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:
Many educational institutions use bulletin boards to visually convey information. Dance studio bulletin boards can be used to convey relevant studio information, offer seasonal tips and fun, and increase the community vibe in the classroom.
In creating your boards, think about the following:
Ideas and Tips That May Be Fun and Exciting for Students
Ballet Vocabulary (to reinforce your teaching in the classroom)
101 MARKETING IDEAS & STRATEGIES FOR DANCE STUDIOS
2. Ink Pens
3. Lunch Boxes
4. Beach Towels
7. Personalized Folders
8. Dance Bags
9. Car Magnets
10. Water Bottles
11. Sweat Pants
12. Jazz Pants
13. Athletic Shorts
14. Demo Days at Preschools
15. Country Club Programs
16. In-Studio Rewards Program
17. Community Performances
18. Community Choreography
19. Brochures & Posters in the Community
20. Demo Classes to Mothers’ Groups
21. Yard Signs
22. Children’s Books with Studio Labels Donated to Your Local Pediatrics Facility & Doctors’ Offices
23. Cards on Cars
24. Cards on Mailboxes
25. Setting Up Tables at Craft Fairs/Festivals
26. Setting Up Tables at Community Events (5Ks, etc.)
27. Parade Participation
28. Lollipop Tree
29. Email Messaging Infrastructure
30. In-Studio Flyers/Information to Current Clients
31. Birthday Cards/Notes to Dancers
32. Cross-Promotional Opportunities (Theatres, Shopping Center Events)
33. Donate to Auctions/ Raffles
34. Place a Box Outside of Your Studio with Information
35. Promote Complimentary Trial Classes
36. Use a Cell Phone to Be More Accessible Outside of the Studio
37. Respond to Emails Within 24 Hours
38. Promptly Return Calls
39. Have a Website
40. Have a ‘Contact Us’ Form on Your Website
41. Utilize An Easy to Spell URL on Your Website
42. Place Pricing on Website
43. Place Easy to Read Schedules on Your Website
44. Regularly Check and Review Your Website for Current Information
45. Use Facebook Pages for Your Studio
46. Maintain a Twitter Account
47. Consider Instagram & Pinterest for Your Studio
48. Determine What Form of Social Media Engages Your Audience (Photos, Shared Posts, etc.)
49. Have A Personal LinkedIn Page
50. Have a Professional LinkedIn Page
51. Claim Your Google Place
52. Use Google AdWords
53. Maintain Awareness of Online Reviews
54. Respond to Negative Online Reviews
55. Send Press Releases to News Outlets for Accomplishments
56. Open Houses & Festivals
57. Competitive Performances
58. Step & Repeat
59. Donation Drives
60. Join a Dance Educators Organization
61. Join a Community Service/Business Organization
62. Costume Selection
63. Cleanliness and Appearance of Your Studio
64. Your In-Studio Organization and Strategies
65. Welcome Packets
66. Class Placements and Recommendations
67. Recital DVD
68. Recital Pictures
69. Recital Performance
70. Buttons & Bands
71. Registration Gifts
72. Sibling Discount
73. Brand & Logo Consistency
74. Connect with Local Arts Organizations
75. Flash Mobs
76. Wedding Lessons
77. Birthday Parties
78. Friendly, Helpful, Professional Office Staff
79. Creative Class Offerings
80. Guest Artists
81. Seminars (Nutrition, Businesses, etc.)
82. Partnership with Dance Retailers
83. Staff Logo Wear
84. Staff & Student Dress Code
85. Advance Information and Organization
86. Attend Reputable Quality Events
87. Set Exceptional Standards for Time Management
88. Never Cancel An Event or Class Except Under Extenuating Circumstances
89. Set Social Media Expectations for Your Staff
90. Set Social Media Expectations for Your Team
91. Set Social Media Expectations re: Photography & Videography
92. Be A Role Model
93. Constantly Commit Yourself to Evolving and Improving
94. Re-freshen Your Facility When It Needs It
95. Involve Your Studio In Schools
96. Involve Your Studio with Local Print Media
97. Involve Your Studio with Your Alumni
98. Set a Budget & Maximize Your Cost Per Impression 99. ASK How People Heard About You 100. Keep In Mind that Word of Mouth is HUGE!
101. EVERYTHING IS MARKETING!
When thinking about building up your brand reputation and planning your studio’s marketing, focus on YOUR message and avoid comparative language that insinuates your facility is “better than” others.
In the dance education industry, comparative marketing does not speak as positively as true messaging. Via text, image, and graphics, communicate WHY your studio is a great choice. A great logo, strong social media presence, online testimonials: these are all marketing “musts” for you to express the strength of your brand.
You do not need to say why taking dance classes at “Studio A” is better than taking dance classes at “Studio B”.
When you define and commit to YOUR OWN vision and culture, success will follow. Stop comparing yourself to others and channel the energy into creating your own, unique version of AMAZING!
Want to get started using some creative marketing? Check out these articles on dance studio marketing to take your brand reputation to the next level:
Several popular dance shows and movies and the development of a more health-conscious population have driven growth for the dance industry. In fact, according to the IBISWorld Dance Studios Market Research Report, the dance industry has had an annual growth of 2.9 percent between 2010 and 2015, totaling 8,569 businesses with 50,266 people employed. And there is more good news: The industry is predicted to continue its growth over the next five years as the economy improves and consumers have larger budgets for recreational activities. How are you going to recruit these new dancers to your studio, you ask? Check out these dance studio marketing strategies to kickstart your fall recruitment.
1. Appeal to the Younger Generation
The past decade has been marked by an increased awareness of health and fitness in the United States. Campaigns and initiatives have set out to fight childhood obesity and create an overall healthier youth. Statistics show that Generation Z, people under age 20, are certainly more health and fitness-conscious than previous generations.
According to the Nielsen Global Health and Wellness Survey, 41 percent of Generation Z are cognizant of GMOs, ingredients and organic products and are willing to pay more for healthier foods. This compares to 32 percent of millennials and 21 percent of baby boomers. Such consumer trends toward improved health are also supported by IBISWorld’s report on Gym, Health and Fitness Clubs, which showed an annual growth of 2.5 percent between 2011 and 2016.
The youth population is concerned about fitness and health, and dance studio owners should appeal to those interests. Recruit new youth by advertising the great health benefits of dance and offering high-energy, fitness-oriented classes.
2. Have a Strong Social Media Presence
Social media is where we get our news, where we shop, where we socialize. Search Engine Journal reported that in 2014, 72 percent of all internet users were active on social media, and that number has increased since. This provides the perfect platform for businesses to engage in marketing, including dance studios.
Owners can post videos of performances, advertise promotions and create a key network. According to Nielsen, 83 percent of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family more than advertisements, meaning that when an existing dancer or parent engages with a studio’s social media page, others will then be drawn to engage. Their networks will become the studio’s, creating a broader and more probable community from which to recruit.
3. Offer Classes For Senior Adults
On the topic of generations, the baby boomers are rapidly retiring. The Pew Research Center estimated that 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 each day until 2030. That creates an abundance of people who will be retiring and looking for new hobbies to fill their days. Recruit these potential new dancers by offering a variety of senior classes. And the great part is, you can offer the classes during the morning or afternoon so that they will not conflict with your existing schedule.
4. Maintain an Easy, Up-to-Date Website
As a service-based business, a dance studio must provide a pleasant experience for its consumers. In today’s world, that means having an easy to use website that allows new recruits to sign up quickly and effortlessly. Entrepreneur suggested having clear website copy, a strong call to action for users to sign up and proof of your studio’s presence on social platforms as the best three ways for businesses to convert website visits to purchases, or in this case, to new sign-ups.
5. Educate Your Community
As a dance studio owner, you may not only be competing with other studios for new dancers. Instead, you may be up against with other sports, other commitments and families’ lack of time. Educate your community and explain the importance of dance! Besides a medium of self-expression and art education, dancing builds physical health and personal confidence.
Dancing can and should replace some of the other extracurricular activities that students have during the school year, so be sure to show off the benefits of dancing at your studio. But, it takes careful planning and a variety of dance studio marketing strategies to reach that community. Making some great performance videos or other multimedia can go a long way in showing (not telling) potential customers about the amazing experiences they might have at your studio.
Welcome to The Done Club! Recital season is finally over, and it’s time to take a big sigh of relief. It’s also time to take a look at the next few months and plan out ideas for bringing more dancers to your studio. Use these 5 strategies to create a great dance studio marketing plan for the summer, and fill up your fall classes.
In today’s world of social media and powerful mobile phones, having great content to share from your events can be very valuable. And, if you didn’t make a dedicated effort to gather some photos or video this season, you can bet some parents documented their child’s recital experience. See what you can find! Sharing great recital images or video content on your social media channels is a sure-fire way to engage your parents and showcase your dancers’ talent. You can even use those photos as decorations for your studio!
But, be sure to have parents’ permission in writing before you put those photos anywhere. Some studios have a photo permission release form included at the beginning of each season. If you don’t have one of those, you can still email a parent directly and ask for permission. Just wait to get a positive response with clear approval language before you move forward on sharing a photo (or video) anywhere.
Write A Post-Recital Follow-Up Email
Along with sharing news and media from your recital online, consider reaching out to your parents and prospective customers with a post-recital email blast. That email can thank parents for their support during recital season (and should hopefully have a few great pictures included!). It can also invite prospective parents to reach out for more information about your studio. Most importantly, include an invitation for current customers to renew their registration. You should mention any referral or discount programs you might be planning on using this year. If you have online registration available, have a big section with a link to register and a call-to-action message:
“Don’t wait until the fall to sign up for your child’s dance classes!”
“Students are already signing up for fall lessons, be sure to register early before spots are filled!”
Sending out a letter to parents after a recital can show your appreciation for their business, and your dedication to their child. Especially if you had a photographer for your recital, try and find a picture or pictures of each student, consider including them with your letter! Parents will be thrilled to have professional shots of their child at their recital, and chances are they’ll reach out about getting more pictures to share with their friends and family.
Along with the positive relationships you can foster through a personalized mail piece, you can also include important registration information for parents to renew their child’s lessons for the fall. If you use paper registration, it is possible to include packets and forms in a mail-piece for parents to fill out and return. However, it’s less than appealing (as a parent) to receive a super-stuffed envelope with a variety of forms, and those forms could very well end up sitting on the counter for weeks before being returned. A much more effective way of engaging parents and encouraging quick registration is by including a small sheet with a website URL for online registration.
Our ideal mail-piece inventory would look something like this:
Thank you letter, with your signature (or a teacher’s signature)
1-2 pictures of the specific student
Registration reminder slip with a URL and social media information
Flier for any summer events the studio will be hosting
All of these documents fold neatly into a regular business-size envelope, keeping your mailing costs to a minimum (one stamp per envelope).
Host Summer Camps/Workshops
A good dance studio marketing plan isn’t only about sending out information directly to customers. It’s about creating community awareness for your studio and your brand. Hosting summer camps or dance workshops is a great way to keep your business on customers’ minds, while also creating some incoming cash flow during the summer months. These smaller events can also serve as great preview opportunities for prospective students! Having them sit in for a session can make all the difference in their decision about signing up for lessons in the fall.
Volunteer at Community Events
Unlike dance camps or workshops, community events put you and your dancers in the public eye. They can also help create a buzz about your studio. Having your dancers volunteer to perform at a local fair or arts event provides more performance experience for them. Plus, it showcases your studio’s potential to parents who are thinking about signing their child up for lessons. Similarly, volunteering your time to teach at a fine arts camp can create networking opportunities for you with other professionals in the area. Those events can even put you in touch with art-minded families who might consider your studio for classes.
There’s a great deal of work that goes into running a successful dance studio. From balancing budgets to managing staff, studio owners do so much to help create an environment where new generations of dancers can grow and learn. The fact of the matter is, however, that all that work can’t amount to much if there are no students to take classes or patrons to attend events. While there’s much to be said about the value of word of mouth from satisfied customers, dance studio owners can’t rely on other people to do their advertising for them. It takes a proactive approach to create an appealing marketing campaign, and it takes creative dance school advertising ideas to make those marketing plans inspire new clients to walk through the door.
1. Know Your Target Audience
While it’s great to imagine a world where every single person wants to buy your product and to give business to your studio, you know that simply isn’t the case. Some people will be more likely to use your services than others, so it’s important to target them with your ad campaigns.
The first step in being able to write ads for your demographic is to determine who that group of people is. Forbes reported that business owners must start by identifying who will be most likely to use your product. For dance studios, that may mean considering the ages you serve, the styles of dance you offer and the level of competition that students can expect. If you run an all-inclusive studio that allows for varying levels of novice dancers, or you primarily focus on younger students, you don’t want to write an ad that’s too focused on elite dancers, as you’ll alienate students who want to learn and take your introductory programs. Conversely, if your biggest sell is that you offer a rigorous training program for top-level dancers to expand their skill sets, you want to make sure you use the language that will appeal to their goals instead.
Regardless of the kind of services you provide, you need to remember that you have two separate groups you need to appeal to – the students of course, but also their parents. Parents and students will have some overlapping goals, like ensuring safety, fun and education, but they’ll take different factors into account. Parents will be more likely to focus on costs than their children are, for example. While it’s all well and good to create dance school advertising that appeals to the students’ desire to perform and enjoy their time, it’s ultimately up to the parents to decide if they’ll sign up for the lessons or not.
Consider ads that can do both, like an ad with flashy images that can attract new students but uses language that will draw in parents. Think of terms like “flexible class schedules” or “personalized payment plans” or appealing ways to describe any other specialty you might offer that will ease any parent’s worries about the time or costs that can be associated with an extra curricular activity. You can also choose to create separate ad campaigns that run at the same time: one that targets students and one for parents.
2. Choose a Platform to Spread Your Message
Once you’ve nailed down who it is you’re writing to, you need to determine the best way to let you message reach them. Fortunately for studio owners today, the internet and social media have dramatically increased the channels that business owners can use to communicate with clients.
One of the biggest mistakes that any business owner makes when trying to advertise a company is not tailoring content to the right platform. Carefully consider where your dance school advertising piece is going to appear before you start writing. Facebook ads, for example, have a different set of space and character limits than a Google Display Ad. Don’t waste your time writing out an ad only to discover afterwards that it doesn’t fit the restrictions of the site you’re using. Do a little research on what the requirements are for what platform you want to post on and then go from there.
Social media ads can be helpful because they let you target certain groups. On Facebook, for example, you can target by age, location and other interests. You could target a specific dance school advertising piece so that it’s only seen by people in your area that have listed “dance” or “ballet” as an interest, or whose favorite movies include “Center Stage.” Social media can also let you advertise for free in some cases. If you have a strong social media presence, simply making new posts can help you get the word out. Just be aware that this strategy will rely on other people helping to share your content so new people will see it, which can be risky.
While digital advertising is effective, don’t completely overlook traditional methods like newspapers and radio commercials. A lot of this will be geographic – do a little research, even if it’s just a quick search engine query, to find out which channels are the most popular in your area.
3. Answer Their Questions Before They Ask
People often don’t like advertisements, so it’s important to write dance school advertising content that can quickly grab their attention and tell them what they need to know before they get bored and move on. Start by answering the “five w’s an an h:”
What are you offering?
Who is it for?
When does it take place?
Where will it be?
Why should people be interested?
How do they get involved?
You don’t have to spell the questions and answers out, but make sure your wording is clear, concise and provides that information. Entrepreneur recommended that you read your ad copy out loud to yourself. It should only take a few seconds to read all of it, and you shouldn’t be stumbling over any complicated phrases. If you want to say more, instruct people to contact you directly, or to visit your website. There you can have pages that list the important cursory details on top for the people who are skimming for information, but you’ll also have room for more stories and anecdotes for people who want to read more.
It’s mid-April, right? If you own a dance studio, that’s not EXACTLY true. It may be the middle of April on your Google calendar, but if you are like me, your mind is somewhere closer to September.
Not convinced? Just take a look at your to-do list.
Finalize fall schedule
Find one more teacher for Tuesday nights.
Send out teacher contracts.
Take one final look at tuition changes.
Add policy for kids who skip rehearsal and still show up at competition. 🙂
A successful Back-to-School experience starts today. Are you ready?
Keep reading for 7 things that you can do today for a successful September and a successful dance studio registration campaign.
Review Tuition Structure
Call me nuts, but every year I make an excel spreadsheet of every student and every class that they take. This is a long and arduous process, but I do it to find find and fix the cracks that can emerge over time as pricing and programs fluctuate. For example, when I started this process three years ago I realized that our “Unlimited Dancer” program was no longer viable. Not even by a long shot. It worked eighteen years ago when we only offered eight classes for high school students. But, fast forward fifteen years and I found myself in a situation where families were paying for six classes under our Unlimited Dancer program and taking twenty. Our tuition structure had simply not kept pace with our program and it was not sustainable. We had to make some difficult decisions, but in the end we ended up with a program/price structure that was fair to the students and to the studio.
Evaluate Your Teachers
There is no busier time of year for studio owners than spring. Between the daily demands of preparing for the year-end recital and the planning required to get fall classes ready there is hardly time to breathe. Even so, you must slow down enough to get into your teacher’s classrooms. Are their kids prepared to for the big show? Do they look confident, calm and happy? A positive recital experience for current students means more returning students. This is also a chance for you to make adjustments to what your faculty will be teaching in the fall. You might find, as I did, that you have a teacher on older level classes who is actually strong with the little ones, and then make a change to what they are teaching for the fall.
“Parse” Your Programs
Parse means “to analyze a sentence,” but I think it is a pretty good description of the way we have to break down our programs into details so that we can make good decisions about what stays and what goes. Do you know which of your programs were profitable? Maybe ballet is selling well for you, but musical theater has fallen out of favor. What about individual classes and levels? Are you busting at the seams in pre-school classes and pretty slim in the advanced classes. If so, combo up some of those older level classes to make room for younger ones.
Plan for Partnerships
The organizations we want to partner with in town are also planning for fall at this time. I know it’s important to get on their calendars now if we want to be able to work together come fall, so I am spending April making calls to the mall, daycares, preschools, the Children’s Museum, the Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs, and Big Brother’s Big Sisters, to name a few. We want to be aligned with the other organizations that do good things for kids in our community.
Your Personal Schedule
I remember one time years ago when I was complaining about how hard my schedule was to keep up. I was telling my husband about the long days I was teaching and the piles of book work in between. He responded, “Don’t you know the person who made that schedule?” Point made! I’ve long since learned to make sure that my decisions on a schedule that I will have to keep for an entire year will not have a negative impact on family life.
Build a Budget
I often joke that I became a dance teacher because I don’t do math beyond 5-6-7-8. I’m kidding, of course, but that doesn’t mean I’m skilled at accounting. When it comes to having my hands on the numbers for fall, I’m going to be spending time with my accountant now. An accountant can bring a valuable perspective by looking at the big picture of your finances and helping you make wise decisions for the future.
Press and Promotions
Plan now an action-packed open house to kick off your fall semester of classes. A really great event could mean an opportunity for you to share your studio story with the press, which could translate into greater enrollment later. Think of your ideal media placement (radio, newspaper, TV) and then design an event to get their attention.
Looking for more inspiration? Sign up for the Misty Minute for weekly ideas to transform your studio and your life.
The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.
With the chilly temperatures and few hours of daylight, summer seems ages away. While it’s hard to imagine lazy days of sun during not-so-fun January, it’s a good time to start thinking about how you will generate revenue for your studio during the summer months. Since many families go on vacation, ensuring your dance studio has an income from May to September takes some creativity. There are many summer dance ideas that your studio can keep revenue up during the summer months, including camps, intensives and workshops, and by renting out your facility.
During the summer, we’re all guilty of spending a few too many minutes daydreaming about the beach while we’re supposed to be working. But keep in mind that kids are even more susceptible to laziness and distraction during these dog days. To remain profitable over the school break, dance studios need to offer creative programs that keep students engaged and entertained.
Here are some summer dance ideas your studio can generate income this summer:
Summer camps are a win-win for everyone: Kids get out of the house, parents get some more time for themselves and dance studios get increased visibility. Camps can take place over a few days, a week or even a full month. Whichever duration you choose, the important thing is that your attendance policy is flexible. Since families have vacations and other commitments during the summer, letting students drop in and avoiding scheduling camp on Fridays and weekends makes the program convenient for parents. Also, allowing parents to pay for a total number of days, as opposed to one set fee for the entire camp, accommodates summer plans and reduces stress, which ultimately means greater profits for your studio.
Camps are especially great for young children, who are typically at home during summer break with lots of energy to spare! While your camp should include some elements of dance, it’s important to keep in mind that kids are raring to let loose and have fun. A creative camp theme that combines movement with crafts and other activities will garner the most interest and keep kids engaged.
Here are some easy theme ideas:
Princess Party: Kids will love living out their fairy tale dreams with this theme. Have them wear their favorite costumes to camp and spend the day dancing to songs from princess movies. Kids can decorate crowns as a fun craft, and lunchtime can be transformed into a royal tea-time!
Fairy/Butterfly Garden: Have the kids don sparkly wings for a day of fluttering fun. After learning some simple choreography, campers can “fly” around the room, maneuvering their way past some easy obstacles. The fairies or butterflies can pair up and learn a dance routine together that they then present for their friends. For a craft, the fairies can decorate wands and the butterflies can draw or paint colorful butterfly friends.
Pirates: A great idea from Dance Studio Life is offering camps that are geared more toward boys at the same time as your other camps, since parents are then more likely to enroll siblings. Mini-mateys will love a swashbuckling pirate camp, where they can learn simple dance-inspired “sword fight” routines (with foam cutlasses, of course!) and watch scenes from their favorite pirate films.
Intensives appeal especially to teenage and young adult dancers and are a great chance for students to dive into subjects that they may not have a chance to learn about during the school year. Try to make them as creative and in-depth as possible to attract the most students. To give your intensive an extra draw, hire “guest teachers” from local universities or big city-studios. Another idea is to focus your intensives on unique specialty subjects that expand students’ experience with dance. For example, Juilliard’s three-week summer intensive includes classes in yoga and improvisation, and collaborates with the music program. Another creative idea is the Dance College Preparation Intensive offered by Cornish College of the Arts, which provides students with technique classes in several styles along with lectures in helpful areas like essay writing.
One-day workshops are flexible and low-commitment, which makes them perfect for the summer months. To attract the most students, keep the purpose of the workshop ultra-specific. Dedicate the day to improving a specific set of moves, or focus on other useful skills, like choreography or improvisation. Think about an area that’s important for a dancer to learn in order to improve and grow, but that isn’t usually offered in regular classes. For example, Skidmore College’s Summer Dance Workshop includes a course in Performance Techniques.
“Rent out your studio for birthday parties or town recreation programs.”
Rent Out Your Studio
In addition to offering the programs above, renting out your studio will help you garner a higher income during the summer. Rent out the studio for birthday parties and town recreation programs or to school teams and fitness instructors. Consider the demographics and specific needs of your community to generate the most revenue from renting out your facility. DanceTeacher magazine profiled the owners of Downtown Dance Factory in New York City, who began offering birthday parties after noticing that there was a space in the local market.
“We knew from our own experience as moms that there was a demand for interesting, well-run birthday parties, and in downtown Manhattan, hardly anyone has room for that type of party at home,” said Hanne Larsen, one of the owners, in an interview with the magazine.
Beyond creating additional income, renting out your facility introduces new dancers to your programs. The more people that come into your studio, the better, and many parents whose kids attend events or parties at your studio will enroll them for classes come autumn.
Keep your studio hot this summer with these creative income generators.
As I sit down to write this article, it’s 10 below zero outside the doors of my studio. We are in the depths of winter in Wisconsin and summer is on my mind. But, I’m not thinking about vacations or visits to the local pool. My mind is fixed on the programming I can offer to bring kids IN to the studio once school is OUT.
Summer is typically a hard time to keep things going for school year-based businesses such as ours. I suspect that if you are reading this article you, too, are looking for ways to strengthen your summer programs.
If so, keep reading for 7 Ways to Ensure a Stronger Dance Summer! The road to a strong summer starts NOW.
Take an afternoon to pound through this checklist. You’ll thank yourself in July.
Ensure your summer success by taking time to plan today.
Survey the families. Do you remember when you were a student and your English teacher told you to consider your audience before writing a word of that research paper? Turns out she was right. You have to know who you are speaking to before creating a single offering. Are your families looking for weekly classes in the summer or would they rather come every day for one week straight and then move on to other activities? Are they looking for theme-based camps or technique-based intensives? You’ll be surprised how much clarity you can get just by sending a simple survey to your families before the planning begins. Not ready to survey parents? Ask your students☺
Gather the troops. A successful summer program depends on having not just ENOUGH staff, but the RIGHT staff, to pull it off. If your parents want weekly summer ballet classes or the opportunity to get a jump-start on next season by setting solos in the summer, you are going to have to make sure you have the specialists around to serve those needs. Once you know what your clients want from your summer program, you can start confirming availability with teachers.
Study the landscape. As a mom of five kids I know that the competition for our summer spending is hot. There will be a night not too far from now when I sit at the kitchen table with ten brochures for summer camps for my kids in front of me. Your dance parents are no different. They are also trying to give their kids as many interesting and meaningful summer experiences as they can. Maximize your chance to be a part of their summer schedule by understanding what your programs will be competing against. In our community, the university, school district and parks district all have robust summer programs so I make sure my pricing and program packages are comparable. For example, if they are all offering weekly day camps, it doesn’t make sense for me to offer a program that meets once a week all summer. It simply wouldn’t line up with the other things kids are doing and would likely be passed overcome scheduling time.
Call in the experts. Summer is a great time to call in the experts. Start sending emails today to the guest teachers you know who might be willing to come in and share their knowledge with your students this summer. And, don’t forget about experts that are complementary to dance: nutritionists, photographers, boot camp instructors, sports psychologists, yoga instructors, chiropractors and more. Your community is likely bursting at the seams with people who have an expertise that would benefit your dancers, saving you the expense of flights and housing for guest teachers.
Brand the boring out of it. When my kids became school age I became a consumer of summer camps as a parent for the first time. I immediately noticed was how EXCITING the programs were. All of the sudden, my offering of “Summer Ballet Classes” looked pretty bland next to “Flip with the Ninjas Camp” that gymnastics was offering. Since that time, I’ve made a real effort to come up with attractive themes, catchy titles and compelling logos to capture the imagination of the reader. A generic “Jazz 1 Class” may be appropriate for the school year, but it just won’t cut on the summer camp circuit.
Publish and Promote. We may be in the digital age, but printed brochures still rule the summer camp world. Remember when I talked about sitting around the kitchen table with camp brochures and mapping my summer schedule out? That’s a real thing for parents. For as great as online everything is you still need to get your summer brochures into the hands of parents. Start with your existing clients and then work your way towards new families via community expos, local family publications and partnerships with other like-minded businesses.
Refine and Repeat. Monitor enrollment trends as you ramp up towards summer. Some of the programs you offer will be bursting at the seams and some might just be a bust. Decide early to increase offerings of summer classes and camps that are doing well and to cut program that will not have enough kids to make a go of it. This will give parents a chance to choose another class or camp to fit their schedule.
Summer success starts today. Are you ready to do the “winter work” now to have a great summer later?
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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:
When I started my business, I started dance studio registration in June of each year and closed it in early November because that was when we measured students and ordered recital costumes. After that time we were technically closed to new students until summer brochures came out in March of the following year—a registration flow that left me unable to accept new students for three months out of the year.
Considering that my regular season was only nine months long, and that we were only open for classes five hours out of any given weekday, losing three months of enrollment opportunity was not a sustainable plan. So I made one of the best decisions of my business career and extended my enrollment period until Jan. 31. Last year alone, we enrolled an additional 80+ students in the months of November, December and January; 46 of whom were registered in the month of January alone.
If you are interested in expanding YOUR enrollment season, keep reading for 4 Final Push for Dance Studio Registration Tips:
Prepare your Teachers
A longer enrollment season allows you to serve more students each year. Which is wonderful for you and the students! However, mid-season enrollment can pose a real challenge for teachers if not managed well. If you are planning to expand your registration season, let your teachers know early and work with them to develop strategies for integrating latecomers into the classroom. The focus should be on getting new students up to speed quickly with as little disruption to the regular class as possible. You may even consider offering a complimentary private lesson for new students during this time to give them some movement vocabulary and context of how class will run before their first day. Parents appreciate this extra touch point as well.
Minimize the Roadblocks to Mid-Season Enrollment
Regular registration happens in June of each year at my studio and requires payment of the first and last month’s tuition along with a $25 registration fee. Dancewear is purchased in August and costume fees take place in November, which allows families to break up the cost of getting started in dance. A mid-season enrollment, however, typically has to cover all of the registration, dancewear and recital costume fees at one time in order to get started. Make it easier for families to get going with classes by breaking up those fees if possible. Even spacing registration and costume fees two weeks apart, or waiving the registration fee, will go a long way towards breaking down the barriers to mid-season enrollment, especially if families are feeling the stress of holiday spending.
The Late Costume Issue
We do the bulk of our costume ordering over Thanksgiving Break and a “catch up order” at the end of January to cover latecomers. To that end, it’s really important for parents of last minute enrollments to know that their recital costume will NOT be arriving at the same time as rest of the class. I recommend having parents sign a special statement on their registration form acknowledging that enrollments made after Dec. 1 will not receive their recital costume with the class order. It’s also a good idea to call parents of latecomers before the regular shipment comes in to give them the ability to opt of class that day if they feel their dancer will have a hard time seeing everyone else get a costume when theirs hasn’t arrived yet.
Take Advantage of New Year Mojo
The New Year is a very motivational time for adults. Between looking at getting back into shape and making resolutions, they are also looking for new activities for their children. Take advantage of this natural pattern by ramping up your second semester offerings. Consider offering new sections of class or advertising specials on specific classes (ones with lower enrollment). This is also the perfect time to promote an 8-week Adult Dance Sampler or a second semester day care class. With a little effort and organization the last months of your enrollment season may be your best of the year! Go get it!
Remember when your high school math teacher told you that you’d need to understand algebra to get by later on in life? You probably scoffed, as many kids do. But we’re here again to go over more calculations that are essential to your dance studio’s success. Hang up your dance shoes and break out the calculator, and get ready for part two of our “Crunching the Numbers” series.
Any small business has to do a fair bit of marketing, and your studio is likely no exception. The fliers you print, the ads you run and the referral program you promote are all ways that you market your dance school in hopes of drumming up new business. But how are you supposed to know if your marketing efforts are working? That’s where metrics for marketing for dance studios come in. Read on to learn how you can calculate marketing return on investment, customer acquisition costs and more.
Marketing Return on Investment
First up is return on investment, commonly referred to as ROI. The concept is simple: You need to figure out how much business you’re gaining in relation to what you’re spending on marketing. For this calculation, you’re going to need your gross profit. You can refer back to part one of this series if you need a refresher on how to find this number.
To find marketing ROI, subtract your marketing investment – how much you spent on marketing services – from your gross profit. Then, you divide the answer by the marketing investment. So if your gross profit is $5,000 and you spent $1,000 on marketing, ROI would be $5,000 minus $1,000, then divided by $1,000. This gives you a marketing ROI of $4 – that means for every $1 you spent on marketing efforts, you got $4 worth of business.
This calculation is essential when you’re evaluating your marketing strategy season over season. It’s always good to try new campaigns – whether it’s direct mail, sale sites or something else – but you should evaluate the worth of a strategy after a given season. If your marketing ROI dips, chances are your new marketing efforts aren’t paying off.
Customer Acquisition Cost
Another important marketing metric is the customer acquisition cost, also called CAC. This is essentially how much money you have to spend on marketing in order to get one new student. The calculation is a simple one.
To find your CAC, set a defined time period. A good measure might be over the course of one dance season. Take the total amount you spent on marketing and divide it by the number of new students you acquired. So if you spent $1,000 on marketing and 20 new students signed up, your CAC is $50.
This metric by itself just tells you that you need to spend $50 to get one new student in the door. However, you can use CAC to calculate other more revealing numbers that will help you adjust your marketing and prices.
Time to Pay Back CAC
One way to use CAC to your advantage is to calculate how long it takes you to make back the money spent on acquiring each customer. You can calculate this in terms of seasons or months, whichever works for you.
To calculate time to pay back CAC, start buy subtracting your seasonal cost per student from the revenue per student. Divide your CAC by this number for time to pay back. So working off the example above, if you earn $500 per student per season and spend $300 per student, you’ll need to divide $50 by $200. This leaves you with an answer of 0.25, meaning you break even on a student’s acquisition cost after 1/4 of a season. Easy right?
In the first part of this series, we discussed the benefits of starting a blog for your studio, as well as the considerations you should take into account before jumping into the blog-o-sphere. If you’ve decided to go ahead and launch a dance blog for your studio, this article will help you create compelling content from day one.
Arguably the most important thing to keep in mind when you’re blogging for your small business is that your goal is to attract readers. This may seem obvious, but many bloggers forget to write for their audience. Your studio’s blog needs to populated with content that dance students, parents and teachers want to read, as this type of traffic is what will make the effort worthwhile for your readers. Here are some tips that will help you pick engaging dance blog topics and craft readable articles.
“Make a list of questions that dance students and parents ask you.”
Picking Article Topics
It’s often a good idea to keep a running list of article topics what you want to publish on your studio’s blog. This will be helpful when it comes to writing consistently – on those days when you’re feeling less-than-motivated, it will make the blogging process easier if you have a topic ready to go.
But how do you come up with ideas that will engage and inspire your audience? It’s easier than you might think. One of the best ways to come up with topics for your studio’s blog is to make a list of questions you get asked on a regular basis. Chances are that the questions parents and students ask you are also topics they’re searching for online. So if you can’t go a day without someone asking about the proper age to switch to pointe, it would likely make an engaging dance blog topic.
Another way to come up with interesting article ideas is to look at other dance blogs for inspiration. See what posts on your favorite dance websites get a lot of attention – but be sure not to copy these articles. You can use other people’s work for inspiration, but you should always make sure your posts have a unique spin to avoid upsetting other bloggers.
The Blogging ‘Formula’
Got a topic and ready to write your first post? The video below outlines a basic formula that will help you create visually attractive, engaging posts for your studio’s blog.
One good point that Beate Chelette makes is the importance of linking. You should aim to link to one external webpage and one internal webpage in each post. This isn’t a firm rule though – you can link to more or fewer, depending on what you’re writing. When you include links in your posts, it will encourage readers to move around your site, and it will also improve your blog’s search engine optimization.
Building Your Readership
Once you have a few blog posts live on your site, you should help people find the content by strategically promoting it. This guide from QuickSprout on building a blog audience is a great free resource that outlines all the different ways you can get your content in front of the right people. It’s definitely worth a read!
In general, make sure you’re taking advantage of social media when promoting your dance blog. Share your best posts with your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram followers for a bit of free traffic. Once people know that you’re writing good content, they’ll be more likely to visit your site without prompting. This is how your readership will grow and your blog will become one of your best marketing tools!
As a consumer, you’re probably a big fan of Groupon. After all, who doesn’t love getting 25, 50 or 75 percent off services from their favorite stores and restaurants? While this site is very popular with consumers – it boasts 70 million subscribers – Groupon isn’t always a win-win experience for business owners.
A study from Rice University showed that Groupon promotions aren’t always profitable. Of the 150 businesses surveyed, 66 percent said their promotion generated money. Despite more than half making money, just 42 percent said they would consider running a deal again. Keep these numbers in mind while you’re deciding whether to use the daily deal site.
If you’re considering offering a discount with a dance class Groupon, here are some pros and cons that you’ll want to weigh before clicking “OK.”
Pro: Groupon Helps Create Your Deal
No need to fret if you’re not a whiz with words. Groupon will not only help you pinpoint services that will sell effectively, but an associate will also give you a hand with the web copy. This comes in handy if you’re not so great at crafting compelling advertisements.
Pro: Bringing New Customers In
Getting new dancers in the door is always a good thing, especially if you’re the new studio on the block. If you choose to run a dance class Groupon deal, it’s safe to bet that you’ll see some new faces in the studio. People love discounts, so this is a good way to edge out some of the more established studios in your area and give your school a competitive edge.
Con: Having to Discount Your Services
While you’ll likely get some new students out of your Groupon promotion, you’re not going to make the same money as you do from regular dancers. No one is going to purchase your deal if you only discount 10 percent – the appeal of daily deal sites is that businesses offer services with steep discounts.
Because you’re only going to be making a portion of your usual revenue from Groupon deals, make sure you will still be bringing in enough money to pay your fixed expenses. Otherwise, you may be better off using traditional marketing tactics to bring in customers who’ll pay the full rate.
Con: Groupon Takes a Cut
After you discount your prices to attract customers, Groupon is going to take a portion of the money you make. The New York Times explained that Groupon usually takes 50 percent of the revenue, so if you sell $500 worth of classes, you’re only going to receive $250.
This can be problematic if you had to discount your prices a lot to begin with. If you offer your services for 40 percent off through your promotion, then Groupon takes half, you’ll end up with 30 percent of the money you would have made if the customers paid full price.
Pro: Getting Paid Immediately
However, one upside to the Groupon method is that you get paid right away. Even if the Groupon buyers never show up to redeem their classes, you’ll still get your money from the site.
Con: Attracting Bargain Seekers
Inc. magazine explained that another less-than-desirable outcome of Groupon is that it attracts people seeking deals. Many of the students who come in as a result of your promotion may only be looking to redeem their classes – not to sign up for more. As a studio, one of your long-term goals is likely to build a solid base of returning students, and if Groupon buyers are only interested in the bargain classes, they’re not going to contribute to this objective.