This is a great time of the year to sit down and really make a plan for the new season to ensure that everyone who works for you is on the same page. As with all studio owners, there are two types of people that we work with, our daily office and managerial staff and our teachers. Whether you run a large or small studio, chances are that you will definitely have others working for you. The most important thing and sometimes the most challenging is to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Over the years we have experimented with different ways to arrive at this end result. Have we come up with a magic secret? No, but we have come up with systems that certainly streamline the day to day running of the studio and the myriad of personalities that we deal with in our business. Most studio owners have a little more time over the summer to actually take the time to review and plan for the upcoming season and it is extremely important that you try to do this as it will, quite simply, make your new season more fun and less stressful.

This is a great time of the year to sit down and really make a plan for the new season to ensure that everyone who works for you is on the same page. As with all studio owners, there are two types of people that we work with, our daily office and managerial staff and our teachers. Whether you run a large or small studio, chances are that you will definitely have others working for you. The most important thing and sometimes the most challenging is to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Over the years we have experimented with different ways to arrive at this end result. Have we come up with a magic secret? No, but we have come up with systems that certainly streamline the day to day running of the studio and the myriad of personalities that we deal with in our business. Most studio owners have a little more time over the summer to actually take the time to review and plan for the upcoming season and it is extremely important that you try to do this as it will, quite simply, make your new season more fun and less stressful.

Lets start with the office and managerial staff. Even if you are a two person operation, you still need to know exactly what is happening at the front desk. It is impossible to be in two places at the same time and if you are teaching, it is worth every penny to have someone working at your front desk, answering the phone, greeting prospective customers and being there in person to answer the scores of questions that arise daily with parents and students. If you have a larger studio and have a few different people working at your front desk and perhaps in your office, then it is vitally important that there is a chain of communication between all. It is also a concern that all of your employees are representing you the way that you want them to.

We have compiled a front desk manual that explains everything that is likely to happen at the front desk and how we like it to be dealt with, so that the experience for the customer is always the same no matter who is working.

We have a check in sheet for front desk personnel and one for the person closing up at night. As we know, once the studio is open and the phone starts to ring and people start coming in there is no time to take care of other things. So, whoever opens goes through the checklist and makes sure that everything is the way it should be and then they are able to open the door knowing that everything is shipshape and they can fully concentrate on the business at hand. (See our sample opening and closing checklists in the forms section of the website). It seems like a simple approach but it really does work.

Next, we have a list of class descriptions giving short but clear explanations of each style of class. Most often front desk staff are not really well versed in the correct description of the classes that we offer, so this eliminates a lot of vague, rambling and possibly less than accurate information going out to prospective and current clients.

We have a definite way that we like all of our front desk staff to answer the phone. That first voice that customers hear needs to be friendly and welcoming. As we know, usually once someone actually comes in to the studio it is easier to get them to sign up, so the key is to get them in the door and by having that warm, inviting voice on the phone they are definitely more likely to want to come in and see what your studio has to offer. We give a script that we suggest they use. Sometimes they will learn to say it verbatim, sometimes they will put their own twist on it and really, it doesnt matter which way they do it as long as it sounds genuine and we get the end result that we are looking for.

Each year, in April we send out recommendations for our current students so that when the parents come in to register their children there are no misunderstandings as to which class and age group each dancer should be registered in. Of course, inevitably a parent will come in to register and insist to the front desk staff member that their child is far more talented than any other in their age group!! We always make sure that the front desk has a file with all the recommendations so that they can double check and make sure that they are, indeed registering for the correct classes. This prevents dancers being placed in the wrong classes for their ability and also, in most cases avoids any bad feelings later.

A daily log is the link between anyone that is working at the front desk. Without this log there is no continuity. Very often, for example, there may be an issue that is not resolved in one day and it is really important that the next person covering the desk knows what has transpired during the previous day. It also helps the studio to look well run and organized. I highly recommend using this tool to keep everyone working for you in the loop.

Last but not by any means least, we schedule in, once a month, a staff meeting. These sessions are extremely important because it gives the staff a chance to go over procedures, problems and anything else that is on their minds. Sometimes they will come up with great ideas and ways to make things run more efficiently and we are always extremely grateful for their valuable input. It also shows us that they care and feel invested in the studio. As Im sure you know, if the people who are working for you feel that you are trying to make their jobs run smoother they will always give you at least one hundred percent of effort and will be willing to give you extra time at those crazy moments that we all have during our seasons. We all have those weeks when we need extra help, be it at recital or show time or during registration and knowing that our staff is ready and willing to jump in and help at these times is worth its weight in gold!

Take time now as you sit with a nice cold drink listening to calming music in the sunshine of summer to get organized for the fall. You will be so glad you did when you come round to this time next year. Part two of this article Getting your staff on the same page specifically for your teachers, will be included next month.