For most studios in the United States your season comes to an end in May or June. This is a good time of year to look ahead and organize your schedule up to the end of the current season. For those of you in other countries whose season is just beginning, you can start to map out your year and build in the ideas I will present in this article. From how you will prepare for your recital, distribute costumes, get your clients to register for next year to which of your teachers and staff you want to either retain or let go.
The lists below are topics that I recommend you address and have a definitive plan for.
1. Distribution of costumes: With costume prices escalating it is important to have an organized way of distributing them. If you just hand your clients a bag with the costume rolled up inside, the perceived value will be less. I recommend that you get garment bags, (with your logo printed on them) and hand them out to each student’s parent with any pertinent instructions attached to the costume. If a student is in several numbers you can put them all in one bag but on hangers. If you are looking for hangers go to your local large clothing stores as they are usually happy to give them to you by the box full. They will probably be throwing them out if you don’t take them. If you can get someone to do your alterations that would be great. Parents are busy and either don’t want to or don’t know how to sew! I recommend that straps, hems and hooks are all sewed on and ready to go before you hand the costumes out. This will mean that you will need to try each costume on every student and pin any adjustments that need to be made once they are delivered to you. When the client opens the garment bag they should be able to take the contents out and hang them up in their closet without any additional worries.
2. How to get organized for your recital: Many studio owners know in their minds how they want everything done for their recitals. That can be a big mistake! It is really important for your piece of mind to write things down. Start to make a journal on how you are going to proceed. Make lists of everything, from who will be assisting you backstage and front of house, to who will be helping you on the tech side. Write down how much time you think you will need to load in and out of the theater and who will help you with that. Make a schedule for yourself and any assistants with exact times and days. Make sure you have contacted your videographer and given him or her their schedule. Set your dress rehearsal times and make a note to firm up the people to help on that day. Make time to meet with your program designer and know the exact dates that you need to have choreography completed and the running order for the show ready. I recommend that you create a definite time line of when you want everything ready to go. Then get help to get organized. Remember, the way that you run your events will leave a lasting impression on your clients. Every year we try to find a better way to do things. We document each event and build each one into our year end planner with the necessary changes.
3. Marketing to your current customers: What you start to put in place now will be a determining factor as to who will register for next season. If you do not have a system in place to get your clients to register in the coming months for your upcoming season, I recommend that you do so today! Keep in mind that if your clients sign up for dance classes before they sign up for any other activity they will build their child’s after school schedule around their dance classes. Best of all you will have a good idea of which classes are full and which ones you need to market over the summer. When a current customer does not reregister it also gives you time to find out why. You may find that just because you or someone from your school has taken the time to call them personally it will make the difference as to whether or not they sign up again. There is nothing like the personal touch to keep your customers around. While most of our marketing dollars are spent on getting new clients, I recommend that you spend a fair amount of them on keeping the clients you currently have and ensuring that they will return time and time again. If you want to build your school, this will be a huge contributing factor.
4. Determine which faculty members and staff you will bring back: Every year things change. People change, schedules change and your business operations will change. We have had faculty and staff who were big assets to our business one year only to turn into big problems later. When this happens you have two choices, try to determine what is going on and see if the issue that is causing the problem can be resolved or move in another direction. It is as simple as that! I know change is hard especially if someone has been with you for a long time. The key here is that you are running a business. If someone is not helping in the growth of your business or even worse may be detrimental to your business then you need to do something about it. Sooner, rather than later. You can start by assessing the overall production of each person you employ. I recommend that you have a yearend meeting with each individual working for you to review the good and the not so good. It will also give you a chance to hear what they have to say about your business and how you can do things better. I don’t recommend that you tell anyone that you are not bringing them back until classes are over. It is cleaner that way for everyone involved.
When you prepare for the coming months you can take as much guess work out of the equation as possible. This way you will have everything planned out and your stress level will definitely decrease. Now how good does that sound?
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