A BIG part of reopening your business will be bringing back customers. But not just recent ones. I am talking about customers from as far back as four years ago. Think about it, most school districts and after school activities like sports, clubs and groups have all been put on hold. So, families will be looking for something to do. Now more than ever you need to remind your most current customers and those from years ago that you are open for business and have some great classes to offer.
Yes, you are still awesome and now you are no longer closed. So, try this! Pull out all of you customers and go back four years ago. Now look at all of the people who have inquired about your studio during that time but never registered for whatever reason. I am sure you have a sizable list and I recommend that you can start calling all of these people. I know it is a big task but we have started this at our studio and we have been getting great results so far. Most folks are happy to hear from you and are interested to hear what you have going on. I am not suggesting you personally do all of the calls, although if you can that would be great. You can get your front desks staff or some faculty members to help. Just make sure all of the calls are originating from your studio business number. We are also doing a series of emails as well to follow up. Most families are actively looking for something for their kids to do. So why not remind them you are open for business and would love to have them be a part of your awesome studio!
This would also be a great time to add some new programing to your curriculum if you have the space and time. How about dance for sports training class. During this class you could work on balance, plyometrics and body control. How about a musical theater class experience where every four weeks they switch between dance, voice and acting? Maybe you can offer a hip-hop class for boys only or private lessons during the morning or early afternoon hours if your school district is doing remote lessons. The list here can go on and on.
Time to not just think outside of the box but outside the whole box factory!
The next part of this article is focusing on renegotiating. This is a terrific way for you to save money so you can recoup lost revenue.
Here are some ideas…
Rent: If you are leasing your space this is most likely your biggest expense. Why not get together with your landlord and see if you can hammer out some type of restructuring. You may be thinking my landlord would never do that! But I recommend you give it a try. Hey, what do you have to lose? Here is what I can share with you regarding our studio lease. Back in April we had a sit down with our landlord and worked out a deal where we would pay 75% less for the next six months. We told him we would pay in advance 3 months and then pay the remaining 3 months on July 1st. We went back and forth and it took about 3 weeks to get it done but we did! Most reasonable landlords know this is a tough time and if you have been leasing for a while, we have been in our building space for 26 years now, you should have built up some equity that you can now cash in on. Give it a try, you never know what may happen. You may even suggest creating a new lease with longer terms as an incentive to the owner of the building. Landlords love long leases! Just make sure your lease is assumable and you must, of course be comforatble signing a longer lease.
Credit Card Processing fees: Two years ago, I shopped around to see where I could save on this. I was amazed at just how competitive this field is! You can save a lot by making a few calls and getting some quotes. Here are the results I can share with you that I had by making just a few phone calls. The last two years we have saved $14,475.00. Yes, that is right! Over $7000.00 each year. This whole process took me about 1 hour. I called around, sent the prospective companies a copy of my credit card statements and received quotes. Just make sure the rates you get are locked in and will not adjust after one year. Unless you get an unbelievable rate for one year then you can shop it around again. Could you use an additional $7k? Best of all you can do it with very little effort on your end.
All Utilities: Just like your CC processing fees most utilities have different offerings. Phone and internet provider, electric and gas providers, cleaning services if you have a company come in. Google these services and start making some calls. It will be worth your while. I have consulted many of our VIP clients to do this and they have reported monthly savings of in the hundreds. Right now, every penny, or even better dollar counts!
Your Faculty and Staff: I put this one last because this is the last place, I recommend you go. BUT if you are going to have a tough time meeting payroll, have a sit down with your team and work out a plan for at least a temporary reduction in pay. I don’t love it, but there are major corporations doing this right at this moment. They understand, if they see there is a problem heading their way, it is best to try and fix it beforehand. Like a GPS, sometime in business we have to recalculate to get to where we are all trying to go. We did this with our faculty and staff in the spring and over the summer. Everyone worked with us and we will find a way to make it up to them when we get through this!
So, there you have it. Real life situations and solutions to issues that we as studio owners are going through just like you. In part 4 of this 7-part series we will look at how to Embrace Uncertainty.
Here’s to your success