Sometimes You Don’t Have All of the Answers and That’s Ok!

Time, time, time is on my side. Yes it is!

Rolling Stones

There are times when we can learn a lot from the lyrics of a song. Time is on your side when you are faced with a situation that is pressing for a quick answer but the problem is you need time to come up with the best solution. Here’s the key. You don’t need or have to have all of the answers all of the time.

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Seven Tips To Make A Positive Impression On Your Customers

When you have a chance to meet your customers face to face this is a great time to build your relationship with them. Are you however connecting in the right way? Studies have shown that little signs and body language can be sending the wrong signals. Here is a list of things to be aware of when you meet current or new customers. But don't stop there! You can also check yourself with your staff, faculty, business partners and landlords.

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Dealing With Teacher-Student Socializing Outside The Studio

You work hard to take time to interview teachers and carefully select those who will make a beneficial addition to your team. The right-blend of faculty makes for well-rounded training for your students; creating an experience and exposing them to different vantage points and personalities. Seeking a balanced personality of nurturing and warm yet challenging and authoritative is a difficult feat. Consequently, often times you may find yourself dealing with one extreme or the other. As studio directors you want your teachers to invest and love the kids as much as you do, but what happens when that relationship starts to develop outside the studio as well?

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How to Handle an Angry Customer

When a customer has a complaint, you have an opportunity to strengthen your relationship! None of us want a problem with one of our customers but as this season gets underway there is a very real possibility that sooner or later a customer will call you up with a complaint. It may be a perceived or real wrong doing, some people may be nice, and some may be downright enraged! Dealing with an angry customer is an extremely difficult and stressful situation. A natural response is to get angry, defensive and want to strike back.

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Re-Training Your Staff

For many of us our season has just finished. We have had the excitement of the recitals and all end of year performances and although some studios continue running over the summer offering programs for their dancers, it is usually a quieter time as families take their vacations and children go to sleep away camps. Summer is a wonderful time to re-train your staff or to bring new staff members in to train from scratch.

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Customers Talk!

All businesses love referrals. This form of advertising seems to be especially powerful for dance schools. I believe that our type of business breeds more word of mouth advertising than others. Moms talk to their friends, families, associates and neighbors. That’s great news for all of us. Of course, we cant always be sure that they are giving us a good report but hopefully more often than not they are talking about out business in a positive way. Studies of advertising through consumer referrals have shown that how your customers talk about you and your business will depend on the quality of the customers experience with your business. John Jantsch the author of the book 'The Referral Engine' says that your employees probably treat your customers the same way you treat them!' Want more referrals? Treat your staff right and they will be your studio ambassadors’.

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Discovering What Your Customers Really Think About You

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How To Deal With Problem Employees

Every studio owner hires staff and faculty with the best of intentions, and the hope that everyone will get along and there will be no personnel issues. The reality is, that’s mostly wishful thinking. If your business is growing and you are employing more people, the odds are increasing not one or more hires aren’t going to work out. It is important to have a plan in place for how you are going to deal with problems before they occur. It may not be, and hopefully won’t be, a major issue but even small irritants can become a real stress builder for you if not properly managed.

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There Is No Failure, Only Feedback!

I love this quote from Robert Allen because it really is true that failure is simply someone's interpretation of what you are doing and doesn't necessarily bear any resemblance to the truth. We are all scared of failure but when we understand that what may be to some people a door closing can also be a door opening. Take the case of Fred Astaire, it is said that when an MGM employee described his first screen test he gave a nine word report -"Can't act. Can't sing. Balding. Can dance a little." In fact the studio executive David O. Selznick characterized the dancer's performance that day as "Wretched!" Of course as we know, Fred Astaire went on to have an illustrious career as a dancer and inspired many dancers and choreographers who went after him from Michael Jackson to Mikhail Barishnikov.

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Two Techniques to Bring Focus to Your Business

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Avoiding the Parent Trap: Balancing Diplomacy & Assertion

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How Can You Keep Your Staff Motivated?

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Directors & Faculty: Representing the United Front

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How to Keep Your Faculty Productive

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Music To Their Ears!

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Communicating Who You Are

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Finding The Right Team Members For Your Business

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Keeping The Enthusiasm Alive

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Dealing With Difficulties

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Keeping Your Customers Satisfied

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Creating Staff And Faculty Contracts

As this dance season is coming to an end for many schools around the world it is an important time to decide who will be coming back for next season. Once you have made your decisions it is important to sit down with each person to review how the year went and how you can improve what took place last year. Once a full review has been made it is now is the time to get everyone under contract so you can have peace of mind as to who will be teaching on each day and who will be working the desk or office staff.

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Your Role as a Communicator

As we know, owning a studio is very demanding, ever changing and always challenging. That is nothing new to most of us. Many times things become complicated when there is a lack of communication. Perhaps it is the communication link between you and your staff and faculty or it could be that some things are not getting through to your clients, the parents and students. It is very easy to get caught up in the moment when you own a dance studio because there are so many "moments" that can occur on a day to day basis that it is easy to sometimes forget to really make time to communicate how we want things to run in an effective way. Trust me, I know that it is not always easy but I do know that by forgetting or not making time to talk to the very people who make our business survive we are definitely making a mistake that over time could cost us.

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How to Deal With Difficult People

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Establishing Relationships

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Fun Loving Tips for Employers and Employees

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Year End Assessment

Here we are once again moving rapidly to the end of another year. We are already planning and making preparations for all of the exciting events that are coming up the New Year. The beginning of anything is always exciting and endings can be slightly sentimental. The hardest part is sticking with our New Year's resolutions and plans and managing to keep them going for a long as it takes. What do you feel that you have accomplished with your business and personal life this year and where do you think you can make improvement? I think it is always a good idea especially over the holiday break to sit down and reflect on all that has happened, the highlights and the low moments, so that you can really look at everything objectively. It is good to be able to do this by yourself, but I also think it is very helpful to be able to talk things over with your spouse or significant other or even a good friend or business partner. There's something good that happens when you can get someone else's perspective. Sometimes when you look back and think that something has been a dismal failure someone can come in with a totally different perspective that makes you realize that occasionally good can definitely come out of disaster. I like to make lists and I find that if I see my thoughts written down it leaves a bigger impression on me.

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How to Hire the Right Employees

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People Problems? Here's How To Resolve Conflict!

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End of Year Bonuses For Your Team

Bonuses are a great way to reward the people who have been working for you all year. They act as motivators and rewards and are a nice way to thank faculty and staff for not only helping to build your business but also to keep it alive.

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The Task of Faculty Hiring

Who you choose to hire to be part of your studio family says a lot about the tone you set for your business and the kind of training being offered. I’ve seen many directors go through massive teacher turn-over year after year and can’t figure out why they can’t seem to find a consistent staff who 'gets' what the studio’s mission is and can comply to it. While you might not fully know someone’s teaching style and whether they are a good fit for your studio until they’re teaching week after week, consider some of these things during the hiring process so you have a mental checklist of what you are ultimately looking for.

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Educating Parents and Students

Each year at the beginning of May we send out recommendation forms and the fall schedule to all of our customers. The recommendation forms are made up from all the evaluations that we receive from each teacher regarding every student. Over the years, we have found that this system really works and our priority registration for current students usually begins in the middle of May for ten days. It gives our regulars a real chance of enrolling their children into the classes that they want to be in and also helps them to plan other activities for the fall around their dance schedule. This also signals the beginning of many meetings that are scheduled between us and parents to discuss the upcoming year and the schedule that their child or children want to do. These meetings are really worth the effort even though they can be time consuming they do give us an opportunity to educate the parents regarding dance classes and how they will affect their child. Typically we will schedule these meetings at certain times when we can be available during the week and usually they will go on for at least a week if not two. The most important reason for having them is that on the whole parents have absolutely no idea of what goes into dance education and therefore need help with understanding the structure of the schedule and the classes.

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Evaluating Your Team!

Last month I wrote about your year in review. How did you do? Were you happy with your progress? Did your faculty and staff meet your expectations? I often receive emails from members wanting to know more about the process that we use to review and evaluate our team.

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Employee Satisfaction...It's Easier Than You Think!

On a scale from one to five, give a quick rating to the following questions;

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The Eight Best Ways to Improve Customer Service

They are your life and blood.  Without them you can all but throw the towel in because there's no hope of ever having a successful business.  Customers are the life blood for any studio.  You can spend years and a whole lot of money getting them, but retaining customers should always be at the very top of your list.  Ask yourself what will keep a customer loyal to you?  What are you and your staff doing to keep your customers happy, satisfied enough to where they won't one day decide to leave you and take their business to the studio down the street?

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Helping Your Customers!!!

 

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Ongoing Staff And Faculty Training

Happy New Year! The holidays are over, the festivities at least for the time being are also in the past and it is time to look forward to all that the New Year has to offer. We all typically make a bunch of New Year’s resolutions, some we keep and others we discard almost immediately for one reason or another.  That is probably not likely to change, but one way that we can change is to make sure that our businesses run more efficiently not only to help us bring in more income but also to help us feel better about our day to day existence.

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Are You Inspiring Your Dance Studio Employees?

As the leader of your dance business, you want your employees to perform at their best—and you have more influence over their performance than you may think. A self-confident employee who knows his or her role in the success of the business performs better. Employees who view their jobs as insignificant will reflect those attitudes through their work. It is up to you to create an atmosphere for success, bettering their work performance, the atmosphere at work, and the entire image of your studio.

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True Customer Service

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.

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Positive Ways To Deal With Students And Parents

As a studio owner we are constantly faced with having to talk to parents about the numerous situations that come up each and every day. One thing about our business — it is never boring or monotonous. Parents make sure of that…sometimes in a good way and sometimes not!

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How To Find, Interview And Hire Teachers

 

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Summer Study: Front Desk Training

Summer is perfect for front desk training. It is a good time to set goals and themes for the upcoming season and to get everyone who works at the front desk feeling excited and enthusiastic about their jobs. At the end of every season we like to sit down with our front desk staff and get their feedback as to what worked and what needs work. After all, they are dealing with your customers, day in and day out and get a very good feel as to what the customers like and dislike about your day-to-day operations.

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Pushy Parent Syndrome

Every year before our season ends we have our faculty fill out evaluation forms on each student that they teach. From those evaluation forms we fill out recommendation forms that are sent out to each parent before we start our Fall registrations. We keep a copy of each childs form at our front desk so that every staff member who is working there and accepting new registrations can compare our recommendations to what the parent or child wants to register for. We have found that this makes it so much easier to put the students into the correct classes for them.

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Staying Connected To Your Customers

Today more than ever it is important to stay connected with your customers, the parents of your students. Consistent follow-up requires a system, but it can be as easy as creating a simple schedule of dates on which to send out greetings, cards and e-mail updates. The good news is that once developed, it is easy to implement and, over time, you'll reap the benefits of a steady stream of repeat business and referrals. After all, it takes far less time and money to sell to an existing customer than a cold prospect. Remember that just because they are your customers today it doesnt mean they will be tomorrow! It takes more than good dance training to keep your customers happy people expect that, or they wouldnt have signed up with your studio in the first place. The key is to maintain that personal connection and you will have fans for life!

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What Does The Customer Want?

Now hear this:

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Mentoring Younger Teachers

Many studios use their older senior teens to assist in classes or sometimes as a substitute. Very often these older teen dancers do a good job for you because you have trained them and they know exactly how you like classes to be run and therefore are an asset. These may be dancers who are obviously not going to become professional performers, but may be very well suited to becoming a teacher. By mentoring them and showing them how to assist in classes with more experienced teachers, you will give them a strong beginning to a possible teaching career with the idea that one of these young assistants could come back to your studio to be a valuable member of your faculty.

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Staff and Faculty Holiday Bonuses

"Tis the season to be jolly! It is also a great time of year to say thank you to your staff and faculty. Here is your chance to tell them how much you appreciate their work and effort. We know it would not be possible to run our studios effectively without the help of these dedicated individuals. It is also probably a fact that they are so invaluable its not possible to pay them what they are truly worth. I know that is very true with many of our people. They are so dedicated, both emotionally and artistically, that we would need to pay some of them ten times more than what we can afford. But we also know that they love what they do and it is important to them to know that we appreciate them and everything they bring to our business. We try to say Thank you! throughout the year, and especially during the holiday seasona great time to reach out and let them know how thankful you are to have them be a part of your dream and your business!

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Getting Your Staff On The Same Page Part II

Last month we talked about getting our office staff on the same page. This month we are concentrating on our faculty and how to help them to help us to provide the best service and product to both of our clients, the parents and the students. As the summer comes to and end and studios are either already in session or about to be, it is helpful to ensure that not only have you secured the best faculty possible, but that you feel confident that your working relationship with them will be a smooth and problem free one. There are a number of ways to make sure that the day to day running of the classes goes according to your plan.

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Getting Your Staff On The Same Page Part I

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.

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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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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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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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Your Fired!

Yes, that line has been made a bit more famous by Donald Trump on the apprentice but in the real world it may be the single hardest thing to say to an employee. If you have owned your studio for a while you may have already had to experience this unpleasant task. It may be that you are considering doing it right now!

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Show'em That You Care

 Using seasonal events to do costumer appreciation is a great way to show your costumers that you value their business. If done correctly you can also use these events to get your name out and bring in new students. Halloween is a great time to produce an event that will appeal to children of ages 2-14. As with any event the planning that goes into it is going to determine how much of a success it will be .If your studio is close to other businesses or in the center of a town a great idea is to have a "Safety Street" where children and their parents can make their way around all the businesses and so can trick or treat in a safe environment and during daylight hours. Talk to your community leaders if there is not a plan in place. Next, make a list of all the different items you are going to need plus make arrangements to close your studio for that day for regular classes as it is very difficult to run classes and have the event at the same time.

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Teacher and Staff Contracts and Agreements

 As we approach a new season, presumably with some new and some existing faculty and staff, we are faced with the decision on what to offer each one and how to present the offer to them. Many studio owners feel that contracts are not necessary and that a verbal agreement is sufficient. Even if you have the greatest relationship with a staff or faculty member it is best to write down exactly what it is you want them to do and both of you sign it! This makes them understand that this is a commitment and makes you look professional and organized.

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