If you’ve ever been”studio-shopping” then you’d understand the excitement and the frustration.
Selecting the location of your dance studio can be an emotional process! The butterflies in your stomach every time you step into a potential premise; the ideas that immediately flow through your mind as you’re mentally-measuring floorspace and visualizing reception areas; that sinking feeling when something just doesn’t fit in with your vision and you cross yet another property off your list.
Before you waste weeks, or even months, searching for the perfect symmetrical venue that can house the studio blueprint you designed 10 years ago, be sure that you are looking for all the right elements. Yes, you may want your studio to be aesthetically beautiful, with mirror-lined walls, a marbled reception, cashmere sofas in the waiting area and a four-tiered cascading water fountain. But none of that matters, if your immaculate studio is situated in the middle of nowhere.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!
It’s a popular saying for a reason. A small, humble studio in a fantastic location will be more profitable than a large beautiful space in a desert town.
So, before you settle for a space and sign that paperwork, here is a post to walk you through the most important aspects you should consider when choosing a location for your dance studio.
The idea is simple. Be where your target market is.
The easier it is for your clients to find you, the less work you have to do to find clients yourself.
If your studio focuses on children’s classes, then look for suburban towns close to schools, daycares and family centres.
A dance school is a very local-based business. Unless you are a specialist school, or have been around for years and have built up a strong reputation, most people will not deliberately travel for hours to attend your classes. Generally, people will opt for convenience and proximity to their homes.
So do some research, and consider whether the locality has sufficient percentage of the demographic profile that supports your studio.
PRO-TIP: Most local councils issue reports that will show you the demographic breakdown of their residents.
2. Accessibility and Parking
Think of how many times you haven’t “been bothered” doing something because it’s too hard. Same goes for your clients. If parents are spending 15-20mins every week trying to find a parking space, or they have to park 3 blocks away and walk through 2 dodgy back alleys before they get to your studio – over time, it’s not only a frustrating experience for them, but they will dread coming to your classes.
Consider how accessible your dance studio will be for everyone visiting – staff, students, and parents. If your studio is on a busy street, how easy is it for cars to access the parking lot? Do you have 24/7 access to the premise, or are you within a bigger building that will dictate your opening times? If there is a parking lot, is it well-lit, safe and secure? If there is street parking, what are the time limits? Will your clients need to pay for parking tickets every time they visit your venue?
What about public transport? If a student doesn’t have a car and decides to take a bus or train, can they easily get to your studio?
It’s a lot of things to consider but, like you, your clients lead busy lives and will be looking for somewhere that is convenient and easily accessible. Coming to classes should be fun and exciting – the last thing you want is for your clients to arrive flustered and stressed each week.
3. Foot Traffic
Foot traffic is extremely important for a dance studio, especially one that is just starting up. It’s basically free advertising – and who doesn’t want that?!
While you don’t necessarily need it to be on the side of a busy highway, you don’t want your studio to be located in the back alleyway of a mattress factory where nobody frequents either. A location that is near shopping centres, gyms or schools, where a large volume of potential clients pass daily, will be a great help in boosting numbers and getting much needed exposure if you are a new studio.
4. Proximity Of Competitors
You can’t help it if a competitor decides to move in near your studio, but you can certainly avoid setting up in an area with existing competition.
Do your research before settling on a property. Are there other dance studios located nearby? If so, are they offering the same services or can you co-exist in the same neighborhood? Sometimes having competitors within the locality can be a good thing, as you may catch their overflow (this is especially the case if your potential location is better situated than your competitor studio).
However, if there is not enough demographic to serve all of you, it is prudent to look elsewhere.
5. History and Future of the Site
What does this address say about your studio? Since your studio is targeting the locals, be sure your location reflects an image you want to project. Check the history of the site and how it has evolved over the years.
Ask about the previous tenants. You might be opening a studio where two or three have failed – and you don’t want to be setting up your studio with an existing handicap, either because the location is not ideal for that business or because the locals will assume that your studio will close just like other previous dance studios.
If several businesses have been there and failed to thrive, you need to do some research to find out why. Was it just bad management, or is the location to blame?
Equally, you should research the future of the site and its surroundings. If there are developmental plans in the neighborhood, will your studio be affected? Will there be construction work happening that may cause inconvenience to you and your clients?
Are there properties next door, or nearby, that are vacant? If so, what are the possible plans for these premises?
You certainly don’t want to open up a studio offering dancing for toddlers, only to have a rowdy pub open right next door 6 months down the track.
6. Location Costs
Besides the rent, consider other costs involved when choosing a location. Council rates, maintenance costs, utility bills, and security fees. Many of these vary depending on the location.
Check the condition of the building; does it need any modification such as redecorating, painting, fixing or renovating?
How is the state of the plumbing, air-conditioning, lighting and access? Will you need to spend money to get it all in working condition? Are there enough lights or will you need to add more fixtures? Will you need to put in access ramps to cater for your less able-bodied students?
The last thing you want is to find a space that fits perfectly with your budget, only to be stung with ongoing maintenance costs and fees.
Achieve Dance Studio Excellence by….
…Picking a strong location from the start.
It’s hard enough starting up a dance studio from scratch; don’t make things harder for yourself.
Picking the right location goes beyond the internal aesthetics and the price. Do your research; look at the neighborhood and ask the right questions. Speak with the property manager, your potential neighbors, the local council, even friends who may know the area well.
Be familiar with the location first, before you become attached to the actual premise.