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:
Looking for more tips for hiring an excellent staff? Check out the following articles:
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:
Looking for more great ideas to help with boosting employee morale? Check out the following articles:
For the fourth year in a row, we are excited to present the survey results collected from our annual dance studio software reviews survey. We asked thousands of dance studio owners to answer questions about their dance studio management software. We’ve continued to see some recurring trends about how studio owners choose their dance studio software, how they utilize it, and what they like and dislike about it.
If you’ve considered investing in software to help you manage your studio, this data will definitely be eye-opening.
The percentage of studio owners that are using dance studio management software continues to rise, from 67% in 2014 to 82.2% in 2018.
Studio owners overwhelmingly choose software based on its ability to meet their needs; referrals from friends and associates also carry significant influence in the purchase decision.
Jackrabbit and Studio Director continue to dominate market share with a combined 65% , but this has decreased from 2017, when they held 74% of the market.
The features most important to studio owners continue to be billing and payment processing, email and text communication, and class management. Following the 2017 trend, however, online registration continues to increase in popularity.
For the first time since the survey inception, overall customer satisfaction dipped, from a 2017 high of 84%, to 79% in 2018.
Read the In-Depth Report on Dance Studio Software Reviews
To see the full summary of the survey results, please enter your email below.
Check out previous editions our dance studio management software survey results and dance studio software reviews here:
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:
We recently teamed up with Jackrabbit Dance for a webinar on how to produce a more profitable recital. Check out the recording above or read through the main points below for tips on how to financially improve your biggest production of the year!
Three BIG Ideas to Make Your Recital More Profitable
Is it okay to make money on your recital?
How do you collect money for your recital?
Recital fees: 38%
Ticket sales: 62%
Do you sell your tickets as reserved seating?
Recital Fee vs. Online Sales
Many studio owners ask: “Should I charge a recital fee or just do ticket sales?” The answer is BOTH. The recital fee allows you to capture revenue at the beginning of the dance year, but a ticket sale presents an opportunity later in the year to maximize your profits in ways that add value to the experience your performers and attendees.
And that leads us to BIG Idea #1…
Big Idea #1: Bundle and Sell Online
Consumers spend more when they use a credit card than when they make purchases with cash. You can present merchandise purchase options with your ticket sales and customers will be more likely to buy, especially if they perceive that there is a bundle.
Big Idea #1: Bundle and Sell Online, cont’d.
All of our clients who sell merchandise online in advance report higher merchandise sales, with some reporting a 2x increase over previous years when they would accept cash only at the event. In addition, online sales enable you to more closely approximate the amount of merchandise you need to have on hand, so you have less inventory that goes unsold.
Big Idea #2: Inventory Management/Reserved Seating
Recognize that your seats are your inventory, and sell them in the most appropriate way to make more money. Seats in the front are worth more than seats in the back. If ticket buyers complain about a change in prices this year, explain that prices for the seats in the back are the same, but seats in the front are worth more, and therefore cost more.
So, why should you price seats according to their value?
Better experience for the ticket buyer = higher perceived value.
Offer perks for more loyal families.
Increases urgency to get the ticket = you get the money in hand sooner.
2016 Per Ticket Data
Reserved seating is a type of seating setup in which the ticket buyer can choose specific seats they want to sit in. Now, why is this important?
The average price paid in 2016 for a general admission ticket to a dance recital nationwide was $10.80, vs. $14.03 for a reserved ticket! That’s a 30% difference!
2016 Per Ticket Data, cont’d.
Moreover, the average gross per event with general admission seating was $1,715, while the average gross per event with reserved seating was $5,370! Don’t leave money on the table!
Big Idea #3: Generate Leads
Owners put forth an inordinate amount of effort into producing a recital, and most of the time, the only people exposed are the ones who already know how great their studio is! That’s such a waste! Your RECITAL is a prime opportunity to SHOWCASE your studio to prospective families and the community.
Invite “warm” prospects to your recital
Donate tickets to community charities
Leverage local schools / end of year activities
BUNDLE and sell online
Manage your INVENTORY wisely
Use your recital to GENERATE LEADS
So you want to sell tickets and merchandise online—now what?
TutuTix: The Easiest Way to Sell and Distribute Tickets to Your Dance Performances
How It Works: Step 1 – You Sign Up Online
It’s easy to get started with our easy online sign-up form. We just need some basic information in order to set up your events, including:
Your event info
The ticket prices
The date you want your tickets to go on sale
Your seating chart (if you plan on using assigned seating)
Your dedicated relationship manager will walk you through the process and help you fill in the blanks, and answer any questions you may have. After we have your information, our staff sets up your event, and you’ll get a final opportunity to review your event before we make tickets available to the public.
How It Works: Step 1 – You Sign Up Online, cont’d.
Codes? Comps? No Problem! With more than 1,200 clients nationwide, chances are, we’ve done every kind of presale setup there is. We can do:
Reserved seating, general admission and mixed reserved/general seating.
Promo codes, discount codes and comps.
Shopping cart for multiple performances or merchandise sales.
How It Works: Step 2 – Patrons Buy Tickets
When your tickets go on sale, your patrons can buy them:
Online at tututix.com/yourstudioname
On their mobile devices
On your Facebook page
From our toll-free call center
How It Works: Step 2 – Patrons Buy Tickets, cont’d.
For reserved seating, online ticket buyers can select their own seats with our easy-to-use seatPower seat selector.
How It Works: Step 2 – We Deliver Tickets
To Your Patrons – Your patrons can choose to get tickets delivered instantly to their email or smartphone, or to have souvenir tickets mailed to them. Tickets are mailed out immediately, and usually arrive within one week of purchase.
And to You – A few days before the event, we print any unsold tickets on the same keepsake ticket stock and ship them directly to you for FREE as part of our Door Ticket Kit so that you can have tickets on hand for door sales.
You Get Paid Weekly
We deposit ticket proceeds into your account weekly, giving you the flexibility to use those funds when you need them.
Your patrons can choose to have full-color, foil-embossed barcoded keepsake tickets mailed to them. We even print the dancer’s name directly on the tickets! Tickets are mailed out immediately, and usually arrive within one week of purchase.
Customizable Print-at-Home Tickets
Our print-at home tickets are customizable! You can promote upcoming classes, workshops or performances, or even sell advertising to your event sponsors!
Door Ticket Kit
Our FREE door ticket kit makes it easy to sell any remaining tickets on the day of your event.
Accept credit debit cards on-site at your event or studio.
iPhone and Android Scanner Apps
Need an easy way to scan tickets at the door? Our free scanner apps are available for iPhone and Android.
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:
Whether your studio is in its first season, its fifteenth, or its fiftieth, chances are you want to see it grow! And when I say “grow” I’m talking about making real progress, which for your studio might mean increasing enrollment, nurturing your current customers, gaining square footage, developing leadership roles for your staff, improving your culture, redefining your mission, or all of the above.
You may already be experiencing the growing pains that can happen as you, the studio owner, shift focus in order to navigate growth of any kind. For me, as my own children have grown, I’ve shifted more and more time leading our faculty at our studio and less time teaching in the classroom.
No matter which type of growth your studio goes through, it most likely means that it will depend on you less and less for its day-to-day operations, and that your physical presence there will likely become less as well. But your personal connection to the studio—to your employees and to your dance families—will still be essential to supporting its success as it shifts and changes over time.
So how do you keep your relationship with the studio feeling vibrant and effective, even during different stages and phases of growth?
Keep reading to learn more about my 5 Ways To Support And Connect To Your Studio As It Grows.
Looking for more great info on dance studio growth and other studio management topics? Check out the following articles:
For the third year, we are excited to present the survey results collected from our annual dance studio management software reviews survey. We asked dance studio owners to answer questions about their dance studio management software. We’ve continued to see some recurring trends about how studio owners choose their dance studio software, how they utilize it, and what they like and dislike about it.
The percentage of studio owners that are using dance studio management software has steadily risen year after year, from 67% in 2014 to 80% in 2017.
The three most important features of studio management software have consistently been billing and payment processing, email or text communication and class management, but over the last year, online registration has seen a marked increase in importance.
The percentage of studios who have a majority of students paying by credit/debit card has continued to increase (to 54% in 2017), though studios across the country still vary widely in their ability to process credit card payments.
Overall satisfaction with dance studio management software has continued to creep up with 84% indicating that they were either “extremely satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied,” up from 82% in 2015.
Read the In-Depth Report on Dance Studio Software Survey Results
To see the full summary of the survey results, please enter your email below.
Check out previous editions our dance studio management software survey results here:
TutuTix is pleased to announce the addition of content from The Dance Exec into its content library. For several years, The Dance Exec (www.danceexec.com) has been an excellent source of training and knowledge for dance studio owners as they grow their business and strive to provide excellence in dance training. As Chasta Hamilton Calhoun, the founder of The Dance Exec, directs her focus to her thriving dance studios, the incredible studio owner resources that the site has offered through the years will find a new home as part of the TutuTix blog, which covers topics of interest to dance studio owners and teachers in particular, and the dance community in general. From time to time, Chasta will continue to contribute to the blog in her ongoing role as a studio owner (and TutuTix client!). The addition of these incredible resources is just one more way TutuTix can help dance studio owners build a successful business. Check out the first article from The Dance Exec archives today: 101 Marketing Ideas & Strategies for Dance Studios
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:
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.
Dance studio owners must fill many roles to keep their classes running. It can be very rewarding to build a career out of dance and to have the opportunity to foster a love for the art in a new generation of dancers. However, studios are businesses, and running a business requires payment from clients in the form of dance tuition and other fees.
Discussing finances can be an uncomfortable topic, even for seasoned business owners. However, in order to keep a dance studio running, owners need to be able to collect dance tuition on time from their students. When those payments aren’t coming through when they’re supposed to, studio owners will have to have conversations with their students or with parents to rectify the situation.
Fortunately, there are steps that dance studio owners can take early on to mitigate some of these conversations and problems related to late payments. With the right planning and communication, studio owners can create a system that works for everyone involved.
State Expectations Early
One of the most important things for any business owners to do before providing a service is make their expectations known from the start. Studios should have their prices and policy information clearly visible on their websites. When students enquire about classes or programs they should be given an information packet that has a clear, direct section dedicated to dance tuition payments.
While that should be more than enough to help keep students informed, the fact of the matter is that some people simply won’t read those kind of documents carefully. They’ll skim the parts that appeal to their interests and miss what they really need to know.
That’s why owners will need to verbally reiterate the structure to people as they sign up, and possibly even make a quick reminder announcement on the first day of class about payments or any other key policies that they don’t want anyone to miss. Remind students of where they can find this information so they can look back to it when they need to.
Dance tuition information should also be emphasized in class contracts. Use a bold emphasis for the numbers and make sure that the client signs all the right paperwork. If you want, you can even go a step further and ask that they specifically initial next to the payment due date information. If you say it enough and put it in writing your clients won’t be able to use “I didn’t know” as an excuse to try and shirk their responsibilities.
Give People Payment Options
Providing payment options for your students can encourage them to pay on time. Many times people who pay late aren’t trying to do anything malicious but are simply busy and lose track of the date easily. By making it as convenient as possible for people to pay, you can avoid the well-meaning “Oh, I meant to do that!” from your students and their parents.
An easy way to do this is to accept different methods of payment. Invest in mobile payment technology, which can let you accept credit card payments at the studio. According to a Bankrate survey, 9 percent of Americans report that they don’t carry cash on a regular basis. An additional 40 percent don’t carry more than $20 in paper money.
Besides credit cards, while checks are decreasing in usage, you should still accept them. Most banks will allow you to deposit a check right through your smart phone, so it doesn’t need to be an inconvenience for you.
Give People Timelines
Another way to provide options is to give people a choice of how much they pay and when. You could reward people who pay for a full year’s worth of classes upfront by offering a small discount for a lump sum payment instead of paying month to month, or even for paying six or three months in advance. This could benefit you in a few ways.
For one thing, it can help stop those forgetful payers. They can write one check and not have to think about it again. It will also give you some extra cushioning in case several students stop paying on time during the year. Having that safety net from early payers can help keep late payments from doing any damage to your business while you work to collect from them. They may need that little incentive to do so, though, so small discounts that won’t break your bank can help incentivize them.
You can also use websites that will allow people to automate their payments. Some of these programs will send out due date alerts on your behalf, or you can also choose to send an email to all of your students yourself.
How to Collect Dance Tuition When They’re Late
It can be awkward to confront late payers, because sometimes people just can’t afford it. If a student starts the year with a good job and then suddenly gets her hours cut, she may find herself suddenly unable to hold to her agreements on time.
There are a few ways to handle people in those circumstances. If you’re willing to be lenient and allow students to continue classes even if their economic position changes, you should write that into your payment policy. If they know they can come to you and explain why they may be late with some of their payments you can deal with the situation early and not have to chase them down or guess why their payments have stopped.
You should decide before a session starts what the qualifications are for being allowed to pay late without penalty or before they need to suspend their involvement with the program. If you have to enforce either of those consequences, it will be easier and less awkward if you can point to a standing policy that’s been written out, Inc.com noted.
For students who can pay and just can’t seem to stay organized, you may want to implement a short grace period and then a late fee. Remind people with another written message that a fee is coming if they don’t pay, and then enforce it if they still don’t. People who can pay but routinely refuse to should have their access to school resources limited until they either start paying, or at least offer a viable reason for their lateness.
Recital season is an exciting time, but it can also be a cause of worry for parents. Recitals are typically, frenzied and fast-paced experiences, and parents may be a little weary of dropping their child in a chaotic situation. Here are some smart event safety tips to keep in mind this recital season:
Pack an Event Safety First Aid Kit
In addition to having a bag full of extra performance essentials, like bobby pins, hair spray and a spare pair of tights, you should also safety items, like Band-aids, Neosporin and wet wipes. Make sure you have a comprehensive first-aid kit on hand at the recital venue, too.
Make Sure Emergency Contact Info Is Up to Date
Emergency contact info is often a line parents quickly fill out without a second thought, but in the worst case that there ever is an actual emergency, this information will need to be up-to-date. In the weeks leading up to the recital, verify parent or guardian contact info and make sure it’s stored somewhere that’s easily and quickly accessible.
Do a Risk Assessment of the Venue
While you already have an overflowing to-do list to prepare for the recital, you must make time to do a risk assessment of the venue, noted the resource Safe Dance Practice. Tour the venue and note fire exits. You should also familiarize yourself with the venue’s emergency procedures, and alter them to fit the recital set-up if necessary. Record this information and make sure to share it with dancers, parents and all volunteers and studio staff members prior to the event.
Practice Safe Drop-off and Pick-Up Procedures
The nerves are flying before the curtain rises, but some of the most stressful times of a recital are when parents are dropping off and picking up their dancers. When you have a dizzying swarm of dancers coming and going or when you’re distracted by a million things all at once, it can be easy to lose sight of a dancer or not notice who came to get them.
There is software that you can purchase for checking in dancers, if you feel that it would help you organize the process better. Capterra noted that many check-in systems allow multiple ways to identify who is checking in, such as using the last name or phone number, or even a bar code. While software is not necessary, and may be beyond your resources, make sure you get the full name and contact info of the person who is checking in the dancer.
Think about what the best option is for check-out, too. You can have parents come directly to the dressing room during intermission or at the end of the show, or you can have a separate table staffed with volunteers to take the info of the family members picking up. Whatever you choose, make sure you fully brief the parents, dancers and volunteers on the event safety procedures.