During the pandemic, many dance studios closed their lobbies and found alternative ways to successfully execute administrative tasks and serve their populations.
This shift was a positive change for our dance studio locations. By repurposing our former lobbies, we now have more productive workspaces that serve a variety of functions. If you’re considering doing the same, here are a few tips for how we successfully maintain and manage this model:
1) Keep Parents Involved. Parents are an important part of the extracurricular experience, and I believe visibility and transparency are critical in youth extracurricular activities. You want parents on your team! Early in the pandemic, we purchased the SpotTV closed-circuit monitoring system, so families could watch their child in class at all times (with sound!) via their own personal devices. This year, we will return to scheduled, in-person observations as well as an optional social/networking club for families.
2) Educate, Respond, and Automate. Make sure your families understand the expectation in advance. All of our trial guides and welcome packets reiterate that we have no indoor waiting spaces for parents or loved ones. Because parents are not in the building, make sure there is someone actively checking phone lines, voicemails, emails, and any communication portal in a timely manner. If systems can be automated (e.g., tuition payments, trial scheduling), do it! This shift should not compromise your clients’ customer service experience.
3)Take Note of the Positive. Here are a few reasons we prefer this shift:
Safety: At any given time, we know exactly who is in the building.
Cleanliness: Our facilities (especially the bathrooms) are much cleaner with less foot traffic.
Focus: With a distraction-free interior environment, everyone can focus on their respective tasks.
Transparency: With the closed-circuit system, everyone operates at a high level of accountability: students, staff, and our entire team.
4) Constantly Tweak and Evaluate. If there’s anything we’ve learned, it is that anything can change in an instant. With each day, week, and session, we are continuing to evaluate what works best for our programming, vision, and needs. If you’ve discovered things that worked well for you, like closed lobbies, have the confidence to keep that change in place. Evaluate it regularly and tweak it as needed.
Ultimately, your leadership will guide you to what is best for your community. Be confident and empowered in your voice because that, in itself, is a form of freedom.
Happy Fourth of July!
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Around May or June, if you’re in the dance industry, this phrase starts popping up on social media with the frequency of 2014’s Ice Bucket Challenge. But, for us, it happens like clockwork, every single year.
“Made it to the Done Club!”
“Meet the newest member of the Done Club!”
The “Done Club” represents the conclusion of the annual dance recital, a huge benchmark and a capstone to a dance studio’s annual dance season.
But, where did the phrase “the Done Club” originate? And what made people subscribe to it?
There’s nobody in business that is okay with just being done. You don’t see retailers stopping their hustle after a busy holiday season. You didn’t see Apple declaring themselves as in the “Done Club” with the release of the original iPhone. Yes, we all have big benchmarks, but these are stepping stones to our next greatest accomplishment. There’s nothing “done” about it.
Here are five reasons to shift your philosophy:
1) Your Recital Lays the Foundation for Your Future Success. Instead of winding down after your recital, I encourage you to rev up. Synthesize that energy into actualized goals.
2) Don’t Risk Losing Your Visibility. The recital is a powerful memory for your studio’s community. Don’t ghost your community once it is done. Continue the celebration via social media, emails, and programming.
3) Balance Your Budget. Check the profit-loss of your shows, events, and programming. If you do not know where you stand budget-wise, you have even bigger problems.
4) Innovate. Analyze what worked in your season, what didn’t, what could be improved, what should stay the same, and what should change. Then, make it happen.
5) We Deserve Respect and Reputability. For too long, dance education institutions have been seen as hobby businesses. As a female-dominated industry, we have the capability to shift that narrative, and now is the perfect time to make it happen.
Instead of the Done Club, I’ll be joining the Get It Done Club.
Consider joining me.
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It’s the most wonderfully crazy time of the year: Recital Season! While we may not fully be “post-pandemic,” we are most certainly entering the most normal performance season we’ve had since 2019. Entering this new normal means that we can make adjustments to better serve our shows, our businesses, and our clients.
And, while you may think these four-letter words are reserved for the shipping delays, the one size of a costume you desperately need but can’t find, the client that asks you in May to remind them of the recital date, or the venue that “forgets” to send the contract, they’re actually four-letter words designed to better serve YOU.
Free is a word that needs to be eliminated from your vocabulary.
Free essentially equates to a cost to the company.
If you added up your giveaways, ranging from complimentary tickets to t-shirts to swag, you’d probably be amazed at the amount of revenue you are missing out on. Just like lines are important on stage, your line items on your expense sheets are of equal importance. Don’t throw away unnecessary dollars!
Packs are bundles that are inclusive of multiple things: tickets, media, t-shirts, souvenirs, and so on. If you create a recital pack, it is SUPER important to itemize it out and make sure you aren’t tiptoeing into the “free zone.”
There should still be a solid profit margin.
If you are selling “at cost,” you are operating at a loss.
When pricing items, take into consideration the time required to strategize, collect, process, sort, and deliver orders. You should be charging enough to cover that amount of time and still earn a profit.
Make sure people understand what you’re selling (the recital and all of its components) and why it matters. The year-end performance is a HUGE event that will make a memorable impression on your clients, and you don’t want anyone to feel confused, uninvolved, or excluded.
Clarify the fees, communicate upcoming happenings and deadlines, show them examples of what they can expect, and generate excitement that will result in people wanting to buy into the experience.
Your attitude is an incredible sales tool! If you’re stressed, your clients will sense that stress. If you’re excited and sharing the GOOD about the process and all of the things you offer, they’ll get on board, too.
Year-end performances are huge undertakings that require an extreme amount of time, preparation, and detailed processes. While you’re busy helping everyone around you, don’t forget to help yourself!
Don’t wait until the last minute
Put processes in place and delegate
Surround yourself with great vendors that support you in achieving your goals
Apply these tips, and you’ll walk away from your performances with only two four-letter words left in your mind: EPIC BOSS.
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As we all finish our show seasons, we might have allowed ourselves a second of celebration before the reality of the challenges ahead fully set in.
While we are closing the chapter of the people that stood by us and cheered us on throughout an entire season of the pandemic, we are now facing the next phase of this weird grey space of normalization.
And, as a business, it is TOUGH.
If you are feeling tired, burned out, exhausted, or questioning your ability to operate in this environment, you aren’t alone.
In addition to recouping a year and a half of lower enrollment numbers and lost revenue, there are also the following internal business hurdles:
Chasta Hamilton is the Owner/Artistic Director of Stage Door Dance Productions in Raleigh, NC. She authored the best-selling book Trash The Trophies: How to Win Without Losing Your Soul. Later this summer, her TEDx talk “You Weren’t Built to Break” will debut, combining her passion for performance with the necessity of resilience.
The #1 way to generate revenue for your dance studio is to keep as much of your revenue in-house as possible. While summertime is typically known as the “low-revenue season,” it doesn’t have to be that way.
With a little strategy and planning, you can reap the rewards of an excellent summer session that will likely (1) generate revenue, (2) introduce your programming to a number of new, prospective students, and (3) serve and affirm your current client base.
Below are some DOs and DON’Ts to help you rock your summer months!
Survey your community to understand their summer interests and needs.
Mix up themes and keep the vibe FUN!
Be flexible! Have a flexible make-up/ proration policy for people that may have advance, inflexible travel plans. Clients will appreciate it.
Follow-up with all summer program participants about enrolling for the main dance season.
Feel like you have to operate on a similar schedule to your regular season (e.g., close for a vacation week, take a break from weekend classes).
Stress about discounts/deals. With it being a recovery season, don’t neglect to focus on your financials.
Hesitate to cancel low enrollment programming. Set a required minimum, and if it isn’t met by 30 days out, offer to transfer students into something else (Note: never cancel programming last minute if it risks placing your clients in a bind.)
Wait until the last minute. Summer programming is much more enjoyable with advanced planning, communication, preparation, and strategy.
Looking for more great ideas from Chasta? Check out the following articles:
Chasta Hamilton is the Owner/Artistic Director of Stage Door Dance Productions in Raleigh, NC. She authored the best-selling book Trash The Trophies: How to Win Without Losing Your Soul. Later this spring, her TEDx talk “You Weren’t Built to Break” will debut, combining her passion for performance with the necessity of resilience.
Growing your studio doesn’t have to be stressful, right?
There’s got to be a better way; a better way to streamline marketing and sales, and get more students… right?
Yep, there is…
Hey, I’m Austin Roberson—Founder & CEO of Studio Studio, the all-in-one marketing automation tool for studios, and in this video, I’ll share with you my unique approach to growing your studio & scaling up fast.
Maybe you’re in a place where you’re already successful, but you constantly feel behind…
Or perhaps you’re growing quickly, but so is your to-do list…
Or maybe you’ve got a different problem because, for whatever reason, you can’t seem to get more students than you had last year so every year ends up the same 😩
These 5 pillars will help you build the foundation for rapid studio growth, so that you can stress less, get more students, and scale up fast!
Leadership is at the heart of everything we do as studio owners. When you chose this journey of entrepreneurship, you chose to stand up in front of others and say, “Here is my vision, and here’s why you want to be a part of it.” When you opened your doors, you did so in part because you wanted to bring your passion for dance and business to others…you wanted to lead them!
To me, leadership at the studio has to do with service, values, and heart. There are business owners out there who think leadership is just about being someone’s boss, but I think that couldn’t be further from the truth. Your calling as a studio owner has more to do with lifting others up and coaching them to success, not bossing them around. Whether it’s your students or your staff, they’re looking to you for education, inspiration, and growth.
As a studio owner, you are in a unique position to influence many different populations, from young children to teens, and from parents to employees. Honing your leadership skills allows you to serve each group with your highest, best work … and allows you to raise up other leaders!
Here are the 4 Leadership Skills Every Studio Owner Needs:
Being a good communicator
The skills of communication in business can never be underestimated! There are so many ways you communicate: through speaking and writing, through your marketing and advertising verbiage, through your body language, and more. Being a good communicator is more than having correct grammar or a smile on your face (though those things ARE important!). It’s actively listening when someone has an objection. It’s genuinely caring about a child’s outcome at the end of the year. It’s interacting with people in a kind and respectful way … always, under every circumstance.
The ability to empower others
As a leader, you are someone others will aspire to be, and as you inspire them, you also want to empower them. Teaching your students how to bounce back from struggles or frustrations is one way you do this in the classroom. Coaching your staff through difficult tasks or detailed projects works much the same way. You are allowing those who follow you to learn from your experience, but in a way that puts them in their own driver’s seat.
Having personal and professional integrity
Although this may not be a leadership skill per se, it is an essential quality to develop and maintain in every aspect of your life as a business person. Integrity is something you must choose for yourself and practice in your relationships. It’s something that becomes part of your nature; it’s part of the standard you hold yourself to and the way you do business. Integrity becomes a non-negotiable part of your life, because as a business owner, you understand the importance of leading with honesty, fairness, and sincerity. So much of your work will be about doing what’s right, not necessarily what’s easy!
Using curiosity and creativity to problem-solve
Being an entrepreneur means you’re encountering problems at every level and size, every day. And getting stronger at problem-solving can only happen when you are willing to get curious about the issue and think of creative solutions. Your solution-oriented skills will only improve when you approach problems with the mindset of a detective. No problem is truly a problem if you discover why it happened and learn from it! Using this kind of perspective takes practice, but it’s key to growing as a leader.
Leadership encompasses SO many skills…these just happen to be the ones I believe are the most important! I also think that having faith in yourself, your business, and your team can take you a long way as a leader, because if there is a common thread throughout all of these skills, it is faith. You must believe in your purpose. And you must have confidence in yourself that you can grow and teach others how to grow too.
I believe that the work we do to develop our leadership skills is never truly done. It’s something that lives “in progress” for all of us as we strive to do better for ourselves and others! I hope that you’ll consider sharing in the comments which leadership skills are your strengths, and which ones you’d like to keep improving. Want to connect about leadership? Reach out to me on social media @mistylown and let’s chat! Wishing you an amazing start to the new dance season!
Looking for more tips on building up leadership skills? Check out the following articles:
There is no doubt that this time of year for studio owners can be hectic and, let’s face it, a little crazy! With recital on the horizon, class placements being prepped, and audition details coming together, it’s not surprising that you may begin to physically feel the effects of stress of the busy season.
I went through far too many years of entrepreneurship knowing this season was coming and yet not quite prepared for it to the degree I should have! Now that I know better though, I do better. And one of the best ways I do better is by understanding that yes, it will be busy, and yes, I can still take good care of myself. And I encourage YOU to do the same!
It’s so easy to get swept up into stress and let it overtake your mindset. But you know what’s also pretty easy? Making a plan to relieve that stress by having a few simple tactics in your pocket. Here, I’m going to share my best tips for thriving in the busyness of your life. These are all things that help me tremendously at this time of year, and I hope they will serve you well too!
Here are my 5 Quick Ways to Recharge During the Busy Season:
Commit to self-care in the morning
The morning can often dictate how the rest of your day goes, so decide now that your mornings will be proactive for your peace of mind. Spend a few quiet minutes in meditation or prayer; edit your to-do list; read one chapter of an inspiring book; brew your favorite coffee or tea; move your body through some gentle stretching or yoga. Have a ritual in place—even a short one—that will encourage you to start the day with your best foot forward.
Go outside at least once a day
A few deep breaths of fresh air can change your entire frame of mind when you are caught in the whirlwind of busyness. Don’t trick yourself into thinking that you should go all day at your desk with only a few stretch breaks. Try to block out 15 minutes here and there to step outside, walk around the block, and enjoy a change of scenery. You may be surprised at how refreshed you feel!
Connect with friends who understand
I personally think this is one of the best ways to combat the weariness that can accompany long work days: human connection. Our tendency as entrepreneurs is to isolate ourselves when we feel stress when really it’s much more helpful to reach out to others! Maybe you don’t have time for a long heart-to-heart phone call, but sending a quick text or email to check in with a friend can give you a burst of energy AND put a smile on your face.
Fuel up with your favorite things
When you’re in busy mode, don’t let yourself fall into the trap of poor nutrition habits! Stock up on your favorite healthy snacks, treats, or meals to keep you going. Now’s the time to splurge on the protein bars you crave, the smoothies with extra vitamins, or maybe even the meal delivery service you’ve been meaning to try. Your health can’t be taken for granted at any time—and most especially when you need to be on your A-game.
Give yourself a chance to wind down
Resist the urge to completely crash at the end of the day. Your evening routine should allow you the chance to center yourself and relax. As hard as it is to do, put your phone and computer in another room to charge, and focus on yourself and your family before turning in for the night. Your mind will feel clearer and more rested to take on whatever’s next.
Recharging during this time of year can be a challenge, but if anyone can accept a challenge and overcome it, it’s a studio owner! I want you to feel encouraged that this season of “busy” can also be a season of “health” if you are committed to it. I know that for me, this time of year now holds more excitement than stress because I’m able to look out for my well-being in a way I didn’t know how to do before.
If you have another method of recharging that works well in your life, share it in the comments below! I would love to hear what helps keep you fueled, prepared, and nourished during this time of year. I wish you much success as you charge full-steam ahead into the coming weeks!
Looking for more tips keeping your sanity through the busy season? Check out the following articles:
For the fourth year in a row, we are excited to present the survey results collected from our annual dance studio software reviews survey. We asked thousands of dance studio owners to answer questions about their dance studio management software. We’ve continued to see some recurring trends about how studio owners choose their dance studio software, how they utilize it, and what they like and dislike about it.
If you’ve considered investing in software to help you manage your studio, this data will definitely be eye-opening.
The percentage of studio owners that are using dance studio management software continues to rise, from 67% in 2014 to 82.2% in 2018.
Studio owners overwhelmingly choose software based on its ability to meet their needs; referrals from friends and associates also carry significant influence in the purchase decision.
Jackrabbit and Studio Director continue to dominate market share with a combined 65% , but this has decreased from 2017, when they held 74% of the market.
The features most important to studio owners continue to be billing and payment processing, email and text communication, and class management. Following the 2017 trend, however, online registration continues to increase in popularity.
For the first time since the survey inception, overall customer satisfaction dipped, from a 2017 high of 84%, to 79% in 2018.
Read the In-Depth Report on Dance Studio Software Reviews
Business growth: it’s something every studio owner desires!
Whether it’s more students, more staff members, more space, more financial freedom, or more time at home, at some point or another, we all want MORE for our studios.
Growth can be great! It means your business is healthy, and healthy things grow! But business growth usually doesn’t come without a few growing pains. As your studio expands to accommodate more people or more space, or as you step out to spend more time at home, you’ll probably notice that some of your existing systems don’t work as well anymore. I often tell the dance studio owners that I coach, “Every time something your business doubles, all of your systems break.”
If you are in a position where you are seeing your numbers rise and your systems aren’t quite keeping up, take advantage of this opportunity to make some key updates in the way you organize and communicate before the new year starts. Keeping up with your studio’s growth—and then staying ahead of it—will allow you to maintain its health. Don’t ignore the warning signs that you need to make improvements. Warning signs might include things like customer confusion or dropping balls on details and follow up.
If these types of things are happening to you, it’s probably time to dig in to some new resources that will help improve your systems!
Keep reading to learn about my 5 Tools to Implement for Business Growth.
Here are my 5 Tools to Implement as Your Business Grows:
A rhythm calendar
The “rhythm calendar” is a tool that helps everyone on your team see what tasks need to be done and when, for the entire year. It may be an actual printed document which follows your studio’s calendar or it may be kept in a project-management software system like Asana or Basecamp. Either way, it’s a roadmap to keep you on track all year. It’s also a “living” document that covers the responsibilities in every area of your business, so expect it to change over time as your studio grows and changes.
The right software
From accounting software to studio management software, you may need to consider implementing a new product or some more training on an existing product to stay on top of your studio’s growth. Is what you’re currently using causing more headaches than it solves? Are you actually using your software tools? If technology isn’t your zone of genius, schedule an appointment to talk with your accountant or dance studio software representative to ask questions and get a refresher on which solution may help your business the most.
A trial class system
Take the time to look back and see how many trial students you’ve served so far this year, and what their conversion rate to enrollment has been. If your conversions are below 20% (or you don’t know this number to begin with) it’s probably time to get a real system in place. A great starting place is to have one employee on your team act as the champion of this trial classes, from scheduling to follow-up. Or you get techie with it. I recently installed a product called the Trial Class System by Studio Owners Academy and we have already had over 30 trial students. Now that’s a win this time of year!
A file sharing program
As your student numbers grow, your team of staff members will likely grow too, meaning more people need access to more information. Make your work more efficient by getting those files organized in one place. A program like Google Drive, G Suite, or Dropbox will store your electronic files in the cloud, allowing you to choose who to share files with (and to limit access if needed). No matter what system you use, it’s important to get everyone on the same page for naming documents. There is no sense in created great documents if you can’t find them later:)
An email system
From automating marketing campaigns to sending out monthly newsletters to your existing customers, email still rules as one of the top ways to communicate. Programs like MailChimp, iContact, or Drip allow you to break up lists into smaller groups according to interest and to create branded, professional-looking information to send out to them on a regular basis making your studio look organized and reliable.
As your business grows, your systems must grow, too! Remember: whatever time you put in to update your systems NOW will save you heaps of time in the new year.
Do you have questions on how to grow your studio business (or to how to manage the growth you are having?) Let’s talk! Connect with me on social media @mistylown. I’d love to hear your questions, concerns, or stories of success.
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Dance studio owners know that running a studio is a rewarding and joyous experience; there’s truly no other life like it! From the moment you open your doors, your mission is to make an impact on the world through dance. But even with the greatest of missions, there will still be times when things get tough—times when you question yourself or don’t know where to turn for help.
When those moments happen it can be helpful to talk with your peers, just to have someone who understands really LISTEN to you. But do you know what is even more beneficial? Seeking out a mentor—someone who can not only listen, but also inspire you to be your best, solve problems, raise your perspective, help you develop better leadership strategies, and coach you through big decisions.
Finding the right mentor can sometimes take a bit of work, but the payoff is awesome when you’ve found someone you respect and trust. Having had a few different mentors over the past two decades, I can honestly say that each one brought a unique and timely perspective to my life when I needed it.
Before you search for a mentor, think about what you want to achieve from the relationship. Do you want to work with someone who has knowledge of the dance industry, or would you prefer to have a mentor who comes from a different professional background? Do you want to meet on a consistent schedule, or keep things open-ended? How much time do you hope to spend with your mentor?
The answers to these questions will help prepare you to find a mentor who is the best fit possible. All it takes is a little planning, and a willingness to put yourself out there and meet new people.
Keep reading to learn about my 5 Ways to Find a Mentor:
Here are my 5 Ways to Find a Mentor:
Approach someone who has a business you admire
One of my local grocery stores, Festival Foods, has some of the most excellent customer service and community engagement I’ve ever seen and has been an inspiration for me since I started in business. While I was shopping one day, it occurred to me that I could learn a lot from the way Festival Foods runs its stores.
It didn’t take long before I was able to set up a meeting with its founder, Dave Skogen, who soon became my mentor and friend. Think about your local business neighbors; what business owner could YOU establish a relationship with?
Network in local business groups
Networking to find a mentor in your community can be as simple as joining the right groups, such as your city’s chamber of commerce or local arts council. In those places you’ll find business owners just like you who are looking to connect and develop deeper business relationships.
Try attending the next breakfast meeting or mixer, and begin getting to know who’s who. Remember that you all already have one pretty big quality in common: you want to better the community with your product or service.
Check your mutual connections
While it’s convenient to have a local mentor, long-distance can work too! Check the connections you have through social media, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, to see who might be a potential mentor-match for you.
Perhaps you’ll be inspired to reach out to an old boss or a friend-of-a-friend who could become a mentor to you through phone calls, Skype meetings, or email. Ask your family and friends if they know of someone who seems like a good business-match for you. I have an accountability partner from Canada that I exchange emails with on a monthly basis.
Look into a business coaching program
Business coaching programs can steer you on the right path to finding an effective mentor, either through the program’s leader or its other members.
A coaching program that is dance-studio specific (such as my studio affiliation program, More Than Just Great Dancing®, Clint Salter’s Dance Studio Owner Association, Suzanne Blake Gerety’s DanceStudioOwner.com, or Austin Roberson’s Studio Owners Academy) could be a great fit, or it might be worth considering a broader business program (such as Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership’s All-Access).
Once you find a program you like, see if you can talk with a representative about your wants and needs in mentorship, or ask to experience a trial period before investing in a full membership.
Meet a mentor through SCORE
Formerly known as the Service Corps of Retired Executives, SCORE is a business mentorship program through the U.S. Small Business Administration. SCORE mentors are volunteers who are current or former business owners and executives.
A volunteer can be matched to you by location or industry. Based on your goals and timeline, they can offer you mentorship in person or via email.
Having a mentor by your side through the highs and lows of business ownership is truly invaluable! While there’s no exact formula for finding the right mentor, these 5 ways will give you some excellent traction to get started. Remember that you are developing new business relationships through this process: take the time to introduce yourself to prospective mentors, ask a few engaging questions, and follow up with a thank you message.
In the comments below, tell us how you plan to proceed with finding a mentor—or share with us how you connected with your current mentor. I also invite you to connect with me @mistylown on social media to continue the conversation about how having a mentor makes a difference in your life. I can’t wait to hear more about your mentorship experience!
Looking for more insights for dance studio owners? Check out these other articles and resources:
Whether your studio is in its first season, its fifteenth, or its fiftieth, chances are you want to see it grow! And when I say “grow” I’m talking about making real progress, which for your studio might mean increasing enrollment, nurturing your current customers, gaining square footage, developing leadership roles for your staff, improving your culture, redefining your mission, or all of the above.
You may already be experiencing the growing pains that can happen as you, the studio owner, shift focus in order to navigate growth of any kind. For me, as my own children have grown, I’ve shifted more and more time leading our faculty at our studio and less time teaching in the classroom.
No matter which type of growth your studio goes through, it most likely means that it will depend on you less and less for its day-to-day operations, and that your physical presence there will likely become less as well. But your personal connection to the studio—to your employees and to your dance families—will still be essential to supporting its success as it shifts and changes over time.
So how do you keep your relationship with the studio feeling vibrant and effective, even during different stages and phases of growth?
Keep reading to learn more about my 5 Ways To Support And Connect To Your Studio As It Grows.
Here are 5 Ways To Support And Connect To Your Studio As It Grows:
Have your dream team in place
As your studio grows, be sure that you have the right people in the right places on your team because they will be the ones in the trenches every day. From customer service to classroom management they need your personal touch with training and leadership to feel confident in their authority at the studio. Their confidence = your confidence!
Support your team while they lead
Once you have full confidence in your staff members, let your dance families see that you believe in your team one hundred percent. Don’t correct your staff in front of others, but DO compliment them publicly! If they make a mistake, coach them on it afterwards in private. Work to pass customer questions to the right player on your team as well, so your dance families can trust that your team will have the right answers.
Know when to step in
Even with well-trained and confident staff, there will be questions they can’t answer or situations they don’t feel comfortable taking the lead on. Talk to your team about what these scenarios look like, so they are clear about what you want them to tackle on their own versus when they should reach out to you for help. For example, if there are technical difficulties with the classroom speakers, your office manager can probably handle the phone call to fix it. But if the speakers are damaged and need to be replaced, you might want to approve those charges. Come up with a list of example situations, and discuss with your team how those situations might be resolved.
Studio special events
Look through the calendar and find which event (or events) can become a special highlight for your presence at the studio. For me this year, it’s the week we measure for costumes—I’ll be the one in the lobby engaging with parents while I measure kids for recital costumes. Other highlight events for me will be our parent/student conferences, parent observation week and community performances. There are always opportunities to gain some personal face time with your team and your dance families if you look for them.
When you are present, be really present
As your studio grows, you will likely feel pulled in many directions—more so than normal! So whether you are with your team, chatting with a customer, visiting a dance class, or taking the lead on a special event, be all in while you’re there. You might’ve been knee-deep in costume order details in your home office the hour before, but while you are present at the studio, focus on the studio and the people in front of you. Just like we tell our dancers when class starts, leave your worries at the door! Studio growth—even with it’s challenges—is something to be thankful for. As your studio grows, the way you spend your time there may change, but your responsibility won’t. Staying connected and supporting your team and your customers will allow you to continue building those relationships and developing your skills as a leader. Tell us in the comments about which ways your studio is growing, and which tips here are most encouraging for you! I invite you to connect with me on social media @mistylown to continue sharing your growth stories, and wish you luck as you discover the best ways to support and connect with your studio.
Looking for more great info on dance studio growth and other studio management topics? Check out the following articles:
For the third year, we are excited to present the survey results collected from our annual dance studio management software reviews survey. We asked dance studio owners to answer questions about their dance studio management software. We’ve continued to see some recurring trends about how studio owners choose their dance studio software, how they utilize it, and what they like and dislike about it.
The percentage of studio owners that are using dance studio management software has steadily risen year after year, from 67% in 2014 to 80% in 2017.
The three most important features of studio management software have consistently been billing and payment processing, email or text communication and class management, but over the last year, online registration has seen a marked increase in importance.
The percentage of studios who have a majority of students paying by credit/debit card has continued to increase (to 54% in 2017), though studios across the country still vary widely in their ability to process credit card payments.
Overall satisfaction with dance studio management software has continued to creep up with 84% indicating that they were either “extremely satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied,” up from 82% in 2015.
Read the In-Depth Report on Dance Studio Software Survey Results
About seven years ago I was a partner in a business that managed five daycare centers. It was an excellent learning experience, but one lesson continues to rise above the rest:
The concept of “break points” in enrollment.
And, this is how I learned that 9 students are less profitable than 8!
Curious about this math? Keep reading for an explanation of way break points are crucial for a profitable dance class size.
Daycares have very strict rules regarding student-teacher ratios by age. For example, for five year olds students, the ratio is 1:8. Practically speaking this means there can only be eight students in the care of one teacher. Financially speaking this means that enrolling eight five year olds is very profitable for daycares because they have maximized their income opportunity for the hour of paying the teacher.
And this leads to the concept of a “break point”.
If enrolling eight students in a day care is optimal, enrolling nine students destroys profitability because the daycare center will have to open an additional classroom and hire an additional teacher for just ONE student.
It simply doesn’t make sense for a daycare center to add that additional expense for just one student. So they manage their risk by closing enrollment until their waiting list builds to 5 or 6 names before committing to open another classroom and hire another teacher.
The lesson of the “breakpoint” caused me to look at my “always enrolling” philosophy at the studio a little closer. I found that although our enrollment was “bigger than ever” our bottom line wasn’t reflecting that growth. Digging a little deeper, I found we were running several classes with a small number of students that would’ve been better served to be combined into fewer, but more fully utilized, classes.
Have you ever felt like you were working harder, serving more students, yet making less profit? If so, now might be a good time to take a closer look at your enrollment distribution as you start planning classes for next year. Just remember the lesson I learned from my time in daycare management: Be careful about crossing breakpoints. Fewer, fuller classes is better for the bottom line.
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