You knew it when your studio was just a gleam in your eye. To make your vision a reality was always going to be an uphill battle. In today’s business world, it’s more difficult than ever to distinguish yourself from your competitors, in no small part because of just how much is involved in keeping your studio up and running.
That’s where strategy -- coupled with a comprehensive studio management software system -- steps in. From the deluge of back-end administrative tasks to the classes themselves, there’s so much to do even before your studio launches.
Then if it really takes off, you’re looking at having to scale up your operation to accommodate an increase in students. That means your resources will be spread even thinner or be in more dire need of expansion.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. With the right tools, you can make the most of what you do have at your disposal and wring every last bit of value out of your studio’s operation before you scale up. The key is to know how to optimize your studio and what you can do to ensure that it runs smoothly no matter how many students you are serving.
Your passion for your studio needs to be protected, and without employing smart business sense and an innovative approach to management, you run the risk of burning yourself out. Don’t lose sleep and potential revenue because you didn’t plan accordingly.
Take advantage of the world at your fingertips and embrace the many ways in which you can work smarter, not harder.
Laying a Foundation for Greatness
A big part of working smarter involves taking the time before launch -- or as early as possible, if your studio is already been active for a while -- to reflect on your studio’s mission and to instill in yourself the faith to execute that mission effectively.
So, before we delve into how to keep your studio running at peak performance, let’s touch on some smart ways to save yourself a world of heartache later on.
- Prepare yourself: Running your own studio is bound to be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done. You’ll be forced to wear a variety of hats and become a true multitasker to make it long-term. So the more soul-searching and development of your business acumen you do beforehand, the better. Your passion may have led you down this path. However, it won’t keep you going strong for long without the skills you need as a business owner firmly in hand throughout every step of your journey.
- Mind the details: Once you’ve pumped up your own knowledge of the business world and you’re confident that you’re ready to embark on your own studio, it’s time to develop a sound business plan. It sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many businesses launch without a clear understanding of the role they hope to play in their community. That includes funding, marketing and market analysis. Of course, you also need to assess the location you have in mind for your studio. Why engage too deeply in your new business without doing your homework first?
- Identify your strengths: With so many competitors out there and on the horizon, you’ll need to figure out a way to set your studio apart. The best way to do just that is to explore what aspect your business can offer or focus on that will lend your studio its own unique identity in the market. This is the surest road to success, and figuring that out sooner rather than later is a key step in making your operation as smooth as possible.
- Decide your value: The prices you set for your classes are surely going to play a role in how easily your studio connects to your intended students. Yet, you shouldn’t get too hung up on how much to charge. Instead, approach it from a different angle and consider the value you want your studio to offer. This perceived value could position your business as a premium service or a more economical option for students. Just be sure what kind of studio you want to run, and don’t be afraid to invest in it accordingly.
- Assemble a winning team: In the planning stages, you may feel like you are on your own. Inevitably though, you’ll need to start recruiting staff members either behind the scenes or dealing directly with students. Be very mindful of the kind of people you bring onboard and the environment you hope to create within your studio walls. Your instructors are an extension of your brand. So always aim to instill a sense of creativity and inspiration in every aspect of your studio to keep your team focused and morale high.
Managing Your Studio Right
Once the time comes to engage in the day-to-day operation of your studio, you’ll need the perfect tools in place to maintain order and continuity. Studio management software -- yes, like our very own The Studio Director -- can go a long way toward keeping what once seemed like an unimaginable amount of work down to a bare minimum.
Boosting efficiency is certain to create a more effective management style across the board, and a studio management software system can help facilitate that. Still not convinced? Here are just a few of the key benefits you’ll receive with such a system in place.
- Streamlined processes: Without studio management software, you might wind up with a half-dozen systems handling various aspects of your business. This creates a hassle in and of itself. Thankfully, consolidating all of that down to just one login is easy when you have this system running your studio. Believe it or not, automation can take a lot of the effort off your plate. A customizable reporting module can also crunch the numbers like never before, leaving you with a better idea for what areas of your studio can be improved.
- Greater flexibility: Because your studio management software uses a cloud-based system, you’ll be able to access your files anywhere you are. No longer will you be chained to your desk or forced to lock yourself in your office for long days and longer nights. With the amount of work greatly reduced and the flexibility to check in from any location, there’s no need to feel obligated to work 24 hours a day. Regardless of how many students you serve, you’re able to reclaim your life and your business.
- Better organization: As previously mentioned, consolidating all your files into one easy-to-use system creates a much smoother interface for your studio’s business management. In addition, this more organized approach perpetuates a cleaner scheduling tool and an enrollment process that will keep your staff and your students much clearer on where they stand. You’ll also never lose track of your inventory such as it is, thanks to your studio management software.
- Less stress: Running a studio can do a number on your nerves, but a studio management software system will relieve much of that pressure. More of the back-end work will be entrusted to automation, and your reports will keep you firmly in the know on what needs attention. All of this amounts to a reduced worry about your studio’s performance and a greatly decreased stress level regarding the sheer amount of work ahead of you. Simply managing the decision-making process is enough. Don’t make yourself face unnecessary emotional and mental strain too.
- Lower expenses: Because studio management software can replace other systems and can even reduce the need to bring on additional staff, it should be clear by now that it saves you a ton of money in the meantime. One overarching system to govern your studio’s administrative task may sound intimidating, but it sure beats spending your studio’s funding on unnecessary ancillary systems instead. Every bit of money you waste on back-end software is another piece of potential profit lost.
Maintaining Your Momentum
Once you have launched your studio and introduced studio management software into the mix, there are certain best practices to which you’ll need to adhere in order to keep your studio’s growth on track. Let’s go over just a few of them now so that you’re better prepared to keep your studio thriving without having to engage in an unnecessary burden later on.
Bear in mind that these represent only a small fraction of the strategies you’ll need going forward.
- Not a one-person task: We’ve mentioned briefly about how you need to put together a standout team in order to really achieve anything substantive with your studio. However, this bears repeating because it doesn’t stop at your launch. The only way your studio can grow is with your team united in a common goal. So be sure to give your staff the recognition that it deserves and know when the time does come that you do need to expand. Furthermore, your team will have their own feedback and suggestions. Make sure you listen.
- Rise to challenges: When times get tough, you might be tempted to duck and cover. But if you want your studio to have a long life, this is precisely the wrong way to conduct business. Rather, meet them head-on. Whether it’s a problem with a member of your team or simply a customer complaint, you’re always better off addressing any problems as soon as you identify them. Letting them fester only makes more work for you down the line. Part of being a smart business owner means not being afraid to make changes and course-correct when the circumstances call for it. Your life will only get harder if you turn a blind eye.
- The supply/demand dilemma: For any business that offersa product or service, the question of supply and demand is a troubling one. Tip the scales one way or the other, and you might be sending your business in a dangerous direction. Never lose sight of the disastrous effects of neglecting supply and demand. One key way to stay in tune with your students is simply to communicate openly with them and take in account their thoughts on your studio and its classes. In addition, the reporting aspect of your studio management software can lend a hand in identifying negative trends.
- Steep competition: Once you’ve cultivated a stable number of students, it’s easy to rest on that success and allow your studio to stand on its own. However, as soon as you get complacent, you may be opening your studio up to problems. In order to stay one step ahead of your competitors, you need to keep innovating every step of the way. If not, you risk a potential loss of students and of faith in your studio. Whether you need to tweak your pricing, provide special offers or diversify your class offerings, consider doing whatever you need to do remain on the cutting edge.
- Community growth: No matter how much of a marketing budget you have at your disposal, your best chance to grow is to establish deep ties with the community. In some cases, this may be through involvement in local events or through developing ties with students, transforming them from casual patrons into loyal customers and even advocates for the services you provide. Consumers today are more savvy than ever before, and they can sense authenticity. So building a genuine love and connection among your students is a surefire way to get the word out about your studio.
Keep Looking Forward
With careful preparation and a sharp strategy in place, you’ll be far better equipped to maximize the impact -- and indeed prospective success -- of your studio. Still, don’t mistake this objective as an easy one.
The road to a streamlined, optimized studio is one fraught with complications and pivotal decisions. It’s up to you to develop the foresight for what will serve your business well in the long run and take action as a result. This will undoubtedly involve questioning many of the long-held beliefs that may have been impeding your studio’s true potential and facing the stark reality.
As they say, to accomplish something new, you often need to do something you’ve never done before. That’s never truer than in the case of an ambitious new business venture, like your very own studio.
Shedding your misconceptions about how to best run your studio is a arduous task for any business person, and you may find yourself in need of a bit of help along the way. Our newest eBook, “Dance Studio Ownership 101: Facts, Myths and Secrets to a Successful Studio,” is one of the best resources for unpacking everything you need to do to set a stable path for your business. If your studio focuses on martial arts, gymnastics or another discipline, don’t let the title fool you.
This one-stop compilation of all the most fundamental tenets of studio ownership is just as applicable to you. So don’t wait… educate yourself about how you can build up your studio today!