9 Things Every Studio Owner MUST Do Before a New Dance Season!
Before the dust has even settled on your yearly recital, it’s time to start thinking about the new dance season.
Yes, such is the lives that we lead!
The prospect of planning for the new dance year doesn’t have to be intimidating or stressful. But it DOES need to be prepared. With SO many things to remember, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
So to ensure success in your business, we’ve put together the top 9 things every studio owner must do before a new dance season!
1. Get in touch with last year’s students (Think more than just email)
Any dance studio owner worth their salt knows that retention of student numbers is the key to studio success (and if you don’t, then we strongly urge you to check out our free course on how we grew our studio by 227% in the first 6 months of business using mostly retention strategies).
Emailing and texting are great and easy ways to keep in touch and remind students when to come back for the new year.
But also try to think outside the box. How about a grander gesture to show how much they mean to you?
Some good examples would be to:
- Create a video montage of the previous year’s performances on social media with a loving message to tell your students what they mean to you;
- Schedule a “Welcome Back” or “Refresher” workshop closer to the start of the new season to get students back into the swing of things after their summer break;
- Take “behind the scenes” footage of any changes you’re making to classes or the studio in the new year. This creates buzz and excitement so students will be keen to come back to see the changes; or
- Send a simple survey to the students and parents asking what they like or what they’d like to see more of at your studio. Not only does this make them feel like their opinions matter, but it could also give you some food for thought on classes or ideas you hadn’t considered before!
No matter how you communicate to your students, make sure you do it as a priority so you can keep your retention rates nice and high!
2. Set a studio goal and PLAN for it!
Too often we see studios who are just trying to “get by” and exist from term to term.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day work of running a studio. You probably have never even thought about having a solid studio goal, let alone putting a plan in place to achieve it.
Studio goals don’t have to be huge, but they do need to be specific.
Most studio owners will say something like, “We want more students this term!” – but that’s too vague.
How many more? One more? 100 more?
Because the plan to achieve one more student is obviously very different to a plan that achieves 100 more.
And that’s exactly what we need to do next, create a plan.
HOW will you get these extra students?
Which classes will you focus on to attract newcomers?
What extra measures are you doing to keep existing students?
Are you using new advertising or social media techniques to attract new students?
How are they working for you? Or are they not working?
When was the last time you reviewed your marketing strategies?
This sort of planning allows savvy studios owners to see which methods are or aren’t working towards their goal, so they can track and amend their strategies as required to achieve maximum results.
3. Take A Look at Refreshing Your Social Media
Much like dancers doing the same kinds of routines over and over again can become a bit stale, so can your social media.
During this break before the new season, it is a great opportunity to revamp your social media strategies and get some different results. Start by:
Trying out some new social platforms
If you’ve only ever been glued to Facebook posts (which is perfectly fine by the way!) maybe it’s time you tried some live streaming on Facebook, Instagram or Periscope?
Perhaps you’d like to show off things visually a little more on Instagram or Snapchat?
Or maybe you’d like to increase more organic reach on the parents’ side with something like GooglePlus?
Whatever it is, this is the perfect time to try out a new social platform and see if something else fits better for your studio.
Conduct a Social Media Audit
Ok, this is not as scary as it sounds! A Social Media Audit (SMA) just allows you to look at all the platforms your studio has a presence on, how many followers they have, how often you use the platform and so on.
Once you have these numbers, it will then be a lot easier to see where most of your time should go as far as social media is concerned.
Maybe you’ll find you barely ever use Snapchat for your studio, so you’ll want to close the account.
Perhaps you have a super old Twitter account you’ve barely accessed, but have a bunch of missed messages you haven’t even seen.
A SMA can uncover hidden gems in your social media marketing and also make it easier for you to give certain platforms the chop if you feel they won’t help you going forward.
Design some new social post templates for the new year
A quick jump on Canva, PicMonkey or Stencil (aff link) can open up a world of dynamic social media posting to make your content really stand out!
Why just post a photo when you can post a shareable quote with your logo and your image as the feature point?
There are so many programs out there to make engaging social media content a breeze, so there is no reason why you can’t up your social game here.
4. Advertising – What worked for you and what didn’t?
Off the back of social media promotion, looking at advertising as a whole is super important.
How did people find you in the past?
How are they going to find you in the future?
What are some ideas that you may not be taking full advantage of to attract more students?
Are you strategically flyering?
Do you have business cards?
Have you looked at the possibility of strategic partnerships?
How about the deep world of Facebook advertising?
The market is competitive, and the old “yellow pages listing and bi-annual ad in the local paper” approach just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Now more than ever we are forced to think outside the box when it comes to connecting with your new customers.
Don’t skimp on this step and give it the attention it needs for the new dance season.
5. Staff training and pre-season meeting to align goals
Of course YOU know what the studio’s goals are for the year – you came up with them!
But to ensure your teachers and administration staff don’t kick off the new year with a “business as usual” approach, have them come in for a pre-season meeting to get them all on the same page as you.
This doesn’t have to be a formal meeting. It’s during a break so feel free to spice it up a bit with some food, drinks and music. Make it more a catch-up and include some fun team-building activities.
If your budget allows it, even holding the meeting at a cafe or restaurant during the day will both reward staff who attend (free lunch? Yes please!) and will also give you an environment outside the studio to shake things up and really be able to speak your message to your staff loud and clear.
No matter how you choose to deliver your message, it’s crucial that you have the support of your staff when it comes to achieving your studio goals.
Actually, now that you have all your staff in one place, it might be a good time to……
6. Ensure teachers know their schedules and that you know theirs!
There is nothing more stressful than having a key staff member surprising you with a 3 week leave to go on a family vacation mid semester…… especially if “they thought they told you already” but clearly didn’t.
Ask all your staff to send you their plans for the upcoming year and have it on record to avoid conflicts and confusion in the future. Even if they’re only tentatively looking at going away, ask them to tell you so you can at least have a back up plan for staffing if they confirm their absence.
You can NEVER be too prepared when it comes to staff cover and it’s vital you let your staff know they should come to you asap whenever they even have the slightest thought of taking some time off.
Conversely THEY need to know if you’ll be away as well. They might have plans to pitch new routine or class idea to you and if you just up and leave, it might turn out to be a lost opportunity for both your studio and staff growth.
A shared Google calendar is a free and easy way for all staff to see who is away and when (and will hopefully avoid them booking time off when you are already short staffed!).
7. Give your studio a mini makeover
We’re not saying you need to completely remodel your existing space. But a fresh look for a fresh new season can do wonders for new and returning students alike.
This doesn’t have to cost a fortune either. There are many cost effective ways to transform your space – with or without your landlord’s consent.
But if you feel it’s just going to be too hard to find the time or budget to do a proper makeover, the very least you can do is give the space a good clean!
Wipe down walls, remove stickers, vacuum EVERYWHERE, polish mirrors, disinfect gym mats, tidy up shelving, throw out or donate items in lost and found….
There are so many small cleaning tasks to be done all the time. And when done altogether, they really can make a huge difference.
You may not notice it, as you’re in amongst it all the time (what teenager with a messy bedroom ever notices the mess?). But it’s guaranteed that a new potential client coming in to check out your studio for the first time will notice the dusty trophies and misplaced candy wrappers.
8. Do a stocktake of merchandise or look at some fresh designs
Many studios can make a decent income from selling dancewear and studio branded clothing – especially if it’s a mandatory uniform.
If you haven’t looked into this revenue stream, then the summer break is the perfect time to do so. Come up with some ideas, research suppliers and designs and start making sample orders.
And if it’s something you’re already doing at your studio, then do a stocktake and review your sales for the past year.
Which designs were the most popular?
What sizes and colors did you sell the most of?
Which designs were unpopular and can be put in a “welcome back” sale?
Is there anything that needs restocking?
Are there new funky styles from your suppliers you can look into stocking for the new season?
New designs can really freshen up your studio and revive your existing students’ energy for the year.
But if you do this, don’t forget to mark down old designs to get them sold.
The last thing you want is to accumulate more stuff that just sits in your storage spaces when you could both be clearing it out AND making a bit of money!
9. Remind yourself that YOU are the most important piece of the puzzle!
Yes there are A LOT of things you need to do during the summer break to prepare for a new dance season.
But one of the most important things to do is….to have a break yourself!
We hear SO many stories of studio owners working endless hours and sacrificing so much to make their dance studio dreams a reality, that they soon find themselves completely burnt out.
This is one of the quietest times of the year for a studio. While the preparations are important, it’s equally vital that the studio’s leader – its anchor in a sea of sequins and competitions and dance moms – has time to recharge, relax and refocus.
Without giving yourself quality time to unwind, spend with your loved ones and away from the studio, you’ll likely find yourself stressed, uninspired and mentally drained before the first semester is over!
Schedule a vacation, even a short one, away from your work/studio/obligations.
If you can’t afford to go away, then at least block out a few days at home. Spend it relaxing with a book, Netflix, time with your loved ones – anything that doesn’t involve work.
Turn off your phone, lock away your computer and tell your staff you’re not reachable for those few days.
If you’re really struggling to step away from your studio, then at least schedule in regular breaks for yourself. A couple of hours a day or a day off a week to recharge can often bring in a fresh outlook and more creative ideas.
And ensure you have a good support network to help you through any tough times. Whether it’s your family, friends or even a Facebook group of like-minded people who understand what you’re going through – it can really feed your soul and boost your mental health. Don’t wait until you are frazzled and stressed to the max before you schedule in your “me time”. By then it’s usually too late and will have started to affect your health mentally and physically.
PHEW! So there you have it, the top 9 things every studio owner must do before a new dance season!
It seems like a lot of work and chances are you’ve got another 5 to 10 other things you also want to get done for your studio.
As daunting as it is, just considering these points and getting some planning down on paper is a great start.
Then, rally your troops and knock these steps off one by one.
Before you know it, your doors will be open again with familiar faces and brand new ones. So don’t delay in taking action today, no matter how small.