Free Dance Studio Software – Bargain or Burden?

Every new dance studio owner is looking for ways to keep operating costs down. The plethora of free online software can seem like a blessing. Using free tools to put together your own dance management studio software system helps you avoid one more expense.

But does it? Or are you paying for a variety of hidden expenses when you try to use “freeware” to manage your studio?

In fact, free software that’s not designed to manage a dance studio lacks critical functionality and requires a high degree of admin oversight by you – all of which have costs that add up that can become a tremendous burden when you stop and consider.

Google Suite may work – up to a point 

When you’re just getting started, throwing everything into Excel (which you may already own), OpenOffice, or Google Sheets probably works. Your operations are small enough that manually entering registration and financial data into a simple spreadsheet is easy. However, before you know it, you’re managing multiple spreadsheets that may have inconsistent or conflicting data.  For example, a family’s registration information is on one sheet, but the information about the students from that family in the “classes taken” spreadsheet doesn’t match. Now you have to spend time investigating and reconciling the discrepancies.

Then there are the spreadsheets juggling employee schedules. You’re tracking expenses, payroll, and parent payments in more spreadsheets. Over time, it will all get overwhelming quickly. Before you know it, your studio’s finances and operations will become too complicated to be managed through a patchwork of free tools. They don’t provide the automated or reporting functionality of professional dance studio management software that will save you time, money – and possibly your sanity.

Uncovering the cost savings when you subscribe to a dance studio management package

Let’s break down the hidden costs of sticking with generic, free software tools when compared to the features a paid dance studio management solution provides.

For example, how much time do you spend collecting, entering, and maintaining registration data? How much time do you spend monitoring revenue to make sure that parents are paying their fees on time? How much time do you spend chasing down parents who are late making payments?

Your time is valuable. Keeping the burden of all these manual tasks on yourself costs you in terms of energy and the time you have to devote to the creative side of your dance studio. The creative aspects aren’t the only reason why you wanted to open your dance studio, but your creativity is what makes your dance studio unique – the true reflection of your vision. You do need to manage your dance studio. However, you’ll get the highest return on your time when you spend it on high-value creative tasks like choreography, networking in the community, and mentoring staff and students.

Subscribing to a comprehensive management solution designed specifically for dance studios helps you automate the many non-creative management tasks, including:

  • Having an online portal where parents can pay fees directly and schedule their kids for classes. This portal also feeds all the essential family and student data into a single source, keeping family information consistent no matter where they use it.
  • Implementing automated, monthly payments to minimize late payments. This protects your cash flow and keeps you from having to chase down parents. If a parent doesn’t set up automatic monthly payments, a great system should send out follow-up emails to collect late fees.
  • Creating new revenue opportunities using simple point of sale (POS) options. For example, letting students’ grandparents or friends buy gift cards to your studio, or leotards and t-shirts emblazoned with your studio’s logo.

Software designed specifically to meet a dance studio owner’s needs provides the advanced functionality you could never re-create with free tools. For example, the paid solution will most likely include a comprehensive set of reporting tools. The best reporting tools include a visual dashboard that makes monitoring your studio’s financial health easy. Instead of spending frustrating hours trying to understand your finances or figure out why you always seem to be in a cash crunch, the reporting and analytical dashboard give you clear visibility into the state of your business.

Crunching the numbers

Data from Tututix’s 2017 Dance Studio Management Software Survey reveals a pretty interesting situation about the costs of management software relative to revenue generated by student fees.

According to the survey’s responses, nearly two-thirds of dance studios take in monthly fees in the range of $41-$80 per student. That’s the revenue side. On the cost side, one-third of dance studios pay less than $60 a month for the management software, with another third paying between $61-$100 a month. That means it wouldn’t require a large student pool to subsidize the high return you could get on the advanced software’s monthly fee.

Teach more – manage less

The breadth of functionality in a subscription-based dance studio management solution improves your financial health by removing overhead costs and providing new options for revenue generation and management.

Subscription-based software amplifies your efforts, so you can achieve more on the management side without taking valuable time and energy away from your real passions – dancing and your students.

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