109 – Tripling Your Student Base In 2 Years With 100% Karate

Last time we spoke with Cheyne McMahon, he had just gone full time with 110 students when his dojo got flooded. Today, he has 340 students and is thriving as a Karate-only school.

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IN THIS EPISODE:

  • How action takers work and think differently
  • The pay off of investing in your instructors
  • 100% Karate! Cheyne’s growth from 110 students to 340 students
  • Do this to motivate your white belts
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

As soon as I see the value in it, I'll do it straightaway, whether that's good or bad sometimes, but at the moment, everything I do is working out pretty well.

GEORGE: Hey, George Fourie here. Welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast episode. We're on episode 109 and chatting today to a good friend and a repeat guest, Cheyne McMahon. Good day, Cheyne.

CHEYNE: Hey, how are you? 

GEORGE: Good, good, good. So, been a while. Well, I'd say it's been a while since we spoke on the podcast, I was actually checking back and we spoke on episode number 74. Actually back in March 2019, so, depending when you're listening to this, close to the two year mark on doing this again. 

So, I wanted to chat again, really to document his journey, because it's been a long journey. We'll go a bit more into the details, but you can check out podcast number 74 for a bit more of the background – the first time we met, how we got started working together, and your dojo was flooded, wasn't it?

CHEYNE: Yeah, still remember that one like it was yesterday? Yeah.

GEORGE: Flooded dojo, we started working together, did a couple of cool things, and worked out well, you jumped up to 185 students. That was in December. Well, in February, so that was a couple of months later, shot to 200. I'll be prompting you to get that 300, you hit 300 students at the time of recording this. Well, last week, he said you were 325. This week you're at?

CHEYNE: Yeah, that's 348 students.

GEORGE: Just from the sidelines, and I'm going to hand it all over to Cheyne, but you know, one thing I admire about Cheyne is just relentless work ethic. You know, whenever we chat on a Zoom call or something, we chat about something, Cheyne goes quiet, and then he's like, “yep, it's done, it's sent”. 

And so, he's just a religious action taker, we can almost stop the podcast there if you want to get the value out of something and Cheyne's journey on how he progresses so fast, is just taking action all the time. It's probably a good place to start, right? Because what got you to that? What is it that prompts you to take action quickly? Is that something that came from, you know, from childhood? Or is it the discipline of karate? What's got you to that?

CHEYNE: Yeah, I think that that's just sort of my personality. I just want to, I just want to see the value in it, and I’ll just do it straightaway. Just like setting up Calendly. Last week, we were talking about it, as soon as I see the value in it, I'll do it straightaway. Whether that's good or bad sometimes, but at the moment, everything I do is working out pretty well. Some things don't work. But so far it's been it's been pretty good.

GEORGE: Yeah, I can't recall who shared this exactly. I think Elon Musk shared something similar, that the person who makes the most business decisions wins and in context, and I'm probably butchering this, but the overall story is, if you make 100 decisions a week or day, and 50 of them fail, then you still made 50 decisions in the right direction. The problem is when you overanalyze and you sit back, and you make 10 decisions, and still, 50% ratio, five of them fail. 

So, now you've made five steps in the right direction, versus 50. So either, you know, when we, when we think we are doing the wrong things, doing just many things all the time and making decisions rapidly, actually goes a bit further at the end of the day.

CHEYNE: You know, it's not like I'm making rash decisions on the spot that's going to impact my cash flow or my life in a massive way. But just little things that I see that are much better, I'll just change like that. But changing a timetable or a schedule, something like that? You need to sit down and figure that one out. There can't be just, you know, off the top.

GEORGE: Cool. So, look. So, I guess building on our conversation last time, yeah, you know, we chat every week, we get on our Partners group, we jump on calls and so forth. You know, your journey has been, it's gone from one thing to the other and improved, and then we had COVID, obviously, and that threw a curveball for everyone. But I mean, you've bounced right back, and things are moving. What's been working well for you? Let's just start with that.

CHEYNE: Yeah. Well, so, yeah, COVID hit. Like everybody we had to shut down and teach online classes. But, from that, we've actually incorporated a couple of things from the Zoom platform that we use. So, every class now is, is streamed live on our Zoom channel, or a Zoom link. So, that's been really great, because we've got people in, we've got another dojo. 

So, I'm in Brisbane, we have another dojo in Sydney, and so the instructors there can actually watch what we're doing. I've been recording some segments or sections of the class, and uploading them onto our YouTube channel, where the instructors can actually watch some of the drills that we've been doing, and then make sure, you know, we're all in sync on how we teach a particular technique, or kata, or whatever we're doing. So, that's been really good. When Zoom hit, we could, sorry, not Zoom. When COVID hit.

So, we could only have a certain amount of parents or people in the dojo when we could resume classes. So, we only let the juniors in, no parents. And since then, the behavior of the kids has been fantastic. So, there's no background noise, there's no distractions. It was purely instructors and kids. So, since then, we've taken away the waiting area and don't allow parents inside while the class is on. 

So, before and after, yep, but during the class, no. But if the parents want to watch, they can watch it on our Zoom link, which is always on, with the Zoom, we change the password every month, just for security. So, if we have someone who stops training, then they won't be able to watch the training from home. So, there are just a couple of things that have made us better since COVID.

GEORGE: Great, so now, you just don't let parents in, and parents, just become accustomed to, really took advantage of the fact that they can't sit around, and it's turned out for the better.

CHEYNE: Well, yeah, it's turned out better for the coffee shop next door to us too.

GEORGE: Right?

CHEYNE: Yeah, look. So, the parents know that they're not allowed, it's not that they're not allowed inside, just not during the class. So, they come in, drop their, especially when their kids are new. They bring their kids in, the kids sign themselves in and then the parents, either sit in their car or go for a walk. Some, if there's a partner, some will just go for a picnic. There's a pub across the road too, so, I'm sure a couple of sneaky people go there for a few quiet ones.

GEORGE: Cool. So, on that, I mean, we're talking about changes. So, you made that adjustment. That's been really good. What else do you do, I guess, do that's different? And maybe what things that you don't do, that normal schools might not be doing well?

CHEYNE: Something different that we do since I last spoke to you in the podcast. So, we've got a junior leader team and we also have an instructor's team, so, constantly developing instructors to assist in the class, as well as take their own class. Not so much the junior leaders, juniors are there to assist in the class – bow the kids in, show the kids what to do, where to go when they first start, and also set up any equipment. 

But as far as karate goes, what we do differently, I suppose is black belt is only just the beginning for us. We've got lots of second, third, fourth, fifth dans that train with us. There's something after black – you don't need to be an instructor. So, we've got, yeah, we also teach kobudo, which is weapons, to black belts and above. And karate, I suppose what we teach is Koshinkan Karate, which means old and new Karate, the school of the old and new. So we teach old style karate from Kinjo Hiroshi and Kazuya Mitani in Japan.

We also teach modern sports-style karate, for WKF style. So, we have different silvers for kids to adults. So with the kids, we teach modern sports, safe karate. For the adults, and why we have so many adults and why we keep so many adults, is we teach practical karate, practical self-defense, which has joint locks, throws, vital point strikes, weapons, grappling, all of those fun things that you can't teach the kids. 

That's what can make us different to most other karate buffs is that ability to be able to teach both. So, the same principles that we use in our sports karate, apply in our traditional, original karate. That's one of the things that make us a little bit different. And we're all about karate. So karate, karate, karate – we don't have to teach any kickboxing classes, any fitness kickboxing or fitness-cardio karate. 

We don't do birthday parties, we do social events, but it has nothing to do with karate, that's building a community. But yes, we don't have to supplement our classes in having another martial art here. We don't teach Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or kickboxing or Muay Thai in our space. It's only karate.

GEORGE: And why is that important to you? Because I know you really love karate. I know that, and obviously, you know, we all love our styles and know our styles can be a bit biased. But I know you've got such an in-depth history of it coming through the family, we could probably talk about that – your dad, Bob, had started out the business what, a good 30, 35 years ago?

CHEYNE: 31 years ago, yeah, the Australian Karate Academy, but he started teaching in 1972. So, he was one of the first to teach kids in Australia. This is before the craze of The Karate Kid. But that's a whole other story. Yeah, I just love karate. There are so many more things that we are starting to learn more about the history of karate, things like the Japanese influence into Okinawan martial arts, and the Chinese influence into Okinawan martial arts. 

Cheyne McMahon Karate Business

Those things are being discovered now through guys that live in Japan and live in Okinawa, or live in Germany or live in America. So yeah, there's still more and more and more things that we're learning about the development of karate, how it came about. So that keeps me, you know, really interested. There's a competition side, which, which I like as well, and I did compete for a long time. 

But now my focus is more on developing some of my athletes, and also developing our understanding of karate, getting back to the older style of karate, less kids karate, and more, you know, genuine, old style, real original, dento karate. I started when I was four and every job, everything I've ever done in my life, almost everything is key around karate. My holidays based on karate, where I go, the countries I visited have all been basically built around karate. 

GEORGE: I love that. Even though you're building a business, you're not deviating from your passion at all, you really just want to stay on the path. And so I want to play the opposite of that – is, do you see it, like, do you see it beneficial to have a different style for you? Or will it completely just sidetrack you from your passion and your focus of karate?

CHEYNE: Well, one of the things that we do is a two-week trial. So everybody, it doesn't matter if you've done karate before, everybody completes a two-week trial. If Little Johnny is a bad seed, then someone within the two weeks will ask him not to come back or if he's disrupting the class, if he's there to have fun and not learn karate, then we won't accept him into our club. 

Sometimes we stop enrollments, if the class is too full, we'll stop enrollments, and then we'll take enrollments for when there is space available in the class. So, that's one of the things that I do to ensure that what we're teaching is what I want to teach. You know, there are some karate or martial art schools that want as many as they can. 

Look, I want many too, you know, I want to teach quality karate to many people, but I'm not going to take people who aren't there to learn karate. Learning my karate, our style of karate, that's first and foremost, not 1500 students or a million dollars. It's karate first, business second. How can I say, but a business is a very close second sometimes.

GEORGE: Yeah, of course. I mean, it's the business that allows you to have the passion, and well, to live your passion, right? Because without that income supplying for it, then you don't want to be a struggling instructor as well, that, you know, you've got to go to work the day job and then put money in here, and then your life becomes complicated.

CHEYNE: Well, yeah, done that. So, now all my focus is karate, whereas before, maybe 30% karate, 70% work. So now, you know, I understand that some only want karate for the second or third or fourth part of their life, but for me, it is 100% part of my life. So, I can teach as many people as I can, the karate that I've, you know, spent 35 years developing and, yeah, the more the merrier in as long as their drive is also karate and not, you know, being silly.

And I think, you know, we've had to ask some people not to come back, you know, whether they're white belt or brown belt or black belt.

GEORGE: How do you approach that? And what are sort of your, what are your benchmark values that you stick by? And if somebody crosses that line, they're out the door? What is that line? How does that line look?

CHEYNE: Well, for kids, it's quite easy. You can, I can see, mostly the parents pull them out, because they can see, you know, little Johnny is there for the games, not, not the karate. So while we have fun in karate, karate is not itself fun. It's hard work. It's repetitive, it's tiring, it's not games. So, with the kids, the majority of the class, 80% of the class is karate, bang-bang-bang-punch-punch-punch-move-move-move. 20% is fun for the kids, because you still have, they're still kids, you still have to give the kids high fives and positive reinforcement. 

You're not just teaching karate, you're also impacting the person's life, on how they deal with individual sport. They're learning values there on hard work and reward, whereas team sport's different. So, the individual activity or school sport, you still need to give positive reinforcement, positive views, to especially kids, especially kids' high fives, man, we give so many high fives. So, what was the question?

GEORGE: I don't know. But I have another one. And the question is, how do you know you cross? Sorry, the question was, how do you know if you cross the line? My follow-up question was on that, if you don't classify karate as a sport, what do you classify it as that? 

But back to the first question on the values. So, what is sort of your values, a benchmark of the line? And you mentioned, if they cross the line on, you know, they're just there for fun and games, that's easy. What else? What else is sort of really important for like, go-to rules or values that have got to be abided by?

CHEYNE: If they're not a positive influence into the dojo, you know, if they're constantly talking or draining other people as well, distracting other people from their own learning, being a bad partner. That is a big one. Especially in our adult classes, 90% of an adult class is partner work. It's not up and down drills, it's partner work. 

Also, karate is practice at home by yourself, practice at the dojo with Partners. I think modern karate has it reversed – it's 90% of solo practice at the dojo, which should really be 90% partner work, but anyway. So, you need to be a good partner, a partner that your partner wants to train with. If they don't want to train with you, then I will have a word with you. Especially with the adults and the kids as well. If you are, you know, an annoying kid whose elbows go out, then you know, you will get a warning. There are things that we look for – genuinely nice people, people that you want to hang out with.

GEORGE: Yeah. So if you can invite them over to your home, that's a good sign. And if you cringe at that idea, it is probably a bad idea.

CHEYNE: Yeah, nobody comes to my house, though.

GEORGE: No, of course not. So, on clarifying karate, you mentioned that you don't clarify karate as a sport. What do you clarify karate as?

CHEYNE: Well, I think there's sporting elements in karate, for sure. Especially modern karate, anything from 1936 onwards, I would probably classify that as a sports karate, where the intention are the activities to build strength and muscle and speed in a competitive environment. 

So, I would consider karate to be a self-defense program, whether that's weapons, or empty hands for lack of a better word. I consider karate to be first a combat system, self-defense, for sure, rather than a sport. I don't like the idea of karate as a sport because it takes away the like, how lethal some of the techniques are, and the intention of the techniques, you know, piercing somebody's eyes, for example, groin ups. You can't do that in any sport, but you can do that in karate. So, in that light, karate is considered as a sport, I think it waters down the original intention of karate.

GEORGE: Gotcha. So, okay to be used as a sport, but when the sport becomes the focus, then everything starts to deteriorate.

CHEYNE: Yeah, yeah, I mean, there is sports karate, and that's fine. That's just not, not what I like, you know, I don't like I didn't like the emphasis just on the sporting events. Yeah, I mean, everybody's got their own tastes, and how they compete as well for a long time. And we have competitors, but 90% of the people that join my dojo or join a dojo is to learn self-defense, not to compete for Australia at the Olympics. I think a lot of dojo do a disservice by not teaching proper self-defense. 

You know, they teach modern Japanese karate where they move up and down the floors, doing 50 punches and upper walls and roundhouse kicks – they are absolutely of no use to do any, for any self-defense. So, if you're advertising for sports karate, then yeah, go for it, but they all advertise self-defense karate, and I think I think they're lying. 

GEORGE: Gotcha. Okay. Want to talk a bit more about that – that's cool. I'm having to go there. Like, I mean, if there's things that are completely against your point of view, and this is a podcast, right, we have open discussion. I've never put two martial artists together that actually agree on the same point. It's rare, of course, but hey, but that's what makes it beautiful, right?

There's diversity in opinion and its styles and everything else. But I like exploring what really pisses you off about it? You know? Maybe I've never asked that question what really pisses you off about, you know, in the industry or about different marketing or programs. It's time to let it out, Shane, it's your time to let it out right here.

CHEYNE: What annoys me is when I see people, yeah, advertising for self-defense, and all they are doing is what we call 3K karate. So, Katoki E-Kumite. It's karate that was developed for schoolchildren 100 years ago they're teaching as self-defense. That karate is originally for school kids – attacks to the eyes became punches to the body. Joint locks were taken out because they weren't safe for kids, of course, throws gone, all of the wrap on the close-in self-defense, or the self-preservation, the really dirty karate, the dirty side of, of combat was taken out to teach to children. 

And I appreciate that, and that's what we teach to kids. But people teaching that to adults, and calling it self-defense, or calling it traditional karate? It's not – it is modern, watered down children's karate, and that annoys me. What makes my dad different is in the 80s, he kept asking questions.

Why? Why are we punting to the body? What is it? What is the original ideal? Why? Why, why, why? So, he started researching and talking to people outside of Queensland, outside of Australia, started getting answers. Whereas people are still doing the same thing as their instructor did years ago, without questioning why.

You are just teaching ‘that's how my instructor taught us'. Well, your instructor learnt sports, modern sports, and children’s karate. And they're trying to adapt it to self-defense, and you can't, you can't unless you peel back the layers and understand the original intention of the technique. The original intention of why, why a block to the body became, should have really been a block to the face. You know, fingers to the eyes became punches to the body. Head butts, all of the really cool things that all of the Krav-Maga, self-defense experts are taught. 

But really, people aren't teaching that in karate. Not everybody – there are some, definitely. There's a deep growing list of people who are doing it. But we've been doing it for 30 years, and then people come here. Yeah. That grinds my gears.

GEORGE: That's great. Anything else that you need to do you need to share?

CHEYNE: Nah, I'm okay for now. 

GEORGE: Cool. All right, great. Perfect. Let's change gears just a little bit. Right? And get back to, get back to your business.

CHEYNE: So positive.

GEORGE: All right, yeah. We either gained a lot of listeners there, or lost a few. But that's, that's great, either way. So, just back on your business, right? So I mean, lots of change, two years. I mean, if you look at two years, right, two years, and going from 110 students to 340. 

So that's tripling your business in three years. I think it's important to always sometimes look at that, right? Because, you know, everybody wants, maybe some people want a bigger school, some people don't, some people want a good, thriving business, but want to stick to their core values of karate, or whatever your style might be. So, tripling your business in two years, man, well done. 

CHEYNE: Thank you!

GEORGE: Well done. What do you do differently now, than you did back when you were around 100 students?

Cheyne McMahon Karate Business

CHEYNE: How I schedule the classes are different, the layout of the classes. I want everybody at the end of the class to be sweating and smiling. Actually, I heard that of somebody, I can't remember if it was a couple, maybe a year and a half ago, and when it just clicked with me, sweating and smiling at the end, whether you're a four year-old, or an 84 year-old, you know that should be the emphasis when they're leaving the class. So, how we structure the classes are a little bit different. 

So, we do like, at the end, it's got to be not a hard workout, but something physical – back, punch, punching for the kids. Running, running, running, punching, punching, punching. In the middle of the class is the core basis of the lesson. Whether we're doing Kata or Qian for kids or e-Kumite or break falls or whatever that we're doing in the class, that's the cool part, the end of the class has got to be fun and fitness. So, that's one aspect. 

Another aspect that we do differently is how we schedule appointments with people. So, when somebody inquires, we book an appointment through an app, they come in, I run them through exactly how the classes run, the fees, how much the fees are, what's expected of them as members, how the gradings work, any extra money that they might have to pay for at some stage, the belt system, everything that they will need to know for the next 10 years of learning. There's different instructors, you know, more instructors, more instructors, you just cannot have enough instructors. 

If you think you have enough instructors, you need more, you need to be developing instructors. So, we've got a group of four or five middle grade adults that are just learning how to teach karate, not to, they're not out there teaching classes, but they're taking little five minute segments of a couple of people learning how to teach karate, so I identify them as future instructors. Everything organized like, man, I've never been so organized in my life. 

We have a 12-month calendar (that you helped me with) set up, so all the gradings are set. They know when the color gradings are, when the black belt gradings are on, you know, a competition tournament for them to be on, they know when we're running marketing, massively marketing, a budget and marketing windows at two weeks before school holidays, and then a week after school holidays. Everything is all set out. It's all ready to go. We've got a calendar that I'm constantly looking at and being organized. That's one of my buzzwords, organized. 

Yeah, so all of those things, we just have systems in place where I don't have to be at the dojo every day, or instructors that can take the classes, you know, come in and just do a couple of admin stuff. You know, just setting everything up. It took a while, but the dojo is running really smooth, really smooth at the moment. That's a big difference. Everything is organized. A Christmas party we had last year, I think by booking in August, so we already had everything organized. The Christmas party, all we had to do was just turn up, was all paid for, organized, food. We had a 180-something turnout for the Christmas party. And yeah, just those things – gradings, everybody logs on for the grading. 

So, we use an app where people pay for the grading as well. So, the two days before the grading, it stops. You can't book after the grading because I've got to organize belts. But people pay for the grading and they book themselves in for the grading. So, then I just have a look to see who's in the grading. So, having that just makes it a lot easier. Rather than constantly emailing Johnny – ‘Hey, Johnny, are you coming to the grading?' If Johnny's not registered, Johnny's not grading.

GEORGE: Great, yeah, I think, you know, one thing that I think could help anyone because it's sometimes when you go into growth mode, you're very ad-hoc, and you're very reactive, and you're doing whatever you can to just get to a point. But then when you start refining, one thing that's really helped me, is having that sort of marketing that you mentioned that we helped you with, is that marketing calendar. Thinking is hard, and it is, that's why most people just don't think, right? Because it's a hard thing to do. 

But if you know, you're going to have to plan this year, and you just you do the thinking once  and you map out what needs to be done, then now you're just getting on the train tracks and you're kind of, you know, on the treadmill, just running, just doing what you worked out what was the best plan. 

Obviously, things are going to come up and you're going to have to shuffle a few days here and there, but at least you got your core plan 80% done. And, you know, you know what needs to happen next. And that's how you get ahead of the game and you're not running, you know, two days before Mother's Day trying to figure out, ‘All right, well, what can I be doing? What? What's happening? What promotion's going out?'

CHEYNE: That's right. Yeah. And having a budget for those things as well, for the marketing plan, rather than having to scramble for a couple of 1000 bucks or ‘I can only spend 200 bucks', having that everything all mapped out Mother's Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day, a show day or whatever you want to call it, Christmas, all those things all mapped out very easy. What worked well last year, and what didn't work well?

GEORGE: Cool. So, two last things I want to ask, you know, with your growth, you know, yep, marketing and so forth, but there's obviously a lot of retention, that's working. And so first up, quick chat just about what, what's keeping your students coming back?

CHEYNE: Well, one thing we brought in – is the after chat and the white belt grading. So, this has been really good. So, white belts after a certain amount of time, will get an email, maybe four weeks, or once they've done the trial, and it became a full member, and they'll get an email to come to a white belt only grading. So, it's a grading only for white belts. 

So, we did one on the weekend, we had five kids and three adults. So, it's only 20 minutes, half an hour. And I plan it on a Saturday after the normal classes, I'm already there. And it's just a little intro into how the gradings work. So, they go from white belt up to the first grade. Still, it's almost a half grade, semi-grade, to keep them motivated to come to the next grade. And that way, they're not going to be overawed when they come to the next grade and they already know what the process is. 

So, we talk a little bit about what to expect in the grading. So, that retention has been fantastic. So, bringing that in, for our adults, for the class, the first hour is all grades, and then the next half hour is 7th Kyu and above, which is about nine months of training. So, after about nine months to a year of training, you can come into the advanced class as well. So, those beginners can see the progression to artists, what I want to do, I want to start aspiring, I want to start learning with weapons. I want to start doing more Kata. 

So yeah, those retention tools have been really good for us. And also instructors, instructors, instructors, instructors. Just can't have enough, honestly, like, you can't do it all yourself. And that is why I failed at my you know, my last, not last day job, but so when I was like, 10 years ago, when I was teaching full time as well. I tried to do it all myself, you know, I was doing 30 classes, and it's killing yourself. So, you need other instructors, you need to train them and train them well. So, they're fantastic retention tools, because they are there talking to people. And they're another face of the dojo.

GEORGE: Yeah, and I guess I want to highlight this, because I recall a conversation where this was a big obstacle, because as we're talking about your passion for karate, that comes with a whole new expectation. And I recall, there was a time where it was really hard for you to let go of that, because it's very hard to match your standard, and pretty hard to match your standard means that instructors have a big role to fill, big shoes to go step into. And so, if anybody is struggling with that, what was sort of the point where you decided, well, I've got to let go?

CHEYNE: Well, it's the only way to grow the club, realistically. I took a step back and realized, ‘oh, I want to teach the instructors, I want to teach the teachers'. So, I would love dojo all around Australia, where I just teach the instructors. That would be my goal. So then, the more instructors you can teach, the more students they can teach and the more my karate style lineage, whatever you want to call it, is being learned. But yeah, you know, a big wake up was when I didn't want to go to teach. I realized I need other people to teach me. 

So all of our instructors are adult instructors, or instructors who are adults, not those who just teach adults, but we've got three instructors for our kids program. And I don't have to be there. I don't have to go to the dojo, I don't have to teach them, because they already know what to do. They're all black belts, all Queensland champions, or they've represented Queensland in sports karate.

And they're all uni students, the adult instructors, some family members, which is fantastic, but apart from them, we've got two nidan, two second dan, one fifth dan, third dan, and a couple of shodan, first of all black belts, who are assistant instructors. This Friday night we're doing instructors course, yeah. You just can't do it all yourself.

So, I didn't let go. I just made sure that what they're teaching is what I would teach. So, everything is structured, and there is some individuality into what you teach, because everybody is different. I'm different from my dad, same jokes, but, you know, my karate might be a little bit newer than my dad's karate. But that's just because of, you know, I'm around a different sort of group than my dad was.

So, there is individuality in the class and what and how they teach it, but the technique, the kind of, the principles, how we move, how we kick, every punch, you know, how we throw, how we put a joint lock on, they're all the same. They're all the same. Just how you deliver it might be a little bit different. Their jokes might not be as good as mine.

GEORGE: Of course not. How could they?

CHEYNE: The punchline, the timing. 

GEORGE: Exactly. So, on that, you touched on goals. And so, what is the big vision for Australian Karate Academy?

CHEYNE: Well, during the 90s, my dad had 30, that's 30 clubs around Australia. I would like to have 31.

GEORGE: Just because competitiveness, is that right?

CHEYNE: So, you know, a lot of people were drawn to my dad, because he started teaching different aspects of karate, throws, and cooler weapons. All of these things were unknown in the 80s, early 90s, and my dad had already started doing it and teaching. So, we had a lot of people join us from different clubs, they might have a little club, and they joined, they needed some direction on, one, how to teach karate. 

You know, what to pick in karate, how to get back to what you wanted to teach people. There were a lot of clubs that didn't really know what to do, they were just teaching what they did when they learnt. So, I'd like to do, to build, and to help build more clubs. Using this, using our karate and the same marketing approach, the same idea that helped us grow. But still teaching quality karate. You know, that is my number one, teaching quality karate. And so yeah, 31 clubs, 2000 members.

GEORGE: Love it. So, if anybody wants to jump on that journey with you, how would they reach out to you?

CHEYNE: Yeah, Facebook, there's only one Shane McMahon with the c, h, e, y, n, e, so you don't have to look anywhere else. Just type in Cheyne McMahon and on Facebook, or you can jump to our Facebook page, which is Australian Karate Academy. And yeah, or shoot me an email, australiankarateacademy@gmail.com, very easy to find.

GEORGE: Love it. Well, we won't link your email address on the podcast, just because I don't think you want to purchase more Gis and more things from foreign countries. So, we'll skip that, but right, so, easy to find, Cheyne McMahon on Facebook. Cheyne, always great chatting to you, love watching your journey from the sideline and I think we need to chat a little sooner than two years, again? 

CHEYNE: Yeah! 

GEORGE: I'd say, what's the next benchmark for you? You said at the beginning of the year, 400? But I think you wanted students, but I think you're almost going to be there real soon. What's the big benchmark?

CHEYNE: Second dojo, in Brisbane next year. I think we're going to get to a point in our current dojo where we can teach or where I want to teach, you know, I don't want 800 in a 101 class teaching shit karate. Or karate, you know, I don't want that. So I think at this, my current location, 400, 450 would be a good amount, a manageable amount. 

So whether I set up the timetable, we still have, we still have extra room for more classes, more classes. And we've actually expanded since I last spoke to you too – we've taken another 50 square meters and we're hopefully taking another 35 square meters, just to open up the verge a bit more. Yeah, so that's the second dojo in Brisbane, where I can actually, that rule, we need to open two extras. Then we have three dojo. Right? You're talking about, what, that rule, George?

GEORGE: Yes. That was Robert DePalma that said that.

CHEYNE: Yeah, so you need, so no, extra two dojo in Brisbane. So, we have a dojo in Sydney, we just opened a second dojo in Sydney as well.

GEORGE: Perfect. So depending on when you're listening to this, we'll chat in 10 months from now. And we'll have a look at how that's going. No pressure. Well, pressure has been good for you. So, pressure.

CHEYNE: I'll just do it.

GEORGE: Just do it. There we go.

Cool. Cheyne, thanks so much for showing up. I'll catch you on the next one.

 

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

108 – 4 Steps To Moving Your Martial Arts Business Into Momentum

As entrepreneurs we can be our own enemy and sometimes sabotage our own progress. Here’s how to get out of your own way and make progress in your martial arts business.

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IN THIS EPISODE:

  • How to get a clear game plan for your martial arts business
  • Hitting your marketing goals faster
  • Pushing through comfort zones
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

If it's uncomfortable, there's got to be something behind that, right? And how do we go about fixing that? Does that mean it's something that I've got to fix internally? Or do I need to get advice or help from someone that knows how to navigate through that?

Hey, George here, hope you're well. So, do you often get in your own way trying to get to where you want to go? Let me get some context. First up, whenever we want to go into a new direction or we set some big goals, maybe you hire a coach, or you try and get help. 

So you set this big goal and you want to achieve this thing. More often, we are the ones that sort of get into our own way and resist to go into the new direction. 

So, what got me thinking of this, we've got what we call a Game Plan session. Every time we start working with new school owners, we do a Game Plan session, and it’s all about how do we set the big vision, not just the, “yep, I want those extra students, you know, that's going to get me to X”. 

But, what is the big vision that you actually had when you thought of starting this business? So, big vision, 12 month goals, and then projects and what you got to get done next week. So, it's a great session, and almost everyone that we work with, refer to this session as sort of a pivotal point – as it gives them clarity and knowing the path that they need to go to get to where they want to go. 

But, that's all good – now the session is done. And that's where the problems come up, because you've done the session, but now you actually got to do the things that are going to get you to where you want to go. 

And that means that you're going into a new territory – and new territory brings up anxiety. If you look at four stages of getting to where you want to go – first up, is acknowledging that there's a problem that needs fixing, that's the easy part. 

Well, it can and can't be – you got to obviously reflect and look at what is the actual problem. And sometimes, you know, and sometimes you don't, you know, you might just have a problem, well, “hey, we need to get more students”, you know, that's the big overall problem. 

But deeper inside, there could be other things going on – your belief system about selling, or how you feel about selling, or maybe you're getting tons of leads, but you're just struggling on the conversion part. So, there's always going to be layers to where the problem lies, and that's where coaching can really help. 

First up, there's a problem, you acknowledge that you got a problem. Now, the second part, and the third, and the fourth is not so much spoken about? Well, the second part mostly, and that is the anxiety that comes up of having to do a new thing. 

The anxiety of, “alright, well, I've acknowledged I've got a problem, but now I'm going to actually do something about it”. And so that means you got to break habits, and you got to look at things differently. And, number three, you've got to accept a new solution, a new way of doing things. And that's where a lot of discomfort comes, because, as human creatures, we want to stay in our comfort zone, we don't really as a race want to venture into the discomfort – you know, naturally we're looking for comfort. 

So, moving from anxiety to new solutions – that pushes us out of our comfort zone. And this is where I see a lot of obstacles come up, right, because you fight like hell to stay in your comfort zone. 

And now, you've got the plan, you've got the solution, but it's bringing so much anxiety that you're not showing up to the calls or you're avoiding the contact or not replying to messages, because you're busy, but you're busy on stuff that's not helping your business grow forward. You're kind of just spinning your wheels. 

And then number four is the most important. Well, you know, once you've actually accepted this new way of doing things that's going to get you to where you want to go. Now, you got to actually make it a habit, and you got to actually enforce the habit to get it going. 

So, what can you get out from that? Well, I guess we can all reflect – where are we uncomfortable? Where are we uncomfortable in our business, and what are we doing about it? 

For me, I really try and well, if it's uncomfortable, there's got to be something behind that, right? And how do we go about fixing that? Does that mean it's something that I've got to fix internally? Or do I need to get advice or help from someone that knows how to navigate through that? 

Anyway, hope that's helpful. I'll see you in the next video. 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

34 – Need More Martial Arts Students? These 2 Free Resources Might Help

Get access to a free martial arts business case study and a online workshop to attract the right students.

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION 

Hi, this is George Fourie from martiaartsmedia.com. This week, I have an awesome announcement for you, and it comes with two awesome gifts that are going to help you grow your martial arts business, especially on the internet.

Gift number 1: gift number 1 is an eleven-page case study that I did about a campaign that we ran in December with Paul Veldman, which generated 96 paid trial sign ups, within the two weeks. Now, I said it with caution, because I'm not giving this case study to you with the expectation that you're going to generate that, but there are core components and strategies recorded in this case study that is going to reveal how you can apply these same strategies to campaigns that you are doing and possibly, if you get 20 or 30 or 40 extra sign ups through the process, it will definitely be worth it and it's gold.

Martial Arts Paid Trial - Paul VeldmanIt's free, you can download it right now at martialartsmedia.com/casestudy and this breaks down just different components, different triggers that you can use and how you can structure your campaigns to get good results with your paid trial campaigns. This type of campaign is maybe not something you can run consistently, like an evergreen what we call, an evergreen campaign, meaning it's continuous, so this is really for generating that rush of sign ups.

So there's a lot of good things in there, the great psychology of just the buying process and I put a lot of time into this. It’s not just about Paul's results and experience, I've really explored the topic with a whole bunch of people and a whole bunch of martial arts experts through our martial arts media business podcast. And through that, I was able to gather other insights that you can take and contribute to this. So, that's gift number one: martialartsmedia.com/casestudy, you can download that now. That will take you to gift number two, all right?

Gift number two is a live online workshop that we're going to be hosting and this is really to give you that 30,000-foot bird's’ eye view of how the online platforms work and how you can set yourself up for the long run. This is going to teach you how to become the go-to martial arts school, how to position yourself as the authority within the martial arts business space, or I’d rather say not martial arts business space, but martial arts business within your community. And there are certain things that you can apply that is going to help you do that with putting on valuable content and I'm not just talking about running ads, this is way, way behind running ads, OK?

If you're just going to be running ads, you're always just going to be running ads. But if you take on a different approach and you know that you're going to be in business for the long turn, which of course you are, that's why you've taken on this journey, then there are things you can do with content marketing and different strategies that are going to pay off for you right now, but even more in the long run. And this is information I want to give to you, this is my life's work, I've dedicated the past… I wouldn't say life, but the past ten years to learning this type of online stuff and we've helped a lot of martial arts business owners transform their businesses through these methods.

But the one thing I do find, and I see across the internet is, when you're trying to go down this online route, you pick things where you can. You’re in this Facebook group and you grab someone's information – that's cool, I’ll grab on that idea. And you grab something here and you want to go with that. And a lot of times, you've got to be careful with that, because you can hit a win, but you can also go down the wrong track, because sometimes the idea you’re getting is not vetted and the person doesn't really have that much experience, but they are free to give advice and everybody's advice looks equal in a Facebook group.

martial arts business

So it’s that and then, does the actual concept apply to your business and your audience? Yes, it might apply to your martial arts business, but does it apply to your actual audience and how they respond and their buying behaviours on the internet and their perception of martial arts in general in your area. So there's a lot of components that you need to consider.

So this web class is about you discovering what that is, really being able to dig down into your target market, understand how you're going to engage with them, and not just by putting ads in front of them, but by putting strategic content in front of them that's going to attract them now and in the long run and be that go-to martial arts business. If you think of a soda drink you think Coca-Cola – that's how it must be for people, they must be able to have that clear association. If they think martial arts, your brand name is what's going to come clear to mind.

So this is what we’re going to talk about. This is going to be live; it’s going to be interactive. I’m going to answer all your questions, I'm going to help you make a few core transformational decisions on where you should take your business through the internet, not through your training and so forth. Obviously, you've got to have that in place, you've got to be running awesome classes to facilitate that. If you position yourself as the authority, then you've got to be the authority with your classes.

So this is not about the big smoke screen and putting out information that's not true and that doesn't resonate: you've got to have all the ducks in a row. So if you've got those ducks in a row and you are headed that way and all you need is that clarity of a strategy, something that you can take and apply and grow your school through a sophisticated solid online presence, then this workshop is for you.

So, how are you going to get to the workshop? Again, just go down under case study martialartsmedia.com/casestudy and once you've downloaded the case study, it will take you to the online class registration page. You'll get registered and you'll receive a few emails from us to remind you when the date is coming up and we’ll be good to go.

So I hope you enjoy the case study: please leave a comment wherever you downloaded this, whether it’s on Facebook or on our website, let us know what you think about it, how you liked it and I look forward to seeing you on the web class and helping you with your martial arts business.

Thanks, speak to you soon.

martialartsmedia.com/casestudy

 

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

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

32 – 30 Tips For Martial Arts Business Owners From Industry Experts (Part 2)

A continuation of the 31st episode, here’s the second batch of tips from martial arts experts that are equally valuable as the first.

martial arts business tips

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • How traveling can help widen your knowledge in running a martial arts club
  • The benefits of hiring top-level instructors to teach at your martial arts school
  • The importance of marketing and matching it to the right prospect at the right time
  • The advantages of having your school accredited by the government
  • Why it pays to invest on your martial arts premise and facilities
  • How to overcome tall poppy syndrome
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

Commit to your passion: if you want to succeed with your martial arts business, just go all in focus on that.

Hi, this is George Fourie and welcome to another MAM Business Podcast, episode number 32. And we are continuing from last week. Last week’s episode, which was 25 tips, 25 tips for martial arts business owners from industry experts, part 1. And this week, we're going over to part 2. So we are working our way through episodes number 15 to number 30 and we’re going to be covering tips from those. So, as always, you can find the show notes on martialartsmedia.com/32, the number 32. And that’s it. I’m going to jump straight into part 2.

26 – Get out of your comfort zone, travel, and train with people that are at a much better level than you.

Starting out with number 26, Justin Sidelle, who is one of the head coaches at Bali MMA. And if you want to go take an awesome tropical holiday combined with awesome training with top-level martial artists, Bali MMA should be on the top of your list. For me, it’s again, here in Perth, where I’m based, it’s a really quick holiday, it’s a bit of a common holiday to go to Bali, because everybody just does it and it’s cheaper to get on a plane and go to Bali for a weekend, then to drive down south a few hours. So it’s a very common holiday, but it’s a very diverse place. And you can have multiple experiences: if you’re into surfing, awesome beaches, awesome surfing, there’s great shopping, there’s great entertainment, and of course, Bali MMA.

So if you want a very diverse holiday on a tropical island, put this on the top of your list. You’ve got Justin Sidelle, who’s one of the head coaches – I believe it was started by two brothers, Anthony and Andrew Leone and you also have Tiffany Van Soest, who is an undefeated glory world kickboxing champion, Muay Thai champion and the tip of that would be, something that Justin Sidelle mentioned in the interview was, when Tiffany walks onto the floor, everybody shuts up and listens and takes note. And training with her just lifts the game and lifts the level of everybody on the mats.

So that would be the tip: go train with people that are at a much higher level than you, get out of your comfort zone, travel, and train with people that are at a much better level than you and obviously learn from that. And I know that’s something most martial artists do, but hey: go do it on a nice tropical island, why not?

27 – Give back to the community.

Number 27, something that’s a big part for Justin and their team, is to give back to the community. And they work with a couple of orphanages and do a lot of donations and do a lot of community work as well. They’re living in the tropics and they are giving back to their community.

28 – Hire top level instructors to teach at your martial arts school.

Alright, moving on to 28 was from episode 17 with Con Lazos, and the topic was recruiting externally. You know, most martial arts school owners rely on grooming students to become their instructors, to become their first black belt, but if you don’t have time for that, Con’s suggestion is, get people that already have a following, or an established top level instructors and recruit them to start teaching at your school. And one of those people that do teach at Con Lazos’ school is Richard Norton, who has featured in multiple and multiple movies and then his home ground when he is based in Australia. That was tip number 28.

29 – Groom students to be the best versions of themselves.

Number 29, groom students to be the best versions of themselves. So invest into your students to become the best person they can and that is through education, through teaching them how to be a better instructor and all the rest.

30 – When things get tough, believe in the technique.

Alright, number 30 from episode 18: Paul Schreiner. And Paul Schreiner is a head coach for Marcelo Garcia Academy in New York. The tip was, when things get tough, believe in the technique. If the technique is going to work, it’s going to work against anyone. It’s not going to fall apart, even if your opponent is bigger and stronger than you. And Paul was put onto me by Jess Fraser, who trained at Marcelo Garcia Academy and Jess obviously travels all over the world and trains with a lot of people and the one thing that stood out for her, was Paul, his coaching ability and his ability to communicate martial arts in a systematic way that’s easy to understand and grasp and learn from. And his take on jiu-jitsu, the idea that you’re working towards is perfection, this excellence perfection that isn’t attainable, but the excellence, the near perfection is something that we can experience and just try to sharpen ourselves. I really liked that, that was awesome.

31 – “Jiu-jitsu is the marriage or the union of two things: the technique and the will to win.”

All right, 31 on coaching: as a governing principle, I’m always trying to strip down, rather than elaborate whatever I’m doing. A lot of times, in the past, I was given credit I didn’t deserve as a good coach. When I’m looking back, I don’t think I was, because I was a good explainer of moves. And I think that’s almost one of the least important things about coaching now: being the teacher, being the explainer of moves. It’s more about getting your student to be able to do it and understanding how the moves connect and the art of redirecting your opponent's attack against them. And a cool quote from BJ Penn: jiu-jitsu is the marriage or the union of basically two things: the technique and the will to win. Alright, awesome.

32 – Invest in your own premises and property.

Number 32: episode number 19, with Fari Salievski. This was the second episode with Fari: use your martial arts business as an avenue to invest in other things, such as your own premises and property.

33 – If you’re not doing recurring billing, get onto that.

Number 33, the start of the recurring billing in Australia and how essential it is to your business.

Number 33, if you’re not doing recurring billing, get onto that. This episode was a lot about the start of how recurring billing started within Australia and how Fari spearheaded that movement.

34 – Keep your marketing simple, don’t hype.

Number 34: keep it simple, don’t hype. Try and minimize your debt, minimize unnecessary expense.

35 – Don’t let the tall poppy syndrome get you down.

All right, number 35, episode 20 with Kevin Blundell: big topic, hard to combat tall poppy syndrome. And I’m lining up an interview with, this is going to be a big topic because it’s funny how the world works: when you’re successful, everybody wants to drag you down and wants to insult you and criticize your technique and criticize your business and you’ve gone McDojo. Everybody would rather almost see you fail or be mediocre in a way. And a big topic was getting over that whole tall poppy syndrome. Don’t let the tall poppy syndrome get you down and move at your own pace, do what’s right for you, your students and your family.

Kumiai Ryu Martial Arts System

36 – Undersell your membership but over-deliver.

Number 36: undersell your membership but over-deliver.

37 – Have your school government accredited.

Number 37: government accreditation creates credibility and a point of differentiation. That’s a strong one, especially if you’re surrounded by schools that are kind of backyard schools, and look, hey, this is not a negative if you’re starting in a back yard. It depends obviously on your goals and what you want, and maybe it’s a stepping stone for you. But if you want a point of differentiation and that’s what this podcast is about, about giving you that edge, then why don’t you go for something like that. Why don’t you get a government accreditation and have something to show that you are qualified to work with kids and manage kids within your facilities.

38 – Remove trial intros completely and replace it with paid trials.

Number 38, remove trial intros completely to simplify the onboarding process and replace it with paid trials. One thing that Kevin and his team at Kumiai Ryu do not do is free intros. They do not a free intro at all, they offer a paid trial system, normally $49 for two weeks and that is their trial. The trial is, pay and train and work on the conversion from that point.

39 –  Match your marketing message to seasons celebrations.

Number 39 was by myself and I spoke a bit about, match your marketing message to seasons celebrations, and this is something that Paul Veldman already actually covered. I want to extend on that and the tip would be, one marketing channel is not enough. And Dan Kennedy is a top copywriter that always used to say, one is the most dangerous number in business because remove one and you have nothing. Have two, and you still have something. I would say, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, because if that basket goes, what have you got left? What have you got to fall on? Have multiple channels of marketing happening that you can rely on.

Yes, it’s good to focus, obviously put your focus on what’s hot, Facebook marketing. Which is hot right now, but make sure you have backups. Because they’re not always going to be running smoothly as well. You might be running a great campaign this month and it dies off a bit, so when you have multiple avenues of marketing happening, then you’re always covered for the downtime in whatever channel it is that you’re working with.

40 – Keep your marketing message clear and concise.

Number 40, keep your marketing message clear and concise. Use strict deadlines with your offers, time and date. If you say something ends tomorrow, make it 5 pm tomorrow. Be strict on your deadlines.

41 – Bigger profits equals better facilities, better equipment, and a better service.

Number 41 from episode 23, Fari Salievski: bigger profits equals better facilities, better equipment, and a better service. And I’ll recap back to episode 20, where Kevin Blundell mentioned, if you are earning one dollar, you are in business. The backend of the conversation was, a lot of people charge $5 a class, or $10 a class, or they don’t charge a premium. But at the end of the day, when you’re charging a dollar versus a $100, you are in business.

Fari Salievski

And when you are in business and you’re providing a service, now you have an obligation to deliver, because somebody is paying for this service. So why not charge a decent premium and deliver a better service with better facilities, whatever it is that you do, upgrade your equipment, provide more staff on the mats, be able to do more with the bigger profits that you are making and provide a better service, which leads to better retention.

42 – Check your statistics.

Number 42, check your numbers. Are you paying up to $1500 per phone call to retrieve lost funds through your billing company? So keep a good eye on your numbers.

43 – Own your digital assets, your own website.

Number 43, from me on episode 24: own your digital assets, your own website. If knowledge is slowing you down, grab a page builder to speed things up, so don’t let it be the stick in the wheel. If you’re struggling to get going with your marketing, just do something, get something going. But at the end of the day, you want to be building assets and as you build assets in your business with equipment and facilities and location, you want to be doing the same with your online properties.

And the best way to do that is to focus on putting content, premium content on your website. Yes, they should go on Facebook and all these social channels, but your website is yours and it’s the one things that are going to be constant. Social media channels might come and go, their popularity might come and go, but your website, as long as your business is there, you’re going to have your domain name and that’s where you should be putting primary content.

44 – Ensure your marketing message is matched to the right prospect at the right time.

Number 44, episode 25: make sure your marketing message is matched to the right prospect at the right time. Are they ready for your offer, or are they not sold on martial arts yet? So we do a lot of this in our coaching, where we talk about the different levels of the buying cycle, where a person is at. And sometimes, a person is not ready for your offer. It’s great to go directly for the offer, but depending on your market and how people feel about martial arts, or if they’re not familiar with your brand, your marketing is going to have to stretch a bit further than just that offer. You’re probably going to have to put a lot more content out, to get, to sway people on the benefits of martial arts and to point out the problem that they have that martial arts can solve.

45 – Why not run a martial arts open day for an hour only?

Number 45, number 26, Darryl Thornton: run a martial arts open day for an hour only. And this focuses on the power of having an event based marketing them. Think about you running an open day and it’s 5,6 7, 8 hours long. Your staff start off on a high energy and then their energy drops and all of a sudden, you have people rock up when their energy is low, so there no structure into how things are happening, because people are arriving at different times, and unless you have a super sequenced structure for a solid 8 hours, people are just going to arrive at the wrong time for the wrong thing. So having an event based, where it starts at a certain time, everybody gets there at the same time, it follows a structure, and then at the end, you are able to present an offer. And that is how Darryl received more than 70 sign up son the day of his open hour.

martial arts open day

46 – Travel and widen your martial arts knowledge and skills.

Number 46, travel and grow your martial arts knowledge by experience in a different country with a different culture and widen your knowledge.

47 – Incentivise your prospects or students to the next level.

Number 47, Paul Veldman for the second time on the martial arts media business podcast: incentivise your prospects or students to the next level. If they take a paid trial, what is their reward for signing up now to create urgency? In their case, what they were doing, what they do is, remove their joining fee and if they do that within a certain amount of time, within their trial period, then they will waive the joining fee and that way creates a bit of urgency.

George Fourie Paul Veldman

48 – Reward your existing students with lock in prices.

Number 48, reward your existing students with lock in prices. This is something that was taught to Paul Veldman by Ridvan, Master Ridvan Manav from Australian Martial Arts Academy in Sydney. The concept is rewarding your existing students by locking in their membership fees. So whatever that fee was that they joined at, lock it in at that price and make it known that they are being rewarded for being a member by keeping the price the same. And that way, when people want to think about maybe quitting, sometimes they’re going to stick it out over that hurdle because they’re thinking, well, I might want to come back, but if I come back, it’s going to be more, and it just keeps people a bit more committed to their martial arts journey.

49 – Value reputation over money.

Number 49: reputation first, dollars second.

50 – Make sure that your branding resonates with your target market.

Number 50, episode 28, Matt Ball: make sure that your branding resonates with your target market. And the conversation started where the branding was all focused on a fighter type image, with skulls and everything and then they had a look back and after working with Dave Kovar and his team, they had a look back and realised that it’s not really something that’s going to gel with the mums and to bring in kids and so forth. So they changed all their branding and made sure that it resonates with a family environment. So for you, depending on what type of gym and school you run, make sure that your branding resonates with the image that you are trying to project out to the public.

Martial Arts Business

51 – Don’t turn your Dojo into a McDojo.

Number 51, if you associate success with a sleazeball salesman, you will never push yourself and potentially sabotage your success when it gets in reach.  That’s a deep topic because I hear a lot of people talk about that and say, you know, we’re just starting out and we want to be successful, but I don’t want to turn into a McDojo, I don’t want to be ripping people off. And it’s this kind of attitude, that it is noble to not be successful, it’s noble to not charge for the service that you provide. And at the end of the day, martial arts changes lives. It should be a lot more expensive, if people know the benefits, it’s life changing.  

I don’t think anybody should be ashamed about charging a premium, whatever that is within reason. I mean, look, there’s probably people that do rip people off, but I think people are too quick to jump to the McDojo conclusion and at the end of the day, I think it would rob you from yourself of being successful, because now you think, well, the minute I start making money, I’m going to be a McDojo. And everybody thinks I’m going to be McDojo.

By having that association, you end up sabotaging your success. And I’ve read something interesting in a book the other day, that we do everything for status. And the first part of it was, hang on: I don’t think so, I don’t do things for status. And because you think people do things for status, as in a way to have a fancy car or look good, but the reverse side of it is, people do things for status because they also don’t want to look bad. You don’t want to look like you being the loser as well, so status goes both ways. And a lot of people do things for status, so it’s a deep topic and I’m actually going to do an interview with someone next week, hopefully, but if it’s not next week, the week after. But we’ll go deep into this topic, about the association with success.

52 – Commit to your passion.

Number 52, episode 29, Stuart Grant: commit to your passion. If you want to succeed with your martial arts business, just go all in focus on that and make that work. And importantly, make sure that you’ve got your family on board with you, your partner, your wife, your loved ones. Make sure that they know that this is what you’re going to be doing, that they know there’s going to be a few obstacles to come through to go through, but this is the journey that you’re going to take and commit to it, go all in and work towards that success, which Stuart Grant does. Just go have a look at episode 29 and go look at the video tour of Westside MMA, it will blow your mind, it’s fascinating.

martial arts success

53 – Study marketing.

Alright, 53: study marketing. Stuart actually learned the skills of Google AdWords and Facebook marketing himself and this is something that not a lot of people take on and I take my hat off to him, especially the Google AdWords side, because I think you’ve got to be quite technical minded and you’ve got to really commit to learning these skills. Study marketing and look: if you need help with that kind of stuff, whether it’s hard to do it, you need some advice about it, or you’d like it done for you, then hit us up. Go to martialartsmedia.com and get in touch with us and see if we can help you with what you want to achieve. Moving on to the last episode and the last two tips.

54 – Travel and get yourself educated.

Number 54, Matt Wickham: if you’re not getting the martial arts coaching in your town, get in a car, drive. Get on a plane, and if you have to, it doesn’t matter where you have to travel, get yourself educated. If you’re not getting the education you need where you are, it’s time to broaden your horizons, start traveling.  Go visit Bali MMA, go visit matt in Echuca. Go travel to an event and get educated.

matt wickham

55 – Travel changes your perspective.

Alright, and the last one, 55: travel changes your perspective. It probably goes hand in hand with 54 and why not invite top martial artists to your school, so that your students get the same education. So if you’re not going to travel, make a plan. See what’s already happening. If a top name is traveling close by to your area, see what deal you can do. Maybe you can save some money and get top training at your location. And as the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.

There we go. I hope you enjoyed the top 55 tips from martial arts business owners and experts. For show notes, go to martialartsmedia.com/32 and I look forward to being back next week, I’ve got a great interview, a few great interviews lined up, so I look forward to that. I’ll be back with you soon, have a great week, chat soon – cheers.

 

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31 – 25 Tips For Martial Arts Business Owners From Industry Experts (Part 1)

We’re down to our 31st episode but this isn’t your typical podcast interview. This is a recap of the first 14 episodes, with tips from martial arts experts.

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • The first step you need to take to go full time in your martial arts business
  • Change this one thing on your website and your conversions will skyrocket
  • What it takes to manage a thriving martial arts business
  • Beginning with the end vision in mind
  • Knowing your market and matching your message to them
  • And more

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

TRANSCRIPTION

Hi, this is George Fourie, and welcome to another episode of the Martial Arts Media Business Podcast Episode 31. We are going to do something different today, which is a bit of a recap. And I'm going to split this into two parts. So we are up to number 14. So up to episode number 14, we're doing the recap. And I going to give you the top 25 learnings, findings, gold nuggets, whatever you want to call them from the first 14 episodes. So there are a lot of cool things in this episode.

I actually wanted to do this in one shot but I realized that there's a lot to talk about so

I'm breaking it up into two parts. In the next episode, we’ll probably have about 30 tips. So for now, there's the top 25 tips from the first 14 episodes and a lot of the message you'll see, a lot of things start to overlap, a lot of the message is in sync with some of the previous episodes.

And that's a good thing because when you hear people saying the same things, and these are successful business owners, then you know that this is gospel.

This are things that are working across the board. So pay attention to those things. So as always, the transcripts are available on https://martialartsmedia.com/31, the number 31. And I'm going to jump right into this and start off with number one. Here we go again.

So number one and episodes number 1, 2, and 3 were Phil Britten and Graham McDonnell from the WA Institute of Martial Arts.

1 – At some point you have to burn the bridges.

And what I was referring to, of course, is when you're running a full-time job and you try to build the gym on the side. At some point in time, something is going to have to give go.

Something is going to have to let go and you're going to have to burn the bridges at some point in time.

It's most likely not going to be a smooth transition. Most people take a lot of risks to go from a part-time business owner to a full-time business owner. So there's going to be some risks involved by taking that step but at some point, you're just going to have to cut the ties and just go flat out and say, “Alright! This is it I'm going all in. And when you doing that, you might be struggling for cash. You don't have support. And if you are struggling for cash, why don't you focus on private sessions, part-time sessions, do part-time session training during the day or whenever you have time and filling those gaps to boost the cash flow while you are transitioning to a full-time successful business owner.

2 – If you want to grow your school, stop doing everything yourself.

So invest in the systems and try and start putting the focus on your students and your instructors. That you can get out of the limelight out of your business. So this of course, depends on your model and how you want to structure things. All right, so number three and this sort of goes in with two but…

3 – Before opening your second school, why don't you take a holiday or travel away for a few weeks and see how your systems hold up.

And I know Tim Ferriss talks about becoming redundant and the way he does it is, if he wants to test systems and his business, you'll go away for a couple of months in a place where there's no internet and no nothing. And then he cannot take charge of everything himself. Obviously, you don't have to go something that's that extreme. But when you do an exercise like that you are forced to cut all ties.

So you have to let go. And that really forces you to look into your systems and how your business is set up so that you can take that next step. So valuable exercise to do; take more holidays and see if everything's in one piece when you get back and if it is not, you know where your systems are failing.

All right, point number 4. And this was the black belt story from Phil Britten. The story goes something like that and I'll get to the message right at the end of this but this is about…

4 – The Black Belt Story

“…a mum that spoke about the fee increase for the next level and the instructor said to her, “Look how about I do this for you. What have you invested in the last four years?” And let's just pick a figure say that was ten grand. So you invested $10,000 in the last four years with your child to do martial arts. And now they are a black belt. Now if I was to give you that $10,000 in cash that you would have to take away all the skills and all abilities and all the life lessons that your child has gained over this time, would you take the $10,000? And then the mum thinks and says, Not at all.

He said well let's double it. I'll give you $20,000. But if I give you twenty thousand dollars, you've got to take away all the life skills, the abilities and all the lessons that your child has learned while he has been learning martial arts and of course, she turns it down.”

So the moral of the story, of course, is put the focus on the value that martial arts delivers and not the cost.

All right, so where are we at. We are at point number 5. Point number 5 was from me and that was,

5 – You should not have prices listed on your martial arts website.

Never a good idea. I'm going to jump back a little bit.

Now, generally speaking if you're a martial arts school and you go in for entry level type, you're focusing on kids and people that are not familiar with martial arts, you should definitely not have your prices on your website because people don't know martial arts. And if people don't know about martial arts and what it's about. Then when you put the price, the only comparison they can make and derive from is the price and not the experience. So now they become price shoppers because that's the comparison point. Whereas when people have experienced the benefits of what it's going to do for them or their child then they might have a different story.

So it's never a good idea to have prices on your website. But, there's a but, let's say you have a different type of job and let's say Justin Sidelle, for example, who has Bali MMA in Bali and they run different type of system because people want to take their holiday In Bali and they still want to come a train for a week or two weeks or so forth. So they have their prices listed on the website. So if you have that type of school where you're providing a service for people that are maybe travelling or you have a high level type of club, which is known among fighters or jiu jitsu practitioners or something that people that are already established in martial arts come and train at, then that could work for you to have the prices up for certain packages and memberships and so forth.

At the end of the day, I would rather say, no don't do it because when you put it there, you gotta know how to place the value on what your training provides (in the wording – copy). And most people don't do that and most people just put the price on strike.

Number 6, Rod Darling.

martial arts school marketing

6 – Talk about the results that people want. Your product is the obstacle.

And what was discussed, we're talking about the benefits especially if you're doing Facebook ads we were talking about Facebook ads, Facebook marketing in this episode. Talk about the results that people are after, the benefits that they're going to get from martial arts and not talk about the training itself. The training is the obstacle. People don’t want to talk about the training but they do want to focus on the results. It's the result that they want. So when you focus on the result, that's something that people are striving for and that's something that they can relate to. So talk about the benefits.

7 – Be specific with your targeting and keep it simple.

With your Facebook ads, be specific. You only need to talk to one person; you can't talk to everyone. If you know that's the common thing at newspapers and flyers, you put a message out there for everyone. You can filter it with your copy and say woman only and so forth. People to talk about the customer Avatar, who's that one person that you're having a conversation with.

And if you can visualize that one person, who they are, it's a mum, she's in her late 30's and her kids are five and eight years old. This is the type of lady that you are talking to. You can structure and customize your marketing message and tailor it to that person. All right, be specific with your targeting and keep it simple.

Number 8. And this is something we preach about website copy.

8 – Don't talk about I and we. Talk about YOU because the person wants to hear about themselves, their wants, their needs, their aspirations.

They don't care about your rank and the gold medal that you won and the tournament that you won. They care about themselves and can you provide value for them or for their kids. Can I lose weight through this? Can I learn self-defense? Can my kid become confident? That's what they want to learn. And Rod said it best, don't be wee’ing all over yourself, meaning don't put the wee’s on your website.

Over to number 9, Michelle Hext. There was a lot of deep value in this. A few things I'm going to draw from here…

Michelle Hext

9 – Have a vision then plan your steps backwards.

Okay, have a clear vision of what you want. There are a lot of great nuggets in there about niche’ing down as well.

And I want to go to Number 10.

10 – Have self-awareness to assess when something is pulling on your self belief.

So, when you have obstacles in your business. Some things don't feel right. Seth Godin talks about being the intruder (Imposter).

Everybody feels like they have that internal dialogue happening like, can I really do this? Can I really be doing this? Is this really me? I think he talks about Barack Obama, being the president does probably the same sort of intruder type of perspective sometimes. He has an internal dialogue, asks himself: “Me? Am I really the president?” Well, not the president anymore.

That conversation of doubt and everybody has that doubt and if you're having that doubt, have self-awareness to assess where something is pulling on yourself. Believe and try and work yourself through that. All right. So that would be on episode six.

And we're moving over to number 11 with Paul Veldman. So first up…

11 – Know your demographic without being everything to everyone.

And on 12…

12 – Grow your students confidence through leadership programs.

So that's confidence within your students, have leadership programs that boost their confidence and take them to the next level.

13 – Market for a season or a reason.

And that is being in sync with what is happening in your community, being the season or a reason. Is there a reason something is happening in your community or is there a season happening. Is it Easter, is it Christmas, is it Valentine's Day. How can you follow, how can you piggyback on that trend that is already happening in your marketplace and attach your marketing message to that.

14 – Spot the quitting signals from your students.

And Paul mentioned:  “We run a rule of three that every student and every class has to be encouraged and acknowledged at least three times. So the first one is, ‘Good day, how are you doing?’ And have a look at the card and they see the training pattern and they can see that at the start of the year, the students are training a lot.

Mid-year, they kind of dropped off. And in the last two months, you can barely see them and address things accordingly. So if you spot the quitting signals then have a talk and have a chat and see where they are at and what is holding them back from their training.”

All right number 15 with Sean Allen. Sean Allen was all about…

15 – Structuring your martial arts business to suit your lifestyle.

So how can your business suit your lifestyle and for him, he's moved down to Margaret River, he surfs every day, some of the best surf, and he runs a small niche school, which he is very passionate about, because number 16…

importance of martial arts in physical education

16 – Use your martial arts school as a vehicle to get the message out about education you value most.

Education about climate change, education and helping empowering kids through his program. And he is always full. He has a waiting list for his small school and is not into growth for growth. He is into living his values and living a good life and teaching his message through martial arts.

Number 17, Brannon Beliso. Brannon is all about service orientation.

17 – Focus on providing a valuable service to your martial arts students. No contracts or upsells, service and care, which leads to retention.

Brannon believes in no contracts, no constant upsells but rather placing value in the service that they offer and treating their students with gold. And by focusing the way that they focus, they try to keep the retention through the value of their service and not being constantly on the sales process of constantly having to upgrade for this and this black belt program and so forth.

martial arts merit badges

So that's the constant message that Brannon Beliso spoke about and also about the way kids and their values and how they are used to just getting things, instant gratification and how martial arts can teach kids discipline through not getting rewarded… or getting their awards but not getting rewarded as if getting a black belt tomorrow when they started today.

All right, number 18. Should you use a Facebook page or profile to promote your business?

18 – Use a Facebook Page to promote your business, not a Facebook Profile.

I'd like to think we've kind of evolved from that conversation and it just shows you, this is early last year and this is the big thing and I still see a lot of people use their of their personal profile to promote their business. But the better way to do it is you've got to have that page because if you don't have a Facebook page, you can't advertise your business.

Advertising on Facebook is a core part of your marketing. It's one of the top places to advertise right now. So if you have a page, why don't you post your content on your page first and then share it to your personal profile because your personal profile in the beginning especially will get a lot more reach because Facebook values their audience and they would rather have pictures of birth of a cousin or something in your news feed than your business.

Well, debatable if your ads are relevant to your audience, but no so much free content. There is a thing called Edgerank where Facebook likes to filter out business-type posts. So you've got to be strategic with that kind of thing. But for the purpose of this point, post things on your Facebook page and share them onto your profile.

That was number 18, over to number 19.

19 – Message to market match. Say the right message to the right person at the right time for them.

So where are they in your buying cycle? That was from me. Where are they in your buying cycle? What have they seen? Have they been exposed to your brand and what message are you going to be putting in front of that person at that point in time.

Number 20 was from episode 13 with Jess Fraser.

20 – If you have ladies training Jiu Jitsu at your gym, get them involved in a ladies community (like the Australian Girls In Gi) to get training support from other ladies and build relationships.

And Jess Fraser has the Australian Girls in GI community and she was talking about how having that type of overlapping community. And it is in overlapping community it seems that ladies are training at multiple gyms and they have this one community as glue if you want to call it that because ladies have different experiences with jiu jitsu and they express different problems and having this community involved that ladies can share their experiences with jiu jitsu keeps it all together.

And I was talking to Martin Gonzalez from Vanguard BJJ and I had a training session with them one night and they were very hospitable. I went for a burger and a couple of beers with them afterwards and he was telling me that Jess has done amazing things for jiu jitsu for ladies that most people are just not aware of. And he was her instructor right at the beginning and he says he remembers when it was pretty much heard, she was the only lady and she's the 12th female to earn her black belt in Australia.

But at that time, the Australian Girls in GI community was pretty much nothing. It was just her and she was just pushing to get it going. And now, with all the time, and the investment and the commitment, there's a there's a big community of ladies doing jiu jitsu and she is very responsible for that in Australia. So for the ladies, check out Australian Girls in GI.

21, Hakan Manav from Australian Martial Arts Academy. All right, on number 21, firstly, Hakan Manav is an extreme athlete. He is a super smart guy and if you go search for any of his training, videos tutorials on Facebook or YouTube, you'll find tricks and techniques that are just mind-blowing. And he's had big shoes to fill with his dad, Master Ridvan Manav, he's been been in the industry for 35 years. The Australian Martial Arts Academy also recently celebrated their 35th year anniversary. And I got a lot of good things to share.

21 – The skills, discipline and coordination taught in martial arts will help you in all other team sports.

Hakan got first-hand experience and proof that the skills and coordination taught in martial arts benefit other sports. He experienced that when he was taking up soccer.

22 – Invest in your education. A business degree will help you develop the frameworks and systems for business success.

So Hakan got the best degree he could in the top university in Sydney and a lot of the frameworks and systems come from his education and just applying everything he learned into the martial arts school.

23 – Develop a leadership culture where everyone is looked after and make sure that everybody is consistently improving.

So they had the leadership culture and everybody is investing into their education and everybody's always raising the bar. And that's how the Australian Martial Arts Academy run 120 classes, seven days per week!

Number 24, the core difference to know between Google Adwords marketing and Facebook marketing.

24 – The difference between Google Adwords and Facebook Marketing. Google searchers have intent, they are looking. With Facebook, you are generally interrupting the browser. Consider your approach accordingly.

The big difference is Google starts with intent. So you have a person who is already searching for something martial arts-related, something martial arts in their area, something martial arts or different types martial arts and doing comparison. So this is the person that's already on the lookout. With Facebook, you have a very direct targeting. But the person might not have intent. So it's more of an interruption based on how you capture this person's person's attention and work from there.

25 – For both Facebook marketing and Google Adwords. Remarketing / Retargeting can bring your biggest conversions.

Remarketing or retargeting as it's called is a method of attracting people that actually see your ads and have ads show up to them at a later stage. You might see that when you go to a website, to Amazon, eBay or somewhere. And then the next minute, you're seeing an eBay ad on Facebook and that is retargeting. So you can get very strategic with this and all about being relevant with your conversations to people.

And that's it for this episode. We will continue either next week or the week after, depending on the scheduling of a very cool interview that I've got lined up. So depending on that when we will release the other half of this episode. So, still a lot to talk about. Lots of cool tips that we're going to be sharing.

And again, show notes on www.martialartsmedia.com/31, www.martialartsmedia.com/31, the number 31. Thanks! Chat you soon. Cheers.

 

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

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28 – How To Double Your Martial Arts Business In 2 Years Without Selling Your Soul

Want a successful martial arts business, but don't want to be ‘that guy'? Matt Ball talks about changing your mindset and breaking through barriers.Matt Ball from SMAC with George Fourie
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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • Creating a warm environment where people feel welcome
  • How a student tragedy motivated a change of logo and design
  • The power of a 5-week introductory program
  • Why you need how you view success in order to succeed
  • How managing Matt's martial arts school from an iPad in a hospital bed was a blessing in disguise
  • Lessons from traveling to martial arts tournaments
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

It made me change my whole concept, my whole thought concept on it. You can be successful and be a good guy, what I'm doing is I'm basing my ideas of success on the wrong preset.

Hi, this is George Fourie and welcome to another episode of the Martial Arts Media Business podcast, episode number 28. I have another awesome guest with me today, who is Matthew Ball from SMAC and SMAC stand for Somerville Martial Arts Center, which is where Matthew is from of course. And we talk about the word SMAC and the possible negative connotation it has to it, but I guess more importantly, the whole change that they went through in branding, from being a hardcore fighter type image, with skulls and skulls on the car and everything and transitioning that to a friendlier, family environment, and how they had to go by changing their branding, their public image. And it’s something that caused them to double their business, in a short span of only two years.

So we talk about that, it was a really fun conversation, especially before and after, but we kept in all the good bits for you. And we also talk about Matthew's first management episode, where he was actually forced to manage, because he was in the hospital on his back, and that was the first time he actually had the whole bird's' eye view about his business and was able to manage it better from that perspective. And we also had some deep discussions about association with success, internal blocks that you might have that don't allow you to succeed, that you almost self-sabotage yourself every time you get to this point of success, because you don't want to be associated with being that guy, that successful guy that everybody hates, and how Matthew had to fight that, work through that to change his association of what it means to be successful and helping others.

Now, I want to jump into a theme that's been happening and I've been talking about it in the last few episodes and it’s all tying together and it’s something I keep on talking about, because it’s something that works, and this is event based marketing. And the more I talk about it, the more I explore it, the more I discover. And the more answers I get and the more I'm doing campaigns for martial arts schools, the more I'm learning about the psychology of why things work and why they may not work and we adjust.

Look: marketing is definitely a journey. We as an agency, we have some great wins right off the bat, and we help clients and they get a flood of new students, and then sometimes we don't. Sometimes we're doing the exact same campaign on just two different pages or two different locations, but the results are vastly different and it just proves a point: that there's no one size fits all with marketing. Your audience could be different, your interaction with your audience could be different, your relationship could be different, the competition you have is different, the type of people could be different – so different messages resonate with different people and how do you get past that? Well, you've got to commit to the journey and the journey means testing.

Testing your marketing strategies, keeping track of what works and what doesn't, because if you can eliminate what's not working, you're getting one step ahead of what is working. And that's where the whole Pareto principle, the 80-20 concept just speaks volumes in direct response type marketing because 20% of your efforts will generate 80% of your results. It’s finding out what that 20% is and that's the journey, that's where the real work is. Look: everybody can put up advertising and do that kind of stuff, but when it’s not working, you've got to know where to find the problem and where to diagnose and how to solve that problem.

So, that's gone a bit off topic on what I wanted to say, but it’s a very important thing that I've been experiencing over the last few weeks. And going a bit further and something that we really spoke about with Matthew is the event based type marketing. I’m not going to give a spoiler, he'll explain the whole process and concept. And after the episode, I will give a few insights, on how I'm seeing the objections and things that come up when we do campaigns and how this psychology really applies to it, so look out for that.

I’m going to jump right into that now. As always: you can find the transcripts and links and everything about this episode on martialartsmedia.com/28, the number 28 and that's it from me for now, I want to get straight into this interview, so please welcome to the show Matthew Ball.

GEORGE: Good day everyone, today I have with me Matt, or Matthew Ball, one of the two.

MATT: Matt Ball is fine.

GEORGE: Matt Ball from SMAC, which stands for…?

MATT: The Somerville Martial Arts Centre.

GEORGE: The Somerville Martial Arts Centre, all right. We're just going to be chatting about a few things, travel within the martial arts industry, a few recent successes and so forth. So – welcome to the show!

MATT: Thank you very much, thanks for coming down and speaking to me.

GEORGE: Awesome. So I guess we're going to start from the beginning – so. Who is Matt Ball?

MATT: I started in the Bob Jones martial arts group, in zen do kai when I was about 13 and I'm now 44. I've continued within the Bob Jones martial arts school throughout that time. In 1996, I decided to go full time and entered into a couple of business writing competitions for the two previous years, Shell corporation and the Rotary club used to do business comps. And it was a really great way to be mentored, it was my first experience with mentors outside of martial arts, that helped me develop my business plans to the point where I thought that I could possibly be successful stepping away from my job, which was in a bank at that stage.

So in 1996, I moved out and my main aim was to teach at high schools during the day and then at night time to run my classes, so from 4:00 till 8:30 at night each day. I had a lot of promises from schools in that first year that they would employ me for the following year, and it looked really great on my business plan. And then when I started calling them up, they informed me that I had to have been booked in a year previously for some of them and it was all requirements and that first year was a little bit rougher than I first anticipated.

But once we got through that, that business really took off and in the end, before I sold that part of my business, we were teaching it around about 40 high schools each year, there was 5 or 6 people working for me to assist in that, mainly teaching self-defence, but also some Muay Thai and some boxing for fitness type classes and things as well. So it was good and then, and now we're in 2017 – around about 2003, I moved into a full-time premise. We were at the time operating out of three different halls, within the same area, all within the 5K radius of each other.Somerville Martial Arts Centre - Matt BallSo I decided to take the big leap and try and bring it all into the one place and I felt that I had enough members at that point to do that. So I've been teaching children and obviously adults for a long time, but I decided I want to focus more on the adult and team market at that stage and we dropped right into competition, room fighting for boxing and Muay Thai predominantly. So we went into trying to develop that sort of market, so the imagery that I chose and the logos I chose were turned directly towards that market and we probably left the child market a little bit behind.

And at first I was happy to do that, that was my goal, but after some time, I realized I'd probably swung too far the other way. And we had Dave Kovar from America at our club and I was talking about our member base. And at the time, it wasn't massive, but it was close to 200, around 170 members and 80% was over the age of 15. And he said, Matt, that's great, most people would love to have adult numbers like that, but you do realize that you can still have a lot of kids and still keep those adult members as well? And I went, yeah, I'm an idiot.

So at that time, we sort of changed our logos, we changed around our gym a little bit. People, when they used to walk in, the first thing they would see would be a boxing ring, and then another boxing ring. Often people would be fighting and sparring and the kids have to walk through it. On our wall, we had the Krav Maga gear, so it all looked military, knives and guns and things. And it was amazing when Dave said it to me, I walked outside, I walked back in, and I went, who would bring their kid here?

And then I walked in further and I went, if I was a guy walking in here, I wouldn't feel comfortable training. It was intimidating. I was more surprised that we managed to have as many members as we did in that sort of environment. So even though we really worked hard at being a really encompassing gym and friendly and everything, the facade didn't show that, so that was my first big lesson.

GEORGE: So, backtrack a bit: there was a few question in there. So, you were teaching at multiple schools at the time?

MATT: Yeah, that's right.

GEORGE: Was it a challenge, did you lose members, moving them all to one location?

MATT: I think because we were in such a small area anyways, it ran about a 5K radius, we didn't really lose any members. We probably lost some members, because the fees had to change, the fee structure had to change slightly. So even though we offered them more classes, that isn't what everyone wanted and because our overheads have gone up a little bit, we had to increase it. But the members, by and large, were amazing. The first couple of months of being here, it was half building site – half Dojo, or training gym.

We had the wooden floor finished on the first weekend and that was done by 10-12 members turning up and helping me construct. And then we had to sort of section bits off, and over the months, we could slowly get more of the gym operating and cleaner. And rather than losing members, I think that it actually made us really strong at that period, because everyone had some ownership over the place. Even if they weren't working on it, they were a part of that journey of, let’s do something special together. And it really put a really good community feel, that probably lasted for 5-6 years before the next group sort of came through and didn't know anything about that part.

GEORGE: Well, you did a great job on the environment and I’ll put little pictures with the podcast here, but it’s really got this Melbourne feel. Anybody that's been to Melbourne, there's always graffiti and posters stuck up. And just that in the contrast with the wooden floor, it almost looks like you're in an antique coffee shop almost. Something else is happening here other than the gym, obviously because it’s empty as well, there are no people.

MATT: Yeah, we find that most people when they come in here who have trained at other places will remark on the feel. They'll actually come back out now, whereas, before it was a bit intimidating, they'll come back out to me and actually grab me and say, man, it just feels so comfortable here! I don't know quite how we've done it; I can't say that it was all purposeful. Some of it was, but some of it was being just by osmosis. But yeah, when you hear people who train come up to you and say how they just feel comfortable in your space and how they love it, it’s a really special feeling, it’s great.

GEORGE: Definitely. Now, let’s go back to the transition, because if you were this hardcore fight gym. And Somerville Martial Arts Centre also shortens to the acronym of SMAC, so I can imagine initially when you had the branding, you mentioned earlier the skulls and things, it was really for the hardcore fighting market as such. And then, with the acronym of SMAC, it really goes with that. But now you've changed the branding and you've changed the image that you can accommodate for the appearance, but you've still got SMAC on the T-shirts and so forth?

MATT: A part of it is age as well. When we moved here, 13 years ago, I was just in my early thirties.  Maybe just 30, and I was training with fighters intensely, so all that is inside you and you want to express that part of you and what better way to express it than on a really big building and all over your car and that's the thing: I probably got caught up in the moment and in my age again. And without any professional help from marketers or anything, because there wasn't a lot of money and I think as a martial artist, we tend to think we can do everything on our own – I quickly learned that's not the best way to do it, but that's a whole other story.Somerville Martial Arts Centre - Matthew BallSo that whole feel that we came into was pretty hardcore and like I said, that was actually a purposeful thing. I wanted to aim for that market. Part of the reason I wanted a full-time center because I wanted a ring that we could use all the time. I wanted hanging bags that we could use. Just trying to train people in a hall for a competition – it can be done for sure, but it’s not easy. You can't have people coming outside of work times to get extra training in, and not getting that experience of being in a ring and they’re just not getting the hours of punishment on the bags that you sort of need for that internal discipline that they develop from it.

Not only power and strength, but more that discipline of keeping them going, when they really don't want to be doing it anymore. Yeah, we set that up and my first car that I had when I moved in was a Mazda 6 or something, so it didn't look too bad. Then I got an Alpha Romeo, a little sports type car and I had stickers like several skulls and fading in the background it almost looked like a biking emblem, not an Alpha Romeo. And what I realized pretty quickly, I gave it two years, was that I just alienated the whole new family market. The families that were with us loved us still because the teaching hadn't changed, but we weren't attracting any new families.

When the realization came to me, what am I doing, and this isn't who I am. I’m not that aggressive, nasty guy. I don't look like a bikey or anything, so it was a confusing image I was giving to people, the juxtapositions were too far apart. So yeah, changing the logo – we actually changed the logo using a tragedy that we had. We had one of our young guys commit suicide, who was working full time at the center and was also competing at quite a good level in fights and he met a girl overseas and the relationship had gone south and he, unfortunately, committed suicide. And one of his friends created an image using a boxing image that everyone put on their cars and stickers and things like that from his friend at work and stuff.

So about two or three years after that tragedy was when I was looking for the new logo. And I was trying to be careful, I didn't want to idolize what he'd done, I didn't want other people to feel that that's a good way to get recognized, but also in my heart, I wanted to remember him and I felt that the logo captured what we were going for. So we changed it to a circle with the image of a boxer, someone in a victory stance in the center of it. We came up with a motto of “Commit to excellence” and put a name on it and I feel it’s a much friendlier, much more encompassing. It encompasses not only boxing and Muay Thai, but it also encompasses our martial arts and that striving for excellence.

So I think that the image is more about that. The trouble with running a gym where you teach multiple martial arts is trying to find an image that encompasses them all, and that's been one of my hardest things. So now when I advertise, we advertise each martial art we do separately, even from kinder kids to kids’ karate, we advertise separately and on separate websites and on separate social media advertising, so we can really target the groups. But the umbrella brand is still SMAC and that's still the name at the front of the gym. But the first contact people have with the marketing will be very much just that style that they're looking at like I said, kids' karate or adults' karate, or the Muay Thai kickboxing, will really associate to that. And that's worked really well and I'm hoping that that way of structuring the branding can continue to work as effectively as it has.

GEORGE: I'm kind of just thinking about it because it’s something that I've noticed a lot and I think it’s a difficult thing to do because you've got all these different target markets. You've got this fighting group, and then you've got the mom for the kid, and then maybe that adult that just wants to release stress after work. So you've got to have these different conversations. Like I always saw it, what is in the focus: is the focus actually just one level up and then the value of “Commit to excellence” and that your motto is really, all your emphasis goes back to the value, instead of the actual art that's being used to achieve the same result?

MATT: I think that there's definitely a part of it. The “Commit to excellence,” not only can I use for that idea of, it’s not going to matter what you come into, we’re going to help you achieve: it also helps me every day. So when I get a little bit lazy or my discipline lacks: for instance, we iron on patches onto our kids’ GIs and a couple of parents were saying, oh, they're peeling off. And I said, we usually just iron it on and then you can stitch it on later on. But then I thought: I've got a sewing machine here – why am I not just sewing them on? It’s not that time consuming for me to do and if I'm committed to excellence, I'm committed to excellence.

So the motto is not only for the students, but it’s also for me. But going back to what you're saying about attracting people is, yeah, I found the most successful clubs that appear as financially successful clubs just focus on one style. And I can understand the desire to do that and if I was saying to someone who wanted to set up a gym, what should I do, that is the line that I would say they should do – but it’s not what I like to do. So what I understand is the best thing to do isn't what I want to do. So this is where this breaking it down really came into its own and it’s really helped, it’s one of the measures that's taken us from about 10 years of staying at 170 members to right at the moment of 540 active members.

And it’s happened over two years and when I said, OK, I'm going to have a separate website for everyone – and they're really just landing pages, basic information about what we do, how to join and just the information on that class and what sort of person it suits. Now when someone rings, most people that ring have an idea of something that they want to do, but probably about 30% don't – they're just, I want to do something. So then we talk about the general benefits of martial arts, but then we try and find out what sort of person they are: are they someone that likes to spend time trying to perfect something before they move on, or are they the sort of person that just likes to keep doing it and as they make mistakes, they'll just try to correct them as they go.

So if they're the sort of person, I just like to get going, man, I don't want to spend time planning stuff out – if I'm talking about an adult, I’ll say that Muay Thai will probably be the best one for you to start in, because we keep it pretty quick, the techniques require skill at a higher level, but they're fast to learn for you to feel like you're getting somewhere. If they're the sort of person that says, I like to plan things out, I like to try and perfect a skill or a technique, Ill practice it over and over until I get it right, I'm a bit of a perfectionist, well then, zen do kai would be the direction I would take those people in.

With the boxing, it’s more often someone will ask about boxing, but they'll say, I don't like kicking, or I haven't got a good stretch, I don't want to move my legs around much, I just want to get into it – what we often find is, once we get people in here, they see the other classes going on, and we’ll probably get 15% who will change around, because the thing we did put them in wasn't the right one, so they'll move on. We've found the best way of doing that is, we've actually been running 5-week beginner programs.

So we find that the 5 weeks gives us a really good time for them to commit, so we know they're serious. So no free classes, they join the 5-week program, they get the uniform or the gloves, so they're set up from the start, and by the end of those 5 weeks, they have a really good understanding of what's going on. They're only stuck with other beginners, so the class is just set up just for them, they're not involved in the whole class, they're not trying to catch up, they're not trying to learn as things are racing too far ahead, the instructor’s not having to divide his time between them and the higher level people.

So we found that that gives them a really good grounding. Then they come into our classes after 5 weeks, like someone used to be after 13 weeks, because they've just been out of getting that basic work is done, so they feel better about it, we feel better about it and they've had a real good chance to see if martial arts is for them, without having to invest a massive amount, but enough to know if they are serious, not just, I'm going to come in and try a class because I'm bored this week.

GEORGE: That's interesting. We do a lot of the whole paid trial type system, and there's a lot of approaches to it: a couple of weeks training, maybe only a few classes, for the purpose obviously, because you obviously want the conversion at the end. It’s interesting that you go that whole dynamic of 5 weeks because you can get a real true assessment. Do you find at the end of 5 weeks that some people they are suited, so they're going to continue this one style, or that you determined that they need to be in a different style, or that you shift them around?MATT: I would say it would only be about 15-20% that at the end of it, we would direct them to another style. So for instance, we’d have someone – and it mainly happens in our boxing group, because our training’s all amateur boxing for competition training. So even though we know that only a small percentage of the group will ever compete, we train everyone as though they're getting ready for competition. A lot of people, because boxing is the in word, come in to do a fitness boxing group and even though we explain that that's not what it is and we actually have a fitness boxing class, most people still cannot understand, until someone is punching back at them, so even though in that 5 weeks they won’t spar, but they'll still do drills, we call them stick and move drills, so where they'll get jabbed at and parried off and move around, so they're getting used to it.

So what we tend to find is that at the end of 5 weeks, we’ll have a few of those people going, I liked it all except, I don't like the sparing, I'm not into that – is there something else I can do? So then fitness boxing might be the thing. Or even we’re finding, often the older guys that feel that way, they think they want to do it, but then they go: I'm 45 or 50 – do I really want to get hit by a 20-year-old? It’s a really good question to ask because I don't think it’s a good thing either. We've found those guys are going into the Krav Maga and same with some of the ladies and it’s been a great release for them, because they're still getting to work hard with someone, they're still getting to push each other around, they're throwing strikes with real force, but it’s in a much safer environment, it’s not in that sparing environment where it’s quite random, it’s more set.

And they'll actually probably end up training harder in the Krav, but it’s a much better fit for them. So that's probably the main one we find that switch and change. With the kids, it’s a little bit between kickboxing and karate, we find that mom felt that their child was this sort of child, but he's actually probably more this sort of child, and he's bored within 2 seconds when we’re talking about breath and balance and stance. But man, you get him hitting a bag, he’ll do it 400 times without wanting to stop. We’re probably a bit more shuffling in that class.

But overall, we find that what they start is probably what they continue to stay in. We have very few that don't finish the 5 weeks, but we don't capture everyone at the end of the 5 weeks. So at the end of the 5 weeks, we have probably about 30% who will say to us, I absolutely loved doing the 5 weeks, but I'm not ready to commit for a longer period of time. So I'm not sure if that's in our sales pitch that we’re getting that wrong, if we’re getting it wrong in our follow up, or if people are just buying it as a 5-week package: man, I’d love to do Krav Maga for 5 weeks and get some basic self-defence: I wouldn't mind doing 5 weeks of boxing, I've never tried it before – and that doesn't matter to us, because we're still making money out of them.

It’s still not a wasted lead for us, they're leaving saying that they loved it, so they're going to tell someone else about is and it hasn't cost us anything. We’re charging $90 for the 5 weeks and they get a set of gloves, which we can get wholesale on a good price, or they get a uniform, again, which we can get at a pretty good price. So by the time I take advertising fees, our instructor fees and the gift that they get, we’re still making a little bit, not much, $10 a student, it averages out at $9-$10, so it’s not much out of the 5 weeks. But then if I can capture 70% of those people to continue on their training, that's when we obviously start to make a bit of the return.

GEORGE: Going back to, because you mentioned that over the last two years your business has doubled and how the changing in branding played a big role in that: what else contributed to that big growth?

MATT: We had a number of things: working with Dave Kovar, release some stuff within me that have been holding me back I think. I found that most of the mentors I worked with up until that point when it came to trying to be financially successful, or successful in a business, it came down to finance. And it came down to, no one ever really said about trying to rip people off, but it always sort of had that feel in the end: lock them in on this, once they're here, never let them leave. It had that feel like, it didn't matter what they're getting out of it, you've got to keep them. And it didn't sit right with me, I don't like that. I don't like being involved in that when it’s happening to me, and I don't like doing it to other people.

So I always felt like there was something stopping me from being successful, because I'm thinking, well, to be successful, I've got to be like them, and I'm not going to be that. So I'm just going to coast along where I'm at. And then, doing the work with Dave and meeting him and seeing the sort of person he was and then going over to America and meeting his team, because I went, this is all really good, but does it really work this way? You know when you're learning off someone and you go, yeah I can get up and say how it should be, but how is it really?

GEORGE: Do you practice what you preach?

MATT: Yeah, do you practice what you preach. And are your guys following the steps that you've put in the process for them, or are they doing something else, and you're out here talking, but they're working something else. So I went over there and watched his club a couple of nights and got to meet him properly, have a relaxed talk and meet all his staff at all the different levels, from the person that does the intros, to the girls and guys at the desk, to the people instructing classes – man, it was impressive. The skills of his students were still good, it wasn't like Mickey Mouse nothing, it was good students.

The instructors were incredible instructors, I don't just mean physically, but they knew what they were doing, and they were young, but he trained them so well. The office staff, everyone, and they all worked as a team, there was no, oh, don't talk to her, or, he doesn't really know what he's doing, you should come and speak to me. They were talking each other up, everything just felt good about it, so it made me change my whole thought concept on it: you can be successful and be a good guy. What I'm doing is, I'm basing my ideas of success on the wrong preset. So that was probably the biggest hurdle. Once I got over that, I was happy to then go back to graphing my student numbers and charting everything. So when I first started…

GEORGE: Can I just stop you there on that? So, the big obstacle you had was your association with success?

MATT: Yes, for sure. And I still find it in other things too. I have done some work, I'm trying to get rid of it, I was seeing a psychologist for a couple of years to help work on that as well and I found that my time with the psychologist was amazing. It was like a business coach at the entry level because it was what I needed at the time. I didn't need work on my finances, and putting my plans into place – what I needed was, one of the hurdles, you've been doing this for a long time now: why are you still bumping up against these same hurdles? And with a psychologist, you get no answers, but it allows you to question yourself on different levels and things and I found that to be fantastic.

My Systema instructor, Alex Kostic, I've been training with him for around 10 years and he's from Serbia and he's studied psychology and he's always talking about how people should go and see a psych. We want to get fitter, so we go see a PT, or we do a martial art. We want to think better, but we don't speak to the professionals on how to do it, we want to deal with our situations in a better way. And it took me about 7 years of him constantly talking to me about it, but when I finally went to see the psychologist, I could go in there thinking, I'm not going here because I've got a problem that needs to be solved, or a mental problem that I'm dealing with: I just wonder how it can be better.

And that was another big breakthrough for me. Maybe turning 40, got me a few breakthroughs. So those couple of things helped me get over those big hurdles, put me back in the mindset of growth and development and then I could put that same mindset back into the business and I could put it back into my martial arts training and how I want to continue to grow. So those things, and then the other things that really helped us grow, a few of our instructors sort of came of age, they got to the point where they were doing really good work and you could really trust them with classes, so then we were able to grow the classes and develop more times and spaces.

Again, that came to me actually giving them feedback and again, it came from a slight tragedy: I had a bad thing with my back, I blew out a few discs and had some badly pinched nerves and was stuck on the ground for about four months before I could get surgery. And it meant that I was managing the gym with my iPad, so watching the classes through the security camera and sending messages on, can we do this, can you do that, when you teach the class tonight, the guy at the front is a little bit messy, clean that up.

And for the first time ever, I was actually managing the staff and managing the instructors and giving them really clear guidelines. So what would normally happen was, I’d turn up, they'd come in to help me with the class and I’d say, take the blue belts. What? No, no, just take them. Or such and such has got a fight coming up, go and work with him, and no real clear instruction, no good feedback. But being stuck on the ground for three months…

GEORGE: Blessing in disguise.

MATT: It was the best thing. It sounds horrible, but it was the best thing ever. Made up Facebook groups working communicators, groups for instructors, smaller groups, and then when I got back, we would talk before class on what they were going to do, I’d give them some other ideas to help with the ideas they had, at the end of the class, we’d give feedback on how the class went and we try to keep that going. So it’s now 2.5 years later, so all these things, they've all accumulated, but that learning to manage properly was a God sent, you know? Being stuck on the ground.

GEORGE: That's some really deep stuff there, I mean, you say just those few things, but just that – yes, you're removed from the gym, but now you actually had the bird's eye view, you can actually see what's going on because you're not in it, so you've removed yourself. And then the mind stuff, I mean, this is something I work on all the time, and I've got my own philosophies about it, but my belief this stuff comes from the way you grow up, the way your parents talk to you about money, that’s expensive, this is this, you can't have this, the whole tall poppy syndrome thing that’s alive and well in Australia – as soon as there's success, let’s pull him down, that whole crab in a bucket thing.

And I think all those things – you talking about, and I’ll re-listen to this, but it was kind of in the sense of, I was doing everything the same, and then I changed my mindset and my thinking and my obstacles, and then everything else changed. And it’s almost like it’s just that internal change, your beliefs. I guess your relationship with money and how you link success because you had this vision, these guys, they're a bit dodgy, they're trying to be sneaky and a bit on the scum side to kind of lock people in and keep their money. And your values just don't agree with that and that’s your only model of success and then, you're kind of like, I'm definitely not going to be that, I don't want to be that guy.

MATT: That's right, and if you haven't got those role models to look up to, it’s hard to create your own role model. But you know, with you talking, well how much difference can one person make? It took a lot of people for it to happen to me, but I was the only person in the end that needed to change for all the other things to change, and then it’s changed for everyone in the gym too, for the better as well. Now there are more people involved in martial arts, so they're getting the benefits of that as well. I had an interesting discussion with one of my higher ranks and we were talking about direction and things. And I was talking about the need for growth and he was dead set against the need for growth, he was telling me that that was a narrow way to be looking at some of the things or at martial arts development.

And I found that it was a little bit of a shock and a little bit hurtful too because the growth is about getting other people to experience what I think is absolutely an amazing journey and has been so helpful for me, that I want other people to be a part of it. His mindset is still in, he's thinking success is what I was thinking success was as a martial artist. And he's thinking that when I'm talking about growth, I'm talking about salesmen and ripping people off or something. It’s like, he needs that paradigm shift to say, that's not what I'm meaning: what I'm meaning is, getting people to love it, getting people involved in it. Giving them what we've had and what we've enjoyed for 30-40 years.

GEORGE: I’m on a completely different level than you are. I started martial arts in my mid-thirties and I can tell you, it changed my life, I know that. Why didn't somebody sell me, 10, 20, 15 years ago, why didn't someone put their foot down and tell me, you need this! This will put you on the right path, you know what I mean?

MATT: A 100%.

GEORGE: There's so much value in martial arts. And you don't want to go down the route of being slimy and locking people in and doing all this funny stuff…

MATT: But you need to get the word out there!

GEORGE: But at the end of the day, you've got to experience it. And if it’s going to change your life, I think martial arts school owners need to do whatever they can to install that message and get people over that obstacle, over those fears that are holding them back of actually just getting started and just get them started.MATT: The third biggest thing that helped change our whole number system around is part of that 5-week program, it was that we then had a date to advertise to. So rather than just advertising for new members all the time, which ended up never happening. So I'll get some flyers out, or I'll put something in the paper, or I'll put something on Facebook – well, there's no date to have to do it by, you know? But when I know that I'm starting my next course on March the 6th and I haven't got anyone in there yet, I know that I've got to be advertising to March the 6th. And there no use me advertising kickboxing if that course is zen do kai.

So I'm only going to advertise zen do kai for that group to get in on March the 6th. So it’s made me invest money in my advertising, it’s made me look at how the advertising campaigns work, it’s made me look at the results of the advertising campaign because they're very obvious. I don't just go at the end of the year; how many people did we have this year? It’s more like, well, how many people did I get to join u that month? Six. OK, so next time we do it, we got 8, what did we do differently? Or next time we do it, it was three – yeah, but it was the middle of winter and most people… so we can start to really look at things for having that date I have to have it done by, and that was another…

GEORGE: I'm so glad you mentioned that because I've spoken about it a few times and I spoke earlier to Darryl Thornton from Shukokai Karate and we were talking about events and deadlines and he just had a huge open day where he signed up 70 people and it was an hour! And there were so many people in the hour, and then 19 came back on Monday. And we were talking about this whole psychology: it’s not 5 hours, where people can come and go when they please. It’s one hour, where they get to spend their one hour of energy. They can only be there 12 to 1, that's the hour and they do something very simple, they run their event, everybody gets to take part, it’s the pride of the school, it’s what all the students are looking up to, they just want to do this one thing…

MATT: It’s coming again!

GEORGE: Yes, we want to do the open day! And they do one offer at the end and it’s not high pressure or anything, but this is the offer for the day and the whole psychology goes back to exactly what we were just talking about, this whole event for your marketing, that it’s not, people can just walk in when they please and join. You can only join in this window; this is when the offer is.

MATT: And we find that people actually appreciate it. Sure, we’ll get a percentage that won’t appreciate it, but the most, when we explain it to them, the reason why we have everyone start on this date is because we find in the past people just needed time to tag along, it’s not a great learning experience. But if we can really sell to them: in this beginners’ program, we go step by step, you're only with other beginners, the instructor can concentrate on you guys and really give you a good platform base –man, I want to do it!

When I'm telling other people about it, I’m going, I wish I started like that. My first class, I got winded five times. I started in stretch jeans and had to do squats with someone on my shoulders. Why did I keep coming back? I have no idea, but I don't need to give that same experience to someone else, I can give them a much better experience than what my first experience was.

GEORGE: That's awesome. I've got one more question for you, because I know you do a lot of traveling and so you've got a lot of people on board, within the fight arena and the fight scene –  what's been your biggest learning curves, from traveling abroad with martial arts and the fight shows and so forth?

MATT: I think the biggest learning curve, there's probably been two. The first one is probably just a funny one, but a lot of guys don't do much for themselves and you learn that when you go away with them, and they ask how they're going to get their underpants cleaned, every little thing – oh my God, this guy has gone from mom to his wife, and there's been nothing in between. The girls are much better, the girls tend to be self-sufficient, but the guys can be pretty hopeless, so you end up being a bit of an everything to them on those trips. But the main thing I've found is that martial artists are martial artists.

When I first started traveling, I was really quite nervous going into another gym, or a studio, or a seminar, because you didn't know what quite was to be expected, and you were representative of everyone from your system – you're not, but you felt that. You sort of go, if I'm the only guy these guys will ever meet from our system and I'm an idiot, if I don't do well, then it’s not going to look good on my whole system. What I've found is, if you just get in there and have a go and laugh with them a bit and enjoy the session, everyone takes you under their wing and then because you've got something in common, they want to show you around, they want to take you out for dinner. They will help you get to places that you would never get to when you travel.

So most of my trips, a vast majority of my trips are around martial arts. So it’s either learning or further competitions stuff. With the competition stuff, the main thing that I've found is that Australia is way up there on our levels of professionalism in the way that we were in or shows and competitions, but also on our levels of competitors. And I've also found that, particularly in the Muay Thai, that everyone's there to help each other, so we’re in the change rooms – there's no animosity generally in the change rooms. It’s generally very, very friendly. If I've traveled away and I haven't been able to bring a bucket because there was no room, someone in the change room is going to give me a bucket.

The last fights, we were at world title fights, on a line fight, we were stuck in a place called Connecticut, we were in the Indian reserve in the middle of nowhere – apparently, it’s the biggest casino in America under one roof, but that didn't mean much. There was no way to buy anything, the next town was 40 minutes away, we had no cars. Guys helped us out with pretty much everything, even down to adrenaline for stopping cuts, which we needed. So yeah, I find that martial artists in general, through my vast experience with them, the vast majority are decent, good people. Sure, there's going to be that guy that wants to test you a little bit more, that's had a bad day, but that's everywhere. That's in the supermarket, or in my own club from time to time, but man, I just love traveling and meeting martial artists, it’s just the best thing ever.

GEORGE: Awesome. Matthew, that was awesome.

MATT: Thank you very much.

GEORGE: Glad to have you on this show and maybe we’re going to have you do around two for the fight stuff and chat a bit more about that.

MATT: Thanks very much for letting me talk and I've been loving all the podcasts. I've learned so much off all the different people you've had on. In fact, some of the ideas that helped turn me around are from different martial arts podcasts and things that I've listened to.

GEORGE: That's excellent. And before we go, if people want to find out more about you, where should they go?

MATT: They could have a look at www.smac.net.au.

GEORGE: smac.net.au.

MATT: Yep.

GEORGE: All right, awesome. Cool, thanks, Matthew, cheers!

And there you have it – thank you, Matthew, for a great interview, it was good fun. Learned a lot, like always and touching back on what I mentioned about event based marketing: if you look at the whole psychology of that, just putting a dead end to the purchase, the big thing with martial arts is the long term commitment and people fear long-term commitment, it’s just something that you've got to process. And as I spoke with Paul Veldman about the different stages of the conversion: somebody comes in for the paid trial, that's that. Now there's a whole new conversation because there's a whole new state of mind and there’s a whole new person really, because they've experienced what martial arts can do for them, or not.

That conversation is going to be completely different and you've got to think of it as these little baby steps that are climbing up this ladder to get to the ultimate conversion at the end of the day. And the psychology of putting that whole deadline in place, there's a lot of things here: there's the psychology of the deadline again – I know I repeat myself often, but the deadline of, it’s a 5-week program, so people know that that's what they're committing to, 5 weeks, and it’s actually nice for a student knowing that, hey I can actually sign up to this, and in 5 weeks, I've accomplished something.

In my mind, I can feel that I've done something worthwhile, and this comes back to an objection that I see coming up with the whole paid trial system, is a lot of people say that, even though the paid trial is so good, they don't want to disappoint their child, because they don't want to put the child through this whole process of enjoying the martial arts journey and now the parent has got to say, sorry, we just can’t do it, we can't afford it, it’s not going to work. And having that deadline, having that package deal with someone – maybe you don't even have to do anything different: what Matthew does is put something in a 5-week program and if you can package it as in something that really delivers a result that people aren't scared to commit, because they know for the 5 weeks, they're going to walk away with something and certain skills, that is a great way to frame things.

And look, obviously your intention is to keep them as a long term member, but removing that fear, that risk, that risk of commitment, risk reversal – we talk about it a lot in our copywriting stuff, risk reversal: how can you remove the risk completely and take on the risk, the risk is all on you as the school owner. So how can you do that, how can you take all the risk, eliminate it all from the person that's contemplating whether martial arts is going to work for them or not? So remove all barriers, make it easy for people, get them on the floor, get them trying things out and then into the next step of the conversion.

Alright, that's it from me, just a few insights, a few things that I've come up with. For next week, we've got another awesome interview for you and that's it. Show notes and all links and everything are on martialartsmedia.com/28 and I will speak to you next week. Have a good week, chat soon – cheers!

 

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23 – The Most Important Number To Pay Attention To For Your Martial Arts School Success

Focusing on the right numbers in your martial arts business? There’s one number that could be killing your profits. Master Fari Salievski shares his views.

Martial Arts School

IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN:

  • The one statistic that almost all martial arts school owners ignore
  • Having yearly goals vs. weekly goals
  • Would you spend $1,500 per phone call to retain a student? Maybe you already are!
  • Justifying the cost and value of your martial arts classes
  • As the martial arts business owner, this needs to be under your control
  • Bigger profits equals better facilities, better equipment and a better service
  • And more

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

TRANSCRIPTION

And I don't want my students to feel just as another number: I want them to know that I care enough.

Hi, this is George Fourie from martialartsmedia.com and welcome to the Martial Arts Media business podcast, episode number 23. Today, I have a repeat guest, Master Fari Salievski and this is an episode you want to listen to. And it might hit home for you, it might not – it might ruffle a bit of fathers, it might make you feel a bit uncomfortable if you're in that boat, but I can tell you what: if there are some complications in your business and there are some things that you're struggling with, this episode can be a great breakthrough for you. And especially also on paying attention to numbers, statistics, a lot of things that a lot of martial arts business owners are not paying attention to. So this is going to be a great episode for you.

So for me, back in the swing of things after a short little getaway, a nice little vacation break. If you listened to or watched episode number 22, go check it out on the website at martialartsmedia.com. We stayed at this nice little remote spot, which was very relaxing, nice beach views – a few storms, which was OK, but a good time to relax, which is a good thing, because the New Year has kicked off on a very high note for us: a lot of martial arts school owners coming on board and we're really looking forward to helping a lot of school owners with their lead generation and creating a few success stories, which is really exciting, so go and check that out.

And I guess on that note, I want to bring attention to something that we've just completed for our today's guest, Master Fari Salievski: if you go to his website martialartsforlife.com.au, go and check it out and let us know what you think. We spent a lot of time on revising the message that he was trying to get across, pretty much trying to compact all that experience, 34 years of experience into his website, to deliver that message as the front of the KMA champion martial arts brand.

And look, a website's got a few core functions: it needs to differentiate yourself from the pack, obviously it’s there to generate leads, to collect phone numbers and phone calls and online inquiries. It’s about you getting your message across to your students and to your prospects. I’m sure the reason why you ventured on your own and didn't stay with your martial arts school and decided to do things your way, was because you wanted to get a certain message across and you wanted to do certain things your way and I guess represent your values, of how you want to dedicate yourself to your martial arts journey and passing that on to other people.

And that's an important key to a professional website and look, it’s not the text stuff. And this is where, I think people get a bit confused about the professional website: yes, one kid can do it for $500 and somebody's going to charge $5000 or more. And what is the big differentiating factor, because the tech is all the same? Well, the differentiating factor is, does a $500 website get your message across to your target audience? Does it sell them on the benefits, on the reasons of why they should take the step and join your program and start training with you? And that is where the big art comes through, with professional websites.

But just to give you a tip: if there's one thing that you want to change in your marketing, go and look at your website, because at the end of the day, your website is where people end up. Yes, people talk about using fancy tools for landing pages and so forth, but if your landing page is not converting on the first interaction with your brand, then what are the people going to do next? If you made an impression, they might log back onto go look you up and what are they going to do?

They're going to go to Google, they're going to type in your martial arts school name, and where are they going to end up? On your website. So yes, it’s good to have landing pages and all these flashy things that you can use within your different ad campaigns, but at the end of the day, your website needs to represent your brand, be professional and be able to convert, be able to take orders, and more. Take orders, take phone calls and take online inquiries with ease, especially on a mobile device.

So yes, go have a look, we're pretty much polishing up the final touches on Fari's website – martialartsforlife.com.au and have a look and see what tips you can get from that, especially with the wording and the copy. And look, this is not something you can really duplicate, because Fari's message will be different to your message, so if there's one thing where we spend a lot of time on is getting that type of message across to people, extracting the message from the martial arts school owner and putting that onto paper that it can be communicated 24/7 to your prospect.

And I'm going to leave that there, I want to get into this episode with Master Fari Salievski, this is an excellent episode: it’s going to challenge maybe a lot of your belief systems and look: if you do the same thing that you've always done, you're going to get the same results. So you've got to make a few adjustments and changes. If something makes you feel uncomfortable, that's what you've got to be paying attention to – there's a reason it’s making you feel uncomfortable. And look, that's where growth comes, experiencing a bit of discomfort. But hey, as I said: I'm going to leave it there. So welcome once again to the show – Master Fari Salievski.

GEORGE: Good day everyone. Today I have with me for round 2, Fari Salievski. How are you doing today Fari?

FARI: Always good, every day above ground is a good day, so good to be here.

GEORGE: Awesome. We’re going to dig deeper into a few things that we maybe sort of touched on. The last episode we touched on different things about recurring billing and ownership, owning your school, versus renting your school and a bunch of other topics. So in this episode, we’re going to dig more into numbers.

FARI: Absolutely.

GEORGE: All right. So, I guess just to start, a big thing that we look at when we set up websites and we look at the online marketing stuff, we always want to determine what is the lifetime value of a customer. In martial arts schools case, it would be the actual student, how long are they going to be a student for, which kind of determines what the financial value is of them. And then, we can sort of determine, OK, if that's the value that the student brings in, monetary value, then this is sort of a percentage that we can use for marketing cost.

FARI: Exactly. And look, bottom line is that it’s all part of keeping stats and being aware of your numbers. And today's talk is going to be really how far are you taking those stats and the most important statistic of all: are you avoiding that?

GEORGE: OK, cool. So I guess there's a lot of numbers to pay attention to in your business – where do you really start?

FARI: Look, for me, the main number really is the number of active students, number 1. How many new students did I get this week, how many did I lose this week? I do that weekly and then that gives me my overall numbers at the end of the month. During that week also, I have a look at what I'm spending. I want to know, not only those numbers that I just mentioned but also what am I spending, what am I left with each day and I'm going to have every two weeks, I want to know what I've spent, how I've spent it and how much profit is left at the end of the day.

GEORGE: OK. Digging deeper into active students and losing students: what sort of actions do you take? You assess it and then what do you do from that point?

FARI: The reason you want to know that is because I like to have a weekly goal, right? People might have a yearly goal, but I like to have a weekly goal. I don't mind even if I'm staging it right now, that's the honest truth. But what I don't want to do is go backward, right? I need to be aware of the numbers and what I'm spending, what it’s costing and so they're my essentials. But today I want to go into the most essential statistic that I pretty much guarantee no one ever keeps and I guarantee there are people out there that are spending thousands, if not tens of thousands on a particular result and then looking at it as an expense of business, but they're not monitoring the performance of that money that they're spending, which I find crazy.

GEORGE: All right. So, let’s open the can of worms here and let’s dig deep into that.

FARI: All right. Well, let me give you an example: one of my clients, this is not that long ago, and we’ll just round off the figures for argument’s sake. There's a little bit more, but I’ll keep it simple. He's spending $6000 based on the percentage of the billing amount, OK? And $6000 he's paying for the service, which is great, right? You're happy to pay for a service. And my question to him was, why are you paying that amount of money for that service? And really the main reason is that people don't pay, I want somebody else to chase it up.

And I said, beautiful, good. And I said, OK, let’s use last month as an example: how many people did not pay? So he actually had to look that up and that particular month, there were four people where their payment kicked out, which is pretty good, four people. So in effect, to have those four people chased up, and he said, it’s done by the phone – awesome. And I said, OK, so that's $1500 a phone call.

GEORGE: Nice!

FARI: I mean, I’ll do that phone call for you for half the cost if you want me to, but we’re paying $1500 a call! But wait: my next question was, because I don't really mind spending money: it’s about maximizing the use of that money, so my next question was, OK: you spend $1500 a call for four calls: out of those four calls, how many of them succeeded in fixing the problem? In other words, that person might have closed their account, they might have moved on, they might have had financial difficulties that month – it happens. But how many of those four were actually sold? Because you're paying $1500 a call to that purpose, you agree?

GEORGE: Yeah.

FARI: Well, the client that I mentor had no idea of one, what it was costing per call, two, how many clients were chased up, but the craziest thing was – no one ever monitored the success rate of that call. Which to me is crazy. I mean, if you had a staff member that you're paying $1500 a week, because, for arguments sake, if you're being billed monthly – this was actually $6000 bi-weekly, in other words, you're paying a staff member $3000 – for that $3000, would you monitor that performance?

Would you check some balances, and the answer would be yes! But these people are paying someone else outside of their business to do a straightforward task, but there's no monitoring. Or if there was, he wasn't monitoring, he wasn't keeping a track of it. He just let that be a part of the cost of the business.

GEORGE: So what's the alternative, how do you go about fixing that? I mean obviously, the short answer is, you can employ someone to do all that following up for you, but how do you eliminate that cost?

FARI: Well, number one is, it’s not necessarily eliminating: it’s a matter of maximizing the benefit of that money. So for me: look, in this case, it averaged out at $3000 a week. For $3000 a week, if that was me who was getting a $3000 expense a week, I would be paying that person for 8 hours a day, for argument's sake, 5 days a week to do not only that phone call but to do a whole lot of other stuff. And for $3000 I could buy myself a lot of marketing, I can buy myself a lot of student service; I can buy myself a whole lot of things that will actually help the business.

GEORGE: OK. Where's the real root of this problem? Is this a way of billing, is this where money is coming through the business?

FARI: Yeah, look, ultimately, it’s a billing issue: how are you doing your billing? If you're paying a percentage of the collection and the people that pay that percentage – which is generally a much higher amount, it’s a percentage of your gross. If you're paying that sort of percentage, the reason they're doing that is because they believe there is a hell of a lot more service, and I'm not questioning that service: I am simply advising, are you keeping stats on the cost of that service?

Do you have checks and balances to make sure? In this case, four calls? I want to know how successful those four calls were. And I want to actually, physically – they may get reports, they may get feedback, whatever. The fact is, it’s not something people are very diligent with and keep abreast of. And I don't care if you're doing a $100,000 every two weeks, or if you're doing a $1000 every two weeks – it’s irrelevant. I’m paying this amount of money – am I maximizing the benefits of that cost? And what is the real cost? You understand my point?

GEORGE: Yes, yes for sure. So is there any more on that side of numbers that we can elaborate on, or are there any other numbers that you also pay attention to?

FARI: Look, that's the biggest number, because whatever you're paying and it averages out weekly, the fact is that I can have a staff member look at a whole lot of numbers for me, and that can be their job, to simply look at the number. And sure, a high level of student service. I mean, really: if I'm paying that amount of money, I would rather pay someone in a full-time job to do that and then some, which will make my life a hell of a lot easier.

GEORGE: For sure. So how do you have that setup to avoid that?

FARI: Look, I have a very simple solution: will there be one person, or will there be four people in a month, or will there be ten: bottom line is, I'm in a relationship business. For me, I don't expect anyone else to do that. If somebody has an issue, they might have financial difficulties – I care about my students. I want to help them over that little financial hurdle, whatever that may be. If I cannot fix it, no one can, that's the bottom line. And I don't want my students to feel just as another number: I want them to know that I care enough that I want to fix this issue here and now.

Let’s fix it: it could be an oversight, it could be just a little bit of cash flow issue, it could be much more. But it also could be that the student just wants to quit. I've been there, 34 years of my life in what I do. I don't think it’s too hard for me to ensure good relationships and ensure that I'm on top of it and I don't think it’s too hard for me to make four calls every two weeks, or five calls a month, whatever. I don't think it’s beyond my list of duties that I should not do as the owner. If anything, I think as the owner that's what you should do, because, again: you're the one with the relationship, I'm the Master instructor.

I believe that I'm in the best position to fix that then and there. Let’s not let things get out of hand. Some of those people leave just because of a misunderstanding and they're embarrassed about money or they just don't want to pay you for whatever reason. It could be very simple, but as the owner, I'm going to know here and now. And you cannot beat the value of a good relationship. I care about my students and I want my students to know that I care.

GEORGE: Excellent. We’re talking a lot about numbers and I guess it’s good to just mention the point, something that you mentioned in the first episode and today and it’s still a relationship business. It’s martial arts first.

FARI: Absolutely.

GEORGE: And it’s a relationship business. I was speaking to Kevin Blundell yesterday and the thing that he mentioned was, if you're earning a $1, then you are in business and there's no way around it. If there's money coming in, you're still running a business at the end of the day.

FARI: Oh, a 100%! I get people who have ten students, “I don't care about money.” What are you charging? I charge $3 a class. All right, well if you don't care about the money, and then charge them $3 a class. But I've got to pay for the hall higher. Ok, well – it’s a business then, whether you're charging a $1, whether you're charging a $100, whatever it is. The moment you charge, it’s a business. It’s not a charity and the moment someone pays me anything, I have an obligation to look after that person.

GEORGE: You can't do much for $3 a class, though.

FARI: Look, there are people out there, the fact is that they justify if you wish, their little philosophy of “it’s not about the money for me” by charging such small amounts. It’s not demeaning their level of service, it not demeaning their level of martial arts – they could be amazing martial artists, but for me, you need to be paying for your premises. And in my case, I wanted to one day own my premises, which I managed. I mean, there's people out there that are paying up to $70,000 – $80,000, $100,000 a year in premises, in rent – where does that come from?

That's one part of it, but also two, if you think about it, in the time when most people are having dinner with their families and their children, people are teaching martial arts. And if you've got a wife and children, you've got to ask yourself, is it fair that you're sacrificing the time away from your children, away from your family at dinner time for example, and you're teaching people that are strangers, you don’t know them. You're sacrificing that time, is it worth sacrificing that time for a $1? For $2? I don't think that's right.

If you're going to sacrifice that time, you'd like to say, “Look, it’s because I'm providing for my family, because I want to provide a higher level of service, a better level of service through facilities” and whatever, resources – mats cost money, things cost money, conditioning costs money. But also, to put a value on your time. It’s not just your time, it’s your family’s time. If you're not there, it’s your family’s time. What's that worth? I don't believe it’s worth $2, but I just think there are people in the industry, the fact is they'll simply say, “I'm not about money,” but I can tell you: if they could make a $100,000 in a month, they would do it tomorrow. I just think they don't have the know-how and the ability, that's a fact. And sometimes people just make a simple excuse to justify, but I would question that.

GEORGE: Do you think that's almost ironic? I say that because martial arts takes dedication, it’s not something that just gets given to you to earn your way to the top, whether it’s a black belt or whatever that is in whatever style you do. It takes a lot of persistence and determination to get to that point. Do you see it as almost ironic that a lot of martial arts business owners don't apply that same philosophy to business?

FARI: Oh, a 100%! A 100%! But again, you only do what you don't know and you only do what you know, both things. But unfortunately, what you don't know probably hurts you the most. Unfortunately, your circle of friends will influence you. It’s just like the bi-weekly, the fortnightly billing system: once upon a time, we were like in America where everyone charged monthly. You know why did they do that? Because that's what everyone else did and that's the standard.

Well, OK, it’s a standard, but who said that you've got to do it that way? So the people that are charging the $2 and that's all they know – that's their circle of influence. That's the circle of friends that they have and that's all they know. But I cannot tell you how many people that I've met that I've changed from that to going from your little scout hall to full-time premises, to even owning their own buildings. And if people think that cannot be done – I've built someone in their sixties that actually retired, that went from a little community hall to a full-time school, to actually owning his premises in his sixties, and he's a very happily retired man, teaching, enjoying life and being a property owner, so go figure.

GEORGE: Awesome. A few more things, just on figures: do you pay attention to different statistics, like conversion rates, how many students come through the door, how many people actually join?

FARI: Look, of course, yeah, and you need to be aware of them. As part of new students, if I break that up to the next stage is, those new students, if I take it one step back, it’s how many people actually have tried a class. If I go back further, it’s how many people called, have they called by phone or email? So in those stats, the reason I need to keep them is one, I want to make sure that people are contacting us. Because if I'm not getting any phone calls, if I'm not getting any emails for membership inquiries, then my business is going to die. So I need to have that sort of activity, I need to keep those stats.

For argument's sake, if ten people contacted me, be it by phone or email, out of those ten, how many people actually turned up to a trial lesson, or intro class, whatever you want to call it, I don't mind, but how many of them turned up? And from there, how many of them joined? So I need to be aware of that, because, number one is, if I'm not getting contacted, well then, you've got an issue right there.

My next point is that, from that point, once they go into the trial class, if they're not turning up, well OK – you're obviously not handling that email or phone call very well and then, when it comes to their intro or trial class, if they're not joining up as members, then you want to find out are you doing the right thing. But even with that, I just find it amazing that people want to do three trial lessons. And sometimes people say, you know, I’ll give you two weeks, absolutely – I know if I want to join something, if I like something, I want to know here and now.

I just believe there are better ways of doing things. It’s not a hard sell, but again, people are doing things because somebody else has done something, or somebody's told them but is it the absolute best way? And the only way to find out is to keep those stats! Even on people quitting, yeah, people are going to move on, people are going to move to different areas – it happens.

But at what belt level do they quit, for example? And why is that important? There could be a belt level that you've made way too difficult or you're putting way too much pressure on them, for whatever reasons. You might have the instructor that's teaching the yellow belts for example, and he's just not on the ball. And you're not going to know if you don't look at it, because all of a sudden, all of your yellow belts are leaving. And all that instructor needed was just some underarm deodorant and a little bit of discipline – as an example.

GEORGE: Yeah, deodorant!

FARI: But you know, the point is that I need to be aware of it and they're the basic stats, they're the essential stats. But again, I see so many people in the industry that become obsessed with stats, I think overly sometimes. Keep the essentials, keep it simple, because somebody's got to enter these stats, but more importantly, somebody needs to digest them and see where it’s at.

And for me, I'm the guy with the numbers; I'm the guy that looks at it. Why? Because this is my business, I want longevity in this business and it’s not being money hungry, it’s just to be on top of it. And there are some things that are way more important to me than a staff member. For example, at KMA, you ring at any time of the day, evening – guess what? Guess who gets the call? Even if I'm not there, guess who gets the call?

GEORGE: You do.

FARI: Me! All calls will be diverted to me. And people say, oh, you should have people for that. Are you too poor to pay anyone? I just find that extremely offensive, I love what I do. No one knows my business better than me. In one minute of talking to you, I will know exactly what you want and I will be able to tell you exactly what you need. If you come into the school and I chat with you, the fact is that I have people that want them to try three classes. Three classes? I can spend three minutes with you and show you why you need this, why your child needs this – three minutes. And I call that the perfect intro.

And if you don't have the perfect intro, what is that one technique for example that really demonstrates the beauty of your arts? Whether it be Brazilian jiu-jitsu, whether it be Taekwondo and you're kicking, or kickboxing: what makes me see in a very short time that I need this, why this is so great? And also, two, why is it much greater than the next school? Because there's a lot of karate schools, there's a lot of Taekwondo schools, there's a lot of Brazilian jiu-jitsu schools – why should I join yours?

GEORGE: What's that unique selling proposition. What makes you stand out?

FARI: Yeah, your USP. But that USP needs to come out in your perfect intro and the perfect intro is not just talking yourself stupid till the sun goes down, but for me, it’s about getting as many senses involved for example. They need to feel it, they need to see it, not just hear it. Too many people talk, we’re in the hands-on business, people want to experience it. When you go and buy a car, the guy just doesn't talk to you all day – he gets you in the car. He gets you behind the steering wheel and you know what? People buy a Mercedes – why do they buy a Mercedes for? Because of the experience.

GEORGE: For sure. And if this helps the scenario, because the one thing that I've really picked up in this conversation, and I speak to a lot of business owners and there are so many approaches and I guess at the end of the day for you, the biggest lesson is to really track what's working for you.

FARI: A 100%!

GEORGE: Because where your strength lies, you have that strength and that experience, and somebody else might not have that. So I guess it comes to that of managing your strengths and really testing what works. We have a simple rule that we try to do with websites: we try to get a hundred people to a website and then we see what people did and then we take the same traffic source and we send a hundred people to a different version and we weigh the two up. In Google AdWords, it’s called beat the control: you're trying to put two things next to each other and see what works best and then you're trying to best the next better version. So your strategy is always to improve on your previous result, basically.

FARI: A 100%! And the best person to do that is the owner. My pet hate is, I see, and I hear the line, and it sounds really good: you should work more on the business than in the business. And it sounds like a really good line, it’s like you could disappear forever. And you should be able to disappear and have holidays and so forth, but don't make yourself dispensable because you cannot teach – I cannot teach anyone my 34 years’ experience.

I’m getting to a comfortable level when I can take time off, but at the end of the day, I'm the best man for a whole lot of jobs. And to work on the business, I need to be aware of those stats and I need to make the most of those stats and make the most of the money I spend and ensure that I'm getting value for the money I'm spending at the end of the line.

GEORGE: Awesome. Fari, great chatting to you again, I guess just to wrap it up: the big thing here is to just really pay attention. Pay attention to where your money is going and really maximizing your strengths, as we just discussed.

FARI: Absolutely!

GEORGE: Test, I guess don't give up the checkbook is a big thing a lot of business owners also say, be in control of the money, the finances. Track the stats, see where things are going and then see what can be improved upon – does that kind of sum it up?

FARI: Well and truly, and I can tell you a very big school owner, a friend of mine, one of my best friends, and the fact is, very successful school and he was not aware of his very own business of what he was actually spending. And also, he was not aware of what was left at the end of each day. In other words, in business, we need to turn a profit. Don't be scared of the word profit, you need to turn a profit, because, with that profit, you might have to buy new mats down the track. You might have to replace things, do things, and improve facilities -whatever. You need money leftover in a business.

A business is not designed to just simply survive. It needs to help you grow. And to do that, you need to produce a profit. If you're not producing a profit, you're in trouble and the fact is, since all this consulting, like I said, he was very successful, having a good life, but was not simply aware, he now gets $50,000 a month. And I cannot be more proud, of netting $50,000 a month, and that was a person that had no idea of really  – yes, they were doing OK, they were doing good, but he had no idea what the proper margins were and it shocked him when he found out that as successful as he appeared, with the numbers and the school and the lifestyle, everything: at the end of the day, he was in shock of the very little profit that it was producing.

So just by tweaking a few things, making a few little profit centres within the school and making people aware, guess what: $50,000 a month. And that school is not in Sydney by the way, just in case. Everyone always seems to be talking about one particular instructor who is amazingly successful – this is outside of Sydney and $50,000 a month. Does he deserve it? Absolutely. Does he do wonderful things with it? Absolutely, his students are amazing, talented. They look great, perform great and producing a profit. And you know what? If he needs to do something, buy the building next door, buy the building of the opposition – he’ll have the money to do it, well and truly.

GEORGE: Excellent. Fari, great chatting to you and if people want to reach out to you, once again, where can they do that?

FARI: Look, you can inbox me on my Facebook, you can call me via my Facebook, all my numbers and emails are there, but ultimately martial arts professionals, you mentioned a very good friend of mine earlier in the conversation, he's an active member. The fact is, the biggest schools in the country are all active members, and it’s not just coincidence or luck, they are the biggest for a reason and that's why we’re all together.

GEORGE: Excellent. Thanks again, have a good day and I'll chat to you soon Fari.

FARI: Have a great day!

GEORGE: Cheers!

FARI: Bye.

GEORGE: There you have it – thank you Master Fari Salievski, and what did you think of the episode? What resonated with you, what didn't resonate with you? As I mentioned, just before we got into this, sometimes there are things that don't sit right with you, there's a reason for that because it’s challenging a way of your belief system, and that could be good or bad. It doesn't mean that it’s right, but if something makes me feel uncomfortable I want to pay attention to that and ask why. Is there a reason that I'm thinking in a certain way and could I make a few adjustments that are going to improve my business and improve me as a person at the end of the day.

So thanks again for listening: transcripts are available on martialartsmedia.com/23 and if you want to have a bit of a debate on any of these topics, you write below the episode. There's a place where you can leave a comment. Ask a question, have your say, whether that's on palm with what we discussed or not. Hey, a bit of controversy is always good, so I’d love to hear your feedback and if you're getting good value from this show, please head over to martialartsmedia.com/itunes. Open up the iTunes application and leave us a review – we’d much appreciate that. A five-star review will help us boost the rankings, but an honest review would be much appreciated.

And that's it – thanks for listening, we’ll be back again next week with another awesome guest and an awesome episode. You'll have to wait and see. All right, I’ll speak to you soon. Thanks again – cheers!

 

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21 – Double Your Martial Arts Paid Trial Conversions With Festive Season and Back To School Promotions

If you're doing paid trials for your martial arts business, this simple tweak will double your signup rate.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • The system that lead to 86 paid trial signups in 2 weeks
  • How to match your marketing message to festive season celebrations
  • What a paid trial is and how it works
  • The missing factor in most paid trial promotions that robs your success
  • Why Facebook Marketing is not enough
  • And more

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

TRANSCRIPTION

Hi, this is George Fourie from martialartsmedia.com. Today, I'm going to be talking about paid trials, how they can help boost your sign up rates for your martial arts school or your martial arts gym, how you and use this festive season and back to school and all these events to really amplify your results, and I'm going to be talking about the one key factor that everybody is not doing with paid trials that is literally robbing you of your success.

In the last few weeks, we've been helping one of our clients with their paid trial offer. We've been helping them optimizing and tweaking it and really adding a few elements to skyrocket their results, and that's really what happened. We managed to help them generate 86 paid signups within two weeks – that's 86, 86 paid signups within two weeks. And just last week, I was interviewing somebody else on the Martial Arts Media business podcast, who's really taken this paid trial concept and they've restructured their whole process of enrolling people that actually eliminated everything free and everything goes through the paid trial feature, which in a way helps them not to focus on selling, because that's just what it is. If you want to start training, here it is, you join, pay the trial and you train with us and you assess it from there and you walk away with value either way.

Having this in place eliminates a lot of the time wasters and there are so many benefits to it, and I want to get into that because there are a few things that I'm going to be talking about here, that you can do right now to your offers to optimize your results and this can be done during the right season. At the time of recording this, there'll be the whole back to school trend coming up – there's always going to be a reason to market, so you can adjust your offers to match what is happening in the environment. Right now, it will be Christmas, that's almost over, but there's always things like back to school and New Year's and New Year's resolutions and so many things happening.

So, first and foremost, 86 paid trial sign-ups in two weeks. Now, taking a step back: if you're not familiar with the paid trial, to explain the basics of it, it is basically having a front end offer, something that's very cheap, whether it's 30, 50, a 100, but something that is affordable for anyone to take and then providing a free training trial, which can be two weeks, three weeks, four weeks or a few classes, or whatever suits your establishment and it's something that you've got to test.

Ideally, try to give away something physical as well, maybe a set of gloves for kickboxing or a uniform. Putting that in place is a lot easier for people to decide, because even if they might get a free trial they think, “Well, free: I'm going to come in and they're going to try and sell me something,” whereas, when you're just paying a once off amount, a small amount, you can justify it and you're getting something that you can keep, physical, gloves or a uniform or something and you're getting some training. In a way and strangely enough, you put an offer like that in the front and now you are eliminating a lot of your sales headaches because that's just what it is: you buy it for $50 and this is what you get or whatever the offer is.

So, how did we take this type of concept and how did we get to 86 sign ups within two weeks? There were a few components that were in play. Now, I can't stand here and tell you “Do this and you're going to get 86 sign ups,” because there are a lot of components in play. And a lot of this also depends on what type of marketing you have been doing, how familiar people are with your brand, what time of the year it is and how the offer applies to that as well.

So always be thinking touch points: if you aren't out there marketing, how many times have people interacted with your brand? What have they seen, what have they seen on social media, have you provided value to them and content or something, or do they just keep seeing the same offer? Because if they keep seeing the same offer, there is no urgency to take up that offer. They know that they can contact you at any given time and take up that offer. So when you want to create a rush of people, then it's key to do a few things.

One, you want to set a deadline that you can only get it within this time frame, and that means obviously that if you are running a paid trial offer, that you've got to change it up, you've got to provide something different from value. There are a few ways that you can go about this. You can for one, just have that one offer, but create maybe something different, like a waiting list, and only open up at certain times.

I know that sounds crazy to a lot of people, but you can do that because you create a rush of buyers, because there is a deadline on when people can get in and they know that there is a chance that they are going to miss out. Or just go ahead and if you want to go on a craze or something like what's happening now at Christmas time, or it's Easter, or whether it's back to school, tie your marketing to that message and put a strict deadline to it. So a deadline that people can only take at this point in time and that's it.

Now, the marketing components we used for that was Facebook, they were doing a lot of Facebook marketing. Basically, targeting different audiences and their fan page. Now again: if you've got a good following, this is going to help, because you're going to have all these people that are familiar with your brand that are going to take you up on your offer, if the offer is a good match for them. Then we also did strategic email campaigns and we really drove to the deadline of when the cut off is and when they have to take up the offer and when it was five o'clock the cutoff, we took the page down, so people could literally not by at that time anymore.

So you also can't be fake and false scarcity, people see through that and your local business and you don't want to go down that track of creating false scarcity and people can just get it at any time, because you lose credibility instantly and it just takes those few people to know and spread bad rumours about you, so you don't want to do that. You want to be genuine and authentic in how you do it. So, email marketing, Facebook marketing, direct marketing and putting a direct deadline on that.

Now, one thing that we also did that was the icing on the cake is, we managed to put a system in place where people could double up on their order at the end and this was quite an advanced sort of process that we took with the shopping cart that really, really elevated the results. But those are the basics, if there is one thing that you can take away is put that deadline in place and create something that gives a bit of a wow factor that people can really, really benefit from.

If you want to do something similar and you want to take up a campaign like that, you can get in touch with us, this is the kind of stuff that we do on a day-to-day basis, is put these types of systems in place. We handle all the tech side, we create sales copy for your offer that really supports it and goes with the trend and put strategic things in place that drives people to that deadline.

So if you want to take advantage of something like that, you can just get a hold of us on martialartsmedia.com. Get in touch with us and ask us how we can create a strategic offer for you that drives people to a strict deadline and hopefully, you can skyrocket your results. And hey, if it's not 86 paid member sign ups, I know a lot of school owners that would be happy with 10, 20, 30, 40, whatever the number is. So results will obviously vary, but it's something that can be put in place for your marketing and it's something that we can reuse all the time for different offers and I can explain that more to you.

So if that's of interest to you, get a hold of us on martialartsmedia.com – thanks for watching, I hope you got great value from this and I'll speak to you soon. Cheers!

 

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16 – Justin Sidelle: The Lifestyle Of Running A Martial Arts Business In The Tropics

Sun, surf and martial arts? Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Justin Sidelle shares the laid back lifestyle running their martial arts business.

martial arts business

IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN:

  • Justin’s martial arts journey that inspired him to travel the world
  • How a healthy environment motivates martial arts training and how it affects your performance
  • The importance of “word of mouth” and social media in boosting your martial arts school’s exposure
  • Having a martial arts holiday in Bali, Indonesia vs Thailand
  • Giving back to the community and making a difference
  • And more

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

TRANSCRIPTION

And on top of that, being in such an environment that's that healthy and that welcoming, your training goes through the roof. You perform better, you learn better, you learn faster.

Hi, this is George Fourie from martialartsmedia.com and welcome to the Martial Arts Media business podcast, episode number 16. Today, I cross international waters – again. Well, it's not really international for us so much, because it's just Bali, and Bali and Perth, that's about a three and half hour flight, but I'm speaking to Justin Sidelle. And Justin Sidelle is the head coach at Bali MMA, the head jiu-jitsu coach at Bali MMA. Now, if you recall episode 13, I had Jess Fraser on, from the Australian Girls in GI and she mentioned that Bali MMA is her home gym, although she jet-sets and travels around the world. So I wanted to get in touch with Justin and just have a chat with him about his lifestyle: living in Bali, being able to train jiu-jitsu, which he loves and living in the tropics and just living an awesome lifestyle and living a very laid back life and doing a lot of good things within the Bali community.

But first, just a quick update, more a notification, if you're not aware of it, depending of course on where you listen to this podcast, if you listen to it on your iPhone or through your Android type device like a Samsung or so forth, or on the website. If you listen to it on the website, you might have noticed it, but we give away a martial art business plan for online media for martial arts business owners and it's basically a plan for the online media side of things.

It's looking at the different components of digital marketing for your martial arts school, so what you need to basically cover all the elements. There's a lot of information out there, you've got to do this on Facebook, and you've got to do this on Google and you've got to have SEO, but this is kind of giving you a holistic view of all the components that you need to have a prosperous martial arts school, but not only that, to make sure that you're not single point sensitive.

Let's say Facebook fell off the map today: can your business still sustain and can you still market? Do you still have ways and means to actually get in touch with your people? So it's just looking at things from a holistic point of view and all the elements that you need to cover. It's on the website, you can download it on martialartsmedia.com, or if you go directly to the link, it's martialartsmedia.com/plan. Download it, check it out. That will put you on our email database and we'll also send out weekly updates from when we release this podcast and such.

That's just it from me. I want to get into the podcast now. I've got to tell you as well, this was always going to be a problem: talking to someone in Bali, I knew the internet wasn't going to be the best, we ended up talking on the phone and there was a bit of a delay, which kind of overlapped a few times. All in all, the interview is awesome, you're going to get a lot of value from this and it might even spark you, light a fire under you to go take a nice tropical holiday with some awesome martial arts training. So, without further ado, please welcome to the show – Justin Sidelle.

GEORGE: Alright, good day everyone. Today I have with me a guest from Indonesia, from Bali to be exact. Well, I guess rather saying, based in Indonesia, but actually an American gentleman. His name is Justin Sidelle and how I was introduced to Justin was through Jess Fraser from Australian girls in GI, who I had on the podcast episode 13 and she mentioned that Justin is her head coach and her home training grounds, if you want to call it that way is the Bali MMA. Welcome to the call Justin.

JUSTIN: Thanks George, thanks for having me.

GEORGE: Alright, awesome. So I guess we should start right at the beginning and we're going to ask of course how an American ended up in Bali, but  – who is Justin Sidelle?

JUSTIN: That's a good question, man. Who you are as a person never stops changing, right? So it's hard to answer that question I think for a lot of people. I was somebody who was out traveling. I was traveling through Asia and I got a good job opportunity thrown my way and I was first in Thailand, so I worked in Thailand for a while and then I met the Leone brothers and Donny and they wanted to come out to Bali and open a gym out here, so I kind of followed them out here and we opened Bali MMA.

GEORGE: Alright, cool. How long ago was that, how long did you start traveling that you went over to Thailand?

JUSTIN: I've been out of the States now for three years. So a year in Thailand and now two years in Bali.

GEORGE: What was the big motivation for going? I know there's a lot of motivation to set up in Bali, but what was the idea behind setting up Bali MMA?

JUSTIN: I think it was a passion for, I still look at the guys I came here with, I still look at Andrew and Anthony and Donny and a big passion for them was surfing. They all wanted to come out here and surf and that was something I was interested in getting involved with. Definitely, the Asian lifestyle, living in the tropics, is something that I think attracted all of us for wanting to come here.

15049824_10209156096792461_674409732_nJust that training lifestyle and the destination, that's just kind of so inspiring and makes you want more for yourself and more on where you're at in the world. It was just the perfect place to open a gym really, and there was nothing really out here like this already. We were the first really professional gym that set up. So it's kind of cool, we're working our way up towards being a world class destination gym and I think we've done that. Then you continue pushing forward to really keep up with our competition.

GEORGE: With not having the competition and you were the first there, what was your primary goal? Were you thinking, OK, we're going to set something up for Indonesians as such or Bali, being such a hot travel destination, was it more a goal of being a place where people can train on a holiday, or were you going for that expat market for people that are living in Bali and trying to accommodate for them?

JUSTIN: That's a good question. I think initially our goal was to be a destination gym. Because before we were in Phuket and Phuket was a much more transient place, we had a lot more tourists coming in and out. That much said, we don't have that here in Bali, we just find that there are more expats and locals here that are interested in training, which we didn't have as much in Thailand.

So I think what we figured out quickly was that we were going to be able to cater to both. So I have my core group of guys that are either part of our professional fight team or live here in Bali that train with me daily and then I also have handfuls of tourists coming through every week, if it's even just for a drop in class or just two months of a hard training camp, or maybe just 6 months to a year, just to give their life a new start. I get all of that, it's a great environment.

GEORGE: So the majority of people who train there, what styles are you coaching and is it mostly adults or do you have kids programs as well?

JUSTIN: Oh yeah, adults and kids both. We're really multifaceted, we have a professional MMA team that I coach for their jiu-jitsu, so my approach to them has to be a little different, right? My concern with them is not only them  having a pristine jiu-jitsu technique, but also that they're safe in a fight, so for them, I kind of structure their jiu-jitsu a little differently, so I know they're going to go in there, they're going to be safe in a fight, they can handle themselves well and they're looking to finish.

So I have  a different mindset for my pros than I do for my hobbyists. My hobbyists, depending on whether they're competing in jiu-jitsu, I need to give them tools so they're going to work in that style and that environment. My hobbyists, I tend to steer towards more self-defense. Again, kind of like that mixture between MMA and sports jiu-jitsu that has to be taught to them. So I really try to cater it to my students and who's there. Kid's programs, we have a couple.

We have our main kid's program here that's taught by Andrew Leone – fantastic kid's coach, he's really hands on, he's funny. He knows how to get the kids rolled up and having a good time, he does a great job with our kid's program here. I helped him, I established that with him, we built that together, it's a ton of fun. And then we do a program called Jalang, with a green school. Jalang it means “to wonder” in Indonesian. They come out once a semester for six weeks and we teach them jiu-jitsu and boxing and wrestling as well. We do it separately, so it's not straight MMA, but we teach all the components to them.

GEORGE: What a variation there! How do you cater for international clients, and people coming through on holiday? How do you get the word out and how do you get the marketing out in a place like Bali?

JUSTIN: A little bit of it is word of mouth, a lot of it is through social media. There tends to be, what we're finding is that there's a community of people that want to go on holiday and do something healthy for themselves. They just don't want to go partying the whole time, so a lot of people are choosing to do things, like go to an MMA camp, in a destination like Bali, so they can go and get the holiday they want, but train on the side, eat healthy, live a clean lifestyle while they're here and then go back to the real world.

So a lot of it is just networking, people who come through, they go home, they tell people from their gym, and then next time, they come and bring friends – it’s just people who like to travel already. And then a lot of it is people that have come back, that have trained with us before, so maybe they pass through. When we were training together in Thailand and in Bali, so now they're coming over here to check out what we're doing over here. And then, we just establish those relationships and people keep coming back.

GEORGE: I can see you have quite a few, I know Tiffany Van Soest, that's also the home training facility for her.

JUSTIN: She's my neighbor, she's right next door.

GEORGE: Oh, cool. So does that help a lot with marketing, having someone like that on board, and big names, how does that influence it?

15045612_10209156137353475_1634376610_nJUSTIN: Oh, absolutely! She's such a big influence on the team here, the energy she brings into the room. It says a lot about her skill set, she can walk into a room full of MMA fighters and they all just shut up and listen to whatever she has to say, so it’s a technical striker. All that input is really great and having high-level competitors like that in the gym pushes everyone else to raise the bar on themselves and train harder. Having world class athletes that we do, that come in regularly makes a big difference in the energy of the gym.

GEORGE: Going back, I want to know a bit more about you. Alright, you come from America, you started traveling and so forth – let's just actually take a step back from all this and let's start with your career, where did you start in martial arts?

15050023_10209156119793036_29076811_nJUSTIN: I started doing traditional martial arts as a kid and then when I got a little bit older, I got involved with Brazilian jiu-jitsu. So I in 2005 I started jiu-jitsu and I fell in love with it right away, I knew that's what I wanted to practice and that's what I wanted to do. So I just kept cutting the fat around things in my life that wouldn't let me train and it was actually after I did, in 2010, I was still training probably three or four days a week in jiu-jitsu and competing actively, I competed in IBJJF, really great jiu-jitsu tournaments. Jiu-jitsu just becomes such a Mecca in California, you could go to California and train, it’s just always tough competition, great guys to train with.

So anyway, in 2010, I went to Thailand for the first time and got the taste of training full time, I went to Tiger Muay Thai, and did like three weeks there and it blew my mind. On my way back, I ended up getting a job offer from the gym I was training at the time, with Dave Camarillo, so I ended up at that point in my life, switching from, I was working in restaurants and bars and grocery stores and stuff like that, to training jiu-jitsu full time. And so I trained and taught with Dave for the next four years, I've probably been a brown belt for maybe like a year and then I left to do some traveling in Thailand and south east Asia and I ended up doing work with Olavo Abreu. And so I took that and stayed there and got my black belt from Olavo Abreu and then came to Bali.

GEORGE: That's got to be the ultimate lifestyle for you, living in Bali, being able to train every day, quite a laid back lifestyle?

15044892_10209156097392476_288918132_oJUSTIN: Oh, for sure! It's great man, I wake up every day, go get breakfast on a beach, drive my motorbike around through rice paddies, all that good stuff, and you go to the gym and you train – I love my team, I love everyone there, the atmosphere of the gym  is so great. I thought about this a while ago: when you show up to work at least 30 minutes early every day, for no reason other than to be there, you like your job. You know what I mean? When you're getting out of bed early just to go to work, you really like your job. I'm just so happy to be at the gym and training with my team, it’s been great man, it’s a great lifestyle.

GEORGE: How big is the gym? How many students do you have coming in and out? Regulars, versus the people that just come by for holiday training and camps and so forth?

JUSTIN: It's hard to say, cause it’s kind of seasonal, but it’s unpredictable. When we have people coming in slow all day. So I'd say when it’s slow, I can just – jiu-jitsu is what I've got the best idea of, right? So when it’s slow, I have ten people in my class, when it’s busy I have close to thirty. So it kind of depends on the time of the year and how many people are coming in. I can get a really even mix and now, since I've been down here for a while, I have people who come and train with me for longer.

I'll use Jess as an example, she loves training with us, so she'll come up for months. And then I have Jess with me for four months, and that's great. And then, she feels like a local, she feels like family to me, she's been here so many times for long stints. But then, there's the tourists coming in and out and then the people living here. Whenever someone leaves, someone else comes in, you know what I mean? The door is never wholly shut, we've always got people in the gym.

GEORGE: So let's say, a place like Australia, if I look at Perth: Perth is probably, I wouldn't say it takes the majority of Bali, because Bali is a big place, but I know that it's the number one vacation destination, just because, I mean, it's a three and a half hour flight, it's cheap for us.

JUSTIN: Oh, it's so close to you guys.

GEORGE: Yeah, driving down south or getting on the plane to Bali is kind of the same thing for us, except Bali is a whole different country, so it’s very popular for multiple reasons. But also, there's so many people that come from here and then they go to Thailand, they go do things like Tiger Muay Thai and Sinbi and go train in those destinations. What would you say to people to consider Bali MMA as an option beyond the other alternatives, like there is in Thailand and so forth?

JUSTIN: Again, it’s something that you should just experience. I've been fortunate enough, I've trained at Tiger Muay Thai with a top team and I've trained at some of the smaller gyms in Phuket and then I've been here. it’s just such a different experience, it’s a different vibe. There's a lot of similarities too, they're all great gyms to train at, you've just got to shop around and see these other destinations. I think training at these gyms is a bonus to the place you're in too. I always wanted to go to Thailand, training at first was almost as a bonus, it was something to sweeten the deal.

15050297_10209156096952465_1302411700_nThe vibe in Bali is just so different, it's something you really have got to come in and experience and see just how warm and welcoming everyone is. One of the things people talk about are the dogs, we have all these gym dogs at the front of the gym and they're super friendly and nice. You walk up in this cafe area and you're greeted by these super friendly dogs. The people at the cafe are super friendly. They're all international so they're really welcoming and excited to meet new people. Then you go inside and everyone's very welcoming again – everyone's ready to lend a hand, answering the questions you have, super supportive people that just make you want to stay.

And I think that's the thing most of why people come, they get that overwhelming sensation of feeling so welcome that they should stay here and they feel at home. And they are the people that want to come back and keep training with us. I think that's something that's definitely worth experiencing, it's the camaraderie that we all carry here, it's very strong and we make people feel very welcome when they come here to train. And on top of that, being in such an environment that's that healthy and that welcoming, your training goes through the roof. You perform better, you learn better, you learn faster. So the level in the room is very high.  And because everyone's taking care of themselves and working so hard, people get a lot better here really quickly. Again, you've got to come try it.

GEORGE: From what you're saying, because I've been to Bali multiple times, That whole relaXed and laid back culture, it sounds like you've really embraced that and I can actually visualize how you would experience that within your gym and just have a really awesome holiday, but get all this great knowledge and value from all the expert coaches and trainers out here.

JUSTIN: Right. And it's a really good place for people to go who are traveling alone too. When I first started traveling in Asia, I didn't have many connections, but the connections I had were through martial arts. So the great way to go out and meet some people who are doing the same thing you are, if you're traveling and you train, definitely go stop by a gym, it's a  really good way of meeting some local people and it will give you a better experience of the place you're seeing and visiting. It's something I took on very early on in my traveling and it's something I do even when I'm still traveling, I always bring my GI with me, I'm always ready to go train at a gym. It's just a  great way to meet people.

GEORGE: Ok. You mentioned earlier, briefly, that you also have fight shows and tournaments and things within Bali. Can you elaborate a bit more on that?

JUSTIN: We have something called Canggu fight night. We just had one for Halloween that was really successful, we do kickboxing smokers, people then come out and watch, the boxing and kickboxing. We just put on a  really good show, a good time for them. If you follow us on Facebook, you can see there're some videos that we recently put up. And again, it's  that vibe that makes it so different. I've been to a lot of Muay Thai fights and MMA shows and stuff like that.  

The vibe really affects how good of a time the people watching are having. And everyone here is just so easygoing and laid back, it makes the fight truly fun and people are just genuinely having a good time and I think when the fighters are having a good time, so are the fans watching. It gets everyone to kind of open up, put on a good show and fight hard. Our next one's going to be, I think the second week of December, so if you guys are thinking about coming to Bali, definitely try to be here for Canggu fight night.

GEORGE: OK. And where about in Bali do you host that?

JUSTIN: We're based in Canggu.

GEORGE: OK, that's where all the awesome surf spots are. 

JUSTIN: Right, yeah. We've got some good surf spots here. Canggu is an interesting place, it's kind of where hipsters meet hippies, it's  very unique. Again, if you're looking for having a healthy holiday, it's a really great place for it, because there're so much health conscious restaurants close to the gym, and just again, the environment here is really great. There's a ton of rice fields everywhere  and we're close to three beaches with great waves. It's a good time.

GEORGE: Oh yeah, definitely. Alright, awesome. And then, one more thing I want to ask you before we start wrapping it up: you also mentioned your involvement with one of the orphanages there?

JUSTIN: Yeah, we've done some work for the orphanage called Jodie O'Shea. People usually go in and work with the kids a little bit and then a bunch of the other guys from the fight team come out too, pretty much all the fight teams and then Subba brothers come out quite a bit.  It's a good time, it's just kind of something we started doing because we wanted to give back. I've been trying to get a program up and running with them to be a continuous thing, but it's difficult, they're pretty far away from us and with the traffic and everything, it's a little difficult. We just try to do stuff where we can give back to the community. If it's doing free women's self-defense seminars, or working with kids locally here. I think it's something really good we can do to help share our passions.

GEORGE: Justin, it's been awesome chatting to you and I know I'll definitely make a trip to Bali to come and see you guys sometimes. For anybody that wants to come and visit you guys and make a trip to Bali, what should they be doing? What would be the process to get in touch with you guys?

JUSTIN: Either on Facebook or our website, balimma.com. Any questions you have, don't be shy to ask. You can message us directly, but it's better to go through the site. People will message me all the time, asking me questions about coming out to train – please, please don't be shy to do so. If you guys want to come out, train, see Bali, just explore, it's a great place to do it. So Bali MMA, check us out on Facebook or  our website.

GEORGE: Justin, it's been great chatting to you and I hope to see you  on the sunny side soon.

JUSTIN: Absolutely, thanks, George.

GEORGE: Cheers.

15126212_10209156097552480_676270323_oGEORGE: And there you have it. Thank you, Justin and I'm sure that might have sparked some ideas for you, to go and train. Awesome trainers in Bali and a great lifestyle. And if you've been to Bali or if you haven't been, Changu, where they are situated, is a really, really cool part of Bali and there are nice surf spots. What I like about it is, it’s because I don't surf that often as I used to, the surf spots are, it’s kind of from the beach, so there're not long extensive paddles, but it's reef breaks that are in easy access from the beach, and there's nice little restaurants and it’s sort of out of the main hustle and bustle from Bali. And of course, they've got an awesome gym in there, Bali MMA, so great place to have a holiday.

Thanks again for listening, thanks for tuning in. I do want to ask a  bit of a favor: if you could head over to iTunes and really help us, we're really trying to get the rankings up for the show. The more people vote on the show, the better we get listed in the iTunes library or directory if you want to call it that. So if you do want to do us a big favor, and if you've gotten value out of this show, please head over to iTunes. You can just go to martialartsmedia.com/iTunes, that will take you there and just leave us a review. Five-star reviews are what helps us get the good ranking, but an honest review would be much appreciated.

And that's it. Awesome guest on board again next week – I will chat to you soon, have a good week. Cheers!

 

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