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.
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.
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.
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
To see the full summary of these dance studio management software reviews, please enter your email below.
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.
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.
Do you find yourself staying long after closing to file paperwork and answer emails? Does your “downtime” at home consist of scheduling social media posts? If the administrative workload at your studio is running you ragged, it might be time to consider hiring a dance studio manager or office manager. Many studios are hiring additional staff to help out with the day-to-day responsibilities that generally fall to the owner. Here are four considerations you should make if you’re thinking about a hiring full- or part-time dance studio manager.
1. Consider Automating or Outsourcing
The first thing you should do when you’re feeling overwhelmed with administrative tasks is to make a list of all the things you’re behind on. Dance Advantage explained that once you have a list in front of you, it will be much easier to determine if you need a new employee or if you could simply invest in some automation software. If your troubles are related to accounting and bookkeeping, you might need to invest in new accounting software. You could also consider outsourcing to an accounting firm. If you spend too much time wiping down the mirrors in your classrooms, you can hire a cleaning service to come in once a week. Once you have an idea about the distribution of your workload, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision about hiring a dance studio manager.
2. Weigh the Costs and Benefits
An office manager will definitely help to reduce your workload, but you’re going to have to write another paycheck each week. Dance Studio Life noted that most studio managers expect to receive between $10 and $20 per hour, depending on the size of the office and the responsibilities involved. Try to weigh the time and stress you’ll save against the cost of another salary. If the cost is within your budget, a studio manager might be the way to go. However, if the money would put a strain on your finances, you should probably look into other solutions.
3. Look for Candidates with Experience
When you’re reviewing candidates for the position, keep that list of responsibilities you made handy. It’s in your best interests to choose a manager whose experience lines up with your needs. If you’re behind on filing and paperwork, a candidate who has worked in an office setting would be ideal. Individuals with customer service experience will do a good job answering phones and emails. If you need help with more hands-on tasks like ordering costumes and creating rehearsal schedule, you might want to look for a candidate who’s familiar with the basics of dance. Hiring a manager with the right experience will be beyond helpful in the long run and ensures that he or she will be an asset to your business.
4. Create a Training Plan
Don’t overlook the fact that anyone you hire will need to be trained before they can be a seamless part of your studio. Unfortunately, no one will be able to walk in and immediately know what to do. Even if the candidate has worked in a studio before, no two business are the same, and there will be tasks he or she needs to be walked through. Take time to create a training plan before your new hire starts. The more specific your plan is, the quicker your manager will get the hang of things. You both will benefit from written policies, procedures and schedules. Dance Advantage also recommended explaining what the manager doesn’t need to do. If you want to be the point of contact for parent complaints or to be the only one posting to social media, explain that to your staff member. Sometimes he or she might try to be helpful and take on tasks that you’d prefer to do yourself.