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Misty Lown

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.
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6 Ideas for Creating a WOW Recital Program

Create an amazing recital program - Misty Lown & TutuTix

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:

  1. Commit to self-care in the morning
The morning can often dictate how the rest of your day goes, so decide now that your mornings will be proactive for your peace of mind.  Spend a few quiet minutes in meditation or prayer; edit your to-do list; read one chapter of an inspiring book; brew your favorite coffee or tea; move your body through some gentle stretching or yoga.  Have a ritual in place—even a short one—that will encourage you to start the day with your best foot forward.
  1. Go outside at least once a day
A few deep breaths of fresh air can change your entire frame of mind when you are caught in the whirlwind of busyness.  Don’t trick yourself into thinking that you should go all day at your desk with only a few stretch breaks. Try to block out 15 minutes here and there to step outside, walk around the block, and enjoy a change of scenery.  You may be surprised at how refreshed you feel!
  1. Connect with friends who understand

I personally think this is one of the best ways to combat the weariness that can accompany long work days: human connection.  Our tendency as entrepreneurs is to isolate ourselves when we feel stress when really it’s much more helpful to reach out to others!  Maybe you don’t have time for a long heart-to-heart phone call, but sending a quick text or email to check in with a friend can give you a burst of energy AND put a smile on your face.

  1. Fuel up with your favorite things
When you’re in busy mode, don’t let yourself fall into the trap of poor nutrition habits!  Stock up on your favorite healthy snacks, treats, or meals to keep you going. Now’s the time to splurge on the protein bars you crave, the smoothies with extra vitamins, or maybe even the meal delivery service you’ve been meaning to try.  Your health can’t be taken for granted at any time—and most especially when you need to be on your A-game.
  1. Give yourself a chance to wind down
Resist the urge to completely crash at the end of the day.  Your evening routine should allow you the chance to center yourself and relax.  As hard as it is to do, put your phone and computer in another room to charge, and focus on yourself and your family before turning in for the night.  Your mind will feel clearer and more rested to take on whatever’s next.
Recharging during this time of year can be a challenge, but if anyone can accept a challenge and overcome it, it’s a studio owner!  I want you to feel encouraged that this season of “busy” can also be a season of “health” if you are committed to it. I know that for me, this time of year now holds more excitement than stress because I’m able to look out for my well-being in a way I didn’t know how to do before.
If you have another method of recharging that works well in your life, share it in the comments below!  I would love to hear what helps keep you fueled, prepared, and nourished during this time of year. I wish you much success as you charge full-steam ahead into the coming weeks!

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

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3 Ways to Address Bullying

3 Ways to Address Bullying in Your Dance Studio - Misty Lown & TutuTix

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:


    1. Decide what type of meeting it will be

Clarity is key for successful meetings! Make sure your team knows what type of meeting they are stepping into, and set the expectation that the meeting will be focused on specific outcomes related to that type—off-topic questions or conversations will be saved for another time. Here are some common meeting types you may be using (or will want to implement):

  • Status Check

Use these meetings to brief the team on projects you are working on, or to check in with them on the status of their projects. Status check meetings should serve as task-oriented progress reports, where everyone contributes to discuss their specific responsibilities.

  • Problem-Solving

The problem-solving meeting is centered around brainstorming new ideas on how to approach a specific issue, or related issues, the studio is facing. These meetings will probably be centered around finding the best resolution, or at the very least, innovating solutions that can be explored further.

  • Vision-Casting

Setting studio-wide goals and expectations are the two pillars of a visionary type of meeting. This is likely to be a meeting led by you or someone on your leadership team, to set the tone of the season, the semester, or the month ahead. Also, remember that casting the vision for your team means this type of meeting is usually the most motivational!

2. Know who needs to attend and why

Not every meeting is for every staff member. For example, you may have meetings that are better suited for your leadership team only or meetings that are strictly for administrative personnel. Or perhaps your teachers need their own classroom-focused meeting once every quarter. Dial into the needs of your team by making sure each meeting has a defined purpose and no one’s time is wasted.

One great way to do this is by taking the time to personally invite team members to a meeting and giving them advance notice of the topic at hand.  There may be times where you also ask them to bring ideas to share. Explain how much listening, note-taking, or contributing they should expect. Doing this allows meetings to feel less like an obligation, and more of an opportunity to connect.

3. Be prepared—and be prepared to improvise

Go into every meeting with an agenda, and expect to improvise off of it as needed. I’ve learned that when I’m in charge of a meeting, I do my best when I’m clear about the main points that need to be discussed. If I’m not clear, nobody is clear.

If you have members of your team who also lead meetings, talk to them about developing this skill too. Consistency and organization among staff, no matter who is setting the meeting, shows that meetings are not taken lightly and will be used to enhance everyone’s productivity.

Don’t underestimate the value of a great staff meeting! With some fine-tuned planning and a little extra attention to detail, your team can gain a whole new appreciation for what a A+ meeting can be like.

I hope that your studio can benefit from these tips and turn meetings into a source of respectful relationship-building and enhanced focus at work. And if there something else YOU do with your meetings to make them successful, please share your advice in the comments. I’d love to hear what serves you well when it comes to meetings—and maybe try it out myself!

 

Looking for more great ideas to help address bullying in your studio? Check out the following articles:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing - TutuTix

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5 Ideas for Increasing Your Studio’s Profitability

Increasing Your Dance Studio's Profitability

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’s profitability. 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:


  1. Control Expenses, Part I

    Profitability doesn’t just come from increasing income; it comes from having a keen eye on your expenses. One of the most productive things you can do to increase your profit margin is to get as lean as possible with your expenses. Trim anywhere possible. Go line by line through your accounting software and be prepared to make some phone calls to negotiate your bills. And of course, if you don’t already have a budget, create one … and stick to it!

  2. Control Expenses, Part II

    If you are paying down any debts, prioritize those payments and increase their frequency if you can. Eliminating debt as quickly as possible will free you up from paying interest of course (an expense no one wants!) and will also free you up emotionally. The more progress you make on paying down debt, the more in control you will be when it comes to your profitability.

  3. “What Gets Measured Gets Managed”

    This famous quote by Peter Drucker can influence your profitability in a big way. Take the recital for example: If you track and measure every expense and compare it to the income, what is the profit? Whether it’s large or small, this number will show you where to put your time and energy to improve that margin. It works the same for any class, program, or event. Measure your expenses and your pricing to manage financial success.

  4. Analyze the Products You Sell

    From dancewear and shoes to costumes and t-shirts, evaluate the wholesale cost and retail price to determine if you can make changes to increase profitability. You may need to spend less or charge more, or you may need to consider reducing or increasing the number of items you sell. Don’t just keep the status quo because it’s easy; do the work because it’s worth it!

  5. Use the Compound Effect

    Remember that profitability is likely to happen as the result of many small actions, taken one at a time. Stay encouraged that every step you take to control spending and increase revenue will lead you down the road of increasing profits. Keep taking those steps even when it seems like it’s not enough…the compound effect requires patience for a payoff.

Keep in mind that profitability has to do with many factors, which means there are many ways to improve it! Dig into your finances, understand what you can control, find creative solutions, and most importantly, keep doing the work it takes to know your numbers.

Looking for more great ideas to help your studio’s profitability? Check out the following articles:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

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5 Tips for Taking Action on Your Goals

Goals

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.


  1. Being a good communicator
The skills of communication in business can never be underestimated! There are so many ways you communicate: through speaking and writing, through your marketing and advertising verbiage, through your body language, and more. Being a good communicator is more than having correct grammar or a smile on your face (though those things ARE important!). It’s actively listening when someone has an objection.  It’s genuinely caring about a child’s outcome at the end of the year. It’s interacting with people in a kind and respectful way … always, under every circumstance.
  1. The ability to empower others
As a leader, you are someone others will aspire to be, and as you inspire them, you also want to empower them. Teaching your students how to bounce back from struggles or frustrations is one way you do this in the classroom. Coaching your staff through difficult tasks or detailed projects works much the same way. You are allowing those who follow you to learn from your experience, but in a way that puts them in their own driver’s seat.  
  1. Having personal and professional integrity
Although this may not be a leadership skill per se, it is an essential quality to develop and maintain in every aspect of your life as a business person. Integrity is something you must choose for yourself and practice in your relationships. It’s something that becomes part of your nature; it’s part of the standard you hold yourself to and the way you do business. Integrity becomes a non-negotiable part of your life because as a business owner, you understand the importance of leading with honesty, fairness, and sincerity. So much of your work will be about doing what’s right, not necessarily what’s easy!
  1. Using curiosity and creativity to problem-solve
Being an entrepreneur means you’re encountering problems at every level and size, every day. And getting stronger at problem-solving can only happen when you are willing to get curious about the issue and think of creative solutions. Your solution-oriented skills will only improve when you approach problems with the mindset of a detective. No problem is truly a problem if you discover why it happened and learn from it!  Using this kind of perspective takes practice, but it’s key to growing as a leader.
Leadership encompasses SO many skills…these just happen to be the ones I believe are the most important! I also think that having faith in yourself, your business, and your team can take you a long way as a leader because if there is a common thread throughout all of these skills, it is faith. You must believe in your purpose. And you must have confidence in yourself that you can grow and teach others how to grow too.I believe that the work we do to develop our leadership skills is never truly done. It’s something that lives “in progress” for all of us as we strive to do better for ourselves and others! I hope that you’ll consider sharing in the comments which leadership skills are your strengths, and which ones you’d like to keep improving. Want to connect about leadership? Reach out to me on social media @mistylown and let’s chat! Wishing you an amazing start to the new dance season!

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:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

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4 Leadership Skills Every Studio Owner Needs

4 Leadership Skills Every Studio Owner Needs

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:

 

  1. Being a good communicator
The skills of communication in business can never be underestimated! There are so many ways you communicate: through speaking and writing, through your marketing and advertising verbiage, through your body language, and more. Being a good communicator is more than having correct grammar or a smile on your face (though those things ARE important!). It’s actively listening when someone has an objection.  It’s genuinely caring about a child’s outcome at the end of the year. It’s interacting with people in a kind and respectful way … always, under every circumstance.
           
  1. The ability to empower others
As a leader, you are someone others will aspire to be, and as you inspire them, you also want to empower them. Teaching your students how to bounce back from struggles or frustrations is one way you do this in the classroom. Coaching your staff through difficult tasks or detailed projects works much the same way. You are allowing those who follow you to learn from your experience, but in a way that puts them in their own driver’s seat.  
 
  1. Having personal and professional integrity
Although this may not be a leadership skill per se, it is an essential quality to develop and maintain in every aspect of your life as a business person. Integrity is something you must choose for yourself and practice in your relationships. It’s something that becomes part of your nature; it’s part of the standard you hold yourself to and the way you do business. Integrity becomes a non-negotiable part of your life, because as a business owner, you understand the importance of leading with honesty, fairness, and sincerity. So much of your work will be about doing what’s right, not necessarily what’s easy!
 
  1. Using curiosity and creativity to problem-solve
Being an entrepreneur means you’re encountering problems at every level and size, every day. And getting stronger at problem-solving can only happen when you are willing to get curious about the issue and think of creative solutions. Your solution-oriented skills will only improve when you approach problems with the mindset of a detective. No problem is truly a problem if you discover why it happened and learn from it!  Using this kind of perspective takes practice, but it’s key to growing as a leader.
 
 
Leadership encompasses SO many skills…these just happen to be the ones I believe are the most important! I also think that having faith in yourself, your business, and your team can take you a long way as a leader, because if there is a common thread throughout all of these skills, it is faith. You must believe in your purpose. And you must have confidence in yourself that you can grow and teach others how to grow too.
 
I believe that the work we do to develop our leadership skills is never truly done. It’s something that lives “in progress” for all of us as we strive to do better for ourselves and others! I hope that you’ll consider sharing in the comments which leadership skills are your strengths, and which ones you’d like to keep improving. Want to connect about leadership? Reach out to me on social media @mistylown and let’s chat! Wishing you an amazing start to the new dance season!

Looking for more tips on building up leadership skills? Check out the following articles:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

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7 Ideas for Your Studio’s Key Messages

7 Ideas for Your Studio’s Key Messages

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:


  1. Confidence that Shines
If developing character qualities in your students is an important theme for you this year, this key message can easily apply to dancers of all ages and skill levels.  You could also add key messages about other qualities, like teamwork, resilience, artistry, or commitment. It could also coordinate nicely with a recital called Shine Bright or Let Your Light Shine where you honor your students’ unique strengths.
  1. Leading with Grace
Perhaps leadership is a critical message for your studio this season, especially if you are adding or improving programs with your student assistants, performance teams, social media ambassadors, or honor society members.  This key message allows you to continue leaning on the lessons of leadership throughout the season, and presents fun opportunities to show your big kids and little kids together!
  1. Lessons for Life
As we all know, dance lessons and life lessons go hand-in-hand, so if you are trying to appeal to parents who value the opportunity for their children to learn life skills through dance, this simple key message aligns perfectly.  A monthly key message about a specific lesson could also keep this idea going strong.
  1. Shaping the Community
Many small businesses are big influences in the community, and dance studios are no different!  If you consider your studio an influencer (or you want to increase your influence) this key message says that you care about giving back and celebrating your hometown.  It could open up opportunities for cross-promotions too, especially with other kid-centered businesses
  1. One Family, Many Hearts
This may be a season where you are striving to rebuild connections at your studio; perhaps your retention is lower than you’d like, or you’ve noticed that you need to encourage more unity.  Taking action on a key message like this one can show that you are moving forward with new motivation, where the studio is one big family.
  1. Stronger Together
Research tells us that everyone’s potential goes up when a group supports one another and feels encouraged.  A positive self-image results when students can see themselves being successful; they feel stronger because they are inspired.  This key message emphasizes that every child’s strength is limitless.
  1. Celebrating a Legacy
Whether you are recognizing a studio anniversary, revealing a new project, designing a new logo, or commemorating a milestone, a celebratory key message keeps the momentum going all year long and is super-fun to incorporate into your recital!
No matter which key messages you use at your studio this year, remember that you can get a LOT of mileage out of just one or two ideas if you create a plan for putting them in action.  Capitalize on your team’s strengths and involve them in how to implement the messages too; their personal connection to the message is essential!
I hope YOU find a key message or two that fits perfectly at your studio this year, and I encourage you to put your key messages in the comments below, so we can ALL benefit from sharing ideas.  Wishing you much success as you put your choices into action!

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

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3 Tips for Successful Meetings

Successful Meetings

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:


  1.  Decide what type of meeting it will be
Clarity is key for successful meetings! Make sure your team knows what type of meeting they are stepping into, and set the expectation that the meeting will be focused on specific outcomes related to that type—off-topic questions or conversations will be saved for another time. Here are some common meeting types you may be using (or will want to implement):
  • Status Check
Use these meetings to brief the team on projects you are working on, or to check in with them on the status of their projects. Status check meetings should serve as task-oriented progress reports, where everyone contributes to discuss their specific responsibilities.
  • Problem-Solving
The problem-solving meeting is centered around brainstorming new ideas on how to approach a specific issue, or related issues, the studio is facing. These meetings will probably be centered around finding the best resolution, or at the very least, innovating solutions that can be explored further.
  • Vision-Casting
Setting studio-wide goals and expectations are the two pillars of a visionary type of meeting. This is likely to be a meeting led by you or someone on your leadership team, to set the tone of the season, the semester, or the month ahead. Also, remember that casting the vision for your team means this type of meeting is usually the most motivational!
  1.  Know who needs to attend and why
Not every meeting is for every staff member. For example, you may have meetings that are better suited for your leadership team only or meetings that are strictly for administrative personnel. Or perhaps your teachers need their own classroom-focused meeting once every quarter. Dial into the needs of your team by making sure each meeting has a defined purpose and no one’s time is wasted.
One great way to do this is by taking the time to personally invite team members to a meeting and giving them advance notice of the topic at hand.  There may be times where you also ask them to bring ideas to share. Explain how much listening, note-taking, or contributing they should expect. Doing this allows meetings to feel less like an obligation, and more of an opportunity to connect. 
  1. Be prepared—and be prepared to improvise
Go into every meeting with an agenda, and expect to improvise off of it as needed. I’ve learned that when I’m in charge of a meeting, I do my best when I’m clear about the main points that need to be discussed. If I’m not clear, nobody is clear.
If you have members of your team who also lead meetings, talk to them about developing this skill too. Consistency and organization among staff, no matter who is setting the meeting, shows that meetings are not taken lightly and will be used to enhance everyone’s productivity.
Don’t underestimate the value of a great staff meeting! With some fine-tuned planning and a little extra attention to detail, your team can gain a whole new appreciation for what a A+ meeting can be like.

I hope that your studio can benefit from these tips and turn meetings into a source of respectful relationship-building and enhanced focus at work. And if there something else YOU do with your meetings to make them successful, please share your advice in the comments. I’d love to hear what serves you well when it comes to meetings—and maybe try it out myself!

Looking for more tips for running successful meetings? Check out the following articles:

 

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing

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5 Quick Ways to Recharge During the Busy Season

Busy Season Stress

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 prepared 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:


  1. Commit to self-care in the morning
The morning can often dictate how the rest of your day goes, so decide now that your mornings will be proactive for your peace of mind.  Spend a few quiet minutes in meditation or prayer; edit your to-do list; read one chapter of an inspiring book; brew your favorite coffee or tea; move your body through some gentle stretching or yoga.  Have a ritual in place—even a short one—that will encourage you to start the day with your best foot forward.
  1. Go outside at least once a day
A few deep breaths of fresh air can change your entire frame of mind when you are caught in the whirlwind of busyness.  Don’t trick yourself into thinking that you should go all day at your desk with only a few stretch breaks. Try to block out 15 minutes here and there to step outside, walk around the block, and enjoy a change of scenery.  You may be surprised at how refreshed you feel!
  1. Connect with friends who understand
I personally think this is one of the best ways to combat the weariness that can accompany long work days: human connection.  Our tendency as entrepreneurs is to isolate ourselves when we feel stress when really it’s much more helpful to reach out to others!  Maybe you don’t have time for a long heart-to-heart phone call, but sending a quick text or email to check in with a friend can give you a burst of energy AND put a smile on your face.
  1. Fuel up with your favorite things
When you’re in busy mode, don’t let yourself fall into the trap of poor nutrition habits!  Stock up on your favorite healthy snacks, treats, or meals to keep you going. Now’s the time to splurge on the protein bars you crave, the smoothies with extra vitamins, or maybe even the meal delivery service you’ve been meaning to try.  Your health can’t be taken for granted at any time—and most especially when you need to be on your A-game.
  1. Give yourself a chance to wind down
Resist the urge to completely crash at the end of the day.  Your evening routine should allow you the chance to center yourself and relax.  As hard as it is to do, put your phone and computer in another room to charge, and focus on yourself and your family before turning in for the night.  Your mind will feel clearer and more rested to take on whatever’s next.
Recharging during this time of year can be a challenge, but if anyone can accept a challenge and overcome it, it’s a studio owner!  I want you to feel encouraged that this season of “busy” can also be a season of “health” if you are committed to it. I know that for me, this time of year now holds more excitement than stress because I’m able to look out for my well-being in a way I didn’t know how to do before.
If you have another method of recharging that works well in your life, share it in the comments below!  I would love to hear what helps keep you fueled, prepared, and nourished during this time of year. I wish you much success as you charge full-steam ahead into the coming weeks!

Looking for more tips keeping your sanity through the busy season? Check out the following articles:

 

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6 Best Practices for Interviewing Job Candidates

6 Best Practices for Interviewing Job Candidates

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:


  1. Consider a pre-interview screening

Before you begin a series of interviews, think about implement one more step: the pre-interview submission.  This could be done by asking the applicant to complete a short questionnaire via email, having them leave a voice message, or upload a video introduction.  Any of these methods will allow you an additional screening before taking the time to meet someone in person.

  1. Use the first interview as a simple getting-to-know-you meeting

Don’t expect to get too much done in the first face-to-face interview.  What do I mean by that? Well, use that meeting a little like a first date: ask basic questions, read the candidate’s body language, and do a gut-check on whether you think they would be a good culture fit for your studio.

  1. Always interview at least twice, probably more

I am a big proponent of “hire slowly, fire quickly,” meaning that if I’m going to invest the time, money, and energy into hiring for a position, I want to be very sure that we’re bringing in someone who will be the right match for that role.  Rushing the process only risks potential problems. For example, an initial interview, lunch or coffee interview, and a sample class interview are part of my go-to process for hiring new teachers.

  1. Ask open-ended questions

Remember that asking questions that begin with “What,” “How,” or “When,” can be great openers into deeper interview questions, such as “How would you handle this type of situation?”  Other great questions can come from prompts like, “Tell me about a time when …” or “Describe your experience with …”

  1. Find out what the candidate knows about you

Ask what research the candidate has conducted on you or your studio; someone who is very interested in the job and does their homework will probably have a few things to say!  I always like hearing from candidates who share what they like about the studio or have questions about our programming, because it shows their curiosity.

  1. Take good notes—and not just about their answers

Remembering every little thing a candidate says in an interview is probably not necessary, but I do like to be able to review my notes days later and get a sense of my instincts at the moment.  For instance, I’ll make note if the person was extra-prepared (or not enough), if they dressed appropriately, if they were on time, and if any of their behavior during the interview requires further questioning.

Once upon a time, I thought owning a dance studio was all about dance … but of course, it’s about so much more!  And one of the most rewarding parts is hiring amazing people for your team. It isn’t always easy finding those people, but with these best practices in place, you can feel more confident than ever that the right candidate is just an interview away!

Looking for more tips for hiring an excellent staff? Check out the following articles:

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3 Keys to High-Level Customer Service

Customer Service

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:


  1. Communicate with kindness, clarity, and speed
To me, there’s almost nothing more important than communicating with kindness. You just never know what a customer may be going through, and your kindness may make all the difference to their day. Of course, that doesn’t mean being a doormat when it comes to answering questions, which is why clarity is also part of this key! Being kind and clear means that your message can be heard without any guesswork. Top it off by making sure that your response time (if communicating by phone, email, chat, or text) is quick so that customers aren’t left wondering when they’ll hear back.

This isn’t an earth-shattering concept, but it does take more effort to execute than you think!  Remind your team often that they will encounter moments where they will feel tested on their kindness, clarity, or speed, and it’s essential that they commit and deliver no matter what.  Five-star service comes with understanding that every customer deserves this level of care at every point in their journey with your studio

 

  1. Handle concerns with extra TLC
Anytime there is a problem or mistake, your best path forward is going to include extra patience and attention to that customer. My advice here is to train your team to vet and troubleshoot any issues right away, so that the concerned party knows that their issue is a priority. One rule we have in place at my studio is what I call the “$100 Happiness Policy,” which means that if a customer’s problem can be solved quickly and responsibly for $100 or less, my front desk team knows they have the authority to do so, with no questions asked. It’s worth explaining for your staff that if they’re doing their jobs well, concerns won’t be the norm! But problems will happen from time to time, and the best course of action starts with professionalism and ends with peace of mind.
  1. Make it normal practice to go above and beyond
When it comes to customer service, we can choose to strive for a baseline of satisfactory work or we can choose to shoot for the stars … five stars to be exact! I prefer to coach my staff to shoot for the stars, because THAT is what truly takes our service to the next level.
Here’s an example of what I mean: one day a while back, a staff member noticed a student had been dropped off for class without her dance bag. The child had been going back and forth from her newly-divorced parents’ homes and was crushed that she wasn’t prepared. Instead of just reassuring the dancer everything would be OK (baseline service), this staff member went above and beyond and gave the little girl a new leotard and tights on the spot ($100 Happiness Policy), and found some shoes for her to borrow from the lost and found box. The dancer left smiling and her mom was forever grateful that we were able to help save the day during a time that their home life had been turned upside down.
Although these three keys are my go-to customer service guidelines, I have one other piece of advice to pass along: Take note of the service YOU receive at the businesses you patronize. Are there practices you would want to emulate at your studio? Others that weren’t up to your standards? We can learn a LOT from our own interactions as customers.

I believe our impact as studio owners is only as strong as our service, so it stands to reason that our leadership in this area is vital to our business’s success. If you have a customer service tip that works awesomely well at your studio, please share it in the comments! I’d love to hear about it. We can all contribute to a higher industry standard if we learn from each other!

Looking for more great ideas to help with boosting employee morale? Check out the following articles:

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4 Ideas for Boosting Employee Morale

Boosting Employee Morale

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:

  1. Solicit their feedback and suggestions  
Although not every business decision you make is a democratic one, you can choose to allow your team’s suggestions to be heard on decisions that affect them. People are energized when they contribute to their organization’s success, so by being open to their feedback, you are letting your team know that they—and their opinions—matter.
Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying you should have a free-for-all on feedback! It is still important that you communicate when your people have a “voice” versus when they have a “vote.” But everyone’s confidence gets a boost when they know that you are actively listening and that you care about what they think.
  1. Have fun together outside of work
Perhaps this is “easier said than done” when it comes to scheduling, but getting together with your team just for fun can be a MAJOR morale booster! This could be as simple as a Sunday brunch, or as involved as a weekend retreat. The idea is to create a relaxed environment for everyone to enjoy each other’s company, without any work pressures or agendas. These group experiences away from the studio humanize you and them by taking everyone out of the usual routine. Think bonding activities like bowling or visiting an escape room; or entertainment, such as a game night at your house or seeing a show together.
You don’t have to hold these types of events often, but make it a point to schedule at least a few each season. Be prepared to pick up the tab, and consider inviting spouses or significant others into the mix too!
  1. Discover their “language of appreciation”
You may have heard of The 5 Love Languages before, a book by Gary Chapman. Well, he also has a  companion book, authored with Paul White, called The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. The concept behind the book is that different personality styles value different expressions of appreciation, and it’s important to tap into your employees’ preferences in order to show appreciation in a meaningful way.
What’s most important is to learn what is motivating for your team members! For example, if you have an employee who values tangible gifts, they are going to feel appreciated when you bring them a Starbucks gift card. Another employee, however, may feel more motivated by quality time, and so scheduling regular check-ins with that person is going to bring more value to them than Starbucks does.
  1. Offer consistent praise and encouragement
When you see an employee doing something great, honor it! Don’t wait. Praise often, as soon as you witness a positive interaction or grace under pressure. And don’t hesitate to praise publicly, especially in front of other team members.
As a studio owner, it’s easy to get caught up in giving constant corrections, but by offering frequent and deserving praise, you are showing your employees that you notice their efforts. Everyone loves being lifted up for a job well done, and finding these moments of praise demonstrates that you’re committed to finding a balance between compliments and criticism.
I challenge you to use all four of these ideas to give your team an extra boost and some well-earned pats-on-the-back. Your employees are the conduit to your customers, and so the more confident and positive they feel, the better they can serve. Allow them to be heard and encourage their successes. Share in the comments below if you have experienced a great return on your investment into employee morale!  I’d love to hear about it.

Looking for more great ideas to help with boosting employee morale? Check out the following articles:

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5 Ways to Build a Strong Studio Culture

Studio Culture

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:

  1. Start with yourself and your “why”
Because you are the owner of the business, the culture starts with you. Take a moment to think about why you started (or acquired) the studio in the first place. Was it to nurture young talent? Provide a safe space for learning? Offer a unique perspective in the marketplace?  Build confidence and leadership in children? Write down some of the values you hold as a studio owner, that come from your why. Think about what’s important to the vision you have!
  1. Next, involve your staff
Although building a strong culture starts with you, it isn’t a solo act.  You want (and need) your employees to feel strongly about the same values so they can serve your dance families with those qualities in mind. Present your why to your team, and discuss with them which of those values are most important. Listen to their feedback and open up the conversation to understand their “why” too. Use this time to settle on the values that will drive your studio forward in the coming months and years.

 

  1. Demonstrate the culture out loud
Reflect your studio’s values everywhere in your actions: claim them in your marketing pieces, display them on the wall, discuss them on social media. Create a buzz around the ideas and then demonstrate your follow-through. For example, if growing leadership is important to your culture, don’t just talk about it … expand your class assistant program or develop an internship course. Make it a normal part of your studio world!
  1. Use your values in the classroom
Building a strong culture means that your students are exposed to it even from a young age. Incorporate values-driven language and behavior expectations in the classroom, such as agreeing that “we always try our best” because developing a work ethic is an essential value to your studio culture. As younger dancers grow up at your school, this culture will simply become what they already expect of themselves and others.

 

  1. Think of it as an ongoing development, not a destination
Business culture isn’t something you build and then it’s just there forever. To me, it’s more like a garden that needs cultivating, and it requires some patience. Sometimes the weeds need to be pulled, and sometimes the blooms are magnificent! But it always needs attention so that it can flourish.

The special care you give your culture will positively impact everyone at your studio, from your staff to your students to their parents. I hope you’ll consider using these steps to establish or renew the values your culture depends on! Ask yourself: if not now, when? There’s no time like the present to prioritize this important work.Tell me in the comments what you love best about your studio’s culture, or what shifts you are making to improve it. I believe we can all learn from each other’s experiences and build our studio’s culture to be stronger than ever!

Looking for more great ideas to help you build your studio’s culture? Check out the following articles:

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7 Dos & Don’ts for Staff Performance Reviews

Performance Reviews

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:

 


  1. Do come prepared … and allow your employees to prepare too
When scheduling a performance review, be sure to set aside some time to make some notes for yourself of the main points you want to discuss.  If your process is formal, prepare the ratings/scores and comments to share with your team member. Remind them of the items that you’ll be reviewing together so that they too can spend time preparing to discuss those specific outcomes.

 

  1. Do start with the positives
Lead the meeting by complimenting some of the employee’s strengths.  Refer to behaviors you have personally observed and offer praise for what you specifically noticed.  Don’t offer compliments just because you think you should; really mean what you say!

 

  1. Don’t dominate the conversation
Make a point to really listen when your team member responds to a question you’ve asked or a critique you’ve given.  Take notes if it helps! Active listening will allow you to ensure they feel heard and will give you the space to acknowledge their point of view.  You are building trust with them as you make room for their voice to be heard.

  1. Do offer clear feedback
As you can tell, I think there’s plenty of room in a performance review for high-fives and pats on the back!  But remember that the main goal is to communicate effectively about the areas where your employee can improve their work.  If you’re not specific about what you expect to change, you’re doing a disservice to yourself, the employee, and by association, to everyone on your team.

 

  1. Don’t forget to ask for feedback
While a traditional performance review is designed to give the employee feedback, I encourage you to ask for feedback too.  Find out if your employee has suggestions for an improved experience with team communications, staff meetings, with your leadership practices, or other areas of the business.

 

  1. Don’t take too much time
Performance reviews can be nerve-wracking for your employees and for you, so it’s important to use your time wisely.  Sketch out a simple agenda beforehand but be ready to adjust from it as needed. Being respectful of your employee’s time is another way to build confidence in your trustworthiness as a leader. We shoot for twenty minutes.

 

  1. Do allow for follow-up
It’s not realistic to expect that one personal conversation will be all it takes to move forward from a performance review.  Experience has taught me that although the conversation itself is an extremely valuable tool, the communication doesn’t stop there!  Be willing to circle back to some of the same topics after resetting expectations, offering suggestions, and listening to feedback.

Remember that conducting performance reviews can serve as a critical tool in advancing your team through the season and for this reason, shouldn’t be overlooked.  I encourage you to combine these Dos & Don’ts with your current system to create a winning formula for your studio! I hope you’ll share in the comments below what helps YOU most when preparing and managing your performance reviews, so we can all learn from each other.

Looking for more great ideas to help you manage an awesome team? Check out the following articles:

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4 Keys to Growing Enrollment in the Spring Semester

Growing Enrollment

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:

 


  1. “Closing the gaps”
Your studio, like mine, probably has classes where there is a gap between current enrollment and maximum enrollment.  Between now and February (our recital cutoff date), I prefer to focus on closing the gaps for specific classes that I know will be great for newcomers, like beginning hip hop or a preschool ballet class.  I notify my team of these classes to target, and they direct prospects there. I believe the key to a successful “closing of the gap” is finding just the right dance families … have your team identify prospective parents and children who are eager to start class right away and have expressed strong interest in participating in the recital.

 

  1. Hosting dance camps
Camps aren’t just for summer!  That’s my philosophy anyway. We offer one-time, themed camps that parents can sign their children up for throughout the year.  You could easily come up with a series of themes for camps like this and have a weekly or monthly offering. With a nominal fee or no cost at all, dance camps let folks “try before they buy” in a low-pressure, fun way.  For us, this bite-size way of trying dance often leads parents to enroll their children in other programs, since they’ve formed a relationship with us and learned to trust our interactions with their kids.

  1. Creating mini-mesters
Mini-mesters are a series of regular classes offered in short sessions, usually anywhere from four to eight weeks.  For us, they allow families to try out our dance classes without a school-year commitment, and without needing to invest in the recital.  I’ve even seen some studio owners package mini-mesters with all-inclusive pricing, where you might include the classes, dancewear, shoes, and a summer dance coupon in one affordable bundle.  At my studio, we’ve also seen great success with our mini-mester students “graduating” to a school-year class the following year. Mini-mesters are an awesome stepping stone for the commitment-shy parent.

 

  1. Adding brand new classes
Does your schedule have an opening here or there?  Adding a brand new class to your schedule can seem risky mid-year, but it won’t be if you do your homework.  Look at your enrollment numbers to see which ages and/or class styles are most popular. Then comb through your class schedule to see where you have classroom and teacher availability for a new class and determine your break-even enrollment number.  Reach out to your current clientele for referrals and advertise the class’s start date to your existing waitlist. Bonus: if you can still fit the class into your recital, do it! Find an in-stock costume and promote the picture of it along with the class information … sometimes a sparkly tutu is all it takes!

PS Don’t forget the adults. We just added an Adult Tap class and it’s going like hot cakes!  It’ might help that my sister has been recruiting in the lobby, but it really goes to show that students can come from all places.

Looking for more great ideas to help with growing enrollment? Check out the following articles:

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Coaching Your Team to Success: Top 6 Ways

Coaching Studios Success

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. 

Here are my Top 6 Ways to Coach Your Team to Success:


  1. Vision-casting … and recasting – As the studio owner, your eye is consistently on the big picture. Your team, on the other hand, is consistently in the trenches of day-to-day details. And so communicating to them about what the big picture looks like—what “winning” on the team looks like—is one way to coach them to success. Through casting the vision, you’re doing more than painting that picture; you’re reminding them of their impact on the business’s higher purpose! My recommendation is to find ways to recast this vision at least once a month.
  2. Productive meetings – Meetings can be fertile ground for coaching if you approach them in just the right way. Plant the seeds of preparedness, follow-through, and followup by planning meetings that have an objective which involves everyone invited. Consider sending out an agenda beforehand to make the objective clear, and ask for specific contributions. Coach your staff to listen actively, share ideas, and when necessary, debate with grace.
  3. Encouraging teamwork – As the studio owner, it’s important that you publicly compliment your employees’ strengths and encourage peer leadership. Coach them to think of their fellow team members first when they have a question or need help solving a problem. You are teaching them to depend on each other when needed and form bonds along the way, rather than go it alone or always come to you for answers.
  4. Personal check-ins – Schedule one or two times during the year to personally check in one-on-one with your employees, not just to evaluate their job performance and give feedback, but to get to know their lives and personal goals. As a coach, you want to feel connected to your team members in a way that gives you insight into what motivates them. This way you are equipped throughout the season to educate them, lift them up, and cheer them on.
  5. Praise and corrections – Coaching your team to success doesn’t have to be all wellplanned and thought-out; it might happen spur of the moment! Be prepared to praise an employee immediately upon witnessing a desired behavior, like an outstanding phone call or closing of a sale. Those “high-fives” build major confidence. When you hear about something that didn’t go right, be sure to offer coaching to the employee quickly to correct the problem but privately to maintain trust.
  6. Continuing education opportunities – A leadership book club. Dance-related trainings and certifications. Business seminars. All of these things create opportunities for learning outside of the studio bubble. Coach your employees to take an interest in continuing their education—however big or small the opportunity may be. (It’s worth studying your budget to see how much you can invest in them too.) By nudging your team members to seek out and appreciate their own personal growth, you are showing them how valued they are at your organization.

Your responsibility as a studio owner doesn’t start and end with the basics of hiring and firing; your true leadership comes from your ability to see potential in others and capitalize on it so that everyone wins. Coaching takes time, effort, energy, and communication, but the dividends it pays are often far beyond what you put in!

I encourage you to start putting these six tips to use at your studio. Already working on it? I hope you’ll share in the comments below what your most rewarding coaching moment has been so far, and how you hope to grow your coaching skills from here. I wish you much success on this unique journey of leadership!

 

Looking for more great studio staff coaching ideas? Check out the following articles:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

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