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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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Work Life Balance as a Studio Owner: Can It Be Done?

work life balance

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.

Here are my 4 Tips to Achieve Your Best Work/Life Balance:


  1. Know that flexibility is required
    Devoting time to your work at the studio and having family time means that being flexible has to be part of your DNA.  To find your best version of balance, it helps to be able to think on your feet and adapt when needed.  A balanced day doesn’t always have to abide by a strict schedule! It’s very likely that no two days will look alike, but they can all have a sense of balance if you remain flexible.
  1. Establish your boundaries
    Achieving balance often requires having a few, firm guidelines for yourself when it comes to boundaries.  For example, you may need to set limits on the times you will read and respond to emails so that you aren’t stuck to a screen during family time.  Or you may have to set non-negotiable studio work hours for each week, where your family knows that interruptions are for emergencies only. Using boundaries effectively gives me great peace of mind, especially during busy times.
  2. Open yourself up to change|
    During different seasons of life, know that you may have to get comfortable changing what your work/life balance looks like.  When your kids are young, you may require more time at home with them instead of at the studio. Or if your studio experiences a growth spurt, you may find that you need to dedicate more hours there on certain days of the week.  Establish points of the year to re-evaluate what a successful work/life balance means to YOU and then take action to achieve it. It’s OK to change it up as needed.
  3. Be in the moment
    If you’re finding balance in your life in proportionate ways, quality will always trump quantity!  Think about your intentions behind the time you do have, with your family or your studio.  Let’s say you have an employee who rarely gets face time with you … when you see that person, make a point to connect.  Ask how things are going, get feedback from them about their work, and let them know you care. Your intentional efforts to use your time wisely will reflect positively in every area of your life.

Discovering your ideal work/life balance won’t be a one-time thing; you’ll continue to figure out what works well (and what doesn’t) as you move forward.  I invite you to share in the comments below what your own experience of balance is like right now … and how it has changed over time.

Remember, it’s OK to give yourself permission to find balance in your own unique way!  Your life as a studio owner will sometimes be unpredictable, but using these 4 tips can help you stay on track to juggle it all with grace.  I believe in you!

Looking for more tips to help with work life balance? Check out these other articles and resources:

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

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Building Strong Relationships with Competing Studio Owners

ATTACHMENT DETAILS Building-Strong-Relationships-with-Competing-Studio-Owners

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:

Here are some of my favorite inspirational examples of Building Relationships with Competing Studio Owners:


  1. Melanie Gibbs, Co-Owner of Boca Dance Studio in Boca Raton, FL & ProAm Dance Studio in Pompano Beach, FL

Melanie became friendly with other studio owners in her South Florida community when they would see each other at competitions and other local dance events, and that camaraderie eventually turned into breakfast meetings a few times a year.  As the group got to know each other, they would share business ideas, ask each other questions about their policies, and even recommend substitute teachers to one another. Modeling this level of friendship for their students has become a powerful force in their relationship-building over the years, and they continue to stay in touch in between meetings, advising each other and sharing opportunities.

  1. Anekia Boatwright-McGhee, Artistic Director of Rebecca Padgett School of Performing Arts in Savannah, GA

In Anekia’s community, it was easy for her to feel isolated from other studio owners.  But on a recent trip to Dance Teacher Summit in New York, she began having a conversation with a fellow studio owner, only to learn that they both have studios in the same area!  It took a random conversation in a completely different city for the two owners to connect, but now they have plans to stay in touch locally and be the example in their community that competitors can coexist in a meaningful way.  It’s a dramatic shift from what Anekia was used to in the past, but she now feels empowered to emulate what she tells her dancers about having confidence in themselves. She wants them to see loud and clear that competition is ultimately with oneself, not other people.

 

  1. Melanie Boniszewski, Founder & Director of Tonawanda Dance Arts, Tonawanda, NY

It’s a pretty cool thing when you have an entire group of studio owners who consider themselves friends above and beyond anything else, not direct competition (even when they’re in the same area).  That’s how Melanie describes her fellow local studio owners who meet up a few times a year and remain in weekly (sometimes daily) contact through Facebook and text messages. Through the group they are able to talk about all the normal dance studio talk: pricing, staffing, programming, costuming, policies, and everything else.  Not only is their bond a special one, some of their students have even become friends with each other!

 

I hope you will be encouraged by these stories and choose to build strong connections within your own community.  You just never know what opportunity may lie ahead. Share in the comments below your positive experiences with other studio owners—you just might inspire someone else!

 

Interested in more articles about building relationships? Check out these articles from the TutuTix archive:

 

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

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The 7 Most Important Marketing Tactics to Implement at Your Studio

7 most important marketing tactics for your dance studio

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!

Here are my 7 Most Important Marketing Tactics to Implement at Your Studio:


  1. Sell the feeling on social media
    As we are all well aware, social media is a huge place to market these days!  Establish a system for regular posts about how being a part of your studio makes people feel, kids and parents alike.  Promote your happy students and parent testimonials even more than you promote the features of what you offer!
  2. Use micro-commitments
    Micro-commitments are small, free (or low-cost) programs, like a free day of dance or a low-cost mini-camp, that allow prospective customers to try out your studio without a big commitment.  Use them as a tactic to demonstrate that your studio is the place to be for kids who want to have fun and learn. Remember that most people like to “try before they buy” and micro-commitments allow them to do just that.
  3. Implement video
    Video marketing is everywhere and people love it!  Create short (less than two minute) videos to embed in your e-newsletter or on social media.  Keep your videos informal yet professional and highlight your studio mission, fabulous people and services.  A simple tour of classes in progress or a message is a great place to start.
  4. Bring back snail mail
    With so much “noise” in our inboxes these days, mail can be an attention-grabber if done right.  Consider sending postcards, special mailings, or small gift boxes to prospective customers, and make sure whatever you send is well-designed and eye-catching.  Just don’t forget to set a budget for postage too!
  5. Amp up referrals
    If you have a referral program in place, market a flash sale around it.  For example, if your referral incentive is $25 off one month of tuition, offer to double it during a specific (short) time period.  If you don’t have a referral program, what can I say? Get to it! Your existing customers are an excellent resource.
  6. Go big for special moments
    When you recognize a student or group of students, use those moments as opportunities to market the news to your community!  For example, when you choose a student of the month or cast roles in your annual holiday show, go big with the announcements: put up a yard sign at the student’s home and congratulate them individually on social media.
  7. Create contests
    Everyone loves a great contest because everyone loves prizes!  Contests could be as simple as commenting on a social media post with a photo in a dance pose. For example, one of our affiliated studios, Arabesque Dance Center, has a contest where students post pictures of them doing an arabesque on their travels.  If you have a contest that includes a reward, make sure the prize is something desirable, like a cute gift basket, a gift card to a popular store, or a tuition credit.

As you begin putting your marketing tactics to use, remind your staff too, that EVERYONE on the studio team is in marketing!  Whether they are in the classroom, at the front desk, at an event, or somewhere in between, your employees are always in marketing-mode.

My hope is that these marketing tactics have sparked even MORE ideas for you to use this fall.  I wish you luck as you dive into your new season!

Interested in more articles about dance studio marketing? Check out these articles from the TutuTix archive:

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

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Dance Recital Day for the Studio Owner: What Should my Day Look Like?

Dance Recital Day for the Studio Owner

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.


Here are my 6 Steps to a Satisfying Recital Day:

1. Find a quiet moment to yourself before the day begins

This should be completely non-recital related: maybe you decide to take an early-morning walk with your spouse, enjoy a cup of coffee on your patio, or read through an inspirational book. It doesn’t need to be more than 15 minutes, but find the time to breathe before the you head off to the races. Because we all know that once you get in your car for the day, it will be go, go, go until your head hits your pillow at the end of the day (and then, likely, your mind will keep going).

2. Arrive early to greet venue staff, employees, volunteers, and vendors

Schedule time before your dancers’ arrival to personally (yet briefly) check in with everyone who is helping to run the show.  This is the perfect time to go through any last-minute notes or checkpoints to ensure the best organization.  Offer up some encouragement too; it’s not just the dancers who get nervous for recital day!  If you want to go the extra mile, bring them a care basket. Nothing warms the heart of a theater tech person like a basket of treats and some caffeine for long show days.

3. Be proactive: anticipate problems

Although you can’t predict everything, you can prepare for some problems.  Stash a “recital supplies” bag in the wings or in the dressing room with extra tights, extra tickets, backup music, an emergency kit, a sewing kit, Sharpies … anything you can think of that might come in handy.  We even station our Business Manager by the door to backstage with our recital supply kit to make sure that every child is checked over from head-to-toe before they hit the stage. We’ve averted many small crises of missing shoes and costume pieces, costumes on backwards and upside down hair pieces during this pre-show check.

4. Make plans in advance to protect your time

As the studio owner, you will likely be the first person a parent wants to see if they’re upset about something, however big or small.  We all know emotions can run high at performance time!  Designate a time on your calendar when you will be ready to answer phone calls or emails, and make sure you have an employee or a volunteer who can run interference and offer redirection for people who want to approach you.  Even something as simple as putting an autoresponder on your email and a cheery message on your voicemail box explaining that you are at the theater and will be returning calls and checking email at 9am each day of recital week can be very helpful for keeping parent expectations for communication in line with what you are able to actually give.

5. Give gratitude where it is due

Your recital day satisfaction goes way up the moment you start saying “thank you”.  Show your gratitude in whichever ways are most available to you: hand out small gifts to your employees, thank your teachers by name in your welcome speech, offer up compliments when you see great work happening, provide a meal for your employees, and tell your dance parents you appreciate their trust in your studio.  Recital day is full of opportunities to be share the love-be generous with your praise!

6. Enjoy the little things

Take note of the special things you notice throughout the day.  I once saw the spark of a new friendship, between a younger dancer and an older one, when the older dancer offered comfort to the younger one who was struck with stage fright.  It made my whole day to have witnessed that moment they shared, but I never would have paid attention to it if I had run right past them. The exchange even made my closing comments for the show because it was such an example of what we are really doing through dance … not just making great dancers, but making great kids!

Recital time is the culmination of a year’s worth of hard work for us and our students, just in different ways!  It’s a highly emotional time on top of the busy-ness, so take steps to help give yourself a sense of control as well as the freedom to enjoy the day.  I’d love to hear if following these steps makes a difference in your recital planning, or if you have more steps to share!  Comment below or share your thoughts with me on social media @mistylown.  Here’s to a joyful and successful recital season!

Are you looking for some more recital tips and ideas? Check out these other articles and resources from Misty:

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

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I Need Help! (Part Two) – 5 Tools to Implement for Business Growth

5 Tools to Implement for Business Growth

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.


Here are my 5 Tools to Implement as Your Business Grows:

  1. A rhythm calendar

The “rhythm calendar” is a tool that helps everyone on your team see what tasks need to be done and when, for the entire year.  It may be an actual printed document which follows your studio’s calendar or it may be kept in a project-management software system like Asana or Basecamp. Either way, it’s a roadmap to keep you on track all year. It’s also a “living” document that covers the responsibilities in every area of your business, so expect it to change over time as your studio grows and changes.

  1. The right software

From accounting software to studio management software, you may need to consider implementing a new product or some more training on an existing product to stay on top of your studio’s growth.  Is what you’re currently using causing more headaches than it solves?  Are you actually using your software tools?  If technology isn’t your zone of genius, schedule an appointment to talk with your accountant or dance studio software representative to ask questions and get a refresher on which solution may help your business the most.

  1. A trial class system

Take the time to look back and see how many trial students you’ve served so far this year, and what their conversion rate to enrollment has been.  If your conversions are below 20% (or you don’t know this number to begin with) it’s probably time to get a real system in place.  A great starting place is to have one employee on your team act as the champion of this trial classes, from scheduling to follow-up.  Or you get techie with it. I recently installed a product called the Trial Class System by Studio Owners Academy and we have already had over 30 trial students. Now that’s a win this time of year!

  1. A file sharing program

As your student numbers grow, your team of staff members will likely grow too, meaning more people need access to more information.  Make your work more efficient by getting those files organized in one place.  A program like Google Drive, G Suite, or Dropbox will store your electronic files in the cloud, allowing you to choose who to share files with (and to limit access if needed).  No matter what system you use, it’s important to get everyone on the same page for naming documents. There is no sense in created great documents if you can’t find them later:)

  1. An email system

From automating marketing campaigns to sending out monthly newsletters to your existing customers, email still rules as one of the top ways to communicate.  Programs like MailChimp, iContact, or Drip allow you to break up lists into smaller groups according to interest and to create branded, professional-looking information to send out to them on a regular basis making your studio look organized and reliable.

As your business grows, your systems must grow, too! Remember: whatever time you put in to update your systems NOW will save you heaps of time in the new year.

Do you have questions on how to grow your studio business (or to how to manage the growth you are having?) Let’s talk! Connect with me on social media @mistylown. I’d love to hear your questions, concerns, or stories of success.

Love, Misty


 

Looking for more dance studio staff insights? Check out these other articles and resources:

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

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I Need Help! (Part One) – Hiring Additional Studio Staff

Hiring Additional Studio Staff

Top 2 Tips For Smart Hiring

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:

Here they are! THE ONLY 2 TIPS FOR HIRING you need:


  1. Hire slowly
My first tip is to never be in a hurry to hire! I’ve certainly learned this the hard way. Rushed hiring almost always results in a poor match between you and the new employee because you didn’t have enough time to thoroughly assess their potential with your business.
Create a hiring system that includes several steps instead; this will help you evaluate candidates in different ways over time.  For example, your first step might include instructing applicants to introduce themselves by leaving a voicemail (we use Google Voice) or by uploading a video message. This will allow you to “meet” them virtually. Those who are articulate and enthusiastic can be invited to complete the next step, which could be a phone interview or an email questionnaire.
At this point your goal is simply to get to know the candidate better, so your questions might include topics like “What type of books do you read?” or “Tell me about a time when you helped make a positive change in someone else’s life.” From there, you would ask the successful candidates to meet for a personal interview, either with you or someone from your leadership team.

 

A second, off-site personal interview (for example, over lunch) or a teaching audition would be an appropriate next step for those candidates who are still in the running after the first personal interview. Having your candidates pass through each of the benchmark steps allows you to get to know them under different conditions, and if at any point they no longer seem like a good fit for your studio, you can thank them for their time and move on.

  1. Hire for character
My second tip comes from 20 years’ experience building an excellent studio culture: hire only those people who have the character qualities you know you need in your business. There’s no better match for your studio than someone who already demonstrates that they hold similar values to yours.
Remember that the culture of your business depends heavily on its people, and so any new hires need to fit well within your culture. The difficulty is that your candidates (who want a job!) can easily profess to hold such values, but as well all know, actions speak louder than words.
A continued benefit of the “hire slowly” advice above is that you have several opportunities to see the candidate’s character qualities in action, and in different conditions. For example, do they send you a thank you note after an interview? That certainly displays their values. Are they kind to the waitstaff when you meet for lunch? Another values-check. When they teach a sample class, are they prepared, organized, pleasant, curious? All part of their personal values.
To be fair, some candidates may be excellent “politicians” and may say and do things to get the job and not show you their true selves. Though I find this is rare, I think it is important that you pay attention to your gut feelings about someone. Let your instincts guide you, whether the feeling is positive or negative. Remember that you can’t necessarily teach great character, but you can train and mold the skillset of the right candidate.

Hiring employees is truly one of the hardest and best parts of being a business owner. The people on your team are the ones who bring your vision, your mission, and your culture to life. It’s no wonder we feel such a heavy responsibility to get it right!

I’m confident that these two tips can boost your hiring process up a level, and that they will help you find the support you need. Share with us in the comments below how you plan to take action with your next new hire. And you can always find me @mistylown on social media if you’d like to discuss more about how to hire your Dream Team. I wish you much success as you revitalize your hiring process!

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™.

Looking for more dance studio staff insights? Check out these other articles and resources:

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

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Dance Studio Owners: 5 Ways to Find a Mentor

dance studio owners - finding a mentor feat

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:


Here are my 5 Ways to Find a Mentor:

  1. Approach someone who has a business you admire

    One of my local grocery stores, Festival Foods, has some of the most excellent customer service and community engagement I’ve ever seen and has been an inspiration for me since I started in business. While I was shopping one day, it occurred to me that I could learn a lot from the way Festival Foods runs its stores.

    It didn’t take long before I was able to set up a meeting with its founder, Dave Skogen, who soon became my mentor and friend. Think about your local business neighbors; what business owner could YOU establish a relationship with?

  1. Network in local business groups

    Networking to find a mentor in your community can be as simple as joining the right groups, such as your city’s chamber of commerce or local arts council. In those places you’ll find business owners just like you who are looking to connect and develop deeper business relationships.

    Try attending the next breakfast meeting or mixer, and begin getting to know who’s who. Remember that you all already have one pretty big quality in common: you want to better the community with your product or service.

  2. Check your mutual connections

    While it’s convenient to have a local mentor, long-distance can work too! Check the connections you have through social media, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, to see who might be a potential mentor-match for you.

    Perhaps you’ll be inspired to reach out to an old boss or a friend-of-a-friend who could become a mentor to you through phone calls, Skype meetings, or email. Ask your family and friends if they know of someone who seems like a good business-match for you. I have an accountability partner from Canada that I exchange emails with on a monthly basis.

  3. Look into a business coaching program

    Business coaching programs can steer you on the right path to finding an effective mentor, either through the program’s leader or its other members.

    A coaching program that is dance-studio specific (such as my studio affiliation program, More Than Just Great Dancing®, Clint Salter’s Dance Studio Owner Association, Suzanne Blake Gerety’s DanceStudioOwner.com, or Austin Roberson’s Studio Owners Academy) could be a great fit, or it might be worth considering a broader business program (such as Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership’s All-Access).

    Once you find a program you like, see if you can talk with a representative about your wants and needs in mentorship, or ask to experience a trial period before investing in a full membership.

  1. Meet a mentor through SCORE

    Formerly known as the Service Corps of Retired Executives, SCORE is a business mentorship program through the U.S. Small Business Administration. SCORE mentors are volunteers who are current or former business owners and executives.

    A volunteer can be matched to you by location or industry. Based on your goals and timeline, they can offer you mentorship in person or via email.

Having a mentor by your side through the highs and lows of business ownership is truly invaluable! While there’s no exact formula for finding the right mentor, these 5 ways will give you some excellent traction to get started. Remember that you are developing new business relationships through this process: take the time to introduce yourself to prospective mentors, ask a few engaging questions, and follow up with a thank you message.

In the comments below, tell us how you plan to proceed with finding a mentor—or share with us how you connected with your current mentor. I also invite you to connect with me @mistylown on social media to continue the conversation about how having a mentor makes a difference in your life. I can’t wait to hear more about your mentorship experience!

Looking for more insights for dance studio owners? Check out these other articles and resources:

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

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Should I Step Back From Teaching to Focus on Studio Business?

Studio Business

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.

There are only two questions you need to answer when deciding if you should step back from teaching:


  1. Where is my zone of genius at the studio?

    Your zone of genius is the place you want to be! This is where your talent and your passion intersect, and it may very well be in the classroom. If you wake up in the morning and can’t wait to teach—and you are a skilled teacher—then this is a strength area you can’t ignore or suppress.

    If this is you, I would encourage you to stick with teaching because you flourish there! Your zone of genius might be in other areas too, so take note of those now before moving on to Question 2.

    I am not shy to admit that although I am an excellent teacher, choreography was never my real zone of genius. I can do it, but I really have to work at it and have others on my team who are more naturally gifted in this area. Me? I prefer to “choreograph” the business side of things; creating new programs and marketing efforts to promote our work in the community.

    When I was scheduled to teach several classes a week, the preparation time alone would cause me angst because it felt like it was taking time away from the areas of my business I was much better at handling (not to mention time away from my growing family).

    With that realization, I made the decision to step back from teaching (to only one class per week) and focus on my leadership skills. Eventually, I stepped out of teaching altogether to focus on my family and running the business.

  1. Who can I equip (or hire) to work in the areas that are NOT in my zone of genius?

    If your zone of genius is in teaching, then it’s essential that you are surrounded by a team of people who are talented in the other areas of your business. For example, you may need an office manager who can take on more customer service and administrative responsibilities, or you may need a bookkeeper to make sure your accounting stays clean and up to date each month.

    If your zone of genius (like mine) is in an area other than the creation of dances and preparation of lessons, then it’s probably time to step out of the classroom or to consider a reduced teaching schedule. Talk with your staff members to see who is interested in accepting more opportunities to teach, or begin the hiring process to bring new teachers on board.

    If you are currently the primary teacher at your studio, consider stepping out of the classroom gradually—over a year or two—to make the transition smoother for your students and their parents. My transition out of the classroom was a five-year process that took me from teaching 27 classes per week to four, and then eventually to none.

I should pause and note here that even though I no longer teach weekly classes, I am still responsible for the quality of our classrooms and the artistic choices that end up on our stages. No matter which side of the business you decide to focus on, you still have responsibility for oversight of the other side of the business—even if you are not in the daily details of that aspect.

As a business owner, you will always have different hats to wear at your studio.  But because of your personal history and passion for the art of dance, it can be a challenge to know whether “teacher” should still be one of them.

If you’ve ever thought about whether or not you should still be in the classroom, reflect back on your answers to the two questions here. Harmony can be found with both “the business side” and “the teaching side” of your studio; they are both vital to your studio’s success, and you will naturally have more strengths on one side than the other. I encourage you to play to those strengths and stand in your zone of genius as much as possible!

Connect with me @mistylown on social media or email me at mistylown@gmail.com if you’d like to talk about where your zone of genius is, or to share your own experience of staying in or stepping out of the classroom. I wish you success as you determine which direction to dance in next!

Looking for more dance studio owner insights? Check out these other articles and resources:

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

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When is it Time to Add a Second Show to Your Recital? 4 Factors to Help You Decide

add a second show

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:


Here are the four factors to consider when deciding whether to add another show for your recital:

  1. Your enrollment vs. the number of seats at your venue. Take a look at your current student count and compare it to the number of seats available for you to sell. If each student brought two guests, would you fill all the seats? What about three or four guests each?

    My takeaway when it comes to available seats is that you a) want your customers to invite as many guests as they want, and b) you don’t want to risk selling out of tickets. Turning people away not only feels bad for a studio owner, it’s just not great for business (I’ve been there and wouldn’t want to go back!).

  2. The total length of time for a show. If your recital is over two hours (including intermission), it’s time to consider adding another show. If Disney can’t keep our attention for more than two hours in a movie, then we probably can’t keep an audience’s attention for longer than that either.

    To forecast what this year’s recital length would be like, look at the number of routines your recital has and how long each routine is estimated to last. Total up that amount of time and add in a minimum of 30 seconds per routine as a buffer, plus the time you allow for intermission, announcements, or any other presentations. That should give you an accurate approximation of how long your show would be.

    An ideal number will be under 120 minutes. We’ve gone to as many as six shows in the past and then cut back to five shows to try to make things easier on the staff. But the shows got too long, so guess what? Back to six shows we go in 2019.

  1. Backstage organization. Think about your venue’s backstage area: are your students feeling cramped in their dressing rooms? Do they have to wait long stretches of time before they dance on stage? A yes to either question might be a sign that it’s time to branch out to an additional show.

    Ask your staff and volunteers what it’s like backstage from their perspective. Sometimes all the organization in the world won’t help if there is simply not enough space.

  2. Customer feedback. If you haven’t already done so, survey your customers about their previous recital experience at your studio. Ask questions like:
  • Were you able to get the tickets you needed?
  • Was the ticketing process painless or panicked? Was the length of the show too short, too long, or just right?
  • Did your child have a good experience backstage?
These answers will be useful for you to evaluate as you are making recital decisions, and they may nudge you toward adding another show if the feedback tells you that it was hard to get tickets or the show felt too long. Understanding the recital from your customers’ points of view will be helpful, so offer the survey with an open mind and a willingness to make changes.

As you make recital plans and decide how many shows to present, look at these four factors as your guide to the best path forward. Most studio owners I know are always in pursuit of a perfect recital plan so the day can run smoothly and customers are pleased with the experience. While perfect may not be practical, I do believe excellence is always within reach!

In the comments below, tell us how you plan to proceed with recital this year, or what you are thinking about doing differently. You can also connect with me on social media @mistylown to continue the discussion of recital shows. In the meantime, I’ll be cheering for you as you plan for the big show!

Are you looking for some more recital tips and ideas? Check out these other articles and resources from Misty:

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

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Are Dance Competitions Worth It? Three Questions to Ask Yourself

Are Dance Competitions Worth It? Three Questions to Ask Yourself

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?”


Are you up for competition? Here are three questions to ask yourself when deciding if competitions are worth it for your studio:

  1. What outcomes will my students and their parents desire from competition opportunities?
    Whether your studio is new or has been established for decades, it’s important to check in with your students and their families about their reasons for participating in dance competitions. What are the benefits they hope these opportunities will provide? Are they looking strictly for an extra chance to perform, or are they also interested in convention classes or scholarship opportunities? Do those expectations align with yours? If your customers are wholly invested in having their dancers involved in competitions for reasons that align with yours, then you know it will be worth it to make your competition program as organized and strong as possible. Successful competition programs start with studio support.
  1. How will I find competitions that fit my studio’s mission and values?  
    With so many competitions to choose from, it can be tricky to narrow down which ones are a good match for your studio. Researching competitions online is a good start, but word of mouth from people you trust is even better. Ask your studio owner friends and dance teacher friends what their students’ experiences have been like at different competitions. If you know anyone who judges for competitions, talk to them as well.  What do they like about a certain competition’s voice in the industry? Do the days run in an organized fashion? Are the policies and rules enforced? Do they receive positive feedback from dance studios? Do they run short weekends or run into school days? Are awards are reasonable hours or at all hours of the night? Use these answers to help you understand a competition’s business ethics and behaviors. Competitions that line up with your values and expectations are going to be the most worthwhile for you, your dancers, and their parents.
  2. If we don’t compete, what will we do instead?
    While competitions have become the norm for many dance studios, some schools do choose to be non-competitive instead. Their customers may not be interested in the time, travel, and cost of competitions, or they may prefer the comparative simplicity of community performances. Whatever the reason, non-competitive groups can still reap the benefits of performing in other ways: community performances might include local festivals, parades, or fairs. Some non-competitive studios choose to produce their own concerts in addition to the recital, and others elect to take on annual or biannual travels to non-competitive performances, such as with Disney’s Youth Performing Arts programs.

Competitions are indeed worth it for many studios, and your definition of a successful program is at the heart of your decision to compete or not. Understanding your studio families and shopping around for the right events are key components to that definition, and to making sure the competition experience is advantageous for all involved. And if competitions aren’t really your thing, that’s fine too! Performance opportunities abound in other ways; it’s all about discovering what’s valuable to your dance families and fits your studio’s culture.

Tell us in the comments about what makes competitions worth it to you, or in what ways you prefer for your dancers to perform outside of competitions. I invite you to connect with me on social media @mistylown to share your thoughts on competitions and what works best for your studio. In whichever ways your dancers perform, I wish you a successful spring season ahead!

Looking for more great info on dance competitions? 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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Dance Studio Growth: 5 Ways To Support And Connect To Your Studio

Dance Studio Growth: 5 Ways To Support And Connect To Your Studio

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.


Here are 5 Ways To Support And Connect To Your Studio As It Grows:

  1. Have your dream team in place
    As your studio grows, be sure that you have the right people in the right places on your team because they will be the ones in the trenches every day. From customer service to classroom management they need your personal touch with training and leadership to feel confident in their authority at the studio. Their confidence = your confidence!
  2. Support your team while they lead
    Once you have full confidence in your staff members, let your dance families see that you believe in your team one hundred percent. Don’t correct your staff in front of others, but DO compliment them publicly! If they make a mistake, coach them on it afterwards in private. Work to pass customer questions to the right player on your team as well, so your dance families can trust that your team will have the right answers.
  3. Know when to step in
    Even with well-trained and confident staff, there will be questions they can’t answer or situations they don’t feel comfortable taking the lead on. Talk to your team about what these scenarios look like, so they are clear about what you want them to tackle on their own versus when they should reach out to you for help. For example, if there are technical difficulties with the classroom speakers, your office manager can probably handle the phone call to fix it. But if the speakers are damaged and need to be replaced, you might want to approve those charges. Come up with a list of example situations, and discuss with your team how those situations might be resolved.
  1. Studio special events
    Look through the calendar and find which event (or events) can become a special highlight for your presence at the studio. For me this year, it’s the week we measure for costumes—I’ll be the one in the lobby engaging with parents while I measure kids for recital costumes. Other highlight events for me will be our parent/student conferences, parent observation week and community performances. There are always opportunities to gain some personal face time with your team and your dance families if you look for them.
  2. When you are present, be really present
    As your studio grows, you will likely feel pulled in many directions—more so than normal! So whether you are with your team, chatting with a customer, visiting a dance class, or taking the lead on a special event, be all in while you’re there. You might’ve been knee-deep in costume order details in your home office the hour before, but while you are present at the studio, focus on the studio and the people in front of you. Just like we tell our dancers when class starts, leave your worries at the door! Studio growth—even with it’s challenges—is something to be thankful for. As your studio grows, the way you spend your time there may change, but your responsibility won’t. Staying connected and supporting your team and your customers will allow you to continue building those relationships and developing your skills as a leader. Tell us in the comments about which ways your studio is growing, and which tips here are most encouraging for you! I invite you to connect with me on social media @mistylown to continue sharing your growth stories, and wish you luck as you discover the best ways to support and connect with your studio.

Looking for more great info on dance studio growth and other studio management topics? 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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3 Best Practices For Coaching Your Dance Studio Staff

3 Best Practices For Coaching Your Dance Studio Staff

By now your studio’s season is officially in full swing and your classes are humming along. Your students and their families are getting used to their new dance schedules, school commitments, and carpools. Your staff members have also settled into your new routines around the studio and you are starting to find your “new normal” with the fall schedule. It can be such a satisfying feeling as a studio owner to finally feel like the pieces of your puzzle have fallen into place!

It’s completely fine (and encouraged!) for you to celebrate the success of starting off the new season right. But don’t let that satisfaction turn into complacency when it comes to your leadership: your team is on the front lines of service every day, and they need your active support, direction, and motivation to keep moving forward and offering up their best selves.

It’s probably been at least a few weeks – maybe more – since your new-season kickoff meeting with your team, which means it is the perfect time to re-cast your expectations and set the pace for the year ahead.

Keep your staff members feeling excited to come to work and on the right track by implementing these 3 Best Practices For Coaching Your Dance Studio Staff This Fall:


  1. One-on-one check-in meetings
    Different from an annual performance review and with less formality, a one-on-one check-in meeting with each employee in September or October can give you the opportunity to receive feedback from them on how the season has started: what’s going well and where they need help. I recommend scheduling 15-30 minutes per staff member with the intent to do more listening than talking. If they need prompting to start the conversation, use just two guiding questions: 1) Which parts of your job are the most rewarding right now, and which are most challenging? And 2) How can I help you achieve your best work with both? Your team members will appreciate that you’re hearing them out, and you can use the information you learn to better support and direct them in the moment and in the coming weeks. It may even become a habit that you want to do these one-on-ones more often with your team, to keep your finger on the pulse of the studio and prevent fires before they start!
  2. Inspect what you expect
    By the time fall classes are in full swing, your staff members have probably already attended at least one staff meeting where you laid out your expectations for them as employees of your studio. For example, your front desk team probably knows that they are expected to follow-up with all trial class participants in a certain way. For the sake of this example, let’s say they follow four steps: they ask for the sale on the day of the trial class, making a follow-up phone call within two days to those who didn’t sign up, after which time an email is sent, and if there’s still no registration, the child’s information is put into a “general interest” email campaign. You know your front desk team knows and has practiced all of these steps, but are all the steps being completed (and correctly)? The only way to find out is to “inspect what you expect”: take the time to observe the process once in a while, and ask your team how it’s working for them. You may find a part of the process needs a little tweaking, or that a staff member needs a refresher on how to handle certain types of situations. Help redirect your team before any small glitches become waves.
  1. Praise the progress
    Make sure your team knows that you notice their hard work! As humans, we all have the desire to feel like we belong, and to feel appreciated. When you see or hear a staff member do something awesome, say something! Say your receptionist does an exemplary job converting a trial class participant into a student, and you happened to overhear the interaction – don’t just say “well done!” in the moment, also praise their work in a private email or in front of the team at the next staff meeting. That positive interaction offers the staff member a well-earned ego-boost and encourages them to repeat their efforts. I know it sounds almost too simple, but think about yourself: isn’t it a great feeling to be recognized when you do a good job at something and have set an example for your peers? And doesn’t it make you want to keep doing the thing that earned you the recognition in the first place? Yes! Case closed! Your team members need to hear that kind of special, personal affirmation from you when they are doing great work. It shows you care, and shows you notice them – and not just for showing up each day.

Fall is THE perfect time to ensure that your studio’s season is set up to run smoothly for the busy months ahead and to take care that your team has started the year on the right foot. Implementing these 3 Best Practices will help you coach your staff members to success! Tell us in the comments which practice helps you and your team the most, and connect with me on social media @MistyLown to continue sharing your leadership journey. I wish you AND your team a wonderfully productive fall semester!

Looking for more great studio staff management 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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4 Ways to Boost Dance Studio Retention Early In The Season

4 Ways to Boost Dance Studio Retention Early In The Season

You’ve held your open house. You’ve put out your back-to-school social media campaigns. You’ve advertised in a local parenting publication. If you’re like me, you are feeling like you are on a roll for getting new students into the studio this time of year!

The good news is, new students are coming in and you are VERY glad to see them. The bad news is, maybe you feel like your existing students need a little extra attention now, that they need to be thanked and loved on for choosing your studio.

Retaining students—not just getting them in the door—is at the heart of sustaining your business over time and demonstrating that you have happy clientele. We often think of retention mid-year, when some kids want to quit, or at the end of the season, when we want them to re-register after recital. But this crucial back-to-school time can’t be ignored. It is an excellent time—right out of the gate—to show you personally care about your dance families and appreciate their business.

So classes are in session, and you’re meeting new faces every day….how can you best use this time to show the love? What can you do to increase retention and keep those families engaged?

Keep reading for 4 Way to Boost Dance Studio Retention Early in the Season.

  1. Meet people in the hallway – OK, I know this might seem like an obvious one, but hang in there with me. Make a point, every day during the first week of dance classes, to walk the hallways and mingle with your customers. Learn names and ask about their summer, and you’ll begin forming real relationships. It’s these high-quality relationships that have much more meaning than just a “hello” or “goodbye” …. you get to know people! You won’t do this every week, but be sure to do it during the most important weeks. But the positivity you gain from making a true effort to know your customers is priceless.
  2. Have a “withdrawal turnaround” plan – You know these calls will start coming about the third week of classes: “She’s too tired.” “They moved her swimming lessons to Tuesday.” “She doesn’t seem to like ballet anymore.” It can seem like the beginning of the year is rife with people who get started, and then want to withdraw from lessons. Turning attrition to retention isn’t guaranteed, but it’s worth trying a few extra steps. Having a “withdrawal turnaround” plan with your staff can completely shift the process and help retain customers who might have otherwise disappeared. Be prepared to offer families a new day of the week or a different style of dance instead of withdrawing right away – a free trial of that new class couldn’t hurt! Chances are they didn’t realize what else could work for their schedule, or they didn’t know that their tiny dancer might really love a jazz class.
  1. Calls, emails, and cards – A personal “check-in” phone call, email, or handwritten card to every enrolled student’s family can go a long way to show they are not just a number at your studio. Decide what you can do yourself, and delegate the rest to a staff member or two. The phone call could be as easy as saying, “Thank you for dancing with us this season! How is Sara enjoying her classes?” And then just listen (and take notes)! An email can say something similar, along with a special message from the teacher. And a gratitude-filled, handwritten card – well, that is worth much, much more than the price of the stamp. Choose the method that makes the most sense for your time and your studio, and run with it! Not only do you get to show that you care, these communications may open the door for you to solve problems that you didn’t even know existed – saving you AND your customers from future frustrations.
  2. Ask for feedback – Although we may typically survey our customers at the end of each season, why not reach out at the start too? A simple “How are we doing?” can go a long way. Maybe you had no idea that parking was an issue for families during the 4-5pm hour, or maybe there were inconsistencies with the way welcome folders were distributed. Hearing this valuable feedback right from the get-go can help you make immediate improvements for some things, and plan for others – keeping your customers happy. When your dance families feel truly heard, they’ll feel more invested in staying at your studio over time.

Retention is something you ALWAYS want to strive for, and starting right away during the back-to-school months is imperative. Take these four tips and customize them to your studio, then tell us in the comments what worked well for you! You can also find me on social @MistyLown. I’d love to hear from you. Until then, I wish you a successful start to the year with your retention only going up and up and up!

Looking for more great enrollment and retention 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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Six Keys to a Successful Dance Studio Open House

Six Keys to a Successful Dance Studio Open House

It could be the BIGGEST promotional day of the year at your studio…the open house! You know you want your studio to look its best, and you know you want to positively engage with prospective customers in addition to current customers. This is your opportunity to love on returning clients, WOW potential customers and invite the community to see what your studio is all about.

Among studio owners I know, dance studio open houses are usually two to three hours long on an evening or Saturday, and have a “come-and-go” schedule. Some families will stay nearly the whole time; others will attend just to look around your facility, shop for shoes or obtain registration information.

After you’ve set a date and begun marketing for the event, what can you do to maximize the relatively short amount of time? How can you make this your best Open House event ever? Keep reading for 6 Keys to a Successful Open House:

Here are 6 Keys to a Successful Dance Studio Open House event at your studio:

  1. SPARKLE up that studio space – I know that you always want to present a clean studio anyway, but for open house, go above (literally) and beyond: clear those ancient cobwebs from your 20-foot studio ceilings, put a fresh coat of paint on the hallways, deep-clean your bathrooms….and if you already planned to have your carpets professionally cleaned, or plants freshened up for fall, make sure to schedule those tasks at least two weeks prior to your open house.
  2. Be ready to SHARE – A dance studio open house isn’t complete without dancing! Whether you offer full classes to demonstrate each style offered at your school, or 20-minute bite-sized sessions, get people moving and grooving in your classrooms. Hire one or more of your teachers to come up with a fun and easy class agenda suitable for a variety of ages, and invite some of your current students to take the lead in class.
  3. Meet your TEACHER – Just like at school, prospective students and their parents want to meet their teacher, see their classroom, and learn more about what to expect on the first class day. Having your teachers present at open house not only allows them to introduce themselves and mingle with the community, they can also help guide tours around the studio. This is also an opportunity to give name tags to dancers for the first day of class.
  1. A REASON to show up – When people show up at your open house, have a studio staffer immediately get their contact information and enter them into your raffle (and make that raffle prize super-fun, like a dance bag full of studio swag)! Also offer an open-house-only, big-value registration incentive, such as a free or discounted recital costume or double-referral rewards for a parent and their friend.
  2. Hear from other PARENTS – Your open house presents a unique opportunity to have your existing dance families chat with prospective dance families. Think about it: if you are signing your child up for dance, who do you really want to hear from? Other parents! Make a point to invite a few of your most loyal dance parents to share their experiences, and thank them afterward with a small tuition credit or free pair of tights. Be sure to have veterans on hand to help field questions as they arise or consider going the extra mile by setting aside one or two 20-minute time slots during open house to moderate a “Question and Answer” session between those parents and prospective customers.
  3. Get SNACK-Y with it! – It doesn’t need to be fancy, but it IS a nice gesture to have some kind of food offering or snack at your open house. A fun way to incorporate food into your event is to invite a food truck to attend (and pay that food truck for a minimum number of items to ensure it’s free for your guests). From snow cones to tacos, a third party food vendor can be a huge win! If you are looking to save those costs, consider a simple yet stylish “candy bar” instead: set up a table with five or six different candy options, logo-ed cups, and let the kids (and parents) scoop up what they want to munch on during the event. Just make sure the snacks aren’t near the merchandise. Chocolate and leotards do not mix. 🙂

I hope these keys help “open” the door for you to have the best open house ever! If you have other ideas to share, please include them in the comments below or find me on social @MistyLown. Wishing you a fantastic and fun event full of new registrations!

Looking for more great marketing ideas for your studio? Check out:

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

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Dance Recital Prep: It’s The Final Countdown

Dance Recital Prep: It's the Final Countdown

It’s biggest day of the year for your families. If your students are like mine, they are raring to go! And it’s easy to see why when you consider all of the hard work they have put in over the past year preparing for recitals:

  • 30+ weeks of lessons
  • 2-3 minutes of choreography for each dance
  • Costume measurements, fittings, exchanges and alterations
  • Group photos, recital tickets and t-shirts, flower orders and more!

In fact, for every minute of a dance that appears on stage, an average of 100 HOURS of preparation has already been put in before one sequin ever hits the stage. But before you sign off on your dance recital prep, I want you to put ONE MORE HOUR to make sure your recital day is GREAT.

Keep reading for 8 last-minute dance recital prep tips that will ensure you have the best recital day yet!


  1. Schedule a production meeting with your staff
    Communication is key to a successful show. Getting your staff together for a final round of show notes, last minute lineup changes and planning for prop transitions will help to avoid surprises during the show. This is also a great time to thank them for all of their hard work to remind them of the positive impact they will have on so many children on show day.
  2. Assign specific staff duties
    Make sure your team knows where every staff member should be and what they should be doing during pre-show, backstage, finale, dancer pick up and post-show clean up. Post these assignments backstage and provide printouts for each teacher.
  3. Create signage to dressing and audience areas
    Nothing makes parents more anxious on show day than not knowing where to go or feeling like they might arrive late. Help parents get their dancers to the appropriate pre-show gathering place by providing signage and friendly staff/crew members to personally guide the way.
  4. Prepare info-boards for each staff member
    Equip your team for success by giving them a clipboard for each show containing all all pertinent show information. Be sure to include all costume information for each class as new parents are likely ask ANY staff member for help, not just their own teacher.
  1. Identify quick changes or back-to-back numbers
    Notify back stage crew of any tight spots in show flow that may require changes backstage. Prepare the emcee ahead of time to plan on engaging the audience a little longer between numbers in the event you have back-to-back numbers for any dancers.
  2. Build a backstage entertainment kit
    Keep little ones busy while waiting for their turn including non-messy snacks, coloring books, movies and games. Parents will be more confident leaving their little ones in dressing rooms with your staff if they know they will be entertained while waiting for their turn to dance.
  3. Coordinate a backstage show for the little ones
    Giving the older students an opportunity to run dances before they hit the stage can double as entertainment for little ones waiting to dance. We call it the “backstage recital”!
  4. Equip your staff to be able to figure things out
    We have a saying at recital that says everything is “figure-out-able”. This means that my team has to ability to solve problems in all situations. Lost shoes? We can borrow from someone else? Costume left at home? We can put that dance later to give Dad time to run home? Communicate now that everything is “figure-out-able” if you work together.

Are you looking for some more recital tips and ideas? Check out these other articles and resources from Misty:

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

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