It has now been little over a year since a Covid-19 lockdown was first ordered in the UK and the daily lives of all were changed entirely. Looking back over the previous 12 months, the team at NEST Management reflects on the impact of lockdown and how the martial arts industry it supplies has used its systems to adapt.
NEST in a specialist supplier of cash-flow and membership solutions to over 700 martial arts clubs in the UK, with online services, attendance management solutions and business development guidance all a part of its offering. Yet, despite its vast array of services to the sector, managing director Gerard Turvey has admitted that the last year was the hardest in all of NEST’s years in business.
With many martial arts businesses instantly facing a plethora of issues, the priority instantly became helping to save as much of the industry as possible.
Turvey said: “NEST has been working tirelessly to help save the businesses we work with. There are a range of things we’ve done, but it has involved every department and we’ve focused all our attention on saving as man of our clients as we can.
“We are absolutely passionate about martial arts in the wider sense. Yes, we are a business that fundamentally collects money for clients, and we have a range of tools such as software tools, templates, guidance and websites, that will help a client from end to end to create a successful business. But we aren’t just a billing company. We are much more of a support business for the clients we work with.”
In order to help its clients keep afloat, NEST completely deviated from its 2020 business plan and instead made its priority to focus on providing better functionality for the pandemic, which included new systems to help martial arts businesses better reach their students within their own homes, and interpreting guidelines to help them better understand how Covid-19 guidelines affected them.
Sean McGuiggan from NEST’s IT department commented: “We implemented new systems to allow companies to SMS their students and keep them informed. We also brought in something called ‘My MA Members’ to allow instructors to provide online classes and additional content during lockdown when social distancing and restrictions made physical classes impossible. The ‘My MA App’ that already existed was also improved to assist with this.”
Explaining how NEST helped clients interpret coronavirus guidance, NEST’s Louisa Turchet said: “We understood that government guidance wasn’t specifically related to martial arts, so we put a team together to monitor the guidance and feed it back to clients in an understandable way so they could protect themselves and keep pupils safe. We put an online page on our website together for clients and the wider industry to help provide updates, and we worked with solicitors who helped us with this and spoke to clients themselves via a Facebook webinar.
“In terms of the exact material we provided, we supplied robust indoor and outdoor risk assessments, material for instructors to send to students to keep them regularly informed, and helpful worksheet resources which clients could forward onto students to complement their online training.”
With Covid restrictions also preventing physical martial arts classes from taking place, Joe Marshall from NEST’s marketing department explained that the emphasis on marketing also had to be changed to begin to target students online and maintain an income stream for clients.
Marshall explained: “All our marketing changed to focus on bringing in online students. We also introduced a lot of new engagement material through our resources such as downloads, quiz packs and word searches to help engage with existing clients and maintain good rates of student retention for clients. Many of our clients had never done martial arts classes over Zoom before, so we did a lot of training on Zoom classes and how to effectively conduct sessions in this way.
“We also worked with our clients on new social media strategies to help target a new cohort of prospective students online. As a result, clients now have potential remote students all over the world and not just isolated to their local area, their online websites are far more robust and we have campaigns now available and ready to go for advertising both in-person sessions for when restrictions lift, and the online classes that have been going on.”