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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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Profitable Recital Costumes Start Now

Profitable Dance Recital Costumes Start Now

No one in our industry would question that producing a recital takes the TOP spot for biggest project of the year. Coming in at a close second, however, is the process of ordering recital costumes. From concept to selection, from measuring to ordering, from try-ons to exchanges and alterations, recital costumes can be almost as time intensive as putting on the show! The costuming process presents an important opportunity for studio owners—it’s a chance to delight dance families with great service, cut down on wasted time and effort, and make a profit for your business.

Here are 5 TIPS to make your recital costume process a positive and profitable one.

#5 – Order EARLY.
You know how we all tell our kids not to lose points at competition on the obvious (e.g. not pointing toes)? Well, ordering early is the “pointing toes” of costumes. It’s plain silly to know you can earn an early order discount with most companies and not do it. Spend some time over Thanksgiving break to get your ducks in a row for an early December order. If the early order discount doesn’t excite you, then get excited over the idea of a timely delivery!

#4 – Measure and order ACCURATELY.
When I started my studio 17 years ago, all of the teachers would measure the kids in their own classes. I did it that way out of necessity—I didn’t feel I had any extra resources to pay someone to take that on. Well, my system may have been “free,” but it wasn’t without cost. With 15 different teachers measuring 15 slightly different ways, our costs on exchanges went through the roof. In addition, there were missed orders for kids who registered late and got missed by teachers altogether. I changed my process about ten years and now we have one person in charge of all costume measuring and ordering. Accuracy is up and exchanges/missed orders are down. Getting one person to champion this project saves me way more than I spend for her time.

The next 3 tips will supercharge your savings!

  1. Break up with your phone.

Have you ever closed your laptop and said, “That’s enough for tonight” only to crawl into your bed and scroll Facebook for another 40 minutes?  I’ve been there and it’s a BAD idea for a number of reasons.  Science tells us that the blue light coming off of our devices destroys the melatonin we need for a good night’s sleep. And, if you DO get to sleep, you might be woken by email alerts from a parent who forgot their child’s shoes, but is just remembering to write you about it 2 a.m.

Now let’s talk about mornings. Do you roll over after your alarm goes off and start thumbing at the screen lock for a peek at the activity that you may have missed while sleeping?  I know all you want to do is take a quick peek around your email, texts and social to make sure everything is okay before getting out of bed.  I get it.  The problem is that in doing so, you effectively hand over the steering wheel of your day to someone else’s agenda.  You are now in reactive and not proactive mode, which is a close second to starting-the-day-without-coffee on the list of bad ideas for entrepreneurs.

  1. Start owning your calendar. 

Recently I blocked the following into my Google calendar:  Morning Reading and Devotional Time, Exercise, Writing, Business Development, Lunch with Husband, Time with Kids, Email and Phone Calls.  Yes, I write them with capital letters because to me they are proper nouns—as in if I don’t treat my time properly no one else will.  Now when somebody wants to do a call, go to lunch or meet at the office I literally have take something of real value to me OFF the calendar to make room for the new activity.  If I look at my calendar and have to choose between another evening meeting at the studio or Time with Kids, my kids win almost every time.  But, if my calendar is empty, I’ll just fill with things that take me away from the kids.  The truth of the matter is that I can always attend another meeting, but I’ll never get a second chance to raise my kids.

  1. Eat the bullfrog first. 

Here’s a math problem for you:

You have a list of ten things to do.
Seven are easy and three are hard.
What do you do?  

The seven easy things, of course, because we love to feel accomplished and crossing things off of our list helps us to feel like we are really getting things done.  But are we?  What about the three meaningful, but hard things, get transferred from list to list until you’ve spent more time rewriting the difficult tasks than it would’ve taken to just do them.

The reality is that for as many hats as you wear at the studio, there are only a few functions that really move the business forward.  To that end, may I suggest re-organizing your to-do to begin the day with the hardest/most meaningful task.  That’s “eating the bullfrog first” is all about—tackling the ugliest, yuckiest project on your list and getting on with more pleasant things after that.  If you can eat the bullfrog first, everything else after that is easy.

Are you ready to get back on your A+ game?  Then turn off your phone, fill up your calendar with your own proper nouns and eat the biggest bullfrog in your day before noon☺

Looking for more great expert advice before your spring recital? 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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Back-to-Dance Tips: How to Thrive

Back-to-Dance Tips: How to Thrive

Does the thought of having to sub for someone on top of your already hectic schedule make you sweat? Does the idea of having to plan a holiday show keep you up at night? Is your laundry piling up at home while you teach plies at the studio? Are you having trouble keeping up with bookwork now that the studio is in full session? Do you stare 5 p.m. in the face each day and say, “Dinner? What’s that? I’ll have one of those over Christmas break.”

If so, you may have a case of the “Back-to-Dance Blues!”

And, if this is you, it’s time to re-focus the lens on your attitude and actions so that you can thrive, not just survive in the coming months.

Keep reading these back-to-dance tips to get back your A+ game in 3 easy (but not-so-easy) steps…

  1. Break up with your phone.

Have you ever closed your laptop and said, “That’s enough for tonight” only to crawl into your bed and scroll Facebook for another 40 minutes? I’ve been there and it’s a BAD idea for a number of reasons. Science tells us that the blue light coming off of our devices destroys the melatonin we need for a good night’s sleep. And, if you DO get to sleep, you might be woken by email alerts from a parent who forgot their child’s shoes, but is just remembering to write you about it 2 a.m.

Now let’s talk about mornings. Do you roll over after your alarm goes off and start thumbing at the screen lock for a peek at the activity that you may have missed while sleeping? I know all you want to do is take a quick peek around your email, texts and social to make sure everything is okay before getting out of bed. I get it. The problem is that in doing so, you effectively hand over the steering wheel of your day to someone else’s agenda. You are now in reactive and not proactive mode, which is a close second to starting-the-day-without-coffee on the list of bad ideas for entrepreneurs.

2. Start owning your calendar.

Recently I blocked the following into my Google calendar: Morning Reading and Devotional Time, Exercise, Writing, Business Development, Lunch with Husband, Time with Kids, Email and Phone Calls. Yes, I write them with capital letters because to me they are proper nouns—as in if I don’t treat my time properly no one else will. Now when somebody wants to do a call, go to lunch or meet at the office I literally have take something of real value to me OFF the calendar to make room for the new activity. If I look at my calendar and have to choose between another evening meeting at the studio or Time with Kids, my kids win almost every time. But, if my calendar is empty, I’ll just fill with things that take me away from the kids. The truth of the matter is that I can always attend another meeting, but I’ll never get a second chance to raise my kids.

3. Eat the bullfrog first.

Here’s a math problem for you:

You have a list of ten things to do. Seven are easy and three are hard. What do you do?

The seven easy things, of course, because we love to feel accomplished and crossing things off of our list helps us to feel like we are really getting things done. But are we? What about the three meaningful, but hard things, get transferred from list to list until you’ve spent more time rewriting the difficult tasks than it would’ve taken to just do them.

The reality is that for as many hats as you wear at the studio, there are only a few functions that really move the business forward. To that end, may I suggest re-organizing your to-do to begin the day with the hardest/most meaningful task. That’s “eating the bullfrog first” is all about—tackling the ugliest, yuckiest project on your list and getting on with more pleasant things after that. If you can eat the bullfrog first, everything else after that is easy. Are you ready to get back on your A+ game? Then turn off your phone, fill up your calendar with your own proper nouns and eat the biggest bullfrog in your day before noon☺

Studio owners don't pay ANYTHING when they use TutuTix.

Trouble viewing the article? Email us at info@tututix.com.

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

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10 Tips for a Confident Dance Teacher Contract

10 Tips for a Confident Dance Teacher Contract

My five kids are all getting ready to go back to school in the next week and along with registration for school comes paperwork…lots of paperwork.

Dance schools are no exception. In fact, among all the studio owners I have spoken with this year (and there have been hundreds), not a single one allows students to participate without signed registration forms.

And, yet for as many who are diligent with student paperwork, there are half as many who take the same care to create a dance teacher contract before class is in session.

If you have other people teaching for you, check out this list for 10 Tips for a Confident Dance Teacher Contract:

  1. Binding – The first part of the employment contract should sets the stage for the rest of agreement. “Binding” establishes that the document is a binding legal document for the term set forth in the contract.
  2. Terms – The terms spell out the basic agreement of how long your employee will work (usually the length of your dance season) and what they will do (position) during that time. To avoid possible future questions or problems, be as detailed as possible when describing what an employee’s responsibilities will be for the length of the contract.
  3. Liquidated Damages Clause – This clause outlines what will happen if either party fails to fulfill the contract. For example, what will the consequence be if a teacher decides to leave mid-season? Spell it out now to avoid problems later.
  4. Non-Compete – A non-compete clause protects you by prohibiting an employee from working for another studio, or opening their own studio, within a certain amount of miles and length of time. Non-compete language and viability varies from state to state, so check with your attorney for state specific language.
  5. Closure Clause – This clause allows for the contract to become null and void if the studio ceases operations for a certain period of days (30 days is typical). Causes for ceasing operations include, but are not limited to, natural disaster, mechanical failure, fire, theft, lawsuit, bankruptcy, and personal emergency of the owner.
  6. Compensation – This is the area to spell out what the employee will earn in exchange for the services provided. Be sure to account for compensation for non-teaching time such as meetings, rehearsals, recitals and competitions.
  7. Benefits – You may be thinking, “I don’t offer benefits,” but I am confident you do. Do you provide complimentary lessons for children of staff members? That’s a benefit to your employees. Do you pay for convention fees or other continuing education opportunities? Again, that’s a benefit. A contract is an opportunity to spell out the great things you do for your employees over and above an hourly wage.
  8. Absences – Now is the time to establish what the acceptable number of absences will be for the employees at your studio and how absences will affect pay and other privileges.
  9. Professional Courtesies – A series of “professionals courtesies” are outlined in our employment contracts and include things such as arriving 15 minutes early to class, wearing neat hairstyles, adhering to dress code, returning messages within 24 hours and reporting any problems with students, parents or the facility to the leadership team in timely manner.
  10. Employee Restrictions – Is there anything that is off limits for your employees? For example, our employees are not allowed to drive students to events, to use office equipment for personal use or to share confidential information about students. Any restrictions should be noted in your contracts.

You may also give consideration to including a policy regarding social media and a photo and video release as part of your employment contracts.

 

Regardless of your studio size or geographic location, a well-written contract is a foundation for a healthy employer-employee relationship. Will you take the time to write, or update, yours this year?

Studio owners don't pay ANYTHING when they use TutuTix.

Trouble viewing the article? Email us at info@tututix.com.

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

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Dance Registration That Rocks

Dance Registration That Rocks

It’s THAT time of year again! Yes, you know it….

ZERO time.

Zero time? Yes. That’s what I call the period after recital. In my world, it looks something like this:

  • From eating out every day at rehearsals to ZERO food in the fridge at home the next week.
  • From 800 students on the day of the last recital to ZERO students the next day.
  • From performance adrenaline to ZERO energy the morning after recital.
  • From hundreds of people telling you how great you are at the show to seemingly making ZERO people happy after fall placements come out.

It may feel like zero time to those of us in the trenches of dance studio ownership, but to quote YouTube sensation ‘Sweet Brown,’ “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

It’s dance registration time, people! So kick off the recital dust and “zero time” blues and get ready for 5 Tips for Dance Registration that Rocks:

  1. Amp the excitement with a new program. Last year I felt like our registration buzz was a little low, so we added Acro, Leaps & Turns and Modern to the roster. Every one of those classes was full with a waiting list in 9 MINUTES after online registration opened. While that was exciting, the real win for us was that the people who rushed to register for the new and exciting classes also registered for the standards like ballet, tap and jazz at the same time.
  2. Tie accepting a performance company placement to registration. At our studio we hold our auditions for performing groups the week after recital. Audition results go out at the same time as registration info. To accept a placement, a student must register for fall (and summer) classes. This is a great way to firm up involvement for fall, especially with teen students who may lose motivation for returning classes as the summer wears on.
  3. Race to Registration. Last year we launched a “Race to Registration” contest that was very successful. Here’s how the contest worked: At the end of each week of the contest we drew a name from those who had enrolled over the course of the week. The winner could choose from a $100 studio gift card, a studio jacket or a studio birthday party. To claim the prize, they would need to come with a parent to the studio and have their picture taken, which was then promoted on Facebook and Instagram, and ultimately shared by the winning family to their social circles. We ran this promotion for the four weeks leading up to fall classes and captured more than 50 additional students in the process.
  1. Make FB actually work for you. Gone are the days of counting on FB posts alone to drive action from your fan base. FB has changed its algorithm so that less than 10% of people who like your page will ever see a post from you. The new power of FB belongs to paid promotions to targeted audiences, boosted posts and getting people to share posts, which puts your message into the news feed of people who already know and love you. If FB advertising isn’t already in your budget, make room for it this year. Even a small budget of $5/day for a week on a specific call to action can make a big difference.
  2. Don’t let people fall through the cracks. Do you know what the least expensive way to get enrollment is? DON’T LOSE YOUR CURRENT STUDENTS! This should be obvious, but based on the number of calls I get from people wanting to know how to attract new students, it isn’t. My first piece of advice is to do whatever you can to get the current students to return. Do you have a system to measure who returns and who doesn’t? What do you do to reach out to previous students? No, they won’t all come back. Some move on, some age out and some just weren’t your cup of tea. Many, however, probably had a great experience and just have not gotten around to re-registering. If too much time passes after recital time they might figure it’s just too late. Don’t let people fall through the cracks. Even if they don’t re-register, they will appreciate the care you showed in reaching out to them and likely refer future families to your studio.

Studio owners don't pay ANYTHING when they use TutuTix.

Trouble viewing the article? Email us at info@tututix.com.

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

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The Worst Dance Mom Ever

The Worst Dance Mom Ever

It’s official. The Worst Dance Mom Awards are out and the winner is (insert drumroll)…me.

Shocked? Don’t be. Many dance studio owners and teachers have a unique ability to organize the competition and recital experiences of hundreds of children while seemingly forgetting about their own offspring.

I think it must be a strange survival mechanism hardwired into the DNA of studio owners and teachers: “Take care of the students, take care of the students or they might not re-enroll for fall classes! Your family may live like a pack wild wolves for a couple of weeks, but they will survive!”

Hmmmm…does this sounds familiar to you? Keep reading for seven signs that you, too, are in the running for Worst Dance Mom of the Year.

  1. The Biggest Expense – Producing a profitable program starts well before the show begins. When I ask studio owners what their biggest recital expense is, they will inevitably say “theater rental.” WRONG. Your biggest expense (and easiest expense to control) is most likely costume purchases. Control expenses by working with one trusted vendor. I moved 98% of my costume order to Curtain Call this year. By working with one costume house, I earned better volume discounts, consistent ships dates and a dedicated Customer Relationship Manager—which saved me time and costly returns.
  2. Tickets – When was the last time you went to the movies for free? Oh, you didn’t? That’s because they’re not free and neither is renting a theater and putting on a recital.☺ Calculate your appropriate ticket price point by taking time to truly count the cost of all expenses associated with show production including, but not limited to, facility rental, dressing room rental, rehearsal space rental, lighting design, microphones, headsets, tech crew, sound crew, housemen, ushers, music editing, props, faculty time and insurance.
  3. Keepsake Program Books – Part 1 – Are you producing a high quality recital program book? If not, you are missing out on a chance to not only elevate the professionalism of your show, but also to create an additional stream of revenue before the dry summer months hit. The first year I produced a Keepsake Program Book, I called the show “My Hometown.” We dedicated the dances to local businesses and then used the dedication as a reason to ask them to place a congratulatory ad for the dancers. We sold a little over 30 ads the first year and now sell 80-90 ads on a yearly basis
  4. Keepsake Program Books – Part 2 – Businesses aren’t the only ones interested in placing ads in the program book. Take advantage of your professional publication to encourage families to celebrate the accomplishments of their dancers and graduating seniors by placing “Brava!” ads.
  5. Commemorative Merchandise – The possibilities for commemorative merchandise are endless. We partner with a local florist to provide flowers. Our biggest seller is a branded recital t-shirt complete with every dancer’s name on the back. The students bring sharpies and sign each other’s shirts after the show. Many of our More Than Just Great DancingTM affiliate studios offer an even broader assortment of commemorative items at their shows including recital bears, bondi bands, sweatshirts, picture frames, bracelets, charms, water bottles, parent gear and more.
  6. Memory Makers – Dance is the only art that disappears as soon as you create it. Make the celebration last by providing quality photography and videography opportunities for your families. Partner with local vendors to trade services or profit share. Or, take it a step further by investing in the equipment and training to provide the service yourself.
  7. Most Importantly… Most importantly, a professional, positive recital experience for families is your best promotion for summer and fall enrollment—the lifeblood of your business. The time, energy and planning you put into your show will pay you dividends for months to come.

Trouble viewing the article? Email us at info@tututix.com.

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

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Tips for a Backstage Bravo!

Tips for a Backstage Bravo!

Some people think the “show” is what happens onstage at the spring recital, but every dance studio owner knows that the REAL show happens backstage!

If you want to see a real symphony of choreography, watch the show from behind the curtains because that’s where the magic happens. Changing costumes, fixing makeup, getting kids lined up for dances, keeping little ones entertained until they perform, calming toddler fears, encouraging senior soloists, and finding lost shoes are all part of orchestrating a good show.

And, if that doesn’t impress you, let me tell you this: A 12 year old doing fouette turns has nothing on a pre-school teacher changing outfits and tap shoes on 15 4-year-olds. We may not be able to turn like the teenagers anymore, but nobody can turn around back stages issues faster than studio owners and dance teachers.

If you are ready to up your backstage performance this year, keep reading for 6 Tips for a Backstage Bravo!

  1. An Ounce of Prevention – Do you remember your grandma saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?”  Well, it turns out Grandma was right.  Every bit of time you put in checking and re-checking the recital order for issues now will save you piles of problems later. Tired of looking at the recital lineup? Enlist the help of teachers or a family member to make sure that every student has adequate time to change and get lined up for their dances. If you end up with a handful of tight changes that can’t be avoided, use it as an opportunity to plan ahead.
  2. Entertaining Little Ones – Over the years we have tried everything for entertaining little ones backstage from coloring sheets to board games, from crafts to movies. In spite of all our creative efforts, we’ve discovered that the best entertainment is actually our show! No, we can’t take kids out to the show, but we can bring the show to the kids. While our little ones wait in a classroom type holding area, the older dancers stop in and perform their dance once before hitting the stage. Not only does this keep little ones entertained, it refreshes the memories of the older dancers right before they have to perform.
  3. Three Station System – While attending a cheerleading competition, I discovered a new way to line up numbers for performance time. The event organizers always had three routines lined up in the wings, referring to them as on “on deck”, “in the hole” and “performing next.” The event was so well run I changed my line up process immediately to reflect this flow. The new system allowed me to tighten the transitions between dances and spend less time running around looking for kids. It also helped keep kids entertained backstage longer by looking forward to moving through the stations on the way to the stage.
  4. Changing Little Ones – We don’t change costumes on kids under 5 years old (they wear the same costume for both tap and ballet, which parents and teachers love), but we do have to swap out shoes between routines. We used to line their shoes up by names backstage…until we realized most of them couldn’t read.☺ Now we have placemats with pictures of rainbows, puppies, and other cheery objects where their shoes sit waiting for action.  Each child knows to find their placemat and swap shoes as soon as they finish their first dance.
  5. Check-In, Check-Out – There’s no question about it; recital is a busy place. Having said that, nothing is more disconcerting to parents than dropping their child off in a chaotic environment or not being able to find them after the show. Whether it’s lineup information or a dressing room location, directions to seating or post-show pick up instructions; keep parents happy by having a well-oiled check-in and check-out procedures. All of our teachers and volunteers wear bright red studio shirts and name badges to signal to parents that we are well staffed and under control. Instructions for check-in and check-out are covered during in-class dress rehearsals and on-stage dress rehearsals as well as in the newsletter, the recital program book and a post-show reminder announcement.
  6. Everything is “Figure-out-able” – Figure-out-able may not be a word, but it IS my recital motto. Our teachers are instructed that no matter the problem, we can figure out a solution. No shoes? No problem. Borrow a pair from another student. Forgotten headpiece? No worries. We don’t need to wear them anyway. Scared dancer? No stress. Just do a non-emergency page for a parent hug. Child misses a dance for some reason? Nothing to cry about, we will re-do the number.

Time spent planning combined with a positive attitude will help you earn a “Bravo!” on both sides of the curtain this year.

Studio owners don't pay ANYTHING when they use TutuTix.

Trouble viewing the article? Email us at info@tututix.com.

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 Ideas: 7 Ways to Produce a Dance Recital that Pays

Dance Recital Ideas: 7 Tips for a Recital That Pays

Can you imagine the following? A house builder works for nine months with clients to build a beautiful family home. The builder communicates and plans; hiring subcontractors, building walls, insuring the project, financing the materials and making the finishing touches just right. The builder takes draws from the clients for expenses along the way, but when it comes time to deliver the final product and hand over the keys, he takes a pass on getting paid for the last weeks of work.

This would never happen in the “real world,” but in “our world,” it happens all too often.

Studio owners put nine months of work into building a beautiful product and then fail to take it to the finish line from a business perspective.

If you are looking for dance recital ideas to produce a dance recital that pays you for your time and effort, keep reading!

  1. The Biggest Expense – Producing a profitable program starts well before the show begins. When I ask studio owners what their biggest recital expense is, they will inevitably say “theater rental.” WRONG. Your biggest expense (and easiest expense to control) is most likely costume purchases. Control expenses by working with one trusted vendor. I moved 98% of my costume order to Curtain Call this year. By working with one costume house, I earned better volume discounts, consistent ships dates and a dedicated Customer Relationship Manager—which saved me time and costly returns.
  2. Tickets – When was the last time you went to the movies for free? Oh, you didn’t? That’s because they’re not free and neither is renting a theater and putting on a recital.☺ Calculate your appropriate ticket price point by taking time to truly count the cost of all expenses associated with show production including, but not limited to, facility rental, dressing room rental, rehearsal space rental, lighting design, microphones, headsets, tech crew, sound crew, housemen, ushers, music editing, props, faculty time and insurance.
  3. Keepsake Program Books – Part 1 – Are you producing a high quality recital program book? If not, you are missing out on a chance to not only elevate the professionalism of your show, but also to create an additional stream of revenue before the dry summer months hit. The first year I produced a Keepsake Program Book, I called the show “My Hometown.” We dedicated the dances to local businesses and then used the dedication as a reason to ask them to place a congratulatory ad for the dancers. We sold a little over 30 ads the first year and now sell 80-90 ads on a yearly basis
  4. Keepsake Program Books – Part 2 – Businesses aren’t the only ones interested in placing ads in the program book. Take advantage of your professional publication to encourage families to celebrate the accomplishments of their dancers and graduating seniors by placing “Brava!” ads.
  5. Commemorative Merchandise – The possibilities for commemorative merchandise are endless. We partner with a local florist to provide flowers. Our biggest seller is a branded recital t-shirt complete with every dancer’s name on the back. The students bring sharpies and sign each other’s shirts after the show. Many of our More Than Just Great DancingTM affiliate studios offer an even broader assortment of commemorative items at their shows including recital bears, bondi bands, sweatshirts, picture frames, bracelets, charms, water bottles, parent gear and more.
  6. Memory Makers – Dance is the only art that disappears as soon as you create it. Make the celebration last by providing quality photography and videography opportunities for your families. Partner with local vendors to trade services or profit share. Or, take it a step further by investing in the equipment and training to provide the service yourself.
  7. Most Importantly… Most importantly, a professional, positive recital experience for families is your best promotion for summer and fall enrollment—the lifeblood of your business. The time, energy and planning you put into your show will pay you dividends for months to come.

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

More Than Just Great Dancing

READ MORE +

Seven Summer Savers: Summer Dance Camp Ideas and More

Seven Summer Savers: Summer Dance Camp Ideas and More

Remember this Broadway song? “Summertime….and the livin’ is easy. Fish are jumping and the cotton is high.” Well, that may be true for Porgy and Bess, but in my world summer can be tough. If I were singing that song, the lyrics might go more like, “Summertime…and the livin’ ain’t easy. Students are jumping and the overhead’s high!”

Summer enrollment drop is a natural phenomenon as families try other activities, head out for vacation, or just plain take a break. As a mom, I totally get it. I have five kids and summer is the best time for us to decompress and get out the scheduling grind.

But, when I look at summer through the eyes of business ownership, there is no doubt about it—the show must go on!

If you are looking for ideas to take your summer from fizzle to sizzle, keep reading for Seven Summer Savers, including summer dance camp ideas and more!

  1. Pre-Pay the Rent (or Mortgage) – Payroll and utilities may fluctuate by the season, but rent and mortgage obligations stay the same all year around. Save yourself summer stress by pre-paying all or part of your summer rental or mortgage over the course of the school year. By paying a little bit more each month when tuition is steady, you can step into summer with confidence even though cash flow may not be as strong.
  2. Weekly Stay Strong Classes – Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best solutions, so read the following statement twice. “The best way to keep things going is to keep things going.” Sometimes we get so caught up in doing something “new” for the summer that we forget to work what already works. Weekly classes work for us all year long. To that end, we run a six week session of regular technique classes to keep our company kids in shape over the summer. No splash, no flash, just six weeks of solid technique classes.  Last year we had over 100 kids participate in this program.
  3. Themed Kid Camps – If you want to capture the hearts of kids, look no further than the toy aisle at Target. What are the hottest selling toys, movies and games for kids? Once you figure that out, you have a treasure trove of ideas for theme-based camps at your fingertips. We have had over 200 kids participate in Frozen-themed camps with no sign of slowing, and there are plenty more warm hugs with Olaf ahead on our summer roster.
  4. Master Class Series – Once a month each summer we will bring in a master teacher for a series of classes. These two- to three-day workshops give students a chance to spread their wings technically and artistically without the expense of travel. Get more out of master classes by asking teachers to bring choreography selections that can be used for future community events or competitions.
  5. Alumni Features – Summer is a time when graduates return home from college and are looking for work. Motivate your current students by letting them take class with alumni who are dancing in college or have established careers. Featuring alumni is also a great reminder to parents that dance lessons can add up to great things for students in the future.
  6. Look Outside the Box – One of our best summer programs has been selling technique to local dance teams. These students may not have time to take weekly classes during the school year, but summer is a different story. Add value to your team class by bundling classes with choreography or complimentary cleaning sessions for competition later in the year.
  7. Private Power – If you are looking for a way to not only strengthen your dancers, but to make use of studio space in the summer, nothing is more flexible than private lessons. Take the administrative hassle out of private lessons by using an app like SignUpGenius.com and put the power of private instruction to work for you this summer.

Dance studio stress? We Can help. Click to learn more.

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Dance Recital Tips: 6 Ideas for Planning a Great Show

6 Dance Recital Tips for Planning a Great Show

It may be January, but May is on my mind. For those of us living in “dance-land,” New Year’s means more than resolutions—it means recital is coming faster than we think! Costumes have been ordered, dates have been set and themes have been announced.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The real recital planning is about to begin and January is the best time to do it.

So come on! Let’s get ahead of the game and plan our best recital yet! There’s no time like the present.

Here are 6 Dance Recital Tips to help you plan a great show.

  1. Make it a date. When I am coaching dance studio owners, I am known for the following phrase, “Plan the work and then work the plan.” The job of putting together a recital may involve hundreds of decisions, but if you sequence the decisions, it will be a lot easier to stay on top of the work. Put deadlines on Google Calendar to hold yourself and your team accountable. For example, at our studio, recital music is due January 1. Parents have until February 1 to submit special requests for recital (school conflicts, etc.). On March 1, rehearsal information and show orders are released. Teachers know that choreography must be complete by April 1 and so on. The beauty of making a calendar is that you can roll most of it over from year to year as well as train your clients to be aware of predictable dates and deadlines.
  2. Practice doesn’t make perfect. Remember the old saying, “Practice makes perfect?” Well, I don’t agree. Practice makes habits (which can be good or bad). Perfect practice makes perfect. If you want to make sure your dancers are actually practicing the right steps, start early by providing access to practice music, notes and/or private YouTube videos. Not every dancer will take advantage of it, but every dancer that does helps makes for a better performance in the end.
  3. Music matters. Spend the time and money necessary to get quality edits of your recital music. If you don’t have the tech skills or software, it’s worth paying to have your music professionally edited and balanced. Even the most well-rehearsed dances will look off to the audience if the music is cut poorly or if the songs are not balanced for highs and lows. Give your students an advantage by cutting your music now so they can practice to the actual cuts of the music from day one.
  4. Service what you sell. Wow your parents by hosting a Costume Construction Day where you make alterations available for no cost to parents. Jazz up the event by inviting your senior dancers to hold a hair and makeup clinic for little ones while they wait for their costumes to be serviced. We have been doing this for over ten years now and it has become one of the most appreciated events of the year for our families.
  5. Step up your production value. Now is the time to identify one specific way you can step up the quality of your production over last year’s show.  Maybe you want to run a smoother rehearsal or feature a new check in/check out system for backstage. Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to do a printed recital program or include business ads in the program book.  Whatever it is, every new recital is a chance to sharpen your production skills. Pick one aspect of your show and make a memorable improvement.
  6. In the spirit of over-communication….say it again. I didn’t fully realize how important it was to remind parents about important dates and events until I became a parent myself. I used to really wonder how some parents could miss obvious dates like recital ticket sales and picture day. But now that I have five kids between the ages of 5-13, I understand that keeping up with notices from school and events is a part-time job. Use all means possible including an e-newsletter, printed handbooks and social media reminders to keep parents abreast of important dates and information. Informed parents are happy parents. ☺

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6 Spring Dance Studio Enrollment Boosters

Dance Studio Enrollment

I live in a place affectionately called the Frozen Tundra. It’s not exactly the Arctic, but Green Bay Packer fans claim the whole state is pretty close to that from about mid-December to mid-March.

No matter where you live, don’t let the colder weather or busyness of the season lull you into taking your foot off the gas in terms of seeking new enrollments. Don’t fall asleep at the wheel! Registration incentives, pre-planning for upcoming classes and events, and getting creative with marketing ideas are just a few of the tools you can use.

Winter is a GREAT time to plan for Spring dance studio enrollment boosters. Here are 6 ideas to get you started:

  1. FB contest for tuition credit. Last week we started a unique FB contest that has gotten a lot of traction. The promotion is a picture of our “Give the Gift of Dance” basket. It’s basically a dance class starter set with a value of $130, but sells for $95. The contest component is that everyone who shares it and comments that they did so below the picture is entered to win a $100 studio tuition credit. We got 68 shares the first day! What’s better yet? Many people not only mentioned that they shared, but they commented what they loved about the studio.
  2. “Summer in Winter”! Winter is the best time to plan for new summer classes. Tie up loose ends on guest artists now! Strong planning now means the ability to begin taking enrollment for summer by the end of February.
  3. Line up Spring community performances now. Now is the time to line up community performances for the spring. Community performances are a great way to showcase what is great about your studio, pass out information and teach kids how to use their gifts and talents to serve others.
  4. Call the local dance teams. High school dance team is a big deal around these parts. Instead of trying to compete, we partner with them several times a year. We offer free rehearsal space for teams as needed. We also offer a special “cleaning” session with one of our teachers that can be purchased. Once you establish a relationship with a team, it’s an easy transition to promote an audition workshop or classes in the dance team style.
  5. Move your fall enrollment date up. Our registration date for fall used to always be June 1, however, when I had children of my own I realized that all of the good preschools held their registration for fall in February! While I haven’t quite been able to move our registration up that far, we have moved it to April, which has helped enrollment tremendously. The parents encourage enrollment in groups by talking about which classes they will take next year while they wait for classes to let out.
  6. Keep taking students! Sounds simple, but the impact is powerful! There is NEVER a time at Misty’s Dance Unlimited where someone is not able to enroll. We take school year students until Jan. 31. Beginning Feb. 1, they can sign up for summer classes. Now imagine if I still cut off enrollment in December with the costume order (which I used to do!). Last year we took 20+ enrollments in January. Many will become long-term students. If I hadn’t accepted their enrollments, some might’ve waited for fall…but most would’ve kept looking for another studio.

Looking for more great dance studio enrollment tips? Check out:

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5 Ways to Get Last Minute Dance Students in the Door

5 Ways to Get Last Minute Dance Students in the Door

Dance classes for most studios in North America tend to follow the school year schedule, beginning sometime in late August to early September and ending with a run of recitals or spring performances in May or June.

By the time the calendar flips to October the rush of registration has calmed down and the daily rhythm of studio life is setting in.  But, don’t let the calmer waters of October lull you into taking your foot off the gas in terms of promotion and enrollment! October is a GREAT time to promote your studio to new and former students.

Think about it:  Families are getting into a routine so adding a new activity may not seem as overwhelming as it might have in September.  Soccer and other fall sports are coming to a close and exciting announcements about spring recital and costumes are starting to roll out.

Last year 10% of our enrollment came in between October and January!

Read on for 5 ways to get last minute dance students in the door.

  1. Renew relationships. Take advantage of different reporting features on your dance studio management software to find out which students from last year have not re-enrolled for this year’s classes. Reach out to former students with a compelling and personalized offer. It doesn’t cost anything, but time to send an email inviting students to get back on the dance floor. Go a step beyond and send a letter directly to the student. As Dale Carnegie said, a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language. Be personal with your offer.
  2. Host a free Frozen themed camp. Every other Saturday since the studio opened we have hosted a free Frozen Fun Camp for an hour for students age 4-7. We teach a short routine, make a craft, review the routine and then do a mini show for the parents. At the end of the camp, all children leave with a gift bag including a studio pencil, stickers and a gift certificate for free pair of shows if they register within one week. We have had over 165 children participate in this special camp over the last two months, most of them new.
  3. Take a field trip. If you can’t get the students to come to you, go to where the students are. Currently we send teachers out to two different day cares, the local Children’s Museum, our regional performing arts center and a church each week. This allows us to provide services to busy parents during the day and as well as to reach to the edges of our market where parents might not be willing fight traffic at 5pm to get to the heart of town for a 30-minute dance class.
  4. Put on a show. We perform heavily in the community in the early fall. It’s still warm enough to do outdoor performances in our area, so we take advantage of the beautiful fall weather by performing at area expos, fall festivals, trick or treating events, breast cancer awareness and Down Syndrome walks as well as sporting events. Whenever possible we include our studio information in participant welcome packets, help to sponsor the event or have a booth.
  5. Track results and don’t give up. While there is no magic bullet when it comes to getting students in the door, the key is to continually put effort into getting the message across that even though school has started, you are still open for registration. One initiative may bring 2 students. Another may bring 8 students. But wouldn’t you rather have 10 more students than no more students? Absolutely! That is 10 more little lives that you get to positively impact☺.

Looking for more great dance studio enrollment tips? Check out these great articles:

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Plan Your Holiday Show NOW With These 5 Tips

Holiday Show

As dance studio owners we live in a strange DUAL WORLD.

At all times one part of us is absorbed in the demands of the day while the other part is 3-6 months out planning for the future.

Your spouse, teachers and students may not realize it, but for every question you answer about today’s schedule, another side of you is already translating that information to improvements for the next round of classes.

When your spouse is thinking summer vacation, you are thinking of fall classes.  When parents are buying back to dance gear, you are buying holiday show costumes.  When teachers are looking forward to fall break, you are looking forward to recital.

As a studio owner, you have to have your feet in the moment AND your eye on the horizon.   

In recognition of the DUAL DEMANDS on our calendars, set aside the duties of the day and take a minute to PLAN NOW for a great holiday show with the following 5 tips:

  1. Find a niche. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to producing recitals—and holiday shows are no exception. Don’t get caught in the trend trap. What works for your competitor might not work for you. For example, there is an established ballet school in my area that produces a great Nutcracker each year. And, while I think it is important for my students to have knowledge of the Nutcracker and experience dancing to the iconic score, there is no need for me to duplicate the production on an annual basis because someone in my area is already doing a great job of it. When planning your holiday show look for a niche that no one else is filling. At our studio we produce four “Christmas Social” performances featuring students from our Children’s division (under age 9) and a sprinkling of older Performance Company members. All shows are an hour in length and all proceeds are converted to scholarships so that our high school students can attend Dance Revolution convention. We follow the shows with an old-fashioned time of food and fellowship. Our parents appreciate the low stress format and focus on giving.
  2. Rally the troops. Don’t go it alone. Enlist the help of teachers, parents and students to take some of the burden of performance details off of your shoulders during a busy time of year. Our teachers are involved in picking out the music and costumes as well as creating choreography. Parents and students help with ushering and taking care of children back stage. Recruiting helpers has an added benefit of training teachers and students to be leaders as well as allowing parents to be enthusiastic ambassadors for our studio.
  3. Map out the mileage. You wouldn’t take a road trip without knowing the cost, yet many dance studio owners embark on show preparation without a plan to cover their production expenses. Hold all announcements on ticket prices, rehearsal fees and costume charges until you are confident you have your hands around expenses. As a business coach, the number one challenge I see studio owners facing are losses created by “flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-syndrome.” You should never lose money producing a show. You are a professional and you provide a valuable service to your children, your families and the community. Don’t risk your ability to provide future opportunities for your students by skipping this important step in the planning process.
  4. Release the rules. Communication is key for show success! Clearly spell out all obligations for families including auditions, rehearsal dates, absence policies, costume requirements, performance times and fees in one beautiful, easy-to-read document. Nothing makes a parent upset faster than not having the full picture before making a commitment, or when the “rules” change after publication. Be clear and consistent with your communication and policies.
  5. Solve the ticket issue now. In the end, most parents want to know two things about extra performances: 1) How much will it cost, and 2) How do I get to see my child perform? Answer both of those questions with a ticketing solution from TutuTix. Not only will the ticketing task be off of your plate, but the income for your hard work will be in your account…win-win!

Dance studio stress? We Can help. Click to learn more.

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Back-to-Dance Meetings Done Right

back-to-dance meetings done right

You may be ready for the new dance season, but are your teachers?

Every year is a fresh chance to build on your strengths and shore up your weaknesses as a studio owner. Back-to-dance meetings are a prime opportunity to tweak policies, update curriculum, raise standards, communicate vision and re-energize your faculty for the long haul ahead.

Get everyone on your team marching to the same beat this year in with a “Three Layer Meeting.” This article will show you how.

“Three Layer Meeting” may sound like a Pinterest post, but in reality, it’s just a simple system I use to organize the volumes of information required to kick off the season into logical pieces for our teachers.

  1. Layer #1: Administrative
    At my studio, Misty’s Dance Unlimited, we have a staff of 27 employees who serve 750 students that take over 3,000 class units per week. As you can probably guess, a lot of details go into pulling off that kind of schedule and I rely heavily on a well-informed and well-trained team to keep things running smoothly.

    When we meet for our first round of back-to-dance meetings I begin by tackling the nuts and bolts of what being a rockstar employee looks at Misty’s Dance Unlimited. We cover policies and procedures during this time—paying special attention to the areas of dress code, attendance, timeliness, classroom safety, choreography standards, music choices and social media etiquette—areas that are very important to me as a studio owner.

  2. Layer #2: Classroom
    We use the classroom portion to provide training in our curriculum and classroom management style. Every genre of dance offered at our studio has its own meeting time where teachers can learn from the most experienced teacher in that discipline. Peer teaching is a very powerful tool and a welcome break from listening to me!

    We kick off the classroom portion of our meetings with a training session for our Children’s Curriculum. And, let me tell you, if you never seen a group of adults bouncing around the room on imaginary pogo sticks, you’ve missed out on something pretty special! But, for all the fun, there is a purpose behind every activity. Teachers are not only learning how to deliver content in a way that encourages creativity, they are also learning creative strategies to keep energetic little ones on task.

    As we move into the curriculum for our older classes, the trainings begin to look more like a class. In the ballet training, for example, time is spent reviewing placement, the type of preparation we want to use for turns and the requirements for dancing en pointe.

  1. Layer #3: Vision-Casting
    The vision-casting component of our tri-part meeting series is my favorite. You see, you can have all of the best policies and classroom practices, but if your employees don’t understand your vision for the studio, it’s likely to fall apart at some point.

    An ancient proverb says, “Without vision, the people perish.” Now, I’m not suggesting that your people are going to keel over if you don’t communicate your vision, but I do know that if your teachers don’t understand what they are working towards or why are you doing things the way you are doing them, it can lead to slow death of a team or even a studio. Many a studio split could’ve been avoided by better communicating the vision of the studio and helping people understand how they fit into that vision.

    We wrap up our back-to-dance meetings by asking teachers to share WHY they teach. This not only gives them a chance to remember what made them fall in love with teaching dance in the first place, but it allows me a chance to get a better idea of what motivates them and what’s important to them. My vision for my studio would be incomplete if I didn’t understand what was important to my employees.

For more information on creating meetings that engage and motivate employees, contact Misty Lown at www.morethanjustgreatdancing.com.

Dance studio stress? We Can help. Click to learn more.

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