Attend any type of business event or seminar and you’ll probably hear the word “culture” quite a bit! So what does it mean exactly, and how, exactly, do we build a strong studio culture?
By definition, corporate culture is a collection of values that the organization believes in and follows. They are the values that are exemplified in its people and the work they do each day, and so creating a strong culture means naming those values and breathing life into them. Your business uses them as the lens through which decisions are made, and as a barometer for accountability.
I believe that culture can also be described by the senses. For example, what do people “see” when they walk into your studio? Do they see kindness, inclusivity, excellence … or something else? What do your customers “taste” when they interact with your staff, and how do you develop the “flavor” you want?
In my experience, what is sensed by your culture is created by a ripple effect. It starts with you, the owner, in the middle, and then ripples outward to everyone else. Growing the culture you want takes time, but more importantly, it takes consistency, It can never just be what you say; it has to be what you do. And it has to start with determining what’s important to your mission and naming those values. With the following 5 Steps to Building a Strong Studio Culture, I have confidence that you’ll have the tools you need for doing just that and more!
Here are my 5 Steps to Building a Strong Studio Culture:
Looking for more great ideas to help you build your studio’s culture? Check out the following articles:
When you are at a business seminar or dance event, it can feel completely natural to connect with other studio owners who aren’t in your community … you might not think twice about sharing policy ideas or a marketing plan, or commiserating over some your recent challenges.
But what about studio owners in your own marketplace?
Just because we consider someone’s business to be our competition, doesn’t mean they are personally “against” us. I believe we can develop friendly relationships with nearly anyone if we are intentionally positive and open to working together.
By default, we are all still human beings who want to cultivate friendships and who desire a sense of belonging. Other studio owners are our peers, and most of the time they want the same kinds of things we do: fulfillment, happiness, success, and of course, relationships!
I’m proud to say that within my organization More Than Just Great Dancing®, we have some pretty inspirational members who have established a proactive, professional rapport with other studio owners in their communities.
I think this is clear proof that with just the right mix of positivity, effort, and mutual respect, connections with one’s competitors are not only possible, they are achievable! Keep reading to learn how these ladies are Building Strong Relationships with Competing Studio Owners:
Interested in more articles about building relationships? Check out these articles from the TutuTix archive:
Business growth: it’s something every studio owner desires!
Whether it’s more students, more staff members, more space, more financial freedom, or more time at home, at some point or another, we all want MORE for our studios.
Growth can be great! It means your business is healthy, and healthy things grow! But business growth usually doesn’t come without a few growing pains. As your studio expands to accommodate more people or more space, or as you step out to spend more time at home, you’ll probably notice that some of your existing systems don’t work as well anymore. I often tell the dance studio owners that I coach, “Every time something your business doubles, all of your systems break.”
If you are in a position where you are seeing your numbers rise and your systems aren’t quite keeping up, take advantage of this opportunity to make some key updates in the way you organize and communicate before the new year starts. Keeping up with your studio’s growth—and then staying ahead of it—will allow you to maintain its health. Don’t ignore the warning signs that you need to make improvements. Warning signs might include things like customer confusion or dropping balls on details and follow up.
If these types of things are happening to you, it’s probably time to dig in to some new resources that will help improve your systems!
Keep reading to learn about my 5 Tools to Implement for Business Growth.
Looking for more dance studio staff insights? Check out these other articles and resources:
Overloaded. Scattered. Forgetful. Late. Have you ever felt that any of these words describe you as a studio owner? I once did. Other studio owners tell me often that they too, have been consumed by their work and feel like they are constantly in need of help. The one thing that made a difference for me? Hiring the right studio staff for my team. An amazing group of employees is a huge game-changer. I call mine the Dream Team.
The process of hiring can be one of the most daunting tasks for a studio owner. You feel a lot of pressure (from yourself!) to make a good decision; one that at best, could benefit your team for years to come and that at worst, could create a toxic environment. Hiring someone who is a good fit for your business is truly win-win: you get the help you need to run an organized and efficient studio, and your new employee obtains a job at a meaningful place to work.
Before taking the first step in your hiring process, be sure that you know what it is that you’re hiring for. I recommend writing up a job description: include the job title, responsibilities, and the qualities desired in your ideal candidate. This job description will be for your internal use only, so expect that it might change somewhat once you’ve found a great person to hire and want to adapt the position to their strengths. For now, the description is simply your guideline. Having it prepared gives you a starting point for the way you need to advertise the job opening, and for the types of questions you might need to ask during interviews.
Once your hiring needs are clear, it’s time to prepare a job listing or advertisement. This is the information you’ll post online, such as on Indeed or Craigslist, or through other hiring avenues, such as your local university or community newsletter. Be sure to tell your current staff members that you’re looking to hire; I often find that getting referrals from my employees is far more successful than any other method. Birds of a feather do flock together after all!
After your job description and job listing are complete, it’s time to focus on the big task ahead: the hiring process itself. Your diligent attention to the details can make all the difference! Normally I have a whole list of tips and ideas for you for each topic, but hiring is different. There are really only two rules you need to heed for hiring.
Keep reading for my “THE ONLY 2 TIPS FOR HIRING” so that you can build your very own Dream Team:
Looking for more dance studio staff insights? Check out these other articles and resources:
Dance studio owners know that running a studio is a rewarding and joyous experience; there’s truly no other life like it! From the moment you open your doors, your mission is to make an impact on the world through dance. But even with the greatest of missions, there will still be times when things get tough—times when you question yourself or don’t know where to turn for help.
When those moments happen it can be helpful to talk with your peers, just to have someone who understands really LISTEN to you. But do you know what is even more beneficial? Seeking out a mentor—someone who can not only listen, but also inspire you to be your best, solve problems, raise your perspective, help you develop better leadership strategies, and coach you through big decisions.
Finding the right mentor can sometimes take a bit of work, but the payoff is awesome when you’ve found someone you respect and trust. Having had a few different mentors over the past two decades, I can honestly say that each one brought a unique and timely perspective to my life when I needed it.
Before you search for a mentor, think about what you want to achieve from the relationship. Do you want to work with someone who has knowledge of the dance industry, or would you prefer to have a mentor who comes from a different professional background? Do you want to meet on a consistent schedule, or keep things open-ended? How much time do you hope to spend with your mentor?
The answers to these questions will help prepare you to find a mentor who is the best fit possible. All it takes is a little planning, and a willingness to put yourself out there and meet new people.
Keep reading to learn about my 5 Ways to Find a Mentor:
Looking for more insights for dance studio owners? Check out these other articles and resources:
Should I step back from teaching to focus on studio business?
There are only 2 questions you need to answer to make this decision.
I meet a lot of studio owners in my travels, and there seems to be one thing that unites us—we all have a similar backstory. Somewhere along the way in life we fell in love with dance. We became dedicated to creating a career out of dance; we were passionate about the power of dance to change lives; and we were resourceful at using our skills and connections to make a difference in the lives of others.
I believe that studio owners are unique in this way, and this passion for sharing our love of dance is what drives us to succeed. But as we grow in our studio careers, we realize that the job of running a studio is about so much more than dance. We discover that we need to learn how to lead people, manage accounting, develop programming, understand new marketing trends and more. As your studio grows, the business needs can begin to rival the artistic side for your time and attention.
When this happens, you might feel like you’ve come to a crossroads. I know I did! This is where you have to start making decisions about the best place to direct your focus in this new season of life.
Should you step back from teaching to focus on studio business? Continue reading to see the only two questions you need to answer to make this decision.
Looking for more dance studio owner insights? Check out these other articles and resources:
There’s nothing more satisfying than the feeling you get when your studio is thriving! When the hallways are buzzing and the classes are full, you feel such pride in having grown your business to a successful place. But it’s not all sunshine and daisies, of course. Success can also mean growing pains in every facet of your business—especially at recital time.
As your studio gains families and dancers, you will inevitably need to decide how to present your recital in the best way possible, which may mean adding shows as you grow. The single 90-minute performance that worked well five years ago might no longer be a reasonable option if you’ve doubled your student count since then. While there’s no magic enrollment number that equals two shows (or three or four!) there are certain factors you can consider in your planning process.
If you are at the tipping point, keep reading to learn about the four factors to consider when deciding whether to add a second show for your recital:
Are you looking for some more recital tips and ideas? Check out these other articles and resources from Misty:
There’s plenty to consider when asking the question “Are dance competitions worth it?” for your studio—-the endless hours of preparation, the cost to attend and the time it takes to travel. And yet the results for your students can far outweigh the headaches if competition opportunities are an important part of your studio goals.
If you already participate in competitions, then you know how much work the dancers put into learning and practicing their routines, and how much money their parents invest in their classes and rehearsals. You also know the stress that can come if you are unprepared for an event, if your expectations were off, or if the competition doesn’t feel like a good fit. Then there’s that amazing feeling of watching your students onstage and earning well-deserved recognition for their hard work. Indeed, competing can be a roller coaster!
So how do you really know if that roller coaster is a worthwhile ride for your studio?
Keep reading to learn the three questions you should consider when asking yourself, “Are dance competitions worth it?”
Looking for more great info on dance competitions? Check out the following articles:
By now your studio’s season is officially in full swing and your classes are humming along. Your students and their families are getting used to their new dance schedules, school commitments, and carpools. Your staff members have also settled into your new routines around the studio and you are starting to find your “new normal” with the fall schedule. It can be such a satisfying feeling as a studio owner to finally feel like the pieces of your puzzle have fallen into place!
It’s completely fine (and encouraged!) for you to celebrate the success of starting off the new season right. But don’t let that satisfaction turn into complacency when it comes to your leadership: your team is on the front lines of service every day, and they need your active support, direction, and motivation to keep moving forward and offering up their best selves.
It’s probably been at least a few weeks – maybe more – since your new-season kickoff meeting with your team, which means it is the perfect time to re-cast your expectations and set the pace for the year ahead.
Keep your staff members feeling excited to come to work and on the right track by implementing these 3 Best Practices For Coaching Your Dance Studio Staff This Fall:
Looking for more great studio staff management ideas? Check out the following articles:
You’ve held your open house. You’ve put out your back-to-school social media campaigns. You’ve advertised in a local parenting publication. If you’re like me, you are feeling like you are on a roll for getting new students into the studio this time of year!
The good news is, new students are coming in and you are VERY glad to see them. The bad news is, maybe you feel like your existing students need a little extra attention now, that they need to be thanked and loved on for choosing your studio.
Retaining students—not just getting them in the door—is at the heart of sustaining your business over time and demonstrating that you have happy clientele. We often think of retention mid-year, when some kids want to quit, or at the end of the season, when we want them to re-register after recital. But this crucial back-to-school time can’t be ignored. It is an excellent time—right out of the gate—to show you personally care about your dance families and appreciate their business.
So classes are in session, and you’re meeting new faces every day….how can you best use this time to show the love? What can you do to increase retention and keep those families engaged?
Keep reading for 4 Way to Boost Dance Studio Retention Early in the Season.
Looking for more great enrollment and retention ideas? Check out the following articles:
It could be the BIGGEST promotional day of the year at your studio…the open house! You know you want your studio to look its best, and you know you want to positively engage with prospective customers in addition to current customers. This is your opportunity to love on returning clients, WOW potential customers and invite the community to see what your studio is all about.
Among studio owners I know, dance studio open houses are usually two to three hours long on an evening or Saturday, and have a “come-and-go” schedule. Some families will stay nearly the whole time; others will attend just to look around your facility, shop for shoes or obtain registration information.
After you’ve set a date and begun marketing for the event, what can you do to maximize the relatively short amount of time? How can you make this your best Open House event ever? Keep reading for 6 Keys to a Successful Open House:
Here are 6 Keys to a Successful Dance Studio Open House event at your studio:
Looking for more great marketing ideas for your studio? Check out:
As I travel the country talking to studio owners the question I hear exchanged more often than any other is some version of: “How big is your studio?” I understand the motivation behind the question and have asked it several times myself. I believe the enrollment size questions are motivated by a few things:
We are all just trying to figure out how our studio measures up with the rest of the world.
“Am I big?” “Am I small?” “Am I normal?” We really just want to know that we are doing okay.
We want to find other people like us. It makes sense that I might face the same challenges and benefit from the same solution as a studio of a similar size.
But the number of students you enroll is far from a complete picture of your actually enrollment.
If you are looking for a more complete picture of your enrollment, keep reading for 3 Ways to Measure Your Dance School Enrollment:
The school supply lists are posted at Target, the mailbox is filling up with registration paperwork for my children’s schools and Facebook is blowing up with pictures of kids in backpacks. It’s officially time for back-to-school and that means it’s time to get serious about back-to-dance!
As a studio owner, I’m a big fan of observing what the local schools do and taking my cues from their systems. For example, we do our registration for summer classes when the local school opens theirs. We offer parent teacher conferences just like the schools do and we follow their model for teacher training as well.
Most studio owners consider themselves to be in the business of training students, but the strongest studios I know understand that they are in the business of training teachers as well.
Here are 5 tips to step up your teacher training this year with Dance Studio Teacher Staff Meetings that ROCK:
The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.
In business we call it “first impressions.” Psychologists call it “thin slicing.” Regardless of what you call it, career experts say it takes just three seconds for someone to determine whether they like you and want to do business with you.
According to BusinessInsider.com (2015), you have even less time to make a good first impression. Research from Princeton, Loyola Marymount University and the University of Liverpool demonstrates that judgments people make regarding your trustworthiness, intelligence and competence as a business leader are based on first impressions—sometimes in as little as one-tenth of a second.
One-tenth of a second?
If you don’t think this is true, just measure your own reactions next time you walk into someone else’s business for the first time. If a friend recommends a new restaurant but it has a funny smell when I walk in the door, I immediately begin to question my decision to eat there. Once, when I was driving on vacation I stopped to check availability at a hotel, but walked out before I could get the answer—based on my first impression.
The situation doesn’t have to be extreme to leave a bad impression. Have you ever taken your children to another activity outside of dance and found yourself fighting the urge to jump in and help the coach manage the children? Or have you ever wanted to straighten up someone else’s lobby? That’s why the saying, “First impressions make lasting impressions” is true.
Keep reading to learn what first impressions you may be giving your dance families without even realizing it.
Check out Misty’s new book, One Small Yes, available on Amazon. This book is a must read for studio owners that are looking for ways to balance the dance of work and life.
“Amazing! One Small Yes is such a great book on finding your calling in life and how to navigate and work through living out the calling. Must have for all entrepreneurs!!” – Kristen, Absolute Dance
“Loved One Small Yes by Misty Lown. Outstanding book for anyone, especially the small business owner or entrepreneur. An inspirational book which helps the reader face challenges and give them the courage to continue to move forward and face what lies ahead. Loved it!” – Melanie, Tonawanda Dance Arts
“Reading Misty’s book was like opening my inbox and finding a personal email written just for me. She took my thoughts and feelings about being a small business owner, put them down on paper, and then step by step carefully explained what was holding me back from achieving more in life. Now I have no excuses to moving closer to my Yes.” – Nancy, Studio B Dance
The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.