That cold chill is suddenly in the air, Thanksgiving is around the corner and then we are full swing into the holidays. Summer seems awfully far away and yet now is the time to prepare your summer programs and more importantly, to get the word out about them before anyone else does.
People like to plan ahead and especially if they have multiple children with multiple activities. The sooner you can provide them with information and ways for them to occupy their children during the summer months, the better!
If you have not been providing any summer classes or activities you may want to consider adding them on. We all need rest and relaxation over the summer but it is a great time to increase your studio revenue and also to entice new students in whom hopefully you can convert into year round students. Perhaps there are classes that you don’t offer during your normal semesters that you could introduce during the summer. We have had success with Flamenco and Hula classes. Giving students some new options are always fun and increases their awareness of dance in general. We find in our area our biggest market for the summer is our preschool age. For them we set up one week sessions of 2 hours a day Monday through Friday. The parents love it because they are able to sign their child up for just one week or as many as they want over the summer. We have one price for the first week and if they do any additional weeks they receive a discount. Each week we provide them with a different theme and last year had great success with our 'changing countries' theme. Each week we did dances and had stories and little costumes from different countries and the children absolutely loved it. One week it would be Mexico and we would have little Mexican hats and music, the next week it was China, then Ireland and so on and so forth. We found simple arts and crafts suitable for each country, (Oriental Trading is great for that!) and we always include a tea party on the Thursday of each week where we serve little treats from the country we are celebrating. It is a lot of fun for both students and teachers. There are many discount costume companies where you can pick up little outfits for the dancers. Also after Halloween many party stores are practically giving costumes away or perhaps you have a parent or staff member who would be willing to make up some little costumes or suitable accessories. The key is, do it now. If you set the number of students for each session you can get everything organized now and then by the time summer comes around you can smoothly breeze into that session.
Preteens usually are attracted to anything that is either Hip Hop or Musicals. They also love the idea of Music Videos so perhaps you could incorporate that idea into one of your summer programs. The most important thing to find out is the habits of your clients. Do they go away for a large portion of the summer? Are some weeks better than others for when they will be at home? Are they looking for one week programs or perhaps two? Finding out as much information from your customers in advance is going to help you to plan your summer program and help you to know the prime weeks so that you can zero in on that and fill as many spaces as possible. Talking to your student’s parents is helpful, perhaps emailing them a simple questionnaire or survey is another way to get feedback. Gathering information is the most important key as this will prevent you from offering programs that are doomed to fail!!
Your next step is to get the word out to as many people as possible.
1) Buy a mailing list for your area in the age group you are targeting and then create a postcard to be mailed to them. Make sure that on the postcard is a call to action (i.e. Register Now!) and give them a deadline to do so.
2) Make up colorful flyers and posters and put them up wherever they will let you. In your studio, dancewear stores, pediatrician’s offices, bank lobbies, in short wherever you can think to put them up where they will be seen by the right people.
3) Send out an email to customers both past and present that are in your data base.
4) Contact your local online source for young mothers.
5) Go to preschools and offer to do a presentation free of charge to their students with the stipulation that you are able to hand out all the summer program information to the parents.
6) Advertise in local Newspapers and publications. The key is to get in there before anyone else does.
7) Start your enrollment in January
Knowing exactly where you stand with enrollment early on helps you to have everything in place in a timely fashion. This includes securing faculty, supplies and being able to know exactly what dates you are booked or available in the summer so that you can make plans well in advance for yourself.