Let’s say you’ve been running a successful studio for a while, but suddenly, things don’t seem to be moving forward. Your student membership has stagnated, your staff members are growing listless and your competitors are leap years ahead of you creatively and profitability. It’s not a pretty thing to imagine, is it? At that stage, you’ll need to do something drastic to get your studio back on track.
Not even studio management software alone (more on that later) can cure all ills. Rather, you’ll have to find new ways to reconfigure the many moving pieces that make your studio what it is. Maybe this scenario applies directly to you, or perhaps you’re one of the lucky ones who is still on the verge of launching your studio before taking a route that will ultimately lead you to the aforementioned management crossroads.
No matter what the case may be, it’s never too late for you to reevaluate the most fundamental part of your studio: you. The beliefs you hold dear regarding your business and the best way to run it can play a decisive role in how smooth or rocky the road ahead may be. Your studio requires a certain sense of organization, which will trickle down into every single aspect of its operation.
The more forethought you put into your business early on, the better off you’ll be in the long run. After all, confronting your preconceived notions of what it means to run a successful studio is one of the best ways to maximize its impact on the community.
So, before you spend one more day taking your studio down a potentially perilous path, let’s unravel some of the inaccurate beliefs that might be limiting your studio’s potential.
#1 -- You can do everything all by yourself.
Depending on how long you’ve been managing your own studio, you might still struggle with just how much control you retain regarding your studio’s daily operation. This is an all too common affliction for small business owners, especially considering that many such businesses hinge on a manager’s ability to multitask and fulfill multiple job functions simultaneously.
If your studio has been in operation for quite a while, you no doubt are familiar with this stage, and if you’re relatively new, then you are probably still in the midst of it. Regardless, a time comes when you must loosen the grip on your studio, choosing to delegate some tasks elsewhere or leave other, more tedious ones to automation.
As hard as it may be to relinquish unlimited hands-on control of your studio (especially if it represents the culmination of many years of tireless effort and the culmination of a dream come true), you ultimately need to do just that.
Few things worth doing are able to be accomplished single-handedly. At a certain point in time, you’ll need to bring on staff members to take on various aspects of your studio’s operation. This includes administrative staff, of course, but naturally extends to the instructors you put in place to carry out your studio’s classes.
The individuals you select to teach in your studio are essentially the face of the business. Since it is likely your passion that fueled your desire to open up your own studio (hold that thought), you might be tempted to teach the classes yourself.
However, doing so long-term will wreak havoc on your ability to properly manage your studio and also limit the breadth of services you might otherwise be able to offer with more specialized instructors in place. Remember, your studio is only as powerful as the team you assemble to help you run it.
#2 -- Passion will compensate for business strategy.
Having a genuine love for something can get you far in the business world. After all, those who you seek to sell your product or services to can sense when you have an air of authenticity about your sales pitch.
In relation to your studio, your students will naturally be attracted to the fact that you and your team demonstrate a very real appreciation for the discipline you’re trying to teach them. This enthusiasm is infectious and will only boost your bottom line with each successive class. However, it’s not enough to ensure that your studio will be a long-term success.
Rushing into a significant business venture such as a studio without a detailed business plan and a strategy to market and cultivate growth is a recipe for disaster. Before you act (or continue, as the case may be for your studio), you need to take the necessary steps to plan ahead and anticipate many of the management challenges that lay ahead for you.
Unless it is coupled with a thorough understanding of the realities of owning your own business, passion will not sustain your studio for long, no matter how much you and your staff love what you do and relish the chance to share it with students. Acute business acumen is required to offset expenses with profits and keep your studio steadily moving in a positive direction.
These skills are not naturally occurring and must be learned. You may opt to brush up on your management skills, hire an office manager to deal with the day-to-day tasks or even both. The most important element is that your studio’s future rests securely in the hands of an individual with the foresight to plan ahead and establish a winning strategy for your studio beyond simply a love for the art.
#3 -- You don’t need industry-specific software.
When you open your own studio, you’re likely to want to trim costs in every way you can. Restricting your staff can be a detrimental decision, but perhaps an even more egregious mistake would be to withhold the business expense of a sophisticated software system.
You might think that your studio can survive on the same software that other businesses use. However, the specific business model inherent in your studio requires a little something extra, a special attention to your needs. That’s where studio management software comes in.
Consolidating all your disparate systems into one easy-to-use interface, software systems like our own The Studio Director allow you to open up your schedule, boosting productivity and streamlining overly complicated processes like accounting and scheduling. No longer will you have to struggle with the sheer number of administrative tasks on your plate. Thankfully, studio management software creates a less stressful environment for you and your staff.
In fact, you might find that your software not only helps your studio become more effective and more efficient. It sets an high level of organization for your studio’s operation that carries through to virtually every aspect. Files will be retrievable at a moment’s notice, and perhaps best of all, a built-in reporting module is often included.
With this, you’ll be able to have a detailed account of where your studio is succeeding and what areas could use improvement. That means greater opportunity in the future and the possibility to even extend your reach to more students and a wider variety of classes.
Studio management software can help you get more done in less time. It’s the very definition of “work smarter, not harder” and a worthwhile investment for both veteran studio owners and those just starting out. Without such a tool, you’re leaving your studio vulnerable to some startling missteps.
#4 -- There’s no need to change once you achieve success.
Congratulations. You’ve established your studio as a bonafide hit.
Your students love the service you provide, and the surrounding community has embraced you as well. So the hard work has finally reached an end, right? Wrong! Once you have a stable foothold in your studio, this is the exact worst time to take it easy. Complacency is one of the most dangerous conditions that can affect a small business.
As soon as they see a little success, some companies tend to strictly keep everything the same from that day forward, as if the smallest change would squander all the hard work you put into making the studio a hit. But the reality is that your competitors won’t be waiting to evolve their respective businesses to stay ahead of the market. They’ll be looking into how they can innovate and ramp up their efforts, all while you’re busy patting yourself on the back.
That said, you still need to make informed decisions. Having a studio management software system integrated into your studio can go a long way toward opening up new opportunities for growth, and you’ll also be able to learn about simply by keeping your eyes and ears close to the industry itself.
The latest fitness trend or dance may not be the right fit for your studio, but you’re doing your due diligence by investigating the possibility and then deciding if such classes would be beneficial to your students. Change is usually a terrifying prospect. Yet, change that could adversely affect your studio’s income is especially scary.
Nevertheless, nothing good can come from your own stubbornness to stay with the same price point, the same class schedule and the same equipment for years and years on end. Your studio’s mission is best served by staying up-to-date on what your students want. Never forget that.
#5 -- Building a community is great but not essential.
By now, you’re probably noticing a trend. Many of the most integral elements of your studio have a reputation for being frivolous or unnecessary to the overall success of your business when, in many cases, this couldn’t be further from the truth. One such example is building a loyal community of students and supporters to keep your studio alive and thriving.
This task starts with the first impression and carries through the entire customer service phase, including going that extra step or two to ensure that existing students are getting everything out of the classes that they wanted.
Rather than allowing them to see your studio as simply a place they go once or several times a week to develop a specific skill, you want them to feel at home and supremely comfortable within your studio’s walls because it is this deep connection with students that will lead you to develop pure student into something more than that, your studio’s secret weapon.
If nurtured and groomed properly by your services, customers can develop into not only loyal, long-term students but advocates for your studio. Customer advocates have developed such an appreciation for a given product or service that they are essentially the best form of marketing you could ask for.
To get to this point, you might opt to introduce incentives to keep students happy and hard at work, and you should always be sure to engage with your studio’s customers on an ongoing basis to keep the conversation flowing and maintain free, open communication to handle complaints and any other issues that may arise.
You can choose different routes to go about this, but the key is that you recognize just how vital a community of fans and supporters is in the current market. In today’s social media-obsessed world, fostering a community that loves and cherishes your business is no longer an option as it once was. It is a necessity and an investment in the longevity of your brand.
Let Go of Your Assumptions
Once you are finally able to realize the folly of the above studio management beliefs, we’re confident that you’ll be able to take your business to dramatic new heights. Part of being a sharp business owner is towing that careful line between sticking steadfastly to your convictions and maintaining enough flexibility to course-correct along the way when necessary. It’s the only way that your studio can continue to evolve over time to fit both the needs of your members and the ever-changing nature of the industry.
Moreover, you owe it to your staff and your loyal patrons to keep your brand fresh and your management style on the cutting edge. Otherwise, you might miss out on the most valuable tips, tools and tricks that you could use to enhance your studio’s performance and effectiveness.
While you’re already looking into exciting new ways to boost your studio’s future success, we’d like to give you the opportunity to check out our brand-new eBook, Dance Studio Ownership 101: Facts, Myths and Secrets to a Successful Studio. It’s loaded to the brim with all the juicy data you need to punch up your studio management style and really drive your mission home to the surrounding community.
We’ll unravel some of the most pervasive myths that might be poisoning your studio, share some must-know secrets and separate fact from fiction -- all aimed at helping your studio achieve more than ever before. So don’t miss out on this incredible, one-stop resource. Get your hands on our newest eBook now!