's more towards the 30 or less, but let's assume it's 90. Even if it's 90 freaking days, you can survive 90 days. You got this. I'm not even worried about you. 

So we talk about how you get bridge financing? How do you borrow what you can from the bank? And hopefully you'll get some given by the government, we'll see. But borrow what you can, survive on what you can. Go down to your bare minimal staff. And then third, I just want to say this, because this is the part that I'm the most excited about and it changes my mindset every time I think about it. The other side of this is going to be the greatest transfer of wealth in our entire lives. 

I don't think people get this, is that right now all of the crappy martial arts owners are going to go back and get jobs as garbage men, we already talked about that. But the martial arts studio owners that pivot to online quickly, they call up every one of their students and say, “Look, we have trained you for battle every single day of your entire life, it's time to battle with us. Here's what we're going to do. And even though the battle's not a physical battle, it's a mental battle. Here's what we're doing to keep you sharp until you can come back into class with us.” That's just totally a different positioning, right?

You've got your kids at home? You need to be more prepared. You've got your wife on you every single minute of every single day? Even more prepared. It is more time for you to get that discipline dialed into your brain. So get up early, stay up late, do whatever we've got to do and your job is to be that bright spot, the keeper of the light for every single one of your clients. And if you become that keeper of the light for them, every single one of them will remember what you did for them when they were struggling. 

You won't keep everybody, but you will keep a lot. And the ones that you keep focused will stay addicted to you, and that is where you've got to capitalize. I said the third thing, right? Stabilize, organize, capitalize. That is where they will become addicted to you and they will be able to grow. They will be able to flourish and you will come back even stronger and even better. You'll just have better looking muscles when you come out of this thing. So anyway, I know I'm just going off here, but I hope it's helpful George. You've got to let me know if I'm on the right track.

GEORGE: Yeah man, it's totally awesome and what you're saying is just being collective in a group where you've got this energy. I've been talking to our Partners group the last couple of days and every time we map out this plan, it's just evolving because there's no script for it. 

JASON: There's no script for any of us, bro. That's the good news. Nobody's got the damn script. There's nobody who has the advantage right now, and I think I've said this the other day on another show. Super, super important. What I know is that if you and I were going to go into a martial art show showdown, because you have a martial arts background, right? 

GEORGE: Yeah. 

JASON: Yeah. I don't have a salon owner background, just so you know. But you have a martial arts background. If you and I were going to step into an arena and we were going to have a physical battle, I know you would kick my ass. I have no doubts in my mind. You know enough to hurt me very badly, I have no doubt, right? But here's the thing, the cool thing is you're going through something you've never been through before. I'm going through something I've never been through before. Everybody else out there is going through something else they've never been through before. And here's why I'm not scared for a second. Okay? Is that when everything is equal, I know I will outwork everyone. 

GEORGE: Nice. 

JASON: That's it. I just know I will outwork you. I will outperform you. I will out-knowledge you. I will outperform everything because I've been practicing for the most random crap ever in life. I've been smacked in the face. I've been fired before. I've been in all these other scenarios that I've had no money in my bank account. I know how to build back from zero. And I've said before, if somebody took away my entire business, could I build it back? My answer was hell yes. So it's not some one taking it away, it's some random thing that may or may not take away. 

But if I had to rebuild it all again… let's say my whole life got reset in 90 days, I'll just rebuild it again and I'd rebuild it a hell of a lot faster than the first time I built it. You know what I mean? If I've got to move in with my parents, then I move in with my parents. It's never going to happen, but I'm just saying if I had to, I'll do whatever it takes, man. My job is to provide for my family, provide for the people who rely on me, and I'll do whatever it takes to make sure I make it out right on the other side. 

GEORGE: I just want to repeat what you just said, because if any school owner, if you're thinking you had competition, you don't have it right now. The playing field has just gone level and nobody is… Yeah, someone might have a few more resources than you, but the playing field is equal and if you can rise up and step it up, you're going to come out of this a lot better than you were a couple of months ago. 

JASON: Yeah. And by the way you guys, do me a favor if you're on this live or if you're watching later, type in what is the thing you're connecting with the most right now. What's the piece that's firing you up? Because my assumption is that when I get on the phone and I talk to anybody, I'm going to fire some people up and I always want to be in that spot, right? I want to get something inside your core to get pissed off so that you do something. Is it like, “Damn, why is this guy more fired up than I am?” Or like, “Why is he saying that I'm going to be the loser who gets wiped out on the other side of this?” Because what would you say in a martial arts environment? Step into a ring, an arena, an octagon, what are we talking about here? What would you say? Step into a what? 

GEORGE: Step on the mat. Step on the ring. Step in the octagon. 

JASON: Step on the mat, step in the ring. 

GEORGE: Yup. 

JASON: Here's what I would say. If you step on the mat or step in the ring, you know that your mindset either takes you out or lifts you up before you step on that mat. The problem is everybody's standing on the mat with the wrong damn mindset right now. Oh no, this unknown thing that we have no control over is going to take us out, and it's like, just because it's an unknown and it's like this is an opponent I've never faced before. No shit, so is everybody else. Everybody else hasn't dealt with it either. 

And I don't know about you man, but I just have always felt in my entire life, every day I… and it sounds cheesy, but every day is a gift. You've heard that before, right? But I really do believe this, is that I really thought that every single day I could walk out the door and get hit by a bus, take me out. I just believed that that could happen at any point in time, so here's what I know, is if my gift is to be able to breathe life into other people by helping them understand that they are way more capable than anything they've ever thought possible, right? Everybody's had that taste of like, “Oh, I could be better at this.” Everybody's had that taste, and every time you do something, you get better and you get better and you get better. 

So we all have this gift to be able to improve and get better. Since we were little children, we've all improved, gotten better, and gotten better and gotten better, and we've done this acceleration. So there's room for every single person to get better. And what I know is that my gift is helping people realize that they're capable of way more than they are right now. And if I didn't get hit by a bus this morning and I'm still freaking here, I got more to do. So if I have one conversation in my life, right? If I have a conversation with you and it prevents you from… I'm talking to you one day, we're casually walking down the street and you go to step out in front of a bus and I grab your shoulder and pull you back and I saved your life. 

Whether it's literally mentally or physically or whatever, and I'm on my purpose for what I should be done to do, and I get taken up that day in whatever capacity I get taken up in, then dude I lived the best life I could possibly live, but every day that I get to wake up and breathe, it's another opportunity for me to help one more person. Maybe there's only one person that watches this whole show and they're like, “Holy crap, that changed everything for me.” Dude, that's why I did it. I'm 100%. 

But I'm hoping it's going to be more like 20 or 40 or 100 or 5,000 or whoever the hell wants to listen because you deserve to know that you're capable of way more and every single one of you is, I'm sure more of a bad ass physically, mentally and emotionally than I am. I'm sure. I have no doubt in my mind because of how disciplined you are. Discipline for me is one of the hardest things, but don't let your discipline down right now in this moment. This is when you should be… This is when your discipline is getting tested. This is the ultimate test for your discipline that you guys apply every single day. 

GEORGE: Love your energy. Anything else? I want to be respectful of your time as well. I know you're a busy guy. 

JASON: Yeah, we've got a lot going on. But dude, yeah… I mean, what do you think would be the most helpful thing that I could share? Or in your mind, what question do you think…? If you had to pretend that you knew every single mind of every single one of your school owners and businesses that you work with, what do you think they really need to know right now? What do you think their question is? 

GEORGE: I would say reconfirmation of where the opportunity lies here. I've been begging martial arts school owners to do videos for years, and all of a sudden everyone's doing it. 

JASON: Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

GEORGE: So that's perfect. Where do you think this shift is going? And if you had to focus on one thing right now, where would you place all your energy? 

JASON: I said this to my salon owners. I said there's a really good book out there called Who Moved My Cheese, okay? And if you haven't read that book, it's a good book that you should read and just be aware of. And basically what it talks about is you put these mice in this maze and there's a piece of cheese at the end of this maze that they go find. And they let the mice go for however long they go, a couple of weeks and they get really conditioned to that's where the cheese is. 

And then the experimenters or the scientists grab the cheese, move it to another place in the maze and the responses of some of those mice is that some of the mice go right back to the cheese over and over, or right back to where they think the cheese will be, over and over and over again. And at some point those mice… I don't know if mice pout, but the mice just sit there and they go, “I'm waiting for the cheese. It's supposed to be here. There's no more cheese.” And they either run back to the beginning or back to there and they just go, “Well there's no more cheese anymore.” And they give up. 

Then there's the mice that just forget all together and could care less. They just say, “You know what? I'm not going to run the maze anymore because there's no more cheese. It's totally been removed from my world and I'm done.” And then there's the mice that go, “Well, there's got to be cheese somewhere else in this maze.” And they start searching for new paths. Your job right now is to search for the new path to get the cheese. 

martial arts corona virusI want you to hear this. People have more money than they've ever had before. I eat out almost every single day and I've eaten out twice in the last week. So do you think I have more money or less money right now? More. I usually fly three times a month to different cities. Well guess what I didn't do? I didn't fly. So guess how much more money I have? I have more money now than I've ever had before because all my expenses have been reduced to basically zero. Don't get me wrong, I have a bit of an online shopping habit that's now getting a little bigger, but my point is that most people believe it or not, even though you're thinking, but Jason, my clients have been laid off. Some of them, yes, but not all of them. Not all of them. 

I've heard unemployment in the US might go up to 30%. That's the crazy number they think it may go to. That means 70% of people are still employed, so don't let that idea that ‘all of my clients are gone’ is going to do it. What I'm saying about this cheese analogy and all this other stuff that I just want you to get, is that, yeah, you know what? Maybe temporarily you're going to need to go to an online dojo, but I just want to let you know it's going to change. 

We're not going to stay locked in our houses from now until the end of time. I mean, it's not going to happen. I can't foresee that happening. We're going to go through it. We're going to get through whatever that is. And again, put a 30, 60, 90-day plan in place, weather that storm and hopefully your business is strong enough to weather that storm. If not, schedule an emergency session with George and the team and go how the hell do I plan this out because I don't know how I'm going to do it? 

And by the way, that's why you need a frigging coach on your side to help you, so you're not trying to put together your own crazy ass plan, right? Get some real advice on this. This is probably a test for you to say, “Look, how good are you at technology?” Do you suck at it? Because what I've told people is what used to be a nicety, like, “Oh it'd be nice if we had online classes. It'd be nice if I had a website that people could buy classes on. It'd be nice if I could do it online. It'd be nice if we do all these things.” Well look, all those niceties have become necessities. Okay? 

And so all of these things like for me, I've got high-end camera gear and audio gear and all this other stuff because I do classes like this and there's a lot of things that I've had to do over the years to kind of adapt and overcome because of how I wanted to run my business and I just shared a video. I shared… Three years ago, I ran a company called The Video Rock Star Academy teaching people, and the whole video was how do you future proof your business? And it made sure no matter what happens, you can stay on top of the curve. And I said you better know about video marketing. Three years ago I said that. Guess what the number one thing is I'm teaching right now George? 

GEORGE: Video marketing.

JASON: Video freaking marketing. How to do video? How do you show up on camera? What do you need to do? Because people are going, “I don't even know. How do I turn my phone on and make it work? And Facebook and like…” I'm not meaning to insult anybody, but you're five years behind the rest of the learning curve so get with it, get on track, pivot and understand that pivot's not forever. Maybe you're independently wealthy enough that you can just survive for 90 days without worrying about it. 

But you know what? This is a perfect opportunity for you to teach everyone on your staff how to use video, how to use technology, and how to do it. And it's your job as the leader of your school, of your dojo, of whatever it is that you have. It's your job to step up and be that leader because your staff needs you more than they ever have. And all those things that you teach them, you've got to exude. It's got to seep out of your pores man, because you guys talk about leadership and discipline and all that other stuff. It's your turn to be the leaders and to be disciplined and do all those things.

Anyway man, I hope this has been helpful. I hope it was powerful, man. 

GEORGE: Totally. Jason, ever so grateful. Thank you so much for jumping on. 

JASON: Yeah, man. 

GEORGE: We'll give virtual fist pumps. 

JASON: I've got digital knuckles brother, that's how that works for me. Digital knuckles, that's how this happens. 

GEORGE: That's cool. Hey Jason. 

JASON: Thanks so much for having me on man. 

GEORGE: Thanks so much. Is there anything we can do for you just to say thanks? Give you a thumbs up somewhere? 

JASON: Dude. Here's what I would say, if any of you guys want to stock any of the stuff that I do, you can find me online. Just go onto Facebook. You can find me at facebook.com/… If you want to find me personally, because my salon owner stuff may not apply to you, but just go online. You can find it at, it's Mr. Jason Everett. Very fancy, Mr. Jason Everett, or just search Jason Everett. I'm connected with George on here, but what I would just say is, here's the one thing any of you guys could do for me. If you go on my page and you track down anything and you see it, here's my request. If you see something and it ever speaks to you, share it for me. 

The best thing you can ever give me as a gift is not your money. It's your ability to reach one more person. If you help me reach one more person with what I do, even if it's a salon owner piece of content and you're like, “You know what, but it was really inspiring,” just share it on your page because you know what? I know every single one of you, most of you, have hair on your head and you probably go to the salon or a barber shop or something like that and I would love to be introduced to more people.

So if you could help me fulfill my mission to meet more people and to help serve more, that would be what I would ask man, come track me down and you can find me at jasoneverett.com on any of the socials. Just track me down, connect, share some of my stuff. I would be eternally grateful. 

GEORGE: Awesome. Jason, thanks so much for taking your time to share your message with us. Super helpful, love your energy. 

JASON: My pleasure man. 

GEORGE: I'll speak to you soon. 

JASON: George, keep doing what you do, brother. Keep up the good fight and keep disciplined. All right dude, talk to you soon. 

GEORGE: Thank you. Cheers. 

JASON: Bye.

Awesome. Thanks for listening. If you want to connect with other top and smart martial arts school owners, and have a chat about marketing, lead generation, what's working now, or just have a gentle rant about things that are happening in the industry, then I want to invite you to join our Facebook group

It's a private Facebook group and in there, I share a lot of extra videos and downloads and worksheets – the things that are working for us when we help school owners grow and share a couple of video interviews and a bunch of cool extra resources.

So it's called the Martial Arts Media Business Community and an easy way to access it is, if you just go to the domain named martialartsmedia.group, so martialaartsmedia.group, g-r-o-u-p, there's no .Com or anything, martialartsmedia.group. That will take you straight there. Request to join and I will accept your invitation.

Thanks – I'll speak to you on the next episode – cheers!

Here are 3 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. Join the Martial Arts Media community.

It's our new Facebook community where martial arts school owners get to ask questions about online marketing and get access to training videos that we don't share elsewhere – Click Here.

2. Join the Martial Arts Media Academy and become a Case Study.

I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, message me with the word ‘Case Study'.

3. Work with me and my team privately.

If you would like to work with me and my team to scale your school to the next level, then message me with the word ‘private'… tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details.

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92 – How To Stop Students From Canceling

In uncertain times, cancelations can escalate quickly. Here's a strategy you can implement right now to retain more members.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN: 

  • How to adjust your martial arts business plans in uncertain times
  • Tips on how to run engaging online classes 
  • Sympathize vs. empathize
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

If students want to cancel, what is the plan? What is the plan that we need to implement, and how do we really install certainty? Let's look at this. Why do people want to cancel right now? Well, they're uncertain and there's some fear of the unknown.

Hey George, I hope you're well. I want to talk about how to stop students canceling their memberships right now. Right now we are in a bit of a challenging time in the martial arts industry. People are fearful, they aren't making rational decisions and they want to cancel their memberships. I want to give you a plan to navigate through that and stop your students from canceling and do what's the best thing for them right now. Let's explore the situation.

First up, and I was just discussing this with one of our Partners members, Peter, in a game plan session. We were looking at, all right, well if students want to cancel, what is the plan? What is the plan that we need to implement and how do we really install certainty? 

Because, let's look at this. Why do people want to cancel right now? Well, they're uncertain and there's some fear of the unknown. There's some fear of the unknown, and because there's fear, people would rather cancel things, horde, sit back, try and protect. So conversation has changed from aspirational to survival, okay?

That's the first situation that we're facing, is the whole frame of people's mindsets have completely changed in the matter of a week as of the time of recording this. People want to cancel because they are uncertain. Now, how do we remove uncertainty? Well, we give a plan. This is why it's so important to be on top of the situation about what's happening in the world right now, because you want to be that source of inspiration.

You've been training for this your entire life. As your martial arts school owner, you have been teaching confidence, resilience, all this that you've been through is what's going to count for you right now, because this is your opportunity to lead. Let's be realistic. These people are fearful. If you can be that source of confidence, and help people see a plan for the future, then people are going to bond with you more than they ever did before. Right now is your time to lead, and step up, and show the path to how we are going to navigate through this.

First up, what are you going to need? You're going to need a plan. You're going to need a plan, and I'll share with you how you can get a plan for free from us right now. You're going to need a plan. Now let's look at how we handle this conversation. In our Partners program, we've got a program called Sales 101. Sales 101 Strategy. It's all about really establishing the value, more so pointing out the real value, focusing on the real reason why people want to train martial arts.

I'll give a quick example. I'm sure you get the objection. How much is this? Our strategy for that is to steer the conversation away from price and to the real reason, because let's face it, it's never about the price, it's about they just don't know what to ask, right? So, it's easier to ask for the pricing. Yep. It might be for the price sometimes, but really people don't know what to ask, and they don't know what martial arts is going to provide for them.

It's important to always take conversations back to, well, what is it that you actually want out of this? So, if somebody does ask you for the price, it's good to say, “Cool, I'm happy to talk about the price, but is it okay if I just ask you a few questions just to make sure if our martial arts programs are right for you or not?” Okay, cool. Now you've shifted a logical price conversation to an emotional drive conversation, okay?

Let me show you how we use this strategy right now to stop cancellations. Well, somebody wants to cancel. Now we can approach this with two mindsets. One, sympathize. Sympathizing is not the right way to go, obviously. Now, why would you sympathize? Because, potentially if you've been soaking up everything that's going on in the media, and you're feeling fearful, and you're scared of what's coming, your head might be in the sand right now. 

If your head's in the sand, and not looking forward, and somebody else is saying they want to cancel, you might just sympathize because you actually feel the same way, and you think that there's no other alternative. You might just say “It's okay. We totally understand.”

Okay, so sympathizing is one way. We don't want to go there. What would we want to do is empathize, empathize, and then we want to lead, okay? How that might play out is somebody says, “I want to cancel.”

We don't disagree with them and say, “Yes, look, totally cool. I get that you want to cancel, and I know that things are a little uncertain right now.” But then we transitioned to leadership. “But is it okay if we just stall this cancel conversation just for a little bit, because what I really want to talk about more importantly is about you.”

Maybe you can even pause there, right, let's talk about you. What's going on in your life right now? How are things going? This is an opportunity for you to bond with your students, lead and bond. Now you can get someone talking about their situation and what's going on. This is where you really just need to listen. The more you can listen, the more you're going to connect, and the more you're going to establish a relationship here. 

Now you can start shifting the conversation back, as we did with a price objection, and we can look at it and say, “Okay, just curious. Can you recall why you started training martial arts with us?”, and get them talking about that? “What was the real thing that you needed to get out of your martial arts training?” It was X, Y, and Z.

Okay. Now, person, let me ask you a serious question yet here. With all this happening in the world right now, do you think it's going to be a wise move to start neglecting your health, and not exercising, and not training anymore? No, of course not because it's not, right? What is the most important thing right now? It's health, it's safety, it's security, it's looking after ourselves. If we don't look after ourselves, then we can't be our best for everyone else around us. If there's one thing that's more important right now it's martial arts, and now the conversation has shifted.

This is where you have an opportunity to present your plan. Say, “Look, I understand things are like this right down. But if your health is important to you as you say it is,” Or maybe not frame it in a way that sounds, just come from a good place of intent, because you care, and that's why you are having this conversation, and this is why I'm having this conversation with you, because I really care about you staying afloat and you making your business navigating through this, right?

Now you can shift and really discuss your plan. Say, “Look, as you say, your health is important to you, and this is important to you. So, here is what we are going to do.” Affirm it. “This is what we are going to do. Right now, we've reduced our classes, we've done this, we're going online.” Now you've got to present the plan. 

But here's why it's important that you've got the plan. Because if you don't have a plan, you can't deliver an alternative, and right now you want to be ahead of the plan. So if anything else happens, you know governments, things, start to do things and shut things down or whatever they do, you want to be ahead of this.

You need a plan. Now, if you don't have a plan yet, I spent the last weekend when things started to unfold and I spent 48 hours. Told my family I'm staying at the office, and I recorded in total about 15 videos to show you exactly how you can make a pivot. It's called the Martial Arts Pivot Plan, and it's about how to take your classes online.

Now, a lot of people are talking about this. I've been doing this for about 10 years. I've been living in this digital world for 10 years, and that's why I really wanted to get this out. Because, if there's something that I know that I could really help with, it's a world I already live in, and for me it's just backtracking, taking a few steps back, and showing you how you can go about this the right way. 

Because, a lot of guys are talking about doing it and I see a lot of guys showing off fancy TVs and equipment, and to me that creates obstacles because it's not about that. There's other elements that are way more important than fancy equipment. It's about getting it right and getting it going fast and being able to leverage what you do on the back-end.

So, look, I've put this training together for you. It's 100% free, as in 100% free. It's there, it's uploaded into our member’s area. If you go to martialartsmedia.com/online-class, so martialartsmedia.com/online-class, that will take you there. Just log in, we'll email you a username and password, get stuck in, but please, if you're watching this, do that right now. Do not delay. Do that. Go through the videos. 

If you get value out of it, just share it. Please share it with someone else. Please share it with another school owner that could benefit from this right now. If you've got any questions, reach out to me wherever you watch this video, and ask me a question or you can join our free Facebook group, martialartsmedia.group, so martialartsmedia.group, not.com, .group and just click to join there. I will approve that and let you in and all of this.

Good luck. There are options, right? This is not doomsday. This is a little dip, and we're going to move through this, but it's important just to do the right things right now, and capitalize on the opportunity. Because, if you have time now to add value to your existing programs, add value to your existing membership, and really an opportunity to provide more value to your existing student base, which is really what this is about, they make use of the time and do it.

Look, I hope that it's useful. Grab that course, get it going and let me know how you go. All the best. I'm rooting for you. You've got this. Speak soon. Cheers.

Awesome. Thanks for listening. If you want to connect with other top and smart martial arts school owners, and have a chat about marketing, lead generation, what's working now, or just have a gentle rant about things that are happening in the industry, then I want to invite you to join our Facebook group

It's a private Facebook group and in there, I share a lot of extra videos and downloads and worksheets – the things that are working for us when we help school owners grow and share a couple of video interviews and a bunch of cool extra resources.

So it's called the Martial Arts Media Business Community and an easy way to access it is, if you just go to the domain named martialartsmedia.group, so martialaartsmedia.group, g-r-o-u-p, there's no .Com or anything, martialartsmedia.group. That will take you straight there. Request to join and I will accept your invitation.

Thanks – I'll speak to you on the next episode – cheers!

Here are 3 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. Join the Martial Arts Media community.

It's our new Facebook community where martial arts school owners get to ask questions about online marketing and get access to training videos that we don't share elsewhere – Click Here.

2. Join the Martial Arts Media Academy and become a Case Study.

I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, message me with the word ‘Case Study'.

3. Work with me and my team privately.

If you would like to work with me and my team to scale your school to the next level, then message me with the word ‘private'… tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details.

Enjoyed the show? Get more martial arts business tips when you subscribe on iTunes for iPhone or Stitcher Radio for Android devices.

***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

Podcast Sponsored by Martial Arts Media Partners

91 – How To Train And Teach Martial Arts With A Disability

Sam Broughton proves that anything is possible and shares how to overcome the challenges of training martial arts with cerebral palsy.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN: 

  • How Sam copes with his limitations and overcomes challenges in training martial arts
  • The common barriers that people with disabilities face when trying out martial arts
  • How martial arts can benefit people who are disabled or have cerebral palsy
  • Sam’s mindset in running a martial arts school in a small town with small population
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

I think a lot of people or almost everyone that walks into a martial arts school has a really good idea of where they would like to be. They also generally know quite well what their limitations are and what things are stopping them to get there. The thing that a lot of people really struggle with is those smaller steps in between. So they know the start point and they know the endpoint, but they're not sure on the thing they should focus on first. 

GEORGE: Cool. Hey, this is George and welcome to another Martial Arts Media Business Podcast. Today, I'm chatting with a good friend of mine, Sam Broughton. Now, fortunately enough, I speak with Sam pretty frequently. He’s part of our Partners program where I work with school owners and help them with their lead generation and marketing and so forth. 

So we chat on a frequent basis, but I really wanted to bring Sam on because he's a wealth of knowledge, lives in a very small town in Port Lincoln, which people say they live in a small town and they can't reach a market. Sam is about to squash that whole idea, as well. And, yeah. We've got some interesting things to chat about. So, hey. Welcome to the call, Sam. 

SAM: Thanks very much, George. 

GEORGE: Cool. So just to kick things off, if you could give us just a bit of a background. Who is Sam? How did you get into martial arts and how did your whole journey evolve? 

SAM: Okay, cool. So as you said, I run a martial arts school here in Port Lincoln. I teach standup self-defence, Muay Thai, and some Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I started martial arts around 20 years ago now, when I was 14 years old, training in stand-up, I was training in Zen Do Kai. I always wanted to do some martial arts, but it was something that I wasn't sure whether I'd be able to do.

Actually, I have a physical disability called cerebral palsy that affects my legs, balance, coordination, that kind of thing. So I was always inspired by martial arts movies, Bruce Lee, the same kind of stuff most people are getting into martial arts for initially, but I just needed to find the right open-minded instructor that was willing to take me on. And from there, I never looked back.

GEORGE: Awesome. Cool. And we'll chat a bit more about that, but I guess just to touch on the business side of things and just for everyone listening, it's Spektrum Martial Arts. Spektrum with a K. I want to backtrack more into your journey, but how do you find running a school in a smaller town? Are there certain challenges that you're aware of or is it just, hey, this is just the way it is and we just do what we do, either way? 

SAM: The obvious challenge, I guess, would be the population density. We've got about 16,000 people in Port Lincoln, itself, and some smaller outlying communities. There's definitely that, as a challenge. But I guess the other thing, too, is less competition we are the only full-time school here. Initially, I always thought of the population thing as a challenge, but then when I actually looked at the amount of students that I needed and that I envisioned for my business and the actual percent of the population that that was, that made it seem like a more manageable task. 

GEORGE: Okay. So you started martial arts when you were 14. 

SAM: Yep, that's right. 

GEORGE: Okay. Having the disability, cerebral palsy, how did you overcome that to actually take a step? Were there sporting things that you did before you got into martial arts? Or how did you go about that? 

SAM: There were some sports I tried, some team sports in different things, and some of those experiences were good, some not so good. But I think the thing that really kind of pushed me in my childhood to try things was the way I was raised. I've got a twin brother that I grew up with and an older sister but, especially having a twin brother, he has fully able-bodied so, while he wanted to ride bush bikes and climb trees and do all those normal things, I just kind of followed along behind and just found my own way to do it. 

And my mum, especially, she never really wrapped me up in cotton wool, although she probably wanted to. She never told me I couldn't do anything. She always just encouraged me just to give it a go, modify things where I needed to, and I got pretty good at finding a different way to get the same result. 

GEORGE: All right. So in your experience, what type of challenges did you face just up until before the whole martial arts thing even started? What type of challenges do you face, just on a day to day, just getting through things? And especially from the childhood stage.

SAM: Yeah. I had a bunch of surgeries, corrective surgeries, as a kid. So there was definitely that. Lots of rehabs, learning to walk again, those kinds of things. In and out of the hospital. I had to be very focused and very disciplined working through all my rehabilitation. So that was tough. Because of those things, I kind of stood out at school because, quite often, I was in a wheelchair. I had plaster or walking stick and those kinds of things. So that was a little bit tricky, always explaining to people what was going on, getting looks from people in the street and all that kind of thing I grew up with. 

And everyone's always asking the question, especially kids who don't necessarily understand, “Oh, what's happening with your legs? How come you walk like that?” All those sorts of things. Most people were just genuinely curious, so I got pretty good at handling that. And then, obviously, I had a little bit of the more so discrimination, derogatory type things. That was mostly a minimum. I think, too, because I had a pretty tight circle of friends around me, they kept a lot of that out of the way, as well. 

GEORGE: I would just think that would be probably the toughest thing to handle, as a kid. Bullying, as in a big sense, people getting bullied about just simple things. And for you, you actually have a real challenge. It's not like someone's laughing at you, hey, because you've got a booger wiped on your shirt. 

It's not just something happening, an embarrassing moment. You've got a real thing that you've got to deal with every day and you've kind of got to make peace with that it's not really going away. I guess you feel fortunate. You were saying that you had a family that really supported you and so forth. How do you find that people, in general, with your situation, actually deal with that? How do you really overcome all those tougher challenges? 

SAM: Well, for me, I was born like this. It might've been different if I was fully able-bodied and then there was some kind of accident to cause me to be this way, but I was always like this. It was my everyday life, from day one. So I was used to finding different ways to do things and overcome challenges and things like that. I struggled quite a bit when I was younger, sometimes understanding why people would treat me differently because this was normal for me. It was everything that I'd ever had.

And when people talked about, “Oh, you've got a disability,” or, “You're not the same as everyone else,” that kind of thing, I didn't really understand that as a kid because I was kind of like, “Well, I'm just like you. This is the way that I've always been.” But then, as I said, on the other side of that, I had a lot of people encouraging me, helping me along, willing to work with me, sometimes modify group activities so I could be included and things like that. So it was definitely a challenge, especially as a kid, but one that I worked hard to overcome.

GEORGE: Yeah. Amazing. So let's walk into the martial arts space. So you built up the courage to start martial arts. How did that then evolve and get going? 

SAM: I was fortunate enough to have a really good instructor from day dot, that was just happy to basically have me along to class and see what I could do. He was really open to just sort of assess me on my own merits and not really rule me out of doing any kind of activity. He was just happy for me to give everything a shot. I've progressed through belt grades and things like that by showing my knowledge in the syllabus and the requirements and demonstrating what I could. 

And I also have become a little bit more advanced, a little bit more experienced and got into helping out with a little bit of teaching of the techniques that I couldn't do, the high kicks and things like that that I couldn't physically demonstrate, he started getting me to teach those to lower-level students to help show that, maybe I couldn't demonstrate the technique physically, but I certainly had the understanding. But as long as through a combination of being able to physically demonstrate techniques as most people would, but also teach them and show that I had the understanding of the things that I couldn't do, he was always happy to grade me and help me progress in that way. 

GEORGE: Got it. And sorry, what was his name again? 

SAM: Andrew Adriaens was his name. 

GEORGE: Andrew Adriaens. And which school? Just so we give him some credit. 

SAM: He runs a Zen Do Kai school in Port Augusta in South Australia, which is about three and a half hours from where I am now. 

GEORGE: Okay, cool. So you started off in Zen Do Kai and now … What's your main focus in martial arts at this point? Still Zen Do Kai or … I know you also do jiu-jitsu. 

SAM: Yeah. I still teach a lot of stand-up classes. Also do some Muay Thai kickboxing within that, as well. And probably for the last 10 years or so, quite a bit of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. 

GEORGE: All right. So now, we talk about the challenges, but where do you feel you have an advantage? Because I'm sure that there are challenges, but you have to approach things on a whole different level. How do you go about that? 

SAM: Definitely advantage is definitely the area that I've kind of been focused on most of my life. Being born the way I am, I never really had anything kind of taken away. So I didn't really understand what I was missing, but as I got older and definitely got into martial arts, I started to understand how I could use what I had. 

I had quite a lot of upper-body strength from having to push myself around in wheelchairs and pull myself along and use my arms where I couldn't use my legs. So that was definitely an advantage. And anyone that knows me well will also tell you how stubborn I am. I don't give up easily and I think that's really good and productive, having a lot of challenges thrown at you early in life. 

And probably the other thing that I alluded to a little bit earlier is I couldn't just demonstrate techniques and maybe kind of bluff my way through showing understanding like that. I really had to be able to verbalize the technique and be able to explain it in fine details for a student that had no idea what I was talking about or that I couldn't even give a physical demonstration of the technique. I had to explain those techniques in words, try to get that result of that technique into the student without maybe having to rely on a physical demonstration. So I had to really learn how to break things down and verbalize techniques really, really well. 

GEORGE: I like that. I mean, how do you really go about that? Is it just a really super intense focus of, look, I've got to look at something and I've got to break it down? Do you have a process that you go about? 

SAM: Obviously, I start by looking at the end result of the technique. That's obviously the thing that I need to make happen. And then I sort of try to backtrack and look at what are the working parts of that technique that made that thing happen? How can I use my arms and sometimes my legs, to some extent, to try to get that same result? So I needed to really understand how a technique actually works to get me from the point I am to the point that I'd like to go to. 

GEORGE: All right. That's with your own training and then with the teaching. Okay. Let's just start with other instructors. If you had to speak to other instructors that had to teach people that are in the same situation as you are, how would you go about actually educating them on how to do that properly? 

SAM: Yeah. I would say, first of all, just be open and take the student as they come. Let them tell you what they think they maybe can and can't do. They've lived with their particular challenge their whole life, so they're very aware of what capabilities they have and also ways that they can modify techniques. It's really a collaborative effort because, as an instructor, to have a student with a disability, they can't necessarily follow that same path, that same lesson, that same even syllabus, to some degree. 

They're used to using all of their other students. It's really a collaborative effort of, “Okay, usually I would use this technique. Let's see how that would work for you.” You can't quite make that happen but, as an instructor, kind of try to work out where those students strengths are, what they can and can't do, and then use their martial arts knowledge to try to get that student to the same point. 

Like I said before, I think one of the things that everyone focuses on the disability because it's obvious, because you can see it, but it's not until they get to know the person that they start to realize, “Oh, no. Hang on. They've got all these other kinds of extra attributes because they've been through that early in their lives.” 

GEORGE: Do you have anybody that you teach that's in the same situation? 

SAM: Yeah. I've got two students at the moment that have cerebral palsy, a little bit different to my own. I've got one student that has what's called hemiplegia, which is a little bit different to me. My cerebral palsy just affects my legs. His cerebral palsy is down one side, so it's one arm and one leg. He does a lot of jiu-jitsu and some stand-up, as well, so his rips are a lot different. 

His ability to make a fist and fine motor skills with lapels and things like that with jiu-jitsu are a little bit more challenged than most. And his ability in striking is a little bit modified, kicks and things like that. So that's an interesting problem for me as a coach. I've also got a student who actually had sepsis and doesn't have a hand and actually has no feet, as well. So that's a really interesting challenge for me. 

GEORGE: For you, you've had support. Even having the support, it's a tough road to work. Right? Now, let's say you have somebody that inquires about martial arts. Maybe you've got a parent listening to this and the parent doesn't have faith in the child. It's coming from the top, almost, that they just … maybe they feel challenged by the situation, themselves. They've got a child and they don't know if the child can do this and it's actually fearful for themselves that they're going to create hardship for their child because they're going to put their child in a situation. 

Perhaps, they're not going to cope with it or they're going to have those obstacles. How do you have that mental conversation? How would you have that mental conversation with someone? And let's say, if not that direct, but if someone had to actually walk into the school and they were toying with the idea of martial arts. 

SAM: It's a really interesting conversation because, as I said, every student, every child is different, anyway. And then you're putting disability on top of that. Then you just add that difficulty, add that complexity, but I think it's got to start with an openness from the parent just to allow their child to have a go and just see what they can do because they can get the same things out of martial arts that anyone else can, but obviously their path is going to be a little bit different. 

And I think it's definitely a big mindset challenge on the student's part to understand that there's going to be challenges, there's going to be obstacles. There's no sort of cookie-cutter path that they can follow that's going to lead to sort of X result. If they're willing to put the time in, put the work in, and kind of do that collaborative journey with their instructor, then they can definitely reach the same result and milestone. 

GEORGE: Perfect. And if you had to say that to someone directly in your shoes, what would you say to them if they're having the challenges and thinking, “Oh, could I? Should I? Shouldn't I?” And having those doubts and that resistance? And it's so funny. We have this conversation and I think it's something I could ask almost anyone, right? 

Because a lot of people, before they start martial arts, they've got this … and now it almost feels like this imaginary obstacle. Right? They've got this obstacle that they don't want to start because of XY reason, which is factually so small, in comparison. How would you have that conversation with someone directly, in similar shoes to you? 

SAM: Yeah. Well, we talk a lot about future pacing when we're talking about signups and intros and things like that. And I think a lot of people or almost everyone that walks into a martial arts school has a really good idea of where they would like to be. They also generally know quite well what their limitations are and what the things are that are stopping them to get there. The thing that a lot of people really struggle with is those smaller steps in between. So they know the start point and they know the endpoint, but they're not sure on the thing they should focus on first. 

And some of the problems, too, or limitations that they might have might seem quite big and they don't know how to tackle them. They don't know what small steps that they need to focus on. So I think that's really important. Creating a start point and an endpoint, but a lot of small steps, as many as that student needs, in order to be able to sort of make that journey. 

GEORGE: Because again, it's not a cookie-cutter approach, but if you had to think of one or two situations where you could install confidence quickly … somebody starts and you've painted this future pace and you've painted this journey that this will be where you want to go, this is how we want to go, is there something that you can do that's the quickest confidence-builder in that situation to install some confidence to move forward? 

SAM: Yeah. Most definitely. I would say, definitely focus on what you can do and not what you can't do. And often when you do that, some of those things that you can't do, I've found those problems kind of solve themselves or you find ways around them quite easily. And I think jiu-jitsu, for me, has been a massive example of that. There are tons of tons and techniques when I started as a white belt that seemed like I'd never been able to do them or lack of motor skills or flexibility, things like that. 

And of course, a lot of people have that in jiu-jitsu because, a lot of the movements, they're quite foreign and they're not relatable to things that we do as humans in everyday life. It was a little extra for me and it was a lot of techniques that I just kind of ruled out from day one, like, “I won't know how to do that, I won't know how to do that.” 

Now, with 10 years’ experience and a purple belt, finding other ways to do those techniques is something that I actually really enjoy and something that I'm bringing a lot of stuff into my game now that I never thought that I'd be able to do when I stepped on the mat as a white belt on day one. So if you give it a little bit of time and you build up that little bit of experience and knowledge, then you become almost like your own coach, to some degree, because you know your own body and you also know a little bit about the martial art, you know a little bit about the system. You can start to develop those techniques and then run them back through your instructor as a little bit of a filter. 

GEORGE: Got you. Now, you still Zen Do Kai and jiu-jitsu, right? So I know you're teaching both. And you're still actively training both? 

SAM: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. 

GEORGE: Okay. So it's on the jiu-jitsu side, who's helping you with that journey, at the moment? 

SAM: My jiu-jitsu instructor is John Will. I don't think I could've chosen a better jiu-jitsu coach for myself, personally, because he's been 100% invested, 100% willing to do this journey side by side with me. He enjoys actually kind of solving the problem that me and my disability kind of present. As a coach, he's really into that. He's really into finding ways to get those same results for me as he would for any other student. That's definitely something that he's taught me, as well, to have that kind of mental, analytical-type approach, really look at breaking a technique down into its working parts and really try to understand what's happening and re-engineer or reverse engineer the technique to fit me. 

GEORGE: Awesome. And I know, because the other day just before we jumped on a call, you were actually chatting to John by Skype. So with you being in a different location, I take it you travel a lot, but is there also a lot of things that you really, in your case, break down just on Skype chats and things like that? 

SAM: Yeah. Luckily for me, John Will, he's made himself super accessible for me. I travel over to Geelong to train with him, face to face, quite often to train with the students at his school. They're always great. They really look after me when I go over there. But we also do a Skype lesson every fortnight, which is ultra-cool. He'll be on the other side of the camera explaining techniques, breaking them down and coaching me through them. I'll be on the mat with a training partner and working through those techniques.

Sometimes, he'll have a partner on his end and I'll be watching a physical demonstration and following the verbal instructions, as well. And other times, he'll quite literally just be basically on his couch in his lounge room talking me through the techniques, step, by step, by step. And it's just that he knows me well enough as a student to know what I'm able to physically do and he knows his techniques inside out. He can talk me through exactly what I need to do to make those techniques happen. 

And even sometimes, I'll say to him, “Oh, I've got an idea about this technique. Can I show you?” And we'll break the technique down and look at the pros and cons of what I've kind of thought of or come across to do in a given situation. And he'll do the same. Sometimes he'll say, “Oh, I've got this technique that might be really good for you. Let's try it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't quite work, but we always end up with something we can take away from it. 

GEORGE: Fascinating stuff. Okay, awesome. Sam, it's so great to really speak to you on this level and getting to know your real story, how you've evolved and got into the whole martial arts journey. Before we wrap things up, you're running a really successful school, Spektrum Martial Arts. You're doing really great things. What's known as a, as you said, there are 16,000 people in the town. Any advice you would give to someone in that same situation that's running a small school in a small town or a smaller market? 

SAM: There are definitely advantages with word of mouth, with being known in the community on a face-to-face kind of basis. It's probably much easier in a small community to build up a little bit more of a public kind of a profile than maybe it would be in a larger community. And I think, focus on your strengths and focus on how you can maybe diversify what you offer a little bit.

Obviously, as I said, we have three different martial arts styles, so that was part of the reason that I decided to branch out from just doing stand-up to start doing some jiu-jitsu, as well, just to cater for that market. It made it a little bit easier for me to open a school and kind of cater for a more varied kind of a population than if I maybe just did just the one martial arts style. 

Be realistic about the kind of numbers that you're going to get, but also understand that … and this is one thing that we did early on that was really good for me with you, George. I worked out that, to have my goal number of students at my school, that was only 2.3% of the population of all of Port Lincoln. So 16,000 seems like a really small ball to work with in terms of marketing and the student base and things like that, your total number that you'd be happy with, with your school pumping and you work out that it's only 2.3% of the population, it makes it seem much more doable. 

GEORGE: Yeah. Love it. Awesome. Hey, Sam, thanks for much for being on. If anybody wants to reach out, have a chat either about your school does this, getting started, if someone's listening in Port Lincoln or somebody that has a disability and got this mental challenge of do I start, how do I go about it? If somebody wants to reach out to you, what's the best way to do that? 

SAM: I'm more than happy to help anyone wherever I can. They can either look me up on Facebook, Sam Broughton on Facebook or feel free to message me on my school's page, Spektrum Martial Arts. 

GEORGE: Sam, thanks so much for being on. I'll speak to you soon. 

SAM: Thank you, George.

Here are 3 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. Join the Martial Arts Media community.

It's our new Facebook community where martial arts school owners get to ask questions about online marketing and get access to training videos that we don't share elsewhere – Click Here.

2. Join the Martial Arts Media Academy and become a Case Study.

I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, message me with the word ‘Case Study'.

3. Work with me and my team privately.

If you would like to work with me and my team to scale your school to the next level, then message me with the word ‘private'… tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details.

Enjoyed the show? Get more martial arts business tips when you subscribe on iTunes for iPhone or Stitcher Radio for Android devices.

***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

Podcast Sponsored by Martial Arts Media Partners

90 – Do You Groom ‘A Player’ Martial Arts Instructors, Or Hire the ‘A Players’?

How do you know which path to take when hiring new staff or martial arts instructors?

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN: 

  • How to groom high-potential martial arts instructors
  • When to let go of an instructor who isn’t a ‘good fit’ for your school
  • Why you can't afford to ignore your employee’s bad behavior 
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

Quick question for you. Do you groom your staff to become A players or do you just make sure that you actually choose the A players?

Hey George here, so a bit of a windy morning in Perth. Hope it doesn't cloud our sound completely. Quick question for you. Do you groom your staff to become A players or do you just make sure that you actually choose the A players?

Two quick stories that I want to share with you. I was talking to one of our Partners members a couple of days ago and he’s really frustrated with his staff member and things not going to plan.

This actual staff member did something quite horrific. It's the things that could land him in jail and he’s doing it under the business name. If things like this had to actually hit the news, it could potentially shut his business down.

How much do you actually tolerate? At what point do you say that's enough? Do you just stick it out? I guess the problem is they are such a valuable asset to the business because they are great instructors, they are teaching, the kids like them and they've formed this bond. 

But now you're in this situation where potentially it's gone to the person's head, or they just don't feel like they want to abide by the rules, or they're a great instructor but when it comes to sticking to rules and some common sense with things that you can or can't do. So what do you do? At what point do you have to pull the plug? 

For me, just in a similar situation where I had a staff member that I probably should have let go of a long time ago, but because they are just such a nice person, shows up on time, and does a lot of things right, it was just really hard to actually make the call. But at the end of the day the question came to, are they an A player or are they not an A player?

Here's the thing, you can try and fix things, you can try and motivate, you can try and enforce some rules, you can try and set up some consequences, but sometimes you just got to reach the point where you actually just got to make the call and pull the plug, not just for you and protecting your business, but also protecting the culture in your business. 

Because if you let things slide that your other staff members can see that this is okay. It's okay to behave like this. It's okay to break rules. It's okay to do stupid things that could land you up in jail or shut the business down. Then what example are you setting for everybody else in the business? If that becomes acceptable behaviour and it's an acceptable practice, not going into details of it, but what are the consequences for your business, but also for your culture and all your other staff members?

At the end of the day, you'd just create this culture of it's okay to suck. It's okay to be average. It's okay to do things your own way and not think of the bigger picture, which is your business.

I'd love to know from you, at what point do you pull the plug and what do you do to actually keep your stuff in line and keep them in check, making sure that everybody's on the same mission, following the same values, and on the same mission to serve your students at the end of the day? Would love to hear from you. Leave me a comment below this video, wherever you're watching it.

I'm going to head back to the office. Have a great week. Speak soon. Cheers.

Thanks for listening. If you want to connect with other top and smart martial arts school owners, and have a chat about marketing, lead generation, what's working now, or just have a gentle rant about things that are happening in the industry, then I want to invite you to join our Facebook group.

It's a private Facebook group and in there, I share a lot of extra videos and downloads and worksheets – the things that are working for us when we help school owners grow and share a couple of video interviews and a bunch of cool extra resources.

So it's called the Martial Arts Media Business Community and an easy way to access it is, if you just go to the domain named martialartsmedia.group, so martialaartsmedia.group, g-r-o-u-p, there's no .Com or anything, martialartsmedia.group. That will take you straight there. Request to join and I will accept your invitation.

Thanks – I'll speak to you on the next episode – cheers!

Here are 3 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. Join the Martial Arts Media community.

It's our new Facebook community where martial arts school owners get to ask questions about online marketing and get access to training videos that we don't share elsewhere – Click Here.

2. Join the Martial Arts Media Academy and become a Case Study.

I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, message me with the word ‘Case Study'.

3. Work with me and my team privately.

If you would like to work with me and my team to scale your school to the next level, then message me with the word ‘private'… tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details.

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89 – The 8 Key Factors Needed For High Performing Martial Arts Websites

Get your martial arts website attracting new students organically with these 8 key performance factors.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN: 

  • Why George shifted from building martial arts websites
  • The 8 key performance areas that you need for a high converting martial arts website
  • Changes to mobile usability that you can’t ignore
  • What Google assesses on your martial arts website for a quality score
  • The one topic rarely considered with martial arts websites and ownership
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

The key thing is that with all that marketing that you're talking about, all that lead generation, you spending money on ads. You don't want that to be going to a website where you're losing money because people are turned off by something on your website or they didn't get the message that needs to be there to get them to buy.

GEORGE: Hey, this is George and welcome to another episode of the Martial Arts Media business podcast. Today I have a different guest on board. I'm going to say why, but we're going to be talking about websites. Websites, optimization of websites, conversions and the importance of it. So just a quick introduction, Justin Meadows from TunedWp.

JUSTIN: Thank you for having me on the podcast.

GEORGE: Awesome, you're welcome. Just before we get into what we're going to talk about today. Just a bit of content, depending on how long you've followed my podcast or martialartsmedia.com. You know that a big component of what we've always provided for the industry is websites. Websites, and how to convert your websites. Justin and I have actually been in the same coaching group for only like a good last five, six.

JUSTIN: Yes, at least.

GEORGE: I'll give a good mention to James Schramko who is from superfastbusiness.com, which is a coaching community we've been a part of. And the reason I mentioned that is because we come from the same understanding of websites – the value of owning your own assets and owning your own online properties. The component when I started providing websites for the martial arts space was, at that part in time I couldn't find somebody to do it properly. We were running Google ads and our main focus was lead generation.

The hard part was really getting the mix right of wanting web developers that understand the importance of conversions and the sales copy side and really what goes into actually making a website work – understanding the technicalities of it and throwing a website up that actually works. That got me into the business and started providing websites for the industry. I reached the point in providing that, but I just thought that it was not a business that I was going to scale moving forward. It took me from the focus of just lead generation and lead generation to doing the websites and juggling. I had an old sales boss that always used to say to me, you can't steer two light bulbs at different sides of the room at the same time.

That your focus is going to go out. It's brought me to a point where I've stopped providing websites but I didn't just want to stop providing websites because the things that we're going to talk about here today I find simply important and it's a big missing component for the most part in the martial arts industry. And I want to make sure that if I'm not going to be providing websites anymore for the industry that I can refer anyone to someone that I trust as a provider. Somebody that knows exactly what goes into building websites the right way. There are only a handful of people that really understand doing it the right way. What goes into the conversions and so forth. And that person is Justin and his team, again welcome to the call.

JUSTIN: Cheers.

GEORGE: A bit of a background, just if you can give us a quick summary of who is Justin Meadows.

Martial Arts Websites

JUSTIN: Sure, yeah. So I started building the business that I've got now about 10 years ago. I live in a small country town in Victoria, near a ski resort. It's a lovely village up here. I talk to a lot of business clients and that sort of thing. So I built my business in a certain way. I've built it online and I started out building it in a wholesale set up so that we would provide services to marketing agencies. So we were the backend website development team for design agencies and that sort of thing. And that's how I've grown and now I've got up to a point now where we've released a new brand and we now work directly with business owners.

And I've got quite a large team behind me. We've run a 24/7 support desk and that sort of thing so we've grown over the 10 years to quite a decent-sized business. Over that time we've really had quite a broad range of experiences working with a lot of different business owners, lots of different industries, and working with a lot of different marketing agencies and that sort of thing. So we really do have quite a broad range of experience in building websites. And so I've really seen what works and what doesn't work. We've done a lot of testing with different types of websites, sort of options and things that people can have on their end.

Yeah, we've really refined out processes. We've distilled down eight key areas that you really need to get right on a website in order to get a good performing website that produces results for your business and helps you grow and that sort of thing. 

The key thing is that with all that marketing that you're talking about, all that lead generation, you're spending money on ads, you don't want that to be going to a website where you're losing money because people are turned off by something on your website. Or they didn't get the message that needs to be there to get them to buy. And so that's really been the core of my services because we've focused just on doing that development side of things.

Actually, when I very first started, we did a lot of SEO consulting and helping people with their SEO but then we needed to make sure the website was structured correctly and set up right so that when they did the SEO work, they were getting results on the actual website itself. So that's been the focus of our website, of our services.

GEORGE: Cool, most of the martial art industry I know, when somebody provides services that are not particularly practising in martial arts with the service, the question always comes up. So how can you help the industry if you're not actually part of the industry? What would you answer to that?

JUSTIN: Yeah, so that's a good one. But the main thing is that we have a very general understanding of what works across the range of different industries. So we know if the different types of businesses, different things are going to work, if you're a locally-based business then something is more important that are very different to if you're a software business or if you're serving information to an international audience or something like that.

So we really know what works for different types of industries and the main thing is that we're also going to work in tandem with you providing the guidance and instructions on what's the best practice for a martial arts business and that sort of thing. But our focus and our focus and our specialty is on the performance of a WordPress website. We don't work with other platforms anymore. We focus on WordPress and providing support and optimizing WordPress to be the best that it can be, to make sure that you're getting results out of your spend.

That's really what we are specialists in and I see my understanding that's exactly why you come and have a chat to me and saying if we could work together because martial arts is your area of expertise but there really is a lot. The more you dig into what works in WordPress and how you improve the performance and speeding up your website, there are rabbit holes that go on forever. You can't have it all basis so our specialty is just in the performance of the WordPress websites and yeah we know how to customize that to suit a martial arts business.

GEORGE: Perfect. I know that was a question just to throw the curveball at Justin but behind the scenes for the last three months or so we had been working one on one on just our clients. We've moved over some support over to Justin and making sure that the core essentials of what's important for martial school owners are taken care of. That's always from the work that we've done and through our web, well I guess through our learning pages that we still provide in our Partners program. We process close to, the last count was 4,535 paid trials in the system so that's paid trials, not leads.

So with that we've done a lot of assessment of what works, how to shape web pages that it converts. And then obviously the ongoing maintenance its always been really basic. There's always just been change of authors, change of timetables, and different things and so forth. But I want to jump on to you talking about the eight factors, was that correct?

JUSTIN: Yeah, yeah. We've coded our performance blueprint and its eight key areas of your website that you need to get right to make that performance really come through. And so the first one is making sure that you can be easily found. So that is looking at your SEO, how your website appears when it's shared in social media and making sure that Google understands that your website is a valuable resource for people that are searching for martial arts in your area. So that's one of the key things, so firstly just that you're found. You're not making most technical mistakes that are very common. I see them a lot on some websites and yeah, that can really hold back your results so that even searching for your own name you might struggle to come up in Google.

What we want especially for martial arts businesses is that your relevant to the suburb that your dojo is in or that your centre is in, wherever you're physically located. You want to make sure that Google is well aware that you are relevant to those surrounding suburbs and where those people are coming to you so that when they search, you're the first one that comes up.

GEORGE: Can you give us an example of how do you spot the mistake and how somebody would go about optimizing?

JUSTIN: With the mistakes, there's a podcast episode in itself. There are a lot of different things that you could be doing wrong, there is a lot to cover. I can't say there is one easy way to do that but there are a lot of ways that you can get your website assessed of the SEO value. Google will give you a rough guide if you go to web dot dev, they give you a very broad overview. However, it's more on the technical side of things. It doesn't give you guidance as to what your website is optimized for. So it'll just pick up if perhaps you're not using SSL, you're not secure or you're making some other mistakes like not using page title or stuff like that.

So yeah, there is a lot to cover there and it does get quite technical. In terms of what does work for a local business, having pages specifically for the location. So the talking not just about the types of martial art that you provide but also a bit about the suburbs and the area that you're in so that then Google knows that you're relevant to that. Couple that with optimizing local business listing through my business page and things like that reference your address and make sure that your name, address and phone number are exactly the same all over the internet and connecting you to social media. Doing that is definitely the most important thing for a local business.

GEORGE: Perfect, I'll ask a question on top of that. We were just in our Partners program we run a session called the Local SEO Advantage and the big focus was Google My Business. And it was interesting, one of our members pulled up his stats of more 7000 views of an actual page. But we were talking about page titles when it comes to location and you've been talking about different locations so you have several martial art locations at a different address. How important is that in the title section of that page. Is that what you really trying to optimize for with different pages, there are different locations etc.?

JUSTIN:  Yeah. If you have several locations, you should have a page for each location. It doesn't necessarily need to have the address especially if that's a bit longer. You want to make sure that you're talking about the types of martial arts words that people will be searching for. And so, especially when you get a bit into the less common martial art styles and that sort of thing. You might want to make it a bit more general, that page title so that it is the thing that people are going to be searching for, you don't want to get too specific. But you want to make sure that you have at least the suburb name in that page title I would say for each location.

GEORGE: Yeah, perfect. And for any followers listening, I mean the easiest way to do that is just go type martial arts in your area. And then a good trick with Google is always just to scroll to the bottom and you'll see Google bringing up all its related searches. And that will give you a good starting point. But at least jump back on key point number two.

JUSTIN: Yeah, yeah. So number two is loading fast. So after people have found you, you want to make sure that your website appears quickly, and this does actually work back into the ranking factor. Making sure that your website loads fast is becoming more and more important to Google but also to users. People expect your website to load fast if it is loading slow then people get impatient and they'll hit back especially on mobile devices and that sort of thing. People expect things faster and faster these days.

Yeah you want to make sure that it loads fast. If you have a fast loading website, Google will prefer you over other websites in your search results. It will also decrease the cost that you're spending on Google ads so in your Google ads, Google gives you a quality score. And if your website loads fast, you get a higher quality score and that means that you need to pay less per click for that ad so that it's well worth optimizing your website for speed.

If you find that and I imagine the martial arts you would have a fairly high. I would expect roughly about 60% of your traffic to your website would be from mobile devices. In that case, you want to make sure that your website loads really fast on mobile and a good thing that's very recent. It's only really become prominent this year, is I am paying. It's a mobile version of your website, which is designed specifically to load super-fast.

It’s hosted in Google's caching system. So Google will make sure that it loads fast. Google will give you a higher score again for your only score, and SEO, and your mobile speed score, which is connected to all that. Yeah, so it's a very limited code structure and the means creating it, essentially a copy of your homepage just for mobile but it is worth doing if you have a lot of mobile traffic because it serves at a very fast and gives a good mobile experience.

GEORGE: All right, excellent. Cool, the third factor.

JUSTIN: Number three. Number three is being mobile-friendly. So apart from just loading fast on mobile, you want to make sure that it is easy to use. You quite often the navigation menu might be a bit hard to navigate on mobile, you want to make sure that everything rearranges into a nice easy to read format, you can scroll through it and see everything nicely. Again this feeds into Google's quality score for ads and SEO. They want to serve up ads that are mobile-friendly, easy to use.

For example on your timetable, it should be easy to click through your timetable and see what sessions you have that sort of thing. It's because sometimes table formats can be really ugly when they're squished down in mobile hard to read, so you want to make sure that converts really well on mobile. And your form to get started, you should be able to click through that with your finger. So there are a few considerations that can make a big difference to how many people are going to sign up, if they're viewing your site from mobile. If it’s too hard to use and they get frustrated they'll give up.

Although they might not even do it intentionally, they might just go, “too hard” and put it down for a second and then they forget about it. So you want to make it as easy as possible, definitely.

GEORGE: 100%. Even if you're not doing Google ads, or SEO, which if you miss the term SEO search engine optimization, which is a free side of Google so you're not paying for ads but just appearing in the organic results. Even if you're running Facebook ads and I don't actually have this as a verified thing but I remember this coming up with Facebook was also doing something with a quality score. Which is a big reason why Facebook really prefers to keep you on Facebook and with all their tools. But if you are sending people from Facebook, it's also about user experience because they can track how quickly you click and how quickly you get back. And that also qualifies as a bounce rate right, because you're clicking and it's not loading and you're out there. That signals to Facebook that either your content is not relevant or your site is slow, which is more than likely what happens.

JUSTIN: Right, then now the people using Facebook, if they're they're clicking on ads, and they go to pages that don't load, then that's a bad user experience for the Facebook user and they don't want to be doing that so they penalize you by making that ad click more expensive.

GEORGE: Yeah, if I may. Cool, where are we at? Number?

JUSTIN: Five. No, four.

GEORGE: Four, better write that down.

JUSTIN: Four is the first impression. So you've clicked, you've loaded and on top of my bar, you want to make sure that you convey a message very quickly that says who you are and what you have to provide and who that is for. Sometimes, I see a lot of websites that are very airy-fairy and they look pretty in that but you're like, what do these guys actually do. It's not clear, the thorough process for people going to a website, goes like this. “Who are these guys?” “Is this right for me?” “And then how do I get started?” And you want to make sure that you're messaging and your design on your website clearly answers those three questions very quickly.

You want to show what is that you provide. What type of person that is for, and then how they get started in a very quick impression. Once again people on websites do have a shorter attention span, they'll get frustrated easily if it's not clear and so making it easy and spelling it out and making sure it's very clear and simple just lifts your conversion rate. So you will get more sales if you're doing that right.

GEORGE: What could be your preference, I see and am not a fan of it but I shouldn't say my opinion before I actually ask the question. But Let's say what would be the preference, would it be let's say if you looked at the desktop and there's just one of the videos that play in the background or like there is video. Or a structured headline with a call to action.

JUSTIN: Yeah, I think videos can be distracting. They'll also slow down your load speed, so that's another reason why having a background video isn't a great idea. It does look nice but functionally it doesn't actually help you get the sale. And same thing with sliders, it's very common on websites to have imagine sliders. But it's been a thing for a while but in the website development space we've known that it’s a bad idea for a long time. Because once again you're slowing down the loading, it takes more time to load up all these big images, the slide across and the animation script and that sort of thing.

So it's a lot better to just have one very good image that conveys the message of who you are and what you provide and the benefits that people can get, so happy people that are looking fit and training and that sort of thing. That's the impression you want to get. So you want to have a really good image of that and then a clear text message that's static, that gets that message across in button to get started, that sort of thing. That's really the best practice, having those image sliders, apart from slowing things down they also are a bit of a distraction and it's common to have several different messages on them but in reality, most people like probably 8% of people are only going to see the first message.

They'll look at that and they'll scroll down. They're not going to see the other things you've got in there. So it can dilute your message, so you really want to decide on what is your core message and make that stand out front and centre.

GEORGE: All right, perfect. Sounds good, number five.

Martial Arts Websites

JUSTIN: Yeah. So now we are onto building trust. And this is a very important thing on the internet, selling things from websites is that trust barrier. Everyone has an initial apprehension when they're handing over money on a website. So you really want to reassure people who are visiting your website that you are legit. That there are people who have got results from before, you've built some social proof and they are really good ways to do that are with testimonials. They work really effectively. Having some good testimonials with a photo of the person who made the testimonial adds more legitimacy to it and a good way to do that is, it might be a bit tricky and sometimes in the martial arts especially.

If someone does give you a testimonial, have a look if they've got a Linkedin profile or a public Facebook photo that you can just copy that photo and send it to them and say is it okay if I use this photo rather than asking them to go and take a photo of themselves that they're happy with because that might take weeks or never happen. You want to make it easy for them to provide a photo so you go and see if they have a public photo on the internet that you can use. A video is fantastic, if someone has really loved the results they've got from your coaching and your training then get your phone out and just 30 seconds video of them saying I started out and I was like this and then through this training, I've now got this result.

A sure click like that can speak volumes and it really does build trust and build rapport with the new visitors to your website. The other things that build trust, logos of associations and that thing that you're part of. If you're a part of any maybe school-related programs or health programs or those things, having logos of that on your website just builds that legitimacy and publishing helpful content. Publishing videos that help educate people or articles that sort of things. Trying to be as helpful as possible with the content that you're providing on your website helps to reassure people and let them get a feel for who you are and your style and they then know that you're a helpful person. You're not just trying to take their money and give them a bad experience. Those sorts of things help to build trust with website business.

GEORGE: Yeah, totally. It's always been a big focus of mine. I know it's the hardest thing for martial arts school owners to do but there is so much focus on Facebook and getting content out. And this is probably a topic for a whole another episode but the content that you typically put on Facebook is for the most part gone in 24 to 48 hours unless you have a strategy. Like we structured in our Video Ad Authority Builder, we make sure that you create a video that you can actually put some money behind and leverage and build authority online.

But a good thing to really think about and we won't go too much into detail but now is we are creating content. How can you put that on your website and really dig into the keyword research and understanding, what are the questions that people ask because I know for most martial art schools owners their biggest problem is not the conversion. Once people walk through the doors, its cool. Its how do we get the walking through the doors and think about that as in content. What can actually put in your website that's going to educate people to create the trust as Justin referring to that's going to give them the confidence to take the first step or even just put their hand up or get that inquiry button and get in touch.

JUSTIN: Yeah, absolutely. FAQs are great for that. Answering those questions, because especially for people who've not tried or been a part of any martial arts training in the past, they really don't know what to expect so if you can just map it out clearly how it's going to go, or what the process is going to be when they sign up and they come in and answering any questions that commonly come up when people do sign up. Making those very clear start on your website really does help with getting people to take the first step, yeah.

GEORGE: All right, awesome. So we're at number six?

JUSTIN: Six, yeah. Generating style. So this is where the rubber hits the road. So turning that interested person who's looking at your website into a paying customer. And I know that you've got a really good process there with the trials, having a paid trial, yeah.

GEORGE: Yeah, I guess there are two things. Well I mean this is more than we optimized for but if you look at the sale on the website, for the most part is going to be selling a paid trial – that's the top lead we go for. And the next sale is how do we get somebody to actually inquire and then of course picking up the phone, which is the alternative. Don't know in the big optimization if we're taking sales, sending an email and somebody getting in touch is not a big sale, that's an inquiry. So those are the two things in context that we got going.

JUSTIN: Yeah, and I think that is a good process for martial arts business and making sure that opportunity to opt-in for an inquiry and just say, yes I'm interested. How do I get started, that sort of thing. Making that as easy as possible is very important so having that on top of the home page where they can just fill in the form and get in touch with you. It is also important that you don't have too many things that are distracting from these primary goals. You want those call to action that try to join the page trial or to inquire about a booking or about classes or whatever that is. Having those things really standing out from everything else on your website, using contrasting buttons and very strong wording like get started now or that sort of thing is very important.

And then as well as having that in your design, having those call to action very easy to use and standing out very clearly. You then also want to make sure that you're tracking who's using your website so having the Google analytics in place you can add Google ads, re-tagging and Facebook pixels so that if people are coming to your website, you have the opportunity to remind them about you. If they don't become a paying customer, you can show ads to them in Facebook but it's a lot more valuable to show them to people who've already visited your website than to show them to other people who've never heard of you before. It's a lot easier to get people who already know about you to come back and check you out again.

As well as doing that you want to as much as possible when they are filling out that email thing, you want to be building an email database with people who have inquired and separating out whose paid and then you can target some very good email messaging to the people who have inquired but not paid or signed up. And yeah, really help to form a relationship with them, provide more value, and then turn them into a paying customer.

GEORGE: Yeah and so Justin, we're talking about a lot of things about all the website and optimization and things. And I guess it's important to mention, for a lot of people and this has been said to me so often, it's just a website. The value of a website, just like well, I mean so and so could do it for me for 500 bucks, so and so could do it for me for 1000 bucks. Well the reality is and I've done this mess at so many presentations, if you're a lifetime student value is an average. I think the last call I had was $2200 a year. That's $2200 per student.

If your conversion is 2%, which means two out of every 10 people inquire. Let's say two out of every 10 people that come to you, well that's actually a big. Sorry its two of 100. Two out of 100 people come to your website and actually sign up, that's $4400 in that case, if you're a lifetime student value was $4400. Well if your website sucks, which most people do and it's slow, it doesn't build trust, it's not loading properly and people don't know how to contact you.

They don't know how to do this; your conversion rate is going to be awful. Now what if you paid more website but the experience of building this not just in martial arts but in thousands of other industries, and you use this collective knowledge and you're able to buy a website for triple the price. And I’m not saying that's irrelevant but I just want to make sure in context that the value is accurate. That now you're going to website that converts at 4% and that sounds ridiculous right? Its small, 2% to 4%. Well that's double your value, which means now every 100 people that goes to your website is worth $8800 and not $4400.

In your first 100 visits, you've got money back in your pocket and then some. So it's so important to look at this as your virtual salesman and your asset because that's the first experience. I can tell you how many Facebook ad campaigns we've run and remember the Facebook ad campaigns? And all of a sudden we just the conversion cost drop on Google, all the time. Which is saying to me that your first interaction is, Facebook I saw the ad, people on their mobile phones in three minutes, which means I saw the ad and I was like, Oh yeah saw some George's martial arts, cool. Could happen to work, what was it George's martial arts, go onto Google, find you and make the purchase.

It's important to look at the whole thing of context and the value of knowing all this stuff. And this doesn't happen just from the school kid, all is factored in that are signing out and are able to drag and drop the website together for you. You're not going to get that value. You get that value from seeing people's accounts, Google analytics, knowing the stats and knowing hang on this is actually what drives sales. And a bit of rank but I just want to make sure that distinction because it comes up so much in conversations well I could just buy this 500 bucks.

Well you're robbing yourself off five grand, fifty grand down the line very, very quickly.

JUSTIN: Exactly, yeah. And this actually leads very smoothly into my next to the number seven argument, which is building assets. So it's important to look at your website not as an expense but as an asset for your business, and if further down the line, eventually you're going to get to a point where you're going to pass on your school to someone else. You might sell that or whatever happens.

The website that you're building and the assets that you build with your website are saleable assets. So it's not just something that you're spending money on and it's a cost that goes away. You're actually building something, which increases in value. When you sell that website, that's as important as the other parts of your business, your customer database and that sort of thing that you're selling. So it is an important consideration. You need to look at it from that point of view and it is something that is bringing more money to you. Like you're saying, you can save a lot of money on your ads and by having a website set up really well, that you get a great return on investment.

So the other thing is that your website should be doing is building assets. Apart from the website itself, so on the website itself, it's right to be publishing that helpful content which overtime helps with your good rankings and this in itself an asset that just attracts new students to you. But then also having that email database that you're building from that lead form and having those remarketing tags. So you have audiences on Facebook and on Google. If you're having a quieter period you can go out and spend more ads on marketing to those people or emailing to those people. That is a very valuable asset for you to have and to build up. And it takes time, it’s a long-term play. It's not something that gets you a short term result necessarily but, yeah. It is definitely worth investing in the long-term of your business.

GEORGE: Yes, I'm going to probably open a can of worms here. When you referred to that, you got the physical asset; you got your domain name. I mean your domain name you always own but then the actual website, what we refer to as content assets, every time you create content that's valuable to somebody taking the first step as we spoke about earlier. Then if that is done right, something that we cover in our Academy and Partners program. Like how do you create content that you can actually leverage. It's evergreen and it's an asset because it brings in people find that article or video online and then they access your website through that.

Now the can of worms is, and I'm saying this because out of the best intent and it’s not a dig at anyone in the industry as such. I know there are really good providers in our industry that provide martial arts websites under the SAS software model. So I've got all praise for these companies, I know I can see why they do it, it's great, it's easy you pay them a couple of 100 bucks a month. They take care of your website and you've got this martial arts website in it and it brings you leads and that's awesome. It is awesome until it's not awesome. And when it's not awesome, is when you realize that it's not an asset.

And if you realize that you're paying five grand a year, give or take, maybe more on something that you don't own. And if you stop paying, that means that all those assets that you've built up on this infrastructure are now gone and that is a really, really distinction. As I mentioned I see the value in doing that as a business and I know it's super easy for martial art school owners to have that but if I had to have a true gut check within myself and say, would I do that for my business? Never ever in my life would I do that because I know the value of the asset. And that's the only reason why I've never gone down their track and just don't provide that as a service.

JUSTIN: Absolutely.

GEORGE: And sorry to cut you off but it’s probably if you look at everything online, it's the one asset you've got because Facebook, Instagram, they can all be gone in a heartbeat.

JUSTIN: Yeah, absolutely. The social media platforms come and go and also they change their rules so you might have some really good ad campaigns going on Facebook and then all of a sudden they will change their rules and your ads stop working or they don't do those ads like that anymore and they're banned and you've got to work out something else. And all of a sudden if you're relying on that as the only way you get students, then you're stuck. So it is important to have an asset that you do own and control.

Absolutely, and then you use these other methods of finding leads and bring them into your asset, where you have control and then you can build that email database of those users and talk to them directly. And yeah, having full ownership and control over your website is one of the most important philosophies in the way that I've structured my business as well. That's why we focus on WordPress because WordPress is the most popular website platform out there on the internet. It is very easy. If you're not happy with our service like we build your website and that sort of thing.

It's very easy for you to then take that and move to a different provider and you're not locked in with us. You still own your own website. You can hire someone else to look after it but you still own it. It's still your website, and I think that's very important for all business owners to make sure that you do have that and then you can sell that website and you can hand it over to the new owners and they will take it and it will provide value to them because it's already getting people coming to it and new students being produced from it.

GEORGE: Awesome, yeah. Totally. Number eight I think.

JUSTIN: Number eight, yeah. This one is not so much about attracting new students but staying secure is very important for your website and for your online presence. It can be a bit of a brand disaster and can cause you a lot of strife if you do get into trouble by being unsecured. So if your websites' not secure, and you get hacked and there is malicious malware going out to people who visit your website. There are all sorts of things, unlike people who no longer trust your business.

If they go to your website and says that it got the unsecured thing up in the top of the website browser and Google has a big warning on there saying, warning this website is unsafe, that sort of thing people aren't going to trust you. So that immediately kills that trust barrier sort of thing. You can often have some really unsavoury things. There's malware that gets into your website and then puts on these random messages from unsavoury groups on your website and that sort of stuff that gives a really bad impression to your customers and to your students.

And it makes you look like you're not a very well organized and professional operator. And the other thing is that it causes a lot of cost and expense for years so if you have something like that come in then you've got to spend money to get someone to clean up that software from your website. Clean up the malware and get that infection sorted. And it usually also involves a lot of stress, and you spending a day just trying to fix this problem that's happened and so you've got to also think about the cost of that as well.

So it is very important to look after the security of your website for these reasons, and the other things are, apart from them, if your website is unsecured or does have malicious malware on there, Google will stop running ads to you. It can hold your SEO rankings, and it can have a lot of flaws and effect that will damage your profitability. So with WordPress, once again because it is the most popular platform, it is a target to this malware that will be built to access WordPress because then they can access heaps of websites.

So it's important to keep your website software up to date and that just means that when this malware finds a loophole that they can get into the WordPress software, very quickly the WordPress developers will create an update to the software that blocks that and patches up that loophole. So it's important to make sure that those patches, those software updates are installed on your website. Sometimes installing those software updates can cause issues with the way that your design works or that sort of thing if it's not structured correctly. So it's important to get a developer to do that. To make sure that if it does cause any design issues they can roll back to back up they've just taken and fix the problem and that sort of thing.

So yeah. It is worth getting someone to look after your website who knows what they're doing and that way you don't have to worry about yourself and you don't have to go through all that stress and the ordeal of having your website hacked. The other things are things like just having that SSL, so HTTPs in your address means that your website data is encrypted. That means it's safe. Google likes that and it shows that your website is secure and the website browser and that sort of thing.

Yeah, and making sure that you have regular backups is also very important. So that if something does happen, worst-case scenario may be the hosting dies and you can't get back on to your website or something like that. You have a backup that you can then restore on some other hosting providers’ website or like their service. So for controlling assets that's important as well.

GEORGE: Perfect so Justin, first thank you for jumping on. I mean if somebody needs with that, somebody needs help with their website, let's say they've got an existing website. Maybe it's one WordPress base hopefully and they need help with all these support stuff, the security, speeding things up, making sure it's secure, all that stuff and then the other component obviously is if somebody wants a new website, a new website that can provide all this. A website that you would own as its upright it would be yours, how can people reach out to you? How can people get in touch?

JUSTIN: For sure. So, my website TunedWp, that's Tuned with a d Wp dot com. And the best way to get in touch is via support at TunedWp dot com. We've got a 24-hour support desk and we'll get back to you within one hour so we have very rapid response time. So if anything is urgent, just shoot through an email to us and we can do that. We have a number of different levels of service that we can provide so we can just provide that hosting and security element or we can also provide another service where we will optimize the performance of your existing website and do ongoing changes for you.

So you never have to log in to the website yourself as a business owner, it's really not what you should be doing. You should be focusing on your students and growing your business and leaving all the website technical stuff to experts like us. So we provide that service for you and we can also rebuild a new website if you want a new design or if you don't have a website that's set up correctly, we can certainly build that for you. So yeah, feel free to get in touch with the support at TunedWp dot com.

GEORGE: Awesome. And thanks really for jumping in and you've taken great care of all our existing website customers and we're definitely recommending people to you. We've known each other for many years being in the same community and a lot of the things we spoke about today really come from that understanding of really, really knowing how this online world works and worked before Facebook came along. How do build the online assets, how to structure business that you are safe against things that fluctuate within the business, whether that's in Google or Facebook. That you've got some leverage and ways to get sign up students from multiple avenues and the biggest component of that is having a simpler, secure, awesome website that is the face of your brand. Thanks for that Justin.

JUSTIN: No worries at all. Thanks for having me on the podcast.

GEORGE: Cool. Awesome. Thanks for listening. If you want to connect with other top and smart martial arts school owners, and have a chat about marketing, lead generation, what's working now, or just have a gentle rant about things that are happening in the industry, then I want to invite you to join our Facebook group.

It's a private Facebook group and in there, I share a lot of extra videos and downloads and worksheets – the things that are working for us when we help school owners grow and share a couple of video interviews and a bunch of cool extra resources.

So it's called the Martial Arts Media Business Community and an easy way to access it is, if you just go to the domain named martialartsmedia.group, so martialaartsmedia.group, g-r-o-u-p, there's no .Com or anything, martialartsmedia.group. That will take you straight there. Request to join and I will accept your invitation.

Thanks – I'll speak to you on the next episode – cheers!

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