If you are planning on opening a dance studio, it is probably safe to assume that you love dancing and have dreamed of doing this for awhile. In this dream, you are the teacher. You are the instructor and main creator of the whole design and vision of the studio. In dreams, however, we tend not to think about strategies we will need to use to create such a business and just how much busy work you would actually have to take on.
Making the move to starting your own dance studio and keeping it afloat is a commercial endeavor where you must know how to capitalize, use some business savvy, and make sure that you are paying extremely close attention to the right details. There is a lot of preplanning that you are going to have to do and you will probably need some help along the way.
In this article we will address the best way to get yourself started, the new responsibilities that you will be taking on, what to avoid, what your priorities should be, and the best ways to keep organized as you embark on this journey. This is an extremely exciting time for you, your dream is on its way to being actualized.
Still, it is important that you keep it real and address all of the requirements necessary to acquire such a spectacular feat. Yes, this is a reality check. Do not let it intimidate you.
Let it empower you. Here are the tools you need to do exactly the thing you have always wanted to do! Let’s begin.Your First Steps
There are a few things that can help to ensure that you have your head in the right place and some solid experience under your belt.
Have a mentor.
Do you know someone else that you respect or look up to who has opened up their own dance studio? If you have not done so yet, try to pick up some hours at their studio and gather some notes. The best way to learn about running a dance studio is to get up close and personal and actually work at one.
Even better, volunteer to fill in for the different roles or jobs where help is needed so you can see how things run from all angles. This will clue you into important factors such as typical problems and how they are solved.
Start developing a following.
When you start your studio, it is extremely helpful if you already have a group of people who are reading to take class there. You can start developing this following right now by volunteering to teach dance in the community at after school dance programs, gyms, and churches.
Once you have created relationships in different places, your students will be excited to be involved in your new endeavor and some of them will even spread the word to their friends.
Have a business plan.
This is an extremely important one and probably not the first time that you have heard mention of it. Your business plan is the ultimate key to forming a functioning balance between your dream and your business ideas. in order to form this plan you will need to:
- research your potential customers
- figure out all of your costs
- design an executive summary of what your business is
- make a company description, or “pitch”
- research your competition
- assess which services you can provide that will be most appealing to your market
- come up with a funding plan
Your New Job Titles
Along with understanding the business that you are hoping to create, you will also need a clear view of the different roles you will have to take on as the owner of the company. You are now the boss, and this comes with a lot of responsibility.
You will not just be expected to choreograph and teach classes, you are the person who has to keep all of the many parts of the business running.
This means that you are also taking on the roles of:
As manager, you will have to make sure that all schedules and daily activities are running smoothly. You will need to communicate what you want, what needs to improve, and make sure that your staff is staying focused on these goals.
As mentor, you will embody the work ethic and attitude that you expect every staff member and student to take on themselves.
As the entrepreneur, you will work on continuing to carry out ideas and plans that will allow your studio to grow, gain profit, and accomplish anything else that you desire.
What Not To Do
As important as it is to know the best ways to start your business, it is just as important to know the things that have a tendency of ruining things for people.
Don’t let your stress get the best of you.
Taking on your dreams can cause a couple headaches along the way, and you may find yourself getting crabby and difficult to be around. On top of that, you may not be realizing how this is causing you to treat the people that you are hoping to do business with.
Do not make it difficult for people to do business with you, or they will simply choose not to. You should be easy to talk to, easy to communicate with, and your business should be easily accessible. Get that website set up and make it clear and easy to navigate.
Don’t let your passion for dance cause you forget about the people.
Yes, you started this whole thing because you love dancing, but the people should always be what you are most focused on. Your reputation will be built upon how your students and their parents feel when they come into your studio. Without them, you will have no studio.
Don’t refuse to try something different.
You may have your personal specialities and preferences, but dance is a progressive as well as classic art form. It is important to convey both sides of the coin. Make sure that you are keeping up with the new and evolving changes that are happening in dance.
You can do so by reading, following blogs, and attending conferences and seminars. Be the studio that is up on the times. The one who knows the classical way of doing things, but can show you the newest hip techniques as well.
Don’t try to do everything on your own.
If you try to do everything yourself you will undoubtedly wear yourself down. It is natural to want to be the one in control to ensure that everything is running smoothly, but you have to find a way to shave off some of the load. Find people that excel at bookkeeping and fundraising so that you are able to focus on what it is that you do best.
Don’t avoid social media.
Social media is where it’s at! If you do not know this, you have a lot of catching up to do. This is your main marketing hub and your source of communication with your current and potential students. Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest, Foursquare, and Yelp are all free to use and easy to update.
Don’t overlook the power behind including programs that show depth and appreciation for diversity.
One of the best ways to widen the appeal of your studio is to diversify and deepen what you have to offer to the public. You can discover what your potential students want by creating surveys and making adjustments based on these results. Try to think outside of the boxing beyond your usual frame of reference. Consider adding specialty classes such as pilates, yoga, zumba, Irish step, bellydancing, etc.
Don’t ignore feedback given from your students, parents, and staff.
Make sure that everyone feels heard and they know that their opinions matter to you. Regard each issue that arises as an opportunity to grow. People have a tendency to be difficult at times, and it is easy to get defensive in these moments. Remember the bigger picture of what it is that you are trying to accomplish and focus on simply solving the problem at hand.
Start Making Moves
Once you have established your groundwork and understand what kind of role you are undertaking, you will need to start to arrange the physical reality of your business.
Your space is going to define a large amount of your business’s functionality. A business space requires some very specific details, and a dance studio also involves some requirements of it’s own. First ask yourself, how much space do you think you will need? Do you want one room, or multiple studios in this facility?
You will also want to consider the need for:
- a lobby
- an office
In addition, keep an eye out for:
Does this space have provided parking that will accommodate the number of students that you hope to attract to your studio? The students coming in for class, the students transitioning out of class, and your staff will all need places to park.
Dance studios, more often than not, include the teaching of children. Parents should feel comfortable and safe bringing their child to this location. On top of that, you are responsible for the safety of your students. Ask yourself if you would feel comfortable leaving your own child in this particular place.
It may cost more to be in a location that is more visible to your neighborhood, but it is also automatic marketing. If you are located where all the traffic drives by, people will be constantly reminded that you are there and those who aren’t informed of you are more likely to grow curious.
Try to make your location as conveniently accessible to as many people as possible, and make sure that you are in a neighborhood that reflects the folks that would take interest in a business such as yours.
You don’t need a very large staff for a dance studio, especially when you are first starting out and you’re still arranging costs. The key is, make sure you know exactly what it is that need to get done daily and that your team is operating as a powerful and productive unit.
You can accomplish this by:
- making a clear outline of each position and what they do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis
- figuring out a recruitment process and using a trial period
- creating a training manual with step by step procedures
- setting clear expectations up front to ensure that the entire staff is on the same page
- continuing to be a leader and mentor to your staff
- Using volunteers whenever you can, there are always students that desire an opportunity to intern
Keeping your customers loyal is critical to the success of your business. In order to keep them coming back, you will want to ensure that they:
- are happy with your services
- feel appreciated
- feel good about spending their money on your business
- are given an incentive, such as discounts, to sign a month or year contract
- are presented with a clean and welcoming environment
- are encouraged to and always given the opportunity to give feedback
- have developed an open communication and friendly relationship with you
Once they have got the ball rolling, many dance studio owners find themselves immediately overwhelmed with paperwork and logistics that they cannot find the time for. Disorganization can happen very quickly and headaches begin to occur, such as:
- the keep up of marketing, accounting, and human resources
- disgruntled customers
- competition pulling away your students
- keeping accounts and budgets organized
You can hire an office manager, but this is still a lot for a person to keep in order. Many studios are turning to studio management software for this reason. Not only does a good software keep all of the organization in order, it helps with marketing and provides a convenience for your customers that allows them quick and easy access to your operation.
Using studio management software will give you:
- a layout for your schedules, time-sheets, enrollment information, costume rental and ordering
- automatic registration, payment, and account organization
- the option to integrate into your existing website
- the option to customize at any time
Make Your Hard Work Count And Keep Doing What You Love
Once you have all of your organization in place and you are set up with a good studio management software, you will be able to watch as your studio flourishes and have the time to be involved the way you had always hoped you could.
Not cooped up in an in office, but in the studio or on the road bringing your students to a competition. For more insight on how to successfully run your own dance studio, check out our newest eBook, 10 Commandments of Running A Dance Studio.