As you might expect, successful studio ownership is harder than it looks. Whether your focus is on dance or art, martial arts or fitness, the fundamental ingredients remain the same. Surely, you must possess a level of ferocity and fearlessness to open your own business, but something about the skill-based, customer-facing business model of a studio environment brings its own set of unique challenges.
In order to truly make a name for yourself among your competitors, you need to take your “game,” so to speak, to the next level. Like most other small businesses, that bar begins and ends with you.
No matter how many staff members you bring on or how shiny and new your studio space is, you ultimately are the one that decides if your studio is going to rise to the market’s demands or fold under the mounting pressure.
Innovation, of course, goes a long way towards establishing yourself as a go-to destination in your studio’s discipline, but your leadership alone can make all the difference. To attract the audience you seek and balance all the key elements of a successful studio, there are a few habits you’ll have to master first.
Six Important Habits To Focus On Right Now
Become a Master Multi-Tasker
Starting out, you may discover that you’re overwhelmed with things to do. We’re sorry to report that this doesn’t get any easier. In fact, the more successful your studio gets, the more hectic it’s liable to make your schedule if you let it. That’s why it’s essential that you become familiar with and effective at every aspect of your business as early as possible.
Even though you will likely bring on additional team members to help execute your larger plan for the studio, you should at least be well-acquainted with what it takes to fuel it singlehandedly. When times are tough or you need to complete a task in short order, you’re primed enough to leap into action and ensure that your studio is running smoothly.
Such consistency and grand oversight of operations will undoubtedly translate into success, such as:
- Your classes will run more smoothly
- Your employees will be happier
- Your students will pick up on the confident vibe that your management suggests at every turn
Whether you’re new to studio ownership or have been running your own studio for years, we highly encourage you to “get your hands dirty” in the minutiae of your studio to maximize its chance of striking a chord with your intended audience. Otherwise, you might find yourself one day in over your head with nowhere to turn for advice. Soak up all the knowledge you can about your studio, and be ready to multitask, even if you don’t have do so on a daily basis.
Relish In Your Resources
Your studio’s success isn’t solely dependent on your ability to expand beyond your growth rate or take on as many new team members as possible. Rather, what will help your keep costs lower and profits higher is making the most out of the resources you do have access to, whether they are:
- Staff members
- Studio equipment
For the most part, this entails simply exercising a bit of creative thinking in how you execute your studio’s best practices.
Whether you have 20 students or 200 students who turn to your studio for knowledge and enrichment, place the customer service experience above all and ensure that it reflects your mission statement throughout. Your customer-facing front desk is a good place to start cracking down, as is the enrollment process that ensures smooth onboarding for new students. Usability is invaluable to boost your business.
Essentially, stretching out your resources -- not beyond their breaking point or until they begin to adversely affect your studio -- involves injecting a bit more forethought into your decision-making. Conducting smart business is in many ways trickier than conducting big business. So you’ll have to stay on your toes to accomplish more with less.
Keeping a close eye on your finances, your staff and any other areas where potential problems may arise will put you in a better position to act if something does go awry. Until then, building a fortified studio one well-placed piece at a time (preferably early in its lifespan) can lay the groundwork for greater success to come.
Use Studio Management Software
Just as we discussed the necessity to make the most of all the resources you have at your disposal, you need the right tools to support this goal if you can ever hope to achieve it. For many studio owners, this boils down to an overarching software system that can govern many of your studio’s administrative tasks and provide you with the flexibility to focus on more pressing matters rather than devoting all your time to maintaining the status quo. If you’re finding that your schedule is becoming overrun with too many tasks and are looking for a comprehensive solution to keeping your studio’s mission on track, we heartily recommend studio management software. Haven’t heard about it? Then prepare to have your world changed forever.
- More than just another tool in your studio’s arsenal, systems like our own The Studio Director can actually take many of the most thankless tasks involved in running your business and automate them, removing many of the most frustrating items from your to-do list.
- Moreover, the cloud-based design allows you to have access to your files from anywhere, meaning fewer hours waiting around your studio while you handle any number of troubling back-end tasks.
- Keep track of your finances, generate customized reports and manage staff schedules with one streamlined system. There’s no need for a dozen different programs to manage your studio. Not anymore.
- You’ll even be able to trim costs and boost revenue by keeping your operation as smooth and painless as possible.
Let Your Passion Be Your Guide
Perhaps one of the most valuable parts of having a studio management software system in place, however, is that its sleek design presents you with the opportunity to return your focus to what led you to open a studio in the first place, namely your passion.
While the tips we’re outlining here (and your studio management software) will equally apply to any number of disciplines, we’re willing to bet that your love for your studio’s specialty -- dance, fitness or otherwise -- brought you to this article.
It’s the deep-seated adoration for this practice that will keep your studio thriving even when times get tough. Passion may not keep the lights on or the money rolling in, but anyone who meets you will instantly be able to tell why you got into this business.
You need to learn to let your passion shine through in everything you do.
This kind of positivity is infectious. Staff members and students alike won’t be able to keep themselves from being drawn in by it, and they will very likely do whatever they can to get involved with your studio simply to continue to be around the passion you exude and so clearly pour into every aspect of your work.
In addition, you’ll be happier through every step of the process, leading you to devise more creative approaches to lessons and the way you accomplish work on a daily basis. When you put passion first, even the darkest, busiest days will seem like a breeze.
Foster Growth In Your Community
You may have noticed that we live in a very technologically rich time, and as such, consumers are savvier than ever. At their very fingertips, they have all the information they need about where to go to acquire the products and services they’re searching for. While this is a benefit as a whole, it does mean that businesses such as yours have to work that much harder to gain their business and their trust.
But while this may seem like a challenge, getting your customers on your side can ultimately prove to be the best way to keep your studio growing within your community and beyond.
This means more than simply creating a Facebook page for your studio, however.
No, we’re not talking about just some cursory social media presence to cultivate customer loyalty and advocacy -- that is, to create such deep ties with your students that word of mouth emerges as its own powerful marketing tool -- for your studio.
- You have to really go that extra mile to establish far-reaching ties with your customers, and this unsurprisingly starts with providing a premium level of service that gets them excited to tell others about your brand.
- Make them feel like an integral part of your studio (which they actually are), and you will empower them to share your studio’s triumph with everyone they know.
- You may opt to introduce a loyalty program or other incentive early on.
Yet, regardless of what method you choose, the takeaway is that your customers can be your greatest asset.
Hire The Most Qualified Team Members
Despite all our advice about how you can establish smart habits to maximize your studio’s chance of success, you’re still only one person at the end of the day. Even the most disciplined, knowledgeable and resourceful studio owner will inevitably reach that point where their studio is too big to handle on his or her own.
Precisely when you reach this point may vary, but when it does arrive, the time has come to expand your team. You’ll want to track down like-minded individuals with a similar passion and drive to yours, making them an easy fit for your studio’s environment and mission. This is especially true of instructors, though you may want to consider bringing in such a specific worker for your administrative positions as well.
To be a truly successful studio owner, you need to:
- Develop an eye for talent and not just any talent
- You need to know what makes your studio unique
- What your students in particular will be hoping to get out of your service
- Know how to identify the individuals who can best make your central concept a reality for your students
Your team needs to be an accurate reflection of you, since they will interact with students on an ongoing basis and represent your brand. Bear this in mind with all your recruiting efforts, and you’re that much closer to taking your studio to new heights, bolstered by your passion, your loyal students and, yes, your qualified team members.
Back in the Habit
Of course, the habits we’ve outlined above aren’t the only things you need to do to maximize your chances of successful studio ownership. This is merely a baseline on top of which you’ll need to build a framework for your studio to excel on every level.
Remember, your students likely have a lot of other places they can turn for lessons in your given discipline, and it rests on you to provide next-level service that they can’t get anywhere else.
That’s how you create a loyal following and cultivate long-term, sustainable growth. Then you’ll be equipped to deliver standout information to your students, passing along your passion in an environment that reflects your ideals and captures your vision. If this sounds particularly difficult, don’t worry. We have another tool to pass along to you that just might do the trick.
In order to provide you with all the tools you need to stand out among like-minded studios, we’ve put together an indispensable new resource just for studio owners. But don’t let the title of “10 Commandments of Running a Dance Studio” fool you. The tips contained therein can just as easily apply to any business that operates under a similar studio-style business model, focusing on student retention, class schedules and the like.
This eBook will give you all the must-have information you need to ensure that your studio covers the basics on its way to the top. Even if you think you know everything there is to know about running your studio, we’re willing to bet you’ll be surprised with some of our advice.
So don’t wait any longer. If you’re interested in getting your hands on “10 Commandments of Running a Dance Studio,” visit our website today to get your free download.