We catch up with the martial arts expert, Michael Jackson’s ex-bodyguard and managing director of Matt Fiddes Group
What does your current role entail?
MF: We have over 1,000 Matt Fiddes martial arts schools all around the world, but my main job is to assist with marketing, spread brand awareness and spearhead expansion plans. I also deal with problems – to be honest, the only time people contact me is when an issue needs resolving! The business has been in operation for over 22 years now, and we’ve got everything down to a tee – if a problem arises, it’s likely we already have the answer.
What excites you about the world of franchising?
MF: I relish ensuring that the quality and standard I expect remains intact and it doesn’t water down with our expansion plans. I also enjoy encouraging our franchisees to network, as we’re one big family – we have intentional business meetings online and we all solve problems together.
“I’m a multimillionaire who still can’t write and has no qualifications!”
Why did you franchise the business?
MF: I had 118 schools that I owned, but they were in partnership with different instructors and it was admin hell – if an instructor became unavailable, covering the class was a nightmare. I was in partnerships with people I hadn’t even met before! I thought I couldn’t take the business any further. I then had a conversation with Michael Jackson, who told me that I’ve got to go down the franchise route – he was my introduction to the business model itself. He franchised his name and brand out to major corporations – he knew all about licensing and franchising, and he inspired me to take that path. He’d call me every couple of weeks and ask how I was getting on – one year after our initial conversation, we were selling 400 franchises a year.
Why martial arts?
MF: I was quite severely bulled as a child, so I went to a few free martial arts lessons, and they changed my life. I was terrible in school – I still can’t write as the school thought I was right-handed but in fact, I was left-handed, and I departed school with no qualifications. I’m a multimillionaire who still can’t write and has no qualifications! However, I realized I was great at martial arts, and that inspired me to leave school with a vision to become a world-renowned expert and open martial arts schools around the world. I want to motivate kids that have had the same academic experience as me that they can be good at something outside of school. The person who originally bullied me later on got in contact to ask if I’d forgive him – the experience was captured as part of a television program. I told him that if he hadn’t of bullied me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. He now works for me.
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