Like so many businesses, the spread of COVID-19 has had a significant impact on fitness and dance studios across the country. As studio owners and teachers continue to adapt to these unprecedented challenges, there are steps you can take now to help your studio recover when shelter-in-place restrictions begin lifting. It will require flexibility and creativity, but thankfully as a studio owner you have both of those in spades.
Here's how to recover as a fitness or dance studio after this unprecedented health crisis.
Proactively Communicate With Customers
If you haven’t already, now is the time to communicate with your customers. Let them know any potential re-opening dates, your plans for events, any online dance lessons you're offering, and any updates to your classes over the next month and your plans for the upcoming season.
Use a variety of resources to get in touch, like:
- Social media posts
- Website banners
- Studio signage
- Your Google business profile
- Private Facebook groups for students and parents
Be consistent about communicating changes made to operating hours or classes across these mediums. Communication features within The Studio Director make taking on this task super easy. You can segment email and text messages by class, class type, tags and more to tailor messages as you need. Additionally, all your communication histories will be saved so that you know who you’ve already reached out to and who you still need to contact.
Offer Online Dance Lessons (If You Aren't Already)
Right now, many studios are turning to online dance lessons to bridge the gap and keep their business afloat until shelter-in-place orders have fully lifted. We encourage you to read how one New York studio is continuing to serve over 300 students with online classes here. Another Washington studio owner details her efforts for rolling out online dance classes here. Both of these case studies are important reads, as they show how these new types of lessons are being widely adopted and enjoyed by their students.
If you're already using The Studio Director, you can link your virtual classes directly within your class locations, allowing convenient access for students. To begin, simply set up your class locations to include an online class link. You may schedule and share virtual classes using the video streaming platform of your choice. Students can then access this link and launch to your virtual classroom directly from The Studio Director customer portal.
Ready Your Staff
In addition to proactive customer communications, you also need to connect with your staff. Like your customers, ensure you're communicating often about re-opening dates and schedule changes. Have patience if there are growing pains with new types of lessons or sanitation routines, and continuously thank them for helping you serve your students.
Schedule a virtual meeting to get answers to a few important questions:
- What practices need to be put into place for teachers to feel safe teaching again?
- What challenges will they face regarding space to teach or technical difficulties with online lessons?
- Are there any social distancing mandates that are going to impact the amount of students you can teach and should you change class sizes and frequencies to accommodate?
- Are there any new scheduling conflicts for in-person classes? Remember, children are home from school and your teachers may not have access to childcare during this time.
Keep all of these findings in mind as you move forward re-opening your studio.
Should you still have financial hurdles, there are small business government assistance programs available to you. From the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Loan Advance (EIDL), you may be eligible for assistance. Check for updates from the Small Business Administration here.
Prepare For A More Creative Recital Season
Recitals are important, especially during these challenging times. They give you, your students, and their parents something to look forward to. With this in mind, don’t cancel your recital season if you can help it. Instead, get creative!
There are several options for this recital season. Here are a few ideas to consider:
- Ask each student to dress up and record their performance at home. Take all of the videos and edit them together to make a compilation music video that you send to families.
- If local government guidelines allow, host individual performances in your studio. Allow the student’s immediate family members to come watch. Remember to thoroughly sanitize in between sessions (and protect each other by wearing masks).
- Depending on your location, consider hosting an outdoor recital in a park or other large, open air gathering place. Just make sure there is plenty of room for social distancing.
Remember, a recital doesn’t have to be elaborate, especially given the current circumstances. It’s simply a way to keep your students learning, growing and excited about their practice. Just focus on being creative and making these recitals memorable for everyone! One Nebraska dance studio challenged dancers to teach a parent their routine as a way to continue practicing. This resulted in a viral father-daughter duo that made the local news! The effort you put into your own recital considering current limitations will definitely be appreciated.
Practice Increased Sanitation And Distancing
Even after stay-at-home orders are lifted, your studio will face a new normal. People will still be hesitant to gather in groups. Social distancing, along with sanitation procedures, will help your customers feel confident in returning to your studio.
In addition to professional cleanings, you and your team will need to take extra care following cleaning and disinfection guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Remain extra cautious as COVID-19 can remain active for several hours to days depending on the surface.
Wipe down and disinfect all floors, ballet barres, doorknobs, and any special equipment before every class. Depending on the season, open windows to improve air flow. Consider how you can better serve any high-risk students with one-on-one lessons or smaller class sizes. When classes resume, consider marking separate practice spaces to reduce contact, especially at first. Communicate with students and parents about the measures you’re taking and welcome additional suggestions.
Offer Flexible Payment Options
If you aren’t already accepting credit card payments for your business, now is the time to start. Many are evaluating finances and making adjustments during this time. It is important for your business to be considerate of that and offer as much payment flexibility as possible. Credit card acceptance helps your customers and your business. By being able to pay with credit, customers do not need to cancel membership and you retain revenue.
You also will want to consider adopting no-touch payment options. If your studio has a line of customers waiting to make a payment, you will find it difficult to practice proper social distancing. Directing customers to complete payment and class registration actions online or on their mobile device is a much safer and convenient approach. Using The Studio Director online customer portal is a great way to maintain social distancing with an easy and convenient way for students to register for classes and make payments. The Studio Director also provides online payment forms you can direct your customers to or online invoices you can send through email for no-contact payment. You may also want to establish recurring payment plans for added convenience and touchless payment collection.
When you re-open, preventative strategies like this can help you keep payment collection safe. Plus, you’ll have the advantage of offering the payment experience that customers expect. Simple and secure credit card payments are becoming the industry standard as less people carry cash or checks.
Consider New Revenue Streams And Processes
While the thought of changing your systems and processes may seem daunting, it is possible. Now is a good time to re-examine the "way things have always been done." During this health crisis, what did you find to be most important to your students and staff? What was less important, and may not continue serving you in the future?
For example, by shifting their focus and remaining flexible, many studio owners are reporting student retention rates as high as 94% after moving to online dance lessons. Making the transition not only added value and convenience for parents, but it also helped keep their business afloat and allowed students much-needed social time.
Once stay-at-home orders are lifted, social distancing measures will still be important. Offering online classes will give you the flexibility to slowly re-open in order to follow guidelines. For example, you may need to operate classes at 50% capacity for several weeks or months. Going virtual will help you strike a balance to keep everyone learning without being together in the studio at one time.
When it comes to tuition, also try to remember that COVID-19 is affecting families everywhere. Remain understanding to retain your existing customers. If you can, offer special pricing to boost memberships now and later. Consider allowing students to share their membership with a friend who is a new member for a discount. Record some practice sessions or fitness-inspired classes and allow your students free access to these throughout the rest of the year if they maintain their membership now.
Launch Your Virtual Studio With Studio Director
We are all in this together. Whether you are learning more about online dance lessons or want to offer safe payment options, The Studio Director can help.
For assistance using virtual classrooms or any other features, contact our customer support team today. If your studio needs help during your recovery after COVID-19, let us know. Our product experts can help you best leverage Studio Director features to help.