Think about your dance studio front desk person(s). Is he/she friendly? Is he/she focused? Is he/she committed to the success of your business?
If your answer is:
(1) I don’t have a front desk person.
(2) My front desk person is not friendly.
(3) My front desk person is not focused.
(4) My front desk person is not invested in the success of my business.
Then, STOP. Houston, we have a problem.
Why You Need a Front Desk Person
Your front desk person is your gatekeeper, your pulse, and your frontline of battle. All of those roles are considered mission: critical to the success of any operation. Your front desk person is no exception.
This person represents your studio, and generally, makes the first impression a client experiences when entering your facility.
The front desk person should know the ins/out of your studio and its operation, and if a tricky question arises, he/she should know the proper communication procedures for finding the answer. He/she should be friendly, eager, enthusiastic, and happy to be a part of your organization.
The front desk person should never gossip or show preferential treatment to particular clients.
Of course, like any other staff member, the front desk representative should be trained, evaluated, and supported within the infrastructure of your business. After all, the front desk person can make or break a prospective client’s interest in your facility and/or a current client’s experience with your facility.
Choose someone that will make a positive, lasting impression!
Substitute Dance Teachers. Even the very mention of the words can put one in an anxious, uncomfortable state. After all, it directly impacts your daily operations and disrupts your studio’s organizational flow.
How can you make the substitute process easier?
(1) Handle all substitutions through your main office. Do not have instructors individually manage their substitute assignments.
(2) Have a systemic, documented request system and communication infrastructure for absences.
(3) Encourage teachers to have curriculum notes and music playlists prepared for substitute instructors.
(4) Know your substitutes’ areas of strengths/weaknesses, schedule availability, and preferred contact information (email, text, phone call, etc.).
(5) Have some additional substitute dance teachers on your list that are not part of your regular staff. Make sure they are familiar with your studio’s culture and expectations.
(6) Prepare the substitute with proper teaching materials and a class roster/attendance sheet.
Pre-Planned Absences offer the opportunity for more advanced planning, but you should try to apply the same approach to emergency/unexpected absences, too. Stay calm, procedural, and professional, and people will appreciate your systemic approach.
Writing a dance studio business plan is a BIG project. But an important one! This plan will lay out your studio’s hopes and dreams, as well as the step-by-step process for getting from Point A to Point B. A few questions to ask yourself as you get started:
Where are you now?
Where do you want to be in three years? In five?
Who will help you get there?
The point of a dance studio business plan is to clearly lay out the aspects of a new company: strengths, challenges, and all of the minor details that will make the business a success. This document is an opportunity for entrepreneurs and hopeful business owners to put all of their ideas on paper, so that colleagues and other advisors can review the plan and offer any advice or criticism before the business is launched.
As an example, TutuTix has created a sample dance studio business plan for our imaginary dance studio, TIPS (the TutuTix Imaginary Performance Studios).
Feel free to use our guide’s ideas in your own plan, and please send us feedback about ideas we might not have that work particularly well in your studio! You can download the example dance studio business plan for free by completing the form below:
The layout of a business plan follows a logical progression of topics that a company needs to have defined prior to opening for business.
That order of topics should look something like this:
A concise description of your company, that acts as an overview of your goals and values. Keep it short but sweet! Why did you choose to build this kind of company?
Here, you can flesh out your overview and touch on how your business will function. Talk a little about your customer base, marketing goals, and strengths of your company. Why are you the best? Is it because you have the best staff, the most experience, the best rates?
Who are you competing against? How strong is that competition, and why do you think your studio can handle it? How will your business grow in this community over time?
There are lots of talented teachers and dancers who would be great studio owners. But in their current city or location, they would have a really hard time getting into the market and signing up students. That might be because of competition, lack of student interest in the area, or other reasons. How will your studio stand up to these tests?
Products and Services
Which dance classes will you offer? Will you rent out your space? Will you sell any retail items?
This section lists out your business functions: what do you offer, and how much will you charge? All of the items listed here will add up to be your studio’s income.
Marketing Publishing Strategy
How will people find out about your business, and how will you recruit additional students after your first season? What does your brand mean to you, and what do you want it to mean to others?
Operational Plan, Legal, and Startup Expenses
You can’t start a business from scratch: you’ll need funds and some professional consulting to get your company off the ground. How will you pay for your startup costs? Do you have that money already, or will you need to raise money with partners? Is a loan from the bank your best option?
By the time you get to writing this portion, hopefully you’ve talked to colleagues who might be opening the studio with you, or you’ve found a legal and/or financial professional who can advise you on the best way to move forward. Taking on debt to open a business is always risky, so you want to find funds the right way and have a plan to pay that debt back.
Most importantly: don’t be afraid to adapt! After the completion of the business plan, go back through and make adjustments based on information you’ve learned along the way! Ideas can and should evolve when they’re laid out on paper, so be sure to look for guidance from other teachers and business owners when putting together your plan.
Ownership of choreography dance moves is a tricky subject. When a choreographer puts their body into motion and pen to paper, they’re creating an original expressive piece that takes their personal experience and creativity and translates it into a work of art. Once it’s put into a tangible medium, you can apply copyright protections to the piece.
So how could there be any question about owns that piece? In this article, we’re going to take a look at a couple of different scenarios that studios and choreographers might run into when they work together creatively.
Scenario 1: Hiring a Choreographer
In this scenario, you are a studio owner (or the guest choreographer who is being hired to create the work). Some of the big topics you’ll want to cover are:
A timeline for delivery (when is the performance, and how long will the dance take to learn?)
Who will teach the choreography (is the choreographer also coming to class to teach the moves?)
Services (what all is being requested of the choreographer, or what all do they offer?)
Pricing (based on the services, how much should the payment be? Is this choreographer part of a larger professional community, and can they then ask for a higher price?)
And finally, ownership of the material. In this scenario, the guest choreographer is being hired as a freelancer. That means that after their job is completed, they won’t continue to have any ties to your studio.
Now it comes down to having an honest conversation with the choreographer about your expectations and theirs as well. As a studio owner, are you expecting to take this choreography (which you have essentially commissioned for your students) and use it again in the future? Are you also expecting that your choreographer won’t later work for another studio and produce a dance that’s very similar to yours?
Well, it depends on this honest conversation going on. Choreographers are professionals, and their ability to create an expressive and elaborate piece is why you’re hiring them in the first place. They may very well expect to reuse or recycle parts of one piece when making a different one, since those parts are their own creative works. They may also expect for you to use their work once, for a singular performance, and to then ask for additional permissions in the future to perform it again.
So, while this conversation may be honest and productive, you can clearly see how it could get a little tense with different opinions about the work. As the studio owner, make a list of your priorities and decide the most important factors in this project:
Does the choreographer make great work, and are they worth hiring consistently?
Do competing studios also hire this choreographer, and would you be worried about similar choreography showing up in their recital or at competition?
Is this performance theme very specific, where this choreography might not fit with other themes in the near future?
As the choreographer, make a list of your own priorities as well!
If you work locally, are you trying to build relationships and secure future contracts?
If you work within a larger community, do you need the ability to recycle parts or entire pieces?
As an artist, do you expect for your work to remain your own, and for studio owners to ask to use your work in the future?
As a business professional, how can you maximize the income you can get from a single piece of work?
Studio owners, be sure check out the choreographer priority list. Choreographers, be sure check out the studio owner list! When everyone is on the same page and both parties’ goals are clear, it’s way easier to find common ground and find room for compromise.
Very important: don’t rush into hiring a choreographer or starting to make choreography without having this discussion, and putting it into writing. We can’t stress this enough: MAKE A CONTRACT. And that includes having your legal counsel check the contract fully before it’s signed.
With clear language about who, what, when, where, and for how much, any potential disagreement can point back to the original contract for clarification.
Scenario 2: Teachers Creating Choreography
Maybe your studio has talented teachers who choreograph their classes’ dances: sweet!!! So who owns their work?
Can there be exceptions? Of course. A person who makes a creative piece will want to feel like they have ownership over their work. So how can you, as a studio owner, make that work?
Back to the priorities. For studios:
Does the teacher make great work, and are they a valuable member of your staff?
Does your teacher work in a dance capacity anywhere else, and would you be worried about similar choreography showing up in another studio’s recital or at competition?
Besides at your studio, where else could your choreography dance moves be used?
Do you create choreography on the side, and do you need your choreography dance moves to be available for other clients?
On that note, do you have a non-compete agreement with your studio already in place? What does it say about choreography?
This honest conversation between teachers and studio owners has a different feel to it than the freelance conversation. These teachers will be working at the studio for an extended period of time, and are directly invested in the studio’s success.
Probably the best question for a studio owner to ask: “Why do you need your choreography to be used elsewhere?”
An honest answer will set up the rest of the conversation. Maybe the teacher wants to work freelance on the side but not compete with your studio. Maybe the teacher wants to have a choreography portfolio, for a future career decision. Maybe the teacher needs to move in the near future and wants to be able to take the choreography along for future work.
As a studio owner, if you trust your teachers, these all sound like pretty legitimate reasons! And to show your support and build a closer relationship with your teachers, it could definitely be worth it to find some room for compromise.
Running a dance studio is not a walk in the park. It takes time, it takes money, it takes passion, and it takes love. Here at TutuTix, our mission is to help dance studio owners grow their businesses and to help families enjoy their children’s love of dance.
We want to be here to support YOU, the studio owners working every day to promote your art. We’re here to help you have one less (giant) thing to worry about at the end of the year. But, we’re also here to be partners in your success. And that success happens all year long, not just during recital season!
To help make your success even better, the TutuTix team has compiled a guide filled with tips and strategies for the studio owner looking to grow their business. Best of all, we’re offering it to you for FREE. Just like our ticketing service, this e-book is available at no cost to studio owners.
You can download “Dance Studio Ideas and More: The Official TutuTix E-Book” below:
As a dance studio owner, you’re always looking for more opportunities to bring in some extra money and to invest in your studio. That investment might be new equipment, new staff, or the resources to host a second recital performance. Most studios rely on classes, costumes, recitals, and possibly studio rentals for their major income. But what if you could get patrons from the community to invest in your studio?
Let’s Use the Right Vocabulary
When you think of the word “invest,” you might think of people giving you money and expecting something in return. In the case of investing in a business, those people are expecting money in return. They will invest capital, and expect you to use that capital to make more money than you could before. Having invested capital, they buy equity in your business, and effectively own a piece of your business. Thinking of it simply, when your business value grows, their wealth grows.
For a dance studio, traditional “investments” are not necessarily the best situation for finding some extra resources. You as a small business owner probably want to keep full ownership of your company, and might only consider a major investment like we mention above in the case of something BIG, like opening an additional studio or something along those lines.
For businesses related to the fine arts, what you’re looking for is patronage from your community. That is, donations or contributions from members of the community who don’t expect something directly in return, but do expect you to use the money to build your fine arts organization.
A great comparison are city or regional ballet companies or symphony orchestras, who receive donations from patrons in the community. Those patrons donate to support the continuation and growth of the arts, and expect the organizations to handle and spend their donations responsibly.
So? Where Does My Studio Come into the Picture?
Dance is powerful. Dance as a fine art exists on every continent, and in the United States there are national and state-based organizations working every day to promote dance.
So, you as a studio owner have a culturally impactful organization at your disposal. Your company teaches young people (or people of all ages) about professionally recognized dance techniques. And, it allows those students to express themselves in a meaningful way.
THAT’S where your value has the potential to extend into the community and provide a valuable resource for the fine arts where it might not exist otherwise.
Here, we do need to take a step back and think about the scope of the project you’re undertaking. If you want to request patronage from the community (donations), you need to be very careful about how you ask for that money, and how you report it on your taxes at the end of the year.
Right now, chances are your company is a for-profit business. As in, you run your company and provide services to customers. They pay your business directly, and that money is reported as income from the year. You aren’t a charity, so people usually don’t donate money outside of their fees.
If you’re going to stay as a for-profit business and ask for donations, there’s two BIG points to be made:
Patrons will NOT be able to deduct these donations from their taxes, since you won’t be changing your company to a 501(c)(3).
You’ll need to report these donations as income on your tax return next year.
Having mentioned these two points, now is the time to talk to your lawyer and/or accountant and discuss the idea before moving forward. Tax law is tricky, and it varies state-by-state.
What did they say? Did you get the green light?
Showing Your Commitment to the Community
Let’s say you’ve gotten the go-ahead from the professionals who manage your company’s finances and legal affairs. They’ve said “Yes, with careful preparation and reporting of this income, you’ll be able to receive donations from the community as long as you are clear about your use of the money and follow through with your commitment.”
That commitment needs to be impactful, and extend beyond the short-term donation that you’re hoping patrons will make.
For example, maybe you ask patrons to donate in order to purchase a new barre for your studio. How will you make that purchase translate into a resource for the community?
That’s where this project needs to become bigger than your studio. If you’re asking for extra money, you need to provide extra services to the community. Maybe that means a monthly free ballet basics class for the community, or use of the space for something like physical therapy through dance. Be creative! If you show love to your community, they’ll return the love with donations and support for your organization.
Back to the Nitty Gritty
You’ve got your great idea, you’re out to save the world one dancer at a time, and you’ve got volunteers who like your idea and want to make it happen. What next?
Time to go back to your professionals for a quick meeting. You’ll want to create an easy way for patrons to give you money, and clear language that tells everyone why and how you’ll spend the money you receive.
Some companies, like GoFundMe, exist to provide people an option for crowd-sourcing. Other options might include creating a PayPal account that people can access directly from your studio’s website.
Either way, be sure to have clear descriptions of what any money collected will buy, and a timeframe for the purchase. The last thing you want is confusion about your motives, and possible legal problems down the road.
Let’s go back to our barre purchase, and create some example language:
“My studio is raising money to purchase and install a new barre, in an effort to update the studio and create additional value for the community. As thanks for the community’s support for this equipment, my studio will begin to host monthly classes free to the general public.
In addition, we will make the space available for medical professionals to use for the purposes of physical therapy through dance during non-class hours, to build appreciation for dance in the community and investment in the people of our community.
This fundraiser will last until after our studio’s final recital in May, and we will make a purchasing decision by July 1 of next year. At that time, we’ll let patrons know about the purchase and installation details.
If we have not received enough funding to purchase the barre at that time, we will have a patron meeting about alternate purchases that could fulfill similar goals as the barre. Should we not find a solution at that time, the studio will return the donations to patrons.”
Your accountant should advise you on setting up the donations side of the project, and your lawyer should advise you on the language that you’ll use to describe your project. Don’t make assumptions and take off running: be sure and have your bases covered by professionals who have your best interest in mind!!
And have FUN! This kind of project can introduce you to really great people in the community who are looking to make a difference, and your studio might have the potential to BE that positive influence.
The dance world is full of career opportunities for people who love the dance and love self-expression. Besides performing full-time or teaching (or, as many dancers know, a combination of both), other career paths exist for dance-oriented individuals looking to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Dance administration jobs put you right in the middle of the action, and give you a powerful role in building up a successful dance studio. Check out these 5 methods to strengthen your resume and help you get a job at a growing dance studio.
If a studio is looking for an office assistant or studio manager (examples of dance administration jobs), they’re expecting to bring someone in who will clean up their business’ organizational practices. That might range from interacting with parents, to answering phones, to creating better filing systems for student registration forms. How do you organize your personal life, and are there some practices you use that could translate well into a small business setting? Here are a few ideas you can suggest to a studio that might not be using these organizational methods:
Create a bulletin board with a calendar for that month’s events. By having events easily visible to parents in the lobby, they’ll be constantly reminded about upcoming dates and can talk about those events with other parents.
Scan all dancer registration forms and store them online using cloud software like Google Drive or Dropbox. Then, after making sure the forms are all backed up, you can shred the physical forms to save space in the office.
Build a newsletter template, and send out regular emails to parents with event updates and news from the previous month. Pictures of dancers in action will be a great way for parents to see their children in the classroom, and will keep them excited to open your emails.
Become Social Media Savvy
Another reason to hire an office assistant or studio manager is to strengthen the studio’s presence on social media. By bringing on a person who has dedicated responsibilities for posting online, the studio owner and teachers can focus more attention on students, leaving part of the business growth to you. For that reason, you should know your way around the various social media platforms, and be proficient in at least three (we recommend Facebook to be your priority).
On Facebook, you should be prepared to manage an official studio page, and post pictures and information about upcoming events. Facebook can also be a primary way for parents to communicate with the studio after hours or without calling the studio line.
Other social media sites like Instagram can add a dynamic visual aspect to your studio’s online presence. Twitter is a great way to share news updates with parents and the local dance community.
Gain Some Volunteer Experience
There are few better qualifications than hands-on experience, and prior work in a dance studio setting will show your potential employer that you’re a studio veteran and know your way around the dance community. If you’ve danced before, reach out to your previous teachers about putting in some time at their studio as a volunteer. Or, ask about helping other arts organizations in your city with event hosting or office work that can build up your administrative skills in a fine arts setting.
While you volunteer, do your best to be constantly challenging yourself to learn new skills. Part of a studio assistant’s role will include bookkeeping, scheduling appointments, running errands, and conflict management with customers. Be asking about the best ways to handle those tasks, and try to put yourself into situations where you can get hands-on practice before you’re invited to the studio for an interview.
Dig Into Professional Education
We say “professional” instead of “higher” education, because “higher” education implies college-level classes. Which are not always the most ideal programs to focus on! Professional training can make you certified in a variety of different skill sets, and can add value to your personal brand.
Going back to previous dance education you may have had, consider brushing up on those skills so that you can be available to assist teachers in class in a backup capacity. Having a member of the staff who is well-versed in dance technique can be an invaluable asset in case a teacher runs into a problem and needs help with an activity in the classroom (even if it’s leading stretches during the first part of class).
If you enjoy fitness in other settings, and think you might be proficient enough to become a trainer, consider getting certified in physical education! Many studios we talk to have been moving towards allowing community fitness groups to use their space for a fee. As you help to build your studio’s brand in the community, you can also provide an additional income source for the studio (further raising your value as an employee).
Other certifications you earn can be valuable for the studio owner: for example, a studio assistant certified in CPR or other medical emergency techniques might lower liability insurance for the business, meaning more dollars for the studio to spend elsewhere.
Dance administration jobs are expensive investments for dance studios, and when they hire additional staff they’re expecting to make plenty of bang for their buck. Your job as a studio assistant or office manager is to build value for the dance studio through effective marketing, efficient business organization, and your ability to work well under pressure. If you can prove that your skills and ideas will help grow the business and take some of the workload off of studio owners, you’ll be a great choice for any dance studio.
This year, what’s a new skill you’d like to learn or acquire that will improve your teaching or business? There are an abundance of tutorials and opportunities available to learn something new via the internet.
Maybe you would like to revitalize your website, social media, or logo?
Would you like to improve your video or music editing capabilities?
Maybe you would like to have new teaching tips for acro or ballet or tap?
Or maybe a few DIY repairs will polish and freshen up your facility?
Are you interested in tweaking your staff and studio culture for the year ahead?
Research- discover the material that is available to you.
It is easy to become complacent in comfort- challenge yourself! Once you are open to learning more, the sky is the limit.
A popular excuse for not learning new things is lack of time- take the time. Make the time. It will be worth it!
Unsure about where to start? Check out the following sites: