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.

 

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.

 

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!

 

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