As many businesses across the UK are struggling to stay afloat, one martial arts franchise has reported that their schools have increased in student numbers and are now over and above pre-lockdown figures.
Matt Fiddes is one of the most respected fitness and martial arts experts in the world. He was Michael Jackson’s UK bodyguard and is managing director of the Matt Fiddes Group, which includes the world’s largest martial arts chain MF Martial Arts that has more than 1,018 schools worldwide. As well as owning this huge chain, Matt also franchised MF Pilates, Yoga, Dance and First Aid with huge success.
When the pandemic hit, all of the schools within the MF brand quickly pivoted their model to online teaching to ensure that the children, teenagers and adults were able to continue their training. With the ever-changing news situation, Matt and his team took full control of communication to ensure that every franchisee understood what the regulations were and how to manage a Covid-secure reopening process.
“I was probably busier than I’ve been in years working on the marketing, spreading brand awareness and also thinking about expansion plans,” says Matt. “When lockdown happened, I knew that children’s mental health could suffer without the structure and support that our classes give them so we quickly pivoted to online teaching and then followed all guidelines to reopen as soon as it was safe to do so. MF Martial Arts and brand is bigger than we’ve ever been and I’m very grateful to my team for their knowledge and experience which has allowed our franchisees to continue to grow despite the current situation. During this second lockdown, we are more prepared than ever before so we can keep providing the service that we know our customers want.”
As soon as the Government gave the go-ahead, MF Martial Arts schools reopened and with the marketing in place, schools reported that they had a huge surge of new student enquiries.
Pat O’Driscoll from the MF Group has more than 60 locations offering a range of martial arts and dance schools. He invested in his first franchise 15 years ago and now has around four thousand students within his territories. During lockdown, he lost more than 1,500 students but by implementing the strategies that Matt has taught him, he is currently sitting at student numbers that are 7% higher than they were in January. “With Matt’s help, we made sure that we were absolutely ready for when we came out of lockdown,” says Pat. “We stayed in weekly contact with our venues, poured our resources into marketing and had total belief that we would come out of this stronger than before. Every grant I received I put back into the brand and restocking uniforms and was actually really excited to be able to reach out to families with a solution to their concerns about the effects of lockdown on their children. During the pandemic, survival mode kicked in but never desperation mode. I have total belief in what we do and made sure that my teams shared my confidence.”
Even with a second lockdown, the MF Group have the resilience and most importantly, the business offering two once again come out of this strongly as Matt explains: “Lockdown showed that children really do thrive with routine and regular exercise. Children may be the least affected in terms of physical health by Covid, but they have definitely suffered the most in terms of missing out on crucial social interactions, which in turn could cause their mental health to suffer. We’ve been flooded with enquiries from parents who are concerned with how the lockdown has impacted their children. Months of isolation and limited chance to play and exercise has caused concern about mental and physical health. What we do is bring back good routine and discipline which in turn improves children’s behaviour and achievement at both school and home. ”
To further support Matt’s strategy to grow throughout the pandemic, he has also launched MF Consultancy to share with other businesses and franchisors his knowledge of franchising and how to run a global brand, which he started more than 20 years ago on the advice of Michael Jackson.
“Michael was my introduction to the business model itself because he had franchised his name and brand to major corporations,” explains Michael. “He knew all about it and inspired me to take that path. Today, I’m taking what I’ve learnt to guide other franchisors and entrepreneurs, especially during these challenging times.”
One of MF Consultancy’s first clients include Razzamataz Theatre Schools, a UK network of performing arts franchises that is on an exciting journey of expansion. With the support and training from the theatre school’s Head Office and Matt’s expert guidance and strategic marketing input, all of the schools have now reopened and student enquiries are flooding in.
“Matt brings with him so much experience but the most exciting thing is that our goals in helping young people reach their full potential are very much aligned,” says MD and Founder of Razzamataz, Denise Hutton-Gosney. “Although Matt has a huge contact list and tons of experience, he’s really hands-on and is helping all of our franchisees, from the real high flyers to those that have just started with us. He’s so approachable, knowledgeable and has a great positive energy which is something that is very much welcomed after what we have all been through.”
MF Consultancy works with a wide range of clients and is a support to businesses that want to learn how to scale and those that are interested in franchising. A weekly Zoom call and regular email support allows Matt to set goals, hold the client accountable and to help them understand where and how they can grow. As well as theatre schools, MF Consultancy is working with estate agents, tennis academies, football academies, accountants, letting agencies and well-being coaches.
Podcaster, therapist and coach Lisa Mustard has seen the benefits of working with Matt and the positive impact on her business. “Matt helps me stay accountable and on target to continually reach my goals,” says Lisa. “He has helped me tremendously in identifying which income producing activities are worthwhile and where to spend my time and energy when it comes to scaling my businesses. I truly appreciate his insight and support. He is extremely genuine and authentic and I’m grateful to have crossed paths with him.”
Adapting has been one of the key messages this year and many more people are looking at ways to stay relevant. “People in business have been through a lot and are nervous about what the future holds,” adds Matt. “However, I have proved that you can continue to grow if you put the right measures in place so you can come out of this stronger than ever. I’ve worked with a lot of high profile people both in the UK and worldwide and have learnt so much from these highly successful individuals. MF Consultancy is a collaboration of everything I have experienced in business and learnings from some of the most successful entrepreneurs from the past twenty years. Now is the time to future-proof your business and continue to make it relevant for years to come.”
To contact Matt and his team about MF Consultancy or MF Martial Arts email: email@example.com