Misty Lown is the founder, president and energized force behind More Than Just Great Dancing™. Misty shares her methods of creating a professional environment where people learn and grow from the life experiences lived in the dance studio. Sharing information, providing helpful observations, and giving feedback to parents, teachers and students is an essential part of the learning process that Misty delivers with More Than Just Great Dancing™. Misty's new book, "One Small Yes," is now available on Amazon.
If there’s something I’ve learned about recital programs over the past twenty-two years of owning a studio, it’s that a recital program can be so much MORE than a guide to the show! It can highlight your students’ achievements, congratulate them on an awesome season, display their photos, celebrate the community around your studio, and support other businesses in the neighborhood. It can also serve as a special memento, just like a school yearbook, that commemorates the whole studio’s accomplishments for the year.
The recital program at my studio has grown from a dozen cobbled-together pages in our first year to a sleek professional publication. Our team puts hours upon hours each season into its design and organization to make it a real WOW for our studio families. Even now that the digital era is here, our recital program is still considered by our families to be a cherished keepsake.
Your recital program serves that same purpose as a keepsake, whether you realize it or not! With that in mind, I wanted to share some of the ideas that have made our recital program a rousing success. Whether your current recital program is a simple series of photocopies or a magazine-style book, these ideas are intended to make you think about where you can make improvements, making your program truly Worthy Of Words!
Here are my 6 Ideas for Creating a WOW Recital Program:
Looking for more great ideas to create an amazing Recital Program? Check out the following articles:
In my experience coaching dance studio owners, the word bullying can paralyze even the most experienced entrepreneur. It’s a word that means there is a serious cause for concern, and it’s a word that is sometimes mistakenly used when conflict would be a better choice. To say the least, knowing how to define and address bullying in the dance studio environment can be a challenge.
As a business owner who serves families and children, your first priority is to keep them safe within your walls. True bullying must be taken seriously and handled swiftly, and it’s important to educate your clientele and your staff about what that means. One such way we are handling this at Misty’s Dance Unlimited is by becoming YPAD (Youth Protection Advocates in Dance) Certified. Our staff has completed the YPAD online education coursework in order to become more knowledgeable about bullying and other harmful behaviors. We have implemented new policies around bullying to show our clients that we are invested in keeping their kids safe, happy, and healthy.
Through this education, and through my own experience over the past two decades, I’ve developed a few clear ways of addressing bullying at my studio. I encourage you to keep reading to learn more about my 3 Ways to Address Bullying and build your confidence in developing a studio culture that minimizes issues with bullying.
Here are my 3 Ways to Address Bullying:
Looking for more great ideas to help address bullying in your studio? Check out the following articles:
As a studio owner, you already know that generating revenue is one of the keys to growing and stabilizing your business, but the true key: your studio’sprofitability. The reality is that every great mission needs money in order to do the meaningful work that fulfills its purpose! And it’s important to understand the difference between revenue, which is the gross income your business generates, and profit, which is the income your business has earned after covering its expenses.
No matter how much revenue your studio generates, it’s the profit that makes it possible to continue doing what you do year after year. It’s the profit that will allow you to achieve long-term business health so that you can continue to create jobs, serve your community, and earn a living.
In my experience, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to increasing profitability. It’s not just about knowing your numbers; it’s about making the right choices with the numbers you know! It is my belief that every studio owner can and should feel empowered to take charge of their business’s financial future. And optimizing its profitability is instrumental in that power.
Keep reading for my 5 Ideas for Increasing Your Studio’s Profitability:
Looking for more great ideas to help your studio’s profitability? Check out the following articles:
As you settle in to the new dance season, you may have been talking to your staff or students about setting goals for themselves (I know I have been!). Every kickoff meeting or first class has been an opportunity to set new expectations and begin following through.
But have you checked in with yourself lately when it comes to goals? With the clean slate of a new school year upon us, now is the ideal time to hold yourself accountable to the same thing you ask of others … to put your intentions into action!
I LOVE getting out of bed in the morning with a purpose to fulfill on a bigger-than-life-size target. And I love knowing what I’m going to do that day to make progress. But I’ll be the first to admit that I can get so excited about my goals, which leads to new ideas, that I can find myself running in circles by noon. When I talk with other studio owners, I often hear about their distractions too, so I know this can be a common entrepreneurial hurdle!
Something I’ve learned over the years is that every goal can benefit from the same go-to action steps, no matter how big or small the goal itself. Let’s face it, all goals need some TLC to become a reality, so to get to the finish line there are a handful of things I always have to do.
Are you ready to learn what those things are and put them to use for yourself? Jump into the next section to read my 5 Tips for Taking Action on Your Goals.
Looking for more great ideas to help with taking action on your goals and becoming a more effective studio owner? Check out the following articles:
Leadership is at the heart of everything we do as studio owners. When you chose this journey of entrepreneurship, you chose to stand up in front of others and say, “Here is my vision, and here’s why you want to be a part of it.” When you opened your doors, you did so in part because you wanted to bring your passion for dance and business to others…you wanted to lead them!
To me, leadership at the studio has to do with service, values, and heart. There are business owners out there who think leadership is just about being someone’s boss, but I think that couldn’t be further from the truth. Your calling as a studio owner has more to do with lifting others up and coaching them to success, not bossing them around. Whether it’s your students or your staff, they’re looking to you for education, inspiration, and growth.
As a studio owner, you are in a unique position to influence many different populations, from young children to teens, and from parents to employees. Honing your leadership skills allows you to serve each group with your highest, best work … and allows you to raise up other leaders!
Here are the 4 Leadership Skills Every Studio Owner Needs:
Looking for more tips on building up leadership skills? Check out the following articles:
As you are preparing for the new season of dance, you’re probably putting together ideas for your marketing plan and looking at the BIG picture of where your studio will be over the next nine or ten months. You may be considering which programs need the most marketing when you should focus on each one, where you want to spend your advertising dollars, and who your efforts will target.
One aspect of marketing that I LOVE to create with my team is our key message (or messages) for the year. These are the go-to phrases that promote who we are and how we serve our dance families; they speak to our customer avatars and what they desire from their experience with us. Our key messages inform and influence just about everything we market! We use them around the studio, in our print materials, and on social media.
Key messages can also tie into your recital theme, celebrate an anniversary studio year, appeal to specific goals, or even serve as the lead-up to a big reveal, like for a new building or new branding. Your key messages establish the vibe of your ENTIRE year … AND they help your marketing efforts stay consistent throughout the season!
To help you brainstorm key messages for your studio, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite ideas. Take one of these and run with it, or just use them as inspiration for your own interpretations! Either way, you’ll have many options to consider and share with your team.
Here are 7 Ideas for Your Studio’s Key Messages:
Looking for more ideas on creating key messages? Check out the following articles:
Does it ever feel like all you do is go from one meeting to the next, and the next after that? Maybe you’ve noticed that your staff doesn’t seem as receptive as you had hoped, or they seem to forget what was discussed as soon as the meeting is over. Well, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way! YOU have the power to improve their effectiveness and be on your way to more successful meetings.
In the last two decades of running my studio, I’ve learned a lot about what makes a successful meeting (and what is a total flop!). Sometimes it was trial and error to figure out what worked; other times, I’ve picked up advice from business owners in other industries and tried it out with my team own members. Meetings do have a purpose in your business, but they also need a special touch.
If there’s one big takeaway I’ve gained over the years, it’s that meetings CAN be useful, productive, and successful. And since they are necessary, we might as well get good at them! It’s about changing your mindset and preparing for every meeting with that new perspective. Check out my 3 Tips for Successful Meetings to start shaping up better meetings this season!
Here are my 3 Tips for Successful Meetings:
Looking for more tips for running successful meetings? Check out the following articles:
There is no doubt that this time of year for studio owners can be hectic and, let’s face it, a little crazy! With recital on the horizon, class placements being prepped, and audition details coming together, it’s not surprising that you may begin to physically feel the effects of stress of the busy season.
I went through far too many years of entrepreneurship knowing this season was coming and yet not quite preparing for it to the degree I should have! Now that I know better though, I do better. And one of the best ways I do better is by understanding that yes, it will be busy, and yes, I can still take good care of myself. And I encourage YOU to do the same!
It’s so easy to get swept up into stress and let it overtake your mindset. But you know what’s also pretty easy? Making a plan to relieve that stress by having a few simple tactics in your pocket. Here, I’m going to share my best tips for thriving in the busyness of your life. These are all things that help me tremendously at this time of year, and I hope they will serve you well too!
Here are my 5 Quick Ways to Recharge During the Busy Season:
Looking for more tips keeping your sanity through the busy season? Check out the following articles:
When I first opened my studio over 20 years ago, I had a big learning curve when it came to all things human resources-related—interviewing, hiring, firing, payroll, benefits, and everything in between!
One of the biggest lessons I learned right away is that hiring great people for my team was a lot of WORK, especially when it came time for interviews. It was not always easy to discern who would really be a good fit for the team and it took way more preparation than I thought! But just like with dance, practice makes progress, and I’ve made a LOT of progress.
I’ve also discovered that I really enjoy providing meaningful career opportunities for others. Watching people flourish in their roles at the studio is one of the most fulfilling aspects of running a business! And it all starts with getting the right people on board in the first place, which means making sure the systems behind the interview process are in top-notch shape. With that in mind, I created this list of 6 Best Practices for Interviewing Job Candidates, and I hope it will serve your studio as well as it has mine!
Implementing these ideas has had a profound effect on my hiring choices and continues to inform my decision-making when it comes to bringing new people to our team. Keep reading to see my 6 Best Practices for Interviewing Job Candidates.
Here are my 6 Best Practices for Interviewing Job Candidates:
Looking for more tips for hiring an excellent staff? Check out the following articles:
As a studio owner, your customer service is an essential part of your business … perhaps even THE essential element of this time of year, as you prepare for the recital, summer, and next season. Communications with your dance families can make or break their understanding of the way your studio works during this busy time.
And of course, you are probably not handling all of the customer service alone! Whether you have part-time help or a full team in place, YOU set the pace for how hard your employees will run to achieve awesome customer service. As their leader, you are aiming to take their abilities to new heights so that your dance families’ needs are being met with the utmost care.
For me and my team, there are 3 Keys to High-Level Customer Service through which we choose to activate ALL of our service-oriented decisions and interactions with families. I’ve developed these key points over the last two decades of studio ownership, through my own personal experience and by learning from the feedback we receive from parents. Through the consistent application of these basic points in our daily workflow, my staff has full clarity on what is expected of them when it comes to communicating with our customers. Keep reading to see how my 3 Keys to High-Level Customer Service can transform your studio’s approach too!
Here are my 3 Keys to High-Level Customer Service:
Looking for more great ideas to help with boosting employee morale? Check out the following articles:
It’s that time of year again! That time when we start to see our students feel the “mid-year slump” … which means they’re in need of some extra TLC and motivation in class as we push through the remaining cold weather months. But did you know that your employees are probably feeling the slump too? The post-winter break, dreary weather, pre-recital doldrums are VERY real for your team as well, whether they show it or not. But fear not, there are ways that make boosting employee morale a breeze!
I know you want to keep employee morale up ALL year long (I do too) so this time of year is perfect to recalibrate that dial. Remember that keeping your team motivated and excited about work isn’t just about making them feel good; it’s about setting them up for success so they can do their best work for your studio and dance families.
If you’re expecting a high level of performance from your team, it’s in your best interest to ensure they are working in an environment conducive to reaching goals and seeing results. Taking the time to keep their morale up will continue to benefit your business in this way. Keep reading to learn more about my 4 Ideas for Boosting Employee Morale, and see if you can give everyone’s spirits a little lift!
Here are my 4 Ideas for Boosting Employee Morale:
Looking for more great ideas to help with boosting employee morale? Check out the following articles:
Attend any type of business event or seminar and you’ll probably hear the word “culture” quite a bit! So what does it mean exactly, and how, exactly, do we build a strong studio culture?
By definition, corporate culture is a collection of values that the organization believes in and follows. They are the values that are exemplified in its people and the work they do each day, and so creating a strong culture means naming those values and breathing life into them. Your business uses them as the lens through which decisions are made, and as a barometer for accountability.
I believe that culture can also be described by the senses. For example, what do people “see” when they walk into your studio? Do they see kindness, inclusivity, excellence … or something else? What do your customers “taste” when they interact with your staff, and how do you develop the “flavor” you want?
In my experience, what is sensed by your culture is created by a ripple effect. It starts with you, the owner, in the middle, and then ripples outward to everyone else. Growing the culture you want takes time, but more importantly, it takes consistency, It can never just be what you say; it has to be what you do. And it has to start with determining what’s important to your mission and naming those values. With the following 5 Steps to Building a Strong Studio Culture, I have confidence that you’ll have the tools you need for doing just that and more!
Here are my 5 Steps to Building a Strong Studio Culture:
Looking for more great ideas to help you build your studio’s culture? Check out the following articles:
It’s the midpoint of the season, a time when many studio owners put their leadership into high gear and offer performance reviews for their employees. Whether you have a carefully-developed system in place or you simply meet informally with each person, performance reviews open up the opportunity for you to check-in on your team’s progress and look ahead to the future. They also allow you to hold your team members accountable (and for them to do the same for you!).
Performance reviews aren’t something I recommend doing off-the-cuff. While you may need to improvise here and there, having a plan in place makes it possible to proceed with confidence and communicate with clarity. Many studio owners I know have found success with implementing a rating system or a document of standards to help employees see where they stand on the key behaviors that lead to effective outcomes. Others I know simply use a few, firm guidelines as touchpoints for the conversation.
However you choose to conduct your reviews, there are some key elements to the process that I have found essential to make sure each meeting is insightful and productive for everyone. Through two decades of practice, I’ve been using and revising these 7 Dos & Don’ts for Staff Performance Reviews. Keep reading to use these Dos & Don’ts for yourself!
Here are my 7 Dos & Don’ts for Staff Performance Reviews:
Looking for more great ideas to help you manage an awesome team? Check out the following articles:
Growing enrollment seems to be a hot topic at almost ANY dance studio seminar I speak at or attend! It seems like even studios who have maxed out many of their classes are still looking to increase their leads and prospects for future enrollment, which I think is super smart. My studio itself, like so many others, is actually in a growth phase … one of our goals is to optimize our programming to attract even more dance families who believe in our mission.
Whether your studio is jam-packed already or has room to grow, you can’t go wrong with continuing to build relationships and involve more kids in your programs. Relationships lead to trust, and when you build trust, you build your business! By offering a variety of ways that parents can experience your studio, you are opening up more than one “door” of opportunity for their kids.
Even though the fall enrollment rush is over, the momentum at your studio doesn’t have to stop! Enrollment can keep going all year long if you can find the sweet spot of what works best at your business. Tap into your studio’s strengths by using my 4 Keys to Growing Enrollment in the Spring Semester!
Here are my 4 Keys to Growing Enrollment in the Spring Semester:
Looking for more great ideas to help with growing enrollment? Check out the following articles:
When coaching studio owners, one of the most common topics we discuss is people. Specifically, dance studio faculty and staff. There are so many factors to consider when hiring people, onboarding them, integrating them into your studio culture, and holding them accountable for a job well done.
One of those factors that I think sometimes doesn’t get enough attention is the coaching required—the ongoing advice and guidance studio owners must give each individual team member so they can personally learn and grow, and so the business can achieve its goals. As studio owners, we are responsible for establishing this essential communication loop throughout an employee’s tenure with us.
Amazing results come from employees who are motivated and committed to doing their best work, and who feel supported by their leader. Leadership is about serving as much as it is about directing, and part of that service is coaching. Through your coaching efforts, the personal connections and “lightbulb” moments that happen are invaluable!
Keep reading to help your team members achieve more with my Top 6 Ways to Coach Your Team to Success.
Looking for more great studio staff coaching ideas? Check out the following articles: