Customer Focus: Scorpion Jiu-Jitsu
Over the last 20 years Steven has studied many different styles of martial arts, which has lead to the development of his own style – Combat Jiu Jitsu. He now owns a successful full time location and runs a very popular ‘bully-proof’ programme for his younger students.
What first made you decide to get involved in martial arts?
I started training as a kid, and since then have studied many different styles of martial arts. I served a career in the armed forces which gave me the opportunity to meet different instructors, of different styles and I took every chance to do so. I come from a traditional martial arts background but over the past 20 years I have been constantly evolving. There is nothing traditional about my style of Jiu Jitsu anymore. I call it ‘Old Skool’ with a modern flare!
When and how did you decide to set up your own location?
I taught unarmed combat in the forces and coached the Royal Navy & Royal Marines martial arts squad. When I left, my services were retained by the Military of Defence and I continued to teach the service guys as a civilian. I then set up and ran a security company. Due to the violent nature of the work that we were undertaking, we made martial arts or more specifically combat Jiu Jitsu training part of our daily routine. To do this I set up my first location, a small dojo behind my offices where I started to train all of my staff. As a sideline, I continued to teach martial arts to the public sector here too. At first only teaching service men, but then expanding to the police, prison service and security services. I even did some tailored work for NHS workers and the private corporate sector, but all my students were people who needed combat skills for real life situations, rather than for the ‘feel good factor’.
Were there any challenges to face when doing this and how did you overcome them?
There were no problems at all as I already had premises and the security business absorbed the set up costs. It was always a hobby for me and my guys, a pastime which made our jobs easier and safer. The better we were the safer we and our clients were. Soon the reputation of what we were doing spread and then outsiders started to ask if I could train them. My club just evolved really.
When I moved back to Manchester from the South Coast (nearly 15 years ago), I never expected to open another club! I started to teach and train Jiu Jitsu with a guy I knew who wanted to learn, just to keep my hand in, but that was all. Then I started to teach my boys, then my nephews, then their schoolmates and then BOOM! I opened my second dojo… again it just evolved. I’d say that over the years 90% of my business has been word of mouth based on reputation.
Since you have been with NEST you have grown your school and gained an average of 10.25 students per month! What do you think attracts people to your school?
Honesty… First and foremost you must be honest with your clients. Tell them what you do but more importantly what you don’t do. If it’s not something that you can provide, don’t be afraid to send them to another club. We train for the day that you hope will never come and don’t train for sport or competition. It’s too easy to say yes to every prospective client but if you can’t back it up you will soon be found out. Everyone is treated as an individual and we cater for their individual needs. We don’t mix age groups and if I need to put on extra classes I do. I don’t need an excuse not to go to work, I love to be there! I even give free lessons on a Sunday! Nobody can doubt my integrity, honest and sincerity and I believe it comes across in my tuition, as our reviews are fantastic.
I notice that you use many of the services NEST offers including their marketing materials. What kind of marketing activities to you undertake for student acquisition?
Most of my marketing is done through social media; Facebook, Twitter etc. I have used the flyers that NEST produce and follow the marketing schedule that they recommend, but as most of my business comes from word of mouth marketing, I don’t need to do too many other activities for student acquisition.
Where do you find your inspiration what is it that keeps you going?
I have been teaching professionally for 20 years and in that time have taught 1000’s of people from all walks of life, each with varying goals. My inspiration comes from seeing individual development. I never tire of it and its worth its weight in gold.
Have you noticed any recent trends in Jiu Jitsu?
There seems to be a sport/street battle going on via social media in the Jiu Jitsu world at the moment. I don’t get involved in any of it and I ask my students not to either. They say that there is no such thing as bad publicity and I’ve noticed that the more these people argue, the more hits I get on my website… Keep it up guys!
Do you have any classes that are growing rapidly at the moment?
My ‘Bully Proof’ programme is second to none. I work really hard at keeping it relevant and up to date and it is now the backbone of the club! We invest in our youngsters because they most definitely are our future. The programme addresses current issues but doesn’t get too heavy or bogged down, so it’s still enjoyable for the students. I like to keep it high energy and fun, with many of the lessons being leaned through playing games. We start with a smile and end with a smile and have plenty of fooling around in the middle!
That said, my women’s Self Defence and Adult Jiu Jitsu classes have never been more popular. I believe in providing martial arts/self defence training for the whole community. Not just for people who want to be a UFC star or win medals. Everybody! To me, that means specific to type scenario training is essential. ‘Bully Proof’ training for kids, Anti-sexual assault training for Women’s Self Defence classes and general Jiu Jitsu Self Defence training for adults. I have whole families training across all the programs, so it seems to be working really well!
Why did you decide to join the NEST family?
I’m a martial artist who runs a business. I’m not a business man who teaches martial arts. There is a subtle difference there. I’ve never been interested in sitting behind a desk, I’m supposed to be on the mat! The infrastructure that the NEST team put in place allows me to do that. Before, I found that the more students that joined, the less Jiu Jitsu I was doing and the more I got bogged down in admin. That is no longer the case. NEST have put an extremely efficient set of business management tools at my disposal which allows me to be where I should be – teaching Jiu Jitsu!
You already use many of our services, including Get into Martial Arts, Attendance Tracking, Grading, Licensing, reports and the Prospect database, but what affect has this has on your student and prospect administration?
As I use Macs, initially some of the report export functions weren’t working as they should have but the IT staff at NEST worked closely with me to resolve this. The fact that all the info is to hand is a great help and now that I can sort all of my students by grade, by attendance, by classes, by age etc is a great help as my training calendar passes through it’s various phases. The GIMA booking website has been an invaluable tool too. I no longer have to be totally reliant on being able to answer phone calls to generate leads and bookings. The ‘Book Now’ facility on Facebook and on my website does the job nicely. It frees me up to do what I love to do and that is teach.
What future aspirations do you have for your business?
For me now I couldn’t ask for more, my school is at 95% capacity and I absolutely love to go to work every day. No day is the same and I count my blessings every day that I’m allowed to earn a living in such a rewarding profession.
My aspirations I suppose are that Scorpion Jiu Jitsu doesn’t disappear with me. I have assistant instructors who started with me when they were young kids and I have taught them ever since. It would be nice to think that one of these guys will go on to open their own branches of ‘Scorpion Jiu Jitsu’ and open up schools. Our message is strong and our product is good. It would be a shame if the curtain came down when I bow off the mat.
Threes of me:
Three things that always make you smile:
My lovely lady Jane, my family & my dogs
Your three favourite movie stars:
DeNiro, Pachino & Eastwood
Three favourite films:
Godfather 1, 2 & 3
(Interview from June 2016 )