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Dance Studio Registration Tips – The Final PUSH

Dance Studio Registration Tips 2015-16 – The Final PUSH

When I started my business, I started dance studio registration in June of each year and closed it in early November because that was when we measured students and ordered recital costumes. After that time we were technically closed to new students until summer brochures came out in March of the following year—a registration flow that left me unable to accept new students for three months out of the year.

Considering that my regular season was only nine months long, and that we were only open for classes five hours out of any given weekday, losing three months of enrollment opportunity was not a sustainable plan. So I made one of the best decisions of my business career and extended my enrollment period until Jan. 31. Last year alone, we enrolled an additional 80+ students in the months of November, December and January; 46 of whom were registered in the month of January alone.

If you are interested in expanding YOUR enrollment season, keep reading for 4 Final Push for Dance Studio Registration Tips:

  1. Prepare your Teachers
    A longer enrollment season allows you to serve more students each year. Which is wonderful for you and the students! However, mid-season enrollment can pose a real challenge for teachers if not managed well. If you are planning to expand your registration season, let your teachers know early and work with them to develop strategies for integrating latecomers into the classroom. The focus should be on getting new students up to speed quickly with as little disruption to the regular class as possible. You may even consider offering a complimentary private lesson for new students during this time to give them some movement vocabulary and context of how class will run before their first day. Parents appreciate this extra touch point as well.
  2. Minimize the Roadblocks to Mid-Season Enrollment
    Regular registration happens in June of each year at my studio and requires payment of the first and last month’s tuition along with a $25 registration fee. Dancewear is purchased in August and costume fees take place in November, which allows families to break up the cost of getting started in dance. A mid-season enrollment, however, typically has to cover all of the registration, dancewear and recital costume fees at one time in order to get started. Make it easier for families to get going with classes by breaking up those fees if possible. Even spacing registration and costume fees two weeks apart, or waiving the registration fee, will go a long way towards breaking down the barriers to mid-season enrollment, especially if families are feeling the stress of holiday spending.
  1. The Late Costume Issue
    We do the bulk of our costume ordering over Thanksgiving Break and a “catch up order” at the end of January to cover latecomers. To that end, it’s really important for parents of last minute enrollments to know that their recital costume will NOT be arriving at the same time as rest of the class. I recommend having parents sign a special statement on their registration form acknowledging that enrollments made after Dec. 1 will not receive their recital costume with the class order. It’s also a good idea to call parents of latecomers before the regular shipment comes in to give them the ability to opt of class that day if they feel their dancer will have a hard time seeing everyone else get a costume when theirs hasn’t arrived yet.
  2. Take Advantage of New Year Mojo
    The New Year is a very motivational time for adults. Between looking at getting back into shape and making resolutions, they are also looking for new activities for their children. Take advantage of this natural pattern by ramping up your second semester offerings. Consider offering new sections of class or advertising specials on specific classes (ones with lower enrollment). This is also the perfect time to promote an 8-week Adult Dance Sampler or a second semester day care class. With a little effort and organization the last months of your enrollment season may be your best of the year! Go get it!

Looking for more great dance studio enrollment tips? Check out 5 Ways to Get Last Minute Dance Students in the Door, Three Ways to Evaluate Your Dance Studio Enrollment and 6 Spring Dance Studio Enrollment Boosters.

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

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4 Tips for Refusing Re-enrollment To Problem Parents

Almost every dance studio owner has dealt with some problem parents at one point or another. Sometimes you might not see them coming, other times you can tell they’ll be difficult from a mile away. However it occurs, one bad apple tends to spoil the rest. You don’t want to let one parent turn all of the other parents against you, or encourage them to engage in the drama. So what is a dance studio owner to do? Consider these four tips on how to deal with troublesome dance parents and how to avoid welcoming them back for another year.

1. Have Legitimate Reasons

It is important for dance studio owners to have a contract that lays out the studio policies as well as the consequences for breaking those rules. All parents, and children if they’re of age, should sign this contract before enrolling. If a parent violates one of these rules, studio owners should document the incident and notify the parent.* Refer to your list of studio policies that the parent agreed to upon enrolling in your studio.

Most studio rules don’t welcome aggressive or negative behavior, regardless of whether it comes from the student or parent. It’s also important not to bring other dance parents into the mix. While they may agree with you, you don’t want to start drama between dance parents. However, it is OK to corroborate your opinion with other studio staff members to help support your stance.

2. Deal With Problems in a Timely Manner

Sometimes parents will cause a scene during the dance year, forget about it over the following summer, and assume they can come back and have a fresh start. However, you and other parents may not have forgotten about that incident. While you might be surprised by their attempts at re-entry, it does happen.

If studio owners don’t handle bad behavior right away, it could have unexpected consequences—other parents may be dismayed that a parent got away with poor behavior and choose to leave the studio. When these scenarios occur, it is vitally important to deal with them in a timely fashion.

3. Offer Feedback Forms

Some dance studios offer feedback forms, according to DanceAdvantage.net. These forms give parents the opportunity to mention any comments, good or bad, that they have about the studio. Sure, the commentary may not always be constructive, especially if they bring up something like a costume malfunction, but these forms can also help keep the peace and prevent gossip from stirring up.

Once these forms are submitted, dance owners and parents can sit down to discuss the issues at hand. Setting up a meeting can be a calm, constructive way to find a resolution for a problem. Sometimes, though, resolutions cannot be found. At this point, you’re allowed to note that it’s studio policy and can calmly suggest that they find another studio to go to. Even though it isn’t the best way to refuse a parent back, you can do so knowing that you tried your best to hear the parent’s point of view.

4. Note Issues With Tardiness and Payments

Tardiness shouldn’t be welcomed at practice or any other time, as it can quickly become a habit. Dancers who show up late may throw off routines, cause practices to go later or could compromise a dance recital.

As a studio owner, it’s important to discuss your rules about tardiness with parents. Note the issues that arise from tardiness, and its effects on other dancers and parents. The same goes for payments. To keep your business up and running, you need to charge parents for their children’s lessons. Whether you charge them weekly, monthly or bi-annually is up to you.

However, if a parent doesn’t pay, it can quickly become an issue. If a parent consistently forgets or owes the studio a significant amount of money, it’s acceptable to terminate his or her contract. Discuss with the parent how lack of payment affects the studio as well as the purchase of costumes, footwear and equipment. Hopefully the parent will understand these legitimate reasons for not being welcomed back.

*Reader and veteran studio owner Danie Beck also suggested that in some cases, after you’ve spoken with the parent it may be a good idea to put the dismissal and the reasoning behind it in writing and send it to the parent. If you do, she noted that you should be sure to send it to them “return receipt requested,” so everyone is on the same page and there won’t be any surprises at registration time.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include reader feedback.

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Back-to-Dance Tips: How to Thrive

Back-to-Dance Tips: How to Thrive

Does the thought of having to sub for someone on top of your already hectic schedule make you sweat? Does the idea of having to plan a holiday show keep you up at night? Is your laundry piling up at home while you teach plies at the studio? Are you having trouble keeping up with bookwork now that the studio is in full session? Do you stare 5 p.m. in the face each day and say, “Dinner? What’s that? I’ll have one of those over Christmas break.”

If so, you may have a case of the “Back-to-Dance Blues!”

And, if this is you, it’s time to re-focus the lens on your attitude and actions so that you can thrive, not just survive in the coming months.

Keep reading these back-to-dance tips to get back your A+ game in 3 easy (but not-so-easy) steps…

  1. Break up with your phone.

Have you ever closed your laptop and said, “That’s enough for tonight” only to crawl into your bed and scroll Facebook for another 40 minutes? I’ve been there and it’s a BAD idea for a number of reasons. Science tells us that the blue light coming off of our devices destroys the melatonin we need for a good night’s sleep. And, if you DO get to sleep, you might be woken by email alerts from a parent who forgot their child’s shoes, but is just remembering to write you about it 2 a.m.

Now let’s talk about mornings. Do you roll over after your alarm goes off and start thumbing at the screen lock for a peek at the activity that you may have missed while sleeping? I know all you want to do is take a quick peek around your email, texts and social to make sure everything is okay before getting out of bed. I get it. The problem is that in doing so, you effectively hand over the steering wheel of your day to someone else’s agenda. You are now in reactive and not proactive mode, which is a close second to starting-the-day-without-coffee on the list of bad ideas for entrepreneurs.

2. Start owning your calendar.

Recently I blocked the following into my Google calendar: Morning Reading and Devotional Time, Exercise, Writing, Business Development, Lunch with Husband, Time with Kids, Email and Phone Calls. Yes, I write them with capital letters because to me they are proper nouns—as in if I don’t treat my time properly no one else will. Now when somebody wants to do a call, go to lunch or meet at the office I literally have take something of real value to me OFF the calendar to make room for the new activity. If I look at my calendar and have to choose between another evening meeting at the studio or Time with Kids, my kids win almost every time. But, if my calendar is empty, I’ll just fill with things that take me away from the kids. The truth of the matter is that I can always attend another meeting, but I’ll never get a second chance to raise my kids.

3. Eat the bullfrog first.

Here’s a math problem for you:

You have a list of ten things to do. Seven are easy and three are hard. What do you do?

The seven easy things, of course, because we love to feel accomplished and crossing things off of our list helps us to feel like we are really getting things done. But are we? What about the three meaningful, but hard things, get transferred from list to list until you’ve spent more time rewriting the difficult tasks than it would’ve taken to just do them.

The reality is that for as many hats as you wear at the studio, there are only a few functions that really move the business forward. To that end, may I suggest re-organizing your to-do to begin the day with the hardest/most meaningful task. That’s “eating the bullfrog first” is all about—tackling the ugliest, yuckiest project on your list and getting on with more pleasant things after that. If you can eat the bullfrog first, everything else after that is easy. Are you ready to get back on your A+ game? Then turn off your phone, fill up your calendar with your own proper nouns and eat the biggest bullfrog in your day before noon☺

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

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What’s Trendy for Dance Costumes 2016

dance costumes 2016

As a dance teacher, you constantly want to stay up to date with the latest trends, including performance styles, music, and most importantly, costumes! Costume trends are ever-changing, following inspiration from actual style trends as well as pulling trends from other decades. As a result, it can be hard to keep up. Luckily we’re here to help keep you on top of the latest trends as soon as they come out. Let your dancers shine in these trends for dance costumes 2016.

1. 90’s hip hop

If you’ve got a few hip-hop dancers at your studio, they better get ready for dressing like 90’s  rappers. This year’s costumes include lots of harem pants, joggers, jerseys and even camouflage, accessorized with beanies and flannel shirts, according to Weissman costumes. Many of the colors are inspired by urban looks, including graffiti designs and geometric neon prints. Pair these costumes with your favorite pair of Converse sneakers or high-tops to complete the look.

2. 80’s style

The 80’s are back again! These costumes channel Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Michael Jackson and all of your other favorite 80’s artists. This season, dress your dancers in hologram metallics, mesh, leather and neon-colored geometric and animal prints. According to A Wish Come True costumes, hot colors include bright pinks, blues, yellows, greens, oranges and of course, black. Accessorize these costumes with leg warmers, studded accessories, denim vests and patent leather combat boots to complete the look. For the final touches, give your dancers colored highlights and blue eye shadow.

3. Havana nights

Many costumes have taken on a Spanish and Cuban influence this year. A lot of the costumes embody a look from flamenco and salsa dancers. The hottest costumes include lots of ruffles, feathers, rose prints and skirts. If you’re looking to channel Cuban influences, dress your dancers in oranges, pinks and yellows with off-the-shoulder tops. If you’re looking for a more authentic Spanish style, aim for red and black and a ruffled skirt. Accessorize with lace pieces, rose hair clips, hoops and heels!

4. 60’s mod styles

The 60’s mod look has stuck around for another year. These costumes include looks from artists like Twiggy and go-go dancers. Dress your dancers in polka dots, halter necks and geometric prints. The hottest colors include pinks, blues and yellows, as well as the standard black and white. Pair these looks with penny loafers, oxfords and flats, and high socks! Complete the look with cute headbands and big eyes.

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FAQs When You Start a Dance Studio

start a dance studio

If you’re considering opening a dance studio, you may have a lot of questions. Well, you’re not alone. There are plenty of other aspiring dance studio owners with the same concerns. Consider a few of these frequently asked questions if you want to start a dance studio.

1. What’s the best place to open a studio?

Picking the right location for your dance studio can have a lot to do with your success rate. Of course, you want it to be in a spot that’s easy for parents and dancers to find and see—it shouldn’t be tucked away out of sight. It should also have adequate parking space—enough for staff, students and parents, Dance Exec stated.

It’s also a good idea to look at a location that has a space for a drop-off lane. That way, it won’t disrupt traffic flow but dancers can come and go as they please. The location should also be safe or else parents will not feel comfortable dropping off their children. Look for a space that is local to a park, a school or another establishment that welcomes children. It shouldn’t be near bars or other areas that are adults-only.

Another location consideration is your proximity to other studios, and whether you’ve taught or attended at those locations. Most studio owners would take offense at a former teacher or student opening a studio in a location that would place them in direct competition. Even if you were not previously affiliated with nearby studios, you’ll want to consider whether you’re willing to go head-to-head with those already-established businesses.

2. How can I afford to start a dance studio?

Owning a dance studio can certainly come with its expenses. Between leasing or buying a space and utilities and maintenance, costs can quickly add up. All studio owners need have a business plan, which should include an analysis of these and all other costs, before considering opening a studio. Again, it’s important not to skimp on the studio’s location to try and help your budget.

Instead, choose a smaller space at first that you can expand on later. Look into bank loans and see if there’s one you qualify for that’s reasonable for your budget. If you’re incredibly passionate about opening a studio but can’t afford the space, think about opening one in your basement or garage to help build clientele before moving to a bigger spot.

3. Where should I look for potential staff?

As an owner, you may attempt to run the studio on your own at first, and that’s OK. However, as your clientele grows, you’re going to need a little help. Consider posting ads for local college dance students to see if they are willing to take on an unpaid internship, Dance Teacher suggested. That way, you can save money and have an experienced staff.

If you’re impressed by their teaching skills, offer them a job down the road when you’re completely financially stable. If you are ready to hire instructors right away, the administration of those nearby college dance programs may be able to recommend suitable candidates. If there are any semi-professional dance companies in the vicinity, you might also want to send them information on open positions. Whichever route you take, make sure you are hiring staff with the right qualities for the job.

4. How do I come up with a good name for my studio?

If you’ve always wanted to open a dance studio, you may have a few names in mind. However, if this is a recent initiative, it might be more difficult for you to think of something. Picking a name is one of the very early steps in the process of opening a studio. Regardless of what you choose, it should be easy to remember. That means it shouldn’t be a long name, DanceStudioOwner.com noted. It should also be a name that clearly indicates you’re a dance studio, whether it has dance in the name or not. You can choose something simple, like Jenny Smith Dance Studios, or something that has a play on words, like At the Barre.

Finally, make sure that your name is easy to say AND easy to search for on the web. You don’t want a name that you have to constantly spell or explain—those can be hard to remember. On the other hand, you also don’t want to choose a name that’s too generic and risk people being unable to find you in an online search. Find a good balance!

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Dance Studio Promo: PR Basics

dance studio promo

Do you ever wish that you could get a little more dance studio promo going for your business? Or that you could increase your brand awareness in your community? These are both common goals for small businesses, and in many cases, the easy solution is to increase your public relations efforts and work on some dance studio promo.

What is PR?

Many people don’t quite understand the difference between PR and marketing efforts. After all, sometimes the same tactics – press releases and social media posts, for example – can be used on both sides of the spectrum.

Kay Pinkerton, a PR consultant at Pinkerton Communications, explained on LinkedIn that the most basic difference between the PR and marketing is your focus. When you’re promoting your classes and trying to bring in new customers, that’s marketing. However, when you’re working to build stronger relationships with existing and future clients, that’s when it becomes PR. So to put it simply, marketing is about services and PR is about relationships.

When do You Need PR?

Large corporations often have full-time PR employees who are constantly planning ways to improve the public’s perception of the company. Luckily, you likely don’t need around-the-clock PR for your dance studio. There are some instances when you’ll benefit from good PR, including:

  • If you ever encounter bad press.
  • If you want to promote community outreach you’re doing.
  • If you want to build interest about an event.
  • If you want to build brand awareness in your market.
  • When trying to establish thought leadership.

PR Tips for Studio Owners

If you’re in need of some dance studio promo, whether for one of the reasons listed above or another objective, most of the work is probably going to fall onto your plate as the studio owner. There’s no need to stress, though, as most of PR is pretty easy to master. Here are a few tips that will help you become a PR maven in no time:

  • Build media connections: If you ever are in a position where you want to be featured in a local newspaper or magazine, you’re going to need media connections. Many small business owners choose to cold call or email press members when they want exposure, but your chances of getting a response are much better if you have an established relationship with a media contact.
  • Master the press release: One of the most important PR tools is the press release. These short statements will come in handy when you’re trying to get people interested in your new classes or a community outreach program you’re holding. Practice writing a few before you attempt your first official release.
  • Leverage social media: Before sites like Facebook and Twitter became popular, small business owners relied on newspapers to spread the word of their news. However, these social media sites have become instrumental in low-budget PR efforts, as you can reach a wide audience without spending much money.
  • Establish community partnerships: If you feel like your studio is too small to attract attention on its own, don’t be afraid to establish strategic partnerships with other businesses in your community. Reach out to local retailers, clubs or charitable organizations to see if they’d be willing to co-sponsor an event or partner up for a community outreach program. These are both valuable PR tactics, and it won’t cost you nearly as much to do it with another business.
  • Foster relationships: PR is all about building healthy relationships with your customers and community, so don’t get so wrapped up in “PR efforts” that you neglect the essentials of relationship building. Keep in touch with your professional contacts, help out other businesses and provide great customer service. These are the building blocks of an effective PR strategy.
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Crunching the Numbers Part 2: Metrics for Marketing for Dance Studios

marketing for dance studios

Remember when your high school math teacher told you that you’d need to understand algebra to get by later on in life? You probably scoffed, as many kids do. But we’re here again to go over more calculations that are essential to your dance studio’s success. Hang up your dance shoes and break out the calculator, and get ready for part two of our “Crunching the Numbers” series.

Any small business has to do a fair bit of marketing, and your studio is likely no exception. The fliers you print, the ads you run and the referral program you promote are all ways that you market your dance school in hopes of drumming up new business. But how are you supposed to know if your marketing efforts are working? That’s where metrics for marketing for dance studios come in. Read on to learn how you can calculate marketing return on investment, customer acquisition costs and more.

Marketing Return on Investment

First up is return on investment, commonly referred to as ROI. The concept is simple: You need to figure out how much business you’re gaining in relation to what you’re spending on marketing. For this calculation, you’re going to need your gross profit. You can refer back to part one of this series if you need a refresher on how to find this number.

To find marketing ROI, subtract your marketing investment – how much you spent on marketing services – from your gross profit. Then, you divide the answer by the marketing investment. So if your gross profit is $5,000 and you spent $1,000 on marketing, ROI would be $5,000 minus $1,000, then divided by $1,000. This gives you a marketing ROI of $4 – that means for every $1 you spent on marketing efforts, you got $4 worth of business.

This calculation is essential when you’re evaluating your marketing strategy season over season. It’s always good to try new campaigns – whether it’s direct mail, sale sites or something else – but you should evaluate the worth of a strategy after a given season. If your marketing ROI dips, chances are your new marketing efforts aren’t paying off.

Customer Acquisition Cost

Another important marketing metric is the customer acquisition cost, also called CAC. This is essentially how much money you have to spend on marketing in order to get one new student. The calculation is a simple one.

To find your CAC, set a defined time period. A good measure might be over the course of one dance season. Take the total amount you spent on marketing and divide it by the number of new students you acquired. So if you spent $1,000 on marketing and 20 new students signed up, your CAC is $50.

This metric by itself just tells you that you need to spend $50 to get one new student in the door. However, you can use CAC to calculate other more revealing numbers that will help you adjust your marketing and prices.

Time to Pay Back CAC

One way to use CAC to your advantage is to calculate how long it takes you to make back the money spent on acquiring each customer. You can calculate this in terms of seasons or months, whichever works for you.

To calculate time to pay back CAC, start buy subtracting your seasonal cost per student from the revenue per student. Divide your CAC by this number for time to pay back. So working off the example above, if you earn $500 per student per season and spend $300 per student, you’ll need to divide $50 by $200. This leaves you with an answer of 0.25, meaning you break even on a student’s acquisition cost after 1/4 of a season. Easy right?

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10 Tips for a Confident Dance Teacher Contract

10 Tips for a Confident Dance Teacher Contract

My five kids are all getting ready to go back to school in the next week and along with registration for school comes paperwork…lots of paperwork.

Dance schools are no exception. In fact, among all the studio owners I have spoken with this year (and there have been hundreds), not a single one allows students to participate without signed registration forms.

And, yet for as many who are diligent with student paperwork, there are half as many who take the same care to create a dance teacher contract before class is in session.

If you have other people teaching for you, check out this list for 10 Tips for a Confident Dance Teacher Contract:

  1. Binding – The first part of the employment contract should sets the stage for the rest of agreement. “Binding” establishes that the document is a binding legal document for the term set forth in the contract.
  2. Terms – The terms spell out the basic agreement of how long your employee will work (usually the length of your dance season) and what they will do (position) during that time. To avoid possible future questions or problems, be as detailed as possible when describing what an employee’s responsibilities will be for the length of the contract.
  3. Liquidated Damages Clause – This clause outlines what will happen if either party fails to fulfill the contract. For example, what will the consequence be if a teacher decides to leave mid-season? Spell it out now to avoid problems later.
  4. Non-Compete – A non-compete clause protects you by prohibiting an employee from working for another studio, or opening their own studio, within a certain amount of miles and length of time. Non-compete language and viability varies from state to state, so check with your attorney for state specific language.
  5. Closure Clause – This clause allows for the contract to become null and void if the studio ceases operations for a certain period of days (30 days is typical). Causes for ceasing operations include, but are not limited to, natural disaster, mechanical failure, fire, theft, lawsuit, bankruptcy, and personal emergency of the owner.
  6. Compensation – This is the area to spell out what the employee will earn in exchange for the services provided. Be sure to account for compensation for non-teaching time such as meetings, rehearsals, recitals and competitions.
  7. Benefits – You may be thinking, “I don’t offer benefits,” but I am confident you do. Do you provide complimentary lessons for children of staff members? That’s a benefit to your employees. Do you pay for convention fees or other continuing education opportunities? Again, that’s a benefit. A contract is an opportunity to spell out the great things you do for your employees over and above an hourly wage.
  8. Absences – Now is the time to establish what the acceptable number of absences will be for the employees at your studio and how absences will affect pay and other privileges.
  9. Professional Courtesies – A series of “professionals courtesies” are outlined in our employment contracts and include things such as arriving 15 minutes early to class, wearing neat hairstyles, adhering to dress code, returning messages within 24 hours and reporting any problems with students, parents or the facility to the leadership team in timely manner.
  10. Employee Restrictions – Is there anything that is off limits for your employees? For example, our employees are not allowed to drive students to events, to use office equipment for personal use or to share confidential information about students. Any restrictions should be noted in your contracts.

You may also give consideration to including a policy regarding social media and a photo and video release as part of your employment contracts.

 

Regardless of your studio size or geographic location, a well-written contract is a foundation for a healthy employer-employee relationship. Will you take the time to write, or update, yours this year?

Studio owners don't pay ANYTHING when they use TutuTix.

Trouble viewing the article? Email us at info@tututix.com.

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

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Crunching the Numbers Part 1: Profit Calculations for Studio Owners

If you aren’t a big fan of math, you’re not alone. An article in Psychology Today explained that almost 80 percent of college students described math as a skill they felt they couldn’t figure out. Even if math isn’t your thing, there are going to be quite a few instances where you need to crunch numbers as a dance studio owner. Yes, your calculator can help, but it’s important to understand the basic formulas and processes behind some standard small business profit calculations. Here’s some must-have math that studio owners need to know.

Calculating Gross Profit

Here’s that illustrious word that all studio owners hope for but many fail to achieve: profit. If you’re going to run a business and keep your doors open, you’ll need to know how to calculate gross profit, or the money you’ve earned from selling a service. The seemingly simple equation for gross profit is sales minus cost of services sold.

For studio owners, profit calculations are usually quite simple. Your revenue for a given season – or the money you collected from students – is your sales, and then you subtract any variable costs. Since you’re selling a service instead of a product, your variable costs will likely only include the salaries of hourly teachers, materials used in class and other expenses that incur as a direct result of holding class. Leave any fixed costs – such as full-time employee salaries, rent or mortgage payments, insurance, marketing costs or office expenses – out of this calculation.

So for example, if you charge $500 per student, and you teach 20 students this season, your revenue will be $10,000. If you spend $4,000 on variable costs, your gross profit would be $6,000.

Finding Your Gross Profit Margin

The next step in the important financial calculation is to figure out your gross profit margin, which is your gross profit expressed as a percentage of your revenue. Don’t worry – it sounds harder than it is!

To calculate gross profit margin, simply divide your gross profit by your sales, and then multiply by 100. Following the example above, $6,000 divided by $10,000 is 0.6. Multiple this by 100, and you get your gross profit margin of 60 percent.

Using Gross Profit and Gross Profit Margin

You may think that you’re in the clear if your gross profit increases year after year, but this isn’t always the case. Your gross profit margin is actually a better indicator of how efficiently your business is performing. If you notice that your gross profits are increasing but your margins are on the decline, this indicates that your spending is outpacing your revenue growth. Be wary of this trend! If your costs grow too fast, you could be heading for financial trouble.

Crunching Net Income Numbers

As you may have gathered, gross profit isn’t equivalent to the amount of money your studio is left with at the end of the year. You still need to take into account those fixed costs that remain stable from month to month. According to Entrepreneur magazine, these expenses include:

  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Office supplies
  • Marketing
  • Your salary
  • Wages of full-time workers
  • Taxes
  • Insurance.

Once you’ve added up all these fixed costs, you’re ready to find net income. Subtract this number from the gross profit you’ve calculated. So if your fixed costs are $5,000 and your gross profits were $6,000, your net income would be $1,000. This may not seem like a lot of money, but it’s always a good thing when your business has a net gain at the end of the year. If your net profit turns out to be a negative number, this means you’ve sustained a net loss, and you’ll need to find a way to lower your costs or increase your revenue.

Check back soon for more math-related tips that are key for studio owners!

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Promoting Your Studio With a Dance Class Groupon

dance class groupon

As a consumer, you’re probably a big fan of Groupon. After all, who doesn’t love getting 25, 50 or 75 percent off services from their favorite stores and restaurants? While this site is very popular with consumers – it boasts 70 million subscribers – Groupon isn’t always a win-win experience for business owners.

A study from Rice University showed that Groupon promotions aren’t always profitable. Of the 150 businesses surveyed, 66 percent said their promotion generated money. Despite more than half making money, just 42 percent said they would consider running a deal again. Keep these numbers in mind while you’re deciding whether to use the daily deal site.

If you’re considering offering a discount with a dance class Groupon, here are some pros and cons that you’ll want to weigh before clicking “OK.”

Pro: Groupon Helps Create Your Deal

No need to fret if you’re not a whiz with words. Groupon will not only help you pinpoint services that will sell effectively, but an associate will also give you a hand with the web copy. This comes in handy if you’re not so great at crafting compelling advertisements.

Pro: Bringing New Customers In

Getting new dancers in the door is always a good thing, especially if you’re the new studio on the block. If you choose to run a dance class Groupon deal, it’s safe to bet that you’ll see some new faces in the studio. People love discounts, so this is a good way to edge out some of the more established studios in your area and give your school a competitive edge.

Con: Having to Discount Your Services

While you’ll likely get some new students out of your Groupon promotion, you’re not going to make the same money as you do from regular dancers. No one is going to purchase your deal if you only discount 10 percent – the appeal of daily deal sites is that businesses offer services with steep discounts.

Because you’re only going to be making a portion of your usual revenue from Groupon deals, make sure you will still be bringing in enough money to pay your fixed expenses. Otherwise, you may be better off using traditional marketing tactics to bring in customers who’ll pay the full rate.

Con: Groupon Takes a Cut

After you discount your prices to attract customers, Groupon is going to take a portion of the money you make. The New York Times explained that Groupon usually takes 50 percent of the revenue, so if you sell $500 worth of classes, you’re only going to receive $250.

This can be problematic if you had to discount your prices a lot to begin with. If you offer your services for 40 percent off through your promotion, then Groupon takes half, you’ll end up with 30 percent of the money you would have made if the customers paid full price.

Pro: Getting Paid Immediately

However, one upside to the Groupon method is that you get paid right away. Even if the Groupon buyers never show up to redeem their classes, you’ll still get your money from the site.

Con: Attracting Bargain Seekers

Inc. magazine explained that another less-than-desirable outcome of Groupon is that it attracts people seeking deals. Many of the students who come in as a result of your promotion may only be looking to redeem their classes – not to sign up for more. As a studio, one of your long-term goals is likely to build a solid base of returning students, and if Groupon buyers are only interested in the bargain classes, they’re not going to contribute to this objective.

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8 Lessons You’ll Learn as a Dance Studio Owner

You may think that you know what you’re getting into when you decide to open a dance studio. After all, you’ve likely been involved in the industry for a good part of your life. However, there are definitely some tough lessons you’ll learn when you enter the business side of the dance world. Here are 8 things you’ll come to understand throughout your time as a dance studio owner.

1. ‘No’ is a powerful and necessary word

As a new business owner, you’ll likely want to say yes to everything. It’s hard to tell people no, especially when you are just starting to build relationships with your customers. However, make sure you balance the needs of your students and parents with the needs of the studio. It’s a delicate scale, and you’ll occasionally have to use “no” to keep the balance in check.

2. You need an written, actionable plan

You probably have goals, plans and aspirations for your studio, and that’s great! But you should really be putting them in writing, otherwise they’re easy to forget or lose sight of. This is where an actionable business plan comes in handy – write a detailed roadmap before you open your studio and make sure to update it every year.

You may have the dance skills, but do you have the business savvy?You may have the dance skills, but do you have the business savvy?

3. Your dance know-how isn’t enough

Your pirouettes and plies will come in handy when you’re teaching young dancers, but they’re not going to help you much when it comes time to pay taxes, send invoices or market your studio. Small business owners of all sorts need to have some business-savvy if they’re going to excel, so you may need to purchase a how-to book or sign up for a seminar to fill out your skill set.

4. Customer service isn’t a cakewalk

No two mama dramas are alike, and you’ll be faced with a host of problems throughout your time as a studio owner. It’s important to figure out how you’ll deal with problem parents, diva students and other issues that affect the atmosphere at your school. Your customer service can make or break your studio, so be sure to give it the attention it deserves.

5. Your support system is key

Because you’re serving as a teacher, marketer, book keeper, administrator and more, there will be days when you’re exhausted and overwhelmed. This is when you need your support system more than ever. Whether it’s your spouse, friend, partner, child or fellow teacher, you should have someone who’s there to lend a hand on your toughest days. If you go at it alone, chances are that you’ll wind up with more gray hair than you bargained for.

6. Not everyone will like you

It’s human nature to want people to like you, but very few business owners go through their careers without stepping on a few toes. Sometimes you’ll have to say “no” – as mentioned in No. 1 – and this can lead to upset parents, dejected dancers or disgruntled teachers. Do your best to mend the relationship when this happens, and continue on your way.

Running a business isn't all fun and games, but that doesn't mean it has to be unenjoyable. Running a business isn’t all fun and games, but that doesn’t mean it has to be unenjoyable.

7. At the end of the day, you’re running a business

The reality of the business world is that only 50 percent of companies survive for five years and just 30 percent last 10 years or more. If you’re in this for the long haul, you need to keep in mind that you’re running a business! Each decision you make should be beneficial to the studio if you want to make it in the competitive world of dance.

8. The hard work is worth it

You know the happiness that fills you up when you do something you love? Well you’ll probably get to feel that way every day you’re in the studio. Teaching people to dance is amazingly rewarding, and you’ll find that even on your longest days, you have a smile on your face.

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Hiring Dance Teachers: The Qualities of a Great Instructor

dance staff

What makes a dance teacher great? Yes, knowledge of the art form and technical ability are important, but what sets the dancers apart from the teachers? Here are a few qualities that you may want to look for when you’re hiring dance teachers.

Passion

As is important in many other careers, passion is a necessary quality in a superior dance instructor. Not only will love of dance make even the toughest classes enjoyable, but a teacher with continually positive energy will pass that same joy on to young students.

Flexibility

Another important characteristic is flexibility. Dance teachers need to be able to go with the flow, and this is something that poses a struggle for some professional dancers. You never know when a lesson is going to fall flat with students or when a class will be particularly rowdy. A great teacher will adjust on the fly and make the most of each class, even when things don’t go according to plan.

Dedication

Great dance teachers are often set apart from mediocre instructors by their dedication to the job at hand. Teachers who aren’t fully committed to explaining the necessary skills and molding young dancers often let little things slide in the studio. Maybe they aren’t willing to help out at dress rehearsal or won’t commit to extra hours with a struggling student. The once-in-a-lifetime teachers are the ones who are willing and ready to go the extra mile in the name of teaching.

Patience

Patience is a necessary virtue for all types of teachers. There will more than likely be difficult days with challenging students, and an awesome teacher will overcome these obstacles without losing her cool. Patience is doubly important for instructors who will be working with young or inexperienced dancers, as these students sometimes need a little extra time to grasp concepts.

Education

Even great dancers with natural teaching ability will benefit from training geared specifically for dance education (as opposed to performance). While there are college programs in dance education, there are also other opportunities for instructors to hone their skills, like the teacher training schools offered by Dance Masters of America or Dance Educators of America. While there may be some positions, like assistant teachers, that may not necessitate a certification, requiring your teachers to have some more advanced credentials will greatly increase the quality and safety of instruction provided by your studio.

Professionalism

Finally, a truly top-notch teacher is one that you can count on to handle parents and students with the utmost grace and professionalism. When you have a great teacher on your staff, you won’t worry about him or her sullying the studio’s reputation by acting inappropriately.

Editor’s note: This article was updated to include additional information on dance education programs.

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Dance Studio Advertising: Marketing with Postcards and Direct Mail

Digital marketing is a preferred method of advertising for many companies nowadays, but good old-fashioned snail mail still has its purposes. Studies have shown that consumers still enjoy going out to their mailboxes and sorting through letters, so why not take advantage of the nostalgia associated with direct mail when it comes to dance studio advertising?

Mix up your marketing strategy this year and incorporate a postcard or letter campaign. Here are some tips that will help you make the most of your marketing dollars while working with direct mail.

Pick a Specific Event
The first thing you’ll want to do is pick a specific event or promotion to promote via direct mail. It’s much better to send out postcards specific to your open house or tuition discount than just general promotional materials. A few good events to tailor your campaign around might include:

  • Summer workshops or classes
  • A seasonal recital
  • Your annual open house
  • A seasonal registration period
  • Tuition discounts
  • Guest speakers
  • New classes schedules or genres.

Having a specific and time-sensitive topic to promote will help you to create a sense of urgency and encourage recipients to act immediately.

Design Your Card
Once you’ve decided on the purpose of your postcard or other direct mail piece, you’ll need to design it. You can do this yourself if you’re a whiz with Photoshop, or there’s likely a design professional in your community who can create a sleek, chic postcard for you.

When designing your postcard, you’ll want to include some sort of eye-catching graphic to grab the reader’s attention. Dance Studio Life recommended using a photo from your studio, whether it’s an adorable group of dancers or a wow-worthy action shot. Include a short and sweet statement about your event or promotion on the front of the card, and save the majority of the text for the back.

As you fill in the back of your postcard, don’t forget to include your contact information and website, as well as all the details about your event or promotion. Use actionable language to encourage readers to act soon, otherwise they’ll likely toss the postcard in a pile of mail and forget about it.

Compile a Mailing List
The next step is to figure out who you want to receive the postcard. There are two main groups of people you can market to: existing or prospective customers. Keep in mind that the average response rates for these two groups are 3.4 percent and 1.1 percent respectively, according to the Chief Marketing Officer Council. This factor is essential when figuring out return on investment – if you spend $100 on just 50 post cards, chances are that you won’t make your money back.

If you decide to target prospective customers, you can either buy a targeted mailing list from an online company or use the U.S. Postal Service’s Every Door Direct Mail option.

Measure Your Success
After you’ve stamped all the postcards and shipped them off, you’ll want to devise a way to track the results of your campaign. If you’re promoting an event, you can ask people how they heard about it when they register. If you’re advertising a sale, have new customers bring in their postcards so you can see how many people you actually reached.

This type of data is essential when it comes to future marketing efforts. If you get a great response from your postcard, you may want to use the same strategy again in a few months. But if the results were less-than-stellar, you’ll have to revisit the drawing board to figure out how to better target your customers.

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Dance Photography Tips for Studio Owners

Dance Photography Tips

Nothing sells your dance studio to prospective students quite like a perfectly captured photograph. Maybe it’s all your dancers smiling during their final recital number or a great shot of a tumbler in action. Whatever your favorite pictures may be, they’re likely an essential part of your marketing strategy. But sometimes pictures need a little help before they can wow your audiences. Capturing action shots is tricky to begin with and even more difficult when you’re in a dark auditorium. That’s why it’s important for studio owners to learn how to artfully manipulate digital photographs with editing software. Not sure where to start? Here’s a guide with dance photography tips that will help you capture the best pictures and transform them into invaluable works of art.

How to Get the Best Pictures

Just like with choreography or any other work of art, the better your materials are, the more impressive the final product will be. You’re not going to create a breath-taking performance with lackluster tricks, and you probably won’t end up with an amazing photograph if you start out with a sub-par snapshot.

With that in mind, use this tips to get the best pictures possible:

  • Use a digital single-lens reflex camera, also called a DSLR, if possible. These cameras are easy to use and capture much clearer pictures than point-and-shoot cameras.
  • You’ll want to put your camera on the highest ISO setting, which will make the camera more sensitive to light and therefore better able to capture quick snapshots of moving subjects.
  • Try to take photos in quick bursts so you have a number of action shots to choose from. A fast shutter speed will improve the clarity of these pictures.
  • Don’t get stuck in one spot. Move around to capture different angles so you have pictures from every side.
  • Try to take pictures both close up and far away. To accomplish this, you can either use the zoom function or simply move closer to the stage.
Grab your DSLR and get shooting!
Grab your DSLR and get shooting!

Choosing an Editing Program

Before you can start digitally altering your photographs, you’ll need to find editing software. There are many great programs available, and there are options to fit just about every budget. Software like Apple’s Photos is free for Mac users, as are online programs like Pixlr and Photobucket. If you’re willing to spend some money for a more high-tech option, look into Adobe Photoshop Elements or Pixelmator, both of which have low one-time fees.

Whatever program you choose, you’ll need a few key feature editing capabilities. Look for software that offers the following tools:

  • Cropping
  • Straightening
  • Resizing
  • Shadow and highlight adjustment
  • Saturation adjustment
  • White balance adjustment
  • Sharpen and blurring
  • Red-eye removal.

“Photo editing is often learned through trial and error.”

How to Edit a Photograph Step-by-Step

Now that you have a host of pictures and editing software, it’s time to start learning the ropes. For many amateurs, editing pictures is a trial-and-error style process. You have to figure out the flow that works for you! Here are a few guidelines to get you started.

1. Upload and Store Your Images

You’ll need to transfer your pictures from the camera onto the computer, whether it’s through a USB cord or the Cloud. Once they’re uploaded to the computer, create a file for the original images and label the folder clearly so you can quickly find them later on.

2. Pick Out Superior Snapshots

If you have dozens of images to chose from, you can make your job a little easier by doing an initial run-through of all the pictures. Find five or six photos that are clear and focused, and separate them into a new folder. These will be the images that you edit.

3. Crop and Straighten

Start by using the cropping tool to cut off any empty space in the picture. It’s often better to have a close-up view of your subjects than to have them get lost in a big background. You’ll also want to use a straightening tool to level the horizons of your photo. If the picture is on a slant, tilt it so the dancers are standing tall.

Don't be afraid to mess around with test photos to get comfortable with your editing program.
Don’t be afraid to mess around with test photos to get comfortable with your editing program.

4. Adjust the Levels

Now comes the tricky part. There are many different levels that you can adjust in a photograph, including exposure, brightness, white balance, sharpness, shadows, highlights and more. Some pictures may not need adjustment in these departments, but you can fool around with the aspects to see how you can improve the photo.

In general, you may want to tinker with the white balance so that any white objects appear clearly and aren’t tinted by the stage or studio lights. You can also sharpen the image a bit if it’s unclear or blurry. This is also a good time to remove red eye from any of your subjects and smooth out blemishes on any close-up shots.

5. Save or Scrap Your Edits

The great thing about digital photo editing is that it’s easy to revert back to the original picture if your edits don’t come out right. Keep working at your editing skills, and soon you’ll discover that with a few quick tweaks, your photos look as if they were shot by a professional.

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5 Cost-Efficient Dance Studio Marketing Ideas for Summer

Chances are that, like most dance studios around the country, your cash flow drops during the summer. You may host dance camps and a few summer classes, but you won’t be as busy as you are during the school year. Just because your studio has hit its seasonal lull doesn’t mean you can’t continue to market your business and services. In fact, summer is the perfect time to hone in on some of your marketing tactics and see how you can revamp them for the seasons to come. Here are five dance studio marketing ideas for specific areas that you may want to focus on while you have a little extra time this summer.

1. Work on SEO

Search engine optimization best practices are always changing and evolving. The strategies that may have boosted your website in search last year may actually be hurting it this year. That’s why you should take time this summer to read up on SEO and how you can improve your studio’s site. Here are some of our SEO tips for beginners, but you may also want to look into mobile optimization, keyword strategies and best landing page structures.

2. Set Up a Referral Program

If you don’t have a student referral program, set one up this summer! The Dallas Chronicle explained that referrals are one of the most cost-efficient ways to bring in new students without shelling out a ton of money for advertisements. Think about what you could offer students who refer friends to your studio – discounted tuition? Free merchandise? Free recital tickets? Whatever you choose, just make sure that it’s valuable enough to be appealing to your dancers, but not so generous that you’ll wind up regretting it.

3. Create Testimonial Videos

You probably have some great videos stored on your phone or computer from seasons past, so why not put them to good use? Gather your videos together in one place and work to compile short films that you can display on your website. You may also want to see if a few of your long-time dancers are willing to sit down and talk about their experiences at your studio. A compelling testimonial video will likely perform well on your website and social media pages.

4. Work on Your Brand

Small businesses are always growing and evolving, and it’s essential that you keep your brand consistent across all forms of communication. If you haven’t had the time to upload your new logo onto your email newsletter or are still using outdated class prices on your website, take time this summer to update all these little inconsistencies. It may not seem like such a big deal, but potential customers are more apt to trust your business if they receive consistent messages about who you are and what you do.

5. Keep Up Your Newsletter

Your summertime marketing should ideally grab the attention of prospective students, but you also want to keep your current dancers engaged. That’s why it’s crucial to keep up your studio newsletter during the summer. Send out updates about what’s going on in the classroom during the warmer months, changes that you’ll be making for coming seasons, what other dancers are doing at summer intensives or even just tips on how dancers can stay in shape over break.

Don’t have a newsletter? Create one soon! There’s no excuse not to take advantage of this easy marketing strategy, as free platforms like MailChimp provide you with all the tools you need to put together a professional, polished email blast.

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