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!
Almost every dance studio owner has dealt with some problem parents at one point or another. Sometimes you might not see them coming, other times you can tell they’ll be difficult from a mile away. However it occurs, one bad apple tends to spoil the rest. You don’t want to let one parent turn all of the other parents against you, or encourage them to engage in the drama. So what is a dance studio owner to do? Consider these four tips on how to deal with troublesome dance parents and how to avoid welcoming them back for another year.
1. Have Legitimate Reasons
It is important for dance studio owners to have a contract that lays out the studio policies as well as the consequences for breaking those rules. All parents, and children if they’re of age, should sign this contract before enrolling. If a parent violates one of these rules, studio owners should document the incident and notify the parent.* Refer to your list of studio policies that the parent agreed to upon enrolling in your studio.
Most studio rules don’t welcome aggressive or negative behavior, regardless of whether it comes from the student or parent. It’s also important not to bring other dance parents into the mix. While they may agree with you, you don’t want to start drama between dance parents. However, it is OK to corroborate your opinion with other studio staff members to help support your stance.
2. Deal With Problems in a Timely Manner
Sometimes parents will cause a scene during the dance year, forget about it over the following summer, and assume they can come back and have a fresh start. However, you and other parents may not have forgotten about that incident. While you might be surprised by their attempts at re-entry, it does happen.
If studio owners don’t handle bad behavior right away, it could have unexpected consequences—other parents may be dismayed that a parent got away with poor behavior and choose to leave the studio. When these scenarios occur, it is vitally important to deal with them in a timely fashion.
3. Offer Feedback Forms
Some dance studios offer feedback forms, according to DanceAdvantage.net. These forms give parents the opportunity to mention any comments, good or bad, that they have about the studio. Sure, the commentary may not always be constructive, especially if they bring up something like a costume malfunction, but these forms can also help keep the peace and prevent gossip from stirring up.
Once these forms are submitted, dance owners and parents can sit down to discuss the issues at hand. Setting up a meeting can be a calm, constructive way to find a resolution for a problem. Sometimes, though, resolutions cannot be found. At this point, you’re allowed to note that it’s studio policy and can calmly suggest that they find another studio to go to. Even though it isn’t the best way to refuse a parent back, you can do so knowing that you tried your best to hear the parent’s point of view.
4. Note Issues With Tardiness and Payments
Tardiness shouldn’t be welcomed at practice or any other time, as it can quickly become a habit. Dancers who show up late may throw off routines, cause practices to go later or could compromise a dance recital.
As a studio owner, it’s important to discuss your rules about tardiness with parents. Note the issues that arise from tardiness, and its effects on other dancers and parents. The same goes for payments. To keep your business up and running, you need to charge parents for their children’s lessons. Whether you charge them weekly, monthly or bi-annually is up to you.
However, if a parent doesn’t pay, it can quickly become an issue. If a parent consistently forgets or owes the studio a significant amount of money, it’s acceptable to terminate his or her contract. Discuss with the parent how lack of payment affects the studio as well as the purchase of costumes, footwear and equipment. Hopefully the parent will understand these legitimate reasons for not being welcomed back.
*Reader and veteran studio owner Danie Beck also suggested that in some cases, after you’ve spoken with the parent it may be a good idea to put the dismissal and the reasoning behind it in writing and send it to the parent. If you do, she noted that you should be sure to send it to them “return receipt requested,” so everyone is on the same page and there won’t be any surprises at registration time.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include reader feedback.
Does the thought of having to sub for someone on top of your already hectic schedule make you sweat? Does the idea of having to plan a holiday show keep you up at night? Is your laundry piling up at home while you teach plies at the studio? Are you having trouble keeping up with bookwork now that the studio is in full session? Do you stare 5 p.m. in the face each day and say, “Dinner? What’s that? I’ll have one of those over Christmas break.”
If so, you may have a case of the “Back-to-Dance Blues!”
And, if this is you, it’s time to re-focus the lens on your attitude and actions so that you can thrive, not just survive in the coming months.
Keep reading these back-to-dance tips to get back your A+ game in 3 easy (but not-so-easy) steps…
Break up with your phone.
Have you ever closed your laptop and said, “That’s enough for tonight” only to crawl into your bed and scroll Facebook for another 40 minutes? I’ve been there and it’s a BAD idea for a number of reasons. Science tells us that the blue light coming off of our devices destroys the melatonin we need for a good night’s sleep. And, if you DO get to sleep, you might be woken by email alerts from a parent who forgot their child’s shoes, but is just remembering to write you about it 2 a.m.
Now let’s talk about mornings. Do you roll over after your alarm goes off and start thumbing at the screen lock for a peek at the activity that you may have missed while sleeping? I know all you want to do is take a quick peek around your email, texts and social to make sure everything is okay before getting out of bed. I get it. The problem is that in doing so, you effectively hand over the steering wheel of your day to someone else’s agenda. You are now in reactive and not proactive mode, which is a close second to starting-the-day-without-coffee on the list of bad ideas for entrepreneurs.
2. Start owning your calendar.
Recently I blocked the following into my Google calendar: Morning Reading and Devotional Time, Exercise, Writing, Business Development, Lunch with Husband, Time with Kids, Email and Phone Calls. Yes, I write them with capital letters because to me they are proper nouns—as in if I don’t treat my time properly no one else will. Now when somebody wants to do a call, go to lunch or meet at the office I literally have take something of real value to me OFF the calendar to make room for the new activity. If I look at my calendar and have to choose between another evening meeting at the studio or Time with Kids, my kids win almost every time. But, if my calendar is empty, I’ll just fill with things that take me away from the kids. The truth of the matter is that I can always attend another meeting, but I’ll never get a second chance to raise my kids.
3. Eat the bullfrog first.
Here’s a math problem for you:
You have a list of ten things to do. Seven are easy and three are hard. What do you do?
The seven easy things, of course, because we love to feel accomplished and crossing things off of our list helps us to feel like we are really getting things done. But are we? What about the three meaningful, but hard things, get transferred from list to list until you’ve spent more time rewriting the difficult tasks than it would’ve taken to just do them.
The reality is that for as many hats as you wear at the studio, there are only a few functions that really move the business forward. To that end, may I suggest re-organizing your to-do to begin the day with the hardest/most meaningful task. That’s “eating the bullfrog first” is all about—tackling the ugliest, yuckiest project on your list and getting on with more pleasant things after that. If you can eat the bullfrog first, everything else after that is easy. Are you ready to get back on your A+ game? Then turn off your phone, fill up your calendar with your own proper nouns and eat the biggest bullfrog in your day before noon☺
As a dance teacher, you constantly want to stay up to date with the latest trends, including performance styles, music, and most importantly, costumes! Costume trends are ever-changing, following inspiration from actual style trends as well as pulling trends from other decades. As a result, it can be hard to keep up. Luckily we’re here to help keep you on top of the latest trends as soon as they come out. Let your dancers shine in these trends for dance costumes 2016.
1. 90’s hip hop
If you’ve got a few hip-hop dancers at your studio, they better get ready for dressing like 90’s rappers. This year’s costumes include lots of harem pants, joggers, jerseys and even camouflage, accessorized with beanies and flannel shirts, according to Weissman costumes. Many of the colors are inspired by urban looks, including graffiti designs and geometric neon prints. Pair these costumes with your favorite pair of Converse sneakers or high-tops to complete the look.
2. 80’s style
The 80’s are back again! These costumes channel Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Michael Jackson and all of your other favorite 80’s artists. This season, dress your dancers in hologram metallics, mesh, leather and neon-colored geometric and animal prints. According to A Wish Come True costumes, hot colors include bright pinks, blues, yellows, greens, oranges and of course, black. Accessorize these costumes with leg warmers, studded accessories, denim vests and patent leather combat boots to complete the look. For the final touches, give your dancers colored highlights and blue eye shadow.
3. Havana nights
Many costumes have taken on a Spanish and Cuban influence this year. A lot of the costumes embody a look from flamenco and salsa dancers. The hottest costumes include lots of ruffles, feathers, rose prints and skirts. If you’re looking to channel Cuban influences, dress your dancers in oranges, pinks and yellows with off-the-shoulder tops. If you’re looking for a more authentic Spanish style, aim for red and black and a ruffled skirt. Accessorize with lace pieces, rose hair clips, hoops and heels!
4. 60’s mod styles
The 60’s mod look has stuck around for another year. These costumes include looks from artists like Twiggy and go-go dancers. Dress your dancers in polka dots, halter necks and geometric prints. The hottest colors include pinks, blues and yellows, as well as the standard black and white. Pair these looks with penny loafers, oxfords and flats, and high socks! Complete the look with cute headbands and big eyes.
If you’re considering opening a dance studio, you may have a lot of questions. Well, you’re not alone. There are plenty of other aspiring dance studio owners with the same concerns. Consider a few of these frequently asked questions if you want to start a dance studio.
1. What’s the best place to open a studio?
Picking the right location for your dance studio can have a lot to do with your success rate. Of course, you want it to be in a spot that’s easy for parents and dancers to find and see—it shouldn’t be tucked away out of sight. It should also have adequate parking space—enough for staff, students and parents, Dance Exec stated.
It’s also a good idea to look at a location that has a space for a drop-off lane. That way, it won’t disrupt traffic flow but dancers can come and go as they please. The location should also be safe or else parents will not feel comfortable dropping off their children. Look for a space that is local to a park, a school or another establishment that welcomes children. It shouldn’t be near bars or other areas that are adults-only.
Another location consideration is your proximity to other studios, and whether you’ve taught or attended at those locations. Most studio owners would take offense at a former teacher or student opening a studio in a location that would place them in direct competition. Even if you were not previously affiliated with nearby studios, you’ll want to consider whether you’re willing to go head-to-head with those already-established businesses.
2. How can I afford to start a dance studio?
Owning a dance studio can certainly come with its expenses. Between leasing or buying a space and utilities and maintenance, costs can quickly add up. All studio owners need have a business plan, which should include an analysis of these and all other costs, before considering opening a studio. Again, it’s important not to skimp on the studio’s location to try and help your budget.
Instead, choose a smaller space at first that you can expand on later. Look into bank loans and see if there’s one you qualify for that’s reasonable for your budget. If you’re incredibly passionate about opening a studio but can’t afford the space, think about opening one in your basement or garage to help build clientele before moving to a bigger spot.
3. Where should I look for potential staff?
As an owner, you may attempt to run the studio on your own at first, and that’s OK. However, as your clientele grows, you’re going to need a little help. Consider posting ads for local college dance students to see if they are willing to take on an unpaid internship, Dance Teacher suggested. That way, you can save money and have an experienced staff.
If you’re impressed by their teaching skills, offer them a job down the road when you’re completely financially stable. If you are ready to hire instructors right away, the administration of those nearby college dance programs may be able to recommend suitable candidates. If there are any semi-professional dance companies in the vicinity, you might also want to send them information on open positions. Whichever route you take, make sure you are hiring staff with the right qualities for the job.
4. How do I come up with a good name for my studio?
If you’ve always wanted to open a dance studio, you may have a few names in mind. However, if this is a recent initiative, it might be more difficult for you to think of something. Picking a name is one of the very early steps in the process of opening a studio. Regardless of what you choose, it should be easy to remember. That means it shouldn’t be a long name, DanceStudioOwner.com noted. It should also be a name that clearly indicates you’re a dance studio, whether it has dance in the name or not. You can choose something simple, like Jenny Smith Dance Studios, or something that has a play on words, like At the Barre.
Finally, make sure that your name is easy to say AND easy to search for on the web. You don’t want a name that you have to constantly spell or explain—those can be hard to remember. On the other hand, you also don’t want to choose a name that’s too generic and risk people being unable to find you in an online search. Find a good balance!
Do you ever wish that you could get a little more dance studio promo going for your business? Or that you could increase your brand awareness in your community? These are both common goals for small businesses, and in many cases, the easy solution is to increase your public relations efforts and work on some dance studio promo.
What is PR?
Many people don’t quite understand the difference between PR and marketing efforts. After all, sometimes the same tactics – press releases and social media posts, for example – can be used on both sides of the spectrum.
Kay Pinkerton, a PR consultant at Pinkerton Communications, explained on LinkedIn that the most basic difference between the PR and marketing is your focus. When you’re promoting your classes and trying to bring in new customers, that’s marketing. However, when you’re working to build stronger relationships with existing and future clients, that’s when it becomes PR. So to put it simply, marketing is about services and PR is about relationships.
When do You Need PR?
Large corporations often have full-time PR employees who are constantly planning ways to improve the public’s perception of the company. Luckily, you likely don’t need around-the-clock PR for your dance studio. There are some instances when you’ll benefit from good PR, including:
If you ever encounter bad press.
If you want to promote community outreach you’re doing.
If you want to build interest about an event.
If you want to build brand awareness in your market.
When trying to establish thought leadership.
PR Tips for Studio Owners
If you’re in need of some dance studio promo, whether for one of the reasons listed above or another objective, most of the work is probably going to fall onto your plate as the studio owner. There’s no need to stress, though, as most of PR is pretty easy to master. Here are a few tips that will help you become a PR maven in no time:
Build media connections: If you ever are in a position where you want to be featured in a local newspaper or magazine, you’re going to need media connections. Many small business owners choose to cold call or email press members when they want exposure, but your chances of getting a response are much better if you have an established relationship with a media contact.
Master the press release: One of the most important PR tools is the press release. These short statements will come in handy when you’re trying to get people interested in your new classes or a community outreach program you’re holding. Practice writing a few before you attempt your first official release.
Leverage social media: Before sites like Facebook and Twitter became popular, small business owners relied on newspapers to spread the word of their news. However, these social media sites have become instrumental in low-budget PR efforts, as you can reach a wide audience without spending much money.
Establish community partnerships: If you feel like your studio is too small to attract attention on its own, don’t be afraid to establish strategic partnerships with other businesses in your community. Reach out to local retailers, clubs or charitable organizations to see if they’d be willing to co-sponsor an event or partner up for a community outreach program. These are both valuable PR tactics, and it won’t cost you nearly as much to do it with another business.
Foster relationships: PR is all about building healthy relationships with your customers and community, so don’t get so wrapped up in “PR efforts” that you neglect the essentials of relationship building. Keep in touch with your professional contacts, help out other businesses and provide great customer service. These are the building blocks of an effective PR strategy.
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.
Blogging is all the rage nowadays. Moms have blogs. Huge corporations have blogs. Dancers have blogs. All the blogging that’s going on may lead you to think, “Should I start a dance studio blog?”
There are definitely benefits of creating and maintaining a blog for your studio, but there are certain notable downsides as well. Here are a few things to consider if you’re thinking about expanding your dance studio’s online presence to the blog-o-sphere.
Benefits of Blogging
Ask any marketing guru or SEO wizard and they’ll tell you that a good blog can only help your small business. It’s true that blogging can give you a leg up against the competition while boosting your marketing efforts – when done correctly, that is.
“A well-maintained blog can only help your studio.”
Improve Your Online Presence
SEO is often a challenge for small businesses, especially when you’re in the middle of a saturated market. In many communities, there are a number of dance studios competing against one another. This competition doesn’t just involve snatching up students though – you’re also vying for the top spots on Google when a prospective dancer types in “dance classes near me.”
Here’s where a blog can come in handy. HubSpot explained that thanks to Google’s new algorithms, websites that have fresh content often rank higher in searches. The more frequently you’re putting new content up on your website, the more your site will get crawled and indexed. This is a good way to gain a competitive edge over non-blogging studios in your area.
Solidify Your Brand Image
A well-maintained dance studio blog can also help to improve your brand. Dance Advantage noted that studios with blogs often come across as more personal and welcoming to prospective students. Blogging is a way to show website viewers your studio’s environment and atmosphere, and this often comes across as more appealing than a cut-and-dry informative site.
Connect with Students and Potential Customers
Finally, blogging can serve as a great means of communicating with your current students and parents, as well as with prospective dancers. If you often find yourself sending out a barrage of emails, notices, social media posts and more, you can condense your studio’s communications by posting all this information on your blog. Not only will this drive traffic to your website, but it will also reduce the number of calls your studio gets from parents wondering about recital tickets, class schedules, audition attire and more.
Common Blogging Pitfalls
As mentioned above, your studio’s blog will only be as useful and effective as you make it. If you’re going to commit to blogging, be sure to avoid these common pitfalls.
Many small business owners claim that they simply don’t have the time to post regularly on a blog, and this can be a problem. There’s no denying that studio owners are notoriously busy, but if you can’t commit to posting at least once or twice a week on your blog, it may not be worth your while. Consistency is key when it comes to blogging, and you need to post new content for your readers. Otherwise, the endeavor may not pay off.
“Don’t limit your topics to studio-related posts.”
Running Out of Topics
Another common woe when you’re trying to get your dance studio blog off the ground is running out of topics. After all, there’s probably only so much studio news that you can write about. Don’t let this deter you though! You can come up with fresh content ideas by browsing the Internet, talking with your students or simply reflecting on your own interests. Write about anything and everything dance-related, and you’ll find that your audience quickly grows.
Lack of Promotion
As with any new endeavor, you’re going to need to promote your dance studio blog to get it off the ground. Chances are that your students won’t find your new blog on their own, so promote it within the studio, on social media and through newsletters. With a little bit of strategic marketing, you’ll soon get the traction you’re looking for.
Take these points into account when you’re launching your dance studio’s blog. Be sure to check back next week for Part 2 of our Blogging Basics series! We’ll be talking about general tips for an effective and readable blog.
You may think that you know what you’re getting into when you decide to open a dance studio. After all, you’ve likely been involved in the industry for a good part of your life. However, there are definitely some tough lessons you’ll learn when you enter the business side of the dance world. Here are 8 things you’ll come to understand throughout your time as a dance studio owner.
1. ‘No’ is a powerful and necessary word
As a new business owner, you’ll likely want to say yes to everything. It’s hard to tell people no, especially when you are just starting to build relationships with your customers. However, make sure you balance the needs of your students and parents with the needs of the studio. It’s a delicate scale, and you’ll occasionally have to use “no” to keep the balance in check.
2. You need an written, actionable plan
You probably have goals, plans and aspirations for your studio, and that’s great! But you should really be putting them in writing, otherwise they’re easy to forget or lose sight of. This is where an actionable business plan comes in handy – write a detailed roadmap before you open your studio and make sure to update it every year.
3. Your dance know-how isn’t enough
Your pirouettes and plies will come in handy when you’re teaching young dancers, but they’re not going to help you much when it comes time to pay taxes, send invoices or market your studio. Small business owners of all sorts need to have some business-savvy if they’re going to excel, so you may need to purchase a how-to book or sign up for a seminar to fill out your skill set.
4. Customer service isn’t a cakewalk
No two mama dramas are alike, and you’ll be faced with a host of problems throughout your time as a studio owner. It’s important to figure out how you’ll deal with problem parents, diva students and other issues that affect the atmosphere at your school. Your customer service can make or break your studio, so be sure to give it the attention it deserves.
5. Your support system is key
Because you’re serving as a teacher, marketer, book keeper, administrator and more, there will be days when you’re exhausted and overwhelmed. This is when you need your support system more than ever. Whether it’s your spouse, friend, partner, child or fellow teacher, you should have someone who’s there to lend a hand on your toughest days. If you go at it alone, chances are that you’ll wind up with more gray hair than you bargained for.
6. Not everyone will like you
It’s human nature to want people to like you, but very few business owners go through their careers without stepping on a few toes. Sometimes you’ll have to say “no” – as mentioned in No. 1 – and this can lead to upset parents, dejected dancers or disgruntled teachers. Do your best to mend the relationship when this happens, and continue on your way.
7. At the end of the day, you’re running a business
The reality of the business world is that only 50 percent of companies survive for five years and just 30 percent last 10 years or more. If you’re in this for the long haul, you need to keep in mind that you’re running a business! Each decision you make should be beneficial to the studio if you want to make it in the competitive world of dance.
8. The hard work is worth it
You know the happiness that fills you up when you do something you love? Well you’ll probably get to feel that way every day you’re in the studio. Teaching people to dance is amazingly rewarding, and you’ll find that even on your longest days, you have a smile on your face.
Chances are that, like most dance studios around the country, your cash flow drops during the summer. You may host dance camps and a few summer classes, but you won’t be as busy as you are during the school year. Just because your studio has hit its seasonal lull doesn’t mean you can’t continue to market your business and services. In fact, summer is the perfect time to hone in on some of your marketing tactics and see how you can revamp them for the seasons to come. Here are five dance studio marketing ideas for specific areas that you may want to focus on while you have a little extra time this summer.
1. Work on SEO
Search engine optimization best practices are always changing and evolving. The strategies that may have boosted your website in search last year may actually be hurting it this year. That’s why you should take time this summer to read up on SEO and how you can improve your studio’s site. Here are some of our SEO tips for beginners, but you may also want to look into mobile optimization, keyword strategies and best landing page structures.
2. Set Up a Referral Program
If you don’t have a student referral program, set one up this summer! The Dallas Chronicle explained that referrals are one of the most cost-efficient ways to bring in new students without shelling out a ton of money for advertisements. Think about what you could offer students who refer friends to your studio – discounted tuition? Free merchandise? Free recital tickets? Whatever you choose, just make sure that it’s valuable enough to be appealing to your dancers, but not so generous that you’ll wind up regretting it.
3. Create Testimonial Videos
You probably have some great videos stored on your phone or computer from seasons past, so why not put them to good use? Gather your videos together in one place and work to compile short films that you can display on your website. You may also want to see if a few of your long-time dancers are willing to sit down and talk about their experiences at your studio. A compelling testimonial video will likely perform well on your website and social media pages.
4. Work on Your Brand
Small businesses are always growing and evolving, and it’s essential that you keep your brand consistent across all forms of communication. If you haven’t had the time to upload your new logo onto your email newsletter or are still using outdated class prices on your website, take time this summer to update all these little inconsistencies. It may not seem like such a big deal, but potential customers are more apt to trust your business if they receive consistent messages about who you are and what you do.
5. Keep Up Your Newsletter
Your summertime marketing should ideally grab the attention of prospective students, but you also want to keep your current dancers engaged. That’s why it’s crucial to keep up your studio newsletter during the summer. Send out updates about what’s going on in the classroom during the warmer months, changes that you’ll be making for coming seasons, what other dancers are doing at summer intensives or even just tips on how dancers can stay in shape over break.
Don’t have a newsletter? Create one soon! There’s no excuse not to take advantage of this easy marketing strategy, as free platforms like MailChimp provide you with all the tools you need to put together a professional, polished email blast.
Zero time? Yes. That’s what I call the period after recital. In my world, it looks something like this:
From eating out every day at rehearsals to ZERO food in the fridge at home the next week.
From 800 students on the day of the last recital to ZERO students the next day.
From performance adrenaline to ZERO energy the morning after recital.
From hundreds of people telling you how great you are at the show to seemingly making ZERO people happy after fall placements come out.
It may feel like zero time to those of us in the trenches of dance studio ownership, but to quote YouTube sensation ‘Sweet Brown,’ “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
It’s dance registration time, people! So kick off the recital dust and “zero time” blues and get ready for 5 Tips for Dance Registration that Rocks:
Amp the excitement with a new program. Last year I felt like our registration buzz was a little low, so we added Acro, Leaps & Turns and Modern to the roster. Every one of those classes was full with a waiting list in 9 MINUTES after online registration opened. While that was exciting, the real win for us was that the people who rushed to register for the new and exciting classes also registered for the standards like ballet, tap and jazz at the same time.
Tie accepting a performance company placement to registration. At our studio we hold our auditions for performing groups the week after recital. Audition results go out at the same time as registration info. To accept a placement, a student must register for fall (and summer) classes. This is a great way to firm up involvement for fall, especially with teen students who may lose motivation for returning classes as the summer wears on.
Race to Registration. Last year we launched a “Race to Registration” contest that was very successful. Here’s how the contest worked: At the end of each week of the contest we drew a name from those who had enrolled over the course of the week. The winner could choose from a $100 studio gift card, a studio jacket or a studio birthday party. To claim the prize, they would need to come with a parent to the studio and have their picture taken, which was then promoted on Facebook and Instagram, and ultimately shared by the winning family to their social circles. We ran this promotion for the four weeks leading up to fall classes and captured more than 50 additional students in the process.
Make FB actually work for you. Gone are the days of counting on FB posts alone to drive action from your fan base. FB has changed its algorithm so that less than 10% of people who like your page will ever see a post from you. The new power of FB belongs to paid promotions to targeted audiences, boosted posts and getting people to share posts, which puts your message into the news feed of people who already know and love you. If FB advertising isn’t already in your budget, make room for it this year. Even a small budget of $5/day for a week on a specific call to action can make a big difference.
Don’t let people fall through the cracks. Do you know what the least expensive way to get enrollment is? DON’T LOSE YOUR CURRENT STUDENTS! This should be obvious, but based on the number of calls I get from people wanting to know how to attract new students, it isn’t. My first piece of advice is to do whatever you can to get the current students to return. Do you have a system to measure who returns and who doesn’t? What do you do to reach out to previous students? No, they won’t all come back. Some move on, some age out and some just weren’t your cup of tea. Many, however, probably had a great experience and just have not gotten around to re-registering. If too much time passes after recital time they might figure it’s just too late. Don’t let people fall through the cracks. Even if they don’t re-register, they will appreciate the care you showed in reaching out to them and likely refer future families to your studio.
When you’re opening your very own dance studio, there’s a lot of money that needs to be invested in the business. Dance studio owners need a great location, quality floors, all-around mirrors, office supplies, marketing materials and more, not to mention you’ll need to pay teachers and other staff. Chances are that you won’t be able to afford these expenses out-of-pocket, which is where a small business loan comes into play.
You might be overwhelmed when it comes to securing funding, so use this guide to navigate the world of business financing.
Determine Your Financial Needs
Before you ask a bank or other lender for money, you’ll want to take the time to plan out just how much financial assistance you’ll require. The U.S. Small Business Administration has a number of useful resources that can help first-time business owners get their monetary needs straightened out. Start by detailing the different costs you’ll need to successfully start your studio, like the ones outlined above. Be sure to include costs for any construction or renovations, studio equipment and advertising. Lenders will look on your application more favorably if they know exactly where the funds are going.
If possible, it’s also beneficial to anticipate any financial assistance you’ll need in the near future. It’s easier to secure loans when you have plenty of time to prepare applications, so do your best to foresee any expenses that may crop up within your first few months of operation. These might include money for costumes, teachers or studio merchandise.
Find a Mentor
Mentors are often invaluable resources for budding entrepreneurs. They can give you helpful hints on applying for loans, securing interest rates and starting a business in general. If you’re friendly with other studio owners in the area, you may want to reach out and see if they’re willing to offer advice. However, make sure that your new school won’t be in direct competition with the studio owners you’re contacting.
You may also be able to find a resource through SCORE, a website that connects small business owners. Another viable option is to seek advice from a financial consultant or legal professional – though you’ll likely have to pay for these services.
Present Yourself Favorably
When it comes time to meet with a loan officer, you’ll want to be informed and confident. Advanced preparations can help you to present yourself as a favorable borrower, so take time to put together a detailed and thorough business plan. Come to the meeting with hard data on the state of the industry in your area, the benefits of each proposed expense, your plan for repaying the loan and timelines for your expansion.
In addition to researching your strengths, it helps to be aware of the factors that may be working against you. Business News Daily explained that there are a number of common problems that small business owners stumble over when trying to secure financing. Look into your credit report and have rebuttals prepared for any issues that lenders may find. Keep in mind that many banks view dance studios as high-risk borrowers, and be ready to fight for your business!
Most of all, be passionate about what you’re doing. If lenders see that you’re really going to give the business your all, it may tip the scales in your favor.
“You have to exude a passion,” Paul Steck, president of an international restaurant franchise, explained to Business News Daily. “I’m going to do this, and I’m going to be the best in the whole wide world. You have to go into it with that sort of mentality, and a lot of presumed business owners don’t do that.”
Other Financing Options
Any studio owner who’s gone through the financing process will tell you that it’s not easy. Many small business owners get rejected the first time they seek a loan, and if this happens, you have two options. You can either keep trying by improving your business plan, ironing out any issues and consulting with other banks, or you can look into other financing options.
On a dance forum, a few studio owners noted that they took out loans from friends, family and business partners to get their schools off the ground. Most were able to repay the money in a matter of years and weren’t hit with the high interest rates that banks would require.
If borrowing from others isn’t an option for you, consider taking out a home equity loan, which are normally accompanied by very affordable rates. You can also look into performing arts grants, crowdfunding or business credit cards. These are all viable options for dance studios, so don’t give up on your dream just because you get rejected by a bank. With the right mindset and a lot of determination, you can likely start the school you’ve always imagined.
Many studio owners have experienced the following situation: Your school is doing great. Enrollment is through the roof, and just when you think it’s smooth sailing for the next few seasons, you see the sign. A new studio is opening up right down the street, and even worse, they’re offering the same classes! All of a sudden your prospective students have another viable option to choose from, so how do you ensure that your school continues to thrive? In the world of running a dance studio, studios need to stay vigilant if they want to succeed in a sometimes crowded field. Here are four steps that will help you keep your school’s doors open, regardless of how saturated your market becomes.
1. Stay Focused on Your Studio
Your first instinct when you find out there’s a competitor opening nearby is to shift your attention to learning everything you can about the new business. After all, it’s upsetting when someone thinks they can one-up your studio! However, you shouldn’t obsess about this new establishment. Instead you should start obsessing about your own.
“There are always going to be people who think they can do it better than you, and maybe some people actually will do it better than you,” Kathy Blake, owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios, explained on DanceStudioOwner.com. “But what this is all about is you have to be your own voice; you have to find your own culture.”
Blake explained that studio owners need to stay focused if they want to get ahead of the competition. If you’ve been slacking on marketing or facility upkeep, use this as the kick in the pants you need. Crunch some numbers – what’s the return on investment for your different marketing strategies? What’s your customer acquisition cost? Focus on the nitty gritty aspects of running a dance studio, and you’ll be equipped to compete in a saturated market.
2. Find Your Sweet Spot
If your new neighbor is offering the same classes as you, it’s essential to figure out what makes your studio unique. Maybe, like Blake mentioned, it’s your school’s culture and atmosphere. Or perhaps you have more experienced teachers. Sit down and think hard about what your niche is and why it makes your school a great place for dancers to learn.
Coming up short? If you’re floundering to find your differentiating factor, you may want to consider revisiting your business plan. Your previous success may have been based on your lack of competition, but now that there’s a new sheriff in town, you need to reevaluate your business model and figure out what you can do to make your studio competitive.
3. Differentiate Your Marketing
Once you’ve figured out exactly what it is that makes your studio unique, take that aspect and run with it. You’ll need to thoroughly differentiate your marketing from your competitors to ensure that potential students know exactly why your school is the place to dance. Revamp your website and social media sites. Update your fliers with a new emphasis on your sweet spot. Design new ads and do research into effective marketing tactics you may be neglecting. Your goal should be to reach students in new ways and convince them that your school is the best option in town.
4. Take Care of Your Existing Students
In the midst of all this marketing mayhem, it’s easy to overlook the needs of your current clientele. However, Marketing Donut explained that if you want to stay ahead of the competition, you’d do well to cater to your patrons like never before. Improve your customer service, orchestrate an amazing recital or poll your dancers to see what changes they’d like made. Paying ample attention to your existing students will ensure that they re-enroll for next season and that you’re not losing business to your competitors.