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.
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:
Being a studio owner and achieving a work life balance can seem flat-out impossible! But what if we are just thinking of the word “balance” in the wrong way?
I’ve come to the conclusion that we have to change our definition of the word. Instead of “balance” meaning equal attention at all times, I propose that we adopt the mentality that “balance” means the right amount of attention at any given time. In other words, we could stop striving for the seesaw of our lives to be level. We could strive instead to make sure it functions well; that each side can go up and down as needed. That, to me, is more like a balance that reflects real life!
For example, there will be times where you simply need to be all-in with your family. Maybe you have a vacation planned, a new baby, or an emergency. And there will be times that you’re all-in with the studio because it’s peak registration or recital week or an employee quits. Just because you are all-in with one area of your life doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong! There will always be some give-and-take, and the balance may shift accordingly.
So what can you do to achieve just the right (proportionate!) balance in YOUR life day-to-day? Keep reading to learn more about my 4 Tips to Achieve Your Best Work Life Balance.
Looking for more tips to help with work life balance? Check out these other articles and resources:
When you are at a business seminar or dance event, it can feel completely natural to connect with other studio owners who aren’t in your community … you might not think twice about sharing policy ideas or a marketing plan, or commiserating over some your recent challenges.
But what about studio owners in your own marketplace?
Just because we consider someone’s business to be our competition, doesn’t mean they are personally “against” us. I believe we can develop friendly relationships with nearly anyone if we are intentionally positive and open to working together.
By default, we are all still human beings who want to cultivate friendships and who desire a sense of belonging. Other studio owners are our peers, and most of the time they want the same kinds of things we do: fulfillment, happiness, success, and of course, relationships!
I’m proud to say that within my organization More Than Just Great Dancing®, we have some pretty inspirational members who have established a proactive, professional rapport with other studio owners in their communities.
I think this is clear proof that with just the right mix of positivity, effort, and mutual respect, connections with one’s competitors are not only possible, they are achievable! Keep reading to learn how these ladies are Building Strong Relationships with Competing Studio Owners:
Interested in more articles about building relationships? Check out these articles from the TutuTix archive:
I don’t know about you, but marketing is at the VERY top of my priority list at this time of year! With back-to-school enrollment underway and goals to meet, achieving success at my studio—for my studio—depends greatly focusing our marketing tactics and message. After all, there is no mission to serve if we haven’t attracted the right clientele to our programs!
First, my team and I establish our strategy; that is, we figure out the overarching objective we want to meet and the way in which we want to approach it. For this year, our objective is to increase total enrollment in the studio and participation in each class. Our strategy is to use key messages about our youngest dancers’ potential and our special opportunities for all ages.
Since marketing is all about bringing the information you want people to know about your studio right to their fingertips, you want to do so in a way that is both educational AND appealing. But too many marketers focus on the “WHAT” (dance classes). You want the tactics you employ to pique someone’s curiosity and prompt them to want to know more about WHY you do what you do and how you do it.
The best ways to market are always evolving of course …. as they should! You always want marketing for your studio to feel fresh and exciting with every step, not stale. Keep reading for my 7 Most Important Marketing Tactics to Implement at Your Studio!
Have you ever gotten to the day of recital and been surprised by something you know you could have prevented, if only you had prepared ahead of time? Yep, me too. I’ve been in those shoes before and boy do they hurt! With time and experience though, I’ve learned better tactics for planning out my dance recital day.
I distinctly remember this one dance recital moment early in my career as a studio owner when we had mounted an ambitious opening number to “Be Our Guest,” complete with seven-year-old tap dancing waiters! The first show went off without a hitch and so I didn’t check to see if all of the classes were in place for the second show. There we were, mid-production, with a faculty member gesturing to the side of the stage to usher in the waiters …. and NO WAITERS! You should’ve seen our faces of shock! We finished the dance, found the waiters, and ran the number again. And you can bet that’s an oversight I never made again.
While surprises will pop up, the best thing you can do to set yourself up for success is to plan your work and then work your plan. The effort you spend upfront will save you from mishaps, when the last thing you need is to put out one more fire (or find a class of missing waiters!).
Keep reading to learn 6 Steps to a Satisfying Dance Recital Day.
Are you looking for some more recital tips and ideas? Check out these other articles and resources from Misty:
Business growth: it’s something every studio owner desires!
Whether it’s more students, more staff members, more space, more financial freedom, or more time at home, at some point or another, we all want MORE for our studios.
Growth can be great! It means your business is healthy, and healthy things grow! But business growth usually doesn’t come without a few growing pains. As your studio expands to accommodate more people or more space, or as you step out to spend more time at home, you’ll probably notice that some of your existing systems don’t work as well anymore. I often tell the dance studio owners that I coach, “Every time something your business doubles, all of your systems break.”
If you are in a position where you are seeing your numbers rise and your systems aren’t quite keeping up, take advantage of this opportunity to make some key updates in the way you organize and communicate before the new year starts. Keeping up with your studio’s growth—and then staying ahead of it—will allow you to maintain its health. Don’t ignore the warning signs that you need to make improvements. Warning signs might include things like customer confusion or dropping balls on details and follow up.
If these types of things are happening to you, it’s probably time to dig in to some new resources that will help improve your systems!
Keep reading to learn about my 5 Tools to Implement for Business Growth.
Looking for more dance studio staff insights? Check out these other articles and resources:
Overloaded. Scattered. Forgetful. Late. Have you ever felt that any of these words describe you as a studio owner? I once did. Other studio owners tell me often that they too, have been consumed by their work and feel like they are constantly in need of help. The one thing that made a difference for me? Hiring the right studio staff for my team. An amazing group of employees is a huge game-changer. I call mine the Dream Team.
The process of hiring can be one of the most daunting tasks for a studio owner. You feel a lot of pressure (from yourself!) to make a good decision; one that at best, could benefit your team for years to come and that at worst, could create a toxic environment. Hiring someone who is a good fit for your business is truly win-win: you get the help you need to run an organized and efficient studio, and your new employee obtains a job at a meaningful place to work.
Before taking the first step in your hiring process, be sure that you know what it is that you’re hiring for. I recommend writing up a job description: include the job title, responsibilities, and the qualities desired in your ideal candidate. This job description will be for your internal use only, so expect that it might change somewhat once you’ve found a great person to hire and want to adapt the position to their strengths. For now, the description is simply your guideline. Having it prepared gives you a starting point for the way you need to advertise the job opening, and for the types of questions you might need to ask during interviews.
Once your hiring needs are clear, it’s time to prepare a job listing or advertisement. This is the information you’ll post online, such as on Indeed or Craigslist, or through other hiring avenues, such as your local university or community newsletter. Be sure to tell your current staff members that you’re looking to hire; I often find that getting referrals from my employees is far more successful than any other method. Birds of a feather do flock together after all!
After your job description and job listing are complete, it’s time to focus on the big task ahead: the hiring process itself. Your diligent attention to the details can make all the difference! Normally I have a whole list of tips and ideas for you for each topic, but hiring is different. There are really only two rules you need to heed for hiring.
Keep reading for my “THE ONLY 2 TIPS FOR HIRING” so that you can build your very own Dream Team:
Looking for more dance studio staff insights? Check out these other articles and resources:
Dance studio owners know that running a studio is a rewarding and joyous experience; there’s truly no other life like it! From the moment you open your doors, your mission is to make an impact on the world through dance. But even with the greatest of missions, there will still be times when things get tough—times when you question yourself or don’t know where to turn for help.
When those moments happen it can be helpful to talk with your peers, just to have someone who understands really LISTEN to you. But do you know what is even more beneficial? Seeking out a mentor—someone who can not only listen, but also inspire you to be your best, solve problems, raise your perspective, help you develop better leadership strategies, and coach you through big decisions.
Finding the right mentor can sometimes take a bit of work, but the payoff is awesome when you’ve found someone you respect and trust. Having had a few different mentors over the past two decades, I can honestly say that each one brought a unique and timely perspective to my life when I needed it.
Before you search for a mentor, think about what you want to achieve from the relationship. Do you want to work with someone who has knowledge of the dance industry, or would you prefer to have a mentor who comes from a different professional background? Do you want to meet on a consistent schedule, or keep things open-ended? How much time do you hope to spend with your mentor?
The answers to these questions will help prepare you to find a mentor who is the best fit possible. All it takes is a little planning, and a willingness to put yourself out there and meet new people.
Keep reading to learn about my 5 Ways to Find a Mentor:
Looking for more insights for dance studio owners? Check out these other articles and resources:
Should I step back from teaching to focus on studio business?
There are only 2 questions you need to answer to make this decision.
I meet a lot of studio owners in my travels, and there seems to be one thing that unites us—we all have a similar backstory. Somewhere along the way in life we fell in love with dance. We became dedicated to creating a career out of dance; we were passionate about the power of dance to change lives; and we were resourceful at using our skills and connections to make a difference in the lives of others.
I believe that studio owners are unique in this way, and this passion for sharing our love of dance is what drives us to succeed. But as we grow in our studio careers, we realize that the job of running a studio is about so much more than dance. We discover that we need to learn how to lead people, manage accounting, develop programming, understand new marketing trends and more. As your studio grows, the business needs can begin to rival the artistic side for your time and attention.
When this happens, you might feel like you’ve come to a crossroads. I know I did! This is where you have to start making decisions about the best place to direct your focus in this new season of life.
Should you step back from teaching to focus on studio business? Continue reading to see the only two questions you need to answer to make this decision.
Looking for more dance studio owner insights? Check out these other articles and resources:
There’s nothing more satisfying than the feeling you get when your studio is thriving! When the hallways are buzzing and the classes are full, you feel such pride in having grown your business to a successful place. But it’s not all sunshine and daisies, of course. Success can also mean growing pains in every facet of your business—especially at recital time.
As your studio gains families and dancers, you will inevitably need to decide how to present your recital in the best way possible, which may mean adding shows as you grow. The single 90-minute performance that worked well five years ago might no longer be a reasonable option if you’ve doubled your student count since then. While there’s no magic enrollment number that equals two shows (or three or four!) there are certain factors you can consider in your planning process.
If you are at the tipping point, keep reading to learn about the four factors to consider when deciding whether to add a second show for your recital:
Are you looking for some more recital tips and ideas? Check out these other articles and resources from Misty:
There’s plenty to consider when asking the question “Are dance competitions worth it?” for your studio—-the endless hours of preparation, the cost to attend and the time it takes to travel. And yet the results for your students can far outweigh the headaches if competition opportunities are an important part of your studio goals.
If you already participate in competitions, then you know how much work the dancers put into learning and practicing their routines, and how much money their parents invest in their classes and rehearsals. You also know the stress that can come if you are unprepared for an event, if your expectations were off, or if the competition doesn’t feel like a good fit. Then there’s that amazing feeling of watching your students onstage and earning well-deserved recognition for their hard work. Indeed, competing can be a roller coaster!
So how do you really know if that roller coaster is a worthwhile ride for your studio?
Keep reading to learn the three questions you should consider when asking yourself, “Are dance competitions worth it?”
Looking for more great info on dance competitions? Check out the following articles:
Whether your studio is in its first season, its fifteenth, or its fiftieth, chances are you want to see it grow! And when I say “grow” I’m talking about making real progress, which for your studio might mean increasing enrollment, nurturing your current customers, gaining square footage, developing leadership roles for your staff, improving your culture, redefining your mission, or all of the above.
You may already be experiencing the growing pains that can happen as you, the studio owner, shift focus in order to navigate growth of any kind. For me, as my own children have grown, I’ve shifted more and more time leading our faculty at our studio and less time teaching in the classroom.
No matter which type of growth your studio goes through, it most likely means that it will depend on you less and less for its day-to-day operations, and that your physical presence there will likely become less as well. But your personal connection to the studio—to your employees and to your dance families—will still be essential to supporting its success as it shifts and changes over time.
So how do you keep your relationship with the studio feeling vibrant and effective, even during different stages and phases of growth?
Keep reading to learn more about my 5 Ways To Support And Connect To Your Studio As It Grows.
Looking for more great info on dance studio growth and other studio management topics? Check out the following articles: