Sharon, a dance studio owner, asked me to consult with her not too long ago. As I walked in, there she was, waiting for me. I barely had time to take my coat off before she started.

Sharon, a dance studio owner, asked me to consult with her not too long ago. As I walked in, there she was, waiting for me. I barely had time to take my coat off before she started.


'Robert, I just wasn’t getting it. The more I tried, the less things seemed to be working. From the outside, everything looked professional. Once you walked in the door though, things changed. It’s as if you could feel it in the air. I even asked other people if they could put their finger on it, so to speak. All they could tell me was that something really seemed to be off. When I’d asked them where this seemed to show itself most, just about everyone would tell me it seemed to have something to do with the staff—my staff! The staff that I had worked so hard to train to deal with customers in a professional and positive way was now one of the main reasons why my business wasn’t working as well as it should and it took my customers to break the news to me! 


'I have always been raised to believe that you treat people right, as if they are family, and they’ll be loyal to you. Surely my staff knew this by now, but something still seemed to be off. OK…OK…Let me think about this for a moment, I said to myself…What do I do? After thinking this out, I decided to find out more about how my customers felt. If all else fails, go to the source, I thought. I’ll give my customers a questionnaire. So I literally asked them what they felt my studio needed to really take things to the next level customer service-wise and you know what? I got my answer! The surveys told me that it wasn’t the fact that my staff wasn’t treating my customers well—they were and then some. The real problem seemed to be the fact that my staff wasn’t treating each other the same way I had trained them to treat my customers! Who knew?'    


Sharon discovered her problem, and together she and I worked on the solution.


What do you think of when you hear the words 'customer service?' Most business owners involved with the public think customer service has solely to do with their customers. Few realize it also has to do with their staff. Here’s the bottom line: Always make sure your staff treats one another the same way they treat your customers. Makes sense, no? How many dance studios have you visited where the staff is extremely unhappy, for whatever reason. Do you think the customers end up feeling this in some form or other? You bet they do! In the scenario that began this article, that was indeed the case. You could feel the tension in the air as soon as you walked in, but you just couldn’t put your finger on it.


If your employees are happy where they work and treat each other with professionalism and respect, your customers will feel it. People will want to work at your studio because the perception is that your employees are happy there. If you are happy and having fun on the job, you’ll most likely think nothing of treating your customers the very same way—it’s natural. This energy of fun and respect can translate itself into your bottom line as well. How so? Happy employees = happy customers = a healthy and growing bottom line. It never fails.


If you find that your staff isn’t treating one another as well as they treat your customers, work to turn the situation around. It’s not as hard as you think. A couple of meetings where you get them to understand how important the synergy between your staff is and how that translates to your customers should be all it takes. If a member of your staff is unhappy, be sure to monitor the situation. See if you can get to the bottom of it because most likely this behavior is affecting more than you know.


So next time the subject of customer service comes up, make a special point to acknowledge the fact that customer service begins with you and your staff. Everyone behind the scenes needs to treat one another as if they are the customer as well. Practice the fine and fun art of superior customer service in this way and be sure to have fun doing so, even before your school opens for the day. Once your customers are present they’ll know that you’ve taken the time to create a wonderful and fun workplace where your employees come first and treat each other the same exact way they treat your customers. That is one of the factors that can contribute to a healthy and robust year full of fun, profit and superior customer service for you and your business.


Robert Landau will be presenting three seminars at this year’s Dance Teacher Web Conference that address this and other issues vital to your studio, all with the emphasis on solutions that are 'fun,' his trademark approach.