Dance Studios are a dime a dozen. Right? In some places you can see one every couple of miles. I'm sure you've thought to yourself in passing, what makes this one better than that one? What makes mine the standout amongst all these others? What might these studios be doing that I'm not? Well the truth is, each dance studio really has a personality all its own; with goals and structure that cater to different types of clientele. Parents in the market for a dance studio for their children might be overwhelmed at the selection and wonder the same thing in passing. So, how do you stand out in such a competitive market and demonstrate to be you are the one best suited for their needs? Below are five essential things you can do to start thinking about making your mark in the dance studio industry, how to build that brand and how to maintain longevity and grow in the years to come.

#1 Have a Clear Mission: Before the doors of your studios even open, the first and most essential thing to think about and set forth is, "Who are you?" What does your studio stand for? In order to be successful, clear direction, preparation, plan of action, and long term goal is 99% of the work. Establishing the studio philosophy about what you bring to the table, about what you are going to offer up and coming dancers is crucial in the first twelve months of your business. This will become your precedent, so set it now in the beginning and it will naturally set you apart and the distinctions between studios will happen organically.

#2 Set your Goals: This may seem like an obvious one, but you'd be surprised how many studio owners don't look at the overarching goal and well as the smaller objectives they would like to forecast for their business. Work backwards. What is your big, long term goal for the studio? In how long do you want to achieve to this goal? Once you have that established, work on the smaller goals? What do they look like semi-annually? Quarterly? Monthly? Weekly? Etc. While it may seem tedious to draft these ideas out, seeing them in front you will allow you to plan accordingly and make any necessary adjustments as you go along. Think of it as a check in for you and your staff. It will also prevent you from realizing the things that aren't working sooner vs. letter. Stay on top of these goals but be flexible enough to cut yourself some slack when it's necessary to change gears.

#3 Marketing is Golden: Once you've established what kind of studio this is going to be (i.e. recreational, competitive, training facility, performing arts center, etc.) and worked out the direction in which you'd like to go, how will you brand yourself and get the word out? What investment are you willing to make to advertise yourself? The bottom line is without clients, there is no business so taking the time to devise clever, strategic and unique marketing is crucial. Try varying it a bit between local newspaper ads and events, social media, email blasts, expos, etc. and see what works best in your community. The other thing to think about and market is, what is something you can do that is different from what others are doing? Is it a certain class offering in the schedule that nobody else offers? A bonus for enrolling in a certain number of classes? Incentive for paying a year's tuition up front? A unique performance opportunity during the year? Etc.

#4 Build your Team: Who you surround yourself needs to be met with careful thought. Hand-selected faculty members and staff you choose to surround yourself with is ultimately going to run the daily operations and send your business to new heights. Having a team that is on the same page as you can only make the business aspect soar and produce the greatest results for your students in the years to come. Take your time. Interview like-minded teachers who mirror the studio philosophy you set forth in the tip #1. Professionalism is crucial in terms of the administrative staff you hire as well. Just like a cohesive ensemble dancing together on stage, the team you are assembling should be no different.

#5 Appearances, Appearances: What does your studio look like, physically? Are you building from scratch? Taking over a pre-existing studio? While trying to stay on budget, how will you physically transform your space to keep up with other studios in the areas? What does your outside sign look like? Is it inviting? Legible? Catchy? Will it draw people to the door? Do you have professional flooring in your studios? Mirrors? A welcoming "welcome" area? Monitors? Up to date sound equipment? The latest studio software for managing enrollment, payroll, scheduling etc.? Does your faculty and staff look professional? These are all things that are going to involve cost and again are essential to set-up before the first customer comes into inquire about classes. Budget accordingly and go slow so that there is less maintenance over time. Quality vs. Quantity! Remember! All these elements combined should be given great thought but lead to you a place where you set your dance studio name apart from others for years to come!