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How to Start a Dance Studio: A Checklist

how to start a dance studio

You’ve jumped and soared to incredible heights throughout your dance career, but now it’s time to make your biggest leap yet. With a love of dance and a passion for sharing it with others, you’ve decided to open your own brand new studio.

Editor’s Note: Since the publication of this article, TutuTix has created an even more in-depth resource for studio owners looking to take their studios to the next level. It even includes an example business plan for a new dance studio!

You can download the official TutuTix E-Book for FREE by following this link.

Starting a dance studio involves considering a wide variety of categories that concern everything from advertising methods to payment processing systems. It’s a lot to think about, but following a checklist will help make the process a little less stressful. We’ve outlined the major categories involved in how to start a dance studio, and the smaller tasks that they encompass:

Finances

Of course, after passion and determination, the most important thing you need to open a dance studio is money! While you can’t predict every expense, try to prevent surprises.

Hiring a financial advisor is a smart move to make sure that you have sufficient savings to not only start your dance studio but continue operating it for the long-term. An advisor can also help you determine if you need to take out loans to help finance your business.

Location

The first category you need to consider when starting a dance studio is location. You need to reconcile your studio’s ideal location with the facility size and layout that best suits your needs.

A studio located in a populated, busy area that’s visible to passing traffic will get you noticed the most and draw in more customers. The location should also be in a neighborhood that’s safe for children. Research the demographics of the area and how many other dance studios are located in the proximity.

When looking at building layout, consider how many rooms you want the studio to have and the number of office spaces, storage rooms and bathrooms needed. Make sure the lobby and reception area is spacious enough to be comfortable.

Your studio will also need to have more than enough parking spots to accommodate not only the daily class load but the added influx of parents and students during performances and other special events.

Brand Development

A strong, well-developed brand communicates who you are and what you have to offer to clients. Branding involves a range of duties, including choosing the decor of the studio, deciding on a name and creating a unique logo and sign.

You should create a business plan early on, and in this plan outline your mission statement, values and goals. Think about what makes you and your teaching style unique and valuable to students. Make sure you dedicate ample resources to advertising, because you will have to rely on it as a new and unknown studio.

Create business cards, brochures, a company website and advertising campaigns on social media sites. Contact local schools and community groups to investigate opportunities for partnerships and collaboration, and see if you can participate set up a table at at town events like festivals and parades. Hold an open house day, and consider offering incentives for signing up for classes on the day, like studio-branded dance gear or a discounted tuition rate.

A strong brand helps customers recognize the value of your services, so don’t skimp on getting your name out there.

Legal Affairs

Starting any kind of business is a confusing and taxing process that gets even more complicated when you add in all the legal mumbo jumbo. Consider hiring a lawyer to help you deal with these complexities.

A lawyer can read over and advise you on the lease of your building, and can help you make sure that you register your business correctly. Take out an insurance policy and draw up waivers and other necessary forms to help protect and support your studio.

Enlist the help of other legal and business professionals to ensure that your studio complies with all health, safety and environmental standards and that you possess all necessary permits and music licenses.

Equipment

Order and install the big pieces of your studio, like padded or marley floors, floor-to-ceiling mirrors and barres. Buy a sound system for the studio, and sound-proof each studio room as much as you can to cut down on excess noise and distraction.

Is there sufficient lighting in classrooms, throughout the building and in parking lots? Beyond dance equipment, you also need the basic equipment required for running a business, like a computer system, studio-management software and payment processing system.

In order to accept credit card payments, you’ll have to register merchant accounts with the major providers. Install locks and a security system in the studio to help ensure it is safe and protected. You’ll need to maintain your studio, too, so set up regular shipments of cleaning supplies and restroom products. And don’t forget WiFi!

“Establish your studio policies early on.”

Management

Think about all the things that will be necessary for you to successfully run your new studio. Establish your studio policies early on, including tuition rates and attendance and discipline rules.

Create your schedule, deciding when the registration period for classes will be, how many and which types of classes you will offer each week and when and where performances will be held throughout the year. Create a document including your policies and calendar and make copies.

Determine how many instructors and staff you will need to cover all your classes and what experience and skills you require, and hire those that are a good fit with the culture and attitude of your studio.

For more in-depth information on starting a dance studio, take a look at our Studio Start-Up blog category, or choose from any of the articles below:

Starting a Dance Studio: Part 1 of the Studio Start-Up Guide

Dance Studio Floor Plans: Part 2 of the Studio Start-Up Guide

Dance Gear and Decorations: Part 3 of the Studio Start-Up Guide

Opening a Dance Studio: Planning the Grand Opening

Dance Teacher Salaries: How Much Should You Pay Dance Staff?

How to Create a Great Dance School Website

Your Recital, Your Brand: The Complete Dance Recital Checklist

Dance Staff Management Guide: Part One

Dance Studio Employee Handbook: Part 2 of the Dance Staff Management Guide

Dance Teacher Evaluations and Replacing a Dance Teacher: Part 3 of the Dance Staff Management Guide

Trey is the Chief Operations Officer of TicketBiscuit, the parent company of TutuTix