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Re-Training Your Staff


Studio Owner Article


Improve Staff and Customer Communication

For many of us our season has just finished. We have had the excitement of the recitals and all end of year performances and although some studios continue running over the summer offering programs for their dancers, it is usually a quieter time as families take their vacations and children go to sleep away camps. Summer is a wonderful time to re-train your staff or to bring new staff members in to train from scratch.

At the end of each season we like to take a look back at how the business ran and to find ways to make improvements and help our employees do a better job in a more productive way. Even the most seasoned staff member can use a little motivation and some new ideas on how to operate the studio. Perhaps you feel that your studio is running at its optimum level and that is fantastic but I would suggest that you take a more in depth look because in my experience even when things appear to be running smoothly there is inevitably something that we can improve upon!

I have found that the best way for me is to meet with my staff first of all and write down any ideas that they may have as to how the day to day operation of the studio can be streamlined, and then find real ways that we can implement these ideas. Between their ideas and ones that we come up with there is always something to be done. It is really helpful to talk and listen to your staff because they are, after all working at your business year round and will have a good knowledge of ways to improve their job. Sometimes you may feel that they could improve on some aspect of their work and if that is the case they will need some training to help them improve in that direction. This is a good time to listen to how they are answering the phone and talking to both present and future customers. Perhaps they are forgetting to say something that you feel is important to point out to customers, they may just have slightly watered down what you want them to say and not even be aware of it. We had one front desk person who was good at her job but always in a bit of a hurry and she would end up saying so much to customers that she overwhelmed them with a lot of noise and only confused them. She meant well but in her quick fire delivery she really wasn't listening to what the customer had to say and consequently didn't get the right message to them. We re-trained her to stop and take a breath and to talk at a slower pace so that if gave the other person a chance to explain what they were looking for. She really responded well and now has a great delivery. As I used to say to her, "Less is more!" and in this case it certainly was.

If you have hired someone new it is much easier to train them when it is not as crazy and hectic so that they have a chance to absorb all of the materials that are used to manage the studio plus how it operates on a day to day basis. We have always found that it is so helpful to have a manual for the staff. The manual simply lays out in a clear and concise way how to handle everything at the front desk and in the office, Of course, there are always exceptions to every rule but it is great as a referral and a tool to keep everyone on the same page.

Whether you are training or re-training your staff it is a good idea to do it over a period of days. I have found in the past that if I throw too much at them at one time things definitely get lost in the shuffle so again, making a plan of what needs to be covered and what day you are going to cover it with them will make a big difference to all.

Running any business is an ongoing process and it is not only a challenge but can also be a lot of fun to make everyone who works for you stay on their toes! Find out where you think the organization has the weak links and then go in like a surgeon and fix them together with your staff. Everyone will feel more organized and revitalized when new ideas are implemented. Once you have finished the training, reward your employees by taking them for a nice meal away from the studio and have a toast together for the new and improved business that you are all a part of.


Angela D'Valda Sirico

Angela D'Valda Sirico

Originally from England, Angela spent her early years in Hong Kong where she studied with Carol Bateman. She continued her training at Arts Educational Trust in England. After moving to New York City she continued her studies with Martha Graham and Matt Mattox. She appeared with the Matt Mattox Company and toured with the first Disney On Parade working with Disney and N.B.C. Contracted to the Teatro National of Buenos Aires she performed for one year and spent an additional year as a featured soloist at the Teatro Maipo, Argentina. Travelling to Madrid, Spain she worked for Spanish television in a weekly variety show Tarde Para Todos and from there decided to form her own Dance Company. With the Company she choreographed and performed throughout Spain in theatres, and on television. Angela met her husband Steve while working together on a television special The Valerie Peters Show filmed in Tampa, Florida. In 1979 they formed the Adagio act DValda & Sirico appearing in theatres, clubs and on television shows such as David Letterman, Star Search and the Jerry Lewis Telethon. In 1982 they were contracted to Europe and appeared in a variety of shows in Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and Italy before going to London, England where they appeared as Guest Artists for Wayne Sleep (formerly of the Royal Ballet) in his show Dash at the Dominium Theatre. Angela and Steve have owned and directed their dance studio in Fairfield, CT. for the past twenty two years and in 2005 added music and vocal classes to their curriculum. Angela served as chairperson for the tri state panel of the Royal Academy of Dancing and is Co-author of a Partner syllabus currently used for teacher training by Dance Educators of America. She continues to adjudicate and teach for major dance organizations and choreographs for theatre, television and conventions and was commissioned by Boston Ballet 11 to choreograph the highly acclaimed Brother Can You Spare A Dime? DValda & Sirico are currently in production choreographing the opening to the National Speakers Association convention on Broadway at the Marriott Marquis for August of 2008. Angela is co-owner of Dance Teacher Web designed as an online resource for teachers worldwide.

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