139 – Refining Retention After Massive Martial Arts Business Growth

The last time we spoke to Lindsay Guy, we discussed how he tripled his karate school in record time. Today we chat about refining retention to maintain this massive growth.


IN THIS EPISODE:

  • How retention impacts martial arts business growth 
  • Keeping martial arts classes fun to stimulate young students
  • Reaching out to parents on how to keep kids from quitting martial arts
  • Setting up your martial arts pro shop for profit
  • Keys to leaving a lasting martial arts legacy
  • And more

*Need help growing your martial arts school? Start Here.

 

TRANSCRIPTION

GEORGE:  It's George Fourie. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast. Today I have a repeat guest with me, Lindsay Guy from Guy's Karate School. Now if you recall episode 117, I had Lindsay Guy on and we spoke about how he had 3x’d his martial arts business moving past the Big C, we'll call it the Big C.

The YouTube and social media channels don't like us talking about what it is, although we probably mentioned it in the episode. Anyway, I wanted to catch up with Lindsay just to see how things are going right now. We spoke about how he 3x’d his business.

I wanted to see where he is now, how things are going, and how he handled the growth. We talked a bit about retention, and a little bit about marketing and it was just a great martial arts conversation. Now, I must warn you, Lindsay is super authentic and as he says, he's got no switch and he speaks very straightforwardly.

And we have this sense of humor where we look for little gaps and opportunities to have a go and have a bit of fun and fun with each other. So that might come out in some of the comments from him and me. Don't take it to heart. 

It's probably easier if you watch the episode because Lindsay's face explains his sense of humor. But yeah, one of my favorite humans to speak to when it comes to a sense of humor and having fun. 

So a lot of fun in this episode and a lot of value. So jump in episode 139. So head over to the website, martialartsmedia.com/139. You can download the transcript and all the resources mentioned in this episode. 

And do me a favor, if you get some good value out of this episode, please share it with someone you love, someone you care about, a martial arts instructor, or martial arts school owner. So they'll get as much value from it as you will.

All right, let's jump in. Lindsay Guy, welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast. Actually, welcome back to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast.

LINDSAY:  Thanks, George. Thanks for having me on again.

GEORGE:  Awesome. So last time we spoke in episode 117, we talked about how you 3x'd your martial arts business coming out of the Big C, we'll just call it the Big C, not we'll be talking about, that way YouTube still likes us and we are just chatting about the journey, a bit about working together in Partners, but just how you've progressed and where you're at. 

And I thought I'd have you back on being the funniest guy in the karate business. It's always good to have you on. It makes me a bit nervous when I have you on because I don't know, in conversations with you, I don't know what I'm going to get, which is the fun part. So this is good. So yeah, I thought I'd have you back on and see where the journey is at.

LINDSAY:  Excellent. Where would you like to start?

GEORGE:  How's business going? Weird, last time we spoke, so we were coming out of the rough batch, you got business booming and things are going well. How's the journey evolved from when we last spoke?

LINDSAY:  Our business has been continually evolving. It's been changing. We've made a lot of changes because what happens is when you get rapid growth in a business, you start to realize then all the things you either don't have in place or you should have in place, you start to work out some new things that you can add. 

One of the biggest problems, when you have rapid growth, is retention. So trying to keep all of those people, put systems in place, which is going to allow those people to stay. And over that time since we last spoke, which has been nearly probably nearly two years. 

We have been continually changing our systems to maintain that retention and maintain growth. There's no good having a system, a mouse on a wheel that's continually putting people in and continually losing people at the other end. Your business just doesn't grow that way. 

And I'm sure there are many businesses out there, many martial arts schools that do just that. However, we've had to sit down and work out why we lose people and what we can do to prevent that from happening. And that's why our systems have come into place now on changing that. 

So people feel quite comfortable, quite happy to come. Once you stop exciting people from coming to karate or to come to any martial arts, that's when they start to drop out. So we've got to maintain that excitement with our students. We've got to maintain the enthusiasm for them to want to come.

GEORGE:  All right. So I would like to dive deeper into that because if I always look at the first problem and the first time I typically work with anyone or somebody who reaches out to me it's, “Hey, we need more students.” It's always the first thing. 

There are always layers to that because there's always way more to just that. There's the pricing and the offers, and that's the one thing to fix. Now you fix that problem, right? You don't have so much of a marketing problem anymore.

LINDSAY:  We don't have a marketing problem at all. Every single time that we put a marketing campaign out, we get students. It's easy. We just go, “Look, okay, we need 10 more students. Let's put a marketing campaign out and get 10 more students.” Marketing and attracting students now is never a worry on my mind.

I just don't have that worry any longer where a lot of martial arts people that I speak to say, “I just can't get students.” “Well, what are you doing?” And most times they'll tell you, “Well, we're not doing anything,” or, “Yeah, we do ads.” Do you? Great. 

But of course, it's the content with the ad, not the ad. And you've got to get the right content. And how have we got the right content? Well, we've got the right content in a lot of ways. One was a lot of trial and error. But secondly, is speaking to other people who have actually got the right formula and just copying it. 

There's no point in having a formula that works than me saying, “Well, I don't think it'll work for me in my town.” So I just do exactly what all the other guys are doing that are attracting students. Guess what? It's like a miracle. It works.

GEORGE:  All right, cool. So we spend a lot of time on the formula, the framework, how to structure ads, and making sure that it works. So what's more important to look at is this next step and chat a bit about what you've done to help mitigate and fix the retention side.

LINDSAY:  That is a really hard question to answer because there are a multitude of things that we've had to do to keep students here. One thing that I'm always telling my junior instructors is that one thing that will keep people in your center first is for them to be… 

This is probably not the correct word, but I will use it anyway. Entertained. We have to entertain our students. Now you're going to get a lot of traditionalists out there going, “Oh no, you never do that. That's just breaking complete tradition.”

Now I spent the weekend with a bunch of traditionalists and they're getting 20 and 30 students in their dojos. It's because kids don't have that type of commitment anymore. They don't have the type of patience to go through traditional karate. I don't know whether they ever did. 

Because I remember when I was training, we never had a lot of children. They'd drop out as quickly as they'd start simply because the boredom would set in backward and forwards across a hall for an hour and a half doing basics. So today, we like to take a Wiggles approach.

The Wiggles, you take their songs, for instance, they're never going to be top 40. But what keeps people buying Wiggles music? What keeps people going to Wiggles concerts is the entertaining side of it. So you've got that side where the children are entertained. They want to keep coming back because they like the environment that we would use for them. 

Do we clown around? No, we teach karate to these children. But do we tell them that they're doing fantastic? Do we have a bit of a wiggle on that's like, “Man, that's fantastic.” Yes, we do. And I'm now teaching all of my students that same thing. So let's pass this on to our other students. 

So if we can get students inside the dojo making other students feel like they want to come back because they're creating friendships, they're having fun with each other in the dojo, they will continue to come back to my center.

Now, why do we need them to come back? One, the better the retention, the less expense there is, and the more money we make because we're not spending a lot of money on advertising because we've got critical retention, so we can reduce our spending on our advertising. And then secondly, people that are stopping, the longer they stop, the more friends they refer us to. 

And of course, our business grows then. So it just makes good sense. Now, it depends on what you want to do. If you want to teach pure traditional karate and you want to have 10 or 15 students in your hall or your center, that's absolutely great because I love traditional karate. 

I'm a real traditionalist at heart. But what I want to do is to treat it as a business. I want to make money out of this. I want to be able to support myself and my family by doing what I love doing, which is teaching karate.

Now if I have to kick off some of those old beliefs to be able to do that, I'm quite happy to kick off some of those old beliefs and keep people inside my center. And that's what we do every day. We come and teach karate and we love it. It's a dream. 

Imagine getting to the stage and going, “I've been doing karate for 40 years. I absolutely love karate.” Now I get to do it every day and someone's paying me to do it. I used to pay to do it once, but now someone's paying me to do it. It's fabulous.

GEORGE:  That's so good. Especially, and you're talking about being a purist at heart. Part of adapting is just, you talk about the entertainment side, there's no reason why it can't be both.

In fact, teaching has probably evolved. To teach it in a way that kids and younger people are learning and if they're entertained but they're learning the skills while they're getting entertained, that's a good thing. I'll tell you a relevant story. I took my daughter to a music class. 

Now I remember when I was a kid, my mom was cruel in a way. She forced me to play the recorder. I said, “Mom, this is not cool.” Three years in, I was forced to play guitar. Then I played the keyboard and then I ended up playing drums. It was a horrific experience.

And anyway, so I enrolled my daughter in what I thought was a drumming class. But I arrived there and it was a piano class. I thought, “Okay, well let's see where this goes.” And my wife did the enrollments, not me. 

Anyway, I was like, “Are we going to play drums?” And so I walked in and I just saw pianos all around and I was like, “Where're the drums? Are they going to play drums?” He said, “Maybe.” But this teacher wowed me in a way that I haven't been wowed in a long time because his teaching methodology was just magnificent.

Obviously, my daughter was a bit nervous, she's 4 years old, but he sat her down and he started dancing. So just to a rhythm. And so he starts dancing and then he brings out all these characters and then he's got this frog and that frog, and they gamified the entire experience for the child. 

And so she started 10 minutes shy, anxious, and 15 minutes in, she was all over it and completely wowed by the experience. And for me, it was just looking at, “Wow, okay.” Things have come a long way and people are realizing how just being entertaining, I could see what he was teaching her. 

For her, it was just fun and games, but it was education disguised as entertainment. In the martial arts space, you can take a lot from that. You can be the purist and teach all the right things and just make sure kids are entertained.

Martial Arts Business Growth

LINDSAY:  See, I need to teach martial arts and I like to have a good standard. I'm a bit like a tradesman looking at his work. I want to be able to come away saying, “I've done a fantastic job there with that particular task that I did.” Now if I can look at my karate students and go, “Wow, they're really, really coming on with their standard.” 

It's exactly the same as that tradesman looking at the finished job.

The only way that I can produce that standard is to keep them here long enough. Now if every two weeks I'm turning over my school base, there's no way that I'm ever going to produce a standard. So for me to produce a standard, I got to keep the kids. 

To keep the kids, I got to get away from some of those old-fashioned ideas about what should be happening inside a traditional class. So tradition, where is that starting? Well, I might be starting my own tradition, but I know now a formula that is helping us keep students, which is helping our students grow. And I can look at my students and now say, “I'm very, very happy with the standard that we're producing.”

At the end of it all, that's all that matters. It's producing great students that you can feel proud to say that those guys come from our center and I'm making sure that all of my instructors, whether they be our junior instructors because we have great junior instructors and a great leadership program now and I'm always onto those guys and people work well with praise. 

So I'm always telling them, “Make sure you high-five the guys. Make sure that your knucklesMake sure that every kid on that floor on that day knows they've done a great job.” How? Tell them that you're doing a great job. That is fantastic. What a great effort. And at the end of the class just go, “You guys need to congratulate yourself because not only was your standard great, your behavior was fantastic today. Give yourself a hand.”

And sometimes I even say to the parents, “What do you think, parents? You think the kids have all been good today and well-behaved?” And the parents go, “Yeah.” And of course, acknowledgment from a parent to a kid is huge as well. 

For a parent to say, “We think you've done really well today mate,” because there are so many kids out there today who don't get praise. It's important that children receive praise.

A lot of times, the only time they ever get spoken to is when they're doing something wrong. We need to change that. We need to tell children that they're special. We need to tell kids how good they are. 

We need to tell the kids that they're appreciated and that they are going to be okay. And that's what we're trying to produce here. That atmosphere of you're going to be okay, you're doing well. Keep going.

Because I talk to people, people talk about the black belt and say, “You know what the difference between a black belt and a white belt is?” And they go, “Oh, you've trained really hard.” Yeah, that's one thing, but that's not really it. 

What it is, is that the black belt person just trained longer than the white belt person. They've just attended more lessons and that's really all it is. There's nothing else to it.

They've just attended more lessons and we know you get better if you attend more lessons. And when you get better then eventually you achieve a black belt. So that's the type of thing we try to produce with our parents. 

We've even put in our new getting started brochures now. The excuse is that parents are actually going to get from their kids and why the kids are going to tell them they don't want to come anymore. So we pre-warn them, and said to them, “We've got a welcome brochure and we've got a whole page in there dedicated to why kids quit karate.” 

Sometimes kids don't quit karate. Sometimes it's parents that quit karate. Sometimes they quit bringing them. And there are a lot of reasons why that happens. Sometimes they just get tired of bringing them.

GEORGE:  Or they start training in Jiu-Jitsu.

LINDSAY:  Look, there'd be more people going the other way to be honest with you but…

GEORGE:  Apologies, that was a bit of a private joke inserted into a serious matter. Apologies to all my karate friends. To add flavor to where my comment just comes from, what is your take on Jiu-Jitsu, Lindsay?

LINDSAY:  I don't mind Jiu-Jitsu. I don't mind at all. It's actually a very, very good sport. I have rheumatoid arthritis so it's not good to have my joints manipulated and twisted too regularly. So that's why I don't like it. 

Because every time I've had a session and I come away with, “Oh man, my wrist's sore, my arm's sore, my elbow's sore.” So I just don't want to do that. My young guys on the floor do it all the time. 

We've got a couple of Jiu-Jitsu guys here and they get on the floor and my son Lockie is 22 and 22 stone and he gets on the floor and has a wrestle with the boys and absolutely loves it. So it's great.

GEORGE:  100%. As I said, it was a bit of a private joke, but Lindsay likes to give me hassles about cuddling and Jiu-Jitsu and so I thought I'd just get the one up.

LINDSAY:  George, I would never say anything like that to you. George's just making all that up now. Getting back to our conversation about parents, parents need to know that their kids are going to come up at some point in their karate training and that they're going to come up and tell them that they don't want to come anymore. Not all kids. 

I have parents that come and say, “I can't wait to come.” Every day, they're going, “Can we go to karate today? Is karate today? Is it karate today?” Simply because they just love coming. But we have those other kids that they're just half on, half off and they come up with all sorts of excuses, and we know what keeps them away. 

We know technology is in everybody's houses. They've got computers, they've got tablets, they've got phones, they've got PlayStations. 

Now if I was a kid and the parents said, “You're going to go to karate today,” and the kid's on his PlayStation in the middle of a game, it's pretty hard to drag him away from that sometimes. And then all of a sudden they go, “No, don't feel like going today. I'm a bit sick. Got a bit of a tummy ache, got a bit of a headache. There's something wrong with me. The reason why I don't want to go.” 

There are about 101 reasons I'd reckon that kids will give you that they don't want to go. But like us, once you get them here and you get them out the floor, they have a ball. So parents don't give up on their kids too easily because if we allow our kids after their first or second time just to say, “I don't want to do that anymore,” you go, “All right mate, well, what do you want to do?” I want to do this. Okay, we'll enroll you in that. I guarantee it won't be long before they're giving you the same excuses for that.

We have to show our children that if we commit to something, we've got to stay committed for a period of time. Because if we don't, what we're telling our children, it's okay to give up on anything whenever something gets too hard. 

All of a sudden, kids then go, “I don't want to do this. It's too hard.” All right, just give up then, mate instead of saying to the children, no, persevere. Some parents are like, “Whew, I was hoping you were going to say that. I don't have to take you anymore. I don't have to spend the money. Not that I could afford it anyway. Couldn't afford it before.” You can edit that bit out if you want. I get that all the time.

GEORGE:  We edit nothing in this podcast.

LINDSAY:  Okay. There's not one martial artist that would listen to this podcast that wouldn't tell you that or get the same excuses. Every one of us gets the same excuses from our students, but it's up to us to educate also. Not just the students but the parents. 

You're going to get it. I guarantee you, once you get it, still keep bringing them. Don't take their excuse, “I don't want to go because I've got a headache today.”

GEORGE:  Yeah, and so you bring up a good point, that most martial artists are going to know these are the excuses that are going to come up. It's going to come up because you get it all the time. So having that knowledge, it's probably worth having that conversation before it comes up. 

Because it's not if, it's when it's going to happen. So knowing that, it's if someone's really educated in sales, they know the objections that are going to come up. And so before while they're talking to you, they've already answered the objections that might come up and it just makes it easier for them to do business in the end.

So you're in the same situation where having the conversation with parents early, it's not if they're going to quit, they want to quit, it's when, and they're going to tell you that they don't want to come, there's going to be something more important. Or they're going to feel like they want to do the PlayStation etc. because it's not easy. 

Good things in life aren't easy and you need some resilience to push through and get that done. Actually spoke with Michael Scott about this yesterday as well about resilience. So it's just important to know it's coming, we might as well work on how we're going to remove that.

LINDSAY:  Well, we like to point out the page in the welcome pack which says, “Why Kids Quit Karate And What You Can Do About It.” That's the title. So we like to point out that a parent should need to read that section.

GEORGE:  Have you got your welcome pack in front of you?

LINDSAY:  I do.

GEORGE:  I just want to see.

LINDSAY:  This is the latest version. We do have another version, but because our center has changed and our business has changed, we've had to do some modifications to the brochure, add some things, and take some things out. We've done some really great things in the center. We've put our pro shop in, now we had t-shirts, we had hoodies, we had all of those types of things for sale, but we had them in plastic tubs in these cubes. 

And we had one hanging up on a coat hanger and we're hardly selling any. And we went to, I don't know when that was, July, up to Ross Cameron‘s CrossFit? Cross Fight? CrossFit? Was it Cross Fight?

GEORGE:  FightCross for the Partners Intensive.

LINDSAY:  FightCross. He'd be very happy with me remembering that. FightCross studio and he had all his pro shops set out. So when people walk through, all they had to do was just look to their right and all of a sudden there's all the gear that they could purchase. 

And I went, “Well, that looks fabulous.” And I said to Ross, “Do you have it licensed, this look?” And he went, “No,” I said, “Good because I'm going to steal it then.” And we've put the same wood grain look up, we've got all our T-shirts, our hoodies, our shorts, our caps, our singlets, everything now hanging on coat hangers. So when people walk into the dojo, they walk straight past it. 

Every single day now, I'm seeing empty coat hangers on the front bench from where people have purchased stuff and I'm just now putting in more orders for more gear. We weren't selling hardly any. And as soon as I put it out there on display, people are now starting to buy it. You wouldn't think that's rocket science, would you?

GEORGE:  They see it, they buy it.

LINDSAY:  They see it, they buy it. And Ross might have pointed it out to me at the time. He said, “When you go to places like a fun park, a theme park, when you get off the ride, where's the first place they walk you through? It's the gift shop.” To get off the ride and get it back out into the theme park, you go through the gift shop. 

There's all the gear, people are buying stuff. Why? Because the kids nagged them. But I have parents going, “Oh, that looks really good. I'll get Johnny one of those.” Well, don't wait, it might not be available next week. Grab one now while you're here.

GEORGE:  I love that. So we've been working together for quite some time and there's been a significant shift in your business but in your outlook on going about the company. And if I recall now in episode 117 when we were talking, there was a heavy low moment and it was in the midst of COVID.

LINDSAY:  Yes.

GEORGE:  And then you changed things around and with that massive growth so fast, you'd had to look at the retention side because you'd had all these young new students coming through. How do you feel your thinking around the business has changed since prior to that time with the Big C and where you are at now and looking forward?

Martial Arts Business Growth

LINDSAY:  I was speaking to people at the weekend at a seminar we're at in Melbourne and they were telling me, “Oh, COVID absolutely killed us and we really haven't hit back since then.” And when I asked some of those people, “What did you do during COVID?” And they said, “Oh, well we did what everybody else did, we closed down.” Okay. 

See, what we did here and it wasn't my thinking because my thinking originally would've been to just close the business everybody else did.

But because I was involved in a network of martial artists that twice a week we were speaking at Zoom meetings, I realized that I had to close the doors to the dojo, but not close the business. 

So during COVID, we went on a marketing frenzy where we were spending money that we weren't earning so that we didn't have to get students through the door when we were to reopen. I was signing up people through packages. They were excellent deals. 

They were getting a uniform that they could wear at home if they wanted, wear down the shop. It doesn't matter where they were wearing it, but they couldn't wear it in my dojo because the government said you can't come in the door. 

So people then say to me, “So when are you starting back then?” And I go, “I don't know. No idea. That's up to the government. I have absolutely no clue when they allow me to reopen. But when we do, you've got a great deal to start back with.”

I once had someone say to me years ago, he had an agricultural business and he was doing extremely well. He was the busiest agricultural dealer in this town and we're going through a bit of a recession. And I said to him, “So how come you are so busy? Why are you surviving and some of the others are starting to go downhill?” 

And he said to me, “This is where people make mistakes. In hard times, the first thing they cut is their advertising budget. Cut your advertising budget, your sales go down.” He said, “Different from me, in the hard times, I increased my advertising budget,” and I'll always remember that. 

I reckon that was 20 years ago. And I'll always remember that talk from John saying to me in the hard times, you increase your advertising budget, not decrease it. And that's what we did. 

And it wasn't simply because all of those other things were going on, it was just simply the fact that I needed to assure I'd sign this lease. I had no money. I needed to assure that when the time came for us to reopen that we still had a business and it was going to be bigger than what it was before we stopped. 

So what we did was we kept in regular contact with our current student base that we had at the time and we're signing new people. And that's what we do today. We're always coming up with some special deal to get people to come to us.

I find it really hard to believe today people that tell me, “Oh, we just can't get students.” And it's generally because it's not that you can't get students, you're just not going about it the right way unless you live in a town of 20 people. I don't understand why you can't have, in retrospect, or in the ratio to your town a decent amount of students. 

I have people say, “Oh, you don't understand my area.” Oh, don't I? You've got a Woolworth there? Yeah. The prices of groceries in your town are the same as they are in mine. Yep. What's your fuel price? $2.30 a liter. Yep. 

What's the price of a Toyota in your town? Wow. It's the same as what it is in my town. And all those businesses are still surviving. Why can't you charge the same as everybody else is charging?

GEORGE:  I find it very dangerous when people talk collectively about an area or a town and make decisions for them because it normally comes from within. And the minute you talk about the town, well hang on, how many people are in this town? Did you talk to all of them? Do you understand their wants, their needs, and their feelings? 

It's a lot of people to be making decisions for. It's hard.

You are saying, “Well, people are struggling to get students.” Well, if somebody says that, then my question would be, “Well, when was the last time you made an offer to get students?” 

And to whom was it? Oh, we posted on our Facebook wall. Well right now, you might as well put a flyer on your windscreen outside. That's not enough. You do need to put your offers in front of enough people so that enough people can see them. 

And even if you did that really poorly, if you just made an offer every day, you would be getting students. But people can't sign up if there's no offer to sign up.

LINDSAY:  Absolutely. You've got to give them something… A reason to click. You've got to give them a reason to click on that button. I love the ads where I see them and people go, “Phone now.” I'll tell you, I'm sitting there at 11:00 at night going through Facebook. 

The last thing I'm going to be doing is picking up the phone and ringing some martial arts guy to start his classes. And you know what happens by tomorrow? That's all worn off.

You've forgotten about the ad you read yesterday, you've moved on, and you're now worried about I've got to pick the kids up from school at 3:00. You're no longer considering enrolling them in anything. But if you've got a button there that says, “Click here, send us a message,” right this minute, people do it. 

They just go, “Oh, I'll do it now, click. Might as well while I'm sitting here at 11:00 with nothing to do,” and you can answer it tomorrow. So there are all sorts of reasons that we can use as to why our business doesn't grow. But most times, the reason it's not growing, sometimes you get to sit back and look at what you are.

A lot of people judge what other people can pay based on their own financial situation. And that's very, very dangerous to do that. If you do that, you'll always be in the financial situation that you've always been in. 

It's not going to change unless you change your thinking. I've always been a big thinker. I've always thought that at some point in time, we can make it. We're going to find something. And I searched for ages and I might have said it on 177 that-

GEORGE: 117.

LINDSAY:  117, whatever it was, 117 folks, if you're listening, go to 117. You'll hear the first half of this. So if you get to the stage where you start to think that people are not going to come in your dojo, they're not going to come in your dojo. 

There's no way they're ever going to come into your dojo because that's your mindset. But if you have the mindset that you want to build a business, that you want to make your martial arts center profitable, it mightn't be that you want to do it full time. You might just want to be able to pay the rent on the building. 

You might just want to be able to have a few bucks at the end of the week to buy a car and a beer and go for a surf, whatever that may be.

You have to set the structure, you have to set the wheels in motion to actually get that to happen in the first place. And the only way that will happen is to get students. And the only way to get students is to get students. 

So if I was to say to you, George, I'll tell you what I'll do. Every student you've been through my door tomorrow for me, I'm going to give you three grand. How many students within the next week do you reckon that you'd be able to bring in for me? You'd just keep bringing them in every day. 

Because what would you do? You'd be walking down the mall saying, “Hey look, have you ever thought of doing karate?” You'd be standing outside of popular kids' places with brochures, handing them out to parents and talking to them, “Hey, have you ever thought of having your kids do karate?” 101 of sales. Get to the masses, get to start talking to the people. And that's what we do.

So if you want to get students, you'll get students. You'll work out a way to get students. And if you don't know how to get students, ask someone who's got students, how they got students. But I could tell you the key to that, if they've got a lot of students, do what they tell you. 

If they have five students, maybe consider their knowledge and the information not quite what you are looking for. If they've got 500 students, do exactly as they tell you to do. Because what will hold you back is your preconceived notions, your thoughts about what people want, or the way you should be doing it.

So all of these guys have, in the past, been in the same position that you are in right now. They've had their five students, their six students. We all had to start with no students. And we get devastated when students leave. 

I remember one point in time when 100% of my students left in one night. Both of them walked out. But you've just got to start somewhere. And the place to start is at the beginning. 

You just talk to people who are doing what you want to be able to do. And if worse comes to worst, pay someone to help you do it because there's always that option too. There are forward-thinking a couple of people out there that do this martial arts, marketing media stuff. That'll give you a bit of a hand. 

And maybe you need to get on to one of those guys who is pretty good at this and just do what they say. I want to be able to leave a legacy for my children. And we've spoken about that a couple of times and a few of the other guys that we regularly communicate with also have that same attitude that we want to leave legacies for our children. 

Some people want to have a business that they can sell at some point in time. I want to have a business that I can leave to my oldest son, my youngest son. He's not completely with it in life. He doesn't do karate. He's actually an accountant so he does okay.

But for the eldest one, I had to do something for him. He is a great manager and I am so fortunate and so lucky to have someone who's so forward-thinking.

Now he's 23 years old and he comes up with far better ideas than what I come up with. And that's because he is 23 years old. 

He knows what people of a younger era and a younger age are looking for. He knows what their interests are. I'm nearly 60 years old. I've lost a little contact with what 15, 16, and 17-year-olds like. Lachlan runs our junior leader program and our young instructor program. 

And to be honest, he is absolutely brilliant at it. He relates well to the young guys. He's a likable character. He's a lot of fun.

He creates a lot of jokes. Much to my dismay, I'm trying to get him to be more serious, but for some reason, it doesn't work. But he just controls our leadership group. People say, “Oh it's all right for you. You've got help.” 

Well, if you've got 15, 16, or even 14-year-olds in your class, you've got help. You've got that ability to take those young people and train them to be helpers, to be young leaders because that's what we all need. We all need more instructors. We all need people that are going to be able to fill in for us and be able to take over from us when we get to the stage where we don't want to do it anymore. 

And where's the best place to get those people? Inside your dojo. So if you've got those young 13, 14, 15-year-olds and you're not actually letting them help, you're losing a valuable resource. You're just letting that valuable resource go.

They're there for you to train. And we've got them in our dojo now. We have red coats who are our junior leaders. They come out on the floor, they start about 12-year-old and they come out and they start helping our more junior classes. 

It's simply correcting them, getting to show them how to kick properly or how to do a lower block correctly. It might just be simply turning the fist over to make sure that their punch is correct.

We have what we call our blue coats who are our junior instructors and they have a junior instructor across their back. Once they reach junior instructor level, they then have the ability to maybe get paid for what they do. We don't believe in asking these students to instruct classes and just swapping them for lessons generally because they feel they don't get anything out of it. 

Because it's generally the parent who pays for the lesson. So it's the parent that's not having to pay and the kid doesn't get anything. So we still make all our junior instructors pay for their lessons, but we pay the junior instructor for the work that they're doing. So they get paid.

It's their first job. They feel proud that they're now getting a job, that they're earning pocket money, but then their teaching picks up with assistance from us. But also then, their karate just starts to skyrocket because of the training that they're doing, because of that expectation that we're putting on them to teach correctly their karate improves so much. 

And then once they get to the point where they are a paid instructor, they then become instructors. And we've only been doing this probably about since we've come back from COVID. Oh, the Big C. Since we've been coming back from the Big C.

So it hasn't been very long, but we've managed to get a great stable of people from inside of our ranks. If you've got them there, use them and they love it. You ask a kid, “Can you come and help?” And you see their eyes light up, you see their smile beam from ear to ear. It's very special for them. Let them do it. 

Even if it's just starting. Say you got them in one of your classes, and let them take the warm-up for 10 minutes. The effect that has on that child is unbelievable. And yet your retention rate goes up with all those kids. 

None of those kids ever stop unless something goes wrong on the outside that they don't come any longer. But they generally come because they've got this commitment for helping. They've got this commitment to work and they feel great about it. So let them help.

And then the great thing is then the other kids see it. So everybody that comes through our door now that we look at them as a potential instructor. So we've also put that in our welcome brochure as well to say, “Hey look, one day your kids could be junior instructors here.” 

We could have a job for them whilst they're attending high school, whilst they're attending university, whatever it may be. There may be a job here for them part-time instead of the regular jobs that they consider McDonald's, or KFC because it's just amazing that people don't think this is an occupation. Why not? 

We actually pay better. Our junior instructors, even at 16 and 17, get 22 or 23 bucks an hour. That's well above the board. Why are we paying that? So we keep them, so they don't go and get more shifts down at McDonald's and don't come to train here any longer because McDonald's rings them up on Tuesday and Thursday nights and wants them to work for them. Sorry, I got a job. 

So for the same time, they're doing three hours here, they'd have to do six hours at McDonald's virtually, or five hours at McDonald's for the same money. So we're then speaking to them. If we're going to look at expanding our dojo base, we then have to look at who's going to take those over in the future. We need students that we've trained, that we've produced in our systems that know the way we work, and that understand us to take over those dojos at some point in time. 

They can only come from here. So we have to embed that seed into all of the kids' heads that one day, this could be you. One day you could be operating one of our dojos for us at the least you could be training on our floor and earning a bit of cash for it whilst you're seeking your lifetime goal of becoming a forensic scientist or whatever it is you want to do.

GEORGE:  Love that. You are very fortunate to have someone like Lachlan working for you. And I noticed this when we got together in Brisbane at the Partners Intensive. He was engaged in every topic, clicked on everything, especially on the marketing aspect, asked the right questions, was keen to learn, great son, and is a great role model for the younger kids. 

I actually think I will have him on the podcast and it'd be great to have his perspective just working in the business and getting that young person's insight and perspective of how it is working in the business, but also teaching the younger kids and getting them motivated and on the right path.

LINDSAY:  See, at 23, he's hugely responsible and he knows that this is his future. So he can go out there and spend five years at university and get a degree and then work for somebody in Melbourne or Sydney and shift away from home, and work the most ridiculous hours. 

At 55, be burnt out because you've just given your blood in your life to some company that doesn't appreciate you all that well. Or he can have his own business, or he can work in the family business of teaching martial arts, which is a great life, a great journey. You get to travel a lot, you get to meet absolutely brilliant people. And he understands that.

At 23 years old, he's got a very smart business head and he understands that. And he understands that because that's the thing that we've taught him all his life. I can remember we'd go overseas when he was young and he'd say, “Dad, can I get a T-shirt?” And at 8-year-old you'd say, “Here mate, you got 10 bucks. Here, go and get one.” But they're 20. Not my problem mate. And he'd always come back with a 10-buck T-shirt because he'd haggled with the store owner.

GEORGE:  That's great.

LINDSAY:  We've got to teach our kids those life skills, George. And you've got your daughter there. You've got to teach her those life skills. When you travel, when you go overseas, you've got to let her start doing some things. You've got to say, “Hey, look. Here, take this up to the counter and tell them that we're checking in.”

I really enjoy belonging to our martial arts group. I really do. And every single time I'm there, I've been a little bit quiet lately. I've had a few things going through my mind. I think about a lot of things when we're there and people say stuff and I go, “Oh, I think about that,” which is good to hear that I actually think about things that we talk about.

But I do steal lots of information and it's really quite good. And I love the guys. I just love getting together with people and we just have fun. Life should be more about having fun. Forget being too serious.

Life's full of serious people who all blow up and have heart attacks at 55, don't get like that. Martial arts is a fantastic journey. I don't know anything out there like it. I've searched the world for occupations and I've done 75 of them. 

And this is the one thing that people say, “Why did you quit that? I got bored with it. Why'd you quit that job? I got bored with it.” I've been into martial arts. This is coming up to nearly 40 years. 

You think if I was going to be bored with it, it would be by now, wouldn't you? It's not. It's not. It's because of the people. Everybody's great. There you go.

GEORGE:  Love it. Cool, Lindsay. Well, thanks so much for jumping on again. Great to see your journey just evolve and I'll see you on the next call. Any last words before we wrap up?

LINDSAY:  I'm going to use the Nike theme here, George. Hey, guys. Just do it.

GEORGE:  100%.

LINDSAY:  Yeah. All right. We'll see you again.

GEORGE:  Thanks, Lindsay. Speak soon.

LINDSAY:  Thanks, George. Appreciate it. Bye-bye.

GEORGE:  Thanks so much for tuning in. Did you enjoy the show? Did you get some value from it? If so, please, please do us a favor and share it with someone you care about. Share it with another martial arts school owner or an instructor friend that might benefit from this episode. And I'd love to hear from you. 

If you got some good value out of it and you just want to reach out, send me a message on Instagram. My handle is George Fourie, G-E-O-R-G-E, last name F-O-U-R-I-E. And just send me a message and I'd love to hear from you if you've got some value from this.

And last but not least, if you need some help growing your martial arts school, need help with attracting the right students, increasing your signups, or retain more members, then get in touch with us. 

Go to our website, martialartsmedia.com/scale and we've got a short little questionnaire that just asks a few questions about your business to give us an idea of what it is that you have got going on. And then typically from that, we jump on a quick 10 or 15-minute call just to work out if or how we can be of help, not a sales call.

It's really a fit and discovery call for us to get an idea if we can be of help, and that's that. We'd love to hear from you and I'll see you in the next episode. Cheers.

 

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