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The Plan Part 3

A vision is unique and personal to who you are and what you dream of. For your business it is the first place to start when looking to formulate what you hope to create! The last two months we have looked at the overall plan to make your studio not only better but to create a business that is unique and special to your needs and wants. Last month we focused on the Profits part and how you need to not only focus on your business but also on other studios in your area and what their price structures are. As we previously discussed, do not undersell yourself, as a matter of fact, to be on the high end is better.

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Building Relationships

Over the summer it is a great time to get out of the studio and mingle with people in your community. As a studio owner it is very easy to get stuck in the studio and never have an opportunity to get to know other business owners. As each new season approaches, September is a good time to make plans to get out into your community during the year. It is so easy to get bogged down in teaching, choreographing, managing staff, faculty, students and parents and running the business that you never get around to actually following through with your plan. Next thing you know it is May and you are getting ready for your year end show and wondering how the year went by so fast.

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Grow Your Business

Your ability to operate your dance studio as a business is the main determining factor of your profitability. To help you sharpen this ability, here are seven significant principles that every business owner needs to follow. They are relevant and important at every stage of your business. Remember that, even though your business is based in the arts, it is a business, and your dance classes and programs are your products. Once a year, its essential to look at your studio from this business perspective to make sure youre getting the financial results you want.

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Satisfying the Customer

When creating different programs and classes for your studio one of the best places to start to look is through the eyes of your current customers. We are constantly searching for ways to better satisfy what the customer wants. Find a want or need and then create the way to satisfy that want or need. With this in mind the best way to tap into the minds of your customers is to ask them. We are big proponents of surveys. For the most part your best customers will gladly fill them out. We have also found that they will also tell you very truthfully what they like and what they do not like. Then it is as simple as creating more of what they like and doing away with the things they do not. Sounds easy enough but most business owners dont bother to do it. Get to know your customers and they will help you build your business. Knowledge is the key, if you know what makes them tick then you will be able to keep them happy forever. The key word that we want to work with is to satisfy.

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How to Build Your Adult Programs

Every studio has adults that want to dance. They may be former Students, mothers of students, former dancers or just housewives that dont like going to the gym to work out. Over the years we have experimented with a variety of different classes. We have morning classes and evening classes to suit everyone.

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The Plan Part II

Last month we started to look at the overall plan to make your studio better. We wrote about the Evaluation part and how every year we have meetings with our staff, talk to customers and take a long hard look at the way we do things. Every year we have found that we can do something better. Sometimes it is just a simple change and at other times it is something that needs to be implemented over a period of time. We broke it down into three parts, Evaluation, Profits and Vision. Now that we have focused on the evaluation section and you have gone through the process that we recommended. You will soon be putting into place changes for the fall.

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Summer, A Time For Rest, Renewal And Re-energizing

As the end of the season comes in sight we all know how busy this time of year is. Rehearsing for the end of year performances, making sure all the evaluations are out to the parents, meeting with parents to discuss their childs progress and a multitude of other duties. It really can be overwhelming even for the most organized of us! For us the showcase performances are the termination of our semester and we then have two weeks before our summer programs start.

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Competition Will Keep You At Your Best!

All businesses are subject to competition. How you feel and react to your competition is really the key. Competitors want to get business just as much as you do. They will fight, tell stories about you, they will undercut you, will play dirty and go to any lengths to get a student, especially yours! Our job is to get our current and new students to do business with us and to maintain the highest standards in our business. We can do this by out-thinking, out valuing and out performing the competition.

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Customer Service from the Inside Out

Many big businesses have been trying for decades to import good service practices and graft them into their own work settings. They use training programs or other means to try an outside-in approach that seldom makes things any better and often only makes things worse. Truly customer-focused businesses deliver outstanding service from the inside out. The key is to get your employees coming up with their own ideas for delighting customers, and then letting positive feedback from happy customers motivate your workers to continue implementing more of their own innovative service strategies. This is a very powerful concept where employee motivation and customer satisfaction fuel each other in a chain reaction of contagious enthusiasm. That's easier said than done, of course, unless your business has an actual process in place to keep the chain reaction bubbling. Such a process doesn't have to be complicated.

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The Plan Part 1

Now that we are at the end of our season, this is when we start to do the most work on our business for next year and beyond. The best place to begin is to do an evaluation of everything you do. Look at all aspects of your business with the goal in mind of, how can we do it better? It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that what you are doing is working and applying the principal of, if it isnt broken, dont fix it! I recommend just the opposite. Perhaps you are doing something that is successful but that by just changing one thing or adding another could make it even better.

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Do-It-Yourself PR for the Small Business Owner

One excellent FREE source of advertising that small business owners can take advantage of is a press release. What makes it different is that it should not look or appear to be an advertisement. It is helpful to know what the editors are looking for and how to get your story in the paper. There is a blanket formula that you can use that will increase the likelihood that your press release will make it to print. If you have done a competition, are presenting a show, hiring a new instructor, building or moving to a new facility, plan on doing a fundraising event, holding a master class or any other newsworthy story, then you have a possible opportunity for a press release. Do not take it personally if it does not make it to the paper. However, it is helpful if you can build some kind of relationship with the editor. Send them a thank you note or some other kind of gift when you do get your story published so that they remember you.

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The Retention Plan

To help make your business grow, create a retention plan and keep your customers coming back for more! One of the biggest mistakes we can make as business owners is to constantly be looking for new customers and not to focus on the ones we already have. So much attention is always put on advertising to get the word out about our business, that it is easy to take the focus away from our current customers. Jeffrey Gitomer, who has written many great books on customer loyalty, says that most companies spend 80% of their advertising budget on getting new customers and only 20% on their current ones. He suggests that it would be wiser to reverse this and spend more on keeping who you have instead of always trying to get new. It is, after all ,easier to keep someone coming back for more once they have bought from you than it is to get someone new to try you out. Spending money to get new leads is harder to do and can be more costly. If you could dedicate some, or most of your marketing dollars, to get your current customers to spend more with you, you could increase your income significantly without ever getting one new student.

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Fantasy Ballet Summer Programs

Early childhood summer programs are an excellent way to not only keep existing students but also to bring new students in. It gives them a chance to become familiar with your studio and what you have to offer, so that when it comes time to start in the fall, they are eager to do so. Everyone is more relaxed in the summer and the children are not tired from their usual activities and therefore often much more open to getting involved.

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Technical Effects on a Budget

As we all approach the time of year for our showcases and recitals we are always looking for ways to make this year's show better than last year's. One way to make your show look like a professional production is to spend a few dollars on some technical effects that will make the show more enjoyable for the audience and more fun for the performers. Through the years we have spent a lot on some effects that do not really give you that bang for the buck. Some of the more inexpensive devices are most effective. Remember to check with the theater or school where you will be doing your show to see if they have any restrictions or regulations. If you bring in additional lights you will need to find out if they have room on their board to accommodate these added fixtures. It is best if you give them an exact breakdown of what you will be adding and what you will need from them.

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Making Plans to Succeed

It is easy when you are running a dance studio to get so caught up in what you are doing day to day that you forget to look at the big picture. We can get so involved in the everyday grind that we lose focus on what is important to us and what plans we are working on to make our dreams come true. We will spend a lot of money and hours working on routines, choosing costumes and rehearsing. Yet if you ask yourself what your ultimate goal is and you do not have a clear answer or you find yourself thinking that you just want to get through the year, it could very well be that you have not made a solid plan.

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