126 – Ed Carr: How To Rise Above Bullying Through Martial Arts And Live An Empowered Life

Edward Carr shares how he’s built 2 thriving clubs through word of mouth, while helping his community combat cyberbullying and live an empowered life.


IN THIS EPISODE:

  • How to harness the power of word of mouth
  • Tips to boost martial arts community engagement 
  • How to encourage bullied children to share their experiences
  • Edward’s book against bullying, Lift Them Up: How to Rise Above Bullying and Live an Empowered Life
  • Effective ways to build a strong online presence
  • And more

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


TRANSCRIPTION

GEORGE: Hey, George Fourie here. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ business podcast. So today, I have a special guest with me: Edward Carr from New Hampshire in the United States. And so, Edward owns two locations, Tokyo Joe Studios and Team Link MMA, both at the same actual location, in the same facility, on two separate floors.

So, we chat a bit about that divide, and also how he's built a thriving business. 320-330 plus students, mostly on word of mouth. And, look, always when someone says word of mouth, I'm always curious, because it always means there's a strong program, a strong product, and much more to it, right?

And so we chat a lot about things that they've done in the community, their community promotions, also his book against anti-bullying, that positions him as an authority. And all this, how it helped them thrive through the pandemic, and almost not losing any students after being locked down for a full year. So, we're going to jump into that.

If you are new to the podcast, do check out on this page martialartsmedia.com/126, depending where you're listening or watching, and be sure to download our ebook, ‘The Ultimate Facebook™ Guide for Martial Arts Schools', that will help you create your next winning ad campaign. And of course, wherever you're listening or watching, make sure you hit that subscribe button, so that you get notified when we release our next episode.

Alright, let's get into it. So, Edward, over the last couple of months, or just in general, what's been the top marketing strategy and lead generator for you?

EDWARD: It would be a lot of word of mouth, a lot of word of mouth and online. You know, some online advertising definitely helped out, but the word of mouth has been incredible-  with all the students promoting, you know, the school and, you know, me being involved in the schools a lot, also has helped out quite a bit, you know.

Just like I said, just promoting and having fun, and, you know, going from there. And just letting the kids know, you know, letting everyone know, you know, what we're doing, what we're about, promoting safety, you know. Letting them know, like, even though the pandemic, you know, people are still nervous, you know, having all the safety stations everywhere, and all that.

Just making everyone feel comfortable, and then having them go out and telling all their friends, “This is a place to go to exercise and have fun”, and, you know, how do kids learn.

GEORGE: So, if you've got great word of mouth, it's always a sign that you've got a great product, right, and great training and good program. But other than that, how do you feel you kind of orchestrate a lot of word of mouth? And what do you think? What do you think escalates it?

EDWARD: Every time someone competes or does something. Well, we've had a few big name fighters, you know, fight for us. That always brings in a lot of students, people see it, they watch it on UFC Fight Pass, you know, they go from there. We've had a lot of kids… Muay Thai tournaments, grappling tournaments, and karate tournaments – they're starting to do them again and that's always been great.

You know, kids want a medal, a trophy, they're all happy, they tell their friends, you know, and that's the type of word of mouth stuff that's happening. I wrote a book, and it was on bullying, and I got that involved in the schools. So, you know, they're, you know, me being involved in the schools and helping out and talking to the children, you know, about bullying and this and that, it's also been huge.

So, it's a good word of mouth, you know, think, you know, for me, you know, to do all that. Like I said, there's been a little bit of online, you know, stuff, I've done some, you know, contests here and there, you know, for everything, get the students involved, you know, and just try to work it, make it a grind.

GEORGE: What's the book called?

EDWARD: Lift Them Up.

GEORGE: And it's available on Amazon?

EDWARD: Yeah, it's available on Amazon. Yeah, Amazon, the book is called Lift Them Up: How to Rise Above Bullying and Live an Empowered Life. You know, just as in deal with this typical boy who deals with cyber bullying, you know, it goes through the whole… You know, everyone thinks bullying, you just, you know, pick on someone.

But, you know, a lot of people don't realize there's a whole cyber bullying, internet bullying, texting bullying and all this. There's so much out there that people don't understand or realize. So, you know, I mean, it's done well. I've sold like 400, 500 books, I can't complain.

GEORGE: That's perfect. Well, I hope you sell 4000, 5000 more after we do this podcast, right?

EDWARD: Absolutely!

GEORGE: If you don't mind sharing a little bit of insight, because I mean, it's a whole different planet, just like you saying, you know, it used to be bullying, face to face. But, you know, if I look at kids today, I think they're dealing with this whole – a whole different form of bullying, that's, it's pretty intense. And I don't know, I sometimes wonder how kids have actually got to deal with that, right?

If there's, especially if there's a group of people that are bullying you, or doing cyber attacks and just being nasty kids, what's your advice to kids on how to deal with that?

EDWARD: Communication. A lot of kids tend to hide things, you know, and I have a lot of kids that feel very comfortable coming to talk to me, and not even their own parents, or teachers, because they're afraid or scared. And it's just communication, I'm trying to, you know, when I talk to them, I want them to feel comfortable.

I want them to realize it's okay to talk to the teachers, it's okay to talk to your, especially your parents. Let them know what's going on. Too many kids out there just bottle it up, and unfortunately, you know, bad things do happen. And you know, a lot of times they'll bottle that up and hold that negative energy inside, and they explode, and something negative can happen off of that, you know.

And that's all, the key, you know, is communication. Letting them know, you know, that people are out there that, you know, these people in these positions care for them and want the best for them – and want to help them out.

GEORGE: And so, is that something you do on the mats, like mat chats and things like that?

EDWARD: Yeah, we talk a lot about that, you know, on the mats. At the end of every class, I usually have, like, a little, you know, 2 – 3 minute mat chat with them. And we're always talking about bullying, you know, certain situations, you know, just how to train, you know, how to deal with it, you know, how to use your words first, you know.

Everyone thinks, a lot of kids think too, you know, how to deal with things they don't understand either, gotta make them aware. Like, they think, “Okay, I know karate and martial arts, I'm just gonna go beat the bully up.” That's not what it's all about, you know, trying to get them to realize you go talk to them, try and make them – be their friends or walk away.

If there is a self defense situation there, then of course, you know, deal with it in the proper way. But definitely learn how to use your words first, and your brain. I always tell them to use your brain first, speech smart.

GEORGE: That's awesome. Cool. So, talking about online, moving through the pandemic, and you mentioned earlier that you managed to maintain almost a full student base, how long were you locked down for? Just curious.

EDWARD: About a year. It was about a good year, you know, and, you know, you weren't allowed to have any, I could do one-on-one classes. I had a couple people, you know, that would, I would make sure at 12 o'clock, they could come in, it was just them, no one else could be around.

I'd have to give a half hour's worth of time in between, so I could clean and sanitize and then could have another private – but that was it. No group classes. I could do family classes, but I'd have to do them outside. So, thank goodness, a lot of this was during the summer. So, it worked out pretty good.

GEORGE: Yeah. 

Martial Arts

EDWARD: And so I'd do a lot of group classes, you know, with families outside in the parking lot, which, another way in which pretty good advertising too, because then people driving by, seeing us working out and exercising and doing something, so it was good advertising in that way. So, you know, it was rough. But it was a learning experience for me, because trying to develop a system that keeps everyone happy on Zoom.

You know, I've never taught, I mean, I've done a lot of seminars and this and that, but I've never taught on Zoom, you know, pretty much eight hours a day, standing in front of a camera, trying to teach forms. You know, trying to teach, you know, a kickboxing combination and make sure they got proper footwork. It was a learning experience for me too.

But it worked and kept everyone happy. And, you know, like I said, we just always have a contest, I always had something going on just to keep them, you know, feeling good about themselves.

GEORGE: What do you think you've taken from that?

EDWARD: It's made me definitely a better instructor off of that. You know, it definitely opened up my eyes a little bit. I definitely became better – just made me practice a little… You know, we kind of get into, I don't want to say a rut in a bad way, but we get in a rut and a daily routine of coming into the school, four o'clock class, five o'clock class, six o'clock class.

And what it made me do is step out of the box a little bit – I hadn't done that for a while, because I got a successful school. I'm happy, I'm always wanting to grow, do what it takes, but I was, you know, doing well. So, I was like, okay… But this made me step out of the box a little bit, made me realize, you know, “Okay, start training, you got to start training, you've got to start using your mind, come up with these ideas, you know.”

You know, make these kids happy. Let these kids know you care, let the parents know you care. You know, BJJ, MMA make them happy, make sure, you know, and be a coach. And so it made me step out of the box and become a better person for sure.

GEORGE: Were there any, like, specific obstacles that you faced with the kids having to show up online and getting involved and engaging?

EDWARD: Yeah, it was interesting because I'd have to mute a lot of stuff. Like, they could hear me, but I couldn't hear them, because, you know, we'd have 30, 40 people online. Sometimes you can't have everyone, you know, they're still at home. So, they still have their home life.

So, you have dogs in the background or brothers and sisters poking their brothers online. So, at times it was a horror show. It was like, “Whoah, what's going on?!” But, I mean, that was the biggest obstacle, the biggest thing was just like, you know, trying to overcome all that at first, but once, you know, after a week or so, it smoothed out pretty well.

And it wasn't really that bad. You know, just trying to engage them, to let them know that they could do martial arts on the computer and not just play video games was rough, because I would have some students that would blank the screen, but forget to mute it, and I could hear them playing video games in the background.

So, then the parents would ask me how they're doing. I'm like, I don't know, you need to ask him, he's been playing video games. So, you know, stuff like that would happen on and off. But overall, it was, you know, it was definitely tough keeping them engaged – because just staring at a computer screen, even my own daughter would do karate in her bedroom. And, you know, I'd have to tell her to stop jumping on the bed, like, “Listen, you're in class, stop jumping on the bed.” Trying to keep them engaged was definitely a learning experience.

GEORGE: So, what did you do to have that constant state change? You know, because I mean, you can't let them do one thing too long to get in – yeah, boredom kicks in.

EDWARD: I just constantly kept them moving as much as I could. You know, sometimes in a normal class, you know, you take your time, you go over form more, there's more of a pause, more of a… So, you couldn't do that online.

I almost taught it like a cardio kickboxing class, you know, where I just kept moving and moving and moving and moving and moving. Class is only 30 minutes long, but it was, like, just keep them moving. Don't give them that time to stop. You know, don't give them that time to think.

We would do a form to warm up and right from that form we'd go right into some kicking, some punching, and then we'd go into some, you know, self defense techniques, and I'd make it a game and just keep them moving. So, they didn't have that time to go look around to see who's playing outside or stuff like that.

GEORGE: Gotcha. And then jiu jitsu – and how did you handle the BJJ side, and the adults, and so forth?

EDWARD: That was the tough part. Like teaching Thai kickboxing or MMA wasn't so bad, because you could teach them some combinations. So, sprawls, double legs, you can teach transitions, and stuff, that was okay.

But the BJJ was tough, you know, like I had, when – Everyone would make their own dummy, grappling dummy, or they could buy one from me, you know, but, and, you know, whoever made the best dummy won a free gift, you know, stuff like that. So, we had, like, 15 people make their own grappling dummies. So, that's part of getting them involved and engaged, a few people bought some off for me.

And then basically, it was just teaching them transitions and moves and talking to them about, you know, the connecting points, you know, always have points of control and hip pressure and where your hips should be, where your shoulders should be, where your grip should be. And it was more of a, you know, just teaching the technical side of things, you know.

There were some drills out there – you could do, you know, switching back and forth, knee on belly, switch and go into mount, going into, you know, back to knee on belly, to arm bars, north south, all that you could do all that stuff too. But that was, actually trying to teach them actual moves was, you know, definitely interesting.

GEORGE: It's something that is – obviously working with school owners, we've got a group we call Partners, and we've got gi school owners from around the world, but different styles.

And so, it's always conversations that have come up, obviously, with the pandemic. And interesting as well, because everyone was always at a different stage of; we're going into lockdown, we're coming out, what do we do, but it was a good opportunity to cross pollinate ideas, but…

EDWARD: Yeah.

GEORGE: We had one of our members, Carl just talk about, they were just in a two month lockdown in New Zealand, and – 100% jiu jitsu school – and managed to keep all his students going, but the main focus was just movement.

EDWARD: Yeah, 100%.

GEORGE: Movement, and keeping the community going. So, you know, a big thing that we've spoken about was the community, the content and then the coaching. So, how do you do those things? How do you create the community going?

I mean, that's the big thing, and how do you keep the coaching going? And we came up with some creative ideas, right? So, he bought the John Danaher set, and then we just, he would just go through a video, or they would post, you know, a clip from an instruction from someone else, and then they would study it, and they would analyze it, so the whole… Use even someone else's content, but then create the conversation around it to keep the community…

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EDWARD: Yeah, we did the same thing. We actually, one day, myself, would do a jiu jitsu video with my student, he's, I've known him forever, and it was him and I. We'd do a jiu jitsu video, then the next day would use a video of something from someone else.

We used a lot of John Danaher, Gordon Ryan, stuff like that. And then the next day, I would do, like, a karate video for everyone, and then the next day, my student would do a kickboxing MMA video for them.

So, everyday we'll put out a video for the students, also to give them some content to study. And so, not only could you do classes, I would send these videos and post them to everyone, and they could go at home and practice those same combinations, three or four combi- you know, five different ways on how to do an overhand right, you know. How to do two pins in the proper way, you know, a form, you know, and so that worked out pretty well, too.

GEORGE: Sounds good. So, give us a bit of a background about your school and your location. And I know you've got a massive facility, and you've got two floors, and just give us a bit of an overview on the infrastructure and how things operate.

EDWARD: I've been here since 1999. I pretty much have always done martial arts since I was 14. And I just turned 50, so I've been doing it for a while. I just woke up one day and decided I didn't want to do my job anymore, and so then I'm gonna open up a school. Let's try it.

GEORGE: How long have you been… 

EDWARD: So, 1999. Yeah. And so I found this, I found a location. And at first it was only, we only had about 2000 square feet, but I liked this location because it always had an opportunity to grow.

So, I started off with traditional karate, I always studied grappling and wrestling on my own on the side, and had already had a couple fights on the side, but I didn't really promote that too much.

Yeah. And then as we grew, we grew fast. For six months, we grew pretty quick. So, I got to open up another 1400 square feet or so in the back, and we used that room for a while. And then what I did is, I always had the basement downstairs, and it's a giant, like, two big garage, you know, basement. 

And one day my landlord's, “Like, you know, if you want the space, I'll charge you this much for it. And, you know, just take it over and do what you want, you do the work. I'll give it to you cheap, and it's cheap.” And I was like, “Alright!” So, I did all the work, and then like I said, we got two open floors upstairs, bathrooms, office, all that stuff. 

Downstairs is a couple different ways you can go in, it's got showers, a couple of locker rooms downstairs, a bag room, it's got a ring, a cage, and probably about a 1800 square foot, like, weight room too. So, I did the weight room originally for the parents, a lot of parents don't have time to go to the gym. So, I allow the parents for free at first to, while the kids are in class, go downstairs and run on the treadmill, lift some weights to do something.

That way they won't have to worry about their kids, they know they're doing class. But that took off, and you know, that was taking off pretty good. So, now I hired a personal trainer, you know, so he comes in – he does personal classes, you know, for the parents and you know, it's a little bit extra income off of that.

And stuff like that, you know, they scheduled privates for the kids, a lot of them they'll come down here and work with them during the kids class and get in shape.

So, you know, we got a little bit of everything. You know, kids are martial – all the kids' classes are fresh. We got kids BJJ, kids Muay Thai, kids kempo karate, and then usually at night time, it's a, you know, depending on the day, gi, the adult Muay Thai, adult MMA, adult BJJ, gi or no gi on the day, and then cardio kickboxing too.

And then we do stuff on the weekend – Saturday is a full day of classes, Sunday is kind of my day, I invite either the black belts in and we do like a black belt workout or I'll just invite some fighters in and we'll just train, so it's like a training day on Sundays for us. So, you know, it's a full time job. Like I said, it's like 8000 square feet, full time job, I have about – maybe now 330 students.

And yeah, you know, it has its moments. But, you know, I've been blessed throughout this whole pandemic, so I can't complain.

GEORGE: That's cool. So, you've got two names, right? Tokyo Joe's? 

EDWARD: Yes.

GEORGE: Tokyo Joe's Studios and TeamLink MMA.

EDWARD: Yeah.

GEORGE: Curious on two names, but also Tokyo Joe's?

EDWARD: Well, my instructor, who was 14, was playing football, and he was in karate, and he's from East Boston, and he was doing some karate, was a football practice. And they just named him Tokyo Joe, you know, that was his nickname.

So, as he progressed and opened up his own school – he met me at – that was always his nickname. He called it Tokyo Joe's Studios. He named the downstairs his nickname.

And then I was at the Canadian Open as a karate tournament. And he had met me, he said, “Hey, you fought really well, why don't you come train with me?” And he goes, you know, “I'm like, alright.” And he was close by, so I started training with him, and, you know, competed under him, you know, in all these karate tournaments all over the place.

Also, I got a chance to train with like Johnny Tension, and Reggie Perry, who were part of the team, Paul Mitchell, who, you know, are World Champions too. So, it opened up some doors and ideas. And then one day, he's like, “You know, you should think about opening up a school, you're a great instructor, a great motivator, you're a good leader,” and I didn't really put much thought into it.

And then he kept bugging me and bugging me, and then one day, I'm out doing my job – construction – I was doing construction, driving some equipment. I'm like, “You know, yeah, it's time. I don't feel like doing this.” So, I went into the office and gave my notice and went back to him and said, “I guess we'll open up a school. Let's try it.”

So, that was the karate side of things.

GEORGE: Right. 

EDWARD: I'd always done MMA on the side, I was part of Miletich Fighting Systems with Pat Miletich. And when I trained there with them, it was, you know, they had three out of the five UFC champions, it was one of the best gyms around, we did a lot of fighting and training there. But as they all got older and branched off, opened up their own gyms, and everything kind of disbanded. 

I was just left with, like, no direction in my life; my BJJ program was only a purple belt at the time. And really know, you know, didn't know how to, you know, what to do. So, like I said, Michael Alvin, Gabriel Gonzaga, and Alexander Marino all came to me one day, because I trained with them, helped them out with fights and worked with them. 

And they're like, “Why don't you just join us, you know, it'd be a great marketing thing for your BJJ program.” It's a little confusing for some people, but once they get in here, they realize, I kind of keep it separate, and I like keeping them separate, because I like the younger kids… 

I think, you know, even though we do BJJ, we still teach a little bit of focus and concentration in that class, like a karate thing. I like them to learn about the focus and concentration side of things, you don't need to necessarily see all the hard work and training that goes into MMA.

Plus, parents, you know, sometimes they get the wrong opinion, they see the fights on TV, and they think that's what it's all about, and I don't want to give the parents that impression. So, that's why I have an upstairs and downstairs and stuff.

But it's actually become a great tool, because parents realize all the hard work and all the dedication that goes into that, that's their martial art, you know, that's their form, you know, while the kids are learning this stuff, they see the adults or the teenagers doing this, and they realize it's a lot of hard work if it's taught the right way. 

So now, you know, like, whenever we have someone fight, you know, a tough fight passes, I gotta open up the school, we'll have a school full of people watching it on the TV, you know what I mean? Becomes a school party sort of, brings them all together, you know. Like you said, you try to try to create a good, you know, good atmosphere, you know, for everyone – good environment – and it brings them all together, the watch, the fights, and stuff like that.

So, it's kind of cool.

GEORGE: Because that would be my next question – how do you balance the two cultures? Do you find that they are divided or they sort of come together?

EDWARD: It's actually come together- at first, it was pretty divided. You know, when it first – the sport was starting to grow, it was pretty divided. 

You know, people thought, you know, brutality, this, that and you know, and you can definitely understand that. But over the years, as time has gone on, people see it, you know, they've seen the fights, you know, parents have asked, you know, we've, like I said, they've, you know, they got, you know, a lot of kids would do karate competitions, you know.

So then, you know, now they have kids Muay Thai, very controlled, but kids Muay Thai and then, you know, they get kids BJJ. So, because of all these classes that we have, you know, kids getting involved in all these other smaller competitions, the parents are wanting to see what the adults and teens are doing and how that's evolved. So, it's actually brought it all kind of together.

You know, and everyone's, you know, everyone's… it's pretty cool to see everyone, like, you know, support. Everyone gets together, supports everyone and have fun, too. You have a lot of parents that will just come down on Wednesday nights, our sparring night, they'll just come down and just watch, you know, they get to – they bring their, you know, 10 year old kid and you know, “Is there sparring on Wednesday?” “Yeah.” “Can we come watch?” “Yeah, come on in!”

You know, you have a whole group that will just sit on the side to just watch, you know. This is awesome, you know, because they get a chance to see, you know, kicks, punches and stuff and blocks and wrestling, they're into – actual, you know. You get a lot of kids that don't compete, we don't force them to compete. If you want to compete, we can get them ready.

But it gets to see them, you know, put it in practical use, kind of, you know. So, they like watching it.

GEORGE: Perfect. So, just to change gears a little bit – back to the marketing aspect. You got a successful school, 300+ students. You mentioned word of mouth is good. What else contributes to the growth?

EDWARD: Community involvement. Like I said, but everything's changing now. The whole world's changing. I mean, you know what I mean.

When I first opened up, you know, you had to advertise in the yellow pages, you know, big giant ads in the yellow pages, you know, that was a thing. You had to – who had the biggest ad, you know, the big best looking ad in the Yellow Pages, then as time went on…

GEORGE: And your name's gonna start with ‘A', right? So, that you, like, at the front of the book.

EDWARD: Yeah, exactly! Yeah.

Then as time went on, you know, the Internet became more, it was, like, you know, websites were huge. You know, websites are still very important, and they're still a useful tool. But, you know, that was important then, you know, now social media, you know, the whole advertising world has changed so much over the 20+ years, you know.

So now, I'm just trying to stay on top of things. I do a lot of social media, I do a lot of posts, and I do a lot of contests, you know, within the schools. I do a lot of, like I said, I'm involved in the community, the schools, you know, certain fairs, certainly, you know, town fairs, this and that. Those are all advertising avenues for me, you know, when they have town fairs.

I do a community fair myself every – well, I haven't done the last couple years, because of the pandemic – but I rent all kinds of bouncy houses, obstacle courses, this and that, dunk tanks, and at the end of every summer, I do, like, a community thing, you know, everyone's welcome. We'll do a little open house, some demonstrations, and have a huge cookout for everyone.

And you know, it's just, advertising like that is big. I'm always looking though, like, you know, I know right now, you know, I got, I'm looking to step up on the digital side of things, pick up the digital side of things on marketing, some online, make my online presence a little bit better, is my goal for this year.

GEORGE: Perfect. So, I love the aspect of community. I mean, that's, I think that's just gold, right?

Because being involved in the community, it makes you stand out. It also builds your authority, you know, way behind just the martial arts you offer, but you mention, things are changing; what are you noticing that's changing the most, especially with just the world and online that's impacting your marketing the most?

EDWARD: Really, it's just the online presence, you know, having a great online presence is very important now.

You know, before, it wasn't, but now, you know, a lot of you see a lot of the biggest school, you see ads all the time, you see this all the time, and, you know, these schools aren't spending that amount of money, if it's not working. You know, there's certain things out there, you know, and I know these school owners very well. 

And I know that they're not putting these ads out there if it's not working. And I just noticed a huge online presence and how important it's becoming, you know what I mean? And, you know, before you had a whole script on the phone, you know, very rarely do I get phone calls now.

Now it's all emails, or sometimes even text messages. “Oh, my friend gave me your number, my son's in…” You know, it's emails, it's text messages. It's all online. “We've been to your Whatsapp, we've been to your Facebook page, you know, what about this…” So, just the online presence is becoming very important.

And just making sure, you know, your name's out there, and making sure you know, you promote your product, or whatever it may be – your services out there. There's what I think is the best, you know, is what's changing the most.

Before, you know, you're right. Fortunately, I have a great word of mouth. And that's great. I mean, like you said, you got great service, you got great products, you got it. But, you know, you can always do better. So, I definitely want to do the online presence thing.

GEORGE: I think school owners like yourself, where you benefit is you built this whole foundation without that. Fine tune the product, the delivery, the programs, the community aspect. When you elevate your online presence, it's really just fuel on the fire, because you've got all the foundations right here.

I mean, we like to really, especially now, in the work that we do with school owners, we really just try to think of the simplicity of it. And like you were saying, people don't really call anymore. So, when you look at that it's not, you know, the message is still the same. It's just the medium of communication is …

EDWARD: Exactly.

GEORGE: So, people, you know, you’ve got to ask permission before you call.

EDWARD: Yeah, yeah.

GEORGE: The world's just gotten like that. I always text someone and say, “Hey, is it okay to call you?” “Yeah, we just picked up the phone.” Right? But yeah, exactly. Messenger and, you know, Messenger, I mean, we find ads to Messenger is still the best thing ever, because of course, you've got the process to sign people up and work through the process.

There's so many things that we are seeing changing and, and like you said, I mean, I'm a web developer, from you know, way back and my first advice was always just get the spanky awesome website, and get it up on Google and you're good. Now I don't give that advice anymore.

You know, I would say, right, let's get your offer, right? And let's get your ad up, you know, let's get your message out there and find a simple way to follow up. And if you can get those things right, websites are good to have for the people that will go Google and check you out. But you can build a big organization just without that.

EDWARD: Exactly.

GEORGE: The only thing that always scares me is the control factor of putting all your eggs into a basket like Facebook. And you know, that's the one thing that drives your business, and if it's not there, well, I mean, I think it's still going to be there for a long time, right? But especially when you see things shuffle, and people change the different platforms, it's good to be tabs and be a bit omnipresent in that way that you can do without.

EDWARD: Exactly, I mean, it's definitely been interesting noticing the changes, that's for sure. Like you said, you know, everything.

I always tell everyone this, you know, I've helped a few people open up schools, and I just, you know, that's what I – get your online presence going, you know, well, what about this ad? No, you don't need that ad. It's not like the old days, you know, you don't need yellow pages, you don't need this, you don't need that.

Get your online presence up and going. You need a website, of course, you know, people still visit it and go on, you know, make sure you have this in your website. And like you said, the right content on the website that's going to attract the people that go to it. The right ads, the right deals and stuff like that. 

Online presence is, you know, definitely one point for sure.

GEORGE: So, what's next for you, Edward? Like where are you guys going? Are you opening up more locations?

EDWARD: I don't know. Honestly, what's next for me is I've been really, I've been doing this for a long time. Just really been toying with the idea of doing another smaller location.

I don't know if I, you know, but before I've done that, I've been really trying to develop a good strong, solid staff here. I'm one of the few instructors, like, I enjoy teaching. And like some instructors enjoy running this school, you know, and then they have instructors teach for them.

I like still being on the floor, you know, with the kids and teaching, and I still like teaching them on the mat. I still teach BJJ, and people think I'm crazy, but I still teach up to 40+ classes a week. And, and I love it, but I'm also 50 now, so now I'm developing the staff, and the know-how, you know, really developing, like, I got some really good fighters that still have a few years left in them, but know that, you know, the end's coming… but unbelievable instructors.

So, I'm getting them involved, you know, developing a really solid foundation in the BJJ group of instructors, working on getting them, I got some unbelievable teens, getting them involved in them karate side of things and showing them and teaching them, you know, so that way, when that second location opportunity does come, I know that I'll be able to leave for the day and leave this place in good hands.

You know, staff training, and you know, picking the right people to find out. I want to be part of the team and make sure we share the same vision, you know what I mean? 

And so that second location, within, you know, I got a goal – I set goals, but within a couple of years, I want to definitely have something up, the second one up and going, you know, like, you know, this school is all set. So, that's, that's really what I've been working on now.

GEORGE: Gotcha. And I guess lastly, what are you most excited about? For the next couple of years?

EDWARD: Just growing. You know, I love it. There's, like, you know, we had, you know, already since January. It's, you know, what's today? The seventh. We've had, you know, it's always the New Year rush, but we had 14 new people sign up. So, it's been great.

I love getting the new people going, you know, I just love teaching. I just love growing and, you know, and just helping people out. You know, I can't complain. I got a – I have a great job – and so I mean, what's next is just to keep growing, keep having fun, and keep sharing what I love to do.

And, you know, hopefully the second location will come in a few years and go from there.

GEORGE: Sounds good. Hey, Ed, thanks so much for jumping on. Been great to chat, and just the title of your book again?

EDWARD: Lift Them Up.

GEORGE: Lift Them Up.

EDWARD: Yeah, definitely on Amazon.com and Barnes and Nobles, it's also on Barnes and Nobles website too. So, if they want to check it out, please check it out. It's a great book on bullying. You know, all the different types of bullying that are out in the world today. So, definitely check it out.

GEORGE: Perfect. We'll link it up in the show notes. So, wherever you're watching or listening, it will be https://martialartsmedia.com/126, numbers one-two-six. That'll take you there. And just lastly, any shout-outs you want to give or any way that people can connect with you, if you're open to that?

EDWARD: Yeah, you can always, you know, we just talked about it, you could always hit me up, you know, of course, my email is at tokyojoeshooksit@comcast.net.

You can always hit me up on Facebook, under Ed Carr, or you can visit the school webpage, Tokyo Joe's Studios, Instagram, I'm on Instagram – @tokyojoesstudios – and on Twitter. So, those are the best ways, like I said, we're talking about social media and stuff. You know, that's what people use.

The best way to hit me up, send me a message. Ask me any questions. You know, you can call the school, 603-641-3444, if you want. Ask me any questions you want. I'm always here and always willing to help.

GEORGE: Fantastic. Ed, thanks so much. I'll chat to you soon.

EDWARD: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you for having me.

GEORGE: You're welcome.

 

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125 – Ross Cameron: The Evolution Of The Ultimate Martial Arts Gym

Ross Cameron from Fightcross MMA has built the ultimate, world-class martial arts gym and lifestyle center. We do a deep dive on the planning, contracts, insurances and marketing that have made this a success.


IN THIS EPISODE:

  • What sets this world-class martial arts gym in its own league?
  • Ross’s unconventional ways of building a thriving community
  • Details often overlooked when opening up a new location
  • Timing and changing the frame with martial arts campaigns
  • How branding helps the business of martial arts
  • And more

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


TRANSCRIPTION

I'm a big believer in doing this anyhow, it is to learn every job. I don't need to do it, but I need to understand how every job works. Then if someone's not doing their job, I can point it out and I can just tell them how I want it done or, but I've got to know every job.

GEORGE: Hey, George Fourie here! Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ business podcast. Today's special guest is Ross Cameron from Fightcross MMA in Brisbane, Australia. Now, Ross and I go way back, we've been working together for quite some time, and I've been fortunate enough to witness his business explode from the sidelines.

Just recently, he's opened up his new location, and let me tell you what, it's not just any location. We were on one of our Partners Power Hour calls, our coaching calls, and Ross took us on a virtual tour through the location – we're going to include a virtual tour on this page as well. But he took us through the whole location, and just the multiple floors, the different aspects, the bar, the coffee shop, and of course, the world class gym.

So, we break down just the whole process of the two to three years that it took to put this together, the obstacles that he faced, with obviously things like COVID, things that weren't expected. And we do a deep dive into the technicalities of how to set up your contracts, how to structure your staffing, and a lot of the details that often go missed when opening up a new location. And then we do a bit of a deep dive on marketing and how he's gone about marketing this new location and the plan on filling it up to 500 to 1000 members over the next 12 months. Jump in, this is a good one.

Also, if you – head over to martialartsmedia.com/125 – where this podcast episode is hosted. So, no matter where you're listening or watching, you can check out the full transcript of the show. And you can also grab a download of our new ebook, Ultimate Facebook™ Ad Formula for Martial Arts Schools.

So, check that out, and make sure you subscribe to the show wherever you're listening, just to make sure that you get notified when our next show comes up. All right, let's jump in. Ross, what's been the top marketing strategy or campaign that you've run lately? What's been the highest performance?

ROSS: So, the best one we've had recently, because we've been moving into a new gym, has been our foundation membership drive, with Facebook and video and all the rest of it. And based around that, was a box that we gave away that had different items inside it. We had samples from some of our suppliers, we had a towel from the gym, we had a water bottle, we had a mouth guard, all the little bits and pieces to make them feel comfortable and give them some added value to signing on.

GEORGE: Great! So, what was the offer for the foundational membership?

ROSS: So, they got a discounted rate on the membership for 12 months. They got a – foundation sign-on fee was $99, and in that, they got this box that had a t-shirt, a mouth guard, a water bottle, a towel, samples, a card that actually had a link to some extra video content we'd done on how to tie a belt, welcome to the gym, how to do a mobility flow, all sorts of bits and pieces.

GEORGE: Perfect. So, I guess we can now give some full context, why the foundational membership, so, just a shorter intro. Ross Cameron from Fightcross in Brisbane, Australia. If you've been following the podcast, Ross has also been on the podcast before, we spoke about lockdown, which is their event… What do you call it? Modified jiu jitsu?

ROSS: It's submission grappling. Yeah. MMA in the cage without the strikes.

GEORGE: That's the tagline I've been looking for! So, you can – want to backtrack on that, which was episode 37.

So, Ross, you know, we chat every week, every so often when you're not busy evolving this new… What do we call it? It's like the evolution of the martial art school, is almost the way I look at it. You gave us a bit of a video tour and showed us what you've got going there, but why don't you give us a bit of a background, the vision and how this all came about?

ROSS: So, when I first started teaching martial arts here in Australia, I'd moved from having three clubs in New Zealand, with coaches and school halls and all the rest of it, to moving over to Australia.

And then I started teaching in my garage, and then quickly from that I went to a tin shed, and over a period of about 20 years, we've gone from the tin shed to what we have now, as I see it a very professional, high-end martial arts academy.

We've put in Fuji mats, we've put in a cage, we've got top-level cardio equipment, we've got top-level weights equipment, recovery center – so, ice pods, infrared sauna, massage therapists, physiotherapists, fitness rooms, the private PT studios, the lot. It's not just a martial arts school in the school hall, it's taking it to the next level of professionalism.

And in doing that, we've had to look at staff contracts, insurances, all the different things that you don't actually take into account when you're in a school hall. And sure, you have to have insurances and things in place, but do you need this type of insurance or this type of insurance?

Do you need to have 20 million public liability insurance or 10 million public liability insurance? Do you have to have product insurance? Do you have to have insurance to cover your income? Do you have to have insurance to cover fidelity? All sorts of bits and pieces. Do you cover your staff for all sorts of weird and wonderful things? So, it's taken a lot of time to go through and get to that point… But we're there now.

GEORGE: You there? Yeah, I remember we started having this conversation… Jeez, how long ago? It's been a few years, right?

ROSS: Yep. Yeah.

GEORGE: So, how many years in the making? I mean, not the planning – the physical actually putting it together?

ROSS: Ah, well, it's probably two to three years of actually putting it all together. It's not a quick process.

GEORGE: I'd love to dive into all the technicalities and details of, like, if you're a school owner, and you're looking at taking your business to the next level and elevating your brand, and upgrading your facilities, and being this premier school, and the process you've taken, like, the technicalities that often get overlooked. Just take us again through the facility because you left out one big part. What's in the gym, right?

ROSS: Right. So, we have a building that’s ours. Our gym is about 650 square meters. Below that is a high-end bar. Behind us is a five-star French restaurant, we have a coffee roaster, a brewer, a French patisserie kitchen, coffee shop, all in the facility.

GEORGE: Right. So, now that brings up a lot of questions. First up is – how many students arrive to class and never get up to the gym, because they are stuck in the bar?

ROSS: None, thank God.

GEORGE: Great!

ROSS: Although, they do go to the bar after.

GEORGE: Right. Their special punishment, if you're late, if you don't make it… begs the question, right? Why a bar? Why a coffee shop? What's the whole idea behind all the add-ons?

ROSS: It's trying to build a community, alright? And it's trying to have things that link into what will connect people to what we do. So, the bar is the social aspect. The coffee shop provides high-end coffee, cold brew, things that are really good for pre-workout and things like that.

And again, it's providing us a social atmosphere, where we can take the guys downstairs and have a coffee, have something to eat. People come in and spend the whole day around the gym, without actually having to go out anywhere.

GEORGE: Right. So, can you give us insight on a bit of the vision, and I think what we'll do, if it's okay with you, Ross; if you can do a bit of a video walkthrough after sometime and we'll add it onto this page where the podcast is hosted.

So, you could go to martialartsmedia.com/125 and catch the video there, because that will give you a… We were on one of our Partners coaching calls and Ross was there and he took us through the whole gym. Took up most of the coaching call, but everyone was really wowed, just by its… I mean, there's nothing I can compare to, which is just what makes it so fascinating.

So, what was the whole vision behind it? You mentioned community and it brings the whole community together, but what's the whole vision behind the new Fightcross?

ROSS: Well, martial arts as a way of life? So, the whole vision is actually that whole encompassing community. So, that's why we have a recovery center, as well as why we have the physios and the message therapists. That's why we have the PTs.

People can come in the door and do a workout, they can recover, they can eat good food, and it's all organic. It's not rubbish food, like the average pub food. It's all organic food. We've got the microbrewery on site that actually brews here with, again, organic, that whole encompassing vision is where we've gone.

GEORGE: Gotcha. What are you doing differently now, with the new – the whole new environment than you used to do just with running classes and so forth?

ROSS: Well, I'm trying to get out of doing all the work – hiring staff and doing those things. So, we have multiple styles in the gym. So, we have boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, wrestling, Brazilian jiu jitsu, Japanese jiu jitsu, judo, taekwondo, karate we have, and then MMA, and everyone's got to fit in, we have like 72 classes a week, including pilates and yoga and so.

We've got a lot more of a community pull, because we have all these other add-on sessions.

GEORGE: Is there something you do differently to build the community when you've got all these various styles, and you attract a different caliber or type of person that resonates to these different styles?
 

ROSS: Yeah, you have to be more on the ball with the community building, as in… I spend a lot of my time now actually, just talking to people, that connection between them and me, it has to be really good because if I'm not taking all the classes, they lose contact with who you are and what you do, and all that sort of stuff.

So, you've got to spend the time around the facility, meeting with people, talking with people, building the community by organizing, like we're doing David Goggins' 4x4x48 as part of a team, we'll have a barbecue the whole weekend, we'll do all those things. And just constantly doing that sort of stuff, rather than just here I'm at the class, here's the grading barbecue and away we go.

GEORGE: Gotcha. And that's where a bar just works well as well, right? Because it brings the community together.

ROSS: Yep, yep, yep. So, even some of our little social club meetings, a Friday night sparring session, Friday nights, lots of the guys just go downstairs have a beer and a burger and then toddle off on home.

GEORGE: Love it. Alright, so, let's get into the nuts and bolts, right? I mean, what goes into this? So, first up, you have this, you have this vision, and now you have to get work, and turn the vision into reality, right? So, what sort of, what are some of the first few steps and how do you go about all this?

ROSS: Besides all the planning, dreaming and sketching, and all that sort of stuff, you get a building or you lease a building or whatever. The first thing you should do; we were finding the zoning, and making sure you have council zoning to be able to run a sport and rec facility. Step one. If you don't have sport and rec, you can be closed down by the council at any moment. Any moment.

GEORGE: Before you continue, I think, and you pointed at it, right? After the planning? So, I think we shouldn't just brush over that part, right? You've got this vision, what goes into the planning? And you've got a bit of experience in this type of thing as well.

ROSS: Yep, I'm an engineer by trade. So, planning is the key to everything. So, planning out how your building's going to look, the layout of your building, your color schemes, which mats you're going to have, what cage you're going to have, what staff you're going to require, what classes you're going to have, how you're going to get the stuff into the building, when you have to get the stuff into the building…

When you have to have your insurances in place, when your staff has to come on board, what contracts you need for your staff, whether or not you've got enough insurance to cover your product in your pro shop, and the equipment on the floor – whether or not you've got enough to handle the – if it all goes bad. Having a game plan B, C, and D. Yeah, there's lots to go into it – many moving parts.

GEORGE: Right, now there – plan B, C, and D played a big role, right? Because…

ROSS: Oh, yeah!

GEORGE: We were expecting the big old COVID to come around.

ROSS: Yep. So, we had an eight-month delay in actually getting into the building, due to building issues, due to COVID. So, in that time, we've had to, to go to game plan B, C, and D. We were doing things like running out of one of my franchises, we were running out of the coffee shop next door taking classes.

So, we had a local community, we were doing stuff in the park, we were doing bootcamp type stuff. All these bits come into play, so that we could keep community involvement here in the natural area where the gym is.

GEORGE: Alright, let's continue the journey, we’ve done the planning, we're getting all the infrastructure set up. Where do we go from here?

ROSS: So, I still think the first thing you should make sure is your building has got, one; before you sign the lease, or before you buy the building, check the zoning! Make sure that you have the correct zoning, because if the council comes along and shuts you down? You're shut down. Happened to one of my franchises, that the zoning got changed once, and they had to go and get an environmental impact study done on the traffic coming to the gym, to prove that they could stay. And it cost him about $25,000 just to do that.

So, I would make sure that that's a big tip to start with. Once you've got that, then you can start the nitty gritty into, like, what classes do you want to run, because that'll tell you what equipment you require. What sort of a gym you want to be – if you want to have weights, and you want to have, we want to be a CrossFit, box, and a martial arts gym – or if you want to be a health and fitness center, and a martial arts studio.

And then you can start planning out your equipment. Once you've got your equipment, then you can start planning out what sorts of insurances you need, what classes you're going to need, the staffing you're going to require for those.

And then you start going into if you need new staffing – are they casual? Are they permanent? How are they… are you going to pay PAYG? Are you going to have to pay supers? Are you going to have to do all those things? Are you going to… and your contracts that you require for those? Each one takes time, takes energy and takes effort. Even if you have good lawyers, and I've got good lawyers, you still have to make sure that you check all your T's and dot all your I's. So…

GEORGE: What issues did you run into that were completely unexpected, and that you particularly hadn't planned for? Or planned for?

ROSS: COVID?

GEORGE: Right. We didn't see that one coming, right?

ROSS: Yeah. And the effect COVID had on delays meant that the staff that I had organized, a lot of them were not here, not available when we actually got to moving into the gym. So, I've had that reshuffle of staffing and organizing things that has taken me longer, because of the fact that the delay was there.

Council approvals took longer than expected, building compliance took longer than expected. All those things that you think, “Oh, yeah, we'll just get it ticked off and it's… Oh no, these Braille signs are not in the right place. This fire exit needs another sign. That door swings the wrong way.” All those little bits and pieces just take time and take energy.

GEORGE: How do you go about your employment contracts and accounting and so forth? And I mean, if we can talk about budgeting as well, how did you go about all that?

ROSS: Accountants are great. If you have a good accountant, they'll make your business. We did a whole financial modeling. So, we sat down and we went through and we worked out, you know, our cash flow, our spending, funding the equipment, not funding the equipment, funding staff, how long that's going to take to ramp up the numbers to get to where we want to be…

So, we did a 2 to 5-year cash flow, then we could sit down and go, “Right. What other issues do we have here? As an accountant, what do you see?” And they always go, “You know, the next level is your staffing is going to cost you.” You got to make sure that you get your contracts right, you got to make sure that you are planning to hire slow, fire fast.

Make sure that you're looking after your people, but make sure that they're not costing you money. And contracts for your staff – again, it's that – are they casual? Are they permanent? Getting the technicalities of your employment contracts correct. I'm lucky, I've got – not only do I have good lawyers, I actually have an employment contract lawyer as a member in the gym, so I was able to go, “Tell me what I need to look at. Now go to my lawyers and say, ‘now write this'.”

And it's interesting to see all the little intricacies that you've got to have in there. And then you've got to worry about your contractors. So, if you have a guy who takes two BJJ classes a week, and if he's a contractor, you need to have a contract with him. It's not just, “Hey, mate, I know you're a BJJ black belt, can you take a couple of classes for me?” “Ah, yeah, it's 50 bucks a class.” “No worries.” It's not that easy these days, because if you do it wrong, it bites you on the ass.

GEORGE: And what could go wrong with that, because I think a lot of people do that, right? They just, you've got the top guy at the school and you're like, “Alright, we'll give you a couple of bucks to run the classes.” What's the downside?

ROSS: Well, number one, he could open a gym down the road, even though that's technically a breach of what's called fiduciary duties. So, they're not allowed to do that, but they do.

GEORGE: … because that's never happened before, has it?

ROSS: Never happened at all! That, if you have your contracts in place, that's going to cover your bum for that sort of thing. You can't stop them from opening a martial arts school, but you can stop them opening a martial arts school within a certain area to compete with you. So, there's the, sort of the fine line of understanding what they're allowed to do and what they're not allowed to do. And you only know that through experience or lawyers.

GEORGE: Very important, yeah.

ROSS: And as the contractors, you know, do they have their insurance? Do they have their first aid certificate, do they have…? And by signing the contract, you get them to agree that they have all these things in place. And then when there's verbal involved, it never lasts. If it's written, you can go back to that writing. Contracts, contracts, contracts!

GEORGE: Right.

ROSS: Like an engineer does it.

GEORGE: Now, how did you decide between… because you've got this massive organization that runs, I mean, morning, you said from 6am to?

ROSS: 5:30am to 9pm.

GEORGE: 5:30 to 9. Alright, and there's lots happening, so, you've got permanent staff, you've got casual staff, contractors. How did you decide on who you need? And did you work on a ratio, or like the ratio of students? How do you determine what staff you really need?

ROSS: What I worked on is actually the skill bases that I require to cover the multiple disciplines. So, my boxing coach that I have as a contractor, he's a boxing coach, he's a CrossFit coach. He used to fence for Australia at an Olympic level. He's done Muay Thai and karate. So, he covers multiple bases. The same with my BJJ coach. The BJJ coach, I haven't, he's, not only is he a BJJ black belt, he's also a karate black belt.

My PTs that I have, they tend to have boxing or kickboxing backgrounds, as well as being PTs. So, we've got even down to some of the reception sort of staff. I have one receptionist, a remedial massage therapist, so he can cover multiple angles for me. Sit down, work out the skill bases, then try and find the people that will fit those skill bases.

GEORGE: And then what about culture?

ROSS: That's a huge thing. Culture is a huge thing – and culture comes from the top. So, you have to drive the culture and what you want and how you want people to act and behave and talk – even down to talking. So, all the boys have their locker talk and things like that – if I catch them having locker talk anywhere in the gym, I shut that down straight away. You know, I want a large percentage of my clients to be female.

So, I'm not letting the locker talk go on in the gym and things like that. So, I set the rules, and I'm told I'm pretty hard on people. But I think it will be hard to see the culture that you want from the beginning. Tell people how you expect to be treated, and then expect them to come up to that standard.

GEORGE: And what's your strategy with that? Are you just, I mean, you just, I know you're pretty straightforward with a smile on your face, right? But is that just your approach? You just go out and tell people, “That's not cool,” pull them aside?

ROSS: That's it. I like the military principle. I don't tell people off in front of other people. I'll pull them aside and have a word with them. But I pick when I do it as well, and try not to do it so it's too obvious, or if they're making a fool of themselves, when they shouldn't be and something's dangerous? I'll say something then.

GEORGE: Alright, are you going to open a big center like this again? Another one?

ROSS: Oh, yes.

GEORGE: Oh, yes. Right, cool. Great. What would you do differently this time, if anything?

ROSS: Avoid COVID. Probably more planning, more control over certain parts that I just let other people do. One of the big things that I've learned out of this, and I'm a big believer in doing this anyhow, is to learn every job. I don't need to do it, but I need to understand how every job works.

Then if someone's not doing their job, I can point it out and I can just tell them how I want it done or, but I've got to know every job. Handy being an engineer, because that means I look at all those things and get most of it. So, yeah, but that would be more planning and more understanding of every bit that goes into it, before I get the person to look after it.

GEORGE: That means marketing too, right?

ROSS: Absolutely. Yep. Marketing is one of the things that I've had other people do before. And I'm a believer in that I should show you your job, tell you your job, let you do it. And if you don't come up to the tee, I'm going to crack across the knuckles.

I've had a few guys that have done that for me, where they've come up and then just disappeared, or they've gone and hidden from me, because they know that the knuckle breaks are coming. You've got to be able to hand over the job to somebody at some point. Otherwise you spend 24 hours a day doing every job. You still need to understand every job, you just don't need to do every job.

GEORGE: Yeah, and so, I mean, that's something that I deal with a lot, just with marketing. And I think it's, obviously if you're a school owner and you've got all this on your plate, and now you've got to handle marketing…

I mean, it's just easier to hand it off to someone and say, “Can you do it?” That's great. The problem is, if you don't know the strategy, you've actually just handed over the drive and the growth of your business to a person or foreign entity. And if they don't perform, as they do, your business is crippled right there.

And this is, I guess, my big pet peeve with, sometimes with agencies, because they can start out, you know, or the go-to guy that is doing all these great things, decides to do your marketing for you, and he does well…

But then he realizes, “Alright, well, I'm going to make a business out of this. I'm a good marketer. Maybe I'm not a good business owner.” And most agency owners would know when you get about 10, 20 clients – you better have your systems in place. So, the person that was your go-to guy becomes your not so go-to guy. And again, you're looking for the new one.

ROSS: Yep. Yeah. And exactly it with agencies – it's exactly the same as if you have – and every martial arts school works the same sort of way. They all work on their community. So, Joe Bloggs knows how to do this stuff, “Can you give it a crack for me?” And then later down the track, it doesn't work.

So, you've got to know how to do the job and then have some KPIs in place that you can check and all the rest of it and have control over it all. You don't want to hand that control over to somebody, so you get an agency doing it, and they're doing everything for you. You've got no control over it at all. Suddenly, you've got no data, you've got no information that you require to keep your systems moving.

GEORGE: Yeah, and I think there's a special place in hell for agency owners that set up your accounts on their business – their own Google accounts, their own Facebook business managers, and they run your ads or keep your data and your accounts hostage. And so, you walk away with nothing. And that's a real thing. I couldn't believe that was a real thing, but that's actually a real thing.

ROSS: Yeah, I've seen it on multiple levels, and the same sort of thing. Not just Facebook marketing, but in other areas of marketing, where they just keep everything and keep it hostage until either you pay them what they want to get paid, or they just take it and go.

GEORGE: Crazy stuff, right? So, Ross, I mean, it's, I feel it's always the lame question, right? But it's such a topic that, you know, you've got such an extensive knowledge on all this, and I just want to make sure I get all the information from you. Is there something I should be asking you that I haven't asked yet?

ROSS: No, I think sort of the next thing for us will be our ongoing marketing campaigns and planning out our year. Month by month by month, week by week by week by week, when we have to have our marketing running by, when we're having our campaigns and how we're planning those little bits. Sounds funny, but the artwork and the copy, once you've got it right, it's easy.

The planning and execution of when you need to execute it at the right time, because you can always put out an ad, and whether that ad is actually beneficial for the timing is the issue. So, if you run it, run your Christmas special in August, it's not going to work. But if you run your Christmas Special, four weeks, six weeks out from Christmas, you've got a bit of lead time up and you've got the groundswell hit just before Christmas, it's perfect timing.

Same with your February fitness or your New Year's resolution stuff. If you're trying to do that, July, it doesn't work, you know, everyone's hunkering down for the winter and they're not thinking about getting out and moving and doing all those bits and pieces.

So, timing is the important part for your marketing, understanding your market, understanding when you have to hit the go button. And then having a process from that, that says, I need my artwork ready by this date. I need my wording by this date, I need to have my flyers printed on this day. I need them distributed by hand by here to be able to get the result I want on this date.

So, all that sounds, and it sounds very easy. But you've got to have the systems in place to make it happen, because if you don't have the systems in place, you just won't do it.

GEORGE: Yeah, totally. I want to ask you, just because you touched on design, how important do you feel is the design from top-level through to your social media? And how do you combine it?

ROSS: So, design's really important. So, I go down to, and this is a bit old, I don't have business cards anymore, but it used to go down to how the business card felt in your hand – the paper, the weight, the gloss, if it was embossed or not. So, your design and everything being the same image, the same look, the same feel is so important.

Because if you haven't got an even playing field when it comes to that, and you drop the ball on an ad that doesn't look anything like what you actually do? And I see it quite a bit in, well, the classic is you see ads out there that don't have their phone number, or their email address, or… there was a fight show here in Queensland that wrapped up a whole bus with just their name and all the rest of it, and didn't have a website, didn't have a phone number, didn't have when the event was, no details on the bus.

The bus drove around for about eight weeks before the fight show with no real marketing material on. So, it's that, little things. I'm quite lucky I have a graphic designer that I use in Japan. He's been a student of mine for many years, and he always looks at the little things and goes, “Oh, you've missed out your phone number here,” or, “You can't notice where your address is,” or… And everything you do, say, leaving off your website on a flyer.

GEORGE: Yeah, we were just chatting about this on the coaching call, Partners coaching call yesterday. But I think what, just to add to that, things that are so important, we were talking about timing, you know, your frame. We always say change the frame, you know, don't necessarily have to change your offer, just change the frame – that your frame is relevant.

You know, what is the talk? What are people talking about right now? Is it Mother’s Day, Easter, etc.? And then one of the mistakes we always see on any ad or any promotion is no call-to-action. It's like, here's the ad, but like, what the hell do I do to get this thing?

And then, just lastly, the wrong call-to-action on the wrong platform, because if you've got this super spanky flyer, that's really great when you hold it in your hand, and it's got a phone number. But when you see it on social media, you look at the phone number. If I'm on my phone, I can't click it. I can't type. I can't write it down. There's nothing I can do. So, it goes into the “I'll check it out later” basket, which means there goes your lead.

ROSS: Yep, exactly. On social media, you've got to have your links on your email address, on your email campaigns, have your links to things. Big mistake, I see it all the time, and not just martial arts businesses, you see it by some big businesses doing, making huge mistakes.

GEORGE: And so, just what Ross was mentioning on branding, I think what's important here – just to add on that aspect – if you're running campaigns back to back, and you have a brand identity and people can see, can you see this… I always look at Apple, you know. You don't have to know, you don't have to see an Apple logo to know it's Apple. It's just got this; the colors and the design speak for itself.

If people are seeing your ads all the time, you know, and they might not respond to this month's campaign, next month, the third month. But if you've got a design and a concept that people resonate with, and they see – when they're ready, whenever that is and they see your ad, there's a bit of a trust factor that's been built, just because they're familiar, the familiarity of your brand. So yeah, definitely important to keep that congruent from top down.

ROSS: Yeah, the classic with that is Coca Cola. You know, they don't have to change a lot, but they still have to market. So, yeah, you know what, you know what's a Coca Cola brand. You know, what's – the colors, the look, the flow. But, yeah.

GEORGE: So, Ross, what's next? 

ROSS: What's next? 

GEORGE: What's next for Ross and Fightcross? 

ROSS: So, for the next 12 months, it's consolidation. We're aiming to have somewhere between 500 and 1000 members of the facility here. And then I'm looking to purchase some more buildings and expand. So, that's the plan. 

GEORGE: Now, if you don't mind sharing, wrapping some numbers around this, what budget do you set aside? I mean, what budget did you set aside for your current location and when people see the video, they'll get a good aspect of what it's about, and how would you be budgeting for the next round? 

ROSS: So, I've spent, and fitout-wise, I've spent about $250,000 in fitout. So, it's not a cheap fitout. 

GEORGE: So, everyone will see why. Yep, yeah.

ROSS: Yeah. And it's what you're trying to achieve with your building and your fitout, like I say, even down to choosing the mats. I chose the Firmimats, and I chose the traditional Tammy Green matte finish, and all the rest of it, for the right look. So, I've spent extra dollars to make sure I got the right look and the right feel, because it's so important. 

GEORGE: Epic! Well, Ross, great catching up again, and would love to catch up again when, yeah, maybe not in the next location, but just in between and just chat about your experience with running the business and how things are going. Any last words? How can people find out more about you? We haven't even spoken about the events and things that you run. But where can people find out more about you?

ROSS: I'm all over social media so ‘Ross Cameron MMA' on Instagram, ‘Fightcross Ross Cameron' on Facebook, Aftershock, lockdown, hammer fight nights. They're there. They're all over social media. So, at one stage I did a lot of social media work. 

GEORGE: That's cool. Awesome. Great. Thanks so much. I'll speak to you soon. 

ROSS: No worries, yes!

 

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

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I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month to get to 100+ students. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, get started with our 7-day risk-free trial – Click Here

3. Work With Me and My Team Privately.

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124 – Free Trials Vs Paid Trials For Martial Arts: Which Works Better Between Facebook & Google?

Even if you’re biased like I am between free or paid martial arts trials, this might make you reconsider where one might be more useful than the other.


IN THIS EPISODE:

  • What’s the purpose of a trial class anyways? 
  • Why what happens before the actual enquiry matters
  • When to use a free trial and a paid trial offer?
  • Intent-based vs Interruption-based marketing
  • What differences to consider when marketing on Facebook and Google 
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

Hey, George Fourie here. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ business podcast. In this episode, I'm going to be talking about a martial arts marketing age-old dilemma: free trials versus paid trials, which one should you be using in your social media, in your Facebook ads, your Google ads, your promotions, and so forth. 

So, I'm going to break it down, and the answer is actually not as straightforward as you might think, especially if you're getting good results with free trials or paid trials, and you are kind of biased towards the other. So, there's actually a place for both. So, I'm going to break down where you could potentially use the paid trial, the free trials, and a bit of the science and the logic behind why you should be using it, at which area in your marketing. 

Stick around to the end, I'll share with you how to, where you can download our free resource, ‘The Ultimate Facebook™ guide for Martial Arts Schools', that will help you create your next winning ad. Alright, let's jump in. 

So, before we dive into details of free versus paid trials, I think it's important to just discuss why a trial in the first place? I mean, we're not in the business of free and paid trials, right? We're in the business of signing up students; and if a student stays with us for one year to two years to three years, I mean, that's really where things are at, right? 

So, why not just go for the marriage proposal straight-up, instead of the drink at the bar? Well, it's really just that, right? We kind of need to start with the drink at the bar. So, what is the drink at the bar? Well, we can use a different analogy for that. But you get what I'm saying, right? So, free trial, paid trial, which is going to work best? Well, it's going to depend on what happens before the trial. 

So, how are they actually entering into your world? And where are the inquiries coming from? So, let's take the first example. Let's say somebody walks into your school, they walk into your school, and the conversation goes, “Hey, I'm, you know, been walking past the school and had a look at your website and had a look at- I've seen your posts on social media, and I wouldn't mind giving it a try and seeing if it will work for me.” 

So, what do you do in that situation? Well, you could present your paid trial, if that's something that you do. But what if a person like that is not keen to pay something just yet? And they just want to try it out? And maybe it's not the money at all, it's just, they just want to give it a go.

They're just not sure, right? What would you do in that scenario? Is it- should you be enforcing a paid trial? You could… or why not just give away a free trial and let them try it out, right? 

Because whether they, I mean, the hard work is done – they've actually walked through the door. From there, you know, how they get to being a member, is really up to you and your sales process, and we'll talk a bit more about that as well. In a sense of that, that's where a free trial could work great, right? Somebody walked in, and they just wanted to give it a try. 

Let's look at another angle where free trials can work great, and to do that, let's do a quick comparison on two core platforms, two core advertising or promotional channels, one being social media, and one being Google. So, let's take Facebook versus Google, for example. Alright, so starting with Google, when people go to Google, Google is intent-based marketing. Facebook is interruption-based.

So, let's talk about the big G first. So, Google: intent-based, so, somebody goes to Google, they are actively searching for a solution or trying to solve a problem. And so, depending on where they are in the buying cycle, is going to depend where they're at, with what their search terms are going to be. So, if they've gone through all the cycles, they might be typing in something like, “martial arts school near me”. 

But if they're not there yet, then they might be typing in something like, “is martial arts the right thing for my child?” or if they know a little bit about different martial arts schools and martial arts styles, they might be typing in, like, “taekwondo versus Jiu jitsu”, or, “Jiu jitsu versus karate”, etc. So, depending on where they're at in the buying cycle, would really depend on where they're at and what type of search term they are typing in. But nevertheless, this person has got intent. 

And by the way, if you want to know more about how these different cycles work, these different stages, I recorded a podcast quite a while ago, called ‘The Five Stages of the Martial Arts Students Signup Cycle'. It's podcast episode #41 – if you go to martialartsmedia.com/41, I'll dive into the details of that, Alright, back to free trials. So, free trials, and searching Google. So, your prospect is searching Google and they find your website. 

Now, they've got some intent, right? Because they've been searching, educating themselves about martial arts and they're kind of ready to potentially take the first step – or not. So, they get your website and they're presented with two options. Now, if they know you, like you, and trust you at this point, or your website does a good job of doing that, they might be ready to take on the paid trial. But maybe they're not, right? 

So, this is where a website could really, it's good to have a few options. And having an option to have a free trial or inquiry, and the paid trial are all good, right? So, this is where a free trial could also be good, because your prospect is just not ready to take out their credit card just yet, although they are very interested. So, that takes care of Google. 

Now, let's move over to Facebook. If we look at mass growth, and student signups, what we've experienced mostly with most of our clients, is it's still the premium channel to attract new students. So, let's look at Facebook. The difference between Facebook and Google, is Facebook is more interruption-based.

So, you can target really well and define exactly who you want to, which demographic you want your ads to be shown to. But you still have to interrupt someone out of their mindless scrolling, right? 

So, they're scrolling or they’re just checking the phone for a couple of minutes, your ads have got to grab attention – got to grab attention. And if you want to know how exactly to do that ad structure, I'll share with you the download resource that you can grab on the podcast page, that will go through that resource. 

But firstly, you have to grab attention, and attention, interest, and desire, right? So, to create desire, you need to create an irresistible offer – an irresistible offer that's got to communicate value. Now, here's where you can struggle with a free trial. If you've just interrupted someone, and they look at your ad, and they look at the option of a free martial arts class, it doesn't really, it's hard to paint the value around it, right? Again, could be case by case, could be different, right? But we're just talking in general. 

In general, how this platform works, it's going to be hard to establish value with a free class. And because you interrupted someone, you could be getting inquiries from people that maybe aren't that interested. And so, you're also going to potentially attract the wrong crowd by having the free trial on Facebook. So, in our experience, and I say in our experience, because we work with a lot of school owners, and we've helped martial arts school owners generate more than 7000 paid trials through this formula. 

It's important to have a well-structured, well-worded paid trial with a Facebook ad, and we find that works way better on Facebook. Now, how do we structure the paid trial? Well, that's important as well. It's not just paying for a few classes, but it's packaged with a combination of classes. Classes plus a physical item, and then demonstrating what the value is. And that last point is really key.

So, what do I mean by that? Well, it's not just, you know, buy five classes for 50 bucks, or, you know, whatever the number is, and I'm just making that number up. I've actually never used that offer, so don't… well, try it – if it works, let me know. But it's important to package it with something physical. Why the physical really helps, because if I'm paying, let's say, 39.95 for two weeks, and I get a free training t-shirt or free uniform, that's something physical that I can picture in my mind. 

And so, if I'm looking at an offer, and I can see that I'm going to pay 39.95 for a two-week trial, I'm going to get this free uniform that's valued at 75, 85, 95 dollars, or I'm saving this much. Now, if you look at this as a package, and it's like, “Ah, cool,” that makes sense – that demonstrates value. I can understand that, because I can understand a physical item better than I can imagining what a martial arts class would be like.

The silly thing is, in your mind, you might be, you know, a prospect might be rationalizing, “Well, you know, if I can try this, and at least I can keep the free item, if I don't like it.” Not sure what you're going to do with a Gi if, or a uniform, if you're not going to train, but hey, nevertheless, that's cool. 

So, just to wrap it up, where do you use a free trial? Where do you use a paid trial? Depends on the platform, where you're going to use it. Make sure that you've got both on your website, so that if somebody finds you, that they can access both – whichever one suits them at the time in their buying cycle. And if you're going to use Facebook ads, then the best bet is to use the paid trial and potentially get the most results from that. 

And if you want to know how to do that, then on this page, depending on where you are watching or listening to this episode, martialartsmedia.com/124. So, the number 124, martialartsmedia.com/124. Scroll down to the big red button that says, ‘Download the Ultimate Facebook™ Ad Formula for Martial Arts Schools.' That will help you, take you through the exact process that we use with all our clients to create winning Facebook ad campaigns that help you attract new students all year long

Thanks so much for watching. Thanks so much for listening. Wherever you are accessing this episode, please make sure you subscribe, that you get notified when our next episode comes out. And please do me a favor, if you got great value from this episode, please share this with a martial arts school owner or instructor friend that you know would get some great value from listening to or watching this.

Thanks again. See you in the next episode, speak soon.

 

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

1. Download the Martial Arts Media™ Mobile App.

It's our new private community app exclusive for martial arts school owners, with top courses, online events, and free resources to help grow your business.  Click here to download for iPhone or Android (any other device).

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

I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month to get to 100+ students. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, get started with our 7-day risk-free trial – Click Here

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, fill out the form and apply HERE … tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details – Click Here

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!

123 – 3 Key Steps To Master For Your Next Martial Arts Facebook Ad Campaign

If you believe that things like the iOS updates have impacted your martial arts ads, chances are you’re going about this the wrong way. Here’s a foolproof strategy to adapt for your next successful campaign.


IN THIS EPISODE:

  • What is The Ultimate Facebook Ad Formula For Martial Arts Schools?
  • Spending too much money on ads? This number might tell a different story
  • Creating an irresistible martial arts offer
  • How to use the AIDA formula for martial arts Facebook ads
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

If you don't get the leads, you don't get the trials, you don't get the signups. So if we get this right with Facebook, first up, we can get the ads to flow easily. So it becomes a bit of a timing thing. The right offer at the right time in front of the right people.

Hey, this is George Fourie. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media business podcast. And in this episode, I'm going to be talking about three key steps that you need to master your next Facebook ad campaign. And I'm going to kick off with a bold statement. And the bold statement is, most martial arts school owners are going about this dead wrong. Why do I know this?

Well, first up, we look and we speak to a lot of school owners and look at a lot of ad accounts, but I can tell you that we don't even have to look at the ad accounts when we hear things like, the iOS, the latest iOS update has completely crushed our results. Or, our website is not bringing in leads anymore. Or, we used to have this strategy of running this ad and this retargeting ad, and this doesn't work anymore. Or, everything used to work, and now our ad costs have gone through the roof, and it's not working anymore. 

All those things are really a key sign that it's not about Facebook itself, but it's actually about the strategy. So in this episode, I'm going to break down the entire strategy, how to go about it, what to avoid, what to optimize, what to look for and outline a winning ad strategy that you can use. Winning to the point that we've refined it over the last four, five, six years. And we've seen more than 7,000 paid trials go through the system.

So I'm going to share this with you today. Make sure that you hit subscribe wherever you are watching this video, or if you're listening to it, head over to your favorite podcast listening tool thingy, and make sure you subscribe. And also if you hang around to the end, I will share with you where you can get our latest e-book, which is a breakdown of much of what we're discussing here today, which is called The Ultimate Facebook Ad Formula for Martial Arts Schools.

All right, let's jump in. 

martial arts ads

Let's jump into three key steps to master your next Facebook ad campaign. So just for a little bit of context, this presentation and these slides that I'm going through right now comes from our Partners group. Our Partners program is our flagship program where we help school owners attract the right students, increase signups, and retain more members.

And if you look at it from a model standpoint, this is pretty much what we work on on a month to month basis. And what we're talking about right now, Facebook, Facebook advertising, falls in the top group there, which is called activate ads. All right. Activate ads under Attract. All right. So let's jump in. 

So first up, what's the big problem that we're trying to solve here with Facebook ads? And the big problems that we run into? Well, first up, I'm sure you know advertising is hard. No matter who says what, it's hard. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, right? It can be very inconsistent.

And so sometimes it's hard and sometimes you think, well, hang on, I'm actually, I'm on top of this. And then somebody pulls the rug underneath your feet and it just stops working and it could be hard to diagnose and figure out, all right, well, what's actually going on here?

Why is this working and why not? Which can cause a lot of frustration, but more… The biggest impact of course that you get is you struggle to get the leads, and if you don't get the leads, you don't get the trials, you don't get the signups.

So if we get this right with Facebook, first up, we can get the ads to flow easily. So it becomes a bit of a timing thing, right? The right offer at the right time in front of the right people. 

And if we know how to adapt our four-step formula that works in between those timeframes, in between those segments, then we're off to a good start. If we could do that, ads will keep on working. Most importantly, we know what to measure and improve. You want to be building up a big library of winning ad campaigns. And this is how it really becomes easier.

Some of our best clients that always used to ask all the questions in the group about Facebook ads now almost ask nothing because, hey, they've just got it mastered. And they've built up this library of winning ad campaigns. And best of all, you get it right, obviously you get the leads and you get the signups. So I'm going to jump into three key concepts, three key concepts to win at your next ad campaign.

So first up, know your numbers. Now I'm sure you've heard this thrown around a lot, right? Yeah, you got to know your numbers, and yeah, we all know we got to know our numbers, but what numbers are we really looking for? So first up we want to know what is a student actually worth?

Because here's the metric that everyone focuses on that's the wrong metric. And that metric is cost per lead. Cost per lead. How much did it cost? What is the cost per click?

Now, yep, it's important to try and reduce that, but it's not really the number that matters, right? Because if you were in real estate, for example, and you were paying per lead, that most martial arts schools are paying, you would be winning. So, yep, we want to try and reduce that cost. But what really matters is, what is the return on investment? 

And I'll give a real simple example. I mean, if you had to walk into the casino, and you found a slot machine, and every time you put $1 into that slot machine, it gave $2 back. How many dollars are you going to put into that slot machine? All of them, right? So that's the winning formula.

Now, I mean, if you had to put $5 in and you got $10 out, well, how many dollars are you going to put in? All the $5 that you can get together. So you're not going to go back and say, oh, well, hang on.

I really preferred to put a dollar into the slot machine. No, you don't care because you're getting $10 back. So what I'm really trying to reference to is what is that number? What is the lifetime student value, or at least, what is a student worth for you over the next year? 

Because if you know that every student that signs up is worth $1,500, $2,000, $2,500, then the cost per click starts getting a little more irrelevant. Now, obviously you need to be concerned about that because I mean, if we're spending $1,000 to get a new student and a student's only worth $1,500, well, we're going to burn through cash flow quite fast, right?

And something I learned from Mike Rhodes way long ago was to look at what is a student worth? What is a customer worth over the first three months? And then, grabbing a name, another tip from another gentleman I've learned a lot from, Dean Jackson, stating how much would you spend with a smile on your face to acquire a customer? 

So if you look at, let's say, all right, well, what is the student worth over the next three months? And then, how much of that am I going to spend with a smile on my face to acquire a new customer, a new student in our case, then what is that number? So if you're comfortable with that number, now we know, all right, well, I'm comfortable spending $50, $100, $150 to acquire a new student, and I will do that all day long. And that's the metric that you've got to dial in. All right, let's move on. 

Number two, your irresistible offer. What is an irresistible offer? Well, I've got a picture here of a fidget spinner. It's probably not an ideal irresistible offer. Well, it was for a while, right? Because everybody wanted a fidget spinner.

But what is an irresistible offer? Well, you want to think of your offer, in the case with martial arts, is how do students get started with you? And what is a way that they can get started with you that's completely risk free for them, and it's enticing enough for them to take the first step.

So here's what the offer is not. The offer is not trying to sell the membership, especially not on Facebook, right? Not with this type of marketing. And I can dive deeper into how Facebook works as an interruption, but for now, we've just got to focus on the fact that we want to put an enticing offer in front of people that gets them to take the first step. 

Now, the first step is not signing up for a 12-month membership, right? The first step is them seeing an offer, seeing something that's irresistible enough for them to go ahead and take the first step and put their hand up and say, all right, I'm keen to do this. Okay. I'm keen to do this and let's go ahead and try this out, right?

And I say try this out, I mean, we want people to start, but we want people to feel comfortable about taking that first step without the risk being on them. And risk might be, well, sign up for a 12-month membership to get started. I know nobody does that, but hey, you want to make it easy for them.

So let's talk about offers. So what is better? Should we run a free trial or a paid trial? Now in our experience there's room for both, but when it comes to Facebook, paid trial typically works better. And I'll explain why.

If we had to compare Facebook and Google, when somebody comes through Google, there's some intent. Meaning they go to Google, they look for it, they search, and they've got some intent to actually… They're interested, right? They already have the interest.

On Facebook, we can target really well, but we have to interrupt. So we got to interrupt people from scrolling. People are sitting on their phones and they're looking through, and we got to put something in front of people that appears of great value. So, yep, we can grab their attention and get them interested, but we've got to build desire with a specific ad offer. And that's where a good irresistible offer comes into play. 

So you need a good, irresistible offer, and you need to establish some value. Now it's very hard to establish value with something that's free. Because what is a free trial?

What does that mean? What's the catch? Why is it free?

But if you package something with a uniform or a physical item, like gloves, t-shirt, belt, et cetera, and they're paying X instead of XX, now they can see the value and it's much easier to make a decision. All right. So work on your offer and work on your paid trials. 

Now, these are examples. You might already be using a paid trial, but what could… And if your paid trial is not working, then you got to dig a bit deeper, and it could be actually in the way that it's worded.

So there's certain things that you've got to avoid and certain things you can say or not, and there's certain numbers that will work better than the others. But too much detail to get into right now, but pay attention to the way you deliver your paid trial. All right, let's move on. 

And number three is, follow the formula. Follow the formula. So what is the ad formula to work with when creating ads? For us, we keep it super simple. We use the age-old AIDA formula. A I D A. If you've heard of it, great. Maybe you'll get some context if you haven't heard of it. A is for attention. I is for interest. D is for desire. A is for action. So I'm going to break down exactly how we go about this, right?

So A for attention is grabbing attention. So you want to call the people out that you are trying to have a conversation with, and that could be simply calling them out. San Diego moms, men of Sydney.

So it's just telling the people who we are talking to, that we are trying to talk to them. The next thing that will also, and this probably counts for more than anything, is the type of media that you use. So the type of image. Now, should you use images? Should you use videos? 

Well, in our case, I'd rather use an image. It's just much easier and you've got to be really good at video to really make video work. And side note, all respect to all videographers, but most people that think they're really good at video are not because they create a good video, but they don't have the sales knowledge and marketing knowledge to package it in the right way, to grab the attention and build up the desire. That's attention.

Interest is creating a cool headline. How do you grab interest? Well, in our case, what we do is we create a benefit driven headline.

So how do we craft a benefit? Something that, what is the thing that they're going to get? Now, what you want to avoid here is not talk about what it is, but you want to talk about what they get.

Two different things, right? What it is, is they get martial arts classes. What they get is the result that they get from martial arts classes. 

So this is where we want to talk about more of the end result, the benefit, the desire that they're going to get from this. Let's talk about desire. How do we go about desire? Because we've managed to craft the offers in such an irresistible way, we tend to find that in the desire section, we just insert our irresistible offer right there.

And if we've grabbed their attention and built up their interest with a powerful, benefit driven headline, then that's normally enough for them to say, all right, I want to try this out. And this is where we insert our irresistible offer. And then last but not least is the call to action.

So what do they need to do to get this? And this is where most school owners fall flat. Reason why: they will send the person to a website.

The worst thing you can possibly do is just send them to your homepage website. Because imagine you've just spoken about this awesome offer and everything, and now they click on a link and when they click on it, it's nothing relevant to what was just spoken about. 

So they're lost, and immediately they leave, right? And they bounce and away they go. The other is to send them to a landing page.

Now this is where everybody feels and thinks that they have to have the best landing page. Well, got news for you. If you're struggling with Facebook right now, Facebook doesn't want you to leave Facebook.

So actually sending people to a landing page could be really, really hard to do. So unless you're super experienced and you're testing it and your landing page was specifically created for that specific offer, I would not recommend going about this.

I would do one of two things. One would be to create a lead ad, which is internal with Facebook. Or number two is send people directly to Messenger. And by doing this people stay on Facebook, they stay in the framework, and now you can follow up in that way. 

And if you do something like in our Partners group, we have The Messenger Signup Method. It takes your prospects from being curious to serious, and then we sign them up. Then that's something that can really work for you. And it's really scalable, as well.

All right. And that's it. Those are the three key steps.

So quickly as a recap, number one, know your numbers. What are the key numbers you got to pay attention to? Well, first up, what is your student worth over the next 12 months or for the lifetime?

Your lifetime student value, and how much are you comfortable spending that? What are you comfortable spending with a smile on your face to acquire your student? So paying attention to that rather than what are you paying per click. 

Number two is your irresistible martial arts offer. So what type of offer are you using? If you are generating your ads from Facebook, highly recommend you look at a paid trial offer and then make sure that your paid trial offer is worded the right way, worded using the right numbers and making sure that when somebody looks at the offer, that it automatically screams of value.

And what I mean by that is, they look at it, and it's a no brainer for them to not go ahead with it. And then number three, follow the formula. So the formula being AIDA, which is the formula we follow. A for attention, I for interest, D for desire, and A for action. All right. And that's it. 

Now, if you do want a copy of our latest e-book, The Ultimate Facebook Ad Formula for Martial Arts Schools, then head over to the podcast episode on martialartsmedia.com, and you'll find it at martialartsmedia.com/123.

We're just lucky that this episode is number 123, right? So martialartsmedia.com/ the numbers 123, not the words written out, just the numbers, 123. And there'll be a button there, all the show notes will be there, plus a transcript. And you'll be able to download The Ultimate Facebook Ad Formula for Martial Arts Schools. 

And if you need some help with your Facebook ads and you want to learn more, how we can help you, or maybe you need someone, you just need a second set of eyes to have a look at your ad account and your ads, then reach out to us. Best way to do that is go to martialartsmedia.com/scale. So S-C-A-L-E. martialartsmedia.com/scale.

There's a little questionnaire, a couple of steps with a few questions for us to better understand where you're at with your business, what you need help with. And then that will go through to another screen where we can book any time to chat and go from there. 

All right, thanks so much. I hope this episode was helpful. And if you're struggling with ads, I just want to confirm this, do take this formula seriously because we work with this formula. Obviously, there's layers and details on it, but this formula, it's not our formula.

It's a proven formula. We've just refined it for martial arts schools. And like I've said, we've seen more than 7,000 paid trials go through the system for schools of all sizes. Schools that are just starting out, pushing a hundred students, schools that have got multiple thousands of students, and the formula just works.

If you need any help, let us know. And otherwise, thanks a lot for listening, thanks a lot for watching, and I'll see you in the next episode. Cheers.

 

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122 – From UFC Fight Pass To Dana White’s Contender Series ( With Ben Vickers )

Ben Vickers shares his UFC journey, from Eternal MMA’s 14 fight shows on UFC Fight Pass, to Scrappy MMA’s Jack Della Maddalena winning his fight on The Dana White’s Contender Series.

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IN THIS EPISODE:

  • How the UFC ‘Walks the Talk’ and raises the bar in the industry 
  • Molding fighters through collaborative coaching style
  • Australian champion Jack Della Maddalena’s martial arts success story
  • Creating a pathway into the UFC for Australian fighters 
  • How to navigate flights and borders during restrictions
  • The journey to Dana White’s Contender series
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

I actually think the key and the secret is they're so close as a team that they all want to lift each other up. I never have issues on the mats with ego. Everyone's just there to get better. And it's really proving the results now.

The guys are self-motivated. I don't need to beg them to come into the gym. They're there. They want to be there, and they want to be the best. And they're prepared to put the work in, and it's showing. There is no secret. It's hard work, it's good quality coaching, and it's teamwork.

GEORGE: Hey, George here. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ business podcast. So, I've got a repeat guest today. Ben Vickers from Eternal MMA and Scrappy MMA. How are you doing today, Ben?

BEN: Yeah, I'm good. I'm good. I'm enjoying the sunshine in the backyard, so happy day.

GEORGE: Well, last time we spoke, we were grabbing a coffee, but last time we spoke on the podcast, podcast 87, we spoke about Eternal MMA. You just got a deal with the UFC, UFC Fight Pass to have all your shows and everything featured. And I was at… Actually, I just bought a ticket yesterday to Eternal MMA.

Yeah. So Ben and the team run an epic show, Eternal MMA. Real top quality production, great fighters. Kind of see now how you've got to deal with the UFC, but wanted to bring you on to chat about the new development that's happened.

And I guess I could just leave it to you before I maybe go down the wrong path with it. So how have things evolved with the UFC from the last time we spoke?

BEN: It's like anything in business really, I'm learning. I'm a self-investing accidental businessman. I had a passion for martial arts. I competed, and then just by natural progression, I ended up owning an academy, coaching fighters, and then running an MMA event.

So I kind of happened upon this business world, but as I am noticing now, it takes time to establish these business relationships and stuff. So I guess for the last… Since 2019, when we did the October Melbourne event, Eternal 48 debuted on Fight Pass, we've done 14 shows with the UFC. We have regular communications with them. We have a monthly call with them where they fill us in on what they need from us, what they want from us, how we are doing.

And we're doing very well. We're one of the strongest events on the platform. We get great viewership all across the world, which is a testament to the matchmaking because we show in a very bad time zone for the U.S.

Our shows go live sort of 4:00 and 7:00 AM East and West Coast. Sorry, that was the wrong way around. So it's normally 4:00 on the West Coast and 7:00 AM in the East. So it's not a great viewership time for the U.S. market, but we seem to be attracting attention there, which must state that we are doing something right, and people enjoy the entertainment that Eternal's providing.

We've got a big viewership in Europe now. We're the second highest performing platform on show outside of the UFC in Europe, sort of a non-European show, should I say. So everything's going really well, and we're really happy with our partnership.

We've got another deal locked in for next year, and we're in the process of signing another TV deal with another massive sports company. One of the… Probably the foremost sports platform in the world. So things are looking good for Eternal.

GEORGE: Great. Well, congrats I'd say, first and foremost. Does it conflict with the… So you mentioned you got moving… Well, you signed the additional deal. How does that work with the UFC? Do the contracts conflict in any way, or-

BEN: They do.

GEORGE: Do they complement each other?

dana white's contender series

BEN: They definitely complement each other. The company that we are going to work with works closely with the UFC as well. That's how we've been able to do the deal, so the deal's not signed yet, so I won't say too much about it, but it's in the latter stages of getting signed.

But yeah, there is synergy there, and what's been really nice for our partnership with the UFC is they've actually gone outside of scope a couple of times and sort of waved the exclusivity clause on a couple of things for us, which is kind of unheard of in the market, especially with the UFC being such a juggernaut. They don't normally do that, so they genuinely believe in the term partnership.

In business, partnership, teamwork, gets thrown around all the time by people that want things, I feel, but the UFC sort of really seem to be living up to that, which is great to see. I think in business these days, a lot of people promise you a lot of things, and from my experience, people very rarely deliver, and that's at the core of my business values is delivering on what I say I'm going to deliver on, and I expect the same thing from people that I'm going to work with and partner with.

So it's really nice to see that such a big company has the same respect for us, and it's a two way street, which is probably the first time in my experience that that's ever happened.

GEORGE: Yeah, that's great to hear. They definitely walk the talk. I mean, if you look at all the reporters and all the media, the negative press they get from obviously people trying to chip at the biggest player and critiquing how they pay for their fighters, you see a lot of negativity come around and it's good to hear from someone that's actually in the trenches, working with them on how the partnership is complementing your business and the direction where you guys go.

BEN: Yeah, I don't think you can be as successful as they are without being good at what you do, and you're going to moan about fighter pay and stuff like this, but if you look at what the UFC has done for the sport, I'm probably not sat here if they haven't made the sport as big as what it is because there's that flow down effect, and they're putting in front of everybody's eyes which is filling my gym, which is inspiring people to want to take up martial arts, which is inspiring people to want to come and watch local MMA and see.

And now we've created this pathway. We've had a couple of fighters go from Eternal champion into the UFC, so now we're creating a pathway where people go, “Well, hang on. If I fight in Eternal and I become the champ, there's a chance I can go and fulfill my dreams, and the UFC might pick me up.” So it's nice to have created that pathway for Australia, for Australian martial artists, and hopefully we can start hammering a few more people into the UFC and really get Australian MMA…

Although it's pretty well on the map, I think we can… I think the standard of martial arts and MMA in particular is super high in this country right now, and there's a lot of talent out there, so hopefully we can get that to the big show.

GEORGE: Yeah, so let's talk about that and your most recent trip. I mean, one thing I noticed at Eternal MMA, which is what I didn't know, is you have a bench of really strong fighters. I mean, all the guys from Scrappy MMA that were part of the event were just really, really good to watch.

So you've definitely developed a great team of fighters yourself. So what do you account that for? Is it just experience or is it also painting this pathway, and your team being able to see more of what is actually possible in the sport?

BEN: For me, I believe that… See, I don't think I'm necessarily a great coach. I think I know what I know, and I know how to put that across. I have a collaborative coaching style. I have a lot of very experienced, very talented fighters. We work together.

So their input is taken on board by me. We'll often sit and talk about positions or things that happen in fights and brainstorm it with all the brains that are around, come to the best solution, practice that, make that part of the game, and then move on to the next position that we want to discuss.

So that's a big part of the collaborative coaching effort. It's not a dictatorship. The guys don't turn up and go, “Right, you're doing this, this and this and this.”

We sort of get our minds together. There's many years of experience on my mats now. I have a hugely experienced team of high level guys, so I tap into their knowledge base as much as possible.

BEN: But what I actually think is the key and the secret is they're so close as a team that they all want to lift each other up. I never have issues on the mats with ego. Everyone's just there to get better, and it's really proving the results now. The guys are self-motivated.

I don't need to beg them to come into the gym. They're there. They want to be there, and they want to be the best. And they're prepared to put the work in, and it's showing.

There's no secret. It's hard work. It's good quality coaching, and it's teamwork.

GEORGE: Yeah. Awesome.

BEN: So that's my key.

GEORGE: Love it. So I don't know how much you could talk about your recent trip to the States?

Jack Della

BEN: That's all… So we… Jack Della who… If any of you don't know who Jack Della Maddalena is, he's been Australian champion on Eternal since 2016. He's got a really interesting story.

He started his career 0-2, losing his first two fights. And then we had a conversation after that, and I basically said, you're too good to be 0-2. Let's set the goal that we're going to get 10 straight wins.

We're going to move to 10-2, and we're going to laugh about this period in a few years’ time. So Jack went 9-2. I don't know if you were there for that one where he knocked out Aldin Bates in spectacular fashion at the HBF Stadium in 72 seconds avenging his first pro MMA loss, and that was his last fight regionally.

And since then, Dana White's Contender Series and the UFC came in and gave Jack a match on week three of this season's Dana White Contender Series, so if you go on UFC Fight Pass, Dana White Contender Series, season five, week three, Jack's on there. He fought an incredibly talented fighter out of Sanford MMA, which is home to Gilbert Burns and Michael Chandler. Kamaru Usman used to train there.

A bunch of high level guys down there, and we went from little old Perth, and we cut the head off the juggernaut, and Jack sort of demolished this guy. It was a three round fight, and the guy hung in there, but he got his ass kicked for pretty much 90% of the fight.

Jack had Dana on his feet at the end of the fight and a round of applause. Basically Dana White Contender Series is a trial, so if you win your fight and he's impressed with you, he's going to sign you to the UFC. So Jack was awarded the contract that night, and we now have a matchup for early Jan in the UFC for Jack to make his UFC debut.

So it's been an epic, epic few weeks. I've done two weeks in the States which was great, and then I've subsequently completed a month. Well, almost completed. Today is my last day of my month quarantine back here in Perth Australia.

GEORGE: Great, so I mean, congrats to both of you and for really putting, I guess, Perth on the map officially as having a fighter in the UFC as well. So, how does that go from here for you? The fights, the travels, the whole agreement?

BEN: Yeah, so Jack signed a four fight deal with the UFC. Those deals are very one sided so that if Jack had one fight and the UFC decided they didn't want him anymore, they would cut him, but he is tied in for the four. So it's very biased towards the company; however, we know that. You know that when you get involved.

GEORGE: It's your foot in the door.

BEN: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, foot through the door, and if Jack goes out and does what he's capable of doing, then his contract will improve quickly, and for us, it's never been about cash. It's always been about being the best in the world, and I firmly believe that Jack Della Maddalena is going to win the welterweight championship in the UFC. So that is the goal now. That is the new goal is to hit the rankings first, get top 15, and then push towards the title.

With the travel and stuff, I mean, most of the fights are going to be stateside at least for the foreseeable future, so I guess it just depends on what happens in the world and where we're at come January as to how much of an ordeal it's going to be, or whether it's going to be…

It would be really nice to just fly out there, do what we need to do, and then come home and just slot back into normal life, but I understand that's probably not going to be the case. Jan, maybe later on in the year, but as long as we can get out there, we can have the fight, we'll worry about the rest of the stuff.

GEORGE: So, I have to ask for anyone in the world listening that's not familiar with how Australia works, but you know, in Perth we're pretty stuck in our state, but we can't actually leave. You can't come in and you can't leave. So big the question, how the hell did you get out?

BEN: Getting out was actually easy. We got the sporting exemption. The UFC is obviously a very powerful entity, so they have lawyers, and they can make these things happen. Seems very strange to me that sports and celebrities get the free will to travel where there's people that have domestic problems, and it doesn't sit very well with me, but I wasn't going to turn it down out of principle.

At the end of the day, we were granted the exemptions to leave, so we left. The problems were when we came back to Australia. Getting out was fairly easy. Once we touched back down on Australian shores, it was a bit more complicated.

GEORGE: In which way?

BEN: No one knows what's going on. No one knows what the rules are. And this is entirely not the people on the ground's fault.

It's obvious there's a lack of direction from the top level feeding down to the employees who are enforcing this stuff. So you get told 10 different things about the same question from five different people. Everyone's a bit confused as to what the rules are, what the rules aren't.

So we did the two weeks hotel quarantine, which was expected. We kind of knew that that was on the cards. They lock you in a twin bedroom with an on suite for two weeks with no opening windows, and it's a little bit inhumane to me, like why you can't have a window and no fresh air for two weeks.

And the room we were in, unfortunately, got no sunlight because it was on a curve. The building was curved, and the sun never hit our side of the curve. So no sunlight, fresh air for two weeks was interesting, but we kind of prepared ourselves for that.

And then getting back to Perth, that's another problem all in itself. New South Wales, especially, is viewed as Chernobyl in this country at the moment, but we managed to get our passes signed off to come back home to Perth, which was great.

It's kind of a weird conversation to be having with someone, to ask if you can come home, but we were eventually allowed home, and I'm just completing my two weeks home quarantine. So it'll be a six week trip for a 15 minute flight, which is a lot of effort.

GEORGE: Yeah, so that begs the question, right? Because if that's going to be the norm, how do you do that? Do you relocate? Does Jack relocate? How do you…

BEN: No, I think… I could be being overly optimistic, but I think that this is about to come to an end in some way shape or form. The vaccine numbers are creeping up towards where the government wants them to be. International travel is about to start again. They're talking about home isolation as opposed to hotel isolation. So I think it is going to improve, but I'm very committed to Jack and the sport and Jack.

If I didn't believe so strongly in Jack, it might be a different story, but I firmly believe that he's going to be a world champ, and I'm prepared to do whatever I have to do to help him make that happen. And he's the same way, so if we have to sit for a month in quarantine, after every fight for the foreseeable future, if it gets us to the goal, then that's what we'll do.

I'm lucky that I've got such a good team at the gym, and I've got a business partner in Eternal that they can… Everything I can't do remotely they can look after, so I don't stress about the businesses and stuff while I'm away. And I just get the freedom to focus a hundred percent on what we're doing.

GEORGE: That's epic. How do you feel about this whole situation now that you've traveled? Like the way we are handling the COVID situation versus internationally? And there's two sides to this, right?

Because for most Australians, we feel like… I think in Perth, people feel pretty cool about everything because we just got freedom until you try and leave, right?

BEN: Yeah.

GEORGE: And then Queensland pretty much the same, but for most of us, we don't want to be in New South Wales and Victoria right now.

BEN: I think vaccinated, New South Wales isn't a bad place to be. I think they've just let all the clean people out and the dirty unvaccinated people must stay indoors for another couple of months, which is crazy as well. Yeah, I'm… Look, it's probably not the best conversation for me to have. I have pretty strong views on it, and they might not fit everyone else's. I'm not an anti this or anti that, I'm a pro doing what you feel is right for you.

So if vaccine's your method and your coping mechanism, I support you a hundred percent. If it isn't, I also support you a hundred percent. Just do what you feel is right for you. I'm blown away having been to America, which was supposed to be like this hotbed of COVID, and people are just cracking on and living a normal life over there.

I feel like it's been badly handled, if I'm honest. We had the jump on everybody else. We had hindsight, we had time to look at what was happening in the rest of the world. We used our geographical position as a safety net without any real thoughts of strategy or long term strategy.

We were just gloating to the rest of the world how good we had it over here in Australia, and now we are the worst in the world. So to me, that's poor leadership.

I feel like forcing people to do things they don't want to do medically is a very slippery slope, but I have no choice in the matter really at the end of the day. Comply or live a second rate life. Your options have become very limited, so it's a bit unfortunate this happened, and two years ago, we'd be sitting there having this conversation, and if we started bringing into to the conversation, you must have a vaccine or you won't be allowed to do this that and the other, well, we'd have thought we were both gone completely mad two years ago.

So it's funny how quickly it's changed. And essentially in two years, 50% of the world is now vaccinated against this, which is… It's crazy, but that's where we're at. So we just got to make the most of it, and do the best we can, navigate our way through this mind field and try and get out of it the other side as safely and healthily as possible.

GEORGE: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. What's next on the cards for you guys, just with everything that's going on? Is there a different structure in the team and how you are doing it, especially with the focus, having a fighter at that level?

Does the team adjust with training schedules to support, or is it just business as usual?

BEN: It's business as usual? Like Jack's part of the team, and when it's his turn to fight, we'll focus on him for the six weeks prior to his fight, exclusively, probably. He's on a slightly different time schedule to the rest of the boys, but I've got boys fighting in two weeks.

While I was in the States, Jack Becker went away and won the Australian title on the Gold Coast. He went on his own, and that's the confidence he had in his own skills. He didn't need his coach.

He was happy to go over there and beat an undefeated dude. Knock him out in the first round and take his title. So I've got him fighting November, which will probably be the last fighter I have out this year.

And then all the focus will be on Jack's training camp. He's got a UFC fight in Jan. So, no, we crack on as normal. And I'm hoping that Jack Becker defends his title.

He might follow Jack Della's footsteps next year into the international scene. He's definitely ready to go. And I've got a bunch of boys just chomping at the bit to get out there. So we'll all train together.

The team mentality stays. Jack's not a big time guy. He's humble. He'll be in the gym as normal, like nothing's changed. No, we just crack on. As far as Eternal's concerned, again, it's just business as usual.

It's been challenging these last two years. I'd say now trying to get at these shows across the line, and it's cost a lot of money to travel people around for no reason, and there's been umpteen challenges, but Eternal has grown and gone from strength to strength as well during the pandemic, so all these challenges just help you get better at doing what you do.

We think on our feet now, so when something comes up, we've always got contingency plans in place. We know so-and-so might not get here, so who's going to fill in, and have we got the people on the back burner and sometimes we might give you a little retainer to stay ready for just in case, and we're sort of trying to future proof the business as best as possible and get as many good fights on as we can and, and keep doing what we're doing.

GEORGE: You're definitely doing that. On the contingency type plans, I was curious, what is the plan when you have the show scheduled for X date and government decides, hang on, we got a case and we're shutting the city down, which happens-

BEN: It happens, yeah.

GEORGE: What is the plan? Is it just shift to the next weekend? Or how do the venues compensate and work with you in that situation?

BEN: The venues don't really compensate. Everyone's sort of covering their own ass, if you like, at the moment. So what we'll do is we'll pencil dates in the distance.

So say that Perth was an example around February, our February show. Perth went into lockdown, and it came out of lockdown the day the show was supposed to take place, so I moved the show 16 hours, and I did it on Sunday. So it's just little things like that.

Once it gets canceled that late, boys are already cutting weight and stuff like that, so we want to try and keep it as close to the original date as possible so as not to mess around with the guy's health too much. So that's always my main concern is making these fights happen as close to the original date as possible.

But the last Gold Coast show was postponed numerous times. I think it went on the third date that we planned it for.

GEORGE: Wow.

BEN: It's just having the dates in the diary, speaking with venues, and venues understand the scenario, so they let you multiple pencils, and if people are canceling their events and you can slot in then we'll do that, and it's just being reactive really. I mean, it's a very tricky space at the moment. Imagine I've got a show on October the 30th, but if we have a lockdown on October the 29th, there's not much I can do about that.

Everything's in motion, everything's paid for everything. That's a tough one, but that's where insurance comes. And there are grants available from the government. They're hard to get, and they take a while, but if you qualify, which we haven't managed to receive one yet, then they'll compensate you for canceled events and stuff like that.

GEORGE: Got it.

BEN: You've just got to keep working. It's like anything. You want the result you want at the end, you just got to put your nose to the grindstone and make it happen.

That's all it is, is the extreme desire to make these events happen. It'd be easy to go, “Fuck it. I'm not doing anything for three months until this shit calms”, but you could be waiting three years.

GEORGE: Exactly.

Jack Della

BEN: You might as well just try and make… And we haven't… We fulfill our contracts every year with our broadcast contracts, the main COVID year, and then this year as well, we will fulfill our broadcast contracts, which is what… Like I said, at the start we promised we would deliver that, and it's important to us to…

I'm sure the UFC would understand if we didn't, given the circumstances, but it's never really been an option for me.

GEORGE: Yeah. I love that attitude. It's like survival of the fittest has taken on a new meaning. Like you just get it done. And I speak to a lot of school owners, and it's always frustrating when people have chosen…

I don't want to pick on anyone, but chose the backseat, chosen to… It's okay to not follow through and not succeed because X, Y, and Z.

BEN: Yeah.

GEORGE: Yeah, so it's not easy. It's complicated. It's definitely not easy. It's definitely not simple.

If you can navigate through this and manage to put all these different contingency plans in place with everything that you do, I think when everything's over and done and a bit more normal, whatever that is, you'll just operate at a whole another level.

BEN: Absolutely.

GEORGE: Yeah.

BEN: I always said to Cam, who's my Eternal business partner, I always said, “If we position ourselves right, and we play this right, we'll be in a very strong position at the end of this pandemic, and it's just literally a can-do mentality. Like whatever it takes to get the job done, and then having the support of commissions and people and years building up these relationships, they come to fruition when you need something from people, and you've been consistent in your behaviors and your delivery over the years, people are much more willing to help you out.

GEORGE: Yeah.

BEN: It's been a big collaborative effort from everyone involved, and I appreciate that. It is easy to go out, you know, “Let's just leave it. That's too difficult. Put it in the too hard basket, and move on.” But that's not how I operate. I like working under difficult circumstances. I like pressure. That's where I want to be.

GEORGE: Do you feel it kind of fires you up in a way?

BEN: I just like being in the thick of it. I don't like… Like for me, quarantine is the worst thing that could ever happen to me because I like being amongst it. I like shit to be happening all the time. That's just how I like to do it.

GEORGE: Love it.

BEN: Yeah.

GEORGE: Hey Ben, it's great catching up. For anyone listening, it's kind of… And I did chat about it in the last podcast episode, but it's actually funny how we met because our daughters go to the same daycare.

BEN: Yeah. They're all grown up now.

GEORGE: Yeah, growing up. Growing up and… Oh sorry, you've got a son as well that's growing up that's now in the same daycare. And I was just wearing the UFC shirt the one day Ben came in and it was like, “Hey, UFC”. And I could just… I looked at Ben, and it was like, yeah, he trains and-

BEN: Yeah.

GEORGE: That was the conversation.

BEN: Yeah.

GEORGE: And so I bump into Ben every so often just at the daycare, we have a bit of a rant or bump to his wife or at the local coffee shop which is Alex Junior.

Alex Junior Coffee

BEN: Alex Junior Coffee has the finest coffee in Perth.

GEORGE: There we go. Yeah. What is the full story behind the Dadbury? So, and for anyone listening, that's obviously… We're using terms here that are pretty not… Yeah, if you're not in Perth, sounds strange, but Padbury is a suburb. Go for it.

BEN: Padbury is where we live. It was the idea of one of the local dads that we should have a community of people, and what Dadbury does is get the dads together for one, but they've actually now got government grants and government funding. And what they do is they help people out in the suburbs. 

So say you might be a single mom and your garden's got away from you. The boys will come around on a Saturday, they'll dig your garden out. They've got a Bobcat and they'll… Or your roof's falling you in, and you can't afford…

So they're helping the local community, raising money for kids that are sick, cleaning the school grounds up, all kinds of stuff. It's just like a community, and anyone can sort of message the page who lives in Padbury or even I'm assuming, sort of the runnings of… But if you were the next suburb over, but you've been from it… It's just a community of dads that have different skill sets that…

My only skill set is I can rock up sometimes and lift some stuff and move some stuff around, and be a bit of a morale, making people laugh by falling over and being clumsy. But it's just a great group of people.

And I kind of have a little routine. The coffee shop, they built a coffee shop here, and it's become like the hub of the community. So after I drop the kids off in the morning to go to school, before I head down on the freeway to work, I'll drop in. I'll get my coffee.

I spend 10 minutes talking to the lads, whoever's around. It's a really nice suburb to live in. Like everyone sort of knows everyone's out for everyone, and being from London, I never really had that.

Everyone's too busy. Everyone's doing their own thing. No, one's really interested in what their neigh-… I didn't know the name of my neighbors, and they lived above me and beside me directly.

So it's really nice to walk around the suburb with the kids, and the kids play with other people's kids. You can sit and have a coffee, and it's a nice thing.

Community is very important to me and my gym is a community that I have, and now I have another community where I live, so I'm in a pretty good position for support. In quarantine, the lads come and drop coffee off at the doorstep for me.

GEORGE: Wow.

BEN: It's been amazing. They made sure to, when they saw Nat while I was away, make sure they didn't need anything. It's just nice to know that someone's got your back while you're away.

Obviously with traveling, it's going to become a bit more frequent for me now. It's nice to know that we live in a nice place where people are looking out. And I think if there could be more of that in society, then I think we'd all be in a much better spot.

GEORGE: Yeah, definitely. And I, I've got to admit it's… And I'm kind of sad I discovered that part before I moved, and I'm 10, 15 minutes away, but whenever we drop our daughter off, that's the first spot I go for coffee, and it's just got a great vibe to it, and it is kind of rare.

It's the first little hub that I've found in Perth that is very, very close and very… It's just got a different vibe to it. And that is rare in most places.

BEN: First time in my life I found it… Obviously, I was a soldier, so I was very transient, so I never really had a home base, and I never really had friends, loads of friends or a group or a community where I lived. It was more like at work.

And then when I went home on leave, I'd meet up with the other soldiers and you wouldn't really fraternize with your local community. So it's really nice for me, and it's probably the first time ever that I've had this sort of community vibe as an adult, and I think it's a great way to live because if you're…

Sometimes you feel shit, and there's a bloke down there you can just talk to. He doesn't really know that much about you, so it's quite an open sort of… Don't really… Yeah, so it's nice just to be able to get things off your chest, chat, and just have a laugh and some banter and push through the day.

But everyone knows that there's someone there if they need a shoulder to cry or they have some issues, then there's plenty of lads there to have a chat.

So I think it's important for men. Men don't talk enough, and I've had some mental health struggles in the last 18 months, and the support of those communities I have around me has been instrumental in getting through that, coming out the other side in a good spot. So find a community, whatever it is. Join a club.

I think men are terrible for just bottling everything up and drinking their way out of problems, and before you know it, bang, there's an explosion there.

GEORGE: Yeah, very, very true. I can vouch for that, and I think coming from a culture, South Africa culture which can be perceived as very stubborn and very hard in mindset just because of the circumstances of where you're from. But it's a lot of pride that goes into opening up and you always got to show up, be cool, be a hundred percent. Can't…

BEN: I mean, I think it's been great that Tyson Fury has come forward so heavily. For me, he's the greatest boxer of my generation. Definitely the greatest heavyweight of my generation, and what a human being.

I've never really met anyone that doesn't like him. He's been to the bottom. He's the baddest man on the planet, and he wanted to top himself, and here he is a week removed from one of the most amazing boxing fights you'll ever see, and he's flying, but he's a good advocate for… He's the baddest man on the planet, but he's able to stand there and go, “Yeah, I have mental issues, and I need to deal with it.”

So to have more advocates like that is fantastic, and it doesn't make you weak. There's this stupid stigma that us men have that we are weak if we have a problem. I was the worst for it.

I wouldn't tell anyone anything, but there's a reality check coming at some point in your life and you won't… It might… It chooses the right to time to come for you to work through it. So it happened to me at 40. It might happen at 50. It might happen at 60, but at some point, if you don't start getting rid of some of these demons or some of these problems or some of these issues, they're going to compound, and there's going to be an explosion, and there might be some collateral damage, so sooner or later, get it off your chest.

Find someone that you can confide in, and I think it's really important to do that.

GEORGE: Yeah. Yeah. Totally. Hey Ben, next time I'll hit you up for some coffee, and next time we chat on the show, I think we'll start talking about bull champions. How about that?

BEN: Yeah, sounds good.

GEORGE: Or earlier.

BEN: Give me a few years. When was the last one? Couple years ago?

GEORGE: I was looking this morning, so it's episode number 87 for anyone who wants to listen. 2019.

BEN: Yeah, so a couple of years.

GEORGE: Yep.

BEN: Yeah, I reckon if we circle back in a couple of years, we'll be knocking on the door.

GEORGE: All right. We'll call this the Ben and George Show, episode two of 20.

BEN: Yeah, there we go.

GEORGE: It'll be slow. It'll be slow paced. We'll do it once a year, once every couple years, but yeah, we'll just document the journey.

BEN: I'll get Jack to jump on and the next one.

GEORGE: Yeah. Sounds good. Would love to chat to him as well.

BEN: Perfect.

GEORGE: All right, mate.

BEN: Thanks for the time.

GEORGE: Good to catch up, and all the best for the last few days of quarantine. Enjoy the sun, and you'll be back on it next week.

BEN: Cheers, mate.

GEORGE: Speak soon. Cheers.

 

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***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

121 – Is The ‘Anti-McDojo Mindset’ Sabotaging Your Martial Arts Business’s Success?

Cheyne McMahon and George Fourie discuss overcoming a somewhat outdated, old-fashioned, traditional mindset that’s holding many martial arts businesses back.

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IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Original, traditional karate charged at premium prices?
  • How to raise prices and still keep your students
  • Been called a McDojo?
  • Martial arts fees based on value vs time
  • Growing from 110 to 350 karate students
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

I think as instructors, maybe people try to be that person on the pedestal and be that person that they want to be, but they can't because it's not ingrained in them. But if people perceive them as that person, perceive them as, oh, my sensei does it for the love of karate. Well, yeah, we all do it for the love of karate or the love of the martial arts. If we didn't do it for the love of martial arts, we wouldn't do it. 

GEORGE: Hey, George here from martialartsmedia.com and welcome to the Martial Arts Media business podcast. I've got a repeat guest and I think I just discovered the record breaker of repeat guests, record breaker, Cheyne McMahon, third time on the show, I believe. 

CHEYNE: Yeah, that's right. Thanks for having me, George. Again. 

GEORGE: Cool. Welcome back. We used to introduce Cheyne as Cheyne McMahon from Australian Karate Academy, but now we'll add to the introduction Cheyne McMahon from Australia Karate Academy and the Karate Over Coffee Podcast. Cool. 

CHEYNE: That's it.  

GEORGE: Cool. We're going to talk about that, but Cheyne and I were chatting a week ago, so I'm going to put some context to this conversation. This might turn into a bit of a rant, I don't know, possibly, but it's going to be something that you really want to listen to, if you are struggling with growing your business, your martial arts business.

We're going to focus on karate, but I see this overlap in martial arts school owners I've talked to that do jiu jitsu, Kung-Fu, Taekwondo. I don't know if it's a generational thing, but it's a problem. And we're going to take it head on.

And I hope you get a lot from this. And if you have felt anything similar in the circles that you hang around, in the martial arts community and I hope this helps because this is the one thing that I see holding school owners back the most.  

As you guys know, if you listen to this podcast, I work with a group of school owners, we call Partners. And we promptly help school owners attract the right students, increase signups and retain more members. A lot of people always reach out and say, “Hey, we want help with our marketing.”

The first… I think the one thing that almost 99% of school owners always come to me for is, “Hey, we need more students.” That's always where the conversation starts. But what I've really noticed of late is, it's almost never the problem.  

It's almost never the problem. It's not. Yes, it is the problem, you need more students, but it's not the root cause of the problem.

It's not the marketing. It's not the, we need the latest trick. All those things are relevant. The problem goes way deeper than that. And it's mindset and mindset around money. Mindset and mindset around money. And I think this is the biggest thing that's holding most school owners back, especially, we're going to talk about karate, traditional karate, and beliefs around money and how to overcome that.  

Cheyne, let's just talk about where you're at right now with your school and from where I sit. I think if we talk about traditional karate, I think that Cheyne lives and breathes karate, like someone I've never met in my life. It's seven, eight hours a day. It's karate, it's talking karate, it's teaching karate, it's learning karate.  

And then, when you look at his school, if anybody has a label, throw those… What's with those dodgy labels like McDojo or things like that? If anybody has to do that, they need a bit of a reality check. But not that anything that we're talking about is wrong, but if we talk about purists, Cheyne does karate. He doesn't add other classes, there's no Muay Thai, there's no kickboxing, it's karate. There's no birthday parties. It's karate.

Everything is just centered on this one, the core of what Cheyne lives and breathes. I'll hand it over to you, where's your business at right now? How does it look and so forth?

Martial Arts Business

CHEYNE: Yeah. Well, at the moment, student-wise, we're in the 340 to 350 mark in the one dojo. We have a dojo in Sydney as well and he's looking around the 150 mark. But karate-wise, I've never moved away from teaching the best quality karate that we can offer.  

Everything is based around our style of karate. We teach the little kids, the kinder ninjas, but we kept those numbers. We have kids and we have many adults as well.

We'd be close to 150 adults in our program and that's not teaching anything other than traditional karate, karate and Kobudo, the weapons. Everything is geared around learning, understanding traditional karate. The dojo has gone, we have to keep expanding the dojo to have everybody in there, which is a great problem to have, but it doesn't mean that we've watered down any of the karate.

In fact, our karate has gotten better and better over the years because I've been able to… Instead of working a nine to five job and then coming and teaching karate, I've been able to focus everything on understanding more about karate, because I've got, not free time, but I've got allocated time during the day, now, for example, to spend on understanding more about karate and reading books about karate, reading internet forums about karate, watching videos.

I can spend a couple of hours a day just doing that and incorporating that into the classes, instead of going nine till five at a job and then having to teach, two, three hours after, a couple of days a week. Everything is geared around karate and karate getting better. Learning more about the oldest style of karate, traditional karate. 

GEORGE: Perfect. When it comes to fees, would you say that you are the cheapest in the market or more sort of the most expensive, when it comes to fees?  

CHEYNE: Well, I'm the most expensive, yeah, in my area. If you look at the karate schools around me, I'm definitely the most expensive, but I have the most available times. I've got a big training area, I've got toilets, change rooms, air conditioning, and new flooring.  

I am the most expensive, but not only that, my family have been doing karate for a long time. I charge the most because I deliver the most and I consider my karate to be the best. That's why, if you walk into a Mercedes dealership, you know you're going to be paying Mercedes dealership price.

If you walk into a Kia dealership, then you're going to pay a Kia price. The Kia salesman may be wearing a tie or they could be wearing a polo, nothing wrong with that. But if you go into a Mercedes dealership, they're wearing cufflinks, they're wearing tailored shirts. The tiling on the floor is a hundred dollars a tile, the Kia dealership is $10 a tile, so you get what you pay for.  

GEORGE: 100%. I've framed the word expensive and fees and cheap and expensive, but really what it comes down to is, and you've answered that is, you are priced based on your value. You are priced based on your value and not on just the time or so forth.  

CHEYNE: Yeah. We also have… The mandatory time is twice a week. The minimum time for you to train is twice a week. If you're after a once a week class, then I'm not the dojo for you. I'm only looking for serious students who want to do serious karate.

If you're interested in just doing once a week at a community hall, no problem, I will send you there and I'll give you the instructor's name, but for me, and the way that I want my club to be, it's a serious karate club, where we teach serious karate.

GEORGE: All right. Let's talk about why you feel that traditional… Let's start with your background and, if you're listening in a different country, or you've got a jiu jitsu school, TaeKwonDo, it doesn't matter, but we're going to go from Cheyne's experience, draw from Cheyne's karate experience, talk about traditional karate.  

When you speak to other school owners, traditional karate and so forth, where do you see the problem with them getting to the level that you're at?  

CHEYNE: I think it's a mindset from their previous instructor. It can be a preconceived idea that if you teach martial arts, you shouldn't make any money. Whereas in reality, in karate, I'll give you just a quick background story.

When Japan came over and took over Okinawa, all of the martial arts that were taught were in the Royal, there were 39 families, I think, something like that. 39 families and that's where martial arts were created.  

When Japan came over and took over Okinawa, those families had to leave the palace or they were made redundant more or less. They had to go and teach or they had to go and make money. And these guys, the only things that they knew how to do was read and write. Some became writers and other people, all they knew was karate, for example.

They would go on and teach karate for money because that's how they survived. And that's when… For people to think that karate instructors shouldn't make any money, they were doing it 150 years ago, whereas people just don't understand that.  

GEORGE: Where did this belief then… How did it infiltrate the modern, in our times today? 

CHEYNE: George, I don't know, mate. Maybe it was the Karate Kid. I honestly have no idea, because if you look in the sixties, seventies, eighties, and I'm only just talking about karate because that's all I know. We were bringing Japanese instructors to Australia, paying them money for us to learn karate, and then we would turn around and not charge our students. 

It may be an ideology that we want to be the samurai who doesn't make any money. We go from village to village and you pay me in bread and you pay me in water. I honestly have no idea.

It's that whole humbleness or the humility in karate or martial arts in general that we try to… Not BS, but yeah, probably BS about what really karate or martial arts teachers are. I say this a bit…  

GEORGE: Say it.  

CHEYNE: But I don't know, if you're an asshole outside of karate, before you learn karate, then you're going to be an asshole learning karate.  

But I think as instructors, maybe people try to be that person on the pedestal, be that person that they want to be, but they can't because it's not ingrained in them. But if people perceive them as that person, perceive them as, oh, my sensei does it for the love of karate. Well, yeah, we all do it for the love of karate or the love of the martial art. If we didn't do it for the love of martial arts, we wouldn't do it.

And there's that whole idea that my sensei, or even instructor… My sensei doesn't make any money out of karate, he does it for the passion. Yeah, well, how is he paying for the rent? How is he paying for insurance? Of course, everybody charges money, but yeah, to answer your question, mate, I don't really know, but I would think that's where it would stem from.  

GEORGE: And does he show up 100% devoted to teaching your class or does he show up halfhearted, because he knows that when he walks out here, there's a whole bunch of other problems to deal with that's money-related? 

And so there's half a commitment. Intentions are pure and so we're not talking about intentions here, because I think the intentions are pure, but what baffles me is that money sometimes, this ingrained and maybe ancestral belief about money that's genetic, carries over and somehow when someone's more successful in martial arts, let's throw them under the bus.  

And it's spoken about a lot, the crab in a bucket philosophy. If you put a bunch of crabs in a bucket and you watch them try and get out, one, they never get out because one just pulls each other down. And I mean, I've lived in Australia a long time. I don't know but I've only experienced martial arts…

Well from the start, mostly in Australia, other than speaking internationally and speaking of other cultures and so forth. I don't know if it just stems mainly from Australia, but no, it doesn't, I'll correct myself.  

CHEYNE: Definitely not. Well, I see a lot of instructors who have 50 students and they always ask you, how do you get more instructors? How do you get more instructors?

But it's not getting… Sorry, how to get more students? How do you get more students? But it's not about getting more students, it's about, you've got to set the time aside to get more students. You have to have the times available for those new students. 

If you're only Monday and Wednesday for an hour, you're only going to get a small percentage of people who have those times available. Instead of thinking, if you want to grow your dojo to be something that is a full-time dojo, then you've got to be a full-time dojo. You can't expect to be a full-time dojo running two or three times a week. 

GEORGE: And juggling three other jobs to…  

Martial Arts Business

CHEYNE: Exactly, yeah. If you're really passionate about your martial art, then you can dedicate yourself to it. And that's what I like to consider, I've dedicated myself to karate and that's how I'm able to offer so many different classes.  

GEORGE: Cheyne, let's talk about a term that gets thrown around. We've touched on it. It gets thrown around a lot, McDojo, what comes to mind or what triggers you when you hear the term McDojo?  

CHEYNE: Yeah. Well, I think those who point those fingers, I know some people would think that I'm a McDojo, for sure. But generally they're the people who are teaching karate from the seventies who haven't evolved their own karate. They're still practicing and teaching the same karate as what they learnt and really they have no idea what karate really is and what karate isn't. They're not doing the research. They don't know what they're doing. They don't know why we're punching to the body, why we're blocking to the body.  

They're teaching stuff that they don't understand the biomechanics, where I've put in the time and the research and so has my father and they're teaching karate from the seventies and still charging five bucks a class, where the karate that they're teaching is really poor, is bad karate. And they're the ones who think they're doing traditional karate, where in fact, they're doing modern sports karate. 

Whereas guys like myself are teaching traditional karate because we understand where karate comes from. We understand the changes that karate has had. We understand what karate looked like before and what karate looks like now, and they're teaching karate from the seventies, eighties, and nineties, whereas they're really just teaching modern sports karate from Japan, instead of understanding what karate is.

And for them to accuse me of being a McDojo, Well, I've spent many, many hours and many, many dollars on understanding what karate is and what karate isn't.  

And these guys are at a local hall, on a dirty floor, teaching two hours a week, karate from 1975 and parading around like they're a Japanese sensei and, “Don't question authority,” all of these sorts of things, and really they are the McDojo because they are actually… If you're going to say a McDojo, it's an awful term, but they're not progressing their karate.

They're still doing karate from 30, 40, 50 years ago. Whereas the Japanese instructors, who taught that karate, didn't understand karate, didn't understand what they were teaching because their instructor didn't know what they were doing.  

Whereas now we can go back through and we're researching… I'm not going to say we, not me, I'm following the guys who are doing all the research, but these guys are understanding what karate is and what karate isn't and how karate has evolved in the last 30 years.

Whereas these guys are still doing the same poor karate that they were doing without understanding biomechanics, how the body moves, how the body doesn't move. They're still teaching sports karate, thinking they're teaching traditional karate, where it's not. My karate has evolved, their karate hasn't.  

GEORGE: It's a word that I hate and I don't understand because I see it begins and for me, it comes from a place of jealousy. It's this place of, well, would you value this person's karate or martial arts more just because if they were less successful than you? Okay, the karate is great and successful, oh, but now they make more money than me, now they're a McDojo and they're selling out. What a lot of crap, selling out. 

Or it angers me a bit because is that what we teach people in life? If martial arts is the vehicle to improve people and improve your wellbeing way beyond what you do on the mat then is this what we have to teach people? Well, here we talk about… Well, we don't talk about bullying, it's not accepted and we are anti-bullying and we do this, but between each other, between our peers, it's okay to bully each other.

It's a bit of this hypocrisy in a way, yeah, don't bully, we'll teach you how to physically not bully, but mentally we'll tear everybody else down around us and that's okay because they are McDojo.  

CHEYNE: I'll tell you where it stems from George, it's insecurity, insecurity about their own karate or their own chosen martial art. If you are secure in your karate or secure in your martial arts and if you understand what you're doing, then you don't even worry about what other people are doing. You just focus on what you're doing. But for those who rant and rave about this McDojo, this guy's making too much money, that guy's making too much money.

Obviously this is a crap dojo because you are so insecure about the karate that you teach, if you've got to pull everybody down and that's what a bully is, they're insecure.  

GEORGE: Bullying and martial arts, who would have thought?  

CHEYNE: Well, I was bullied by somebody not long ago, a very well-known person, because obviously they are insecure about something that I said and they're insecure about it. And I called the person on it and they didn't hear anything else, but it's just because people are insecure, they're jealous.  

GEORGE: Let's talk about different pricing and positioning. In our Partners program, we have a new section which we call Onramp, which it's basically the first 10, 11 steps that a school owner's got to walk through before sort of graduating into the real group, into the official Partners group.  

Until a few months back, everything was marketing and how do we get the marketing right? But right now, the first thing that we actually care about is mindset. Mindset and turning time-based pricing to value-based pricing. And what I mean by that is, a lot of school owners would come into the group and they feel like they're still charging per class. It's per class or it's for this time. And it's like, well, that's what the value is based on the time.  

And a big focus for us is to shift from that to value-based pricing, which is, well, it's not about the time, it's about what do they get in that time and what do they get in the time as in a full experience. And that is how you are able to raise your prices, because it's almost not what you teach, it's how you frame what you teach and realize that the outcome exceeds just the physical aspect of martial arts.  

Let's talk, just in current times, I don't know when you're listening to this or if you listen to this in current times, but with the state of the world going from lockdowns, in and out of lockdowns, and maybe you're not in lockdown right now, but who knows, there could be one coming or you've just come out of one. But with that happening, a lot of martial arts school owners are reverting to online classes.

And some are cool with that and some are not. And I find it fascinating that just speaking to some school owners, they lock in down for two months, they've got a 90% retention. Students are getting value.  

They still get value from being in the club. They're not physically in the club, but they get value from being in the club and being in the community. And that is a big step for realizing what your value is, because it proves that the outcome that you get from martial arts and being in the martial arts environment, exceeds way more from being on the mat and how you punch, how you kick, how you do chokes, how you do submissions, whatever type of style you do.  

Let's talk about your process. Let's break it down. You're a martial artist, maybe you're a traditionalist, and you've only got a few students and you want to take a step up, you've got to grow, you know you got to scale but you may be in that situation where you got one or two classes. You don't have the funds potentially to grow and scale and so you've got to make changes to your pricing.

How did you go about changing your pricing to a direct debit, more sort of a recurring basis and raising your prices? Because you were saying earlier that you're actually the most expensive in the market. What was the process that got you there?  

CHEYNE: I doubled the fees and those who stayed with me paid double the fees and those who didn't, left, but it was a very small percentage of people that left. I doubled the fees.  

GEORGE: What conversation did you have with yourself when you doubled the fees? How did you combat the little voice that was fighting you, saying that there's no way I can double my fees, that's unethical, I'll be labeled a McDojo, everybody's going to call me a scam artist? My peers are going to look down at me and call me a scam artist or whatever.  

CHEYNE: McDojo is such a bad term. People consider anybody who charges fees a McDojo. If you charge for a grading, you could be considered a McDojo. Lose that mindset of being a McDojo. Well, I suppose everybody is a McDojo, who charges money and everybody charges money.

There's not a martial art club in the world that I know of, that wouldn't charge money. If you're doing it at home, I can understand maybe not charging, but if you've got to pay rent, you've got to charge money.

It could be considered, everybody's a McDojo. The mindset I had was, well, I'm worth it. The 35 years I've been involved in karate. And when I say involved, it's not just once or twice a week for an hour or two. It's all day seven, eight hours, thinking about karate, reading about karate, writing about karate, talking about karate, doing podcasts about karate, doing videos, traveling, seminars, the amount of money that I've spent over the years, it is huge.  

I think that my time is worth this. And if you think it is too fantastic, you pay your money. If you don't, there's a local community dojo down the road, happy to send you there. The mindset was, I don't really care what other people think of me, I'm comfortable with what I really like, I'm happy with where I am.

I believe my karate is fantastic and I believe we offer a fantastic experience, quality karate, quality experience, and these things. And I charge what I think I'm worth, I stopped caring what people thought of me a while ago, mate.  

But honestly, it did take a while. It did take a while, if I'm going to be honest, it took a while for me to get over the fact that what people would think of me. Now, I don't care.  

GEORGE: It's interesting because I remember, it's a story I did tell a lot, but the first time we had a conversation was when you had 110 students and the dojo was flooded. What I found interesting from that story was that you listened to this podcast, it was episode number 44.

If you ever want to listen to it and you sent me a message straight after and said, “Hey, I did this thing that you said on the podcast, and I've got new students or inquiries.”  

I can't remember at the level the result was. And then we got talking and 110 students, you took a gamble on yourself and said, well, I'm going to do this thing. And we jumped in, we created some really good offers. Something we probably never spoke about was mindset, but we just put the right offers in place. And before you knew it, it was 200 students.

And then before we knew it, there were 300. And now you're sitting at a very sweet spot of 340, 50 students. And you've got a wait list. Am I correct?  

CHEYNE: Yep. 

GEORGE: Yep. 

CHEYNE: We have a waitlist, yep. For all programs, yep.  

GEORGE: How has your pricing changed from Cheyne that was at 110 students to 340, 50 students?  

CHEYNE: Well, I'm able to employ more people, more instructors, which makes it easier for me, which gives me the time to make the classes better, and make the karate better as well. Instead of taking every single class, I can spend more time with my family, whether they like it or not.

It allows me breathing space as well. Having more instructors gives me breathing space to make my karate better, so I can learn more stuff.  

We have a separate black belt class where I teach. I love that class, the black belt adult’s class, where all we do is the secrets of… No secrets, but all we focus on is all the stuff that I've learned, new stuff, more, Kobudo, more weapons, all the stuff that probably separates my karate from other people's karate, because I've put the time in. I've been everywhere, I've learnt from many people.  

That extra time allows me to make sure that the karate that I'm giving is the best quality traditional karate. Our karate is based on Okinawan karate and we have a Japanese sensei as well, who's 88. Time is limited, but it's based on karate that was done a hundred years ago. We include throws, joint locks, take downs, the pressure point strikes, as well as weapons, as well as [kakia], which is all different drills, two person drills, kumi kata, sticky hand drills, all of these things that I'm able to teach into my system.  

And I'm not bogged down by teaching kata, hundreds of kata. That's a total karate podcast, but these are things that I've already done. I did those things 20 years ago and now I'm able to teach the best karate that I can. But the biggest thing is, it's not like I'm making a million dollars. I wish I was, shit, who wouldn't? 

GEORGE: And you should, for the value that you provide.  

CHEYNE: Yeah. Well, it also allows me to employ people, instructors, and to give back to those as well. We have a group of maybe 10 instructors who teach and help out. And yeah, it allows me that as well. It's not like I'm making all the money, because again, if I did all of the classes and all of those sorts of things, then I would make all the money, but I couldn't develop my karate and I couldn't give back because I'd be out there for four hours, five hours a day teaching classes, instead of being able to understand more about karate.  

GEORGE: Yeah. You're building a legacy and you're transferring knowledge. Knowledge is not just ending with you, it's actually going through you and you're empowering the next generation.  

Martial Arts Business

CHEYNE: Yeah. Building the legacy. That's a huge thing that I'm trying to do. Build a legacy for my son as my father did for me. That's the biggest thing I want is to build a legacy where karate is the best possible. And hopefully my son takes up karate, whether he does it…

Whatever he does, that's cool. I'm not going to put any pressure on him. And my dad certainly didn't put any pressure on me either, but the karate that my son is going to continue, is hopefully better than mine, because I know mine is much better than my dad's, but don't tell him.  

GEORGE: I'll be sending this over to Bob. I'm sure he'll be listening anyway.  

CHEYNE: I wouldn't say it's better than my dad's, but we do more and more than my father did, because I've got another 30 years on top of him. In 30 years, when I'm his age, I will be 30 years further than he was.  

GEORGE: Got you. Yeah. I guess if we had to sort of start wrapping things up, if you're really stuck with your martial arts business and you're not moving forward, then maybe take this episode on board. If things triggered you that we spoke about and we were talking before this and we went deep into a lot of aspects, but if anything triggered you then have a look at your… I guess, have a look at your relationship with money.  

Two things from this podcast that have stuck with me, one was, first time I spoke to Kevin Blundell and Kevin runs a multi-billion dollar organization. I think there were 24 or 25 locations, I can't keep up. But one thing that he mentioned to me that really stuck out was the minute you charge a dollar, you're in business and you've got an obligation to fulfill and deliver value.  

If you're charging nothing, great, and that's great. If that's what you do, and a lot of people do that and this is not about discriminating or looking down, if that's a choice and that's something that you want to do and you provide value to your community in that way. But the minute you charge a dollar, you are in business. Now this is where you've got to decide, well, how much value you can deliver for a dollar versus a hundred versus a thousand versus whatever, however your fee structure works.  

And then the second thing was, Kylie Ryan, who is a mindset coach who I really respect. And we just spoke in the midst of the whole pandemic. And one thing that she pointed out was, when people pay, people pay attention. And when people are paying more for a service, there is a subconscious value to it, that you appreciate it more and that you are more committed to it because if you are showing up and it's just costing you five bucks, you might not be that committed to show up.  

But if it's 500 bucks or whatever the fee is, you might look at it a bit differently and you might value it differently. And that's probably the same from your parents, from parents with kids in martial arts as well.  

If you feel you are stuck, then have a look at your surroundings, who are you listening to? Who's influencing your thinking about money and maybe unfortunately, that is someone real close to you, within your family, or maybe that is someone higher up in martial arts that you aspire to and they are the best and sincere and authentic martial artists. But their relationship with money is crippled and you are forced to live under that same mindset and thinking, and if, unless you deal with that issue, you can have all the marketing solutions in the world and get all the students you want, they're going to be leaving and it's not going to result to success. 

CHEYNE: Yeah. I think there's a lot of jealousy. A lot of people don't understand what money is and how money works. And when somebody else has more money than them, people get jealous and point fingers and don't really understand what it takes. And it could also be that your sensei has a, as you said, bad relationship with money because their sensei had a bad relationship with money and didn't understand.  

GEORGE: Yeah. Perfect. Just to wrap things up. Two things, if you need any help with any of that, do reach out to us, martialartsmedia.com. You can contact us from there. And if you want to learn more about karate, Cheyne, since the last time we spoke, Karate Over Coffee podcasts, tell us about that.  

Cheyne McMahon Karate Business

CHEYNE: I love karate and I'm a big fan of coffee. It's a podcast where I talk about all my experiences in karate. Interview people, it's all karate based, everything is based on karate, obviously, that's why it's called Karate Over Coffee. And yeah, we talk about lots of things, dojo management sometimes as well. Talk about competitions. Talk about what kata and what karate is and what karate isn't. And yeah, I only really scratched the surface so far. We've got some sweet merchandise there.  

GEORGE: I can see, if you're watching this, Cheyne completely outdone me with my plain black shirt and, oh, that's it. We've got a mug and we got a shirt, all right, I'm going to need to up my game. That's for sure. Where can people tune in to Karate Over Coffee?

CHEYNE: Well, you can go straight to the website, karateovercoffee.com. I got all the episodes there, or you can follow us on iTunes or Spotify. However you listen to your podcasts, there's a YouTube channel as well, just type in Karate Over Coffee, yeah, we've got some shirts available karateovercoffeeshop.com. We're everywhere.  

GEORGE: It's everywhere. Perfect. Cheyne, thanks so much for being on again.  

CHEYNE: No worries.  

GEORGE: We might break another record and have you on for episode four of the…  

CHEYNE: Yeah. When I hit 500 students, for sure.  

GEORGE: When you hit your 500 students. Okay cool. The half… I almost called it the half century mark, the half… The 500 mark.  

CHEYNE: 500 mark, yeah.  

GEORGE: Cool. We'll call this part three of 20 of the Cheyne and George sub-division podcast overlaps over the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast versus Karate Over Coffee. And I think this is where we got to call it quits.  

CHEYNE: Thanks for having me, George. 

GEORGE: Thanks, Cheyne. Speak soon.  

CHEYNE: Cheers, mate. 

GEORGE: Cheers.

 

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***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

120 – 3 Martial Arts Photo Mistakes That’s Hurting Your Brand And Reputation

If a picture says 1,000 words, what are yours saying about your martial arts school? Martial Arts photographer, Francine Schaepper, shares 3 pitfalls to avoid that could tarnish your brand and reputation.

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IN THIS EPISODE:

  • The costly mistake that school owners make with random photos
  • Why use a vision board to strategize your martial arts photos
  • How to create attention grabbing martial arts photos for Facebook ads
  • Forget ‘message to market match’ – think ‘photo to market match’
  • The Power of Pictures: How to use them to communicate your message
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

There's a lot of mistakes you can make, and we're not talking about technical mistakes here. You know, the how to, that's a whole different story. But the main mistake that I see is that a lot of martial arts schools who are owners don't have a plan when it comes to photography, they have no plan.

There's very little purpose behind when they take photos or how to take photos. And then also because of the first two, then there's no message, or there's a wrong message which can really greatly damage your school and your image really. 

GEORGE: Hey, it's George here from martialartsmedia.com and welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ business podcast. So, I got a repeat guest with me today. Good day Francine. 

FRANCINE: Hello. 

GEORGE: Hello Francine. Francine Schaepper from Martial Arts Photography International. We've got a great episode lined up for you today, and we're going to talk about the three martial arts photo mistakes that's hurting your brand. So photos that you might take in the school, training, photos that you're using for ads and promotions and three mistakes that you should avoid and how it could be tarnishing your reputation and your brand. 

We've also got a great download with this episode with a short little instructional video. So I'll give you all the details on how you can get that. But first up, if you haven't listened to podcast one or two, you can go listen to that and get the full story about Francine. I think we spoke a lot about that and a bunch of other things, but for now, Francine, if you could give us just a two minute background, who you are and we'll go from there. 

martial arts photography

FRANCINE: Okay. I'm Francine. I am a martial artist of 20 years myself. So I've been training in different styles, it's kind of my passion. Well, it's not kind of my passion, it is my passion and I am a professional photographer as well. So at some point it merged.

I created my niche and I've been taking photos for martial arts schools for, I don't know, maybe six, seven years. Yeah. I've got thousands and thousands of photos of martial arts and martial artists in my database. Yeah, I love doing it. So it's an awesome industry to be working in. 

GEORGE: Okay. So let's talk about photos. Now, depending on the state of the union, the state of your country within martial arts where you're at, what I'm referring to is whether you've got restrictions or lockdown or so forth, chances are you might not have a professional photographer on hand that could take photos and a lot of people are just doing it themselves. I mean, smartphones are so good.

Actually Francine and I created a course, the Smartphone Photography Masterclass, which is all about taking photos with a phone. 

So phones are really … it's kind of all you need, but it's not just about point and click, right? There's a lot of things that … it's the little things that can make the difference. And I think what we want to really talk about today is those things that you've got to look out for and avoid. So three mistakes, what are the three top mistakes that you see martial arts school owners make when taking photos that's tarnishing the brand and reputation? 

FRANCINE: There's a lot of mistakes you can make, and we're not talking about technical mistakes here. You know, the how to, that's a whole different story. But the main mistake that I see is that a lot of martial arts schools who are owners don't have a plan when it comes to photography, they have no plan.

There's very little purpose behind when they take photos or how to take photos. And then also because of the first two, then there's no message, or there's a wrong message, which can really greatly damage your school and your image really.

GEORGE: All right. Okay. So big picture overview. Now let's … if we can get a bit more into the details, like a plan, what type of plan are we talking about? A written plan or a big mind map, or what am I doing? What's wrong with me just looking at the class and getting happy snappy and just taking random photos?

FRANCINE: Well, you can always … It's better to get happy and snappy than not taking photos at all, which I see too. So that's probably the main mistake, don't take any photos. So that's the fourth one. Look, the plan is chances are when you started your school, and I'm going back a bit because that's really, that's the work I do with every single client I work with. 

And you can do it for yourself, it is just stepping back and going, okay, when you started your school, when you were really excited about it all, at some point you decided about a brand. You decided, okay, my color is red or green or blue, or that's the name. And then that comes with all the emotional things, which is good. Like the passion, the emotion, you might be in a very traditional school, like a Shaolin school, where it's all about … You've got your little alter there and things like that. Or you might be super clean cut and modern. 

And I bet with all of you that at some point when you started, or I hope so at least, that you had that thought that you had this big vision of your school. And there might be chances that you have a business plan as well. The problem is when it comes to photography, often that gets forgotten because, “Oh yeah, I'll just take my phone and take some happy snaps.” Like you said. The problem is that often, and that's something I might talk about a bit later, that you forget what the original vision was.

So let's say that your vision was, you have this really traditional school and it's all about the details and you've got really cool uniforms and the weapons are carved. I mean it's a stereotype, right? But let's say this is your school. 

And then all your photos are really just quick snaps of, I don't know, just really wide shots. You're not really showing those details and you lose that passion and that love for details that is a part of your brand, if it is. On the other hand, if you have a very, very modern brand, you're nice and clean cut. Everything's really nice and neat.

I don't know, and then you take photos where there's a yellow bin in it in every shot, or you don't look at the details you have … I'm going into probably too much detail, but it's just that you lose … If you don't have a plan, then you don't have a direction and it's just very random. All your photos are random, and chances are that they just look like any other school, even though when you set out to create your brand, you had these points of difference that were very you. 

And it's almost like when you do your planning or your vision boarding, that's what I will get you to do, is like, okay, sit back, remove yourself from everything that you have now, even if you've had this school for 20 years, sit back. I use Pinterest, which is a free app with most of my clients. And it's not about finding martial arts shots. It's about finding shots that convey that feeling or the energy and everything that makes your school so unique because your school is unique.

Every school is different. And sit back and really have fun putting photos in that you'd find online. And that could be a photo of a dragon. It could be a photo of a cat. I don't care what it is. 

But once you've got that vision board and that collage, it will tell you all, this is what I should look like. And you might have a lot of detailed shots in there, or you might have a lot of very specific colors in there. And then if I came in, I would look at that and go like, “Okay, well, that's your visual … that's your vision for what you want your brand to look like.”

And then when you take photos, the best thing is you print it out, you put it on the wall, then it reminds you, “Oh yes, I do want to record all those really intricate details because that's part of my brand.” Or, “No, I want it clean cut. It's about lines and being very clean and that's how I'm going to shoot.” So it's just about having a plan in the background that you can get back to. 

GEORGE: So on that plan, right? And you were mentioning all these different elements, the cat and everything else, how do you get to the point where … I mean, because you've got this clear vision of what you want your school to look like. What are you trying to draw inspiration from so that you can make your vision the reality?

And I think a lot of us might have … We're not experienced photographers. Our vision gets blurred and we think that it's kind of looking like that, but it's not really. So how do we cross that bridge? And what are we looking for if we had a cat and we've got a boat? We've got things that look good, but what are the intricate little inspiration elements that we try to draw from that, that we could take on to taking photos of students on the mats?

Francine Schaepper

FRANCINE: Well, I guess it's more about … It's not, okay, if you've got a picture of a cat or a dragon or whatever it is, it's not about the cat or the dragon. It's more about the energy, right? So, okay, well that's going down the creative rabbit hole. But if you got a cat, like let's say cat style, old Kung fu or Karate, whatever, I don't know which style has cats or tigers.

Well if you think about it, it's a whole different energy of stalking and moving that if let's say you have a horse, which might be galloping. I mean, that's really weird, but I do go down these rabbit holes. And in the end, even if you're not creative, if you have that in the back of your mind that, okay, this is the spirit of the movement or whatever you're trying to show, then you'll start to take different photos. 

And that's something that we spend a lot of time on, where I spend a lot of time talking about in our course is that's the how, but that comes later. First you just have to put that vision up and just go like, okay, well just leave it there and just kind of marinate with it a bit. And it will, if you work with it, it will start infiltrating how you take your photos later on. It's not clean cut. You probably need a little bit of direction, which someone like I can give. Or maybe you have a very creative person in your team. 

So I always tell school owners who feel like, “Oh my God, that's just doing my head in just thinking about that.” Well, I'm sure you've got one of your especially junior instructors, right? They're on their phones all the time. They're on Instagram. They look at photos all the time. So find your most creative person, show them that vision board and say, “Does that … Can you do something with this? Does that inspire you to take photos?” 

If you get a person that is visual and that has that naturally, they'll probably … Because it's something that you do intuitively, it's not a technical thing, not so much. It's more of an idea, which I know, if you're technical, I've lost you now, but that's why I say, just find someone in your family or in your team that can do that. And then they can do it for you as well. You can delegate these kinds of things. Does that make sense?

Because the first step is very much just about, don't think about how am I ever possibly going to translate that into a photograph? That happens later. First, you just need to have that vision and just put it somewhere, and then how comes later. 

GEORGE: Okay, cool. And I think what would add to that would be this creative talk or things that cause some tension in your gut and you're like, “Ah.” Then find what you don't like. Sometimes it's easier to eliminate stuff than to pick the thing that you want. But you know, if you know what you don't like, then have that on your un-vision board and eliminate doing those things that will pull you towards what you need. 

FRANCINE: An un-vision board. I like that. I'll use that. 

GEORGE: That's … I just, yeah. 

FRANCINE: Yeah, that works.

GEORGE: It's a number two, no purpose. So there's a bit of an overlap here. So tell us about that. 

FRANCINE: Yeah. I mean, it is totally an overlap and I see that throughout. It's not just a martial arts business. It's with any business I work with. It's this thing of, “Oh, I need photos.” And we all do, especially now, we're a lot more online. We have Zoom classes. We just need content. We need to stand out.

And as I often say, yoga, Pilates, and all of these industries are much better than mine. They look better than martial arts. Let's be honest. They just look better. They're on it. So that's why our industry needs to catch up a little bit. But the thing is not having a purpose is more, “Oh, I need photos, take the phone, take a snapshot, walk off the mats.” And then later you look at it, you're like, “Oh, I don't even know what that was supposed to be.” 

And we're all guilty of that because you do it under pressure. You don't think about why you're doing it. And it's like going into battle without a plan. I mean, you have some plan and your plan is that vision board or that un-vision board, I do not want … And that's a good point actually. If you go, “I don't want dark photos. I don't want blurry photos. I don't want people looking like they're in pain in my photos.” Which is probably three things you should avoid anyway, so there's some extra for you. 

Even if you set out with that in mind, “All my photos will have really nice, bright exposure because I like bright pictures because that's on my vision board.” If that's the only thing you take out, you take your camera and that's something I can teach you, but you can YouTube it. I mean, we've got a whole course and you go out and you learn how to make sure that your photos are well exposed. That's the one thing you do. 

You have a purpose because your purpose is, “I'm going to create photos that look nice because the lighting is great.” Take, done, that's the purpose. Or if you go out and you say, “Okay, today my intention is, because I like close-ups.” Right?

So on your vision board you might have lots of photos of close-ups and details. Now translating that will be like, “Okay, I want to focus on somebody doing a punch. I want to focus on the head or I want to focus on the face or an expression.” So what you're going to do, your intention is going to be, “I'm going to go close in. I'm not going to stand outside of the mats and just take photos of whatever.” Potentially little Johnny crying in the background and then you don't see it. You post it. There you go. 

You're going to go on the mats. You're going to go nice and close. You're going to interact with your students and go like, “Hey, give me a smile.” Click, and then that's tick, that's another purpose. So even if it feels like a lot in the beginning, if you have that plan, just take one thing at a time, especially if you're new or if like you say, you have an anxiety attack even thinking about it. 

Pick one thing, bright photos, close-ups or colors. Can I capture colors? Belts or whatever it is. And you can make it a little challenge. I mean, we all like a little challenge. So just having a very simple purpose when you go out there to take a photo, that'll expedite, not expedite. That'll increase your … I just lost my word. That'll improve your photos a lot just by doing that. And I'm not even telling you how to do it, it's just the approach.

GEORGE: So we're getting a bit clearer on a plan. I guess what I'd like to know, where does emotion overlap in all this? Is there like a certain emotion that will be more leaning to the message in point three? But where does emotion fall in play? The emotion that we're trying to extract out of the photo or the emotion that we're trying to perceive from the person seeing the photo.

Francine Schaepper

FRANCINE: The message one, that's the next one. I think when you're just … you have your vision, you have your purpose. It's about your emotion, what you bring in. Because the photo is never … not never, but it's not about the tool. It's not about your camera. It's about how you … I always say it's about how you see the world, how you perceive the world or how you perceive what's happening. 

At some point, if you take enough photos, that's what is going to make your photos unique because nobody looks at things the way you do. I mean I'm someone, I like to be flat on my stomach on the floor taking shots. That's just where I like to be. I'm never just standing straight, but that adds that angle that people go, “Oh yeah, that's a Francine shot, obviously.”

And that's emotion in itself. And also because you're interacting with the students because they know you, the emotion comes through the shot and that's not something that you need to think about. 

I don't think about it when I take shots. It's just something that happens naturally because you are out there doing something with an intention. You're going to get some sort of emotion in there and probably take photos on a day that you feel happy and that you're good and not when you're grumpy. Because it always comes through, like it's with any creative process, it's a process that happens in the background. You often don't even know that it's happening. 

So you don't have to be artistic to do that. Everybody is creative in their own way. I mean, creativity is problem solving and your problem solving with martial arts. So you're stepping out there and you're just taking a shot, chances are that the emotion will come through and don't question it too much.

Just do it and just be yourself doing it. It sounds really simple, but it really is. It's not rocket science. It's just something that … And the more you enjoy it, the better it's going to get. And if you really hate it, then yeah, just delegate it to someone who loves doing it. And then you get that emotion through too. 

GEORGE: Yeah, totally. And so what I do want to do based on that is just take a bit of sidestep, right? Because like in our Partners group and Academy group, a lot of school owners want to run ads on Facebook. And so there's a message that they want to deliver.

And so, I mean, the first thing we always say is test, but then some photos are just not good and they should not even make it to any form of a test. Everyone's always asking for feedback on photos before they go live. And there's certain elements that we do obviously too, and a few rules that we always stick by just a couple of people and so forth. 

But the question I have for you is, let's say we are running an ad and there's a certain emotion or message. Maybe I'm leaning again to the message, right? But we're trying to communicate, like we want to display confidence for example.

It's a big one with kid’s karate or it's a self-defense situation. So maybe it's a lady's workshop, or it’s jiu jitsu and it's pretty brutal, but we're doing a display that someone's getting choked out and they've still got a smile on their face. It's a sort of fun environment.

So what are those elements? And I know I've given you probably too much to work with, but how do you go about that? Let's just take the first one and say, all right, well, I'm running an ad that promotes confidence with kids and so now I want to create a photo that's going to resemble confident kids. Where would I start with that? 

FRANCINE: Well, it has all three in it. So first of all, you would have to go … I would send you to go find photos of kids that you like that convey confidence and happiness. Just find random photos. They don't have to be martial arts because it's hard.

On Pinterest there's very, very little content for martial artists. I mean, one of my suggestions is I'm working on it, but go on my website, see how I do it and then try to copy that because yeah, there's not a lot out there.

But so the plan would be to find photos first that you like, that you go, yeah, that conveys confidence. Print them. Then you would go on the mats and go like, okay, well then your intention is, I need happy kids. Right? Happy, confident kids. You kind of want both. How do you do that? How do you see that?

So your intention is to show their face, right? So your purpose or the intention for you, the second one will be, okay, if I want to get that expression. I need to capture the face or most likely an interaction maybe in a self-defense kind of environment. Right? So there's two kids. They're doing their self-defense, they're looking or even with an adult, they're looking confident, but they look capable and happy doing it. 

So then that's your intention. Then the third one will be, okay, the message it's already in there. So you want them to be doing … You want them to look a certain way. And that's also when you start communicating, so you set the scene. So if it's kids, photos, you go like, okay, well, if you shoot that at night, when it's really dark, it's underexposed, you can't really see the face. That's already a no-no. So your message would be wrong.

Even if you have your plan, you've got your purpose, but you chose the wrong time to do it, let's say, right? So you got to go, “Okay, well, that's what I want because I want my viewer on the message to be, it's a bright, I don't know, it's a bright, sunny day that's happy.” Right? So it's bright and sunny.

It's a Saturday morning. That's happy, and the kid's having fun doing self-defense and then there's your message. I don't know if that makes sense because it's very complex. And for me it's easy because I do it automatically. But the more you do it, just think logically, like if you want a confident, happy kid, that's why you go back to the plan. You would never choose a dark alleyway self-defense layout or image. That would be maybe for women. Because you go like, “Okay, I need to walk …” A kid shouldn't be there.

So think logically, okay, well for a kid what's a happy environment? It's a sunny day playing with their mates, but they're still looking confident. And then from the plan, you've got your intention and then you translate it to your shot. Does that make sense? Because it's a lot of logic. Like if you want women, show photos of women.

Francine Schaepper

GEORGE: I'll make it easy. As we're talking, just thinking, we're including a download, which we'll talk about in a minute because when we talk about having no message and how to go about that. In the course that we created, the Smartphone Photography Masterclass. We had two sessions, Shooting With Purpose and People and Portraits. And I know people and portraits, we did a few comparisons with a few kids and photos and different styles, jiu jitsu and so forth and examples of great photos. I'm putting you on the spot, but would it be okay to include that as a download? So if people go to the episode and download the transcript that we can include those with the episode? 

FRANCINE: Yeah. I think it was a case study we did. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Because sometimes you just need to have sample photos that you go like, “Oh, okay. I know what she's talking about.” Yeah. 

GEORGE: So especially just being a podcast and it's auditory and you might be … maybe you're watching the video on martialartsmedia.com or you're watching it on social or you're listening on iTunes or Spotify or somewhere. It would be good to put the visual element in perspective. So if you go to martialartsmedia.com/120, one, two, zero, there will be a link where you can download the transcript. 

And in the transcript, we'll have the transcript of this episode. And we'll also include portions to the worksheet that come from the Smartphone Photography Masterclass with a few case studies and something that we're going to talk about next. So Francine, let's talk about the message and also the worksheet that's included. 

FRANCINE: Yeah. So the message, I mean, like it's apparent, those three things are intertwined a little bit. If you work backwards, if you say you want to have the message, you cannot have a message without having a plan and having a purpose. It's just not going to work because then it's random. It's like you're happy snaps, like you said. 

GEORGE: So before we get into the details, let's define the message. What are we actually trying to say when we want a message delivered through our photos? 

FRANCINE: We call it the photo to message match. I mean, there's this saying, I think in every language that a photo speaks a thousand words. No, a photo says more than a thousand words. And one of the things that I will ask is, well, if one word has so much … If one photo has so much power, then if you look at the photos on your page or your socials, does it actually tell the right story? 

And often I get this kind of like … And you know it doesn't because you know exactly like, “Yeah, no, that's not the story I wanted to tell.” Or it's just mismatched. So visual, and with visuals, it's even harder because there's a lot of space for interpretation, but that's at the pro level. But even when you do your day to day photos, just keep it super simple. Like what's the message? And then what is logically, how can you visually convey that message? 

Like I said before, if it's for kids, like confident, happy kids training, using a dark alleyway for self-defense in a self-defense like a hooded guy, you know? It's probably not the right message because that's not … Mothers would think, “Oh my god, what's my kid going to do?” Like, that's too scary.

Even though your idea might be right. It's not. Just think like your prospect would think and with kids it's the mums usually, right?

So if you put anything out for kid’s classes, you got to think … And I'm not telling you anything new. I mean, I hope that all of you have done a business plan. You've got your guide, you've got stuff in there. You've got your demographics, you've defined your demographics. What do they think, where do they go? Where do they get their coffee? All of that.

Now just use that. You already have it. So go back to basics, find your demographics, and look at this. You should have it. If you don't, it's the time to do it. And then just try to think in their terms. So don't think like a martial artist, don't think like a fighter, think like someone who has no idea. And think what would they … It's very elaborate. I mean you can keep it quite simple. If you have a boxing class and you've got that, I don't know what the title is on the sheet that we're giving you, which we had. I think I broke it down into four very… 

GEORGE: The Photo to Message Matchmaker. 

FRANCINE: Yeah, duh, I'm talking about that. And we've got four very … I think I came up with four total stereotypes. Right? So I'm going to take a step back. Usually you have your macro brand, which is your school, and then you might have a fitness class, a kid’s class, self-defense class and a traditional class.

Now, if you download that and it's not, you just read it because it's going to click, you're going to go like, “Oh, okay.” And you just change it with whatever you were doing. If it's for example, BJJ, you would go competitive sports BJJ, more self-defense class, maybe for women, then you've got kids and you might have something else. 

So just translate it to your own. And I've got a lot in there. And then just go back to your plan. Literally, you go to Pinterest and go, women's fitness classes, and then you see photos coming up and you go like, “Okay, well how can I use that?” But instead of a woman doing yoga, it's a woman doing a kick, smiling. If that makes sense?

So that's where the plan comes back into play with your message, if you're not sure what it is that you were trying to do visually. 

GEORGE: Actually Francine, I've got it open here on the screen. So just to add to that, four broad categories of different styles. If your style doesn't fit there you can pick one that's closest to it. But we talk about a breakdown of the audience, the motivated desired result, role models, aspirations, existing issues, environmental, fear barrier, internal, and then photo suggestions of how you can actually go about the photos.

So there's page two, there's three suggestions on each for photos. Then there's lighting tips, movement, tips, composition tips, and a few bonuses as well. 

FRANCINE: There you go, if you print that out and put it up in your academy, that'll solve a lot of question marks already. Because it is quite a … I mean, I could talk about this all day, but in the end, it's a very logical process. You think about who you are trying to sell it to? What do they like? And you have to work with stereotypes. I mean, you do. Women probably prefer bright, colorful kinds of photos. 

If it's for a fight club or for a sparring class for guys. Well then obviously you're not going to use pink tops. You've got to obviously make it a little bit more masculine. You can turn it black and white. There's a lot of tricks. I mean, there's so much that we have in the course, which yeah, I could talk all day, but it's just trying to think logically. 

And if you don't have that logic, I mean, it's a bit of a creative mutual logic. If you don't have that, ask your target audience, ask your mums at the school. Like, oh look … Even maybe print a few photos, like find a few photos online of kids' classes, no matter what sport, print them out. And then you can show it to the mums while they're waiting and go like, “Oh, okay, can you please cross which three do you prefer?” 

And you go cross, cross, cross and then the one that has the most likes if you want, or you could even do it on Facebook, because there's not a lot of material out there for martial arts. It is sometimes difficult. But if you think in movement it's really doable. And ask for feedback, ask for feedback from people that you want to sell it to. Ask them, what do you want? What would you respond to? A, B or a C? 

And they will tell you, and you will see that there's usually … because psychology works kind of very similarly. I mean, you've got to ask, don't just ask three people, and maybe ask 30 or 40. Ask your friends, ask your family, put it on your private Facebook and then see what … And don't talk to other business owners or other martial arts school owners because often you'll have the wrong mindset.

You'll think as the instructor, but you want to have the feedback from those who you want to yeah … You want them to come to you. If that makes sense?

GEORGE: Yeah. So a couple of things that I got from that, I think most martial arts school owners need to tone it down rather than to ramp it up. You know, the angry, focused, violent type look, it's probably more toned down for your target audience. 

One that really hit home and I think it really stings if you are really objective about it, is if a picture tells a thousand words, then what is mine doing? And just having an honest look and removing your emotion out of it I think is also key, because it might have been the best technique that you ever pulled off, but if you removed your emotional attachment away from it, how is this perceived for someone that just wants to give a class a try, type of thing? 

martial arts photography

FRANCINE: Exactly. Yeah, and I see that a lot. Like when I go and take photos, it's often … And I get it as a martial artist. I get it. It's always like, “Oh, what do you want the class to do? Let's spin whatever sidekicks.” And I'm, “Na, na, na, just keep it simple.” Because first of all, the more complex the technique, the more you can screw it up, and not everybody's very good at spinning sidekicks or whatever it is. 

And it's a very nicely executed, straight punch with a smiling kid will beat a kid looking … I mean, it depends what it is. If it's a competition, then yes. Get a kid that does a perfect sidekick looking really stern. Just know what story you're trying to tell. Like it's really about what's … and show people, take a shot and put it somewhere and ask people, maybe don't put it on your socials, but ask people. “So what do you think when you look at this?” 

Ask different people, ask some kids, ask some moms, ask some teenagers and they will all give you a different reply because I've got amazing shots. You know, my warrior shots that I think are amazing, but for somebody who starts martial arts, they're not the right shots because they're going to say, “I can't do that.” 

And everybody's always comparing themselves, so it's also important to really know your target audience and present. And if it's middle-aged women or mums classes after drop-off, don't … And I see that all the time, you've got these 20 year old, super skinny girls that obviously don't know what they're doing because it's stock photography. Don't do it. Get those, get someone in, ask a mum. “Oh, do you mind? Look, you can do a free boxing class. I just want to take a few photos of you punching the bag.” 

And then use that because it's authentic and it speaks to that audience. They go like, “Oh, if she can do it I can do it.” And that's how you need to think. Like you say, you've got to step back and not be the instructor or the martial artist in that you need to really try to understand what they would want to see and what motivates them. And it's nothing easier than involving your students, your parents and family, they all like to help. 

GEORGE: Okay. Thanks so much. So for all our listeners to get a head start, go to martialartsmedia.com/120, that's the numbers one, two, zero and download the transcript with it. We've included the photo to message matchmaker, which would be a great guideline for you to work with on how to approach different situations, different styles, et cetera. And we'll also include a couple of case studies to give you a good visual representation of good photos, how to take good photos. 

If you need to take better photos and you realize how important this is and it's something that you do yourself. And you're doing it or your students are doing it. And I get it, obviously you're busy with classes and so you just kind of make do with what you get in the moment and you post it up. Francine put together a great course, Martial Arts Photography Smartphone Masterclass. I've mixed it up. Ah, that's the worst promo ever. 

FRANCINE: The Smartphone Photography … No, I don't know now. 

GEORGE: Smartphone Photography Masterclass. So yeah, if you go to martialartsmedia.com/courses, just look for any combination of those words, the Smartphone Photography Masterclass. 

FRANCINE: And me. 

GEORGE: With Francine, there's probably a picture of her in pink. 

FRANCINE: Great.

GEORGE: Good little brand education on that. Check out the course, it will be super helpful. Will save you a lot of time, a lot of money. What I got from the course, and you know I was just a facilitator, all Francine's knowledge. And I was fortunate enough to learn side by side. The good thing that I got from it is it's all the little things, that it's not rocket science. 

It's just things I didn't know. And now I know it and every time I'm taking photos, I have these new trigger points in my mind for things that I have to look out for. And that's what makes a big difference and adds to your value. So Francine, thank you so much. And we'll probably get together soon for round three, who knows? 

FRANCINE: Yes. 

GEORGE: All right, awesome. Thanks so much. Speak to you soon. 

FRANCINE: Bye.

 

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119 – How To Run 70 Martial Arts Classes Per Week And Only Teach 6

Brett Fenton recently got married, went on 2 honeymoon vacations, and returned to his martial arts school with more students signed up. We discussed the ‘Instructor Team Blueprint’ that made this possible.

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IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Creating a value-based culture in your martial arts school
  • How to build an instructor team that runs like clockwork without you
  • The method to spot and develop high-potential instructors
  • Why investing in instructor training helps ensure your school's success
  • Do this when instructors clash with your culture 
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

To create a team that can also be exciting and informative and follow your values and your culture onto that mat space is so important, because then you can be your best as well, not just on the floor but off the floor, where you can problem-solve for parents and students off the mat, because that's just as important as what they're learning on the mat. The moment I switched over to that way of thinking, it all started to change.

GEORGE: Good day. George here. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media Business Podcast. Today I've got a repeat guest with me. Really happy to have Brett Fenton back. Good day, Brett.

BRETT: Hey, George. Good to be back on the podcast again.

GEORGE: The last time we spoke, things were different, right? We were just lockdowns moving in and out, and we were talking about virtual gradings, a few epic things of what you're doing. If anybody wants to backtrack on that, Episode 98, but today I want to talk about something else. 

I chat to Brett every week in our Partners group, in our coaching calls, and Brett's always got a ton of value to share. One thing that's come up is Brett runs about 70 classes per week at Red Dragon Martial Arts, and is only teaching six.

I want to get down to the number one question school owners always ask me is, “How do we get more instructors? How do we go about that process?” I want to, on your behalf, pick Brett's brain today and just get all the insights on how that's going about. 

Brett, just a quick intro for those that haven't listened to the previous podcasts. Just give a quick roundup on your background, where you're based, what you guys do and so forth.

Brett Fenton

BRETT: Absolutely, George. I've been doing martial arts pretty much all my life, but I got really serious in my late teens. Got started doing Wing Chun Kung Fu, Jow Ga Kung Fu and some Tai Chi, and started teaching classes. As I think most of us do, it's just you're the standout student in the class and so you get thrown up at the front to run warm-ups, and then all of a sudden you're good at that, so then you start teaching classes.

I was doing that in the early '90s, had my first school in '94, and then I started Red Dragon Martial Arts in '97. We're about to hit 24 years of running classes. That's changed, obviously, from the small community hall where we had 20 students to now we're over 400 students. We only had two classes a week. Now we have 70 classes a week, and we have two training rooms, a gym, a full-time professional facility, and an instructor team of over 20.

Yeah, as you said, I only run six of those classes at best on any given week. I love running classes. I love teaching classes. I teach probably more private lessons than I teach classes. I'll probably do between 10 and 20 private lessons a week. That's where I try to add more value to our teaching staff, I suppose, in that element. I'm teaching the instructors or our elite athletes.

Yeah, it's about I was that instructor that basically taught classes for free, was pulled off the bench for no reason other than I was good, and I wanted to come up with a better way of doing it. I've been lucky enough over the last few years to hang out and pick the brains of some of the best people in the world, like Dave Kovar, Roland Osborne, those kinds of guys, and just learn as much as I can. Fred DePalma is another one.

They're my mentors, and this is my variation and version of that that works well in my school, so yeah. That's what we're going to probably chat about today.

GEORGE: Yeah, perfect. You've implemented that really well, just by your lifestyle. I mean, let's talk about that, right, because a couple of months ago you got married. Congratulations.

BRETT: Thank you.

GEORGE: You were able to completely switch off, completely switch off, and go on a honeymoon. I think you had two honeymoons, didn't you?

BRETT: Well, we'll get to that. Yes.

GEORGE: Right. For the purpose of this, you were able to take a break, leave things over to your team, go on a holiday, get back with a school that has grown and retained its students. How do you go about that? Where do you start going from, it's a one-man show, and obviously you grow a team, but you could actually have the confidence and faith in your team that you can take that complete step back?

BRETT: Absolutely. I still remember. It doesn't happen as much these days, but up until 10 years ago, I couldn't even leave the floor without the parents going, “Oh, the class doesn't run as well without you. You're the superstar instructor. We are paying for you.”

I think all instructors, particularly school owners, feel that pain, that they can't even have a day off. They come in sick, eyes hanging out of their head. They're exhausted.

My retort, I suppose, to customers and parents alike, would be to say to them, “If I teach less classes, when I'm on that floor, I'm fresh. I'm invigorated. I'm excited. I love being there.” If I'm on there for …

I was teaching 40 classes a week at one stage 10 years ago, just because I needed to be on the floor and I didn't have a team that was capable without me, but there were days where I wasn't a great instructor. I was cranky. I was exhausted. I was burnt out. They're not getting the best of you when you like that.

To create a team that can also be exciting and informative and follow your values and your culture onto that mat space is so important, because then you can be your best as well, not just on the floor but off the floor, where you can problem-solve for parents and students off the mat, because that's just as important as what they're learning on the mat. The moment I switched over to that way of thinking, it all started to change.

Yeah, as you said, I just got married about three months ago. We went to Tasmania, spent two weeks in isolation with no reception. Everything went smoothly, came back, was back for about two weeks, and then I took my wife away for her 50th birthday in the Whitsundays on our yacht, and we didn't have any reception there either for a week.

Loved the ability to do that, and know that my team is looking after their baby as much as it is my baby, because they love the place. They're invested in it. They've grown up there. It's really important to know who to pick when it comes to that, so that you have that peace of mind when you go away and have some days off, let alone if you're sick or unwell.

Because I see too many martial arts schools out there closing their doors for the day because the instructor's sick, and you just can't do that and be professional at the same time.

GEORGE: Yeah, cool. I liked what you said, that they take care of their baby as much as yours. Before we get into the biggest obstacles and how school owners have got to make this transition, I'd like to talk about culture. How did you install that culture? 

Before we get to that, we've got a really great download for you, for something that's going to really help you on choosing the right instructor, what ethics and characteristics you've really got to look out for. I'll mention how you can grab that, but let's chat about culture. How did you go about installing that culture within your team?

BRETT: No worries. A number of years back, we actually went through a bit of a slump with our culture. Had a few changes, a few instructors left, and it happened. In business for 25 years, there are going to be shifts in culture, particularly when I change direction and I see a way of changing. It's always going to happen, and we've had that happen probably five different times over 25 years.

It can be just as simple as we're adding a new program, or we decided we want to go from being a small-town community hall to having our own facility. There were people that didn't like that idea. They thought that, no, that's not martial arts. Then going from that to having multiple rooms with air conditioning, that's like, “Well, now that's not martial arts.” To some of your instructors, that's like you're turning into a gym.

We had a lot of obstacles to overcome, to keep growing and going in the direction that I thought that the school needed to go in, but also where I thought the majority of my students deserve to have their school go in. I'm always looking out for them to have the best facilities, the best instruction that they can have, but that doesn't come without its challenges.

Basically, we sat down with an expert that is an expert in culture, and I'm lucky enough that my wife's also a culture manager. She works in the culture industry in her business. She, along with one of my best friends, Matt … he lives in Canberra and he's big on culture there … they came together and we created these value systems for our school, that are unbreakable rules that we run our business by and run our school by.

Then they were up on the wall in massive posters, so things like we believe … and they're all belief statements. “We believe that everybody has the opportunity to become a black belt, not just the athletes,” so things like that. “We believe that nobody should blow another person's candle out.” 

We have all these belief systems, and they're everywhere throughout our school. That tells everyone, “This is what we believe in.” I'm also a massive Simon Sinek fan, and he's obviously worldwide. He gets brought into businesses to help with culture. I've listened to all of his podcasts, his interviews, his books, his TED Talks, you name it.

For me, culture is the number one thing as far as I'm concerned. It doesn't matter what you teach. It doesn't matter if you're doing martial arts, gymnastics, or dance. I don't care. If your culture is not right, you'll never grow and you'll never have harmony inside there, and you'll never have a day off because you'll be having to micromanage your team all the time.

I don't micromanage my team. I actually sit in this office, where I am now. I spend most of my time in this office, even when the classes are running, and I pop out, just have chats to the parents if I get a message on my watch or my phone.

I don't teach classes. I've got cameras right above me, where I am right now. There's 12 cameras. I can look up there and see how it's all going if I really want to, but at the end of the day, I trust my team.

They are well-trained. We do monthly training sessions where we go through any of the issues we had during the last month. We've noted it all, we fix it all and we move on.

We listen to our feedback from our students and our parents, so yeah, it's all important. It's an ongoing process that doesn't happen overnight, but yeah, it has to happen.

GEORGE: All right, perfect. You're installing the beliefs. That's very known amongst the culture within the students, so that helps. Now, how does this transition over when you start trying to spot the talent and seeing, all right, well, who's the next instructor? How does it go from being a student to transitioning someone and inviting them to become an instructor?

Martial Arts Instructor

BRETT: Very important, George, in the fact that I think we already do it the day we have people come in and do a trial class. We're very big on not just accepting everybody as a student. They have to have pretty much the same, I suppose, values that we have anyway. It doesn't matter.

If you come in and you go, “Oh, I'm a 10-time world champion,” and you've got a bad attitude, I'm probably not going to accept you as a student. I'll go, “Mate, just go down the road, or go to the AIS or wherever you need to go to feed that ego.”

I'm looking for people that are like-minded to us, have the same values or want the same values, and want to train hard. They want to enjoy their training. They want to be nice to everybody. They're not there for their own selfish reasons all the time. It's pretty much from the day they walk in for their trial. We're almost pre-editing the instructor team by that.

Then that leads us down the path to maybe a month or two in and we see people that are training really hard, everybody gravitates towards them, their personality is infectious, and that's a big thing. My instructor team, it's always on personality first, and then skill and talent is way, way down the track, because you can't teach personality. You literally can get someone who's very technical and very skilled and can put an entire class to sleep, because they get down that rabbit hole of technical stuff.

You get someone who's personable, who's what we like to call Disney, so they're very exciting. Everybody loves to be around them. They can teach people opening letters and that would be an exciting class. It doesn't matter what they're teaching, which makes it easy because you can get them when they're only six to twelve months down the track, teaching how to kick something or how to punch something, or how to hold a kick shield or how to do one technique, but the way they teach it will be amazing.

That's our number one, I suppose, way of wading through all of the student body to find the diamonds in the rough. We do that from personality first, and then we teach them the skills, not just the martial art skills but the teaching skills, which is so important, how to pass on your knowledge.

GEORGE: Why Disney?

BRETT: I think Disney has been doing it for nearly a hundred years, and they've always improved on what they've done. In the industry all over the world, managers and business owners from all over the world actually go to Disney's, their college, where they learn how to do staff management, how they get to present and perform at an elite level. I often say to our instructors that when we're out there teaching, we're not just passing on knowledge. Every parent and every kid that's watching us, we're performing at the same time. How we perform in front of them will keep them engaged.

I think back to when I was in school. The number-ones, the teachers that always got the information across to me best, were the ones that engaged me very well. We want our instructors to be very engaging, very likable and very knowledgeable, obviously.

We have to make sure that we start with them being likable, because nobody's going to listen to them if they're not. They're just going to switch off. It doesn't matter how skilled they are. Yeah, Disney does it best, I think, and they still do it to this day, running a course on that, so very, very useful to learn.

GEORGE: All right, perfect. We're about to go with this. I want to make this episode super practical. Now, full disclosure, Brett and I worked together on a course. It's called The Instructor Team Blueprint. I'll talk more about that, but really what I want to do in this episode is I want to extract some things from the course that were really useful, but I think that can make the most impact from the get-go.

I think the number one question that always comes up in our group is how do you go about finding the right instructors or inviting them, how does that process go. I want to dive a bit more into that.

Then as a gift with this episode, if you download the actual transcript, we'll include the Character Traits to Clarify, which is basically a list of what character traits you're looking for and how you go about finding that in the instructor that you want. To bring that back to here, let's talk about spotting the talent.

You mentioned you plant the seed from the get-go. How does it go from there? How do you get people on board your team and take it from there?

BRETT: No worries, George. First thing is obviously, spotting the talent, to go up to them and say, “You're really skilled at this skill. You'd make a really good instructor one day.” If you see them naturally just going over and helping other people, that's a very key indicator, but just by someone who's at the school, they don't miss classes. When they grade, they grade at a really high level. They're highly personable, so they're that Disney.

Once you start to see that, that's when you can approach them and say, “Listen, I think further down the track, you'd become a really good instructor. Have you ever thought about becoming one?”

If they say, “No, I hadn't, but that's pretty cool,” you go, “Well, we do instructor training once a month. You're more than welcome to come along and have a look at it and see if you enjoy it. If you do, you can come to that until such time as you feel that you're confident enough to start helping us out,” and then just giving them small roles as they go. It might be, “Do you want to come in once a week and help with our three-to-six-year-old class,” or our seven-to-12-year-old class or our adult class, whichever one they like.

Then from there, it just grows. It's, again, growing their ability to stand in front of an audience, their ability to have confidence in their knowledge. Because even though they may present really well in a grading, when they come to teach somebody else, they may find that they get too nervous, they can't talk.

We need to teach them the skills of doing that. We do mock classes when we do our instructor training to help people get through their anxiety when it comes to teaching, if they struggle. A lot of our instructors, funnily enough, have a lot of anxiety, and this is one of the best things for them, because they learn to cope with their anxiety.

They learn the tools to use, whether it's the breathing tools, mindset drills, things like that. It just makes them even better martial artists, because now they're not worried all the time. They can stand up in front of an audience, be in class, and present. They take that out into the real world as well, and it makes them better out there, whether they're working or just in their personal life.

GEORGE: All right. Just backtracking, you've invited them, they come to instructor training. How does it progress from that point?

BRETT: With our adults, they'll just basically go up into our advanced rank. When they get to an advanced rank, they can start assisting in classes if they've been doing the instructor training. Because we don't want anyone assisting until they've been through our instructor training, because they don't know the correct language to use. They don't know the correct way to correct. 

They might just go up to a kid and just go, “That's terrible, fix it.” That could be the day that that poor kid's come in and he's having a hard day as it is. Then you've had this assistant come in for his very first class, has no idea what your culture is on the floor when it comes to teaching, and that kid's now, “I don't want to train anymore,” and he leaves. You can lose students quickly that way.

We want to make sure that all of our assistant instructors know what to say, how to say it. They are empathetic as well as being personable. For our junior instructors, we have what we call Black Belt Club. They go into that after they get to an intermediate belt.

That means that they can come out and they can show other kids how to do things like push-ups, how they can hold pads and kick shields. They can direct them. They can help set up the floor, but again, they still come to our instructor training, because we don't want them, again, using the wrong terminology, using the wrong communication skills.

We can have 10-year-olds out there doing that. We have some really good 8-to-10-year-olds that will help. They'll be partners in our jiu jitsu program, where it's so hard for a three-to-six-year-old sometimes to partner up with another kid, because they just don't understand roleplaying and taking turns. We usually put them with one of our juniors and they do the techniques on them, and then that makes it a lot easier. You get through a class a lot faster and at a higher level.

Then once they've been doing that up to about the age of 14, we then put them into our junior instructor program. That will be, like say in our Kung Fu, it would be our SWAT team. In our Extreme, it's our X team. In our jiu jitsu, it's our Sub Club, so we have a variety of different levels.

Then that means that they can actually take a group on their own, so they have a group of kids. Usually when they first start, it will be the white belts, because they're easy to teach. They're keen for knowledge. They look up to these kids, and basically build their skills out on the floor while they're still doing their instructor training every month.

Once we get up to an adult, they can then go up to Senior Instructor level. Whether they're being paid or not, it's up to them. If they are being paid, though, we don't start them until they're 14 years of age. They must be volunteering first, to basically make sure that they are part of our culture on the floor as an instructor, not just there for the money.

GEORGE: Yeah, cool. Funny enough, we just spoke a bit about this on our Partners Power Hour call earlier, but let's talk about money and compensation, because that's another question that comes up. How do you compensate instructors? When do you start paying, when do you not pay, or is it different for everyone? How do you go about that? Obviously, taking into consideration we've got an international audience, so we'll leave the Australia terms out, but just in a general concept.

Martial Arts Instructor

BRETT: It depends on the student. It's, again, coming down to knowing what your student's goals are. Why are they teaching, at the end of the day? For some of our instructors, they've been teaching for 10 years. They don't want a dime. They actually find it insulting. It's an insult if they get paid, because we can't actually pay them what they're worth. If I've got a lawyer who wants to teach class, I can't pay him $200 an hour to teach my class. He's not going to give up his job. He just loves doing it, because it makes him feel valued.

There's a lot of value in contributing back into the school as an instructor. I did it for a good 15 years before even seeing a dime, but I love it. It was my apprenticeship, I always call it, in instructing. For some people, that's all they want, and they'll teach one class, maybe two classes a week. There's no expectation for them to teach, but they love it and they do it. Sometimes it's for decades.

Then you've got the instructors that go, “You know what, I'd rather do this than do a normal job. I don't want to do a normal job. I want to do this.” Whether they're coming out of high school, they're in their late teens, and they go, “I want to do this,” then we talk about them going down that pathway of becoming a qualified instructor, being paid. 

I've got one instructor that's been here for 10 years, and he's been paid more in the last 10 years than any of our other instructors, just because he is a superstar. He could ask me to go anywhere all over the world, back when we could fly places. I'd go, “Sure, just make sure you get back here in a couple of weeks.” He's that valuable.

Then I've got instructors that were six-year-olds that are now 20-year-olds and they don't want to have a normal job, so they're getting paid as well. It really depends on what their goals are and where they see their future. If they just want to teach one class a week or two classes a week, and they love teaching and they don't want to be remunerated, that's fine, we don't pay them, but we give them so many other bonuses. We give them stuff, like they get uniforms, they get gifts all the time. 

If I think they deserve something, I'll take them out to dinner, you name it. We just make sure that they feel special. It's one of those things. They need to feel valued, more so than the financial side of it. That's why a lot of people volunteer in the first place, it's that value that they feel for their contribution. We don't want to undermine that.

GEORGE: Perfect. Sometimes paid, sometimes not, just depends on the person. We were discussing, as you mentioned as well, it's important that you can't pay a lawyer $200 an hour, type of thing. You've got to have the balance. Obviously, if you've got to pay someone, that you pay them something that's valued, but also not an insult. For those people, it might be better for them to have the social norm of just being able to contribute and be valued in a different way.

BRETT: Absolutely. They may also get paid really well in their job, but where they are, they don't have that esteem. They're not put up on a pedestal. They might be like a mechanic, who earns 50 bucks an hour but nobody even talks to him. Then all of a sudden he's out on the floor and he's a black belt, and everybody is listening to every word that he says. You can't buy that. 

That's just pure pride that he loves, and you couldn't pay him for it. Think about it. Most of our instructors paid to be in that position. They paid fees to get to that position, like I did when I was training. Yeah, we just want to make sure that they feel valued and that we appreciate everything they do, and that they are held in esteem with their student base.

GEORGE: Just interesting, let's flip the tables quickly. What happens when it goes not to plan and you get the instructor that is not aligned with the beliefs, or they were aligned with the beliefs but the ego is growing with the position, or they're just getting off track or something happens in their life and it derails them, and they start to separate the alignment where you and the club are going versus on their journey? How do you deal with that type of conflict?

BRETT: Oh, there's obviously a number of ways that people do deal with it. Like a lot of school owners, I'm sure that I've had it happen to me so many times over the years. It just becomes part and parcel. Students leave, instructors leave. It's just what happens. There's a few ways you can deal with it. You can be obviously nasty about it and just kick them out. You can force them out by taking away their shifts or whatever, or you can just have someone come in and take over their class.

I like to do it from another way and go, “Okay, what do I need to do? Obviously I don't want you here, because you're not good for our culture.” I can either get them to come back on board with our culture, which is Plan A. Plan B is to then go, “How can I help you to go out and do your own thing?” 

Whether that's going and teaching for somebody else, because it usually is only around the instructor that has their own opinions on how it should happen. They're not in line with my opinions or the school owner's opinions. Then there's going to be that fraction happening inside the classes all the time.

That person probably needs to go and run their own school. Then you go down the pathway of, okay, “Well, which way would you like to do it? Would you like to do it with my support? Would you like to do it as our branding, without our branding, or do you just want to just go and do your own thing?” You give them some avenues to go down. 

We've had ones that have gone just down their own way and not wanted any help whatsoever. We've had some that have gone with help. Yeah, at the end of the day, you're looking at their future still, like you would any other instructor. If it doesn't align with the direction we're going in, that's okay, because we can't all go down the same path.

We want to try and make it as amiable as possible. I don't want to have them out there being competition, as they say. I'd like them to be on the same page as us and looking out for each other. I'm still great friends with all my instructors of 30-plus years. I had to do the same thing at some stage to them. I had to go out on my own, but I did it respectfully, because I saw a different pathway that I wanted to go down. I was respectful, and I'm still in contact with them and I still train with them, and I still get them to come in and guest-instruct and all that stuff happens.

Yeah, it's understanding where you've come from and then understanding where you want to go. I understand that from my perspective and their perspective. I think that takes a little bit of empathy, to understand it from the other person's perspective. It's not the wrong thing to do, they've just got a different direction they want to go in, and so we help them.

GEORGE: Yeah, totally. Because that is a concern that a lot of school owners mention, if you don't want to get someone on board, you make them the star of the school, and they decide they're too entrepreneurial and they want to open up their own school. The intention was just to grab what they can, and they make a run for it. What you're saying is you're just approaching that with a bit more of an empathetic approach, and you want to make sure you instill those values and that there is an open path that people can leave.

Brett Fenton

BRETT: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, because I've been down the pathway. I've had instructors just leave and not tell me, and then go and open up in opposition. I think as long-term instructors, we've all had that happen. That's just because we didn't read the warning signs early enough. That's part of growing. 

We often talk about in the industry, if you get a black belt, it doesn't mean to say you're an instructor. Then after you've been instructing for say a good 10 years, you'd probably have been a black belt instructor if you'd been doing it properly. Then after you've owned your school probably for 20 years, maybe now you're a black belt school owner.

You try to look at it in that vein, that you've got to be improving your skills as an instructor, but then also as a school owner and then as a business owner. They're all skills that you need to be growing. Part of growing as a business owner is understanding that your staff will want to leave at some stage, like students want to leave, and that you've got to find an amicable way of making that happen, so that if they need to come back to you for help later on, there's a doorway for them to come through. 

Because if they leave under bad terms, then they don't feel like there is a doorway, or there usually isn't because it's not amicable. I've been down that path many times, and would have preferred it not to be that way, but these days I'm a lot better on that. That just comes from experience. The only true way of getting it is to go through it.

GEORGE: Exactly, yeah. I like Ross Cameron‘s philosophy. He calls it the bus, you know. Everyone's on the bus, they get on the bus, and sometimes they jump off the bus. You help them get from one place to the next. It's their time to hop off the bus and go do their own thing.

BRETT: Yep. You can't get upset about it. You helped them in their journey to where they got to. The fact that people will stay for 5, 10, 15, 20 years is crazy, that they want to stay that long. That means you've done something right.

Rather than looking at it from the point of what I did wrong for them to leave, you've got to look at it from the perspective of that you did something right for a very long period of time, and then learned from it. That's what we're always trying to do. I'm definitely trying to do that all the time. Perfect at it, not, but I'm always trying to improve the way I do it.

GEORGE: Awesome. We wanted to include a couple of things and resources you could use from this episode. If you go to the website, if you're listening to this, martialartsmedia.com/119. That's where all the resources for this episode are going to look.

As I mentioned earlier, Brett and I, we spent some time, and my job was to extract everything out of Brett's mind and help him put together a program that covers the Instructor Team Blueprint in six steps.

We've gone from the team skill plan, how to assess how many instructors you're going to need and fulfilling those positions, spotting the right talent, systemizing the training accordingly, running the instructor training boot camp, how to do that, rewards and recognition, payments and a whole bunch of other things. From what we just discussed … and, Brett, I'm about to put you on the spot here, forgive me.

BRETT: That's okay.

GEORGE: When you download the transcript of this podcast, we've included the Character Trait Clarifier. It's basically a list of what you're looking for as in work ethic, popularity, their passion, communication, leadership skills. Just going through a process of how to basically score people, score your students, and see if they've got the right attributes and right values and the right character traits to become an instructor.

Putting you on the spot, Brett, just talking, it reminded me of how people find it hard to get people to transition from student to instructor and how that process goes. You've got something called the Instructor Letter of Offer.

BRETT: Yep.

GEORGE: Do you mind telling us about that? Then I'm going to ask if you wouldn't mind including it.

BRETT: Okay. No worries. Absolutely. I can definitely include that. I'll send it through to you. It basically is a formal letter that we would send out to an instructor that's maybe even been doing the instructor training. They've come in, maybe done one session, and we've gone, “You know what? We think that they would be the right fit.”

It can be a teenager, it can be an adult, it doesn't matter. It can be even a kid, if you really want to start your junior instructor team that way.

Just the formal part of it just states everything that you expect of them, that you've found that they would be the right fit, that they have the necessary skills as far as their personality goes and they fit the culture. It's really important that they understand what they're in for, that it's an important role, that's it's not just being plucked off the floor and put up on the front of the class, which obviously, we still do that to this day. We have instructors, but we don't pick on anyone that doesn't do instructor training, but you have to start somewhere.

I remember getting plucked off and just put on the front of the stage and, “Here you go, run a warm-up.” There's a better way to do it. During class, walk around, find the right people. Find if they're interested, invite them to the first session. If after that they seem interested, they do a really good job, then you can send them the offer to join our instructor training squad and go from there. You can have levels of that.

You can write the letter for, “We'd like you to become a junior instructor,” or we'd like you to become an assistant instructor, a senior instructor. You can basically format it to suit whatever your needs are.

Just the sheer fact of getting something in the post that's formally saying that we want you in our team, that's a pretty proud moment for most people. Rather than just coming up and slapping them on the back and going, “Hey, you want to be an instructor?” It's a big difference in the mindset then. It just shows how much we think about these things. It's professional.

GEORGE: Perfect. All right. Thanks for that. We'll include that with the transcript, and as a bonus, what we'll extract is just, with the Character Trait Clarifier, there's a snippet in Module 2 of how we went about that and how you go about working with that. I'll get our video editor to just edit, give you that snippet so that you know how to work through the worksheet and you know how to go through the PDF.

Other than that, Brett, thanks so much. I mean, if you've got anything to add about the Instructor Team Blueprint.

Instructor team blueprint

Just for reference, if you want to grab the course, you can go to martialartsmedia.com/courses and just look for The Instructor Team Blueprint. It's up there. It's really a good value for the amount of knowledge and work that's gone into it. Yeah, it's a really good value. Brett, have you got anything to add on that, about the program?

BRETT: I think that I wish it would have been around 20-something years ago when I was first teaching classes, and I had to travel all over the world to do that and then bring instructors from overseas to here. It's just been one of those things, that I know all of us long-term school owners wish we had more information back when we did, but now we do.

It's just a combination of 25, 30 years of teaching and all the things that I did incorrectly and correctly, fined-tuned into a nice, easy-to-learn-and-use course that I think would suit anybody that's trying to grow their school and not want to be at their school 24/7, teaching every single class 'til they're 85.

I don't want to retire. This is my retirement. When I'm at my school, I like being here, but I would hate to think that I'd be like my instructor, who is in his seventies, and if he's not at the school, it's closed. I don't want to be that. I want to be able to take time off. I want to be able to be unwell and not have to get up and go to my class and teach. Thank God I didn't have to worry about COVID.

Even to the point where my team is so proficient that when we did lockdown last week, I taught no classes. They were so good. They teach it all. It was amazing. I just go here. There's Zoom, off you go.

They just report back to me how it went, so it's perfect. It allows you to have a life. It allows you to have your family. It allows you to do other things, and it allows you to really enjoy your martial arts again and enjoy your school, rather than being stressed out about it all the time. Yeah, it costs you a bit of money to pay a really good team, but it's worth it in the long run, for sure.

GEORGE: Awesome. Cool, Brett. Thanks so much. Great having you back on again, and we'll chat again next week.

BRETT: See you soon, absolutely.

 

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118 – Why We Are Launching The Martial Arts Media™ App For Martial Arts School Owners

After 8 months of development, our beta launch for The Martial Arts Media™ mobile app has begun. Here’s a brief intro why we created this for the martial arts business community.

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IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Why we created the Martial Arts Media mobile app
  • The reason why we’re moving our communities from Facebook
  • What’s included in the Martial Arts Media mobile app
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

Ten years from now, I don't want my community to be on – I don't want my business to be so dependent on Facebook, because they can change direction at any given point in time, like they have so many times, and then I'm at the mercy of that. So, I really wanted to build a platform that I own, I can control. 

Hey, George here, hope you're well. So, I wanted to give you a quick update on a couple of really cool things we've created. Life update and a cool business update. 

So, first up, I've just got to keep a listen out for – I don't know if you saw my previous, one of our previous podcasts about the blinds and the solar guy? Well, there's a guy coming to measure some blinds – a different company. 

Anyway, go listen to the podcast, and you'll get the context. But a couple of things that's been going on: I've been fiercely working one-handed for the most part on a mobile app, and I'm really, really excited about you checking it out and the impact that it's going to make. 

So, first up, I say one-handed, I've just come out of surgery. If you're watching this, you can see I had my tendon come off my bone, a nice little injury. So, I'm not allowed to really, I don't have much range, right, that's what I can do with it right now. 

Fortunately, it's out of the sling and I can type again. So, getting a bit of functionality back, but it's been a lot of hard work with my right hand, and I'm left handed! 

So yeah, it's been interesting and I've been talking a lot to text, which is, I think the one big thing that's come out of it, not to go too deep into this topic on the podcast, but not being able to type and talking to text with everything that I've been doing, it's been super productive, actually. 

Martial Arts Media™ App

So, let's talk – the app. I think I hinted on this a while back. You know, COVID has done a few different things for a lot of us, right? You know, made us reshuffle, rethink, you know, think of what-ifs? How do we go about business when things are not the way it should be? 

And so, you know, I also have a lot of those moments, and one moment that I really did have is, I've been putting off doing the thing that I've always wanted to do. The vision that I've always wanted to, you know, the thing I wanted to really build for the industry, and the reason I stopped pursuing that dream is just the technicalities of doing it. 

Having a background in developing websites – and that's how I got into helping martial arts school owners – was working a lot on the technical side of things. And I think personally, for me, swapping between being a technical guy, being a marketing guy, being a coach, it's a lot of hats to juggle, really. 

Even though I just work with martial arts school owners, people say, “Hey, I just work with martial arts school owners,” but there's a lot of, you know, facets that come with that. So, I've been really trying to align just all the things I do. 

But really, that's probably why I just put it off, you know, because I knew the technical mountain that I'd have to dive into to get it done. Anyway, I stopped putting it off, and I did it! 

Martial Arts Media™ App Welcome Screen

I started building the mobile app and started late 2020. And we just, after a lot of back and forth with Apple, it's just released into the App Store. Now, depending on when you're listening to this, if it's right now, go check it out, go download it, there's a free trial. Right now, it's really just set up for members of our programs. 

Although there's a huge bonus if you do jump in, right, so we've taken all our courses, our Academy course that, you know, we've sold separately for 1000 US dollars, the previous Academy version, and Digitize Your Dojo, there's about $2,500 worth of courses in there, right now, and you can access them right away if you try out the app, they are there to watch. That's a nice little bribe, right? You just need to check the app out. 

But there's so much more to the app, just not yet. So, one of the technical things that we ran into getting the app out was just how strict Apple is, and it was a whole new venture for me. And, you know, we started with the 15.0 version, and I brought it down to the beta version and just peeled back all the features to get it in the App store to just complicate it less. So, where we're at today is that the app is now live in the App Store. 

You can go to Google Play and Apple App Store. Few people have had a few issues searching for it in the Google Play Store. So, if you do, just go to martialartsmedia.com and message us, but it is there, and it's in the Apple App Store. 

So, we got them both live. Today we just released our first update, just to see how smooth that process is, and this week, we're going to start releasing the features that we really wanted in the app. And so, what is in the app? Right now it's a place where all our courses are, in the program we've got all our courses, all our content, we are also taking all our communities over to the app. 

Martial Arts Media™ App Newsfeed

So, there are groups, kind of like Facebook, just a bit simpler. Groups, and one place really where people can learn, our members can learn, and have conversations and get help. The one thing about, although I love Facebook and its great options for business, it always has me nervous. I don't know about you and if you've had any issues with Facebook, or ad accounts, one day things work or they don't. 

Ten years from now, I don't want my community to be on – I don't want my business to be so dependent on Facebook, because they can change direction at any given point in time, like they have so many times, and then I'm at the mercy of that. So, I really wanted to build a platform that I own. I can control, and then I've got the skills to actually build all the things and everything that I wanted to put in it. 

So, the app right now is a place where you can grab all the content, have conversations and so forth, but what I'm really excited about rolling out in the app is a way to deliver coaching and combine high level coaching with technology, the right technology to prompt you to get you to do the things that's going to move you forward in business. 

That's what is really exciting me, you know, the last few years within our Academy and Partners programs, we've covered a lot, we've worked with a lot of school owners, learned a lot of things that work and a lot of things that don't and, you know, when it comes to the things that don't, I always try and refine and see how do we improve our delivery of coaching programs? 

How do we help people get to their goals faster, you know, and that's really the metric that we track, is how do we get your student numbers to go up? That's the big thing for us, and we've developed some really cool technology that's going to help keep you on track and help move you forward. 

Martial Arts Media™ App Discussions

So, exciting for our members, exciting for us to, yeah, roll out something that's, I dare say not really available anywhere else, especially not in the industry. So, this is all stuff that we've created and modified and things that we've learned and put together, and it's… 

Anyway, I don't want to ramble on about it, but I wanted to give you a good update. This won't be the last time I talk about it, for sure. 

But this will be the, I really want to invite you to check it out. Give the trial a good run. If you've got any questions, let us know and have a play with it, and if, by all means, you just, dive into the free courses that are available right now then do that, and yeah, get a result from that.

Those foundational courses, marketing courses, are, from my experience, the fastest way that you can get traction online. And we've seen it with so many members that have just gone from nothing to really creating something, those that have a substantial student base, being able to increase it. And these Academy courses are the most direct path on how you can get that. So, there's the app, go give it a try. 

Over the next couple coming weeks, we'll be doing a couple of things that we're launching and a couple of added things that are within the app, and yeah, it's exciting times. It's cool. Anyway, I really wanted to get that out to you and, so yeah, if you do manage to log into the App Store and get it, let us know, give us some feedback. 

You can just go to martialartsmedia.com/contact, and there's a little ‘Chat with us' button. Click on that, it brings up a chat window, and you can have a chat with us there. As a matter of fact, if you log into the app by the time you do, it might actually be the same chat window available where you can have a conversation with us right there. So, either way, I would love to hear from you. We'd like to hear what you think about it. And I'll give some more updates on it real soon.

Anyway, that's it for me. The blinds guy is not here yet. So, we made it. I will speak to you in the next episode. Cheers.

 

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

1. Join the Martial Arts Media™ community.

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

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

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

3. Work with me and my team privately.

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

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***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

117 – [Case Study] How Lindsay Guy 3x’d His Martial Arts Business Coming Out Of Covid

Lindsay Guy is impacting many families while growing his karate business. The most important family being his own.

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IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Why risk takers are the actual winners
  • Why asking for help is good for you and your martial arts business
  • The power of surrounding yourself with like-minded people
  • Why repetition (of what works) in marketing is a good thing
  • The elements of an effective Facebook ad campaign
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

It's important that you surround yourself with positive people, people who are all wanting to head in the same direction that you're heading. Regardless of what level of school you've got, you've got guys that come on now who have got quite large schools, that are up to capacity, that are not really interested in expanding their school, but just maintaining it. Keeping up to the levels they've got and of course, they're sharing their knowledge with some of the guys who have got smaller schools. 

GEORGE: Hey everyone, George here, and welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast. I'm speaking to a guest where, I am speaking to actually for the second time today, because we were just on one of our Partners coaching calls. Lindsay was on that and we’re just jumping over to find out more about Lindsay Guy. How are you doing today, Lindsay? 

LINDSAY: Top of the world today, George. I feel great actually! 

GEORGE: Top of the world, thanks to our conversations, right? 

LINDSAY: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. You wouldn't believe how I felt prior to coming on with you. Thanks, George. 

GEORGE: Exactly. This is the type of banter, this might set the tone for the conversation, a little bit of tongue-in-cheek, a little bit of self-praise where it's not relevant, but anyway. From my side! 

Anyway, so chatting today to Lindsay Guy, and wanted to bring him on to just chat about his journey in martial arts and a whole bunch of other things that we'll reveal during the interview, but I'll give a quick roundup and then I'll hand it over to you to see if you can give us, you can fill the gaps, and tell us more about you and your background in martial arts. 

But Lindsay Guy, 6th Dan, founder of Guy's Karate School, 6th Dan Sho Da Kan karate, 2nd Dan Taekwondo, Level 5 ISKA referee and international referee, and a whole bunch of other things. So, officially, welcome to the call, Lindsay. 

So, give us a bit of a roundup – just how you got started in the business, the martial arts and how things have evolved up to now. 

LINDSAY: Well, I guess like a lot of people, I was a bullied child. I didn't enjoy my younger years, my school days, I was a bit of a, what you call a nerd. Back in the days when guys had long hair, I was a kid with short hair and glasses and big ears sticking out. So, wasn't really what you'd call a trendsetter at the time. Or maybe I was a trendsetter at the time, I just didn't know about it. 

But I remember I was sitting in my house, I was about 20 years old, sitting in my house and I came across an article in a newspaper about some guys who are going to a tournament with one of the local karate schools, and I thought I wouldn't mind trying that. So, at the end of the ad, of course, it had the details on how to contact the instructor if you're interested in studying karate. 

So, I gave this guy a call and went down to start to train with him. I remember on the first night he said, “Look, these guys are going to a tournament. So, we actually might use you as a bit of a partner, so put these gloves on. You can be a bit of a training partner for these guys.” Now, I've never punched anybody in my life. And yet, here's this guy, got those gloves on.

And I continued to go back until about, I guess it was about two months later, when he came to me and he said, “Look”, he was a Swiss German, so he had this very strong accent and everything that he said, he still says, just sounds cranky all the time. And he said to me, “Look, you're never going to learn karate. You're stupid.” He said, “You just go home. Don't come back. Don't waste my time.” And I went, “Really?” And he went, “Yeah, yeah, yeah – you're just stupid, go away.”

So, then the next night I came back and he said to me, “I told you not to come back”, and I went, “Yeah, I know, but I'm coming back.” So, years later I said to Sensei Celso, who was my instructor, I said, “Do you remember years ago when you said to me, I'm stupid, don't come back?” He said, “Yeah, I remember that.” And I said, “So, why would you say that?” He said, “I recognized some potential in you, and I just wanted to see whether you really wanted to learn karate.

So, if you came back, you proved to me that you're genuine, you wanted to learn, and if you didn't come back,” he said, “Well, you just proved that you really weren't that keen on it.” So, that's how we started off. 

GEORGE: Now that's interesting in two ways. Number one, that your actual entry point was looking at an ad for a tournament. Well, for me, at least, that's the first time I've ever heard of someone starting based on a tournament and kind of wanting to jump into the deep end. Was that a strange thing for you to just rock up and think, “Well, hey, there's a tournament happening. I want to be in a tournament, and I want to learn this thing to be in the tournament?” At 20, as well. 

LINDSAY: Well, I didn't consider it strange. And now you've just made me feel a little odd about that now, George. Up until that point, I'd never felt strange about it. But maybe there's a little lack of sleep tonight, because of that, thinking about it.

But no, I just always wanted to learn karate, because I grew up through the Bruce Lee, the, you know, the Kung Fu with David Carradine days, martial arts movies were all the go back then. You know, with guys like Richard Norton, Chuck Norris, all those guys.

And I'd always looked at that, and being a bullied child, I thought maybe this is something I can do. Maybe I can slowly, you know, get into something and finally start learning to defend myself. That's why I showed up. And of course, maybe I was stupid at the time, because I just kept coming back, you know, out of all of those students that Sensei Celso trained over those years, I'm still the only one that's still doing karate. 

GEORGE: Now, the second question on that, what do you think of that type of reverse psychology approach? And how relevant do you think that still is – to challenge someone in that way? 

LINDSAY: I don't think it's relevant at all. I would never say that to any of my students. I think it's a, you know, a stupid thing to say. Because at that time, you know, I didn't know anything about karate, I was still a little fragile. I could have just walked out of that center and went, “Ok, I won't do it then.” And of course, he could have lost the student, martial arts could have not gained a great instructor. 

GEORGE: Exactly. 

LINDSAY: Yep. 

GEORGE: Yeah, I always wonder about that type of approach, and I think there's, it works for a set personality, that you respond to that challenge, like, “You won't tell me, I'll show up.” But then, I think, for the majority, 75%, you might miss the chance of someone just kind of crumbling, especially if you have been bullied and you have been stamped on a few times… it could go the other way, right?

Karate Business

LINDSAY: Well, absolutely, it could see, we came through the old fashioned Sho Da Kan, traditional style of training, it was hard training. And yeah, lots and lots of people used to leave, our retention rate was dreadful, you know, you do a big ad, you'd have 30 people and within two weeks, there'd be only six left. It was a hard road, it wasn't a black belt in three years, and it was a black belt in 7 – 8 years. It was training without gloves, it was training without any protection, it was on old wooden floors, and you're regularly getting hit and thrown to the floor. 

So, I understand now why people didn't last, but the people that did last and go through the system, turned out to be quite good martial artists and are, you know, quite tough in themselves. It was a very mental feat, because they used to, you know, just push you quite hard.

GEORGE: And do you think a lot of that is lacking at the moment? I mean, because what I just referenced, you know, it's probably easy to say, and there will probably be someone that says, “Yeah, don't be a snowflake, kind of get over it, grow a pair”, you know, everything else that goes with it. Which, yeah, it's a fair point, and it is relevant, but I think sometimes you can completely separate someone from actually making that decision to move forward and do the thing by not approaching them properly. 

But on that, I mean, what do you feel? How much of that do you feel is missing? And if you look at students today, how do you feel that they progress? And do you feel that they achieve that same kind of grit and hard attitude from training and perseverance? 

LINDSAY: A lot depends on the personality of the student, really. You know, during our training and all instructors will tell you the same thing, they can pick the ones that they can push a bit harder. They can pick the ones that they tend to slap around a little bit more.

You know, I've got a 21 year old who's a 2nd Dan with us, and I made sure that he came out tough. I made sure that, you know, he could defend himself, and the first time they got into a situation, he perhaps wasn't, he wasn't going to panic or the first time he got hit, he wasn't going to break down and cry. He's also a big boy.

But there are those students that have come through that I've pushed a little harder and that were treated a little rougher, and I think they've come out at the other end much better martial artists. There's a difference between being a great martial artist and being someone who's tough enough to stand up for themselves. Like, I can teach lots and lots of people to do great technique, but at the end of the day, are they tough enough to be able to stand up in a self defence scenario? 

GEORGE: Perfect. So, moving on from that – so, your 20s and you know, your training. How did your journey evolve from there? 

LINDSAY: I must admit, we went to a lot of tournaments back then. It seemed to be every weekend we were at some form of tournament we're at. You know, back then there weren't a great deal of tournament circuits like there is now to participate in and back then there were only two events. It was just Kumite, it was just sparring, and then there were kata patterns, and when you went, those were the two things that you competed in, wasn't anything else.

So, when we look at today with events and tournaments, you know, there's so much for kids to do today, there's cuddling, I'm sorry, wrestling. 

GEORGE: Ooh – you've just lost half of my audience. 

LINDSAY: There's sword combat, you know, there's sumo, there's high kicks, there's extreme weapons, there's all of those sorts of things that kids can be involved in competing today. But you know, back in the old style tournament, two things: you went in your one Kumite event, your one kata event, and however you performed from there, that was all there was. 

So, I did a lot of tournament work back then, I was involved in the New South Wales Karate Federation, I was involved in the, in what we called WUKO back then, was the world organization, you know, karate union, there was KY karate union in Australia, there was a lot of those traditional associations out there that we belonged to. We competed regularly in, you know, your AKF in New South Wales Karate Federation tournaments, and that sort of thing. There were lots of state titles and Australian titles that we competed in, and then, of course, from there, even international events that we competed in overseas. 

So, over that time, I've probably done, I don't know, thousands and thousands of tournaments. But I must admit that that's been part of the reason that's kept me in and I guess over that time is the fun that I've been able to have, and the people that I've been able to meet through those tournaments. Because if I just stayed in my little town of Maitland and practiced in a little local hall, honestly I don't think I'd still be in karate. It was those tournaments, those people I met, was the excitement I had, the travel that I did, that's kept me in it, I guess. 

GEORGE: Is that due to just the motivation of, it's inspiration from other martial artists, and also just the way your training progressed in a different form? 

LINDSAY: No, I always go to tournaments, and I think I found something I was good at. You know, when you find something you're good at, and you're doing well at it, it makes you happy, it keeps you well, and it keeps you interested. So, I always thought, I had this idea that why would I stop doing something that I like doing and I'm good at to go and try and find something else that I'm good at and I like doing, when, you know, I'm already doing, you know what I liked doing and what I'm good at? 

So, I just stayed there, that was why I did it. And I still compete! You know, I competed a couple of weeks ago in Sydney at the ISKA Sydney Open, so I'm still competing in the old people's events. The ones where we come out with the walkers, you know. 

GEORGE: That's cool. I'm actually on the part of your website that I, well, the part of your bio that I did leave out – achievements. Just scanning through here. 1985, commenced training with Ken-Sei-Kan in Maitland with Celso Bauer. 1987, won North Coast Open (Kumite) at Coffs Harbor. 1988, first place over 80 kg in New South Wales for the Federation. Alright, pretty impressive. 

LINDSAY: Thank you. There's so much that could be listed there. It could be pages and pages and pages of it, but at the end of it all who really cares? Nobody, except me. 

GEORGE: Do your students care? 

LINDSAY: Most of them not. Yeah, some of them do. You know, I still compete and some of them when they see me compete there, and they were, “Wow, that's, Shihan's actually probably pretty good there, I can see that he is.” However, the people that walk in through my door, they really don't care how many stripes I've got on my belt and how many trophies I've got up on my wall. They're more concerned is, what I'm going to give to their children or themselves. 

But you know, what are we going to get out of it? Not what your achievements are. And I think too many people worry about how many certificates they got on their wall and how many trophies they got up on the shelf and how many stripes they've got on their belt. Think that's going to give them students – it doesn't work that way. 

GEORGE: And how did you come to that realization? Was it, was there a time that that was your focus, and you leaned towards that in your marketing, that is your strength, what you provide? 

LINDSAY: Absolutely. You know, I thought the more stripes I had on my belt, the more students I was going to get. You know, when I was in my 30s, I was a cocky, young bloke, and, you know, promoting trophies and self-promotion, I thought was the way that we did things.

Realistically, at the end of it all, the only person that really cared about it was me, you know, I can look back through old paper clippings and stuff now that I've got in some scrapbooks. They're great to look at, they're great for memories, but I could put it out at the dojo, and people just have a quick flick through it.

No one really cares about any of that stuff. I think that when you're looking at promoting your business, you know, whether it be online or more verbally, I think people just really need to know what they're going to get out of it. What can you do for them? 

GEORGE: Yeah, and so I think it's important for you and your confidence in the way you portray yourself, and the fact that you can back up what you say and what you provide. And I think that's probably the missing key, you know, if you can use that as a credibility statement, of positioning it in a way that's actually relevant to the students. Like, what's the benefit in it for them? 

LINDSAY: Well, it's on my website, I've put my bio on the website, Shihan Lindsay, and it's there for those people who want to go and have a look. I don't promote it, I don't tell people to go on and have a look at what I've done. But there are people out there that say, “We want to check this guy out. We want to check his credentials, we want to see what he's done.”

And some people go on there and they go, “Oh, wow, he must be a pretty good instructor because it says he's won lots of stuff”, which really doesn't mean anything, because I might not be a good instructor. I might be a self-centered Wally, who, you know, is just full of self-promotion, I might not be a good instructor at all. 

GEORGE: So, you did something slip, and you were talking about cuddling. Where did this reference come from? 

LINDSAY: Well, actually, George, I think it may come from you, to be honest with you. I think it was more or less something we started just to have a bit of banter with you, because I know you do a bit of BJJ, and I know you're quite attached to it. And any poke that we can have at, you know, other martial artists in jest, I think is, is pretty healthy. 

GEORGE: That's good! And I'm glad you mentioned that for the context, you know that we don't get hate messages for this podcast. That was all relevant banter, and… 

LINDSAY: I like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It's not that I don't like it or any form of Jiu Jitsu. I think that, you know, throughout our karate teaching, we do a lot of that. It's just a different art to what we do, that's all. And have I done it? Plenty of it. Have I been involved in seminars where they do it? Of course, many times. Have I enjoyed it? Yes. That's not what I think. 

GEORGE: That's good. I thought it almost would be good to say, you know, do you feel that that is where you would evolve to? 

LINDSAY: Quick answer, no. 

GEORGE: Okay. 

LINDSAY: Why? Because it's not my interest. It's not… 

GEORGE: I just wanted to throw that in there as an evolving statement. That was the only… People come to me, and they say, “But we'd like to do some Jiu Jitsu,” and I say, “Yeah, there's a great school just around the corner. Go see the guys down there, because they're fantastic at what they do.”

So, walk me through the success of your school and how things have evolved. 

LINDSAY: Yeah, well, we did about 32 years in the school hall. And again, just the same, you know, you build up, you have 30 students and then what happens, is in a few weeks, later, you've got 15 left. It wasn't till about three years ago that I made the decision that it's probably about time that I started my own school.

See, for about a million years, I just looked around trying all these little business ideas. The same ones that lots and lots of people try, you know. I tried, you know, working on different little ideas that I came up with marketing and the way to do stuff.

And after 33 years, I realized that I already had it. It was sitting right there. That whole business that I've been looking for is that I've been playing with it for 30-odd years and did not even realize what I had. I'd liked teaching martial arts, I wasn't making any money, actually.

As most martial artists would tell you, if they got a little school in a school hall or a community hall, it probably costs you more money every year than what you actually make out of it. And it's just the way that is, and when I went through the stage then, I went, “Okay, there's a couple of things I'm looking at.

Retirement – do I want to continue to work in a job for a boss asking when I can have holidays and days off for the rest of my life?” No, I didn't want to do it. Did I want a school that I could, you know, build? That at some point in time, I could go and have holidays, the school could still continue to run and I could receive an income from that? Yes.

So, now there was only one option then, was to take the gamble, and start a school. So, the first thing was to look around for a building, get a building, I still had a full time job at this stage, and it wasn't til just before COVID, that I didn't have a full time job.

So, I quit my job on the 19th of March 2020, and then on the 21st of March 2020, the government closed us down. It was a great time to actually quit my job, I went back to the boss and he said, “Sorry, Lindsay, but I've already replaced you, we've already got a guy now doing your job, and we don't need you any longer.” Then we went through the next six months, of course, without any income, which was great. We were still doing Zoom lessons during that time, but I still made that commitment that I didn't want to go back to a job. 

So, what had happened prior to that, though, is that, you know, I'd gone to all of these martial arts marketing companies, every time I opened up my Facebook, there was somebody else promoting how good they were and what they could do for me. Admittedly, I paid quite a lot of money to a lot of those people, and really achieved no success out of it. What a lot of them do is say to you, “We'll do this for you, we'll have regular meetings, you know, we'll help you boost your school, we'll look at it.” 

And at the end of it all, once you've signed up, paid your money, you really don't hear from a lot of them ever again. You send them emails, they don't respond to them. They give you this package, it's a bunch of videos that you can watch, and if you watch all the videos, and do as we say, well, you'll do okay at it. But what I wanted was something different to that, George. 

What I wanted was someone who can hold me accountable, or someone that I could regularly speak to, and was involved in some form of group where I could speak to other martial artists that were going through the same problems as I was going through, or had already been through the problems and come out the other side with some solutions. 

So, when I saw this ad come up for this George Fourie guy, I thought, another one, another one. But exactly the same as the other guys, I contacted you exactly the same as I contacted all the other guys, because George Fourie could have been the one. He could have been the one or he might have been just another line of wasted money.

And what I did was, is that after contacting you, I felt comfortable, because I could speak to you, we could go on Zoom, we could have a chat together and you at that time said to me, “These are some other people that I'm working with, if you want to have a chat with them, feel free to contact them.” And you made me a guarantee that if I did what you asked me to do, and it didn't work, you'd refund every single cent that I was ever going to pay to you, which was to me a no loss situation.

Instead of with the other guys, it was a no win situation. So, you know, we struggled, we really didn't know where we were going or how to get there. We've made lots of mistakes, we've had a lot of students come through. We've had a lot of students that had quit, because we weren't doing things correctly, because we had no experience. And what we were trying to do is go from a 20 student school to a 200 student school with absolutely no idea how to do it, and that's when you came. 

GEORGE: That's awesome! 

LINDSAY: Yeah. 

GEORGE: That's great to hear, and I think I'll just add to that. You mentioned another one of these guys. I sometimes feel, you know, I'm sitting on Facebook and I'm like, I kind of say the same thing, right?

Because I know where the information comes from, I mean, I'm late. I have never seen so many martial arts marketing people, which I find interesting and look, everybody is obviously free to run a business and do their thing.

What I do have a gripe with is ethics. Ethics is a big, big thing for me. And when I started working in the martial arts space, Facebook wasn't even such a big thing.

I mean, my story of how I started was completely different. And I sort of worked my way into it, but it was a lot of trial and error and learning. There's a big trend in the online space, where you buy a course, you're not an expert, the expert tells you this is how you become an expert, and you model our system that works on how we sell the course.

Now, this expert becomes an expert, because they bought the course, and they go sell you their system on how that system works, and they give advice. And unfortunately, people end up spending a lot of money, and they spend money on the wrong things, or things are over promised. And I think for anybody that's listening to this in that field, you know, go out there and get some results before you over promise and lead people down the wrong path. 

LINDSAY: When I made that commitment, I made the commitment to go to a full time school with 20 students. Was a big commitment, but the belief in myself that I could do it was really high. I was encouraged by some other school owners that I knew. Yeah, just go for it.

We, I guess, paid out a lot of money out of our pocket for rent, you know, and outgoings and stuff before we built up, and quite quickly, we built up to about 70 – 80 students, which of course in that 70 – 80 students, we're still just paying rent.

So, I still wasn't making any cash out of it. Hence the reason I took my full time job. But what I found was it was extremely hard to build the business up, while I was concentrating on working all day, every day for a boss. What I'd do from there is I'd leave my place of employment, I'd go straight to the dojo, I'd teach, I'd shut up at night, I'd go home and have dinner and go to bed, and then start the next day exactly the same with my full time boss. 

So, how was I ever going to, you know, build up my business and work on increasing my student numbers if I was focusing more on somebody else's business than my own? You know, my wife was driving an old car, the guy I worked for, his wife was driving a new car. He was having great holidays, whenever he felt like it. I was having holidays whenever he told me I could. So, I decided that that wasn't for me. I wanted to be him. I wanted to be like him. 

So, that was when I made that decision to quit my job. Was it an easy decision to make? For me, it was. It was just straight down the line. I'm leaving. I'm not going to do this any longer. Where did the money come from? At that time? Well, it came from our housing mortgage.

You know, we had the withdrawal back out of the housing mortgage, and I used that money then to pay expenses, to pay bills. Were we living quite meekly? Yeah, we were. We weren't having great holidays. We weren't going out for dinner, you know, once a week. We weren't buying new cars.

What I was doing was, I was investing back into my business, because I could still see even though I had no idea where I was going, I still firmly believed in myself that we were going to make this business work. How? No idea. But it was that blind faith that kept driving me to keep doing stuff to keep looking at people, you know, like George Fourie, to keep making those telephone calls, or those, you know, internet introductions to them, because I was looking for that one person who was going to help me. 

Now, we came back from COVID, we had about 90 students when we came back from COVID. Currently, today we're pushing towards the 300 students. I promised my wife when we hit 300 students that we would buy her a new car. We're pretty close to that now, we've already ordered the new car, and it’s coming in about six weeks. 

I set a goal, and that's what we're pushing to now. So, you know, it's just those little rewards. You might think a car's not a little reward. It is a little reward. It's not a big reward. Yeah. So, you know, we've managed to do some things now and we're actually starting to live a little now.

We have a long time where we weren't living, we were surviving. But by putting all of that other lifestyle aside just for a short time, it's allowed us to build the business up to a level now where we're more comfortable financially.

We can have some holidays, we can go out, we can buy a new vehicle, and we can maybe get some new clothes and all of those things that we missed out on for so long. We can now do those simply because we missed out on them for so long. So, I've made that decision to put my business first, us second, and it was a gamble. All I had to do was do it correctly and do as some of your business advisors advised me to do, and it was going to work. 

There was no point asking successful people for help, and then once they've given me advice, not doing it. It was just pointless. And there's so many people out there, though, come to me now and people I know, have little schools, and they say, “So, you're doing pretty well, how did you manage to do it?” And I tell them, and they go, “Oh, well, we would never do that.” Okay, that's fine, because you'll never have what I have if you're not prepared to do it. It's pretty simple.

GEORGE: Awesome! 

Yeah, I love that. Firstly, well done. I actually wasn't aware of COVID until now, it's 90 to almost 300 students. That's magnificent! 

LINDSAY: Just over a year, now, George. 

GEORGE: Just over a year, triple the business, that's marvelous. You mentioned the car is a small thing – I love the fact that you could buy a car because every time you walk out and you look at the car, it cements the fact that you achieved that because of your success. So, it's actually one of the best rewards, you know, something that you can see, touch and feel every day. 

That's, like, the best reminder out there. And the other thing you mentioned, was just doing the work. Obviously, having belief in yourself, you know that you could do it – it all starts from that, like, really knowing that you can do this, and then having the guts to burn the bridges. And, really just, this is what I'm doing. I'm going to burn the bridges, create this business, it's going to provide for us, and go all in. 

LINDSAY: It's important not to lose focus, it's important not to lose focus of your goal. And you'll know – have there been times when I felt down about the business? Of course. Has there been times when I've really felt like, you know, I'm empty, and I don't know what to do next and what to fill it with? And at that period of time, I know that I've got a huge network of people that I can simply get on the phone or get on the internet to and speak to.

Now this week, for example, I had a couple of issues that I wanted some advice on or just someone to throw me some ideas. I contacted Cheyne McMahon and Brett Fenton this week, and had a chat with both of those two guys, because both of those guys are in a position that I want to be in. They've done the hard yards, they've made the mistakes. 

So, I thought what better opportunity than these two guys that I respect, that I know are in a position where I'm in too, and you know, ask them how they handled these situations? Or how would they handle these situations? And they gave me some advice, and I've made some decisions from that, which I feel is going to take us to the next step in our business.

So, it's important to get the right advice from the right people. There's plenty of people out there that are going to tell you can't do it. There's plenty of people out there who are going to tell you that, you know, we don't think it'll work. Are you sure you should be taking that risk? I think you're mad. And all those people out there. 

GEORGE: Those are the easy ones to find. You know, and that's why I think family can be the worst people to ask advice for, because they care for you and so they feel that they want to protect you. And so they give you advice to protect you, not move you forward.

But you know, on that, asking others for advice. That's what I really love about our weekly calls that we have, our Partners Power Hour sessions, because it's a session where, it's kind of a roundtable session that we have once a week, and a bunch of school owners, like today we had guys from New Zealand, Canada, and Australia on board. All different circumstances, a bit of a roundtable discussion of what's working, what's not, who's got ideas for different things, and, everyone gets to share and bounce ideas.

And the great thing about a mastermind type of event like that is everyone's actually got a valid point, no matter what level they're at, because you just need that one person to see things from a different angle, and that's what's going to move you forward. But it's kind of a place where we sort of congregate once a week and people get to ask questions, get unstuck, and you've got ideas and advice flowing freely. I always learn from it, I always get great ideas from that.

That's how we go create our next training session, because something came up in the session and we know that we can go and create a training from that, and sometimes will be someone like you, Cheyne, or Brett or one of the guys that jump on board and share what it is that they've got to share as well. 

LINDSAY: I think it's important that you surround yourself with positive people, people who are all wanting to head in the same direction that you're heading. And regardless of what level of school you've got, you've got guys that come on now who have got quite large schools, that are up to capacity, that are not really interested in expanding their school, but just maintaining it. You know, keeping up to the levels they've got and of course, they're sharing their knowledge with some of the guys who have got smaller schools. 

So, it's a fantastic environment to be around when we're involved in those conversations, because there's really no negative activity going on inside of our group chats, and that's why I join in. If there was negative activity, I'd simply go. I don't really want to dial in every Wednesday.

And you know, I think since I've been on board, which is I guess it's been just over a year now, I haven't missed one of those Wednesday sessions in a year. Why? Because I've just made it so important in my schedule that I can't miss out on those, because they're my motivators. But the amount of information, the amount of ideas I get out of those group sessions is incredible.

I get so much out of them that I take, you probably see me occasionally, I'll look across, I'll have a pen and a bit of paper, and I'll just take a quick note on something or write something down or I'll type something.  Because it's just the little things sometimes that can make a massive difference in your business.

Now, we're still doing things wrong. Yep. Of course we are. Are we trying to work on those things we're doing wrong? Yes, we are. How am I doing that? Well, I'm seeking advice from people that, you know, maybe again, in that position that we want to be into. Is our business evolving and changing? Yes, of course it is. So, as our student base grows, the programs that we put in change, the methodology that we do stuff changes, the staff, you know, management changes, the more staff that we have increases.

So, what we actually do is, we evolve with the business. If we don't evolve with the business, what happens is that at some point of time, we're not going to stagnate, we're actually going to go backwards in numbers, because we're not changing, evolving with our businesses. I think that's why some of those guys with large schools still continue to join in on our regular Wednesday meetings, because they're evolving with their business as well and have to. Even the smallest guy with a smaller school down the road could still have a great idea. You think to yourself, “Why didn't I think of that?” 

GEORGE: What you mentioned, it's a good reminder to have a check in also on the things that, you know, you came into the group with one situation. It's normally you know, people come to us normally for marketing help, but then marketing is taken care of, and then it's a whole new set of problems. And it's just remembering how to evolve with your business, and also let go of the things that you were doing that, you know, as you evolve as a school owner and the business, you've got to let go of the things that got you there to go to the next stage. 

LINDSAY: I guess that, do I want to pay, you know, money to the George Fouries of the world? No, of course I don't. 

Do I need to spend money with the George Fouries of the world? Yes, I do. Why? Because that's where I'm going to get the information to grow my business, I have to find information somewhere, and generally information isn't free. And I, you know, I've got to be prepared to invest in my business and myself. And I guess the biggest thing that you've got to look at is yourself, is that you have to grow within yourself. As, you know, older men we get to the stage where depression can set in and if we're not careful, it sneaks up on you, and have we been through that scenario? 

Well, I've been through that scenario a couple of times in my life. And it's just something that creeps up on you, and I think that the great thing that we've got at the moment is that you know I've got people outside of your group. I've got some great martial artists that I've known for a long time that I can just simply get on the phone to and call if I'm not feeling all that well today. Some of them you call and some of them go, “What's wrong mate? You don't seem your usual happy self today?” “Yeah, well, maybe I'm not.” 

But of course, at the end of, generally at the end of those conversations you come away feeling, yeah, the world isn't so bad really after all. Now, I go to my business and people think it all looks rosy. You start work at three o'clock in the afternoon or 3:30 in the afternoon, and then what happens is that you go home by eight, you've got a great job.

I can tell you if you're looking at starting a full time dojo or building a full time, you know, dojo center, martial arts center, whatever it is that you want to run. It doesn't start at 3:30 in the afternoon and finish at eight o'clock at night. It generally starts from the moment you get up in the morning, to the moment you go to bed that night. That's your business, you're working on it, until you get to a stage where you've got other people that are helping you work inside your business and doing a lot of those chores, until you get to that stage, you've got to do it yourself.

You've got to be prepared to go to bed tired, you've got to be prepared that, you know, you have to devote some of that time that you might have been spending on playing golf or surfing, and I've now just got back to the stage where I'm surfing again. I'd stopped surfing for quite an amount of time, because I really was just working on the business. Now I've got two mornings a week I can devote to surfing, which is great for me, because it also then, you know something for me that works on my mental health. I can forget about the dojo for those couple of hours. I think it's important that we all have that. 

GEORGE: What do you mean? There's nothing like time in the ocean, to forget about everything else. 

LINDSAY: Or whatever for you. It might be golf, it might be lawn bowls, it might be playing the guitar or the piano or something, and it could be anything. It's whatever it is, you have to find what does it for you, because I guarantee if you don't, you're just going to get worn out, you're going to get burnt out and then eventually going to collapse. The only thing that's going to suffer then is your family and of course, your business as well. You can't let that happen. 

GEORGE: I want to say thanks for sharing all the stuff about working together as well. I thought I'd just ask a few questions on top of that, if it's okay with you. 

LINDSAY: Absolutely. 

GEORGE: You mentioned you were looking online. Was there something that was holding you back to maybe not get in touch? 

LINDSAY: Past experience! 

GEORGE: Past experience?

Karate Business

LINDSAY: Past experience, because I jumped in, you know, boots and all with the first couple. They made some really great promises. One of the guys was on the Gold Coast, and I paid the money into his account, and I never even heard back from him. Then I made a few contacts with him that he never responded to.

Then I finally got a telephone number that I rang directly. He said, “Well, some of my guys were supposed to be handling that. You tell me they haven't?” And I said, “No, they haven't.” I was completely disillusioned. He said he'd refund my money back, which took forever to come back to me, and I still see his ads coming up all the time now. You go – how do you do that? How do you sit there and claim you've got such a great service when your track record isn't all that good. Or particularly with me.

And then I found some guys who are in the same business as what I'm in that I joined up through their advertising. And then I went to a seminar that they had on, lined up. And of course, the information came through in the forms of lots of videos, and if you watch lots and lots of our videos, you'll probably see soon. But we didn't have any regular movies, there wasn't any contact, there wasn't any, you know, somebody holding me accountable. 

Now, the thing that I like about the group that we're involved in, is that everybody makes you accountable. Everybody there, you know, replies to a Facebook message that comes out three times a week. What are you going to do? How are you going with it? And why haven't you done it at the end of the week? I'm just one of those people who need to be held accountable.

I'm not very good with time management, and I'm not very good with management in general. I'm a pretty good martial arts instructor, but as for running a business, not particularly all that good at it. Lot of martial artists out there are the same.

So, what I've done is surrounded myself inside my business. My dad ran a business for a long time, and he always said to me, “Mate, there's always a plan here. The things that you're not good at, go and just pay someone else to do them.” So, I'm doing that.

So, the things I'm not good at, I'm paying somebody else to do them, because I know if it's left up to me, it just won't get done. So, what made me hesitant with you was the fact that I'd had a bad track record with these other guys, there were more than two, and I'd paid out money. And I guess, was it wasted money? No, it wasn't wasted money, because I learned a lot of things about not spending money with people like that.

So, let's get more research. And what you did to me, George, was allow me to come on board, involved in a program without paying any money to start with. You had a program going at the time, which I think was your Digitize Your Dojo program, and you said, “I'm not going to charge you any for it, you guys all come on board, and we'll start to work on it.”

And then somewhere down the track, you offered me the opportunity to become part of the Partners group, which you remember, I didn't jump on straightaway. I still wanted to know about George Fourie a little more.  Until eventually I got to the stage where I agreed that, you know, I would come on board with your program, and I have not regretted it.

I remember that one day, getting in contact with you, and I asked you about some Facebook ads. You gave me all the guts of the Facebook ad, this is what you need to do, and you sent me some photographs on what it needs to look like. I then, about two weeks later, I think I contacted you and went, “George, it's not working, mate. It's just not working for me,” and you went, “Send me your ad, send me all your visuals, and I'll have a look at it.”

And of course, I totally changed everything you told me to do, and you came back to me – you went, “But it's not what I told you to do.” You said to me, and I think that I remember you saying something like to me, “Look, I'll tell you what, give it a go the way that I'm suggesting to start with, and if it doesn't work, then we'll go back and give your way a bit.” So, what I did was I changed my ads to virtually copy exactly the same as what you sent me, and all of a sudden, the messages started coming in. And I went, “Oh that works.” So, then I did it again and again and again, and the leads just started coming in. 

And you know from that first ad, I'm still running virtually exactly the same ad. I might change the image on it occasionally just to freshen it, but I'm just doing the same thing over and over, and over and over, and the leads are still coming in. I've signed up 10 in the last week just from running the same ad as I was running a year ago, offering the same special and it works. Until it is broken, don't change it. If it isn’t broken, don't fix it. 

GEORGE: Yeah, I think it just takes time to get to that, because if you've got the right formula, because… The first thing everybody tries and does is, “I'll just copy someone else's ad.” It could work, but what you're missing is the structure and the setup behind that. What got to that image, why is it that image, why did we get to that wording, and what is the link between the right offer and the right pricing, and the flow of going from that. That's where the tweaking, that's where it's really got to happen. 

LINDSAY: I see some of the ads that come up on my feed now from the other local guys, and I've never seen them before, perhaps I didn't look at them, or perhaps because they're seeing my ads, they're doing stuff. But I'm really glad that they're advertising, because what they're doing is they're thinking they can do it better than me.

So, they're filling their images up with text, they're, you know, making them way too busy, their ad's saying way too much. And I'm thinking, “That's great, guys, keep doing that, because you ain't getting the call.” I know you're not, because I tried it that way and the phone just doesn't ring.

So, they're going to eventually get to the stage where they go, “Oh, this is useless. I'm not continuing to pay money for this.” And then they'll stop advertising, which is fantastic for me. I see, oh, there's one that came up yesterday. And I went, “Oh my gosh”, – okay, the text is so small and there's so much on it, I can't even read it. Not even going to bother clicking. But I did, I clicked and sent him a message, said, “Yeah, man. Keep it up. Good work.” 

GEORGE: Last couple of things are, well, two things. Your favorite part about working with us? 

LINDSAY: My favorite part is the Wednesday meetings, is the group. Because I get more out of that, you know, one hour on a Wednesday, I think than any other thing that I do. The amount of questions I can ask the guys and get answered, I might get three different answers, but I can at least pick one of the things that might work for our dojo. That's the best thing, that one hour of power session that we do, because it's fabulous. Everybody's so open, nobody minds sharing anything. 

And as I said to you, two guys from that session, you know, I've already spoken to them this week about a couple of decisions that I was trying to make. They've both given me great advice, which I've taken and I'm much more settled now in myself, thinking, “I'm glad I rang them.” And without that group, I wouldn't have known who they were, I wouldn't have known who to ring, and I might have made the wrong decision. 

GEORGE: Awesome. The last one – who would you recommend the Partners group to, and why? 

LINDSAY: I would recommend the Partners group to anybody who's wanting to run a, whether it be a small part-time studio or a large martial art studio, or even go from a small part-time to a large martial art studio. Why? It's just the motivational side, it's the questions and answers that we get through the group.

And I think, you know, if I hadn't come on board with you, George, I'm not sure where I would be. I'm not sure at what level our business is, we might have still been hitting that 90 mark, and building it up, letting it fall down again, and building it up and then falling down again.

I am so fortunate to have met, you know, you guys through this group, but you can hear it. I'm at a loss for words, which normally, I'm not lost for words at all. Yeah, it's just fabulous. It totally changed our whole family's life. And I can say that with all honesty, you know, I just want to check that bank account, George, if you put that check in… 

GEORGE: Later, later. 

LINDSAY: You know, for the people out there who are looking, perhaps to come on board with George, who have been, you know, dipping their toes in the water, make a commitment to your business and yourself. Just get out there, because George said to me, and he'll remember the offer that he had, that if I don't return you your money in the first 90 days, I'll give it all back to you. I don't have to give anything back to George, I don't have to give him back any of the information he's given me, because I've already stolen it all from him. 

But at the end of that 90 days, George had made me every cent that I'd paid to him, it didn't even take 90 days, I think it was 30 days that he made that money that I paid him. So, whatever he's asking, you know, in there, jump on board and pay it. It's certainly worth it.

I'm not doing a commercial for George, I'm promoting George, because in my heart I genuinely know what he's done for us, and I think that he could do the same for other people. So, I guess it's a promotion for all those dojo owners out there who want to grow their business. So, I'm speaking about George more for your benefit than George's benefit. 

GEORGE: Love it. Lindsay, thanks so much. It means a lot. Great chatting to you. There's another story I want to chat to you about, and I'm going to hit you up about that in the near future. And for anyone that wants to connect with you, guyskarateschool.com.au, can have a look at Lindsay's website. 

If you want to get in touch with us and have a listen to what it is that we do and work out if or how we can help you, the best way to do that is just go to martialartsmedia.com/scale, and there's a little questionnaire. Tell us a bit about you, what you're stuck with. Let us know and we'll have a low key chat and work out if or how we can help you. Cool. Lindsay, any last words from you? 

LINDSAY: I could go on for hours, George, but no, look, to be really honest with you, it's later on in the afternoon. I've got to go and open up the karate school and start doing what we do best. 

GEORGE: Awesome. 

LINDSAY: Okay. 

GEORGE: Bye, Lindsay. Thanks so much, speak soon. 

LINDSAY: Thank you. 

GEORGE: Cheers!

 

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If you use our site from locations outside of Australia, you are responsible for compliance with any applicable local laws.

These Terms of Use shall be governed by, construed and enforced in accordance with the laws of the the State of Western Australia, Australia as it is applied to agreements entered into and to be performed entirely within such jurisdiction.

To the extent you have in any manner violated or threatened to violate MartialArtsMedia.com and/or its affiliates’ intellectual property rights, MartialArtsMedia.com and/or its affiliates may seek injunctive or other appropriate relief in any state or federal court in the State of Western Australia, Australia, and you consent to exclusive jurisdiction and venue in such courts.

Any other disputes will be resolved as follows:

If a dispute arises under this agreement, we agree to first try to resolve it with the help of a mutually agreed-upon mediator in the following location: Perth. Any costs and fees other than attorney fees associated with the mediation will be shared equally by each of us.

If it proves impossible to arrive at a mutually satisfactory solution through mediation, we agree to submit the dispute to binding arbitration at the following location: Perth . Judgment upon the award rendered by the arbitration may be entered in any court with jurisdiction to do so.

MartialArtsMedia.com may modify these Terms of Use, and the agreement they create, at any time, simply by updating this posting and without notice to you. This is the ENTIRE agreement regarding all the matters that have been discussed.

The application of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, as amended, is expressly excluded.

Privacy Policy

Your privacy is very important to us. Accordingly, we have developed this policy in order for you to understand how we collect, use, communicate and make use of personal information. The following outlines our privacy policy. When accessing the https://martialartsmedia.com website, will learn certain information about you during your visit. Similar to other commercial websites, our website utilizes a standard technology called “cookies” (see explanation below) and server logs to collect information about how our site is used. Information gathered through cookies and server logs may include the date and time of visits, the pages viewed, time spent at our site, and the websites visited just before and just after our own, as well as your IP address.

Use of Cookies

A cookie is a very small text document, which often includes an anonymous unique identifier. When you visit a website, that site”s computer asks your computer for permission to store this file in a part of your hard drive specifically designated for cookies. Each website can send its own cookie to your browser if your browser”s preferences allow it, but (to protect your privacy) your browser only permits a website to access the cookies it has already sent to you, not the cookies sent to you by other sites.

IP Addresses

IP addresses are used by your computer every time you are connected to the Internet. Your IP address is a number that is used by computers on the network to identify your computer. IP addresses are automatically collected by our web server as part of demographic and profile data known as “traffic data” so that data (such as the Web pages you request) can be sent to you.

Email Information

If you choose to correspond with us through email, we may retain the content of your email messages together with your email address and our responses. We provide the same protections for these electronic communications that we employ in the maintenance of information received online, mail and telephone. This also applies when you register for our website, sign up through any of our forms using your email address or make a purchase on this site. For further information see the email policies below.

How Do We Use the Information That You Provide to Us?

Broadly speaking, we use personal information for purposes of administering our business activities, providing customer service and making available other items and services to our customers and prospective customers.

will not obtain personally-identifying information about you when you visit our site, unless you choose to provide such information to us, nor will such information be sold or otherwise transferred to unaffiliated third parties without the approval of the user at the time of collection.

We may disclose information when legally compelled to do so, in other words, when we, in good faith, believe that the law requires it or for the protection of our legal rights.

Email Policies

We are committed to keeping your e-mail address confidential. We do not sell, rent, or lease our subscription lists to third parties, and we will not provide your personal information to any third party individual, government agency, or company at any time unless strictly compelled to do so by law.

We will use your e-mail address solely to provide timely information about .

We will maintain the information you send via e-mail in accordance with applicable federal law.

CAN-SPAM Compliance

Our site provides users the opportunity to opt-out of receiving communications from us and our partners by reading the unsubscribe instructions located at the bottom of any e-mail they receive from us at anytime.

Users who no longer wish to receive our newsletter or promotional materials may opt-out of receiving these communications by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

Choice/Opt-Out

Our site provides users the opportunity to opt-out of receiving communications from us and our partners by reading the unsubscribe instructions located at the bottom of any e-mail they receive from us at anytime. Users who no longer wish to receive our newsletter or promotional materials may opt-out of receiving these communications by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

Use of External Links

All copyrights, trademarks, patents and other intellectual property rights in and on our website and all content and software located on the site shall remain the sole property of or its licensors. The use of our trademarks, content and intellectual property is forbidden without the express written consent from .

You must not:

Acceptable Use

You agree to use our website only for lawful purposes, and in a way that does not infringe the rights of, restrict or inhibit anyone else”s use and enjoyment of the website. Prohibited behavior includes harassing or causing distress or inconvenience to any other user, transmitting obscene or offensive content or disrupting the normal flow of dialogue within our website.

You must not use our website to send unsolicited commercial communications. You must not use the content on our website for any marketing related purpose without our express written consent.

Restricted Access

We may in the future need to restrict access to parts (or all) of our website and reserve full rights to do so. If, at any point, we provide you with a username and password for you to access restricted areas of our website, you must ensure that both your username and password are kept confidential.

Use of Testimonials

In accordance to with the FTC guidelines concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising, please be aware of the following:

Testimonials that appear on this site are actually received via text, audio or video submission. They are individual experiences, reflecting real life experiences of those who have used our products and/or services in some way. They are individual results and results do vary. We do not claim that they are typical results. The testimonials are not necessarily representative of all of those who will use our products and/or services.

The testimonials displayed in any form on this site (text, audio, video or other) are reproduced verbatim, except for correction of grammatical or typing errors. Some may have been shortened. In other words, not the whole message received by the testimonial writer is displayed when it seems too lengthy or not the whole statement seems relevant for the general public.

is not responsible for any of the opinions or comments posted on https://martialartsmedia.com. is not a forum for testimonials, however provides testimonials as a means for customers to share their experiences with one another. To protect against abuse, all testimonials appear after they have been reviewed by management of . doe not share the opinions, views or commentary of any testimonials on https://martialartsmedia.com – the opinions are strictly the views of the testimonial source.

The testimonials are never intended to make claims that our products and/or services can be used to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate or prevent any disease. Any such claims, implicit or explicit, in any shape or form, have not been clinically tested or evaluated.

How Do We Protect Your Information and Secure Information Transmissions?

Email is not recognized as a secure medium of communication. For this reason, we request that you do not send private information to us by email. However, doing so is allowed, but at your own risk. Some of the information you may enter on our website may be transmitted securely via a secure medium known as Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL. Credit Card information and other sensitive information is never transmitted via email.

may use software programs to create summary statistics, which are used for such purposes as assessing the number of visitors to the different sections of our site, what information is of most and least interest, determining technical design specifications, and identifying system performance or problem areas.

For site security purposes and to ensure that this service remains available to all users, uses software programs to monitor network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information, or otherwise cause damage.

Disclaimer and Limitation of Liability

makes no representations, warranties, or assurances as to the accuracy, currency or completeness of the content contain on this website or any sites linked to this site.

All the materials on this site are provided “as is” without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of merchantability, noninfringement of intellectual property or fitness for any particular purpose. In no event shall or its agents or associates be liable for any damages whatsoever (including, without limitation, damages for loss of profits, business interruption, loss of information, injury or death) arising out of the use of or inability to use the materials, even if has been advised of the possibility of such loss or damages.

Policy Changes

We reserve the right to amend this privacy policy at any time with or without notice. However, please be assured that if the privacy policy changes in the future, we will not use the personal information you have submitted to us under this privacy policy in a manner that is materially inconsistent with this privacy policy, without your prior consent.

We are committed to conducting our business in accordance with these principles in order to ensure that the confidentiality of personal information is protected and maintained.

Contact

If you have any questions regarding this policy, or your dealings with our website, please contact us here:

Martial Arts Media™
Suite 218
5/115 Grand Boulevard
Joondalup WA
6027
Australia

Email: team (at) martialartsmedia dot com

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