Running a studio is hard work, whether it’s just you and a receptionist or you and multiple locations and a small army of teachers. Many studio owners are surprised by how much business acumen they have to develop to grow their studio. In fact, much of running a dance studio is about accounting, networking, and communication -- not dancing or teaching. While accepting this reality can prepare you for the challenges of running a studio, it’s only half the battle.

The Studio Director can help you instantly improve your studio operations. Want to streamline things even further? Try these tried-and-true tips for taking your studio to the next level.

Outsource as Much as Possible

Studio directors fill many roles: accountant, teacher, lawyer, marketer, lobbyist, risk assessor, and more. No one can possibly be good at all of these roles. And even if they could, there’s just not enough time in a day to do so much. You’re only one person.

Successful studio directors recognize that their time, their energy, and their emotional well-being are all valuable. That’s why they outsource as much as they can. Your focus should be on doing only the tasks that you are truly good at, or that only you can do. Chances are you’ll want to continue being in charge of hiring or curriculum management.

But do you really need to manage inventory and enrollment? What could you spend your time doing if you weren’t focused on these often-boring and always-tedious tasks? Outsourcing as much work as possible can allow you to be more creative with your time, your studio, and your life.

Automate As Much as You Can

Outsourcing offers more time, but it comes with a distinct downside: it’s not cheap. Hiring new people, even part-time or on a freelance basis, can add to your burden. You’ll have to manage payroll, hiring decisions, stay on top of your staff to fulfill their duties, and more. There will be petty grievances and personality disputes. You might not hire the right person the first time.

What if you could outsource most of your work, but without the annoyances of hiring new people? That’s where automation comes in. A wide variety of programs can automate everything from course enrollment to progress reports. The Studio Director can automate most basic tasks of running a studio, but at a price you can afford -- and without all the drama of hiring employees.

We also store everything in the cloud. That means you’re no longer chained to your desk. Travel anywhere. Meet with anyone. Have everything you need to run your studio at your disposal. It’s the best of both worlds. You don’t have to do it all yourself anymore. You don’t have to deal with allowing other people to do it for you. You just get freedom -- and access to what’s happening whenever and wherever you want it.

Invest in Your Instructors

Your instructors are the heart of your business. Yet at most studios, they’re constantly trying to do more with less. They may not be well paid, may lack sick leave, and might not get ongoing continuing education. That’s because most studios operate at razor thin margins, and simply can’t afford to invest in their instructors.

Yet every penny you pour into your instructors will pay off. Happy instructors mean happy students. Happy students mean more money. So how can you resolve this conundrum? By cutting costs elsewhere, you can pour money into the people who really make your business what it is (or who will make it what it should be). The Studio Director helps you reduce your expenses, focus on tasks that make you money, and understand where your funds are going, so that you can invest in your most important resource.

What if you’re the only instructor? Then investing in instructors becomes even more critical. Your time is the most valuable asset you have. So don’t waste it on menial administrative tasks. And don’t spend money without knowing where it’s going. Invest in studio management software that helps you get control over the business you’ve worked so hard to build.

Show Your Students You Care

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Without students, you don’t have a studio. All too often, however, the demands of running a studio cause owners to neglect this most important asset. Your students want your time, your attention, and your care.

Some simple ways to make clear that they matter include:

  • Offering personalized progress reports that show students where they've been and help them get where they hope to go.
  • Making enrollment easy. Students don’t want to have to call, wait on hold, and talk on the phone to enroll in classes. Invest in online enrollment management so that students can enroll on their own time.
  • Offering new classes and instructors based on student feedback. What’s working? What’s not? Solicit feedback in the form of instructor evaluations so you can give your students the very best you have to offer.
  • Knowing what the competition is doing. You can’t keep your students if you can’t stay ahead of your competitors. Get to know them. Don’t copy what they’re doing. Do your own thing -- and do it better.

The more time you have to think creatively, the better equipped you will be to show your students how much they matter. This is why it's so important to get the daily administrative tasks off of your plate with the assistance of excellent studio management software.

Get Involved in Your Community

Most studio directors don’t get involved in their community until they have to. But consider this: what your city council does can affect your ability to operate your business. And the people you meet out in the community may become your most loyal customers.

Businesses that are active in the community are less likely to suffer negative publicity, more likely to get the government attention they need, and are almost always the beneficiaries of community goodwill.

More time means more community involvement. More community involvement means better publicity -- and that means a reduction in your marketing budget.

So cut out the time wasters and do some of the following:

  • Get to know your local representatives. They're the people you’ll need to turn to when a zoning issue threatens your business or when you need help with legislation that could help the dance community. Go to city council meetings. Attend fundraisers. Be a part of your local political community. Politics affects everything. Ignore your community's political life at your peril.
  • Get involved in community efforts such as fun runs and fundraisers. Sponsor an organization you care about. It’s free advertising, and a good deed.
  • Consider sponsoring your own free community events. It draws attention to your studio, and it gives something back to the community that has helped you build your studio.
  • Consider offering a few free class spots each year. This can help you cultivate a more diverse student body, improve your reputation in the community and ensure you’re doing something good with your success.
  • Get to know other business owners. You might partner together on a project, or agree to advertise for one another. These community connections can improve your visibility, and offer significant help should you ever need it.

Take Care of Yourself

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There’s only one you. Take care of that person. Many studio directors spend most of their time thinking about other people. They don’t sleep. They eat poorly. They take care of themselves last. But if you don’t tend to yourself, you cannot accomplish all you hope to do. Self-care is more than just a buzzword. It’s critical to your well-being.

The Studio Director is proud to make self-care easier by ensuring owners can access data about their businesses wherever they are. We know you need time to tend to yourself, so we free up some time so you can do exactly that.

Some ideas to consider for self-care include:

  • Eating regular, nourishing, healthy meals. You should never be too busy to eat. If you have to meal-prepare ahead of time, do it.
  • Learning to say no. You don’t have to be everything to everyone. You don’t have to solve other people’s problems.
  • Doing things you love that aren’t work. Sure, you love your business. But your brain needs time to relax and unwind. Read a book. Get a massage. Chat with a friend.
  • Taking time away from work. A vacation is more than just a luxury. It can make you more productive, and free your mind to think creatively. This allows you to return to work with a fresh new perspective that can make your business better. No excuses. Take time off. You need it.
  • Think about how you talk to yourself. Do you berate yourself for every failure? Start celebrating your successes instead.
  • Tend to your health. Go to the doctor. Get a dental check-up. The little stuff adds up.
  • Taking time to meditate. Meditation can improve your health and help you better manage stress.
  • Recruiting a team of friends and loved ones you trust. Ask these people for advice when you need it. Don’t try to do it all yourself.

It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. It’s a vital ingredient in the recipe for lasting success.

Know What Works -- and What Doesn’t

How much money did your last marketing campaign earn you? Which retail items sell the best? Which instructors bring in the most students? Which class earns the least money? If you can’t answer these questions easily, then you've got a serious problem on your hands. To do what works, you have to know what that is. That requires good records, excellent analytics, and a willingness to continually evaluate your strategy.

For most studio owners that’s too much to manage on their own. It results in disjointed notes, a pile of papers, and lots of frustration. The problem is that without this data, you’re wasting money and time. You may feel chronically stressed, and uncertain about what to do next with your business. The Studio Director offers an alternative. By putting all of your key data in one place, we help you draw important conclusions about your business. This can inform all of your decisions -- from whether to invest in a new marketing team to whether it’s time to open a second location.

Knowledge is power. Knowledge also requires time, attention, and patience.

If you’re short on all three, let studio management software do the heavy lifting for you.

Know That Time is Money

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Most studio directors are true believers in a DIY ethos. They’ll do their own taxes, show up to the city council to lobby for their own interests, manage their own investments, and devise their own lesson plans. After all, if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself, right?

Probably not.

There’s only so much time in the day. One of the most important insights for successful studio directors to accept is that time is money. How much do you charge for an hour of your teaching time? That’s how much your time is worth. So consider how much money you’re losing every time you do something yourself.

You’re probably used to being the most competent person in the room. You may have trouble trusting others. Yet you deserve some time.

So before you proclaim, “I’ll do it myself!” ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is this really something I need to do?
  • Could my time be better spent on something else?
  • Is this below my pay grade?
  • Is this something I’m good at?
  • What would I rather be doing, and is doing this really worth missing that?
  • Will doing this myself make a difference in the big picture?

By forgetting about the tasks that don’t matter, you can begin refocusing on those that do.

This is where The Studio Director comes in, and potentially saves you from yourself. You no longer have to waste time printing endless progress reports or manually inputting information into your inventory system. You don’t have to keep a notebook to track enrollment, or call students to tell them their favorite class has filled anymore. We take care of all of that, and so much more, for you.

We also know that you don’t want to waste a lot of time on setup and dealing with customer support. So we make it easy. We offer concierge onboarding, excellent customer support. Your life is comprised of moments. Those moments require time. In giving you back your time, we give you back your life. Give us a call today, and let us put control -- and time, precious time -- back in your hands!

Dance Studio Ownership 101

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