Especially when you have had your business in the community for a number of years. Time and time again it happens and despite marketing your business, advertising in newspapers and word of mouth, there are still a lot of people in your community that have absolutely no idea that your business exists! Once you face that reality, it is time to get creative and find ways to enlighten people about what you and your studio can offer them.
When we understood that there were so many people out there on a totally different track to us, it became easier to find ways to get them to not only become more aware of our existence but also of all the valuable and fun ways we could enrich the lives of their children and indirectly them. I started to think about my conversations with the parents who had either already placed their children in our school or who were thinking about it and the one word that stuck in my mind was FUN! Everyone wants to have fun and more importantly, everyone wants their children to have fun. We started letting our current clients know that we provided birthday parties and almost immediately we started receiving calls from outside people about them. In the beginning, we did no advertising other than in house. We researched all the places in our area and found out what they offered for their parties and how they priced them. Each area is different as far as price is concerned and it is really important to make your prices comparable to others. We made a list of what each place offered in value for what they were charging and set up our lists of what we could provide for each type of party.
Obviously your biggest market for parties is in the pre school age but we have also found that we do a great business with pre teens also. If you yourself are not really in to actually participating in the parties, find someone on your faculty who is and who will be willing to work with you to build that side of your business up. Here are some ideas to help you initially set these parties up.
1) Do your research with businesses in your area that provide parties.
2) Set up your price sheets. This is usually done by either a per child price or also could be by group amounts. For instance, $200:00 for 10 children and $25:00 for each additional child.
3) Decide on types of parties that you could offer suitable for the age group. Themes are always very popular.
4) Be definite on what you are going to be responsible for and what the parents need to provide. Perhaps you could provide a dance class, decorations suitable to the theme, paper products such as table cloths and plates and cups, and small prizes for party games.
5) Remember that you are providing the set up, the locale and the cleanup which all adds up to one thing, convenience and less hassle for the parents.
6) Make sure that you spell it out clearly to the parents that they are responsible for any food including but not limited to the cake and also goody bags for their guests.
7) Our experience is that if it becomes an adult also party it can be difficult to manage and control. Let the parent know that a couple of adults to help out or to be there for the child who’s party it is are fine but that you are providing an event for children and not adults.
8) Have a checklist for each type of party that you are offering and put down not only the time frame of the content of the party but also exactly what products will be needed for each event.
9) Set a time limit on your parties. I would recommend anywhere from 2 to 3 hours depending on the age group.
10) Research in your community and also online where you can buy the best and most economic supplies for your parties.
11) Look at your dollar stores for prizes for games you can play at these events. Make sure that you are prepared for boys and girls.
12) Be prepared with suitable music and perhaps DVD’s for the theme. One of our most popular events is our Hip Hop Music Video Party where we also film the guests doing their dances and include a DVD of the party to each guest. (There is, of course an additional fee for this service.)
13) Make up some colorful flyers and posters to hang up at your studio to get the word out about your parties.
14) Have plenty of schedules and brochures to hand out to parents when they come to collect their children. Perhaps you could include a special offer for new students with something of equal benefit to a current student. For example $25:00 off the enrollment price for a new student and $25:00 off for the student who brought them in on their future enrollment. Everyone likes a deal!
15) Create a simple contract for the parent organizing the party. Include in it an upfront payment that could be broken up into a deposit and final payment prior to the party. It is also wise to put in a clause regarding damages to property as a safeguard to you. It is also more business like to have a signed contract and to give the customer their copy so that there are no hidden costs and everyone knows what they are getting.
These are just the basic ways of how to set these events up. Find times when your studio has space available. The most important thing to remember is that you are finding a way to bring outside people into your building and generally if we can get them in and they are having fun they are definitely more open to signing up if they are new and adding more classes if they are a current student. Remember that you need to take into consideration all of your costs to put the events on and you need to make sure that you are making a profit.
This is just one way to not only increase the visibility of your studio in your community but also to increase revenue at times when your space is not being used for classes. We will explore more ways of reaching out to unknown clients and converting them in to paying customers next month.