A generation ago, using new technologies to manage your studio meant plugging everything into a spreadsheet -- and probably spending a lot of time fighting with a word processor to ensure everything looked right. Two generations ago, the use of “new” technology meant little more than typing up bills instead of hand-writing them.
Today’s dance studio software makes owning a studio easier than ever. Contemporary studio management software acts as a silent partner that manages the administrative daily obligations of running your business.
The Studio Director offers do-it-all software that frees your mind and your time. No matter which program you choose, make sure it’s prepared for the future of dance studio management software.
Do-it-All Studio Management
Investing in dance studio software shouldn’t mean adding one more thing to your to-do list. High quality programs significantly reduce your task list, save you time, and potentially save you money.
What should you look for in choosing a dance studio software?
- Financial management: The stress of managing your finances is enough to leave your head spinning. Ultimately, you opened a studio to make money. So if you can’t easily track your earnings, you’re setting yourself up for stress. The studio software of the future tracks your earnings, making it easier to make financial decisions.
- Easy enrollment: Which studio do you think students will choose—the one that requires them to call and wait on hold, or the one that makes enrollment as easy as the click of a mouse? Enrollment management is critical for the success of your studio, and is something that excellent software can manage for you. The right program should also close enrollment when a class hits a predefined break point. This helps you avoid the hassle of refunds, or the annoyance of deciding whether to proceed with a class that's only half full.
- Making marketing easier: People can’t patronize your studio if they don’t know it exists. Building a great community of dancers, then, is only half the battle. Compelling marketing works, but how do you know which marketing strategy gets results and which is the equivalent of lighting money on fire? Tracking changes in revenues and enrollment over time can help you tie these changes to marketing plans, allowing you to hone in on progressively more effective strategies.
- Tracking inventory: A simple option for easily making money is to sell merchandise. It could be branded dance merchandise, a popular dance product, or myriad other options. Of course, merchandise costs money. Tracking your inventory helps you determine how much inventory you need, and how that inventory is tied to your profits.
- Easy, comprehensive feedback: Your students walk through your studio doors each day hoping to learn. How do you provide them feedback about their progress? The right software should be able to do it for you, offering detailed and comprehensive feedback that supports your students to sharpen their skills and gives your instructors guidelines about how best to help students.
- Usable, actionable analytics: Which instructors bring in the most students and the most money? How much does each additional item in inventory earn you in profits? If you can’t quickly answer these and similar questions, then you don’t have all the information you need to make intelligent decisions about your studio operations. Quality studio management programs offer actionable data by tracking changes over time. This can help you assess exactly how much money that popular new instructor can bring in, and the extent to which a change in inventory might shift your profit margins.
Studio management software shouldn’t be just one more thing you have to worry about. Don’t invest in it just because your competition has. The right program should offer discernible benefits, not just a lot of cool-sounding bells and whistles. Before you invest in any specific studio management program, ask what it will do to improve your life.
Two issues should be front and center:
There’s a finite amount of time in the day. The more you can delegate, the more money you can make. The problem is that delegating tasks to employees is often more of a hassle than it’s worth. You may end up paying a tidy sum to your staff, or wasting more time managing people.
When you delegate things to software, you have complete control over how the program does things. You don’t have to worry about being nice, paying salaries, or dealing with the realities of managing a human being. This allows you to save money on staff, while saving money in other ways, too. For instance, if you are able to carefully monitor your inventory, you might notice a pattern of wasted money on a product that doesn’t sell. Eliminating it can save you cash -- particularly if you then delegate that money elsewhere.
Time and Stress Benefits
You could make money any number of ways. You’ve chosen to run your own business. That’s likely because you have a vision about how things should be done. You may seek independence, relish the notion of applying your own philosophy, and want to treat your staff better than other studios might.
The right studio management software should help you run your studio the way you see fit. The result should be more time and less stress. That’s not a trivial benefit, either. Your time is the most valuable asset you have, and it’s the only one that, when it’s gone, it’s gone for good. In this regard, saving time is saving money. After all, if you bill your time hourly, every free hour you get is more time you can bill -- and therefore more money you can earn.
There’s more here than just a chance to make more money, though. Your quality of life matters. Odds are good that quality of life and work-life balance were critical factors in your decision to go into business for yourself. Wouldn't it feel nice to take a stress-free vacation without worrying about who will manage daily operations? Don’t you want to delegate duties without fear? That’s ultimately what the right studio management software can offer you.
If your studio management software doesn’t offer you these tangible benefits, it’s time to explore other options.
Cloud-Based Secure Storage
It doesn’t matter how great your studio software is. If it leaves you chained to a desk, it does little to make your life easier or your studio run more smoothly. The best studio management software offers cloud-based software, as well as easy access through a well-maintained and secure app. This ensures you can access critical data about your dance studio no matter where you are.
This can make a major difference in the quality of your life, as well as how well you run your studio.
Benefits of cloud-based storage include:
- Not having to store sensitive data on a phone or computer that might crash or be stolen.
- Being able to access key decision-making data in meetings with potential partners.
- Being able to take a vacation free of worry, knowing that you can easily access information about your business if you need to.
- No fears about running out of data.
If you’ve ever tried to design your own website for your business, you know that ease of use is more important than any other factor. No matter how much you can do with a program, it’s virtually useless to you if you can’t figure out how to use it. Select a program that’s easy for you to use.
Before investing in any program, ask if you can use it. You want more than just a brief test run. You want to see how it works for your studio.
Some questions to ask include:
- How quickly can I get a customer service response to my questions?
- Can I customize features to meet my studio’s needs?
- What security protocols do you use?
- Is your program compatible with my phone and computer?
- Do you offer any guarantees?
- What happens if you change the design or functionality of the software?
- Are there any known bugs? What are you doing to fix them?
- Do you routinely create security patches and updates?
Don’t shy away from asking pointed questions relevant to your needs. You know how you run your business, and what might help you run it better. Make sure you’re getting a program that complements those needs.
Most studio owners need help now -- or more like yesterday. A program that takes a month to learn, another month to install, and maybe even a third month to tweak wastes time and resources. There’s no need for this. The wave of the future is rapid installation. Ask how quickly you can begin using the program, and don’t forget to take into account factors such as learning how to use it, ironing out any program kinks, and teaching your staff how to use the software, too.
Marketing With Ease
Today’s marketing climate is about more than just putting up a billboard or investing in local radio ads. Customers are more thoughtful than ever with their purchases. Research consistently shows that they need regular reminders of a product. What’s more, customers expect information to come to them. They’re less likely to seek it themselves -- though they do spend a lot of time verifying the information they receive.
What does this mean for you? It means marketing to your customers is about regularly contacting them, appealing to their interests, and speaking to them like human beings. Your students don’t want to read advertising copy.
Here’s what they want instead:
- Updates on classes they might be interested in.
- Details about studio policies, such as when you close for snow or inclement weather.
- Information on how to improve their technique.
- Dance news, including gossip from the local and national dance scene.
- Details about upcoming events that might be relevant, such as dance-related charity galas or local dance performances.
You already know what your students are interested in -- dance. So craft marketing messages that capitalize on those interests, and stay in constant contact. Emails, newsletters, and other direct contacts can help your students feel like they matter, and like you’re carefully curating content that keeps them informed and caters to their needs.
World-Class Customer Support
Have you ever waited in line at your local coffee shop for a premium cup of Joe, only to get the wrong item? Mistakes are inevitable, and every customer will need help eventually. What separates the wheat from the chaff in all services -- including studio management software -- is quality customer service. You wouldn’t expect to wait 20 minutes to get your cup of coffee, or to be yelled at because someone else got your order wrong.
Yet the equivalent is what many customers get when they seek customer service from their studio management software provider. They encounter representatives who speak poor English, who are rude, unresponsive, or who just don’t want to help.
You’re paying for a service that improves your life and your studio. That service should never be a source of stress. So judge the company you’re considering by the quality of its customer service. How long do you have to wait on hold? How quickly can you get a question answered? Are the reps friendly and responsive? Are they English speakers? Do they rely on scripts, or act like caring human beings?
Your first impression can tell you a lot. So don’t be afraid to call or email and ask some questions. People who work at great companies are thrilled to answer those queries. That willingness to answer questions can tell you much about what to expect when you begin paying for a product.
Ultimately, running a streamlined studio is all about the bottom line. Many dance companies operate at razor thin margins. Take a bit out of expenses, and it can quickly add up over time. You might be able to afford more vacations, a raise for your best instructors, a new building a second location...the possibilities are virtually limitless.
So only invest in a program that truly saves you money. Assessing whether you can save with a program requires you to first try that program. So select a company that offers an extended free trial, like The Studio Director’s 30-day no-strings free trial.
Ask also about your obligations to the company. Do you have to sign a contract? What if you end up not liking the product? Are there different packages available tailored to your needs and business size? Are there early termination fees? Does the cost depend on which services you use? What about limitations on cloud storage?
The more cost savings the company's answers to these queries offers, the better.
If you’re ready to see just what the studio management software of the future can do for your business, we’re ready to exceed your expectations. Give The Studio Director a call or email today! We can have you up and running before tomorrow.