It’s times like these, when your competitors are distracted, that you can get the jump on them. If your competitors have had to lay off staff, or cut expenses, they may be just limping along.  Marketing was probably one of the first things they pulled back on—even while knowing they shouldn’t have. By the time their business picks up (if it ever does), they will have a lot of catching up to do.

It’s times like these, when your competitors are distracted, that you can get the jump on them. If your competitors have had to lay off staff, or cut expenses, they may be just limping along.  Marketing was probably one of the first things they pulled back on—even while knowing they shouldn’t have. By the time their business picks up (if it ever does), they will have a lot of catching up to do.

 

You, on the other hand, can be putting this time to good use. Strive to outperform your competitors while they are distracted.  Here are seven steps that will help you get ahead of the competition:

  

1.     Set clear growth and profitability goals. Not just a fuzzy idea of where you want to be next month or next year, your goals must be specific. What are your enrollment target? What steps do you need to take each week to meet these goals?  Break it down into small steps.  The problem most dance schools face is too much distraction, too many projects at once and too little focus. It’s a lot easier to beat the competition when you are focused on it.

 

 2.     Know your customers’ needs and wants better than your competitors. If you haven’t done a customer survey within the past 12 months, it’s time for one.  And communicate the results widely throughout your studio–a survey is no good unless you use the data gathered. Use tools like iContact or Survey Monkey to perform surveys painlessly online. Or go on customer visits. Call on parents of your students to see how they are doing and if they have any problems you can help them with. 

 

3.     Find out why students leave your studio. Are you spending more time bringing in new students than figuring out why they left?  You’re not alone—many studios put their efforts on filling their classes, but never bother to track or analyze lost customers. This dooms you to an endless replay of the same mistakes, like something out of the movie Groundhog Day. Put in place a formal process to ask customers why they chose a competitor’s studio. This can be done by phone or by online questionnaire. Compile the results into a report that is shared with your studio managers and other key personnel each month.  You’ll soon spot patterns suggesting weaknesses to fix. Whenever we do this we learn a lot about what people perception is about our business.

 

4.     Focus outside the 4 walls and use social media to help. Know your competitors, what they are offering, their marketplace reputation and their weaknesses and strengths. Checking out what competitors are doing and even their reputation in the marketplace has never been easier with social media.

 

5.     Know your 'customer numbers.' Do you know your customer retention rate? Do you know your acquisition cost for new customers, i.e., how much it costs to get each new student?  These metrics can be eye-opening and may cause you to rethink how much effort you place on getting new students once you realize the typical high cost.  Companies that track these two metrics better appreciate the value of keeping existing customers happy. Here is another idea: Keep selling to your current customers not only to keep on buying, but to buy more of what they already like—meaning more classes.

 

6.     Benchmark. Have you measured your progress against others in your area? Sure, you want your business to be unique original and one of a kind.  But it makes sense to measure how your studio performs compared to others with roughly similar size, number of classes and teachers. Knowing how your business stacks up can tell you how much and where you need to improve.

 

7.     Review, Review, Review. None of this advice will be any good to your studio if you don’t track your results and review your findings, not just day to day in the beginning while it remains a shiny new priority, but monthly/quarterly/yearly to determine whether you’re on the right path.

 

The tools and techniques to outperform competitors are at your disposal. Will you wait for the tide to rise buoying up both you and your competitors or chart your own course of growth and prosperity?