If you’re active on social media, you’ve probably seen a friend or acquaintance trying to raise money through crowdfunding. People use these newly popular platforms to collect donations for trips, creative projects, business startups, tuition and really anything else you could imagine. Because crowdfunding has proven lucrative for many small-business owners, many dance studios try fundraising with KickStarter dance campaigns or other crowdfunding resources when they’re in need of new facilities, recital venues, transportation to competitions, studio upgrades and more.
Some studio owners might be skeptical of this method of collecting donations, but with the right platform and marketing, the results can be impressive. Dance Studio Life explained that one former professional dancer in Virginia managed to raise $2,500 to open her own studio and provide attire for less fortunate students.
If you’re thinking about giving crowdfunding a try, here are some tips and tricks to make the most of your campaign.
The Appeal of Crowdfunding
The reason that crowdfunding has really taken off is simply because it’s a simpler way for people to raise money. Most studio owners know how hard it is to raise a significant sum through car washes or bake sales, and online fundraising gets rid of all that hassle.
The new way to raise money has become especially useful for artists, including those in the dance community. According to Dance Teacher magazine, the Kickstarter dance category actually has one of the highest success rates.
“One of the reasons dancers have been so successful is that they tend to ask for more modest sums, which makes the campaign more manageable and likely to be funded,” Dianne Debicella of Fractured Atlas explained to Dance Teacher magazine. “Dancers also have strong communities and are able to get the word out to their circles.”
Best Practices for Studios
Once you’ve decided to launch a campaign on a crowdfunding site, the first step is to choose which platform suits your needs. Some of the most popular options are Kickstarter, Indiegogo and GoFundMe, but these choices all come with stipulations and parameters that may or may not work with your goals. Take time to research each site, read through their frequently asked questions and see how well similar campaigns are performing. One big decision you’ll need to make is whether to choose an all-or-nothing approach, where projects that don’t meet their goals get none of the pledges.
You’ll also want to do the bulk of your planning well before you launch the campaign. Entrepreneur magazine recommended that you start spreading the word about your goals to your patrons and supporter six months before you go live on a crowdfunding site.
Another best practice is to offer more than just a thank-you email to your donors. You can encourage parents and students to contribute by offering a discount on next season’s tuition or on studio merchandise. This is also a good way to ensure your re-enrollment rates will be high!
Tips for Success
After your launched your campaign, it’s important to stay on top of managing it. After all, you probably won’t meet your goals if you set up the account, then forget about it. Here are some tips to keep in mind as your promote your fundraiser.
Post your crowdfunding page to social media accounts, and encourage dedicated patrons to share the link.
Don’t be afraid to share the campaign with local arts groups who could generate interest in your cause.
People respond well to visuals, so include pictures and videos in your campaign.
Find out what promotional tactics work, then adjust your strategy accordingly.
Collect donor emails and give them updates after your campaign is complete. Many people will be happy to see what they helped create.
One tried-and-true method of generating a little extra income at your studio’s dance recitals is to sell bouquets of dance recital flowers to proud parents. This strategy is genius, as parents love having the option to pick up lovely flowers for their dancers without having to make a pit stop at the florist. However, it often takes studios a few years to perfect their flower-selling processes, as the cost, supply, and execution can be a bit confusing. If you’re selling bouquets for the first time, here are some tips to help you make the most out of this recital extra.
Determine the Demand
The first time you’re selling bouquets at your end-of-season recital, you probably won’t know how many to order. Should you assume that half of the parents will purchase flowers? Or maybe three-fourths? It can easily become a guessing game.
However, it’s best to come up with an informed estimate instead of picking a random number. After all, you don’t want to end up with 20 extra bouquets, as that’s just a waste of money. Consider sending out a survey to parents to get an estimate of how many people would buy recital flowers and what price point they’re interested in.
When in doubt, err on the lesser side. It’s better to sell out than to have bouquets left over.
Arrange for Flower Delivery
Hopefully, you left ample time in your flower-planning process to arrange for delivery. Dance Exec recommended that you contact local florists at least one to two months in advance. If you wait until the last minute, you might not be able to get competitive quotes on the style of bouquets you’d like. You also may want to explore online vendors, such as 48 Longstems. Odds are, you’ll get a better price online.
When you’re ordering, keep the price point that parents agreed to in mind. You’ll want to mark up the flowers at much as possible so you can optimize your profits. If you can find quality bouquets for $10 a bundle, you should aim to sell them for around $20 apiece. Another option to consider is just purchasing a large number of roses or carnations and allowing parents to purchase one or more for around $5.
Consider Pre-Selling Bouquets
Another option that dance studio owners suggested on this Dance.net forum is to pre-sell recital flowers. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of the equation and also eliminates the need for someone to man the bouquet booth on recital day.*
If you’re going to do a pre-sale, create order forms and hand them out to your parents. Then you simply give the orders and payment to your local florist, and let them take care of the rest! Parents can pick up their pre-ordered bouquet on recital day. The only downside of this method is that some parents might forget to place their orders and be disappointed come recital day. If you think this may be the case, pick up a few extra arrangements for last-minute sales. Be sure to mark the prices up accordingly!
Other Merchandise to Stock Up On
When you’re selling bouquets at recitals, chances are that parents will be willing to purchase other add-ons for their accomplished dancers. For this reason, it is often beneficial to have other merchandise available at recitals. Consider having branded studio attire, balloons, teddy bears, trophies, or recital DVD forms available for parents. These inexpensive items are often a hit with students and parents alike, and they are a great way to generate a little extra revenue for your studio.
With your seasonal dance recital coming up, you’re probably facing a lot of costs from venue rental, lighting, backgrounds, props and more. What if we told you that there’s a way you can get back some of that money and potentially make a profit from your recital? Many studio owners have found that dance recital program ads are an easy and effective way to earn extra money for their businesses. While it takes diligent planning to pull together a great program packed with advertisers, it might be a huge boost for your studio. Here are a few ways you can sell program ads more effectively.
Determine Reasonable Prices
If you’re going to become a selling machine, you have to make sure that your prices are just right. After all, you’ll end up pulling teeth if your cost per ad is too high, and if it’s too low, you won’t make any money. So don’t just pull a number out of the air! Do your research to determine what’s a fair yet lucrative price for your program ads.
The biggest factor in determining how much to charge for ad space is what you’re going to pay to have the programs printed. For this reason, you should get quotes from your printing vendor before you start selling ads. One studio owner on Dance.net explained that she takes the per-page price from the printer and doubles it for a full-page ad. For example, if it’s going to cost you $50 per page to print the programs, you may want to sell full-page ads for $100, half pages for $60 and quarter-pages for $40. This strategy will ensure that you make your money back and then some.
However, you may need to adjust your prices if you find that businesses are balking at the cost. Be sure to look at the big picture – with higher prices, you might sell two full-page ads at $100, but if you lowered that price to $80, you may very well sell five and make $400.
How to Target and Approach Advertisers
Many studios incentivize their students to sell ads. This strategy works for some, but while 5-year-olds are cute, they’re probably not the best salespeople. That said, if you go this route, there are ways that you can help your dancers target the right businesses and advertisers to optimize on your returns.
If you are going to ask students to sell ads, give your students guidance before setting them loose in the community. For example, the North Cambridge Family Opera Company recommended that you pitch to businesses whose target market will be attending your recital. Companies that cater to children, parents and families will likely see the value in your ad space. Similarly, if your students are selling, instruct them to try businesses where they are regular customers and ask self-employed individuals if they want to purchase ad space.
When it comes to sales tactics, it’s usually beneficial to create a fact sheet and some talking points to help close the deal. Give your sellers information on how many people attend the recital, what the general demographics are and how the money will benefit the children who attend the studio. Some businesses may not necessarily need the advertisement, but if they are community-oriented, they may be interested in supporting the local arts program. Don’t be afraid to take a unique angle while selling!
Offer Ads for In-Kind Services
You may want to consider pitching a deal to some of the local vendors that your studio frequently works with. You can offer them free ad space for in-kind services. For example, if an artist helps with your set design each year, offer him or her an advertisement in return for a discount on next season’s design. Not only will this give the entrepreneur a bit of marketing, but it will create an agreement that you’ll work with him or her in the future.
When you’re bartering for in-kind services, keep your ad valuation in mind. If you’re asking for a discount, it should roughly equate to the same value of the ad you’re giving the vendor.
An Essential Checklist of Materials from Advertisers
Once you’ve sold several pages worth of ad space, you’ll need to collect the advertisements from the businesses. If you’re not organized when it comes to this step, you may end up contacting the advertisers multiple times to get all the needed materials. It’s better to put together a comprehensive list of things you need for each ad to streamline the process. Use this checklist to guide your ad collection:
The company name
The best point of contact
Multiple contact methods, such as email, phone and fax
The ad in an easily accessible digital form, like .jpg or .png
Permission to crop or resize the image as needed.
Be clear about the deadline for these materials so you’re not scrambling to get the program together last minute.
The dance recital is the most important moment in the year. Is your method of dance recital ticket sales helping you make the most of the experience?
The Old Way
Studio owners and staff spend hours preparing seating charts, printing tickets, manning the ticket sales table, and processing refunds and exchanges.
Parents have to come to the studio at prescribed days and times, and may not even be able to pay with a credit card.
Studio owners have to deal with difficult or unhappy parents who feel they should get specific seats.
In a studio with 200 students, you could have 200 parents wait 4 hours in line on ticket day. That’s 800 hours of lost productivity and leisure time!
The average studio sells $16,000 in tickets per year, typically accumulating large amounts of cash that need to be secured and deposited.
Studio owners save time and money. Just send TutuTix your seating chart and we’ll take care of the rest!
Parents save time. A ticket purchase takes 5 minutes. Who doesn’t want their Saturday back?
It’s convenient. With TutuTix, parents can buy anytime online, via phone, or even directly from your studio’s Facebook page! This convenience is important – the percentage of people who expect to buy tickets online has doubled in the past 3 years.*
It’s secure. Parents pay securely online or over the phone, and funds are deposited weekly into your studio’s account.
It’s fair. All parents have an equal shot at choosing their preferred seats with TutuTix’s interactive seating chart. TutuTix can even handle special pre-sales for specific groups or help you tie ticket purchases to a student’s account status.
Find out how we can bring the “happy” to ticket sales for you and your dance parents. Request more information about TutuTix today.
Each spring, you’re faced with one of the more unpleasant aspects of owning a dance studio – filing your taxes. If you think personal taxes were confusing, chances are that you’ll find business taxes even more so. There are a number of different deadlines you’ll have to adhere to and a variety of forms that need to be filled out.
If you struggle to keep your paperwork in order and get your taxes done on time, use this guide to straighten yourself out and get your studio’s taxes squared away.
Best Practices for Studio Owners
Your studio taxes will be so much easier if you stay organized throughout the year. If you throw paperwork here, there and everywhere, chances are that you’ll be scrambling to find it once tax season arrives. Make your life a whole lot simpler by setting up an organized filing system for your expenses, receipts, bills, invoices and other important paperwork. If you have office staff, train them to use the new system so that everyone is on the same page.
It’s important to save copies of other materials as well, especially if your studio isn’t making a profit quite yet. Dance Teacher magazine explained that if you don’t make money three out of five years, the IRS could deem your business a “hobby,” leading to you owing more money for losses you’ve claimed. If you’re operating in the red, save evidence that can be used to prove you’re taking steps to improve your studio, whether it’s marketing materials, new business cards, a company roadmap or your day planner.
Start getting your books in order at the end of each calendar year. As tempting as it is, you shouldn’t wait until February or March to start preparing your taxes.
What’s Up with Sales Tax?
Since your studio is an educational institution, you don’t have to charge sales tax on lessons, right? The answer actually depends on what state you live in. Back in 2014, dance studio owners across Missouri were shocked to find they owed back taxes to the state because of a legislative change. Americans for the Arts explained that the state reclassified studios as places of recreation and entertainment, which means they aren’t exempt from sales taxes.
There are actually a number of states where studios must tack sales tax onto tuition bills. DanceStudioOwner.com explained that this is necessary in Iowa, West Virginia, New Mexico, South Dakota, Hawaii and sometimes New Jersey.
“When dance studio owners don’t feel comfortable with sales tax, they’re definitely not alone,” Jessica Sheitler, owner of Financial Groove, explained to DanceStudioOwner.com. “I feel like it’s probably one of the most misunderstood aspects of running a dance studio, honestly. [Taxes are] different in every single state. Even within your state, it can be different within your county and your city.”
Chances are that you should also be charging sales tax on costumes and other merchandise that you sell. However, the regulations vary by state and jurisdiction, so figure out what’s necessary in your area.
Know Your Write-Off Options
You might owe the government more money than you’d originally thought, but the silver lining is that there are a number of expenses you may not have realized you could write off. The Houston Chronicle explained that you can write off reasonable and necessary expenses related to your profession. This means you can write off dance supplies, such as props and music or even office supplies. If you take the bus to work, you can likely file a deduction for the cost of your pass. Similarly, if you travel for the studio, track your mileage and write off the cost of gas.
Talk with your accountant about what expenses can be written off come tax time. Just remember that if you plan to write items off, it’s imperative that you keep any and all receipts related to the purchase or expense. The more detailed your records are, the more likely that the write-off will stick.
Find the Right Help
If all of this sounds overwhelming, it’s in your best interest to find a knowledgeable accountant who can help you get your taxes done right. Be sure to find a professional who has experience working with creative businesses – preferably studios – so you know that he or she can get you as much money back as possible. Once you find an accountant who is a good fit for your needs, don’t be afraid to seek advice for matters other than taxes. Chances are that he or she can help you work toward your other business goals.
“Have a dream for your studio and discuss it,” Lilia Wood, a studio owner who worked with Financial Groove, explained to Dance Teacher magazine. “Take advantage of their expertise so you can make those dreams a financial reality.”
As wonderful as all your dance students are, there’s always a chance that one or two parents will try to skip out on their bills. It’s certainly an unfortunate and awkward situation to handle, but it’s often an inevitable part of being a small business owner. While every situation is unique, and there may be instances in which you are able to meet privately with a parent and work out payment arrangements, there will be times that parents simply aren’t paying their fees. When you’ve sent multiple invoices, made phone calls, sent emails, etc. and received nothing back, you have two main options: accept that you probably won’t see that money or enlist the help of a collection agency.
There are probably a lot of considerations you’ll want to take into account before hiring a collection agency, but the bottom line is whether the service will be worth it for your particular situation. If you are a dance studio owner, here’s how you can figure out if you need to go to collection and a few tips to make the process a smooth one.
Are Collection Agencies Worth It?
Perhaps the most important factor to take into account when deciding how to handle past-due bills is whether going to collection will be worth it financially. If you have a customer who owes $50, chances are that the process of sending the account to collection and having service fees deducted won’t be worth it for the minimal amount of money you’ll get in return. However, bigger bills can sometimes make or break your studio, and if you get the sense the parents aren’t going to pay, it might be time to call in the professionals. After all, it’s better to get a portion of the total bill after the agency’s commission than to get nothing at all.
Many small business owners think that if they’re persistent, they can collect the money themselves. This is sometimes the case, but it will likely sap your time and resources to be calling, emailing and mailing the customers in question. You should also realize that the longer an invoice is past due, the less likely you are to see your money. A survey from the Commercial Collection Agency Association found that after three months, the probability of you collecting the money drops by 30 percent. At six months past due, there’s only a 50 percent chance that you’ll be able to collect.
Will Using a Collection Agency Hurt Your Reputation?
Sometimes small business owners are hesitant to work with collection agencies because it will hurt the company’s reputation. It’s no secret that customers generally dislike collection agencies, and there’s always the chance that the disgruntled parent will tell your other customers what transpired.
It’s a real possibility and you’ll have to decide if you’re willing to take the risk. However, one studio owner put the issue into perspective on a forum about collection agencies.
“If people don’t like collection agencies, then they need to pay their bills or at the least work out an arrangement to pay off the debt,” explained the owner on Dance.net. “A dance studio is a business and needs to be thought of as a business and run like a business.”
As always, payment policies should be clearly stated in registration materials and student contracts. Since payment issues could potentially affect a student who is still taking classes, carefully think through whether students with delinquent accounts can still attend, and make sure those policies are also communicated. If you run into problems down the road, these policies will give you a solid foundation for dealing with delinquent payments, and will help protect your studio’s reputation.
How Can You Streamline the Process?
The first time you use a collection agency, you may be a little lost in the process. However, you can make the ordeal easier by picking the right agency to work with and knowing what to expect.
When choosing a company to handle your collections, ask if they’ve worked with dance studios before and get references if possible. Call the other studios and see what their experiences were like before you sign up with an agency. The Fox Small Business Center recommended you check that the company is authorized to collect money from debtors in other states in case your past-due customers have recently moved. Don’t be afraid to get in touch with a few different agencies to find the one that’s the best fit for your needs.
Once you’ve chosen a company to work with, you can sit back and let them handle the awkward encounters. However, be aware that your past-due customers may very well call you to try and work things out. In these situations, you should simply explain that the matter is in the hands of the collection agency now and all communication and payment should go through them. Remember: You’re completely within your rights as a business owner to do what it takes to get the money you’re owed!
It’s always a good idea to build a relationship with the agency, especially if you think you’ll need to use them again. Be available to answer their questions and try to set up a meeting so you can talk about best collection practices face-to-face.
“When you hire a collection agency, you’re hiring a business partner,” Martin Sher, co-owner of AmSher Receivables Management, explained to Fox. “Smart clients meet with their agencies, discuss any issues that arise, provide them with any information they need and give them feedback.”
Using a collection agency probably won’t be an enjoyable experience, but at the end of the day, you’ll come out a stronger, more efficient business owner.
Can you imagine the following? A house builder works for nine months with clients to build a beautiful family home. The builder communicates and plans; hiring subcontractors, building walls, insuring the project, financing the materials and making the finishing touches just right. The builder takes draws from the clients for expenses along the way, but when it comes time to deliver the final product and hand over the keys, he takes a pass on getting paid for the last weeks of work.
This would never happen in the “real world,” but in “our world,” it happens all too often.
Studio owners put nine months of work into building a beautiful product and then fail to take it to the finish line from a business perspective.
If you are looking for dance recital ideas to produce a dance recital that pays you for your time and effort, keep reading!
The Biggest Expense – Producing a profitable program starts well before the show begins. When I ask studio owners what their biggest recital expense is, they will inevitably say “theater rental.” WRONG. Your biggest expense (and easiest expense to control) is most likely costume purchases. Control expenses by working with one trusted vendor. I moved 98% of my costume order to Curtain Call this year. By working with one costume house, I earned better volume discounts, consistent ships dates and a dedicated Customer Relationship Manager—which saved me time and costly returns.
Tickets – When was the last time you went to the movies for free? Oh, you didn’t? That’s because they’re not free and neither is renting a theater and putting on a recital.☺ Calculate your appropriate ticket price point by taking time to truly count the cost of all expenses associated with show production including, but not limited to, facility rental, dressing room rental, rehearsal space rental, lighting design, microphones, headsets, tech crew, sound crew, housemen, ushers, music editing, props, faculty time and insurance.
Keepsake Program Books – Part 1 – Are you producing a high quality recital program book? If not, you are missing out on a chance to not only elevate the professionalism of your show, but also to create an additional stream of revenue before the dry summer months hit. The first year I produced a Keepsake Program Book, I called the show “My Hometown.” We dedicated the dances to local businesses and then used the dedication as a reason to ask them to place a congratulatory ad for the dancers. We sold a little over 30 ads the first year and now sell 80-90 ads on a yearly basis
Keepsake Program Books – Part 2 – Businesses aren’t the only ones interested in placing ads in the program book. Take advantage of your professional publication to encourage families to celebrate the accomplishments of their dancers and graduating seniors by placing “Brava!” ads.
Commemorative Merchandise – The possibilities for commemorative merchandise are endless. We partner with a local florist to provide flowers. Our biggest seller is a branded recital t-shirt complete with every dancer’s name on the back. The students bring sharpies and sign each other’s shirts after the show. Many of our More Than Just Great DancingTM affiliate studios offer an even broader assortment of commemorative items at their shows including recital bears, bondi bands, sweatshirts, picture frames, bracelets, charms, water bottles, parent gear and more.
Memory Makers – Dance is the only art that disappears as soon as you create it. Make the celebration last by providing quality photography and videography opportunities for your families. Partner with local vendors to trade services or profit share. Or, take it a step further by investing in the equipment and training to provide the service yourself.
Most Importantly… Most importantly, a professional, positive recital experience for families is your best promotion for summer and fall enrollment—the lifeblood of your business. The time, energy and planning you put into your show will pay you dividends for months to come.
The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.
A viral video can do wonders for any brand. However, even if you don’t film the next YouTube sensation, you should still be using clips of life at your dance studio to engage your social media followers and reel in new customers. Video Brewery estimated that website visitors are 64 percent more likely to purchase services or products after they watch a branded video, and many marketers tout video marketing as one of the best ways to engage viewers. That’s all great in theory, but the truth is that some people are all thumbs when it comes to filming videos. If you’re struggling to capture clips that reflect well on your studio and capture the interest of online viewers, use these five tips to produce better dance studio videos.
1. Quality is King
A video that is unfocused, pixelated and shaky isn’t going to be enjoyable for viewers to watch. You don’t need to have professional video equipment, but try your best to shoot high-quality clips. The latest generations of smartphones have impressive video capabilities, so be sure to focus the lens and frame your subject when capturing video. If you’re working with a camera, you may want to pick up an inexpensive tripod to help stabilize your shots.
Que Publishing noted that shooting the right size video can also make a big difference in your results. YouTube’s default size is 320 pixels wide and 240 pixels tall, so this should be your minimum constraint. Whenever possible, shoot clips horizontally so you’re filling up a viewer’s entire screen.
2. Aim for Short and Sweet
10-minute dance studio videos of rehearsal might be enjoyable for parents, but that’s probably the only people who will watch it. Video Brewery noted that you’ll quickly lose viewers after your videos hit the one-minute mark. Short, impactful videos are also shared more frequently. Try to cut your clips down and frame only the highlights for viewers. This will help deliver your message with a powerful punch.
3. Shoot Often
You’ve probably told your students that practice makes perfect, and the same holds true for your video skills. The more frequently you work with your recorder, the more comfortable you’ll become and the more great shots you’ll capture. Try to pick up your camera or phone at least once a day and shoot a few frames. You’ll quickly build up a library of great clips that showcase the best parts of your studio. These are valuable to have stored away if you ever decide to compile in-depth marketing videos.
4. Show, Don’t Tell
The best videos capture some sentiment or activity that wouldn’t be adequately explained in words or pictures. One Market Media explained that you shouldn’t use videos to simply dictate information to viewers. The content should be instrumental in giving people insight into your studio’s culture or services. Some good examples might be a particularly well-executed combination or a great client testimonial. However, be sure that testimonials aren’t overly scripted, or else they may come across as phony.
5. Be Sure to Share
The ways your promote your dance studio videos are as important as the quality and content of the film. Don’t expect people to find your YouTube account – instead, share videos on social media like Facebook and Twitter. If you create longer films, you may want to imbed them in your website’s landing pages to supplement your promotional material. When more people see your videos, they’ll be more likely to share with friends and family, thereby optimizing the impact of the clip. However, don’t forget to have students and their parents sign release waivers so you can use your videos for promotional purposes.
Remember this Broadway song? “Summertime….and the livin’ is easy. Fish are jumping and the cotton is high.” Well, that may be true for Porgy and Bess, but in my world summer can be tough. If I were singing that song, the lyrics might go more like, “Summertime…and the livin’ ain’t easy. Students are jumping and the overhead’s high!”
Summer enrollment drop is a natural phenomenon as families try other activities, head out for vacation, or just plain take a break. As a mom, I totally get it. I have five kids and summer is the best time for us to decompress and get out the scheduling grind.
But, when I look at summer through the eyes of business ownership, there is no doubt about it—the show must go on!
If you are looking for ideas to take your summer from fizzle to sizzle, keep reading for Seven Summer Savers, including summer dance camp ideas and more!
Pre-Pay the Rent (or Mortgage) – Payroll and utilities may fluctuate by the season, but rent and mortgage obligations stay the same all year around. Save yourself summer stress by pre-paying all or part of your summer rental or mortgage over the course of the school year. By paying a little bit more each month when tuition is steady, you can step into summer with confidence even though cash flow may not be as strong.
Weekly Stay Strong Classes – Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best solutions, so read the following statement twice. “The best way to keep things going is to keep things going.” Sometimes we get so caught up in doing something “new” for the summer that we forget to work what already works. Weekly classes work for us all year long. To that end, we run a six week session of regular technique classes to keep our company kids in shape over the summer. No splash, no flash, just six weeks of solid technique classes. Last year we had over 100 kids participate in this program.
Themed Kid Camps – If you want to capture the hearts of kids, look no further than the toy aisle at Target. What are the hottest selling toys, movies and games for kids? Once you figure that out, you have a treasure trove of ideas for theme-based camps at your fingertips. We have had over 200 kids participate in Frozen-themed camps with no sign of slowing, and there are plenty more warm hugs with Olaf ahead on our summer roster.
Master Class Series – Once a month each summer we will bring in a master teacher for a series of classes. These two- to three-day workshops give students a chance to spread their wings technically and artistically without the expense of travel. Get more out of master classes by asking teachers to bring choreography selections that can be used for future community events or competitions.
Alumni Features – Summer is a time when graduates return home from college and are looking for work. Motivate your current students by letting them take class with alumni who are dancing in college or have established careers. Featuring alumni is also a great reminder to parents that dance lessons can add up to great things for students in the future.
Look Outside the Box – One of our best summer programs has been selling technique to local dance teams. These students may not have time to take weekly classes during the school year, but summer is a different story. Add value to your team class by bundling classes with choreography or complimentary cleaning sessions for competition later in the year.
Private Power – If you are looking for a way to not only strengthen your dancers, but to make use of studio space in the summer, nothing is more flexible than private lessons. Take the administrative hassle out of private lessons by using an app like SignUpGenius.com and put the power of private instruction to work for you this summer.
You probably have some big goals for your studio in 2015, whether it’s to increase enrollment, diversify your class offerings or stage a bigger and better recital. While you work toward these objectives, it’s also important to take note of a few big dance studio trends that are at work within the industry. Dance studios need to keep up with the latest trends if they want to remain competitive, so think about how you can incorporate these changes into your business.
1. Digital Here, There and Everywhere
If you’re still not quite computer savvy, now is the time to catch up. Unfortunately for the computer illiterate, the dance industry is quickly embracing all the wonders the Internet has to offer. Dancers and their parents like to keep up on studio news through emails, text messages and social media sites. It’s also a good idea to reassess your studio website and see if it needs to be updated or otherwise improved. Consumers frequently use digital devices to access websites, so be sure your site is optimized for mobile viewing. All these little steps will help to ensure students new and old can quickly and efficiently get the information they need.
2. Increased Emphasis on Culture
Another aspect of your studio that might need a facelift is your mission statement. If you’re located in a competitive area, it’s essential that you have clear goals and policies that set your school apart. DanceStudioOwner.com explained that students want to feel as though they’re part of the culture of your studio. Play up the atmosphere, morals and opportunities that your business offers in your advertising this year. It may very well help you achieve your other goals too!
3. Cultural Dance Trends
Sometimes it can be beneficial to switch up your class offerings in an unexpected way. If you want to give your students a unique learning opportunity but aren’t sure what direction to go in, you may want to consider offering some cultural dance classes. For several years, the Zumba craze has been introducing dancers to steps from around the world, and the Upstart Business Journal noted that Bollywood-inspired dance classes will likely be a hit this year. If you have the resources to offer this type of cultural dance, it can certainly bring in new students and help your current pupils expand their repertoires.
4. Biketards Take Center Stage
Tired of selling the same old sparkly leotards? If so, then you’re in luck. There’s a new dance costume movement that’s gaining steam, and it features the biketard. Dance Hub explained that these costumes offer a little more coverage than traditional leos while still allowing seamless movement. They come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, and you can choose skirted options as well. Biketards are especially popular for lyrical performances, so look into these costumes when you’re planning your 2015 recital.
5. Positive Reviews are Powerful
Finally, be sure to keep an eye on your studio’s ratings on sites like Yelp and Facebook. Forbes magazine noted that 75 percent of consumers look at online reviews before purchasing a product or service. If your ratings are a little lower than your competitors, it could hurt your business, so take steps to ethically improve your online reviews. This can be as simple as asking a few of your long-time parents to jot down their thoughts online. Even small steps can go a long way toward improving your studio’s online presence and capturing the attention of potential students.
One essential piece of any start-up, including a new dance studio, is a detailed business plan. But, sometimes its hard to find examples or guidelines for specific industries, exactly like what you would need to write a business plan for dance studios. If you’re thinking about opening your own dance school, you’ll want to get this roadmap down in writing as soon as possible. DanceStudioOwner.com recommended completing a dance studio business plan a full year before your opening.
So what exactly is this document? The words “business plan” might conjure up images of a thick manual, filled with financial charts and growth projections. While those things may be included, the task doesn’t need to be quite so daunting. A business plan is essentially a roadmap of the route you intend to steer your new studio down. It should project three to five years in advance and detail how you want to grow your business.
Use this guide to familiarize yourself with the essential parts of a dance studio business plan so you can get on your way to opening the school of your dreams.
*Editor’s Note: Since the publishing of this article, TutuTix has created an example Dance Studio Business Plan that you can download, review, and use to build your own business plan!
Think back to high school or college and you might recall that teachers always said a good essay needed a strong, attention-catching opening. That’s exactly what your business plan’s executive summary should be—especially if you intend to use your business plan for more than just personal inspiration. The U.S. Small Business Administration explained that this section should concisely detail where your company is, where you plan to take it and why it will be successful. It’s easy to get carried away writing an executive summary, but remember that it’s just an overview. You’ll go into detail in the body of your plan, so keep this section brief. Many experts recommend that you write this text last. The summary should appear first in your final report, but it’s important to give it a lot of thought and consideration so your words pack a big punch.
The next essential part of your dance studio business plan is the company description, which is essentially a glorified elevator pitch. Talk briefly about what your studio will entail and what market you’re targeting. You may want to give a concise overview of the services you plan to offer, but don’t go to in-depth, as there’s a later section dedicated solely to the topic. Your company description is the place to note what advantages you have over your competitors, whether it’s expert staff, prime location or your own dance prowess.
If you haven’t hunkered down to research your competition, this is the time to do so. The market analysis section should include details about the size and scope of the dance industry in your region, as well as its growth rates. Find out how many studios are in direct competition with you and approximately how many students they serve. This is the best place to include a thorough competitive analysis and your plan to enter the market. You should also figure out how many customers you can realistically serve and define your pricing structure. There are many other market factors that can be included in this analysis, so check out this article from the SBA for an in-depth list of topics.
Services and Products
After all the technical market speak, you’ll be relieved to reach the services and products section. This is where you get to detail your plan to offer the best classes in the area. Outline the benefits for your students, how your services meet customer needs and how you’ll develop your curriculum moving forward. The Finance Resource also recommended including an explanation of any secondary sources of income, such as dance apparel or recital ticketing.
As the SBA explained, customers are the “lifeblood of your business,” so you need to figure out how to reach them! In your marketing and sales section, explain how you intend to bring new students into your studio and retain them as customers. You may also want to include a growth strategy if you plan to target other markets, such as adults, in the future.
Finally, you’ll want to create a section dedicated to your funding plan and financial expectations. Many entrepreneurs write business plans to help raise capital, so this portion may be key to your cause. A strong business plan can be an invaluable selling point when you’re looking for investors or seeking a loan. You’ll also want to create a section with your financial projections – it can be lumped with your funding plan or in a separate component. At the end of the day, your studio will be a business, so it’s essential to have a solid plan to bring in revenue, pay your bills and continue to grow.
If there’s other information that you want to include in your dance studio business plan, you can either create a section for it or place the data in an appendix. Once you’ve written down all your dreams and plans, proofread and edit the document. Chances are that you’ll find something you missed or want to add. If your business plan is just for personal reference, you can stash it away. However, if you’re presenting it to investors, you’ll want to edit it another time and have someone else look it over as well.
Whether you’re expanding your dance studio business in a bigger location or simply unable to renew your lease, moving your business is a complex process. There are so many things to consider – budget, location, accessibility – that your head may be spinning. If you find yourself in a tizzy as your moving date draws closer, use these four tips to help make the transition as smooth as possible.
1. Give Yourself Ample Time
The more leeway you allow yourself during the relocation process, the fewer problems you’ll run into. You may think that one or two months is more than enough time to get everything in line, but that’s usually not the case. In a teleseminar with DanceStudioOwner.com, Dale Willerton, founder of The Lease Coach, explained that you should allow six months to negotiate a lease and get all your ducks in order for the move. When in doubt, start earlier than you need to. A little extra time never hurt anyone!
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate
You’re probably not a seasoned pro when it comes to real estate, but that shouldn’t stop you from negotiating the terms of your lease. The Small Business Association recommended that small companies aim for a one- or two-year lease in a new location. Be fair and confident when discussing your rent and don’t forget to bring up the issue of rent increases. Willerton noted that, unfortunately, many landlords don’t take dance studios as seriously as they would a doctor’s office, so make it clear that your money is just as green as any other business.
3. Talk about Tenant Allowance
Many studio owners regard tenant allowances as a mythical concept – discussed often, but never seen. If you’re dealing with a property that has a high vacancy, don’t be afraid to bring up the subject. You’re probably going to need to replace floors and install mirrors in your new space, and tenant concessions will be your wallet’s best friend. Establish yourself as a valuable tenant and you’ll be surprised at what allowances you’ll receive.
4. Communicate with Your Customers
Finally, keep open lines of communication with your dancers and parents throughout the process. Your move should be beneficial to your customers as well as your dance studio business, otherwise you risk losing students. Let the parents know when and where you’re planning to move and be sure to explain the benefits of the new location.
When you take those first steps toward opening your own dance studio, you officially become an entrepreneur. Starting your own business is a confusing, complicated and sometimes scary process. The good news is that there are tons of people and organizations that want to see your succeed! Here are five invaluable resources for female entrepreneurs in dance.
1. The U.S. Small Business Administration
The SBA is a great place for any small business owner to seek information or guidance. You’ll find articles and white papers on just about every business-related topic imaginable on the SBA website. From creating a business plan to applying for loans, the site covers it all. The federal organization also has a number of resources dedicated solely toward furthering female entrepreneurs. Check out the Office of Women’s Business Ownership for details on local offices, grant opportunities and business seminars.
If you could benefit from a business mentor, the SCORE Association can help you out. This organization provides free advice on starting, running and growing your company. They’ll also set you up with a business mentor who you can talk to online or in person. Once you get involved with SCORE and get your studio off the ground, you can become a volunteer and help other aspiring entrepreneurs achieve their goals.
3. The National Association of Women Business Owners
The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) is one of the largest organizations for female business owners, with more than 7,000 members across the country. The NAWBO resource center offers great information on topics ranging from funding to marketing and more.
4. Ladies Who Launch
The focus of Ladies Who Launch is to create support communities for female business owners. It has a number of online and local groups that let entrepreneurs to plan, brainstorm and problem solve together. The Ladies also host expert discussions, intensive workshops and other useful seminars across the country.
5. Dance Studio-Specific Organizations
There are several studio-specific organizations out there who focus on training and supporting studio owners as they navigate the business of studio ownership. A few of these are More Than Just Great Dancing, The Dance Exec, and DanceStudioOwner.com (full disclosure: TutuTix often works with the folks at More Than Just Great Dancing and The Dance Exec on various projects – we think they’re awesome!). These organizations are a great help for studio owners who need the help and advice of someone who’s been in their shoes.
You can always find a helping hand in your own community. Reach out to your local chamber of commerce to see if they have any workshops or resources for new business owners. They might also be able to connect you with other business owners in the area who are willing to offer advice and guidance.
Many small businesses have found that traditional advertising mediums like newspapers and flyers are becoming less effective in the digital age. If you’ve noticed that your dance studio advertising isn’t garnering the attention you’d like, you might benefit from a little bit of social media marketing. Facebook has a number of useful tools to help businesses create and optimize advertisements. Use these tips to make the most of your paid dance studio ads on the site.
Prepare Your Text and Images
Just like with other advertisement, you’ll want to put some time and effort into picking photos and writing text for your Facebook dance studio ads. Social Media Examiner explained that every ad should contain an offer or promotion, a call to action, relevant contact information and, if it fits, what sets you apart from the competition. Try to keep your text as concise as possible and use an objective tone so you don’t sound spammy.
As for photos, you’ll want to use images that are 600-by-315 pixels for optimum visibility. Crop or resize your favorite eye-catching pictures to get the attention of Facebook users. Don’t be afraid to use the test option to try out a variety of images and find which ones are the most engaging. Keep in mind that your ad photos can only be 20 percent text, or Facebook won’t approve them to run.
Resist the urge to set a large budget for your first few ads. The Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce recommended allocating just $10 per day to start. You may not see huge results, but you’ll figure out how the system works and what you can expect from each ad. Run a few small campaigns to start out and eventually you can give more funding to your most successful advertisements.
Find What Works
Don’t get discouraged if you fumble around with your ads at first. There are lots of different options that you can use – sidebar ads, newsfeed posts, target markets – and you won’t understand them all from day one. What’s important is that you take advantage of the analytics available and learn from each campaign. One of the best features that Facebook offers small businesses is the ability to target local users with your ads. Simply select your town, state or nearby communities under the “audience” option, and your ad will be shown to people in those locations. Try different combinations to figure out which areas garner the most engagement. You’ll slowly figure out what works best in terms of content, format and funding, and before you know it, you’ll see increased interest in your studio.
Choosing a name for your business is one of the most exciting and challenging parts of opening a dance studio. A company’s name is an essential part of its brand, so you’ll want to give the decision some serious thought. Use these considerations to narrow down your list of potential dance studio names so you can get on your way to opening the dance studio of your dreams.
Visualize Potential Dance Studio Names
Your studio name will be everywhere – on your sign, website, social media pages, advertisements and merchandise, just to name a few. Because a company’s name is often tied in with its logo, the Small Business Administration recommended that you think about how your potential names will look visually. Consider the length of each name, the punctuation you use and how it will fit with your logo.
Think About Connotation
Have you ever seen a business with a silly or childish name and immediately written it off? Or perhaps a company that’s name made it seem pretentious? Your studio’s title will often be the first thing people see, so you want to make sure it has an appropriate connotation. The SBA explained that a business name should reflect the company’s philosophy and culture, appeal to its target market and find a balance between corporate and casual.
Do Internet Research
Once you settle on a short list of dance studio names, head to the Internet for a little bit of recon. The fact of the matter is that web presence can often make or break a new studio. You’ll want to set up a website and a couple social media accounts to start networking and reaching potential students. Take your list of names and see if your ideal URLs and social media slugs are available. If there’s another company that already using your name, consider how customers would be able to tell you apart. If you’re located in the same region and offer the same services, that name should probably be nixed. Your studio title needs to be unique in order to stand out.
Be Aware of Common Mistakes
There are a number of common blunders that entrepreneurs often make when naming their business. Two big no-nos are names that are either too vague or too specific. Entrepreneur magazine noted that companies are often tempted to squish two words together in order to stand out. But, the end product seems forced and unnatural. Similarly, you don’t want to pick a name so complicated that patrons can’t remember how to spell it. Lots of dance studios like to use puns in their names, but make sure it doesn’t cross the line into cheesy. When in doubt, ask a few friends and relatives for their opinion on your potential list of dance studio names.