Monthly Archives: October 2016

  • Studio Success Secrets: Teaching Talent

    studio-success-secrets-blogBy: Julia Hilliard

    As a studio owner you wear many hats (well, maybe more like tiaras and feathers). Chances are you teach, run the office, organize costume orders and perform other administrative tasks to help your business flourish. Sometimes, the to-do list can get so long it seems like there must be some secret to getting it all done. Well, truth is, there’s no real “secret.”

    But your teaching staff play an important part in making your studio a success. They inspire and teach your students and help you ensure your studio stays afloat. Attracting and retaining amazing teachers is how you can ensure longevity for your studio. Here are a few tips to help you attract and retain top teacher talent.

    Build Your Network: The first step is looking to your network to find talent—a former classmate or teacher, or even a former student who has grown into a skilled dancer that can teach. Additionally, local university dance programs are filled with talent who are looking to get more experience. You can also use online tools, such as, the LinkedIn of dance teachers, where studios post job openings and dancers apply to teaching jobs. Try to develop a bench of teachers with different specialties to allow flexibility in class offerings as your studio continues to grow.


    Deepen Relationships: Once you have hired your staff, you must put effort into making them feel at home in your studio. Though contracts can help encourage commitment and deter student poaching, there are other ways to inspire loyalty among your staff: empowerment and flexibility.


    Empower your teachers and provide them with flexibility to do their jobs in their personal style. By giving dance teachers creative liberty to choose the music, choreography and costumes for each of their classes, you prove that you trust their talent and ability to take the lead with your business, while also relieving yourself of some of the workload. Letting them take creative risks will inspire them to continue to think outside of the box and be excited to show up to work every day to practice their passion.


    Make sure your teachers feel like they have a voice in the studio by getting their input on policies and class offerings. For example, if your studio enforces a dress code, allow your teachers a say in classwear.


    Additionally, help promote their classes by posting photos and videos through the studio’s social channels (as well as sharing your teacher’s posts about their classes). Engaging on social media with teachers -- as well as students and their parents-- can help strengthen the community feeling they’re building during class time. You can also foster a sense of community by getting your studio involved in local performance opportunities and events outside of the studio.


    Retain Top Teacher Talent: In order to retain your talent, it is important to show your teachers you value them. Be transparent with business decisions that may impact them. Hold quarterly meetings, or “State of the Studios,” to discuss accomplishments, challenges and growth opportunities. While it may feel impossible to keep everyone happy all the time, having an open-door policy and encouraging communication with your teachers (as well as students and parents) is a step in the right direction.


    Recognize their hard work. Encourage teachers to promote their own classes and provide incentives such as referral bonuses for recommended students and other teachers.


    Additionally, if teachers have other business interests besides teaching, provide them with an outlet to explore them. For example, if they have an interest in marketing, let them own the studio’s social media channels. Or if their passion lies in event planning, give them the opportunity to help coordinate recital logistics. You can also invest in their futures by letting teachers attend professional development opportunities, such as conferences like Dance Teacher Summit.

    Teachers are on the front lines talking to your students and parents and can have a positive effect on your business. By giving them flexibility and encouraging their creativity, you’ll have no problem convincing teachers to join your team and keeping them in it for the long haul.

  • The Enrollment Idea that Knocked our Socks Off



    By Misty Lown

    Have you noticed the trend of later enrollment? I don’t know about you, but it seems that even with our best efforts to encourage early enrollment, registration for our littlest dancers—especially those who have never danced with us before—seems to come in a little later each year.


    We have tried many of the traditional enrollment boosting strategies:

    Pre-registration bonuses.

    Bring-a-friend day. 

    Open house.

    Referral cards.


    Each of them had a period of effectiveness AND some major drawbacks.

    We found pre-registration to be very effective, but only for current students. Pre-registration was not effective in helping us to reach new students very well. Bring-a-friend day brought a lot of excitement to the studio, but most of the kids who brought friends were already in full classes with no room for “permanent friends”.  Open house used to drive traffic by droves for pre-season shoe fittings, but with a fully stocked store on site and online shopping, buying ahead of time is no longer a priority. And a recent poll of our families found that they would refer a friend just because they believed in our program and that they didn’t need the incentive of a referral bonus.


    We knew we had to change it up, but we didn’t know how. 

    Then our Community Outreach Coordinator had a brilliant idea:  “Why don’t we put the best parts of everything we know DOES work well into one really great promotion?”


    And so “Free Dance Days” was born and the promotion has exceeded all of our expectations. We chose one specific week in October and opened only classes that still had spaces for “Free Dance Days”.  Our current students were invited to try another class or style of dance and the community was invited to try a dance class for the first time.  We bought two banners promoting the event for display in front of the studio and a local parade. But, the real key was that we used the same artwork for a Facebook post, which was boosted to a targeted audience for $50.  The post featured a button to “Sign Up”, which took visitors to a special page on our website where they could fill out a simple form to try a class.


    We hosted 122 visitors over the course of our “Free Dance Days” and an overflow group of 22 dancers the following week.  All teachers were prepared to accommodate new friends in the classroom ahead of time and parent volunteers greeted visitors at door to show the way to classes.  After classes, all visitors were invited to the front desk area where they were given a thank you gift for attending classes and information regarding registration.  So far, 18% of those who attended Free Dance Days have registered for regular classes. Those who haven’t registered will be invited to try our upcoming “Mini-Mester”, which is a shorter 8-week session of classes before the holidays.


    Reflecting on the week, I think there are several reasons why our “Free Dance Days” promotion worked so well.

    1.  Advertising on Facebook made it easy to reach our target audience.
    2.  A simple online registration form made it easy to sign up.
    3.  An email to attendees before the event helped manage expectations and remind people to attend.
    4.  The experience was designed to be warm and welcoming with an incentive for enrollment at the event.
    5.  We created other enrollment options, such as Mini-Mester for those who did wish to enroll for regular classes at the event.


    As you evaluate your fall and winter enrollment strategies, consider taking the best of what you know works and making something brand new.  Look for new ways to market and wow your visitors when they arrive and give them plenty of options to become involved after the event.  It’s a great way to give your 2016-17 enrollment a great boost before it’s time to order costumes for the big spring recital.

  • Life Without Dance: There’s No Such Thing



    By: Christine Luca

    Every dancer knows that there is a lot of truth in the saying “once a dancer, always a dancer.” The urge to move to the newest beat or tap dance down grocery store aisles is something that will never go away. But with many dancers concluding their formal dance training after high school or college, the transition from routine training to recreational dancing is often interrupted by other priorities. As schedules fill up, it can seem like there is never enough time in the day, but it’s important to make time for dance—it’s good for the mind, body and soul. Here are some ways to keep dance a part of your life:


    Consider dance a social activity: Sharing experiences and meeting others with the same passion for dance is a fun way to keep dance in your life. To do this, consider volunteering, joining interest groups or teaching.

    • Be a volunteer: Volunteering at dance schools or theaters is a great way to meet new people while absorbing dance culture and giving back. Nonprofit dance companies and community theaters are often looking for volunteers to help with tickets, lighting and backstage duties during performances and rehearsals. These opportunities allow you to meet and socialize with people in your area who have similar interests.


    • Join a social group: To help you find your social niche in school, consider joining dance-related interest groups. After high school, dancers should consider joining collegiate dance clubs. Many of these groups will even host end-of-year showcases that allow you maintain your performance skills. After college, dancers should explore young adult classes at community centers like the YMCA. When Dancing with the Stars first aired, studios began to offer more organized classes for adult ballroom dancing, touting health benefits of dance for people of all ages. For a more casual social dance setting, there may be opportunities in your area like country line dancing, which is a little different than the typical dance class, but just as fun!


    • Start teaching: Teaching classes is a very typical way to transition off of an intensive training schedule, still enjoy the benefits of dance and connect with dance-lovers along the way. Trained dancers can become teacher’s assistants early on in their dance career to prepare them for a teaching role in the future. There are also many dance conventions and seminars that take place across the country to stay up to date with the newest trends in the dance community.


    Participate in fitness classes: Signing up for Barre and Zumba classes is one of the easiest ways to keep dance in your life, while staying in shape and focusing on personal wellness. With new studios, such as 305 Fitness and TAPfit, opening on a regular basis, you’ll never get bored and can always find one that offers your favorite style. Cardio tap is my new favorite!

    Another exercise option that is popular among dancers is yoga. The focus on balance and extension are vital skills for dancing, but also great for toning and stress relief.


    Enjoy the arts: Every art form gives participants the ability to express themselves through a wide range of emotions.  Former dancers can tap into their creative side by taking part in other art forms.

    • Explore fine arts: Former dancers looking to maintain a creative, expressive outlet can turn to a number of activities in the fine arts. For example, paint and pottery classes are fun social activities that allow you to channel your artistic impulses in a group setting, similar to dance classes.


    • Go to the theatre: Theatre is another collaborative form of art that uses the body to convey emotion, similarly to dance. Added bonus if you go to a musical—there’s guaranteed to be some great dancing!


    Support other dancers: This may seem like an obvious one, but I encourage all dancers to get out there and watch dance performances. Watching other dancers is inspiring and fun, and can remind you why you fell in love with the art in the first place.

    • Turn on the television: Watching televisions shows, such as So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars, allows you to be the expert judge from your living room. It keeps you involved with the dancing community and can provide inspiration and entertainment.


    • Attend live events: Going to live events in the community put on by local schools and dance companies is a lot of fun and often free. Start following your local dance and theatre groups on social media to see what’s coming up on their events calendar.


    Concluding routine training may be a challenging transition, but dance does not need to completely leave your life. There are countless ways to keep your dancing spirit alive and connect with other dance-lovers. Once a dancer, always a dancer!

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