Well, I said I didn’t see it happening anytime soon, but it looks like the UFC may coming to your home town after all.
And it ain’t going to be pretty.
Yesterday, Dana White of the UFC announced the launch of a nationwide chain of UFC branded gyms. White says he’s partnered with a private equity firm to help fund the venture (read: a bunch of people with a lot of freaking money). White’s partner, Mark Mastrov, says they have plans to open between 5 and 10 locations in the next 6-12 months.
That’s a very aggressive launch, and I don’t doubt that they’ll be able to do just that. In fact, if you operate a school in a large market (like Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Houston, Las Vegas, etc.) you should probably expect to be competing with the UFC very soon.
Yep, that’s right… you can expect to be going head-to-head with the biggest marketing juggernaut the martial arts industry has ever seen.
So, Should Martial Art School Owners Be Worried?
In a nutshell, yes. The UFC has the power and financial backing to do what no one else has done before – and that’s take martial arts instruction and training into the big box gyms.
Just imagine what it would be like if Bally’s, Gold’s, 24-Hour, or World Gym started hiring martial arts instructors and offered a full compliment of martial arts classes, that their members could take in an a la carte fashion… all incuded for their $20 – $40 a month membership price.
I think you can see where this is going. Even though White and Mastrov say they’re going after all those big-box gyms I just mentioned above, this bears some very bad mojo for martial arts school owners as well.
(And think about this for a second… if you have UFC equipment, hats, t-shirts, heavy bags, mma gloves, etc. on display or for sale in your school, you could very well be advertising for your future competition.)
So, Are There Any School Owners That Don’t Need to Be Concerned?
Yes, and here they are in no particular order:
- Martial art schools that have extremely low overhead and high profit margins; basically, those schools that follow a Small Dojo, Big Profits business model. (If you’ve been doing well during this recession by following such a model, you’re on the right track.)
- Martial art schools that cater to children, or that earn a significant portion of their income from teaching kids –
- Martial art schools that cater to families, and those that offer a family-friendly environment –
- Martial art schools in smaller communities and markets; chiefly those that don’t already have one of the big chain gyms in their area –
- Martial art schools that are owned and operated by savvy instructors who know how to capitalize on the UFC’s popularity (see below).
But, Here’s The Good News…
But, there is an upside to all this. Once again, the UFC is going to be doing something that no one else has been able to do on the same massive scale in the history of the martial arts industry.
And, that’s to introduce martial arts to the masses. So, it’s going to be up to the individual, independent school owner to capitalize on the UFC’s move into the fitness market, and to turn that to their favor.
By doing what I’ve been telling you to do all along… and it’s the exact same thing that the most successful independent personal trainers in the fitness industry have been doing for years:
- Go small.
- Go niche.
- Go personal.
- Go boutique.
- Charge more.
- And, offer a higher quality of service than the big-box gyms can possibly ever offer.
In other words, don’t try to beat Wal-Mart at their own game. Specialize by picking a niche and do it better than anyone else in your market. (And you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be coaching my clients on how to do exactly that in 2009.)
A Few Parting Thoughts
Overall, since Dana White took over the UFC has been very good for the martial arts industry in general. Dana has taken a sport that had become something of an embarrassment to the industry, and he turned it into a household name.
And, in doing so, he’s helped bring a lot of business to martial arts schools worldwide.
So, if you end up with a UFC gym in your backyard, and you can’t find a way to turn the increased awareness and public interest in the martial arts that it’s going to bring into more business for your school, then don’t blame Dana White.
Instead, blame yourself for not figuring out your game plan now when I first told you about this potentially huge change in the martial arts industry.