As you gear up for competition season, there are probably a lot of things on your mind. Once you’ve gotten costumes and music squared away, it’s also worth your while to double-check that you’re adhering to dance competition rules. This may seem like a menial task, but it can save you a serious headache if you get the details cleared away before the day of the competition.
Here are some important recommendations when it comes to double-checking that your competition team is following all the necessary rules.
If you have multiple teams and soloists performing at a competition, sometimes the paperwork can get a little mixed up, especially if you’re rushing through the documents. Once you’ve finished filling out entry forms, The Dance Exec recommended that you go back through all the entries and double-check that student’s names are spelled correctly and their birth dates are accurate. This process will likely take a few extra minutes, but it can save you time trying to correct inaccurate information on the day of the competition.
It’s also best to take an hour or two before big competitions to ensure your routines adhere to the competition guidelines. You should look into the following items for each group that you’re entering:
Acrobatic requirements or limits
Use of props
Double-checking dance competition rules is an especially important step if you’re attending an event that you’ve never entered before. The requirements and limitations can vary significantly between competitions, so be sure to do adequate research. When in doubt, it’s best to contact the organization to clarify your confusions than risk being disqualified for not meeting regulations. However, even if your dancers have participated in the competition for a number of years, it’s still a good idea to make sure there haven’t been any rule changes.
Another set of dance competition rules that are worth double-checking are the various performance levels. Depending on what event your dancers are attending, there will be different guidelines that regulate whether they’re classified as recreational, intermediate, elite, adult or another category. Some competitions differentiate performance levels based on age, years of competition experience or hours of class per week.
Classification is often left to the teacher or studio owner, so be sure to carefully read through the guidelines on each performance level. If your dancers are competing at the wrong level, they could be subject to point deductions or disqualification. Not to mention that putting dancers in the wrong category will often undermine their competition experience. The purpose of these events should be to help your students grow as performers and test their skills against peers, and your dancers won’t be able to do that if they’re not on a level playing field with other studios.
If you’re new to the competition circuit, you’ll quickly learn that there are some dance competition rules that aren’t always written down. One notable example is the costumes your teams wear – some events may not have specific costume guidelines, but what your dancers wear can still impact their scores.
Dance magazine explained that competition teams should always have age-appropriate and professional costumes. The judges are watching the moment dancers take the stage, and their first impression will be based mostly on what the performers are dressed in. If a group of young dancers are wearing rhinestone bras and short shorts, the adjudicators may immediately have a negative opinion of the group.
“It could be amazing choreography, but I’ve already formulated the thought, ‘I wish those kids were wearing a shirt or some clothes’ before they’ve even danced,” Brandon Cournay, a judge for the Headliners Dance Competition, explained to Dance magazine.
The publication noted that many judges will deduct points or even disqualify for inappropriate wardrobe choices, so you’ll want to put adequate time and consideration in your dancers’ competition costumes.
Certain competitions have guidelines for spectators, so be sure to check these out and pass them along to any parents who are attending the event. It may not seem like a big deal, but Dance Teacher magazine explained that sometimes judges will dock points off a team’s score if their fans are behaving inappropriately.
“We even take points off for certain routines where parents or teachers – even though they’ve been warned – continually take video,” Brendan Buchanan of BravO! Dance and Talent Competition explained to Dance Teacher magazine.
It may be helpful to have a pre-competition meeting with parents and students and explain what’s expected of them. This is also a good opportunity to go over good sportsmanship practices and ensure everyone is squared away on the details of the big day!
Are you hiring new teachers for your studio? Or, revisiting your teacher contracts? If so, you’re probably considering what to expect from your employees. After all, it’s seldom that dance teachers are required to simply show up and teach class – there’s so much more to the role! Having clear expectations for teachers makes for a successful school. Consider these points when laying out dance teacher responsibilities at your studio.
Responsibilities in the Classroom
There are a number of “givens” that you can expect from any employees working in your studio. These include showing up on time, behaving professionally, being prepared and respectful, and successfully teaching the students. However, there are also a number of supplementary responsibilities that you may also want to outline in a teacher’s contract. The UNITY Dance Organizations explained that dance educators should always provide a safe environment for their students, both physically and emotionally. Additionally, it is important that they serve as role models for dancers in terms of sportsmanship, lifestyle choices and attitude.
Expectations Outside of Teaching
There are a number of dance teacher responsibilities outside the classroom. On a daily basis, teachers should be respectful and supportive of other staff members and as open as possible regarding studio matters. Many studios expect their instructors to become familiar with the parents of their students and help to enforce policies on dress code and behavior. These are pretty standard tasks that you do not need to offer additional compensation for. However, be sure to clearly outline these responsibilities in your employment contracts so teachers know what is expected of them.
When Additional Compensation is Required
Outside of these standard responsibilities, there are instances where you may have to offer additional compensation to your instructors. DanceStudioOwner.com explained that many studios pay their teachers extra to attend certain yearly events, such as open houses, competitions and auditions. Similarly, extra tasks like choreographing routines and conducting private lessons should be compensated accordingly. You’ll want to outline your policies and rates for these tasks before hiring new teachers. This way everyone will be on the same page as to what is part of the job description and what is considered extra work.
A viral video can do wonders for any brand. However, even if you don’t film the next YouTube sensation, you should still be using clips of life at your dance studio to engage your social media followers and reel in new customers. Video Brewery estimated that website visitors are 64 percent more likely to purchase services or products after they watch a branded video, and many marketers tout video marketing as one of the best ways to engage viewers. That’s all great in theory, but the truth is that some people are all thumbs when it comes to filming videos. If you’re struggling to capture clips that reflect well on your studio and capture the interest of online viewers, use these five tips to produce better dance studio videos.
1. Quality is King
A video that is unfocused, pixelated and shaky isn’t going to be enjoyable for viewers to watch. You don’t need to have professional video equipment, but try your best to shoot high-quality clips. The latest generations of smartphones have impressive video capabilities, so be sure to focus the lens and frame your subject when capturing video. If you’re working with a camera, you may want to pick up an inexpensive tripod to help stabilize your shots.
Que Publishing noted that shooting the right size video can also make a big difference in your results. YouTube’s default size is 320 pixels wide and 240 pixels tall, so this should be your minimum constraint. Whenever possible, shoot clips horizontally so you’re filling up a viewer’s entire screen.
2. Aim for Short and Sweet
10-minute dance studio videos of rehearsal might be enjoyable for parents, but that’s probably the only people who will watch it. Video Brewery noted that you’ll quickly lose viewers after your videos hit the one-minute mark. Short, impactful videos are also shared more frequently. Try to cut your clips down and frame only the highlights for viewers. This will help deliver your message with a powerful punch.
3. Shoot Often
You’ve probably told your students that practice makes perfect, and the same holds true for your video skills. The more frequently you work with your recorder, the more comfortable you’ll become and the more great shots you’ll capture. Try to pick up your camera or phone at least once a day and shoot a few frames. You’ll quickly build up a library of great clips that showcase the best parts of your studio. These are valuable to have stored away if you ever decide to compile in-depth marketing videos.
4. Show, Don’t Tell
The best videos capture some sentiment or activity that wouldn’t be adequately explained in words or pictures. One Market Media explained that you shouldn’t use videos to simply dictate information to viewers. The content should be instrumental in giving people insight into your studio’s culture or services. Some good examples might be a particularly well-executed combination or a great client testimonial. However, be sure that testimonials aren’t overly scripted, or else they may come across as phony.
5. Be Sure to Share
The ways your promote your dance studio videos are as important as the quality and content of the film. Don’t expect people to find your YouTube account – instead, share videos on social media like Facebook and Twitter. If you create longer films, you may want to imbed them in your website’s landing pages to supplement your promotional material. When more people see your videos, they’ll be more likely to share with friends and family, thereby optimizing the impact of the clip. However, don’t forget to have students and their parents sign release waivers so you can use your videos for promotional purposes.
When it comes to marketing and communicating with your clientele, few mediums are as easy and inexpensive as email. Most people have round-the-clock access to email via their smartphones, so it’s a great way to keep in touch with your MVPs – most valuable parents! Here are a few suggestions on how to make the most of a digital dance studio newsletter and send out content that your customers are actually going to read.
Have a Clear Purpose
If you’re going to send out a studio newsletter to your parents and students, you should have a defined goal for the email. Otherwise, you may end up with a rather jumbled, unfocused newsletter that’s ultimately uninteresting to your recipients. HubSpot recommended that all e-newsletters have a common thread that ties the content together. So when you’re coming up on recital season, you might send an email that has performance-related tips and tricks, along with your recital schedule and how to purchase tickets. During your registration period, a influential newsletter might contain an article on the benefits of dance, a list of new class offerings and details about your early bird specials. When your newsletter has a clear purpose, it will be much more engaging to readers and serve as a valuable marketing tool.
Craft an Awesome Subject
When you see a book with a boring, generic title, do you feel compelled to read it? Probably not. The same holds true for emails with boring subject lines. The subject is the first thing a reader sees, so it sets the tone for the whole newsletter. If you send an email with the subject “Studio Updates,” your recipients may very well put off opening it. Inc. magazine recommended keeping your subject between five and seven words and changing it up with every subsequent email. For a newsletter during registration season, a compelling subject might be something like, “Early bird discounts on new classes are going fast!”
Populate with Compelling Content
Once you’ve established a purpose for your newsletter and crafted a pithy and engaging subject line, it’s time to focus on the bread and butter of the email. Each and every newsletter needs to have compelling content if you want your readers to continually open the emails. It doesn’t have to be award-winning journalism, but you should certainly put some thought and effort into your content. On Suite.io, former studio owner Terry Finch suggested using the following prompts to get started on newsletter content:
Reviews of previous performances or competitions
Interviews with industry professionals
Tips from teachers or choreographers
Question-and-answer sessions with students
Dance industry news
Exciting studio announcements
Original content relating to the newsletter theme.
HubSpot noted that a good balance of content is 90 percent educational and 10 percent promotional, so be sure to add a call to action at the end, but keep it short and sweet.
Don’t Forget Aesthetics
With all the newsletter programs available online, there’s really no need to pay for a platform. However, be sure to use a template that will make your emails look professional. It’s important that your newsletter is easy to read, organized and overall aesthetically pleasing. An email that is jumbled and not intuitive to read will lose the interest of recipients and possibly result in people unsubscribing. When it doubt, keep it simple – don’t go overboard with fonts and colors. You should also choose a template that is optimized for mobile viewing so busy parents and students can scroll through the email on their phones.
If you follow these easy steps as a guide, you’ll quickly learn to put together great newsletters that will engage your customers and serve as supplementary marketing material for your studio.
You probably have some big goals for your studio in 2015, whether it’s to increase enrollment, diversify your class offerings or stage a bigger and better recital. While you work toward these objectives, it’s also important to take note of a few big dance studio trends that are at work within the industry. Dance studios need to keep up with the latest trends if they want to remain competitive, so think about how you can incorporate these changes into your business.
1. Digital Here, There and Everywhere
If you’re still not quite computer savvy, now is the time to catch up. Unfortunately for the computer illiterate, the dance industry is quickly embracing all the wonders the Internet has to offer. Dancers and their parents like to keep up on studio news through emails, text messages and social media sites. It’s also a good idea to reassess your studio website and see if it needs to be updated or otherwise improved. Consumers frequently use digital devices to access websites, so be sure your site is optimized for mobile viewing. All these little steps will help to ensure students new and old can quickly and efficiently get the information they need.
2. Increased Emphasis on Culture
Another aspect of your studio that might need a facelift is your mission statement. If you’re located in a competitive area, it’s essential that you have clear goals and policies that set your school apart. DanceStudioOwner.com explained that students want to feel as though they’re part of the culture of your studio. Play up the atmosphere, morals and opportunities that your business offers in your advertising this year. It may very well help you achieve your other goals too!
3. Cultural Dance Trends
Sometimes it can be beneficial to switch up your class offerings in an unexpected way. If you want to give your students a unique learning opportunity but aren’t sure what direction to go in, you may want to consider offering some cultural dance classes. For several years, the Zumba craze has been introducing dancers to steps from around the world, and the Upstart Business Journal noted that Bollywood-inspired dance classes will likely be a hit this year. If you have the resources to offer this type of cultural dance, it can certainly bring in new students and help your current pupils expand their repertoires.
4. Biketards Take Center Stage
Tired of selling the same old sparkly leotards? If so, then you’re in luck. There’s a new dance costume movement that’s gaining steam, and it features the biketard. Dance Hub explained that these costumes offer a little more coverage than traditional leos while still allowing seamless movement. They come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, and you can choose skirted options as well. Biketards are especially popular for lyrical performances, so look into these costumes when you’re planning your 2015 recital.
5. Positive Reviews are Powerful
Finally, be sure to keep an eye on your studio’s ratings on sites like Yelp and Facebook. Forbes magazine noted that 75 percent of consumers look at online reviews before purchasing a product or service. If your ratings are a little lower than your competitors, it could hurt your business, so take steps to ethically improve your online reviews. This can be as simple as asking a few of your long-time parents to jot down their thoughts online. Even small steps can go a long way toward improving your studio’s online presence and capturing the attention of potential students.
In the digital world, every dance studio needs a website, and every site needs an “About Us” section. This page is often home to information about the studio and classes, but it’s also essential to give viewers a little bit of insight into the teachers, directors and owner. If you’ve never written a dance teacher bio before, it can be an intimidating and confusing process. Here are a few tips to help studio owners and instructors create accurate and succinct bios that they’re proud to display.
1. Keep It Short and Sweet
If you’ve been working in the industry for many years, chances are that you could fill up numerous pages with your experience. However, when it comes to writing a dance teacher bio, it’s better to touch on only the most important aspects of your background and keep the text as short as possible. If you’re writing a bio for your website, DanceStudioOwner.com recommended that you lead with the most important information, like your education and biggest accomplishments. A good rule of thumb is that readers shouldn’t have to scroll down the page to read your bio. Try to keep it all “above the fold,” so to speak.
2. Show Your Personality
Your bio doesn’t have to be dry and informational. In fact, many people would argue that it should show your personality as much as it details your experience. Consider who your audience is and adjust your tone accordingly. If your studio caters to young children, you might want to keep your bio light and fun. A school for pre-professionals, on the other hand, may benefit from a more serious tone that emphasizes your commitment to professionalism.
3. Make it Easy to Read
You can write the most informative bio in the world, but if it’s not easy to read, it won’t get the attention it deserves. When drafting, keep in mind that website visitors have short attention spans and want to get information as quickly as possible. Long paragraphs of text seems daunting to visitors, so consider breaking your bio up into sections. After your short and sweet summary with key facts, Dance Kelly Style recommended you include any memberships, accomplishments, honors or titles you may have. These notes can be laid out in bullet format to make them easy to skim through.
Editor’s Note: Check out the results of our most recent annual dance studio management software survey here.
Because we deal with a lot of dance studios, we try to stay in tune with ways we can help them out in their day to day operations. Recently, we’ve noticed a recurring theme among our dance studio owner friends: questions about dance studio management software.
Should they use it? Which one is the best? How expensive is it?
Dance Studio Management Software Reviews
Working with several studio owners and dance industry experts, we created a survey to help answer these questions and more. The survey was deployed in late 2014, and garnered over 600 complete, verified responses. Here are some of the key things we learned:
About two thirds (67%) of dance studios use studio management software.
Features rule. 35% of respondents say that they chose their particular software based on a feature set that met their needs. Also important: inexpensiveness (17%), ease of operation (16%), and recommendation of others (16%).
The three most important features of studio management software are billing and payment processing, class management, and email or text communication. The three features ranked least important were staff scheduling, website maintenance, and staff time clock.
Jackrabbit Dance is dominant, with 28% of the respondents indicating that they used it. Other popular software providers were Studio Director (18%), and Dance Works (14%).
Studio owner operators are generally satisfied with their studio management software, with 76% indicating that they were either “extremely satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied.” ClassJuggler, DanceStudio-Pro, Studio Director, and Jackrabbit Dance ranked the highest in satisfaction.
Read the In-Depth Report on Survey Results
See the full summary of these dance studio management software reviews here!
The Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance in Roswell, Georgia, is entering its 35th year and still continues to grow and thrive under the leadership of Nancy Tolbert Yilmaz. If the school’s five start-of-the-art studios, changing rooms and closed-circuit monitoring weren’t impressive enough, the studio is planning to move to a new custom-designed facility in the coming years to offer the best possible experience to the young dancers it serves.
Starting Off with a Bang
The idea to open her own studio first came to Yilmaz when she was teaching and dancing professionally in Atlanta. She saw the lack of studios in Roswell, a town 30 miles north of downtown Atlanta, and jumped on the market opening. With the help of her now associate director, Yilmaz converted an old building into a dance studio, and the Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance was off and running.
“I decided, along with our associate director, Mary Lynn Taylor, to offer a few classes,” Yilmaz explained. “So we put out the notice and anticipated maybe 75 kids tops on the day of the first open house. That day, 350 kids showed up.”
Since then, the school has only continued to grow as it teaches dancers of all ages the beautiful art form. Today, Yilmaz estimated that there are around 800 students in her open school, as well as 100 pre-professional dancers in the resident ballet company. The studio, which has moved to a larger location since its impressive kick off, caters to students ages 2 through adult and offers classes in ballet, tap, jazz, modern, hip hop, acrobatics, musical theater, Pilates and kinderdance. They also recently added an aerial silks course, which allows dancers to take their performances to new heights.
Staying ahead of the game
New dance studios have cropped up in Roswell over the course of 35 years, but Yilmaz has managed to keep her business ahead of the pack through a dedication to professionalism and quality instruction. The school’s resident performing dance company, the Roswell Dance Theatre, offers pre-professional instruction to young men and women ages 10 to 18.
“The kids in the ballet and modern companies are on a pre-professional track,” Yilmaz noted. “They’re looking not only to go to college for dance, but to go on a dance scholarship. I’ve got former students that are working all over the place: one with the New York City Ballet, one with Ballet Hispanico, a couple on Broadway.”
Over the years, the group has performed around the country and internationally, as well as in three Olympic ceremonies. However, among their various performances and competitions, the Roswell Theatre still finds time to give back to the community.
“We have an entire concert that’s held every year called ‘Hugs from Young Choreographers,’ which is a project conceived and run by Mary Lynn,” Yilmaz explained. “The oldest dancers from our company each choreograph a piece for the concert … All the money raised goes towards a charitable organization. [Over the years], we’ve given the funds to a shelter for homeless girls, a student here who needed a kidney transplant and an organization called Camp Sunshine.”
At the end of the day, Yilmaz realizes that to ensure the Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance’s continued success, she has to always strive to provide new, exciting opportunities and keep up with industry trends.
Growing Sales with TutuTix
One of the ways that Yilmaz kept up with the growth of her studio is by switching to online ticketing. She looked into a number of different vendors, but ultimately decided that TutuTix would be the best fit for her business.
“What really brought me to TutuTix was the customer service,” Yilmaz said. “I’m not the Internet whiz that a lot of younger people are. I didn’t know how the service would work, and they were very patient. They took their time and answered all my crazy questions.”
The first year using the online ticketing service, the Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance almost doubled their ticket sales. Increased profits from performances go a long way toward providing a better experience for students.
“It really helped our company get that much better overnight!” Yilmaz noted.
One essential piece of any start-up, including a new dance studio, is a detailed business plan. But, sometimes its hard to find examples or guidelines for specific industries, exactly like what you would need to write a business plan for dance studios. If you’re thinking about opening your own dance school, you’ll want to get this roadmap down in writing as soon as possible. DanceStudioOwner.com recommended completing a dance studio business plan a full year before your opening.
So what exactly is this document? The words “business plan” might conjure up images of a thick manual, filled with financial charts and growth projections. While those things may be included, the task doesn’t need to be quite so daunting. A business plan is essentially a roadmap of the route you intend to steer your new studio down. It should project three to five years in advance and detail how you want to grow your business.
Use this guide to familiarize yourself with the essential parts of a dance studio business plan so you can get on your way to opening the school of your dreams.
*Editor’s Note: Since the publishing of this article, TutuTix has created an example Dance Studio Business Plan that you can download, review, and use to build your own business plan!
Think back to high school or college and you might recall that teachers always said a good essay needed a strong, attention-catching opening. That’s exactly what your business plan’s executive summary should be—especially if you intend to use your business plan for more than just personal inspiration. The U.S. Small Business Administration explained that this section should concisely detail where your company is, where you plan to take it and why it will be successful. It’s easy to get carried away writing an executive summary, but remember that it’s just an overview. You’ll go into detail in the body of your plan, so keep this section brief. Many experts recommend that you write this text last. The summary should appear first in your final report, but it’s important to give it a lot of thought and consideration so your words pack a big punch.
The next essential part of your dance studio business plan is the company description, which is essentially a glorified elevator pitch. Talk briefly about what your studio will entail and what market you’re targeting. You may want to give a concise overview of the services you plan to offer, but don’t go to in-depth, as there’s a later section dedicated solely to the topic. Your company description is the place to note what advantages you have over your competitors, whether it’s expert staff, prime location or your own dance prowess.
If you haven’t hunkered down to research your competition, this is the time to do so. The market analysis section should include details about the size and scope of the dance industry in your region, as well as its growth rates. Find out how many studios are in direct competition with you and approximately how many students they serve. This is the best place to include a thorough competitive analysis and your plan to enter the market. You should also figure out how many customers you can realistically serve and define your pricing structure. There are many other market factors that can be included in this analysis, so check out this article from the SBA for an in-depth list of topics.
Services and Products
After all the technical market speak, you’ll be relieved to reach the services and products section. This is where you get to detail your plan to offer the best classes in the area. Outline the benefits for your students, how your services meet customer needs and how you’ll develop your curriculum moving forward. The Finance Resource also recommended including an explanation of any secondary sources of income, such as dance apparel or recital ticketing.
As the SBA explained, customers are the “lifeblood of your business,” so you need to figure out how to reach them! In your marketing and sales section, explain how you intend to bring new students into your studio and retain them as customers. You may also want to include a growth strategy if you plan to target other markets, such as adults, in the future.
Finally, you’ll want to create a section dedicated to your funding plan and financial expectations. Many entrepreneurs write business plans to help raise capital, so this portion may be key to your cause. A strong business plan can be an invaluable selling point when you’re looking for investors or seeking a loan. You’ll also want to create a section with your financial projections – it can be lumped with your funding plan or in a separate component. At the end of the day, your studio will be a business, so it’s essential to have a solid plan to bring in revenue, pay your bills and continue to grow.
If there’s other information that you want to include in your dance studio business plan, you can either create a section for it or place the data in an appendix. Once you’ve written down all your dreams and plans, proofread and edit the document. Chances are that you’ll find something you missed or want to add. If your business plan is just for personal reference, you can stash it away. However, if you’re presenting it to investors, you’ll want to edit it another time and have someone else look it over as well.
“If dance is in you, you’ll end up doing it somewhere down the line – you can’t avoid it!” said Jamie Theriot, owner of the Clermont Academy of Dance, located in Clermont, Florida.
Theriot grew up dancing and majored in the art during college. After graduation, she worked at the Walt Disney Company for a number of years, but her dance roots got the best of her and she struck out to open her own studio in 1997. Since then, she’s grown a thriving business that aims to inspire, motivate and educate through the art of dance.
A Step Above the Competition
In addition to having a recreational dance program of around 250 students, Clermont Academy of Dance has a number of options for students that want to take their love of dance to the next level. Theriot explained that what sets her dance studio apart from its competition is that she and her staff offer classes for just about every interest, age and skill level.
“For the size of our little town, there are quite a few dance studio options,” Theriot explained. “We want to be something else and give dancers another option. We do that by offering the two tracks – recreational and intensive study.”
In the intensive study program, called ISP, dancers are held to a higher standard of achievement, both in the studio and outside of it. Students are expected to commit to their goals and represent the studio in a positive light through their social and academic activities. ISP students are also given the opportunity to participate in the Main Attraction dance company, which performs at community events, or the competition team, which holds a number of national titles.
However, just as much careful thought and consideration are put into the recreational programs at Clermont Academy of Dance. Theriot strives to offer a variety of classes in different genres, for different age groups and interests. One of the studio’s newest offerings is the Angelina Ballerina Dance Academy, where young students between the ages of 3 and 6 are taught the basics of ballet through a series of classes based off the popular children’s books. The program not only teaches pirouettes and plies, it also encourages students to read more with in-class reading activities. The little dancers even have a special uniform, complete with adorable mouse ears.
Keeping Customers Happy with TutuTix
At the end of each season, Clermont Dance students and teachers show off the hard work they’ve put in throughout the year at their big recital. However, Theriot, like so many other successful studio owners, realizes that recitals aren’t just about showcasing talent. They’re also an opportunity to boost return on investment and win over potential new customers.
“One of the last things you want to have trouble with is selling tickets and seats,” Theriot explained. “It’s integral to your business because that’s where you’re going to make your money!”
After having a “nightmare of an experience” with another online ticketing site, Theriot tasked TutuTix to handle her recital ticketing in 2013. The ease of use and thoroughness of the customer service representatives sold her on the benefits of the service.
“The No. 1 thing on my list is customer service, and this company understands dance teachers,” Theriot said. “They understand studio owners, and they know that the biggest and most stressful time of the year is recital time.”
Both Theriot and her dancers’ parents were thrilled with the proactive service they received from TutuTix. Theriot noted that she happily recommends the site to other dance studio owners, especially those who have the weight of the world on their shoulders and could use a helping hand during recital season.
Whether you’re expanding your dance studio business in a bigger location or simply unable to renew your lease, moving your business is a complex process. There are so many things to consider – budget, location, accessibility – that your head may be spinning. If you find yourself in a tizzy as your moving date draws closer, use these four tips to help make the transition as smooth as possible.
1. Give Yourself Ample Time
The more leeway you allow yourself during the relocation process, the fewer problems you’ll run into. You may think that one or two months is more than enough time to get everything in line, but that’s usually not the case. In a teleseminar with DanceStudioOwner.com, Dale Willerton, founder of The Lease Coach, explained that you should allow six months to negotiate a lease and get all your ducks in order for the move. When in doubt, start earlier than you need to. A little extra time never hurt anyone!
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate
You’re probably not a seasoned pro when it comes to real estate, but that shouldn’t stop you from negotiating the terms of your lease. The Small Business Association recommended that small companies aim for a one- or two-year lease in a new location. Be fair and confident when discussing your rent and don’t forget to bring up the issue of rent increases. Willerton noted that, unfortunately, many landlords don’t take dance studios as seriously as they would a doctor’s office, so make it clear that your money is just as green as any other business.
3. Talk about Tenant Allowance
Many studio owners regard tenant allowances as a mythical concept – discussed often, but never seen. If you’re dealing with a property that has a high vacancy, don’t be afraid to bring up the subject. You’re probably going to need to replace floors and install mirrors in your new space, and tenant concessions will be your wallet’s best friend. Establish yourself as a valuable tenant and you’ll be surprised at what allowances you’ll receive.
4. Communicate with Your Customers
Finally, keep open lines of communication with your dancers and parents throughout the process. Your move should be beneficial to your customers as well as your dance studio business, otherwise you risk losing students. Let the parents know when and where you’re planning to move and be sure to explain the benefits of the new location.
When you take those first steps toward opening your own dance studio, you officially become an entrepreneur. Starting your own business is a confusing, complicated and sometimes scary process. The good news is that there are tons of people and organizations that want to see your succeed! Here are five invaluable resources for female entrepreneurs in dance.
1. The U.S. Small Business Administration
The SBA is a great place for any small business owner to seek information or guidance. You’ll find articles and white papers on just about every business-related topic imaginable on the SBA website. From creating a business plan to applying for loans, the site covers it all. The federal organization also has a number of resources dedicated solely toward furthering female entrepreneurs. Check out the Office of Women’s Business Ownership for details on local offices, grant opportunities and business seminars.
If you could benefit from a business mentor, the SCORE Association can help you out. This organization provides free advice on starting, running and growing your company. They’ll also set you up with a business mentor who you can talk to online or in person. Once you get involved with SCORE and get your studio off the ground, you can become a volunteer and help other aspiring entrepreneurs achieve their goals.
3. The National Association of Women Business Owners
The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) is one of the largest organizations for female business owners, with more than 7,000 members across the country. The NAWBO resource center offers great information on topics ranging from funding to marketing and more.
4. Ladies Who Launch
The focus of Ladies Who Launch is to create support communities for female business owners. It has a number of online and local groups that let entrepreneurs to plan, brainstorm and problem solve together. The Ladies also host expert discussions, intensive workshops and other useful seminars across the country.
5. Dance Studio-Specific Organizations
There are several studio-specific organizations out there who focus on training and supporting studio owners as they navigate the business of studio ownership. A few of these are More Than Just Great Dancing, The Dance Exec, and DanceStudioOwner.com (full disclosure: TutuTix often works with the folks at More Than Just Great Dancing and The Dance Exec on various projects – we think they’re awesome!). These organizations are a great help for studio owners who need the help and advice of someone who’s been in their shoes.
You can always find a helping hand in your own community. Reach out to your local chamber of commerce to see if they have any workshops or resources for new business owners. They might also be able to connect you with other business owners in the area who are willing to offer advice and guidance.
Chasta Hamilton Calhoun is the busy woman behind Stage Door Dance Productions in Raleigh, North Carolina. She oversees her studios and satellite programs, choreographs musical theater pieces and runs The Dance Exec blog and seminar series, yet still finds time to give back to the local community with the help of her students. Calhoun explained that her passion for the arts and dedication to service led her to where she is today.
The Story Behind Stage Door Dance Productions
When Calhoun was attending North Carolina State University, she planned to pursue a career as an attorney. Her aspirations were to become a successful businesswoman, and she thought that law was the way to go. However, throughout her time at school, she came to realize that it might be worthwhile to follow her true passion: dance.
“You can be a successful career person in the arts just as much as you can as an attorney, a doctor or an engineer – the other more ‘traditional’ paths,” Calhoun explained. “I stuck with my passion and it really paid off.”
With the help of her now husband, Calhoun opened the first Stage Door Dance Productions studio in 2009. Since then she’s expanded to a second location and also founded two satellite programs at the Carolina Country Club and the North Hills Club. Overall, she and her staff of 10 work with around 500 students between the ages of 2 and 18, teaching all genres of dance, from ballet to tap to acrobatics.
Becoming a Community Staple
Since day one, Calhoun has made community service an integral part of Stage Door Dance studios. In college, she founded the Sightless Rhythm Tap Project at The Governor Morehead School for the Blind. Calhoun tries to instill a spirit of giving in her students by organizing service projects at community events.
“It’s such an important part of a person’s character to recognize the value of service and giving back,” Calhoun explained. “That’s why we try to weave it into studio opportunities.”
Students from Stage Door Dance perform at community events such as the Relay For Life and the annual Raleigh Christmas Parade. They hold fundraisers and drives in the studio to support both local and national causes, as well as participate in numerous other outreach programs. Calhoun’s inspiring mission has caught the attention of a number of institutions, and she was awarded the Goodman Leadership Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2012 and the 40 Under 40 Award in 2014. She’s beyond grateful for the recognition, but even happier to see the arts take the spotlight.
“It was so exciting to see that kind of recognition being handed out in the area of the arts because a lot of times it gets pigeonholed to more ‘traditional’ career fields,” Calhoun said.
Working with TutuTix
One of Calhoun’s side projects – the Dance Exec blog – was the reason she discovered TutuTix’s online ticketing solutions. She originally used the service to sell seats for seminars hosted by The Dance Exec, but quickly decided it would be a worthwhile venture for Stage Door Dance’s recital ticketing as well.
“When we made that transition, I have to say that I would never in a million years go back to the way we were doing ticketing before,” Calhoun noted. “It’s progressive, it’s easy and their support is just unbelievable.”
Calhoun explained that when she uses TutuTix, it’s a serious burden off her shoulders when recital season arrives. She knows that her ticketing will be taken care of with TutuTix, so she can focus on the other aspects of planning and executing an amazing recital for her dancers.
Many studio owners choose to list their businesses in an online dance studio directory in hopes of gaining more students. It’s a relatively easy marketing tactic, but like anything else, there are pros and cons to these directories. If you have some extra time and advertising dollars, here are some considerations to take into account before listing your studio on a dance website.
The most obvious benefit of listing yourself in a dance studio directory is the exposure you can gain. When new students are looking for dance classes, they’ll probably start with an online search. If they come across dance studio listings, you’ll want your business to be in the mix. Put simply, you won’t get new students if they don’t know you’re there!
Con: Paid Membership
One of the downsides of being in an online dance studio directory is that the best sites require a paid membership. Most directories charge a moderate yearly fee for a basic listing and have options for premium memberships. For example, DanceClassFinder.com, one of the highest directories in search engines, charges $60 per year for a standard membership or $120 for a premium account. If you have a few extra dollars in your marketing budget, this could be a good investment. However, when your dollars a little stretched, you can always search around for free listings. These might not get as much traffic as bigger sites, but like people always say, you get what you pay for.
Pro: SEO Boost
Another important reason to list your studio in a dance directory, whether it’s paid or not, is that you’ll get a boost in search engine optimization. When your business has online “citations,” you’ll show up higher in search engine results, and online listings that include your studio name, address and contact information count as a citation. If your studio is a little low in the rankings, it might be worth your time to submit your details to a few free directories to boost your SEO.
Con: Hit or Miss
There are lots of different online directories out there, so you might find that the one you choose doesn’t get the attention you were hoping. Many sites boast that thousands of students visit their listings each day, but keep in mind that those visitors are located all over the country. Directories can be hit or miss, so don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Make sure you’re marketing in your local community, as well as online. It might be worthwhile to also list your studio in the directories of local businesses, such as a chamber of commerce, community center or regional dance publication. These types of companies often get a lot of queries from parents and are a great way to get referrals.
Many small businesses have found that traditional advertising mediums like newspapers and flyers are becoming less effective in the digital age. If you’ve noticed that your dance studio advertising isn’t garnering the attention you’d like, you might benefit from a little bit of social media marketing. Facebook has a number of useful tools to help businesses create and optimize advertisements. Use these tips to make the most of your paid dance studio ads on the site.
Prepare Your Text and Images
Just like with other advertisement, you’ll want to put some time and effort into picking photos and writing text for your Facebook dance studio ads. Social Media Examiner explained that every ad should contain an offer or promotion, a call to action, relevant contact information and, if it fits, what sets you apart from the competition. Try to keep your text as concise as possible and use an objective tone so you don’t sound spammy.
As for photos, you’ll want to use images that are 600-by-315 pixels for optimum visibility. Crop or resize your favorite eye-catching pictures to get the attention of Facebook users. Don’t be afraid to use the test option to try out a variety of images and find which ones are the most engaging. Keep in mind that your ad photos can only be 20 percent text, or Facebook won’t approve them to run.
Resist the urge to set a large budget for your first few ads. The Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce recommended allocating just $10 per day to start. You may not see huge results, but you’ll figure out how the system works and what you can expect from each ad. Run a few small campaigns to start out and eventually you can give more funding to your most successful advertisements.
Find What Works
Don’t get discouraged if you fumble around with your ads at first. There are lots of different options that you can use – sidebar ads, newsfeed posts, target markets – and you won’t understand them all from day one. What’s important is that you take advantage of the analytics available and learn from each campaign. One of the best features that Facebook offers small businesses is the ability to target local users with your ads. Simply select your town, state or nearby communities under the “audience” option, and your ad will be shown to people in those locations. Try different combinations to figure out which areas garner the most engagement. You’ll slowly figure out what works best in terms of content, format and funding, and before you know it, you’ll see increased interest in your studio.