Your front desk needs to serve a variety of purposes. As a result it is important to train anyone who is working at your front desk to be a reflection of you and your philosophies. Most often the people at your front desk are not all that familiar with your classes and what you are trying to sell simply because they are probably not dancers or teachers—they are office workers. So it is really important that you have a very good description of your classes and the different programs that you offer as well as any other information that is important to your business, all at their fingertips.
Why is this vital for the best running of your studio? To a dancer or dance teacher some things that are obvious to us will not be so to others. It is because of our training that we very often assume that other people will know the reasons why we do certain things. It really wasn’t until some years ago, when one of my front desk people told me that she was not a salesperson and could not talk to customers as I did, that I realized that the knowledge I took for granted had to be better explained to everyone else. It made perfect sense to me to tell a customer that their child should take two instead of one ballet class per week because it was more balanced for the student and would produce better results. What I primarily saw as a better option for the child and also as an end result—more income for the studio—my front desk person saw as 'selling.' It was a different way of looking at it, but I had to make sure we all saw it the same way.
As a result I started to give my front desk people a much better description of each class that was offered and how they could link groups of classes together for the students that would not only make sense to the parents, but also be beneficial to the students and to the studio. Often a parent will come in and tell us that their child is going to take certain classes and unless someone says something to change their mind that is how they are going to register…for just those classes. So many times when I have pointed out to them the benefits of adding an additional class or classes, they have been happy to include something extra in their child’s schedule, which in turn will make us happy as we will have more income to be able to pay everyone and to make some for ourselves, too! So, yes, in a way it is being a salesperson, but it is also just being aware of what your clients want for their children. I personally am never pushy about adding classes, but I was told a long time ago by a business person that I respected, as long as something is reasonable people are more likely to agree to it.
This is one reason why I am not totally sold on online registrations. I think they are perfect for preschool students because the youngest children are not able to take a lot of classes, but so many times I have found that, with the right direction, current students have increased their classes. Two things then happen: the students become better dancers and, because they look better, they are a more valuable advertisement for your school.
Getting your front desk staff to understand your philosophies and the 'why' of what you want to do really gives them the tools to become a great salesperson for your company. After all, who talks to your clients and students every time they enter or leave the studio? Your front desk staff! They become your most effective bridge to your customers. Once they fully understand the positive impact they are able to have with the students and the parents, they will not feel that they are just salespersons, but will actually feel more committed to helping you increase not only your student body, but also your bottom line.