By now your studio’s season is officially in full swing and your classes are humming along. Your students and their families are getting used to their new dance schedules, school commitments, and carpools. Your staff members have also settled into your new routines around the studio and you are starting to find your “new normal” with the fall schedule. It can be such a satisfying feeling as a studio owner to finally feel like the pieces of your puzzle have fallen into place!
It’s completely fine (and encouraged!) for you to celebrate the success of starting off the new season right. But don’t let that satisfaction turn into complacency when it comes to your leadership: your team is on the front lines of service every day, and they need your active support, direction, and motivation to keep moving forward and offering up their best selves.
It’s probably been at least a few weeks – maybe more – since your new-season kickoff meeting with your team, which means it is the perfect time to re-cast your expectations and set the pace for the year ahead.
Keep your staff members feeling excited to come to work and on the right track by implementing these 3 Best Practices For Coaching Your Dance Studio Staff This Fall:
One-on-one check-in meetings
Different from an annual performance review and with less formality, a one-on-one check-in meeting with each employee in September or October can give you the opportunity to receive feedback from them on how the season has started: what’s going well and where they need help. I recommend scheduling 15-30 minutes per staff member with the intent to do more listening than talking. If they need prompting to start the conversation, use just two guiding questions: 1) Which parts of your job are the most rewarding right now, and which are most challenging? And 2) How can I help you achieve your best work with both? Your team members will appreciate that you’re hearing them out, and you can use the information you learn to better support and direct them in the moment and in the coming weeks. It may even become a habit that you want to do these one-on-ones more often with your team, to keep your finger on the pulse of the studio and prevent fires before they start!
Inspect what you expect
By the time fall classes are in full swing, your staff members have probably already attended at least one staff meeting where you laid out your expectations for them as employees of your studio. For example, your front desk team probably knows that they are expected to follow-up with all trial class participants in a certain way. For the sake of this example, let’s say they follow four steps: they ask for the sale on the day of the trial class, making a follow-up phone call within two days to those who didn’t sign up, after which time an email is sent, and if there’s still no registration, the child’s information is put into a “general interest” email campaign. You know your front desk team knows and has practiced all of these steps, but are all the steps being completed (and correctly)? The only way to find out is to “inspect what you expect”: take the time to observe the process once in a while, and ask your team how it’s working for them. You may find a part of the process needs a little tweaking, or that a staff member needs a refresher on how to handle certain types of situations. Help redirect your team before any small glitches become waves.
Praise the progress
Make sure your team knows that you notice their hard work! As humans, we all have the desire to feel like we belong, and to feel appreciated. When you see or hear a staff member do something awesome, say something! Say your receptionist does an exemplary job converting a trial class participant into a student, and you happened to overhear the interaction – don’t just say “well done!” in the moment, also praise their work in a private email or in front of the team at the next staff meeting. That positive interaction offers the staff member a well-earned ego-boost and encourages them to repeat their efforts. I know it sounds almost too simple, but think about yourself: isn’t it a great feeling to be recognized when you do a good job at something and have set an example for your peers? And doesn’t it make you want to keep doing the thing that earned you the recognition in the first place? Yes! Case closed! Your team members need to hear that kind of special, personal affirmation from you when they are doing great work. It shows you care, and shows you notice them – and not just for showing up each day.
Fall is THE perfect time to ensure that your studio’s season is set up to run smoothly for the busy months ahead and to take care that your team has started the year on the right foot. Implementing these 3 Best Practices will help you coach your staff members to success! Tell us in the comments which practice helps you and your team the most, and connect with me on social media @MistyLown to continue sharing your leadership journey. I wish you AND your team a wonderfully productive fall semester!
Looking for more great studio staff management ideas? Check out the following articles:
The dance world is full of career opportunities for people who love the dance and love self-expression. Besides performing full-time or teaching (or, as many dancers know, a combination of both), other career paths exist for dance-oriented individuals looking to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Dance administration jobs put you right in the middle of the action, and give you a powerful role in building up a successful dance studio. Check out these 5 methods to strengthen your resume and help you get a job at a growing dance studio.
If a studio is looking for an office assistant or studio manager (examples of dance administration jobs), they’re expecting to bring someone in who will clean up their business’ organizational practices. That might range from interacting with parents, to answering phones, to creating better filing systems for student registration forms. How do you organize your personal life, and are there some practices you use that could translate well into a small business setting? Here are a few ideas you can suggest to a studio that might not be using these organizational methods:
Create a bulletin board with a calendar for that month’s events. By having events easily visible to parents in the lobby, they’ll be constantly reminded about upcoming dates and can talk about those events with other parents.
Scan all dancer registration forms and store them online using cloud software like Google Drive or Dropbox. Then, after making sure the forms are all backed up, you can shred the physical forms to save space in the office.
Build a newsletter template, and send out regular emails to parents with event updates and news from the previous month. Pictures of dancers in action will be a great way for parents to see their children in the classroom, and will keep them excited to open your emails.
Become Social Media Savvy
Another reason to hire an office assistant or studio manager is to strengthen the studio’s presence on social media. By bringing on a person who has dedicated responsibilities for posting online, the studio owner and teachers can focus more attention on students, leaving part of the business growth to you. For that reason, you should know your way around the various social media platforms, and be proficient in at least three (we recommend Facebook to be your priority).
On Facebook, you should be prepared to manage an official studio page, and post pictures and information about upcoming events. Facebook can also be a primary way for parents to communicate with the studio after hours or without calling the studio line.
Other social media sites like Instagram can add a dynamic visual aspect to your studio’s online presence. Twitter is a great way to share news updates with parents and the local dance community.
Gain Some Volunteer Experience
There are few better qualifications than hands-on experience, and prior work in a dance studio setting will show your potential employer that you’re a studio veteran and know your way around the dance community. If you’ve danced before, reach out to your previous teachers about putting in some time at their studio as a volunteer. Or, ask about helping other arts organizations in your city with event hosting or office work that can build up your administrative skills in a fine arts setting.
While you volunteer, do your best to be constantly challenging yourself to learn new skills. Part of a studio assistant’s role will include bookkeeping, scheduling appointments, running errands, and conflict management with customers. Be asking about the best ways to handle those tasks, and try to put yourself into situations where you can get hands-on practice before you’re invited to the studio for an interview.
Dig Into Professional Education
We say “professional” instead of “higher” education, because “higher” education implies college-level classes. Which are not always the most ideal programs to focus on! Professional training can make you certified in a variety of different skill sets, and can add value to your personal brand.
Going back to previous dance education you may have had, consider brushing up on those skills so that you can be available to assist teachers in class in a backup capacity. Having a member of the staff who is well-versed in dance technique can be an invaluable asset in case a teacher runs into a problem and needs help with an activity in the classroom (even if it’s leading stretches during the first part of class).
If you enjoy fitness in other settings, and think you might be proficient enough to become a trainer, consider getting certified in physical education! Many studios we talk to have been moving towards allowing community fitness groups to use their space for a fee. As you help to build your studio’s brand in the community, you can also provide an additional income source for the studio (further raising your value as an employee).
Other certifications you earn can be valuable for the studio owner: for example, a studio assistant certified in CPR or other medical emergency techniques might lower liability insurance for the business, meaning more dollars for the studio to spend elsewhere.
Dance administration jobs are expensive investments for dance studios, and when they hire additional staff they’re expecting to make plenty of bang for their buck. Your job as a studio assistant or office manager is to build value for the dance studio through effective marketing, efficient business organization, and your ability to work well under pressure. If you can prove that your skills and ideas will help grow the business and take some of the workload off of studio owners, you’ll be a great choice for any dance studio.