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Tag: studio management

4 Tips for Screening Employees for Your Studio

Screening Employees

When you’re hiring new dance instructors, it’s essential that you take the right steps when it comes to background screening. It’s part of your responsibility as an employer to create a safe environment for both students and other employees, and that means looking into the backgrounds of individuals who will be working in the studio. If you’re not currently screening employees or you want to revamp your background check processes, here are four tips that will help you streamline the task.

1. Find a Reputable Company

You probably have a pretty tight budget when it comes to recruiting and hiring, so “free” or “do-it-yourself” background checks may seem like the best option to save money. However, sites the claim to offer free background screening usually have hidden fees or provide inaccurate, incomplete or outdated information. It’s better to look into reputable consumer reporting agencies that are known for working with small businesses. These companies will provide you with quality information at a price you can afford.

2. Create Written Policies

When you conduct inconsistent background checks, you’re opening up a can of legal worms. Consistency is key if you want to avoid any legal issues, so it’s a best practice to put your screening policies in writing. Document the steps you take with each candidate and make sure to keep records of the background checks you conduct. This documentation will be invaluable if legal action is ever taken against your studio.

3. Check References

Another way to ensure the integrity of your potential employees is to check their references. Take the time to call past employers, coworkers or fellow performers. This may eat up a little bit of your valuable time, but you may discover issues that otherwise would go undetected.

4. Check Social Media – Carefully

Looking up a job candidate’s social media sites is a helpful way to get insight on the person’s character, but there are some legal limitations to the information you can gather from these sites. A good rule to follow is that if you can’t legally ask the candidate a question in an interview, you shouldn’t gather the answer from social media. For example, it’s unlawful to ask about a job applicant’s age, race or marital status, so don’t turn to social media sites for this information. Otherwise, you could end up with a discrimination lawsuit on your hands.

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The Art of Dance Recital Ticket Sales

The Art of Dance Recital Ticketing

The Art of Dance Recital Ticket Sales

The dance recital is the most important moment in the year. Is your method of dance recital ticket sales helping you make the most of the experience?

The Old Way

  1. Studio owners and staff spend hours preparing seating charts, printing tickets, manning the ticket sales table, and processing refunds and exchanges.
  2. Parents have to come to the studio at prescribed days and times, and may not even be able to pay with a credit card.
  3. Studio owners have to deal with difficult or unhappy parents who feel they should get specific seats.
  4. In a studio with 200 students, you could have 200 parents wait 4 hours in line on ticket day. That’s 800 hours of lost productivity and leisure time!
  5. The average studio sells $16,000 in tickets per year, typically accumulating large amounts of cash that need to be secured and deposited.

With TutuTix:

  1. Studio owners save time and money. Just send TutuTix your seating chart and we’ll take care of the rest!
  2. Parents save time. A ticket purchase takes 5 minutes. Who doesn’t want their Saturday back?
  3. It’s convenient. With TutuTix, parents can buy anytime online, via phone, or even directly from your studio’s Facebook page! This convenience is important – the percentage of people who expect to buy tickets online has doubled in the past 3 years.*
  4. It’s secure. Parents pay securely online or over the phone, and funds are deposited weekly into your studio’s account.
  5. It’s fair. All parents have an equal shot at choosing their preferred seats with TutuTix’s interactive seating chart. TutuTix can even handle special pre-sales for specific groups or help you tie ticket purchases to a student’s account status.

Find out how we can bring the “happy” to ticket sales for you and your dance parents. Request more information about TutuTix today.

*Source: https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2014/click-and-cha-ching-e-commerce-shifts-into-higher-gear-around-the-globe.html

Make this recital season the happiest one yet! Complete the form below to request more information about TutuTix.

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How to Start a Competition Dance Team

When you’ve been running a successful recreational dance studio for a couple years and have some amazingly talented students in your classrooms, you might start to think about ways to show the world how great your dancers are. What better way to do that than start a competitive dance team at your studio? If you’re wondering how to start a competition dance team, follow these easy steps.

Gauge Interest

Before you jump head-on into planning, it’s a good idea to see how many of your students would be interested in joining a competition team. Some may be too busy with other sports or extracurriculars to dedicate enough practice time, and others might not be able to afford the additional costs of competitions. You can gauge interest by talking to parents and students or sending out a survey to everyone. Make sure you have a solid group of students on board before making any definitive decisions.

Hold Tryouts

Once you’ve determined that your dancers are ready and able to take their dancing to the next level, you’ll want to hold tryouts for your new competition team. There are a number of different ways that you can structure tryouts – your needs will dictate which method works best in your studio. Varsity.com explained that some studios hold open tryouts where any student can apply to be on the team. In this type of situation, you’ll likely have to make cuts, so be prepared to give your dancers honest feedback.

Another common method of recruiting dancers is to have “invitation only” tryouts. This strategy ensures that only dancers who are advanced enough for the rigors of competition will be considered. It can help spare your novice dancers the rejection of being cut and makes your job easier, as you’ll likely have fewer students to consider.

Whichever method you choose, it’s best to hold a meeting with parents before or during tryouts to explain the expected costs and time commitments that come along with competitive dance. The last thing you want is to select the perfect team only to have half drop out because of the price.

Schedule Practices and Outline Expectations

After you have a great group of dancers on your new team, you’ll need to create a practice schedule that works for all parties involved. Ideally, it shouldn’t interfere with their other dance classes or outside activities. However, the reality is that you may not be able to find a time that works for everyone. Do the best you can and make compromises whenever possible.

You’ll also need to outline your expectations for this new group. How many practices are they able to miss? What happens when they show up late? How far in advance do you need costume payments? Are there certain behaviors you expect dancers to uphold as representatives of your team? These are all important considerations to take into account. Competition teams generally have strict guidelines for dancers because if just one person is missing, the whole practice can be thrown off and the team may suffer.

Hone Your Skills

Once the paperwork is filled out and expectations are set, it’s time to do what you do best – practice! Start creating routines, building team bonds and preparing your dancers for competition life. You may want to bring in guest speakers who have experience in competitive dance or attend a local competition to see what the atmosphere is like. Some competitive teams also require their students to attend certain camps to work on skills and technique, but this should depend on whether your students are willing and able to do so.

When you think your team is ready, pick your first competition and go for it! Whether you win or lose, you’ll be on your way to creating a strong, covetable competition dance team.

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Assistant Dance Teacher: Pros and Cons

Assistant Dance Teacher

If your beginner dance classes are growing in size but you’re not ready to bring on another instructor, you may be considering asking one of your older, trusted students to become an assistant dance teacher. It’s a common practice throughout the industry to have older dancers assist in preschool and beginner classes to keep kids focused and complete certain administrative tasks.

However, just like with any other business decision, there are both pros and cons of bringing on assistants to help out in your classes. Here are some of the considerations you should take into account when you’re thinking about creating this new role in your studio.

Pro: They’re a Big Help

The most obvious benefit of having an assistant dance teacher is the relief he or she can provide an overburdened instructor. Dance Advantage explained that assistants are frequently responsible for taking attendance, escorting students to the bathroom, handing out props, leading warm ups, keeping kids focused and answering basic parent inquiries. Naturally, these duties will vary between studios depending on what your teachers need help with. More advanced students sometimes also aid in correcting dancers’ form and technique during class, but it’s important that you keep in mind that an assistant’s duties should be directly related to his or her compensation.

Con: You’ll Need to Compensate Assistants

You may think that teaching assistants are the way to go if you don’t have the funds to hire another instructor, but you shouldn’t assume students will work for free. The Dance Teacher blog explained that while many studios don’t pay students monetarily, they implement some other form of payment to compensate assistants. This could be with free lessons, reduced tuition, free merchandise or even just a weekly stipend. Before you start recruiting students to be assistants, make sure you figure out what you’re willing to offer in return for their services.

Pro: The Role Benefits Students

Having an assistant dance teacher in the classroom is a big help to teachers and studio owners. Dance Studio Life noted that teacher’s assistants are able to develop leadership skills, get experience working with children, improve their own dance knowledge and build up their resumes. The role may be especially helpful for students who are considering pursuing a career as a dance instructor, as it shows them what life is like on the other side of the classroom.

Con: They’ll Need Training

The students you recruit as assistants may be eager and ready to take on their new responsibilities, but chances are that they’ll need a fair bit of training. Most students will be a little awkward in their first few months of assisting, and you’ll be able to get them comfortable more quickly if you have some sort of training system. This will require some work on your part before your teaching assistants are living up to their full potential.

Pro: It Can Be a Great Selling Point

If you’re looking for ways to set your studio apart from competitors, having a helping hand in each classroom is definitely a selling point. Once you have training and capable assistants, you can explain to prospective parents that students get as much individual attention as they need and won’t feel lost if they’re ever in a large class. It may seem like a small difference, but it can really be significant when you’re located in an area with a saturated dance market.

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Owning a Dance Studio: A Guide to Taxes

Owning A Dance Studio

Each spring, you’re faced with one of the more unpleasant aspects of owning a dance studio – filing your taxes. If you think personal taxes were confusing, chances are that you’ll find business taxes even more so. There are a number of different deadlines you’ll have to adhere to and a variety of forms that need to be filled out.

If you struggle to keep your paperwork in order and get your taxes done on time, use this guide to straighten yourself out and get your studio’s taxes squared away.

Best Practices for Studio Owners

Your studio taxes will be so much easier if you stay organized throughout the year. If you throw paperwork here, there and everywhere, chances are that you’ll be scrambling to find it once tax season arrives. Make your life a whole lot simpler by setting up an organized filing system for your expenses, receipts, bills, invoices and other important paperwork. If you have office staff, train them to use the new system so that everyone is on the same page.

It’s important to save copies of other materials as well, especially if your studio isn’t making a profit quite yet. Dance Teacher magazine explained that if you don’t make money three out of five years, the IRS could deem your business a “hobby,” leading to you owing more money for losses you’ve claimed. If you’re operating in the red, save evidence that can be used to prove you’re taking steps to improve your studio, whether it’s marketing materials, new business cards, a company roadmap or your day planner.

Start getting your books in order at the end of each calendar year. As tempting as it is, you shouldn’t wait until February or March to start preparing your taxes.

What’s Up with Sales Tax?

Since your studio is an educational institution, you don’t have to charge sales tax on lessons, right? The answer actually depends on what state you live in. Back in 2014, dance studio owners across Missouri were shocked to find they owed back taxes to the state because of a legislative change. Americans for the Arts explained that the state reclassified studios as places of recreation and entertainment, which means they aren’t exempt from sales taxes.

There are actually a number of states where studios must tack sales tax onto tuition bills. DanceStudioOwner.com explained that this is necessary in Iowa, West Virginia, New Mexico, South Dakota, Hawaii and sometimes New Jersey.

“When dance studio owners don’t feel comfortable with sales tax, they’re definitely not alone,” Jessica Sheitler, owner of Financial Groove, explained to DanceStudioOwner.com. “I feel like it’s probably one of the most misunderstood aspects of running a dance studio, honestly. [Taxes are] different in every single state. Even within your state, it can be different within your county and your city.”

Chances are that you should also be charging sales tax on costumes and other merchandise that you sell. However, the regulations vary by state and jurisdiction, so figure out what’s necessary in your area.

Know Your Write-Off Options

You might owe the government more money than you’d originally thought, but the silver lining is that there are a number of expenses you may not have realized you could write off. The Houston Chronicle explained that you can write off reasonable and necessary expenses related to your profession. This means you can write off dance supplies, such as props and music or even office supplies. If you take the bus to work, you can likely file a deduction for the cost of your pass. Similarly, if you travel for the studio, track your mileage and write off the cost of gas.

Talk with your accountant about what expenses can be written off come tax time. Just remember that if you plan to write items off, it’s imperative that you keep any and all receipts related to the purchase or expense. The more detailed your records are, the more likely that the write-off will stick.

Find the Right Help

If all of this sounds overwhelming, it’s in your best interest to find a knowledgeable accountant who can help you get your taxes done right. Be sure to find a professional who has experience working with creative businesses – preferably studios – so you know that he or she can get you as much money back as possible. Once you find an accountant who is a good fit for your needs, don’t be afraid to seek advice for matters other than taxes. Chances are that he or she can help you work toward your other business goals.

“Have a dream for your studio and discuss it,” Lilia Wood, a studio owner who worked with Financial Groove, explained to Dance Teacher magazine. “Take advantage of their expertise so you can make those dreams a financial reality.”

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Dance Studio Owner Tips: Is Hiring a Collection Agency Worthwhile?

As wonderful as all your dance students are, there’s always a chance that one or two parents will try to skip out on their bills. It’s certainly an unfortunate and awkward situation to handle, but it’s often an inevitable part of being a small business owner. While every situation is unique, and there may be instances in which you are able to meet privately with a parent and work out payment arrangements, there will be times that parents simply aren’t paying their fees. When you’ve sent multiple invoices, made phone calls, sent emails, etc. and received nothing back, you have two main options: accept that you probably won’t see that money or enlist the help of a collection agency.

There are probably a lot of considerations you’ll want to take into account before hiring a collection agency, but the bottom line is whether the service will be worth it for your particular situation. If you are a dance studio owner, here’s how you can figure out if you need to go to collection and a few tips to make the process a smooth one.

Are Collection Agencies Worth It?

Perhaps the most important factor to take into account when deciding how to handle past-due bills is whether going to collection will be worth it financially. If you have a customer who owes $50, chances are that the process of sending the account to collection and having service fees deducted won’t be worth it for the minimal amount of money you’ll get in return. However, bigger bills can sometimes make or break your studio, and if you get the sense the parents aren’t going to pay, it might be time to call in the professionals. After all, it’s better to get a portion of the total bill after the agency’s commission than to get nothing at all.

Many small business owners think that if they’re persistent, they can collect the money themselves. This is sometimes the case, but it will likely sap your time and resources to be calling, emailing and mailing the customers in question. You should also realize that the longer an invoice is past due, the less likely you are to see your money. A survey from the Commercial Collection Agency Association found that after three months, the probability of you collecting the money drops by 30 percent. At six months past due, there’s only a 50 percent chance that you’ll be able to collect.

Will Using a Collection Agency Hurt Your Reputation?

Sometimes small business owners are hesitant to work with collection agencies because it will hurt the company’s reputation. It’s no secret that customers generally dislike collection agencies, and there’s always the chance that the disgruntled parent will tell your other customers what transpired.

It’s a real possibility and you’ll have to decide if you’re willing to take the risk. However, one studio owner put the issue into perspective on a forum about collection agencies.

“If people don’t like collection agencies, then they need to pay their bills or at the least work out an arrangement to pay off the debt,” explained the owner on Dance.net. “A dance studio is a business and needs to be thought of as a business and run like a business.”

As always, payment policies should be clearly stated in registration materials and student contracts. Since payment issues could potentially affect a student who is still taking classes, carefully think through whether students with delinquent accounts can still attend, and make sure those policies are also communicated. If you run into problems down the road, these policies will give you a solid foundation for dealing with delinquent payments, and will help protect your studio’s reputation.

How Can You Streamline the Process?

The first time you use a collection agency, you may be a little lost in the process. However, you can make the ordeal easier by picking the right agency to work with and knowing what to expect.

When choosing a company to handle your collections, ask if they’ve worked with dance studios before and get references if possible. Call the other studios and see what their experiences were like before you sign up with an agency. The Fox Small Business Center recommended you check that the company is authorized to collect money from debtors in other states in case your past-due customers have recently moved. Don’t be afraid to get in touch with a few different agencies to find the one that’s the best fit for your needs.

Once you’ve chosen a company to work with, you can sit back and let them handle the awkward encounters. However, be aware that your past-due customers may very well call you to try and work things out. In these situations, you should simply explain that the matter is in the hands of the collection agency now and all communication and payment should go through them. Remember: You’re completely within your rights as a business owner to do what it takes to get the money you’re owed!

It’s always a good idea to build a relationship with the agency, especially if you think you’ll need to use them again. Be available to answer their questions and try to set up a meeting so you can talk about best collection practices face-to-face.

“When you hire a collection agency, you’re hiring a business partner,” Martin Sher, co-owner of AmSher Receivables Management, explained to Fox. “Smart clients meet with their agencies, discuss any issues that arise, provide them with any information they need and give them feedback.”

Using a collection agency probably won’t be an enjoyable experience, but at the end of the day, you’ll come out a stronger, more efficient business owner.

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Tips on Choosing the Right Dance Studio Curriculum

Dance Studio Curriculum

When you’re in the process of opening a dance studio, there are many, many decisions to be made. While you think about names and locations, you’ll also need to take the general dance studio curriculum into consideration. Today, there are two main categories of dance classes – competition and recreational. It’s important to decide if your studio is going to cater to just one of these types or offer both options to dancers. It goes without saying that it’s a big decision! Here are some considerations to take into account when deciding what type of dance classes to hold in your new studio.

Recreational Dance

Studios that boast recreational programs often work with a wide variety of students. You can offer lots of different class genres and have different skill levels, but the bottom line is that your dancers aren’t pressured to perform competitively. Aspire Dance Academy noted that in its recreational dance program, students are guided toward their fitness goals in a more relaxed class atmosphere. At the end of each season, recreational students usually perform in a recital to show off their skills to family and friends.

Competition Teams

The major difference with competitive dance is that there’s a greater financial and time commitment, both for students and the studio. In addition to offering a set number of competition classes each week, you’ll have to take into account the costs of entering, preparing for and traveling to competitions with your dancers. However, the opportunity to perform in front of new audiences and compete around the country is often appealing to many students. If you’re on the fence about offering competitive dance at your studio, it can often be helpful to talk to other studio owners for a first-hand account of the pros and cons.

Consider Your Target Market

As with any big decision when it comes to your studio, you need to take your target market into account. Think about the students who you believe will attend your studio. If they’re dedicated athletes, chances are there will be lots of interest in a competition program. On the other hand, if you’re catering to mostly preschoolers, it may be best to start off with just recreational classes. You should also take into account the other dance schools in your area and the classes they offer – if there are lots of recreational studios, but no competition programs, competitive dance could very well be a profitable niche.

The more information you can gather about the needs of your community, the better informed you will be when it comes to making decisions about your studio’s curriculum. If you really aren’t sure about what types of classes potential students would be interested in, it would probably be beneficial to do a little bit of research, either by surveying local students or simply talking to parents in the community.

Quality Across the Board

No matter which path you choose for your studio, it’s important to realize that you should focus on providing the best quality instruction possible. The Dance Exec blog noted that sometimes the dance industry views recreational classes as less technical and informative than competitive classes. However, if you want to run a competitive business, it’s important that all your courses offer the same high-quality instruction. A good measure of if your recreational classes are up to snuff with your competitive offerings is if groups of dancers with similar skill levels can perform together harmoniously at an end-of-season recital.

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What Are Dance Teacher Responsibilities?

Dance Teacher Responsibilities

Are you hiring new teachers for your studio? Or, revisiting your teacher contracts? If so, you’re probably considering what to expect from your employees. After all, it’s seldom that dance teachers are required to simply show up and teach class – there’s so much more to the role! Having clear expectations for teachers makes for a successful school. Consider these points when laying out dance teacher responsibilities at your studio.

Responsibilities in the Classroom

There are a number of “givens” that you can expect from any employees working in your studio. These include showing up on time, behaving professionally, being prepared and respectful, and successfully teaching the students. However, there are also a number of supplementary responsibilities that you may also want to outline in a teacher’s contract. The UNITY Dance Organizations explained that dance educators should always provide a safe environment for their students, both physically and emotionally. Additionally, it is important that they serve as role models for dancers in terms of sportsmanship, lifestyle choices and attitude.

Expectations Outside of Teaching

There are a number of dance teacher responsibilities outside the classroom. On a daily basis, teachers should be respectful and supportive of other staff members and as open as possible regarding studio matters. Many studios expect their instructors to become familiar with the parents of their students and help to enforce policies on dress code and behavior. These are pretty standard tasks that you do not need to offer additional compensation for. However, be sure to clearly outline these responsibilities in your employment contracts so teachers know what is expected of them.

When Additional Compensation is Required

Outside of these standard responsibilities, there are instances where you may have to offer additional compensation to your instructors. DanceStudioOwner.com explained that many studios pay their teachers extra to attend certain yearly events, such as open houses, competitions and auditions. Similarly, extra tasks like choreographing routines and conducting private lessons should be compensated accordingly. You’ll want to outline your policies and rates for these tasks before hiring new teachers. This way everyone will be on the same page as to what is part of the job description and what is considered extra work.

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Encouraging Dance for Boys in Your Studio

Dance for Boys

The unfortunate but honest truth is that girls make up the majority of students at dance studios across the country. Dance is too often viewed as a feminine pastime, and as a result, boys who may be interested in taking classes are sometimes hesitant to ask. So what should you do if you want to bring boys into the studio? Here are a few steps you can take to encourage dance for boys and make your school a welcoming place for males and females alike.

1. Consider Your Facilities

The first thing you should do if you’re trying to attract more boys to your studio is take a good look around the premises. Are the walls pink? Is the waiting room decorated with pictures of female ballerinas? Are your changing rooms for girls only? These design choices may be in line with your current clientele, but they will likely work against you when it comes to selling dance for boys in your studio. Dance Advantage explained that simple, vibrant decor in neutral colors is often a good choice when catering to both genders. You should also be sure to feature a variety of dancers and genres in your artwork.

2. Rethink Marketing Efforts

In the same way that your studio might be female-centric, your marketing efforts might give off feminine vibes as well. Revisit your website and consider whether it’s clear that you welcome and host dance for boys. You may want to consider adding a note that you offer classes for males on your advertisements and promotions as well. Don’t just assume that boys know they’re welcome – make it crystal clear in your marketing efforts. It may also help to rethink where you’re advertising. Consider putting up fliers in community centers that boys frequent or reaching out to male youth groups in your town.

3. Find a Male Representative

A strong male role model can go a long way toward increasing your male enrollment numbers. Dance Teacher magazine explained that a talented and dedicated instructor is often the reason that studios become a mecca for male dancers.

“You need to find someone who is committed, community-centered and not self-centered,” Erik Saradpon, director of hip-hop at Temecula Dance Company in California, told Dance Teacher magazine. “You want someone reliable and dependable who can see the program in terms of years and isn’t impatient.”

If you have a few male students already, it might be worthwhile to have them speak to potential students about their experiences at your studio. Boys likely want to know that they’re joining a facility that focuses on athleticism, and they may be more convinced if they hear about classes from a peer.

4. Be Prepared for Their Needs

When you finally get a few males to come in for a class, be sure your instructors are prepared to meet their needs. Boys may respond better to different teaching methods than their female counterparts, so it’s best to delegate the task to a teacher who’s worked with males before. Dance Magazine explained that guys often get bored during the same classes that females thrive in, so teachers should try to mix up activities to really engage the students.

“One time we brought a mini trampoline into the studio to work on entrechats,” Peter Boal, director of Pacific Northwest Ballet and the PNB School, explained to Dance Magazine. “The boys were so excited, it was as if had we had turned on the TV.”

For your first few male classes, be sure to have an arsenal of activities ready so you can find what resonates with the students. If you wow them during the first few sessions, you’ll likely retain more male students and be able to grow your enrollment.

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Dance Business Ideas: Small Improvements Make a Big Difference

Dance Business Ideas

You might not have the cash available to purchase new floors and mirrors for your dance studio, but there are other improvements you can make to your facilities that don’t cost quite as much. Even small changes here and there can go a long way toward bettering the space for dancers and their parents. Use these dance business ideas to make a notable difference in your studio’s efficiency and atmosphere without breaking the bank.

Organize the Front Office

Many studio owners focus their improvement efforts on the classrooms, but the front office can often use a little love. If you find that your desk is covered with messages, clipboards and stray papers, you could probably benefit from an updated organizational system. Not only will this help you to keep track of all your paperwork, it will translate into more efficient service for parents when it comes to paying bills, scheduling meetings and ordering merchandise. Invest in some filing cabinets, mail organizers and a studio management program, if you haven’t already.

Consider a Cleaning Service

If you regularly take time out of your schedule to clean your studio, you’re missing out on an opportunity to work on marketing, class planning or teacher scheduling. Dance studio owners are notoriously busy, so why not give yourself a break and hire a commercial cleaning service? This will ensure that every corner of your facilities is immaculate for your dancers and parents. A thorough weekly cleaning can go a long way toward maintaining a professional appearance. If you’re worried about the cost, United Contract Services noted that you can usually get a discount if you sign a year-long contract with a local cleaning company.

Bring in a Little Greenery

Did you know that there are a number of documented benefits of having plants in your workplace? Research has shown that a little bit of greenery can help boost the moods of employees and patrons, as well as improve air quality. Consider purchasing a few plants to brighten up your offices and the waiting rooms. Don’t worry if you have a “brown thumb” – there are plenty of plants that can survive with minimal attention. The Today Show recommended peace lilies and spider plants as two low-maintenance options to display indoors.

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Dance Studio Owner Tips: Improving Student Retention Rates

Dance studio owner tips

Getting students in the door of your dance studio is only half the battle. Once dancers have signed up for classes and started learning at your school, the next crucial step is convincing the students and their parents that they should return next season. Unfortunately, this task isn’t as easy as advertising the perks of your studio. You have to deliver great classes and service if you want to boost retention rates. Here are five dance studio owner tips that can help ensure your dancers will stay with your studio for seasons to come.

1. Review Your Classes

The first way you can be sure that your students are happy and planning to re-enroll is to evaluate your class offerings. Dance Informa magazine recommended that you distribute electronic or written evaluations at the end of each season. Have students note what they liked about the class, how they felt about the instructor and what they thought could be improved. For preschool dance classes, you may want to poll the parents for insight. This will let students know that their feelings are being heard and allow you to note what classes aren’t working.

2. Be Stringent about Dancer Placement

One common reason that dancers switch schools is because they’re either struggling to keep up or not feeling challenged enough. This problem can be avoided by placing increased emphasis on level placement for new and returning dancers. It can be tempting to bump students up to a more advanced class so they can stay with their peers, but this decision can ultimately hurt your business. The same goes for holding students back based on age rather than skill level. Work with your instructors to ensure every dancer is in the appropriate level class so you’re not caught off guard by defectors.

3. Offer More Than Dance Information

Chances are that your recreational students take dance classes not just to learn arabesques and jazz splits, but also so they can stay healthy and fit. Dance Advantage noted that it is often beneficial for dance instructors and studio owners to be knowledgeable about different aspects of nutrition and fitness. This will allow your staff to provide advice on how students can improve their lifestyles outside of the studio. It’s a small step that can help set your school apart from the competition and convince dancers that they’re receiving the most bang for their buck.

4. Poll Exiting Students

It’s inevitable that you’ll lose students once in a while, but some good can come from these departures. Create an exit poll to help figure out why dancers are choosing not to enroll again. If you want honest results, it may be best to distribute the survey electronically and allow people to submit their responses anonymously. This will often result in extremely useful information on how your can better serve your students’ needs and what aspects of your studio need work.

5. Adjust Your Strategies as Needed

The most important step toward improving your student retention rate is to make the necessary changes when it comes to classes, scheduling and policies. There’s not much use in collecting dancer and parent feedback unless you put the suggestions into action! There may be big adjustments that simply aren’t possible, but you should make the changes you can and explain to your customers how you plan to address their needs and concerns going forward. This will help to assure students that you’re dedicated to providing the best experience possible and hopefully convince them to stick around for upcoming seasons.

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Dance Studio Policies: Should You Have a Social Media Policy?

Dance Studio Policies

Social media sites – especially Facebook – are useful tools for dance studios, as they can aid in marketing and communication with students. However, there have also been many instances where teenagers and sometimes parents abuse the sites, using them to hurt other people or businesses. Because of the potential harm that can be done on Facebook and other social platforms, many studio owners choose to create social media policies for their businesses. These guidelines can be beneficial, but there are a few considerations to take into account when creating dance studio policies that regulate social media use.

Focus Social Efforts Through a Main Page

The first factor that you’ll want to take into account is who will be authorized to post news and announcements on behalf of the studio. Sometimes businesses can get into sticky situations when instructors post unauthorized information on their personal pages regarding the studio. Dance Teacher magazine recommended that you establish expectations that all student and parent communications occur through the main studio page. If teachers have something they want to share, have them forward you the information before posting it live. This way you’ll be able to monitor and approve all posts.

Establish Criteria for Acceptable Posts

One of the benefits of social media is that your followers can chime into conversations with their own thoughts and ideas. This is a great way to get students and their parents engaged with the studio, but sometimes people will post mean or derogatory comments on a public page. To address this issue, you’ll want to explain to students your expectations for posts on the studio main page. Any remarks, photos or videos should be appropriate and reflect well on the studio. Be sure to explain that you reserve the right to delete any harmful or unnecessary comments.

Be Careful Regulating Personal Posts

While you can control what third-parties are posting on your studio’s social media pages, it’s important to realize that what gets said on private accounts is a different matter altogether. Some studios include stipulations in their dance studio policies that bar students from defaming the school on their personal social media accounts. However, Dance Studio Life explained that there have been lawsuits filed to keep businesses from enforcing these types of regulations, as they are often construed as limiting freedom of speech. Be careful how you word expectations about posts on personal accounts. It’s generally best to phrase these rules as suggestions instead of hard policies.

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Dance Studio Management Software Reviews: Studio Owner Survey Results

Dance Studio Management Software Reviews: Studio Owner Survey Results

Editor’s Note: Check out the results of our most recent annual dance studio management software survey here.

Because we deal with a lot of dance studios, we try to stay in tune with ways we can help them out in their day to day operations. Recently, we’ve noticed a recurring theme among our dance studio owner friends: questions about dance studio management software.

Should they use it? Which one is the best? How expensive is it?

Dance Studio Management Software Reviews

Working with several studio owners and dance industry experts, we created a survey to help answer these questions and more. The survey was deployed in late 2014, and garnered over 600 complete, verified responses. Here are some of the key things we learned:

  • About two thirds (67%) of dance studios use studio management software.
  • Features rule. 35% of respondents say that they chose their particular software based on a feature set that met their needs. Also important: inexpensiveness (17%), ease of operation (16%), and recommendation of others (16%).
  • The three most important features of studio management software are billing and payment processing, class management, and email or text communication. The three features ranked least important were staff scheduling, website maintenance, and staff time clock.
  • Jackrabbit Dance is dominant, with 28% of the respondents indicating that they used it. Other popular software providers were Studio Director (18%), and Dance Works (14%).
  • Studio owner operators are generally satisfied with their studio management software, with 76% indicating that they were either “extremely satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied.” ClassJuggler, DanceStudio-Pro, Studio Director, and Jackrabbit Dance ranked the highest in satisfaction.

Read the In-Depth Report on Survey Results

See the full summary of these dance studio management software reviews here!

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Tips for Dance Studios: Handling Past-Due Parents

Tips for Dance Studios

As a small business owner, you’re probably going to be a little more flexible about payments than a big business would be. Sometimes it’s necessary to give parents extra time to get their ducks in a row, and that’s understandable. However, it can hurt your studio if you have too many past-due accounts and let them hang in limbo. Here’s a few tips for dance studios on how to handle parents who are behind on payments without losing their business.

Have Policies in Writing

One of the best tips for dance studios to prevent past-due payments from becoming a problem is to clearly detail your policies. Dance Studio Profit recommended having your studio policies printed on invoices and available on your website. This way parents won’t have the excuse that they didn’t know your rules. It’s also good to keep your policies relatively straightforward. Detail what will happen after 30 days, 60 days and so on. Set penalties for standard time periods so people aren’t caught off guard.

Be Open to Compromise

Chances are that you’ve built strong relationships with many of the parents at you studio, and that can make bill collections difficult and even awkward at times. However, at the end of the day, you are running a business, and collecting payments is a necessary part of the job. If you notice that a parent is struggling with payments, take time to sit down and discuss the problem. When you talk about the problem in private, you may be able to come to a compromise, like some sort of payment plan. This way you’ll avoid awkward confrontations down the line and keep your customers happy.

Give Fair Warnings

While you’ll want to establish a final cut-off date for past-due accounts, don’t let it sneak up on parents. There might very well be individuals who intend to pay, but keep forgetting. It’s best to give gentle reminders, either in person or in writing, that a payment deadline is coming up. Let parents know ahead of time if they’re going to accrue extra fines or if their child won’t be allowed to participate in class. It’s a small action that can go a long way toward getting past-due parents to settle their balances and keep your customers happy with your business.

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Should Your Studio Offer a Dance Class for Adults?

dance class for adults

When you decided to open a dance studio, your goal was probably to teach young children an appreciation for the beautiful art form. Most studio owners offer classes predominantly for children and teens, but there’s a growing market looking for a dance class for adults. There are a number of benefits that adults can experience from structured dancing, as it’s a low-impact activity. AARP explained that dancing can help strengthen bones and muscles, improve posture and help to ward off illnesses associated with a sedentary lifestyle. There are definitely benefits to offering adult dance classes, but you might not be certain if it’s right for your studio. Consider the following questions if you’re thinking about expanding your class offerings to accommodate an older crowd.

Do you have the right market?

Just as you (hopefully) evaluated your neighborhood for potential young students, you’ll need to consider whether or not your studio is in a good area to cater to adults. Think about if there are any businesses in the vicinity that would compete with your dance class for adults. This doesn’t necessarily have to be another studio – gyms and community centers often offer dance exercise classes for adults and could take away from your pool of potential students.

If you think that you’re in a good location to attract older students, you’ll also want to consider exactly who those dancers would be. Dance Studio Life explained that you may want to offer different classes for young professionals, middle-aged mothers or senior adults. If you can narrow down your potential student base to a specific demographic group, you’ll be in a good place to target them with marketing and able to design classes suited to their needs.

Do you have the right instructor?

The next important consideration is whether you have the staffing to provide high-quality classes for older adults. When teachers are working with younger children, most will be at the same skill level and progress at roughly the same pace. If there are students who excel, they can always hop up to a more advanced class that fits their needs. However, when you’re working with adults, the teacher must be able to cater to a variety of different skill levels, abilities and potentially ages. Chances are that you’ll start off with just one or two classes, and you might get a mixed variety of students. You’ll need an experienced and dedicated instructor who is able to comfortably lead a dance class for adults.

How can you get people in the door?

Once the logistics have been straightened out, you’ll need to consider the best way to promote these new offerings to your target market. It’s important to realize that while many young dancers are ready and eager to try something new, it might take a little convincing to get adults to step outside their comfort zone. Be sure to note the benefits of dance in your advertisements and promotions, and reassure interested individuals that the class caters to beginners.

If you’re targeting mothers for a daytime class, DanceStudioOwner.com recommended offering a discount for parents whose children already patronize your studio. Once you get a few customers in the door, word of mouth will help you with your marketing. When targeting seniors, you should consider visiting local retirement communities to talk about your classes. You can even offer a trial class at the facility to get residents interested. If you’re hoping to cater to young professionals, consider placing fliers at popular restaurants and coffee shops or offering class coupons on social media or Groupon.

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