855-222-2TIX (2849)   |     sales@tututix.com   |   Studio Login   |Buy Tickets
Tag: misty lown

6 Ideas for Creating a WOW Recital Program

Create an amazing recital program - Misty Lown & TutuTix

If there’s something I’ve learned about recital programs over the past twenty-two years of owning a studio, it’s that a recital program can be so much MORE than a guide to the show! It can highlight your students’ achievements, congratulate them on an awesome season, display their photos, celebrate the community around your studio, and support other businesses in the neighborhood. It can also serve as a special memento, just like a school yearbook, that commemorates the whole studio’s accomplishments for the year.

The recital program at my studio has grown from a dozen cobbled-together pages in our first year to a sleek professional publication. Our team puts hours upon hours each season into its design and organization to make it a real WOW for our studio families. Even now that the digital era is here, our recital program is still considered by our families to be a cherished keepsake.

Your recital program serves that same purpose as a keepsake, whether you realize it or not! With that in mind, I wanted to share some of the ideas that have made our recital program a rousing success. Whether your current recital program is a simple series of photocopies or a magazine-style book, these ideas are intended to make you think about where you can make improvements, making your program truly Worthy Of Words!

Here are my 6 Ideas for Creating a WOW Recital Program:

  1. Commit to self-care in the morning
The morning can often dictate how the rest of your day goes, so decide now that your mornings will be proactive for your peace of mind.  Spend a few quiet minutes in meditation or prayer; edit your to-do list; read one chapter of an inspiring book; brew your favorite coffee or tea; move your body through some gentle stretching or yoga.  Have a ritual in place—even a short one—that will encourage you to start the day with your best foot forward.
  1. Go outside at least once a day
A few deep breaths of fresh air can change your entire frame of mind when you are caught in the whirlwind of busyness.  Don’t trick yourself into thinking that you should go all day at your desk with only a few stretch breaks. Try to block out 15 minutes here and there to step outside, walk around the block, and enjoy a change of scenery.  You may be surprised at how refreshed you feel!
  1. Connect with friends who understand

I personally think this is one of the best ways to combat the weariness that can accompany long work days: human connection.  Our tendency as entrepreneurs is to isolate ourselves when we feel stress when really it’s much more helpful to reach out to others!  Maybe you don’t have time for a long heart-to-heart phone call, but sending a quick text or email to check in with a friend can give you a burst of energy AND put a smile on your face.

  1. Fuel up with your favorite things
When you’re in busy mode, don’t let yourself fall into the trap of poor nutrition habits!  Stock up on your favorite healthy snacks, treats, or meals to keep you going. Now’s the time to splurge on the protein bars you crave, the smoothies with extra vitamins, or maybe even the meal delivery service you’ve been meaning to try.  Your health can’t be taken for granted at any time—and most especially when you need to be on your A-game.
  1. Give yourself a chance to wind down
Resist the urge to completely crash at the end of the day.  Your evening routine should allow you the chance to center yourself and relax.  As hard as it is to do, put your phone and computer in another room to charge, and focus on yourself and your family before turning in for the night.  Your mind will feel clearer and more rested to take on whatever’s next.
Recharging during this time of year can be a challenge, but if anyone can accept a challenge and overcome it, it’s a studio owner!  I want you to feel encouraged that this season of “busy” can also be a season of “health” if you are committed to it. I know that for me, this time of year now holds more excitement than stress because I’m able to look out for my well-being in a way I didn’t know how to do before.
If you have another method of recharging that works well in your life, share it in the comments below!  I would love to hear what helps keep you fueled, prepared, and nourished during this time of year. I wish you much success as you charge full-steam ahead into the coming weeks!

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing - TutuTix

READ MORE +

3 Ways to Address Bullying

3 Ways to Address Bullying in Your Dance Studio - Misty Lown & TutuTix

In my experience coaching dance studio owners, the word bullying can paralyze even the most experienced entrepreneur. It’s a word that means there is a serious cause for concern, and it’s a word that is sometimes mistakenly used when conflict would be a better choice. To say the least, knowing how to define and address bullying in the dance studio environment can be a challenge.

As a business owner who serves families and children, your first priority is to keep them safe within your walls. True bullying must be taken seriously and handled swiftly, and it’s important to educate your clientele and your staff about what that means. One such way we are handling this at Misty’s Dance Unlimited is by becoming YPAD (Youth Protection Advocates in Dance) Certified. Our staff has completed the YPAD online education coursework in order to become more knowledgeable about bullying and other harmful behaviors. We have implemented new policies around bullying to show our clients that we are invested in keeping their kids safe, happy, and healthy.

Through this education, and through my own experience over the past two decades, I’ve developed a few clear ways of addressing bullying at my studio. I encourage you to keep reading to learn more about my 3 Ways to Address Bullying and build your confidence in developing a studio culture that minimizes issues with bullying.

Here are my 3 Ways to Address Bullying:


    1. Decide what type of meeting it will be

Clarity is key for successful meetings! Make sure your team knows what type of meeting they are stepping into, and set the expectation that the meeting will be focused on specific outcomes related to that type—off-topic questions or conversations will be saved for another time. Here are some common meeting types you may be using (or will want to implement):

  • Status Check

Use these meetings to brief the team on projects you are working on, or to check in with them on the status of their projects. Status check meetings should serve as task-oriented progress reports, where everyone contributes to discuss their specific responsibilities.

  • Problem-Solving

The problem-solving meeting is centered around brainstorming new ideas on how to approach a specific issue, or related issues, the studio is facing. These meetings will probably be centered around finding the best resolution, or at the very least, innovating solutions that can be explored further.

  • Vision-Casting

Setting studio-wide goals and expectations are the two pillars of a visionary type of meeting. This is likely to be a meeting led by you or someone on your leadership team, to set the tone of the season, the semester, or the month ahead. Also, remember that casting the vision for your team means this type of meeting is usually the most motivational!

2. Know who needs to attend and why

Not every meeting is for every staff member. For example, you may have meetings that are better suited for your leadership team only or meetings that are strictly for administrative personnel. Or perhaps your teachers need their own classroom-focused meeting once every quarter. Dial into the needs of your team by making sure each meeting has a defined purpose and no one’s time is wasted.

One great way to do this is by taking the time to personally invite team members to a meeting and giving them advance notice of the topic at hand.  There may be times where you also ask them to bring ideas to share. Explain how much listening, note-taking, or contributing they should expect. Doing this allows meetings to feel less like an obligation, and more of an opportunity to connect.

3. Be prepared—and be prepared to improvise

Go into every meeting with an agenda, and expect to improvise off of it as needed. I’ve learned that when I’m in charge of a meeting, I do my best when I’m clear about the main points that need to be discussed. If I’m not clear, nobody is clear.

If you have members of your team who also lead meetings, talk to them about developing this skill too. Consistency and organization among staff, no matter who is setting the meeting, shows that meetings are not taken lightly and will be used to enhance everyone’s productivity.

Don’t underestimate the value of a great staff meeting! With some fine-tuned planning and a little extra attention to detail, your team can gain a whole new appreciation for what a A+ meeting can be like.

I hope that your studio can benefit from these tips and turn meetings into a source of respectful relationship-building and enhanced focus at work. And if there something else YOU do with your meetings to make them successful, please share your advice in the comments. I’d love to hear what serves you well when it comes to meetings—and maybe try it out myself!

 

Looking for more great ideas to help address bullying in your studio? Check out the following articles:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing - TutuTix

READ MORE +

5 Tips for Taking Action on Your Goals

Goals

As you settle in to the new dance season, you may have been talking to your staff or students about setting goals for themselves (I know I have been!).  Every kickoff meeting or first class has been an opportunity to set new expectations and begin following through.

But have you checked in with yourself lately when it comes to goals?  With the clean slate of a new school year upon us, now is the ideal time to hold yourself accountable to the same thing you ask of others … to put your intentions into action!

I LOVE getting out of bed in the morning with a purpose to fulfill on a bigger-than-life-size target.  And I love knowing what I’m going to do that day to make progress. But I’ll be the first to admit that I can get so excited about my goals, which leads to new ideas, that I can find myself running in circles by noon. When I talk with other studio owners, I often hear about their distractions too, so I know this can be a common entrepreneurial hurdle!

Something I’ve learned over the years is that every goal can benefit from the same go-to action steps, no matter how big or small the goal itself.  Let’s face it, all goals need some TLC to become a reality, so to get to the finish line there are a handful of things I always have to do.

Are you ready to learn what those things are and put them to use for yourself?  Jump into the next section to read my 5 Tips for Taking Action on Your Goals.


  1. Being a good communicator
The skills of communication in business can never be underestimated! There are so many ways you communicate: through speaking and writing, through your marketing and advertising verbiage, through your body language, and more. Being a good communicator is more than having correct grammar or a smile on your face (though those things ARE important!). It’s actively listening when someone has an objection.  It’s genuinely caring about a child’s outcome at the end of the year. It’s interacting with people in a kind and respectful way … always, under every circumstance.
  1. The ability to empower others
As a leader, you are someone others will aspire to be, and as you inspire them, you also want to empower them. Teaching your students how to bounce back from struggles or frustrations is one way you do this in the classroom. Coaching your staff through difficult tasks or detailed projects works much the same way. You are allowing those who follow you to learn from your experience, but in a way that puts them in their own driver’s seat.  
  1. Having personal and professional integrity
Although this may not be a leadership skill per se, it is an essential quality to develop and maintain in every aspect of your life as a business person. Integrity is something you must choose for yourself and practice in your relationships. It’s something that becomes part of your nature; it’s part of the standard you hold yourself to and the way you do business. Integrity becomes a non-negotiable part of your life because as a business owner, you understand the importance of leading with honesty, fairness, and sincerity. So much of your work will be about doing what’s right, not necessarily what’s easy!
  1. Using curiosity and creativity to problem-solve
Being an entrepreneur means you’re encountering problems at every level and size, every day. And getting stronger at problem-solving can only happen when you are willing to get curious about the issue and think of creative solutions. Your solution-oriented skills will only improve when you approach problems with the mindset of a detective. No problem is truly a problem if you discover why it happened and learn from it!  Using this kind of perspective takes practice, but it’s key to growing as a leader.
Leadership encompasses SO many skills…these just happen to be the ones I believe are the most important! I also think that having faith in yourself, your business, and your team can take you a long way as a leader because if there is a common thread throughout all of these skills, it is faith. You must believe in your purpose. And you must have confidence in yourself that you can grow and teach others how to grow too.I believe that the work we do to develop our leadership skills is never truly done. It’s something that lives “in progress” for all of us as we strive to do better for ourselves and others! I hope that you’ll consider sharing in the comments which leadership skills are your strengths, and which ones you’d like to keep improving. Want to connect about leadership? Reach out to me on social media @mistylown and let’s chat! Wishing you an amazing start to the new dance season!

Looking for more great ideas to help with taking action on your goals and becoming a more effective studio owner? Check out the following articles:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing

READ MORE +

4 Leadership Skills Every Studio Owner Needs

4 Leadership Skills Every Studio Owner Needs

Leadership is at the heart of everything we do as studio owners. When you chose this journey of entrepreneurship, you chose to stand up in front of others and say, “Here is my vision, and here’s why you want to be a part of it.” When you opened your doors, you did so in part because you wanted to bring your passion for dance and business to others…you wanted to lead them!

To me, leadership at the studio has to do with service, values, and heart. There are business owners out there who think leadership is just about being someone’s boss, but I think that couldn’t be further from the truth. Your calling as a studio owner has more to do with lifting others up and coaching them to success, not bossing them around. Whether it’s your students or your staff, they’re looking to you for education, inspiration, and growth.

As a studio owner, you are in a unique position to influence many different populations, from young children to teens, and from parents to employees. Honing your leadership skills allows you to serve each group with your highest, best work … and allows you to raise up other leaders!

 

Here are the 4 Leadership Skills Every Studio Owner Needs:

 

  1. Being a good communicator
The skills of communication in business can never be underestimated! There are so many ways you communicate: through speaking and writing, through your marketing and advertising verbiage, through your body language, and more. Being a good communicator is more than having correct grammar or a smile on your face (though those things ARE important!). It’s actively listening when someone has an objection.  It’s genuinely caring about a child’s outcome at the end of the year. It’s interacting with people in a kind and respectful way … always, under every circumstance.
           
  1. The ability to empower others
As a leader, you are someone others will aspire to be, and as you inspire them, you also want to empower them. Teaching your students how to bounce back from struggles or frustrations is one way you do this in the classroom. Coaching your staff through difficult tasks or detailed projects works much the same way. You are allowing those who follow you to learn from your experience, but in a way that puts them in their own driver’s seat.  
 
  1. Having personal and professional integrity
Although this may not be a leadership skill per se, it is an essential quality to develop and maintain in every aspect of your life as a business person. Integrity is something you must choose for yourself and practice in your relationships. It’s something that becomes part of your nature; it’s part of the standard you hold yourself to and the way you do business. Integrity becomes a non-negotiable part of your life, because as a business owner, you understand the importance of leading with honesty, fairness, and sincerity. So much of your work will be about doing what’s right, not necessarily what’s easy!
 
  1. Using curiosity and creativity to problem-solve
Being an entrepreneur means you’re encountering problems at every level and size, every day. And getting stronger at problem-solving can only happen when you are willing to get curious about the issue and think of creative solutions. Your solution-oriented skills will only improve when you approach problems with the mindset of a detective. No problem is truly a problem if you discover why it happened and learn from it!  Using this kind of perspective takes practice, but it’s key to growing as a leader.
 
 
Leadership encompasses SO many skills…these just happen to be the ones I believe are the most important! I also think that having faith in yourself, your business, and your team can take you a long way as a leader, because if there is a common thread throughout all of these skills, it is faith. You must believe in your purpose. And you must have confidence in yourself that you can grow and teach others how to grow too.
 
I believe that the work we do to develop our leadership skills is never truly done. It’s something that lives “in progress” for all of us as we strive to do better for ourselves and others! I hope that you’ll consider sharing in the comments which leadership skills are your strengths, and which ones you’d like to keep improving. Want to connect about leadership? Reach out to me on social media @mistylown and let’s chat! Wishing you an amazing start to the new dance season!

Looking for more tips on building up leadership skills? Check out the following articles:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing

 

READ MORE +

7 Ideas for Your Studio’s Key Messages

7 Ideas for Your Studio’s Key Messages

As you are preparing for the new season of dance, you’re probably putting together ideas for your marketing plan and looking at the BIG picture of where your studio will be over the next nine or ten months.  You may be considering which programs need the most marketing when you should focus on each one, where you want to spend your advertising dollars, and who your efforts will target.

One aspect of marketing that I LOVE to create with my team is our key message (or messages) for the year.  These are the go-to phrases that promote who we are and how we serve our dance families; they speak to our customer avatars and what they desire from their experience with us.  Our key messages inform and influence just about everything we market! We use them around the studio, in our print materials, and on social media.

Key messages can also tie into your recital theme, celebrate an anniversary studio year, appeal to specific goals, or even serve as the lead-up to a big reveal, like for a new building or new branding.  Your key messages establish the vibe of your ENTIRE year … AND they help your marketing efforts stay consistent throughout the season!

To help you brainstorm key messages for your studio, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite ideas.  Take one of these and run with it, or just use them as inspiration for your own interpretations! Either way, you’ll have many options to consider and share with your team.

Here are 7 Ideas for Your Studio’s Key Messages:


  1. Confidence that Shines
If developing character qualities in your students is an important theme for you this year, this key message can easily apply to dancers of all ages and skill levels.  You could also add key messages about other qualities, like teamwork, resilience, artistry, or commitment. It could also coordinate nicely with a recital called Shine Bright or Let Your Light Shine where you honor your students’ unique strengths.
  1. Leading with Grace
Perhaps leadership is a critical message for your studio this season, especially if you are adding or improving programs with your student assistants, performance teams, social media ambassadors, or honor society members.  This key message allows you to continue leaning on the lessons of leadership throughout the season, and presents fun opportunities to show your big kids and little kids together!
  1. Lessons for Life
As we all know, dance lessons and life lessons go hand-in-hand, so if you are trying to appeal to parents who value the opportunity for their children to learn life skills through dance, this simple key message aligns perfectly.  A monthly key message about a specific lesson could also keep this idea going strong.
  1. Shaping the Community
Many small businesses are big influences in the community, and dance studios are no different!  If you consider your studio an influencer (or you want to increase your influence) this key message says that you care about giving back and celebrating your hometown.  It could open up opportunities for cross-promotions too, especially with other kid-centered businesses
  1. One Family, Many Hearts
This may be a season where you are striving to rebuild connections at your studio; perhaps your retention is lower than you’d like, or you’ve noticed that you need to encourage more unity.  Taking action on a key message like this one can show that you are moving forward with new motivation, where the studio is one big family.
  1. Stronger Together
Research tells us that everyone’s potential goes up when a group supports one another and feels encouraged.  A positive self-image results when students can see themselves being successful; they feel stronger because they are inspired.  This key message emphasizes that every child’s strength is limitless.
  1. Celebrating a Legacy
Whether you are recognizing a studio anniversary, revealing a new project, designing a new logo, or commemorating a milestone, a celebratory key message keeps the momentum going all year long and is super-fun to incorporate into your recital!
No matter which key messages you use at your studio this year, remember that you can get a LOT of mileage out of just one or two ideas if you create a plan for putting them in action.  Capitalize on your team’s strengths and involve them in how to implement the messages too; their personal connection to the message is essential!
I hope YOU find a key message or two that fits perfectly at your studio this year, and I encourage you to put your key messages in the comments below, so we can ALL benefit from sharing ideas.  Wishing you much success as you put your choices into action!

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing

READ MORE +

3 Tips for Successful Meetings

Successful Meetings

Does it ever feel like all you do is go from one meeting to the next, and the next after that? Maybe you’ve noticed that your staff doesn’t seem as receptive as you had hoped, or they seem to forget what was discussed as soon as the meeting is over. Well, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way! YOU have the power to improve their effectiveness and be on your way to more successful meetings.

In the last two decades of running my studio, I’ve learned a lot about what makes a successful meeting (and what is a total flop!). Sometimes it was trial and error to figure out what worked; other times, I’ve picked up advice from business owners in other industries and tried it out with my team own members. Meetings do have a purpose in your business, but they also need a special touch.

If there’s one big takeaway I’ve gained over the years, it’s that meetings CAN be useful, productive, and successful. And since they are necessary, we might as well get good at them! It’s about changing your mindset and preparing for every meeting with that new perspective. Check out my 3 Tips for Successful Meetings to start shaping up better meetings this season!

Here are my 3 Tips for Successful Meetings:


  1.  Decide what type of meeting it will be
Clarity is key for successful meetings! Make sure your team knows what type of meeting they are stepping into, and set the expectation that the meeting will be focused on specific outcomes related to that type—off-topic questions or conversations will be saved for another time. Here are some common meeting types you may be using (or will want to implement):
  • Status Check
Use these meetings to brief the team on projects you are working on, or to check in with them on the status of their projects. Status check meetings should serve as task-oriented progress reports, where everyone contributes to discuss their specific responsibilities.
  • Problem-Solving
The problem-solving meeting is centered around brainstorming new ideas on how to approach a specific issue, or related issues, the studio is facing. These meetings will probably be centered around finding the best resolution, or at the very least, innovating solutions that can be explored further.
  • Vision-Casting
Setting studio-wide goals and expectations are the two pillars of a visionary type of meeting. This is likely to be a meeting led by you or someone on your leadership team, to set the tone of the season, the semester, or the month ahead. Also, remember that casting the vision for your team means this type of meeting is usually the most motivational!
  1.  Know who needs to attend and why
Not every meeting is for every staff member. For example, you may have meetings that are better suited for your leadership team only or meetings that are strictly for administrative personnel. Or perhaps your teachers need their own classroom-focused meeting once every quarter. Dial into the needs of your team by making sure each meeting has a defined purpose and no one’s time is wasted.
One great way to do this is by taking the time to personally invite team members to a meeting and giving them advance notice of the topic at hand.  There may be times where you also ask them to bring ideas to share. Explain how much listening, note-taking, or contributing they should expect. Doing this allows meetings to feel less like an obligation, and more of an opportunity to connect. 
  1. Be prepared—and be prepared to improvise
Go into every meeting with an agenda, and expect to improvise off of it as needed. I’ve learned that when I’m in charge of a meeting, I do my best when I’m clear about the main points that need to be discussed. If I’m not clear, nobody is clear.
If you have members of your team who also lead meetings, talk to them about developing this skill too. Consistency and organization among staff, no matter who is setting the meeting, shows that meetings are not taken lightly and will be used to enhance everyone’s productivity.
Don’t underestimate the value of a great staff meeting! With some fine-tuned planning and a little extra attention to detail, your team can gain a whole new appreciation for what a A+ meeting can be like.

I hope that your studio can benefit from these tips and turn meetings into a source of respectful relationship-building and enhanced focus at work. And if there something else YOU do with your meetings to make them successful, please share your advice in the comments. I’d love to hear what serves you well when it comes to meetings—and maybe try it out myself!

Looking for more tips for running successful meetings? Check out the following articles:

 

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing

READ MORE +

5 Quick Ways to Recharge During the Busy Season

Busy Season Stress

There is no doubt that this time of year for studio owners can be hectic and, let’s face it, a little crazy!  With recital on the horizon, class placements being prepped, and audition details coming together, it’s not surprising that you may begin to physically feel the effects of stress of the busy season.

I went through far too many years of entrepreneurship knowing this season was coming and yet not quite prepared for it to the degree I should have! Now that I know better though, I do better. And one of the best ways I do better is by understanding that yes, it will be busy, and yes, I can still take good care of myself.  And I encourage YOU to do the same!

It’s so easy to get swept up into stress and let it overtake your mindset.  But you know what’s also pretty easy? Making a plan to relieve that stress by having a few simple tactics in your pocket.  Here, I’m going to share my best tips for thriving in the busyness of your life. These are all things that help me tremendously at this time of year, and I hope they will serve you well too!

 

Here are my 5 Quick Ways to Recharge During the Busy Season:


  1. Commit to self-care in the morning
The morning can often dictate how the rest of your day goes, so decide now that your mornings will be proactive for your peace of mind.  Spend a few quiet minutes in meditation or prayer; edit your to-do list; read one chapter of an inspiring book; brew your favorite coffee or tea; move your body through some gentle stretching or yoga.  Have a ritual in place—even a short one—that will encourage you to start the day with your best foot forward.
  1. Go outside at least once a day
A few deep breaths of fresh air can change your entire frame of mind when you are caught in the whirlwind of busyness.  Don’t trick yourself into thinking that you should go all day at your desk with only a few stretch breaks. Try to block out 15 minutes here and there to step outside, walk around the block, and enjoy a change of scenery.  You may be surprised at how refreshed you feel!
  1. Connect with friends who understand
I personally think this is one of the best ways to combat the weariness that can accompany long work days: human connection.  Our tendency as entrepreneurs is to isolate ourselves when we feel stress when really it’s much more helpful to reach out to others!  Maybe you don’t have time for a long heart-to-heart phone call, but sending a quick text or email to check in with a friend can give you a burst of energy AND put a smile on your face.
  1. Fuel up with your favorite things
When you’re in busy mode, don’t let yourself fall into the trap of poor nutrition habits!  Stock up on your favorite healthy snacks, treats, or meals to keep you going. Now’s the time to splurge on the protein bars you crave, the smoothies with extra vitamins, or maybe even the meal delivery service you’ve been meaning to try.  Your health can’t be taken for granted at any time—and most especially when you need to be on your A-game.
  1. Give yourself a chance to wind down
Resist the urge to completely crash at the end of the day.  Your evening routine should allow you the chance to center yourself and relax.  As hard as it is to do, put your phone and computer in another room to charge, and focus on yourself and your family before turning in for the night.  Your mind will feel clearer and more rested to take on whatever’s next.
Recharging during this time of year can be a challenge, but if anyone can accept a challenge and overcome it, it’s a studio owner!  I want you to feel encouraged that this season of “busy” can also be a season of “health” if you are committed to it. I know that for me, this time of year now holds more excitement than stress because I’m able to look out for my well-being in a way I didn’t know how to do before.
If you have another method of recharging that works well in your life, share it in the comments below!  I would love to hear what helps keep you fueled, prepared, and nourished during this time of year. I wish you much success as you charge full-steam ahead into the coming weeks!

Looking for more tips keeping your sanity through the busy season? Check out the following articles:

 

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing

READ MORE +

6 Best Practices for Interviewing Job Candidates

6 Best Practices for Interviewing Job Candidates

When I first opened my studio over 20 years ago, I had a big learning curve when it came to all things human resources-related—interviewing, hiring, firing, payroll, benefits, and everything in between!

One of the biggest lessons I learned right away is that hiring great people for my team was a lot of WORK, especially when it came time for interviews. It was not always easy to discern who would really be a good fit for the team and it took way more preparation than I thought! But just like with dance, practice makes progress, and I’ve made a LOT of progress.

I’ve also discovered that I really enjoy providing meaningful career opportunities for others. Watching people flourish in their roles at the studio is one of the most fulfilling aspects of running a business! And it all starts with getting the right people on board in the first place, which means making sure the systems behind the interview process are in top-notch shape. With that in mind, I created this list of 6 Best Practices for Interviewing Job Candidates, and I hope it will serve your studio as well as it has mine!

Implementing these ideas has had a profound effect on my hiring choices and continues to inform my decision-making when it comes to bringing new people to our team. Keep reading to see my 6 Best Practices for Interviewing Job Candidates.

Here are my 6 Best Practices for Interviewing Job Candidates:


  1. Consider a pre-interview screening

Before you begin a series of interviews, think about implement one more step: the pre-interview submission.  This could be done by asking the applicant to complete a short questionnaire via email, having them leave a voice message, or upload a video introduction.  Any of these methods will allow you an additional screening before taking the time to meet someone in person.

  1. Use the first interview as a simple getting-to-know-you meeting

Don’t expect to get too much done in the first face-to-face interview.  What do I mean by that? Well, use that meeting a little like a first date: ask basic questions, read the candidate’s body language, and do a gut-check on whether you think they would be a good culture fit for your studio.

  1. Always interview at least twice, probably more

I am a big proponent of “hire slowly, fire quickly,” meaning that if I’m going to invest the time, money, and energy into hiring for a position, I want to be very sure that we’re bringing in someone who will be the right match for that role.  Rushing the process only risks potential problems. For example, an initial interview, lunch or coffee interview, and a sample class interview are part of my go-to process for hiring new teachers.

  1. Ask open-ended questions

Remember that asking questions that begin with “What,” “How,” or “When,” can be great openers into deeper interview questions, such as “How would you handle this type of situation?”  Other great questions can come from prompts like, “Tell me about a time when …” or “Describe your experience with …”

  1. Find out what the candidate knows about you

Ask what research the candidate has conducted on you or your studio; someone who is very interested in the job and does their homework will probably have a few things to say!  I always like hearing from candidates who share what they like about the studio or have questions about our programming, because it shows their curiosity.

  1. Take good notes—and not just about their answers

Remembering every little thing a candidate says in an interview is probably not necessary, but I do like to be able to review my notes days later and get a sense of my instincts at the moment.  For instance, I’ll make note if the person was extra-prepared (or not enough), if they dressed appropriately, if they were on time, and if any of their behavior during the interview requires further questioning.

Once upon a time, I thought owning a dance studio was all about dance … but of course, it’s about so much more!  And one of the most rewarding parts is hiring amazing people for your team. It isn’t always easy finding those people, but with these best practices in place, you can feel more confident than ever that the right candidate is just an interview away!

Looking for more tips for hiring an excellent staff? Check out the following articles:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing

READ MORE +

3 Keys to High-Level Customer Service

Customer Service

As a studio owner, your customer service is an essential part of your business … perhaps even THE essential element of this time of year, as you prepare for the recital, summer, and next season.  Communications with your dance families can make or break their understanding of the way your studio works during this busy time.

And of course, you are probably not handling all of the customer service alone!  Whether you have part-time help or a full team in place, YOU set the pace for how hard your employees will run to achieve awesome customer service.  As their leader, you are aiming to take their abilities to new heights so that your dance families’ needs are being met with the utmost care.

For me and my team, there are 3 Keys to High-Level Customer Service through which we choose to activate ALL of our service-oriented decisions and interactions with families.  I’ve developed these key points over the last two decades of studio ownership, through my own personal experience and by learning from the feedback we receive from parents. Through the consistent application of these basic points in our daily workflow, my staff has full clarity on what is expected of them when it comes to communicating with our customers.  Keep reading to see how my 3 Keys to High-Level Customer Service can transform your studio’s approach too!

Here are my 3 Keys to High-Level Customer Service:


  1. Communicate with kindness, clarity, and speed
To me, there’s almost nothing more important than communicating with kindness. You just never know what a customer may be going through, and your kindness may make all the difference to their day. Of course, that doesn’t mean being a doormat when it comes to answering questions, which is why clarity is also part of this key! Being kind and clear means that your message can be heard without any guesswork. Top it off by making sure that your response time (if communicating by phone, email, chat, or text) is quick so that customers aren’t left wondering when they’ll hear back.

This isn’t an earth-shattering concept, but it does take more effort to execute than you think!  Remind your team often that they will encounter moments where they will feel tested on their kindness, clarity, or speed, and it’s essential that they commit and deliver no matter what.  Five-star service comes with understanding that every customer deserves this level of care at every point in their journey with your studio

 

  1. Handle concerns with extra TLC
Anytime there is a problem or mistake, your best path forward is going to include extra patience and attention to that customer. My advice here is to train your team to vet and troubleshoot any issues right away, so that the concerned party knows that their issue is a priority. One rule we have in place at my studio is what I call the “$100 Happiness Policy,” which means that if a customer’s problem can be solved quickly and responsibly for $100 or less, my front desk team knows they have the authority to do so, with no questions asked. It’s worth explaining for your staff that if they’re doing their jobs well, concerns won’t be the norm! But problems will happen from time to time, and the best course of action starts with professionalism and ends with peace of mind.
  1. Make it normal practice to go above and beyond
When it comes to customer service, we can choose to strive for a baseline of satisfactory work or we can choose to shoot for the stars … five stars to be exact! I prefer to coach my staff to shoot for the stars, because THAT is what truly takes our service to the next level.
Here’s an example of what I mean: one day a while back, a staff member noticed a student had been dropped off for class without her dance bag. The child had been going back and forth from her newly-divorced parents’ homes and was crushed that she wasn’t prepared. Instead of just reassuring the dancer everything would be OK (baseline service), this staff member went above and beyond and gave the little girl a new leotard and tights on the spot ($100 Happiness Policy), and found some shoes for her to borrow from the lost and found box. The dancer left smiling and her mom was forever grateful that we were able to help save the day during a time that their home life had been turned upside down.
Although these three keys are my go-to customer service guidelines, I have one other piece of advice to pass along: Take note of the service YOU receive at the businesses you patronize. Are there practices you would want to emulate at your studio? Others that weren’t up to your standards? We can learn a LOT from our own interactions as customers.

I believe our impact as studio owners is only as strong as our service, so it stands to reason that our leadership in this area is vital to our business’s success. If you have a customer service tip that works awesomely well at your studio, please share it in the comments! I’d love to hear about it. We can all contribute to a higher industry standard if we learn from each other!

Looking for more great ideas to help with boosting employee morale? Check out the following articles:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing

READ MORE +

4 Ideas for Boosting Employee Morale

Boosting Employee Morale

It’s that time of year again!  That time when we start to see our students feel the “mid-year slump” … which means they’re in need of some extra TLC and motivation in class as we push through the remaining cold weather months.  But did you know that your employees are probably feeling the slump too?  The post-winter break, dreary weather, pre-recital doldrums are VERY real for your team as well, whether they show it or not. But fear not, there are ways that make boosting employee morale a breeze!

I know you want to keep employee morale up ALL year long (I do too) so this time of year is perfect to recalibrate that dial.  Remember that keeping your team motivated and excited about work isn’t just about making them feel good; it’s about setting them up for success so they can do their best work for your studio and dance families.

If you’re expecting a high level of performance from your team, it’s in your best interest to ensure they are working in an environment conducive to reaching goals and seeing results.  Taking the time to keep their morale up will continue to benefit your business in this way. Keep reading to learn more about my 4 Ideas for Boosting Employee Morale, and see if you can give everyone’s spirits a little lift!

Here are my 4 Ideas for Boosting Employee Morale:

  1. Solicit their feedback and suggestions  
Although not every business decision you make is a democratic one, you can choose to allow your team’s suggestions to be heard on decisions that affect them. People are energized when they contribute to their organization’s success, so by being open to their feedback, you are letting your team know that they—and their opinions—matter.
Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying you should have a free-for-all on feedback! It is still important that you communicate when your people have a “voice” versus when they have a “vote.” But everyone’s confidence gets a boost when they know that you are actively listening and that you care about what they think.
  1. Have fun together outside of work
Perhaps this is “easier said than done” when it comes to scheduling, but getting together with your team just for fun can be a MAJOR morale booster! This could be as simple as a Sunday brunch, or as involved as a weekend retreat. The idea is to create a relaxed environment for everyone to enjoy each other’s company, without any work pressures or agendas. These group experiences away from the studio humanize you and them by taking everyone out of the usual routine. Think bonding activities like bowling or visiting an escape room; or entertainment, such as a game night at your house or seeing a show together.
You don’t have to hold these types of events often, but make it a point to schedule at least a few each season. Be prepared to pick up the tab, and consider inviting spouses or significant others into the mix too!
  1. Discover their “language of appreciation”
You may have heard of The 5 Love Languages before, a book by Gary Chapman. Well, he also has a  companion book, authored with Paul White, called The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. The concept behind the book is that different personality styles value different expressions of appreciation, and it’s important to tap into your employees’ preferences in order to show appreciation in a meaningful way.
What’s most important is to learn what is motivating for your team members! For example, if you have an employee who values tangible gifts, they are going to feel appreciated when you bring them a Starbucks gift card. Another employee, however, may feel more motivated by quality time, and so scheduling regular check-ins with that person is going to bring more value to them than Starbucks does.
  1. Offer consistent praise and encouragement
When you see an employee doing something great, honor it! Don’t wait. Praise often, as soon as you witness a positive interaction or grace under pressure. And don’t hesitate to praise publicly, especially in front of other team members.
As a studio owner, it’s easy to get caught up in giving constant corrections, but by offering frequent and deserving praise, you are showing your employees that you notice their efforts. Everyone loves being lifted up for a job well done, and finding these moments of praise demonstrates that you’re committed to finding a balance between compliments and criticism.
I challenge you to use all four of these ideas to give your team an extra boost and some well-earned pats-on-the-back. Your employees are the conduit to your customers, and so the more confident and positive they feel, the better they can serve. Allow them to be heard and encourage their successes. Share in the comments below if you have experienced a great return on your investment into employee morale!  I’d love to hear about it.

Looking for more great ideas to help with boosting employee morale? Check out the following articles:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing

READ MORE +

5 Ways to Build a Strong Studio Culture

Studio Culture

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:

  1. Start with yourself and your “why”
Because you are the owner of the business, the culture starts with you. Take a moment to think about why you started (or acquired) the studio in the first place. Was it to nurture young talent? Provide a safe space for learning? Offer a unique perspective in the marketplace?  Build confidence and leadership in children? Write down some of the values you hold as a studio owner, that come from your why. Think about what’s important to the vision you have!
  1. Next, involve your staff
Although building a strong culture starts with you, it isn’t a solo act.  You want (and need) your employees to feel strongly about the same values so they can serve your dance families with those qualities in mind. Present your why to your team, and discuss with them which of those values are most important. Listen to their feedback and open up the conversation to understand their “why” too. Use this time to settle on the values that will drive your studio forward in the coming months and years.

 

  1. Demonstrate the culture out loud
Reflect your studio’s values everywhere in your actions: claim them in your marketing pieces, display them on the wall, discuss them on social media. Create a buzz around the ideas and then demonstrate your follow-through. For example, if growing leadership is important to your culture, don’t just talk about it … expand your class assistant program or develop an internship course. Make it a normal part of your studio world!
  1. Use your values in the classroom
Building a strong culture means that your students are exposed to it even from a young age. Incorporate values-driven language and behavior expectations in the classroom, such as agreeing that “we always try our best” because developing a work ethic is an essential value to your studio culture. As younger dancers grow up at your school, this culture will simply become what they already expect of themselves and others.

 

  1. Think of it as an ongoing development, not a destination
Business culture isn’t something you build and then it’s just there forever. To me, it’s more like a garden that needs cultivating, and it requires some patience. Sometimes the weeds need to be pulled, and sometimes the blooms are magnificent! But it always needs attention so that it can flourish.

The special care you give your culture will positively impact everyone at your studio, from your staff to your students to their parents. I hope you’ll consider using these steps to establish or renew the values your culture depends on! Ask yourself: if not now, when? There’s no time like the present to prioritize this important work.Tell me in the comments what you love best about your studio’s culture, or what shifts you are making to improve it. I believe we can all learn from each other’s experiences and build our studio’s culture to be stronger than ever!

Looking for more great ideas to help you build your studio’s culture? Check out the following articles:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing

READ MORE +

Building Strong Relationships with Competing Studio Owners

ATTACHMENT DETAILS Building-Strong-Relationships-with-Competing-Studio-Owners

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:

Here are some of my favorite inspirational examples of Building Relationships with Competing Studio Owners:


  1. Melanie Gibbs, Co-Owner of Boca Dance Studio in Boca Raton, FL & ProAm Dance Studio in Pompano Beach, FL

Melanie became friendly with other studio owners in her South Florida community when they would see each other at competitions and other local dance events, and that camaraderie eventually turned into breakfast meetings a few times a year.  As the group got to know each other, they would share business ideas, ask each other questions about their policies, and even recommend substitute teachers to one another. Modeling this level of friendship for their students has become a powerful force in their relationship-building over the years, and they continue to stay in touch in between meetings, advising each other and sharing opportunities.

  1. Anekia Boatwright-McGhee, Artistic Director of Rebecca Padgett School of Performing Arts in Savannah, GA

In Anekia’s community, it was easy for her to feel isolated from other studio owners.  But on a recent trip to Dance Teacher Summit in New York, she began having a conversation with a fellow studio owner, only to learn that they both have studios in the same area!  It took a random conversation in a completely different city for the two owners to connect, but now they have plans to stay in touch locally and be the example in their community that competitors can coexist in a meaningful way.  It’s a dramatic shift from what Anekia was used to in the past, but she now feels empowered to emulate what she tells her dancers about having confidence in themselves. She wants them to see loud and clear that competition is ultimately with oneself, not other people.

 

  1. Melanie Boniszewski, Founder & Director of Tonawanda Dance Arts, Tonawanda, NY

It’s a pretty cool thing when you have an entire group of studio owners who consider themselves friends above and beyond anything else, not direct competition (even when they’re in the same area).  That’s how Melanie describes her fellow local studio owners who meet up a few times a year and remain in weekly (sometimes daily) contact through Facebook and text messages. Through the group they are able to talk about all the normal dance studio talk: pricing, staffing, programming, costuming, policies, and everything else.  Not only is their bond a special one, some of their students have even become friends with each other!

 

I hope you will be encouraged by these stories and choose to build strong connections within your own community.  You just never know what opportunity may lie ahead. Share in the comments below your positive experiences with other studio owners—you just might inspire someone else!

 

Interested in more articles about building relationships? Check out these articles from the TutuTix archive:

 

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing

READ MORE +

I Need Help! (Part Two) – 5 Tools to Implement for Business Growth

5 Tools to Implement for Business Growth

Business growth: it’s something every studio owner desires!

Whether it’s more students, more staff members, more space, more financial freedom, or more time at home, at some point or another, we all want MORE for our studios.

Growth can be great! It means your business is healthy, and healthy things grow! But business growth usually doesn’t come without a few growing pains. As your studio expands to accommodate more people or more space, or as you step out to spend more time at home, you’ll probably notice that some of your existing systems don’t work as well anymore. I often tell the dance studio owners that I coach, “Every time something your business doubles, all of your systems break.”

If you are in a position where you are seeing your numbers rise and your systems aren’t quite keeping up, take advantage of this opportunity to make some key updates in the way you organize and communicate before the new year starts. Keeping up with your studio’s growth—and then staying ahead of it—will allow you to maintain its health. Don’t ignore the warning signs that you need to make improvements. Warning signs might include things like customer confusion or dropping balls on details and follow up.

If these types of things are happening to you, it’s probably time to dig in to some new resources that will help improve your systems!

Keep reading to learn about my 5 Tools to Implement for Business Growth.


Here are my 5 Tools to Implement as Your Business Grows:

  1. A rhythm calendar

The “rhythm calendar” is a tool that helps everyone on your team see what tasks need to be done and when, for the entire year.  It may be an actual printed document which follows your studio’s calendar or it may be kept in a project-management software system like Asana or Basecamp. Either way, it’s a roadmap to keep you on track all year. It’s also a “living” document that covers the responsibilities in every area of your business, so expect it to change over time as your studio grows and changes.

  1. The right software

From accounting software to studio management software, you may need to consider implementing a new product or some more training on an existing product to stay on top of your studio’s growth.  Is what you’re currently using causing more headaches than it solves?  Are you actually using your software tools?  If technology isn’t your zone of genius, schedule an appointment to talk with your accountant or dance studio software representative to ask questions and get a refresher on which solution may help your business the most.

  1. A trial class system

Take the time to look back and see how many trial students you’ve served so far this year, and what their conversion rate to enrollment has been.  If your conversions are below 20% (or you don’t know this number to begin with) it’s probably time to get a real system in place.  A great starting place is to have one employee on your team act as the champion of this trial classes, from scheduling to follow-up.  Or you get techie with it. I recently installed a product called the Trial Class System by Studio Owners Academy and we have already had over 30 trial students. Now that’s a win this time of year!

  1. A file sharing program

As your student numbers grow, your team of staff members will likely grow too, meaning more people need access to more information.  Make your work more efficient by getting those files organized in one place.  A program like Google Drive, G Suite, or Dropbox will store your electronic files in the cloud, allowing you to choose who to share files with (and to limit access if needed).  No matter what system you use, it’s important to get everyone on the same page for naming documents. There is no sense in created great documents if you can’t find them later:)

  1. An email system

From automating marketing campaigns to sending out monthly newsletters to your existing customers, email still rules as one of the top ways to communicate.  Programs like MailChimp, iContact, or Drip allow you to break up lists into smaller groups according to interest and to create branded, professional-looking information to send out to them on a regular basis making your studio look organized and reliable.

As your business grows, your systems must grow, too! Remember: whatever time you put in to update your systems NOW will save you heaps of time in the new year.

Do you have questions on how to grow your studio business (or to how to manage the growth you are having?) Let’s talk! Connect with me on social media @mistylown. I’d love to hear your questions, concerns, or stories of success.

Love, Misty


 

Looking for more dance studio staff insights? Check out these other articles and resources:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing

READ MORE +

I Need Help! (Part One) – Hiring Additional Studio Staff

Hiring Additional Studio Staff

Top 2 Tips For Smart Hiring

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:

Here they are! THE ONLY 2 TIPS FOR HIRING you need:


  1. Hire slowly
My first tip is to never be in a hurry to hire! I’ve certainly learned this the hard way. Rushed hiring almost always results in a poor match between you and the new employee because you didn’t have enough time to thoroughly assess their potential with your business.
Create a hiring system that includes several steps instead; this will help you evaluate candidates in different ways over time.  For example, your first step might include instructing applicants to introduce themselves by leaving a voicemail (we use Google Voice) or by uploading a video message. This will allow you to “meet” them virtually. Those who are articulate and enthusiastic can be invited to complete the next step, which could be a phone interview or an email questionnaire.
At this point your goal is simply to get to know the candidate better, so your questions might include topics like “What type of books do you read?” or “Tell me about a time when you helped make a positive change in someone else’s life.” From there, you would ask the successful candidates to meet for a personal interview, either with you or someone from your leadership team.

 

A second, off-site personal interview (for example, over lunch) or a teaching audition would be an appropriate next step for those candidates who are still in the running after the first personal interview. Having your candidates pass through each of the benchmark steps allows you to get to know them under different conditions, and if at any point they no longer seem like a good fit for your studio, you can thank them for their time and move on.

  1. Hire for character
My second tip comes from 20 years’ experience building an excellent studio culture: hire only those people who have the character qualities you know you need in your business. There’s no better match for your studio than someone who already demonstrates that they hold similar values to yours.
Remember that the culture of your business depends heavily on its people, and so any new hires need to fit well within your culture. The difficulty is that your candidates (who want a job!) can easily profess to hold such values, but as well all know, actions speak louder than words.
A continued benefit of the “hire slowly” advice above is that you have several opportunities to see the candidate’s character qualities in action, and in different conditions. For example, do they send you a thank you note after an interview? That certainly displays their values. Are they kind to the waitstaff when you meet for lunch? Another values-check. When they teach a sample class, are they prepared, organized, pleasant, curious? All part of their personal values.
To be fair, some candidates may be excellent “politicians” and may say and do things to get the job and not show you their true selves. Though I find this is rare, I think it is important that you pay attention to your gut feelings about someone. Let your instincts guide you, whether the feeling is positive or negative. Remember that you can’t necessarily teach great character, but you can train and mold the skillset of the right candidate.

Hiring employees is truly one of the hardest and best parts of being a business owner. The people on your team are the ones who bring your vision, your mission, and your culture to life. It’s no wonder we feel such a heavy responsibility to get it right!

I’m confident that these two tips can boost your hiring process up a level, and that they will help you find the support you need. Share with us in the comments below how you plan to take action with your next new hire. And you can always find me @mistylown on social media if you’d like to discuss more about how to hire your Dream Team. I wish you much success as you revitalize your hiring process!

Misty Lown is the founder, president and energized force behind More Than Just Great Dancing™. Misty shares her methods of creating a professional environment where people learn and grow from the life experiences lived in the dance studio. Sharing information, providing helpful observations, and giving feedback to parents, teachers and students is an essential part of the learning process that Misty delivers with More Than Just Great Dancing™.

Looking for more dance studio staff insights? Check out these other articles and resources:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing

READ MORE +

Dance Studio Owners: 5 Ways to Find a Mentor

dance studio owners - finding a mentor feat

Dance studio owners know that running a studio is a rewarding and joyous experience; there’s truly no other life like it! From the moment you open your doors, your mission is to make an impact on the world through dance. But even with the greatest of missions, there will still be times when things get tough—times when you question yourself or don’t know where to turn for help.

When those moments happen it can be helpful to talk with your peers, just to have someone who understands really LISTEN to you. But do you know what is even more beneficial? Seeking out a mentor—someone who can not only listen, but also inspire you to be your best, solve problems, raise your perspective, help you develop better leadership strategies, and coach you through big decisions.

Finding the right mentor can sometimes take a bit of work, but the payoff is awesome when you’ve found someone you respect and trust. Having had a few different mentors over the past two decades, I can honestly say that each one brought a unique and timely perspective to my life when I needed it.

Before you search for a mentor, think about what you want to achieve from the relationship. Do you want to work with someone who has knowledge of the dance industry, or would you prefer to have a mentor who comes from a different professional background? Do you want to meet on a consistent schedule, or keep things open-ended? How much time do you hope to spend with your mentor?

The answers to these questions will help prepare you to find a mentor who is the best fit possible. All it takes is a little planning, and a willingness to put yourself out there and meet new people.

Keep reading to learn about my 5 Ways to Find a Mentor:


Here are my 5 Ways to Find a Mentor:

  1. Approach someone who has a business you admire

    One of my local grocery stores, Festival Foods, has some of the most excellent customer service and community engagement I’ve ever seen and has been an inspiration for me since I started in business. While I was shopping one day, it occurred to me that I could learn a lot from the way Festival Foods runs its stores.

    It didn’t take long before I was able to set up a meeting with its founder, Dave Skogen, who soon became my mentor and friend. Think about your local business neighbors; what business owner could YOU establish a relationship with?

  1. Network in local business groups

    Networking to find a mentor in your community can be as simple as joining the right groups, such as your city’s chamber of commerce or local arts council. In those places you’ll find business owners just like you who are looking to connect and develop deeper business relationships.

    Try attending the next breakfast meeting or mixer, and begin getting to know who’s who. Remember that you all already have one pretty big quality in common: you want to better the community with your product or service.

  2. Check your mutual connections

    While it’s convenient to have a local mentor, long-distance can work too! Check the connections you have through social media, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, to see who might be a potential mentor-match for you.

    Perhaps you’ll be inspired to reach out to an old boss or a friend-of-a-friend who could become a mentor to you through phone calls, Skype meetings, or email. Ask your family and friends if they know of someone who seems like a good business-match for you. I have an accountability partner from Canada that I exchange emails with on a monthly basis.

  3. Look into a business coaching program

    Business coaching programs can steer you on the right path to finding an effective mentor, either through the program’s leader or its other members.

    A coaching program that is dance-studio specific (such as my studio affiliation program, More Than Just Great Dancing®, Clint Salter’s Dance Studio Owner Association, Suzanne Blake Gerety’s DanceStudioOwner.com, or Austin Roberson’s Studio Owners Academy) could be a great fit, or it might be worth considering a broader business program (such as Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership’s All-Access).

    Once you find a program you like, see if you can talk with a representative about your wants and needs in mentorship, or ask to experience a trial period before investing in a full membership.

  1. Meet a mentor through SCORE

    Formerly known as the Service Corps of Retired Executives, SCORE is a business mentorship program through the U.S. Small Business Administration. SCORE mentors are volunteers who are current or former business owners and executives.

    A volunteer can be matched to you by location or industry. Based on your goals and timeline, they can offer you mentorship in person or via email.

Having a mentor by your side through the highs and lows of business ownership is truly invaluable! While there’s no exact formula for finding the right mentor, these 5 ways will give you some excellent traction to get started. Remember that you are developing new business relationships through this process: take the time to introduce yourself to prospective mentors, ask a few engaging questions, and follow up with a thank you message.

In the comments below, tell us how you plan to proceed with finding a mentor—or share with us how you connected with your current mentor. I also invite you to connect with me @mistylown on social media to continue the conversation about how having a mentor makes a difference in your life. I can’t wait to hear more about your mentorship experience!

Looking for more insights for dance studio owners? Check out these other articles and resources:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing

READ MORE +