Dancing is popular – there are over 8,500 dance studios in the United States alone. Divide that by 50 and there would be 170 in each state. Of course, our states are different but you get the point. You can be competing with hundreds of studios in your state and surrounding areas. And that’s just dance – what if the children want to try soccer or swimming?
Parents like putting their children in extracurricular activities to develop social skills, technical skills, and have fun. Understanding that there are a lot of options for parents out there is important. But what’s even more important is how you handle the situations where students come and go. Why are they leaving? Why are they coming back? What can you do? I asked Terri Sinani from Next Sep Dance Studio.
The ages matter. Terri told me that the younger students come and go because they are interested in different activities. The 3-4 year olds are still learning what they do and don’t like. Maybe the parents are scheduling activities around other children in the family. With this age, Terri and Stephanie understand that there are a lot of options out there and wish the best for these families when they are deciding what to enroll their children in. When the children get a little older – in the 8-10 age range – when they leave, they typically don’t come back. At this age, they know what they like and what their friends are doing. This has a big influence on their decisions. Next Step Dance sends an email to these family and make sure to say that the door is always open and they hope to see them in the future. This is a very professional way of wishing them the best and understanding that people come and go.
The communication matters. The way that your studio handles the communications around customers leaving is huge. Probably bigger than we can even tell because this is about your reputation. Word of mouth is still a big avenue for customers to find your studio. A personal recommendation to a studio will put you on the top of a new customer’s list. Being able to have a positive reputation in your area is huge. Terri and Stephanie have made it a priority to keep looking forward and stay positive. They know that new children come in all of the time and they have to focus on the future instead of getting stuck in the past. This has helped them stay focused on the business side of owning a dance studio and rising above any emotional storms.
“The biggest thing is that this is a business and you can’t take people leaving to heart.” – Terri Sinani
The support matters. Support from other studios around the country has been a huge help to Next Step Dance. Terri has been able to talk to other studios who are going through similar situations that are in different areas. These owners are friends and not competition. This helps them see the overall picture of a situation rather than staying focused on the negative side. When other people go through the same thing, it creates a great group of support and inspiration to continue doing what you’re doing.
The training matters. Training staff to handle different situations is important. Next Step Dance has two big staff meetings – one before the school year and one in January. This meeting goes over guidelines for staff to handle negativity. This gets everyone on the same page and prepared for different situations. Trust is a biggie here. To be able to trust your staff to keep the mindset that what the studio is doing is great is huge. They use this phrase often: “This is what we’re doing this year. It’s going to be a great year and we’re sorry they aren’t going to be with us. The door is always open.”
How do you deal with local competition in your area?