Before you started your business, you probably spent more time contemplating the freedom to work for yourself and run your business as you saw fit than you ever devoted to thinking about things like studio management software. The realities of owning a dance studio can look quite a bit different than the fantasy that once inspired you to take a risk and invest in your own business.
From angry customers to endless tax bills, the responsibilities can seem endless. And everything occurs amid a backdrop of pressure to earn more, grow more, and compete with the businesses who are ready to swoop in and steal your students at the first sign of failure.
It’s enough to leave even the most organized minds overwhelmed, and the steeliest nerves frayed. As a business owner, you can't let these pressures overcome your resolve to run the best possible studio you can. Consistent growth and strong profits demand that you remain productive. Studio management software can help you continually expand your productivity -- while still enjoying the fruits of your labor.
Staying On Top of -- Rather Than Overwhelmed By -- Your Business’s Many Components
When you first envisioned your studio, you probably saw yourself as a teacher, a leader, an artistic inspiration. What you might not have considered is that you’d also be an accountant, a janitor, and a marketing expert. A dance studio is a business, not an artistic endeavor. It doesn’t matter how much of your life you've dedicated to dance, nor how talented you are as a teacher.
If you don’t have business acumen, your business is doomed to fail.
That’s a tough pill to swallow, particularly for new business owners with stars in their eyes. But the sooner you accept this reality, the sooner you can launch yourself to stratospheric success.
Let’s take a closer look at the many components of running a successful dance studio:
- Accounting, including basic bookkeeping as well as more complex tasks, like timely filing taxes, estimating tax liability, and keeping track of deductions.
- Risk management and liability planning. Every dance studio has areas of exposure, whether it’s a commitment to dangerous acrobatics or an old building. Know your exposure, and your liability for it. Then work to minimize this liability -- or insure accordingly.
- Regulatory management. You’ll need to know how the regulatory climate will affect your business now and in the future. This requires keeping on top of potential legal changes, which of course requires a basic knowledge of local and state level politics.
- Community involvement. One of the best ways to recruit more students is to get involved in your local community. Community involvement also helps you remain aware of potential changes to your studio’s regulatory environment, and gives you access to help from lawyers, politicians, and other experts when you need it.
- Human resources management. You’ll need to hire, fire, and manage instructors, as well as other staff such as receptionists.
- Inventory management. What do you have in stock? Is it making or losing you money? What do you need to order? If you can’t answer these questions, you’re already losing money.
- Working with contractors. Sooner or later, you’ll need a lawyer, accountant, or other professional. Where do you find them? And how do you manage them?
- Marketing and advertising. If people don’t know about your studio, they can’t give you their business. You need a marketing strategy that works. This requires diligently monitoring the effects of each marketing plan you try.
- Class enrollment management. Enrollment must be easy, or you'll lose potential students. Your classes should never be overbooked, and you shouldn’t offer classes that no one takes. Otherwise you’re paying an instructor for something that only loses money.
- Continuing education. Your staff needs to know what your goals are for your classes and business. They also need to know basic nutrition and physiology so they can appropriately guide your students. You must offer quality continuing education—to yourself and your team.
- Course analysis. Which courses get the most students? Which earn the most money? The answer is ever shifting, but you must be able to continually answer it if you want to see your business thrive.
- Student feedback. Your students are taking classes to learn. The more personalized feedback you can give them, the better. Student feedback also helps you monitor how effectively instructors are teaching classes, and address any problematic trends.
Knowing What Works -- and What Doesn’t
A business is a chance to experiment and exercise your creativity -- but only insofar as doing so helps you become or remain profitable. No matter how interesting that new advertising campaign, how cutting-edge your unique new course offering, or how credentialed your pricey new instructor, if they don’t draw in new students or more cash, they’re not worth the investment.
The problem is that you have an emotional connection to your business. That means if something feels good, you’re likely to continue doing it -- even if it’s slowly driving you toward bankruptcy. You need an objective measure of what’s serving your business well. This means you’ll need to monitor trends over time, not just assess what feels good or looks right in the moment.
Studio management software helps you get organized, tracking changes over time and providing ready access to the most important details you need to competently run your business.
Armed with this information, you’ll be able to answer:
- What’s the average amount we need to spend in marketing to increase revenues?
- Which are our most and least profitable classes and instructors?
- How does our advertising budget relate to our ultimate profits?
- How long does it take to see an increase in revenue when we increase our marketing budget?
- Which merchandise is the most profitable?
- Which revenue generating strategies require the least time, but earn the most money?
- If our profits increase, how will that affect our tax liability?
- How could zoning changes affect our business?
- Which city council candidate wants to enact policies that would be best for our bottom line?
- Are any instructors costing us money?
- How much more would we need to earn to justify the cost of an expansion?
- What are our biggest upcoming expenditures? How much do we need to cover them, and how long will it take to earn that money? Can we afford the advertising necessary to bring in that extra revenue?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed already, it’s because you're not sufficiently organized to answer these questions. Don’t just throw up your hands. Competent business management demands being able to answer these and many other queries about your business.
With studio management software, simple questions about your business no longer become a source of stress.
If you’re committed to saving time and expanding your business, there’s an entire world of professionals who can help you.
- An accountant can manage your money and tell you exactly how and when to spend it.
- A lawyer can anticipate regulatory changes, help you minimize your exposure and liability, and craft well-worded disclaimers.
- A team of front desk managers can greet students, enroll them in classes, and offer a welcoming, friendly face to newcomers.
You could hire a team to provide progress reports on beautiful stationery, a marketing and PR team, a full-time crisis manager, an army of instructors, a design expert to ensure your studio looks gorgeous, a decorator, a building consultant, and a political expert to help you get friendly with your city councilperson.
Starting to feel overwhelmed? Feel like you’ll need a million dollars to employ even half of these people?
That’s exactly the point.
The expenses you can rack up running a studio are virtually infinite. And you can almost always justify them, since the right team can save you time and earn you money. But hiring everyone you could possibly employ is just not realistic.
That’s where studio management software comes in. It keeps track of everything for you, providing you with data on important trends so you don’t have to hire an analyst.
Studio management software also:
- Manages enrollment for you, so you don’t have to hire someone.
- Looks at how you’re spending your money, and whether it’s paying off.
- Offers customized feedback to each and every one of your students.
- Helps you assess which instructors are doing the most for your business.
- Keeps track of your income and expenses, to help you easily assess what you can and can’t afford.
- Shows you how various decisions, such as working with a marketing team, change revenues.
- Manages your inventory, so you don’t have to lose your mind keeping track -- and so you can determine which products are worth keeping, and which only waste money and time.
This all adds up to plenty of financial savings, without cutting corners. Armed with the right studio management software, you can focus on which expenses are the most worthwhile. For instance, you might not really need a marketing team. Simply looking at trends over time can help you determine which products are working, and how best to advertise them.
But no program can represent you in a lawsuit, so if you’re worried about exposure or liability, you can take the money you save on a marketing team and redirect it toward a lawyer. With studio management software, a penny saved might be much more than a penny earned.
A Leg Up on the Competition
Your competitors can feel like vultures -- ever circling your business, just waiting for signs of weakness so they can pick off the pieces and steal your students. Don’t let them see you sweat. Studio management software keeps track of everything for you, so that you can take an offensive position and begin monitoring your competition.
You might be wondering how you can even begin to do this, but the ability to monitor trends over time is a significant step in the right direction. With the right program, you can easily discern:
- How a new competitor in the area affects your business.
- Whether you absorb a local competitor’s students -- or they absorb yours.
- How your competitor’s new marketing strategy affects your business. This can provide insight into marketing plans that might work for your studio.
- What you’re not offering that your competitors are, and whether changing your offerings could mean more business.
A studio isn’t something you set and forget. You must evolve to adapt to a changing environment, monitor your competitors, and always have your next several moves planned. Studio management software equips you to do precisely this.
Enjoying Some Down Time
Remember those people you occasionally see at your house? They’re called family. Remember fun? When was the last time you took a vacation? The demands of business ownership often mean that the things that make life worth living -- family, kids, friends, your partner, your pets -- take a backseat to the drudgery of running a studio.
But why did you go into business for yourself in the first place? Probably because you wanted more time, more control, and a better life. No one goes into business for themselves because they want to make their lives worse, after all. You deserve some down time. You deserve a chance to reap the rewards of your hard work.
Down time is more than just a chance to enjoy what you’ve earned. It could actually benefit your studio. Consider the following:
- Burnout is real. It makes your work feel like drudgery, and can kill creativity. The more exhausted you become, the more miserable your job feels.
- Vacation time can actually improve your productivity at work. It also boosts morale, and can even improve your company’s performance.
- Regular downtime is vital for optimal performance. People who take time off of work are more productive and more successful.
- Your brain needs quiet down time to be more creative. Unscheduled time can help you develop new ideas that propel your business to new heights.
Studio management software keeps track of everything for you, so can take your time guilt-free. As you already know, taking time off can be difficult because your brain keeps redirecting your thoughts to your business. When everything is in a single location that you can easily check, your brain stops working on overdrive. That doesn’t just mean more down time. It means more down time that actually feels like down time!
What’s more, studio management software can also help you figure out when might be the optimal time to take vacation time, and how your time off will affect your bottom line. It might even prove to you, once and for all, that things improve when you take periodic time off. So embrace the chance to rest and relax. A good life demands balance, and so too does a well-run business.
Ready to invest in yourself, your business, and your happiness?
Then make the leap from chaos to productivity with the right studio management software! Watch how a few extra dollars each month can actually save you money, and help you soar to greater success.
The Studio Director offers studio management software that’s cloud-based, so you can see your information anywhere. Our online demo helps you ensure we’re a good fit for you. So what are you waiting for? Reach out today. We’ll provide you the support you need to get set up and running. You deserve it.