Did you catch the first day of the NFL Draft? I may not watch a TON of NFL football, but I like to watch the draft.. Specifically, I like to watch people watching the draft. While the draft ‘on its own’ can be exciting at times, watching the reactions of a ton of other people is absolutely hilarious.
But in between listening to a bunch of guys 3 beers in, arguing about their teams prospects, if you’re paying attention, you can see a TON of insight into the goals of each organization, why some organizations seem to always win, and why some organizations always stink, no matter which draft pick they get.
What blew me away is how closely related the lessons learned from these decisions can be adapted to our martial arts businesses.
First, let’s look at some of the standout moments from the first night of the 2018 NFL draft.. (Disclaimer... I do NOT claim to be an NFL expert.. But these moves are obvious.. Even by the most casual of NFL fans)
Lesson #1 - Everybody wants the hot quarterback.. 2018 edition
The number one pick in the draft, by the Cleveland Browns, was a guy everybody loves to hate, Baker Mayfield. He’s a smaller quarterback with a host of ‘off the field’ issues. But I’m not here to debate whether he’s a good enough football player to offset those variables.
But there were 5 quarterbacks chosen in the top 20 picks! More than any other draft in the last decade. You can’t blame the teams though.. Who doesn’t want to draft the future hall of famer/franchise quarterback?
Quarterbacks are exciting.. They are the ‘sexy’ pick.. Everybody talks about them.. But there are SO MANY VARIABLES to take into consideration and more than half of the quarterbacks drafted in the first round don’t pan out.
While everybody in the bar was arguing back and forth about which one of these guys should have gone first, I couldn’t help but think that a bad or mediocre team picking a quarterback in the first round, is a lot like a martial arts academy dumping a bunch of money into facebook ads & skipping the work on building or improving their programs & systems.
Facebook ads are the ‘sexy quarterbacks’ of our industry.
Everybody has a different opinion on what makes the best FB ad.. When you debate it, you sound cool to other business owners.. And it’s definitely the hottest topic to talk about because it’s such a dynamic piece of the puzzle..
But smart teams don’t throw millions and millions at an unproven quarterback.. And smart business owners shouldn’t throw a ton of money at an untested facebook ad.. OR use a good FB ad to flood the pipeline of a school with poor quality or broken systems.
Even the best quarterback can’t fix a crappy defense. And a winning facebook ad won’t bring you new students if you can’t close a sale or your programs aren’t high quality.
Picks like this are often the reason why bad NFL teams stay bad.
And bouncing from shiny object to shiny object while ignoring the quality issues and systematic failures of your martial arts business are the reason why martial arts academies stay small, and owners get frustrated with the process of trying to grow.
Lesson #2 - Good teams.. That ALWAYS seem to be good, are immune to “Shiny New Object Syndrome.”
Teams that are great year after year have the confidence to pass on the exciting new (& unproven) quarterbacks and they tend to make the slightly boring, definitely ‘unsexy’ choices that fill the needs they have in their organization.
Case in point, the New England Patriots.
They picked a guard… I’m not here to debate whether Isaiah Wynn is a good choice. I honestly don’t know. But what I can see is that the Patriots picked a player that will play immediately. He will fix an immediate need and standout players in that position tend to have long, successful careers.
In the martial arts business, having one superstar employee can be great for a time, but developing a system within your business that is constantly training, building, and improving your entire staff creates MASSIVE bench depth. When you have 5+ staff members who are all very good, losing one of them doesn’t hurt as much as losing your superstar.
Lesson #3 (still from the Patriots) - Fix an immediate need with a solution that will pay dividends for years to come.
Just like the best teams in the NFL fill holes in their organization with immediate fixes, martial arts business owners need to learn to address the immediate leaks and plug the holes. And 9 times out of 10, the main problem in a martial arts business is appointment setting and follow up.
While facebook ads may be exciting.. Having a solid appointment setting team is essential. But talking with other owners about getting better at answering the phone or following up with emails isn’t nearly as cool. And a lot of owners continue to invest their resources in ads over systems.
But, the academies that you hear consistently sign up 30+ members per month focus their resources on creating strong systems, identifying weaknesses, and working to immediately remedy those issues, so that the entire ship floats a little higher. They rise to the top.. And they stay there.
Lesson #4 - If you want to run with the big dogs.. Do what the big dogs do.
Case in point. The Detroit Lions.
The Lions record can be described as a solid, “meh” for decades. The debate I’ve heard over and over again is “Are the Lions a Bad, Good team? Or a Good, Bad team?” Over the years, they’ve made solid picks, they gained some momentum here and there, but ultimately, they never break through to become truly successful.
They are the perfect illustration of an organization on a plateau.
But they want to become better.. They want to be like the Patriots.. So what did the Lions do?
They hired the GM from the Patriots.. Who then hired the new head coach.. From the Patriots coaching staff.. Who then drafted.. A ‘boring’ pick.. Like the Patriots.
The Lions picked a center.. A confident and unsexy pick for a team and a fanbase that desperately wants a superstar. But instead of jumping at a superstar hopeful, the Lions are trying to build a strong foundation, putting in place the same types of systems, and bringing in the same types of key players as one of the most successful teams in the league.
If you want to be successful.. Do what successful people do.
If you want to run a successful business.. Run it the way that successful businesses run.
Find one strategy and stick with it.
Time will tell if the Lions will be able to keep their focus and stick to their plan of recreating the proven systems of the Patriots.. They’ve got other owners and outside interests who might get impatient in the process. But if they commit to the plan, do the work, and go the distance, they will break through and they will be successful.
In your business, you actually have an easier time, because you don’t have a billionaire owner dangling your job over your head and influencing your decisions.
It’s just you.
And as an martial arts academy owner, it’s completely within your grasp to build a successful business.
Simply find a system that has produced thriving academies over and over again, all over the country, commit to one plan, put in the work, & see it through to the end. Stay the course and you’re sure to see new levels of success.
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