All businesses love referrals. This form of advertising seems to be especially powerful for dance schools. I believe that our type of business breeds more word of mouth advertising than others. Moms talk to their friends, families, associates and neighbors. That’s great news for all of us. Of course, we cant always be sure that they are giving us a good report but hopefully more often than not they are talking about out business in a positive way. Studies of advertising through consumer referrals have shown that how your customers talk about you and your business will depend on the quality of the customers experience with your business. John Jantsch the author of the book 'The Referral Engine' says that your employees probably treat your customers the same way you treat them!' Want more referrals? Treat your staff right and they will be your studio ambassadors’.

Below is an example of what the researchers found.

For instance the number 3 reflects the number of people an individual will talk to regarding your business if you do a good job. As you can see the higher numbers tend to reflect more dissatisfaction.

3. If you do a good job and they are happy 10 If you do a great job and they are thrilled 22 If you do a bad job and they are not happy 50 If you get into an argument!

The question is, how are your customers talking about you? So there you have it. As you may already know, people love to let the whole world know when there is something bad to tell. Every business has one or two customers that drive everyone crazy. They are the ones who are never happy and end up being a tremendous drain on you and your staff. You may want to consider having a one on one meeting with these customers to try to find out what is really making them so difficult to please. You may find that they are just not suited to your studio and that their expectations are totally different to yours. If you feel that they will continue to be unhappy you might find that the best course of action is to offer them a full refund. There does not need to be any hard feelings. It is just simply a better idea to give people the option to move on if they are obviously not behind you and your program. We have been placed in this predicament a few times and have found that some people will take the refund and move on and others will feel much better about everything and continue to stay at our studio. They appreciate the fact that we took the time to find out what the issues were and offered options. Most people just want to be heard and recognized.

We believe in great customer service which is very different from letting them run all over you. So how can we get them to talk more about all the good we do? Recognize that if you interact daily with your customers it will make them feel more loyalty to you and your program and will result in them talking about you in positive and creative ways. Sometimes it just takes a willingness to step out of your comfort zone and get to know your customers likes and dislikes. You will find it is worth its weight in gold!

What types of changes can you make in your business to make it more attractive to your clients? It could be as simple as how you answer the phone. Is it the same old stale reply that has more of a why are you bothering me tone to it? Give your front desk staff a new and fun script to read.

Try this, Thank you for calling (Add your studio name here) we are having a great day here, how can we make your day great too! Do you have any welcome signs at your studio? If not, buy a welcome mat, Make a welcome sign and put a sign on the door on the way out that says Thanks for coming! I can assure you that people are not used to people being happy and friendly especially when they go into a business. I know that seems strange but think for a moment the last time that you were really WOWED by a business that you frequent. If you create a fun atmosphere it is infectious (for you, your staff and customers!) and will get people talking. You will need to get your staff to buy into it. Make it enjoyable, almost like a game and most of them will be happy to follow. If not, find people who will! Have the faculty do some creative unannounced events in their classes. Do a fun dance game like musical chairs or blindfold dance moves or pull a name from a hat and give that student a special inexpensive gift. Just think outside the box. The customers are expecting good classes, with good teaching and a safe environment. That is a given. If you want to stand out in the crowd do something more! It doesn’t have to cost very much but it will certainly make it memorable and have them coming back for more. Memorable stories (good or bad) about the things you do are retold from your customers to potential customers. What kinds of stories are being told about you?