Posted February 27, 2018
When I was a teen/young adult, I had two things going on in my life that really mattered to me: dancing and teaching dance. While I was in college, I was accepted into the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre’s 9-month training program. Prior to taking my place at Ailey, I had an opportunity to see them perform. My mind trailed to various thoughts during the performance as I was about to step into the next chapter of my life; questioning whether performing was the right step for me. While I watched this talented company perform, I experienced what I can only call a God-nudge. After the performance and a two-hour drive home, I called the Ailey School to tell them I would not be attending. From there, I decided to open my dance studio and I’ve been continuing down this path for the last 21 years.
Education is a big one! There truly is something for EVERYBODY today who wants to hone their skills as a leader or teacher in dance. When I started my studio I had to wait for an entire year for a conference in order to meet with other studio owners or take classes to sharpen my skills. But today's studio owner has access to year-round training opportunities that range from DIY courses, webinars, conventions, online tools, live and digital certifications, coaching programs and memberships. I only wish I had access to this type of training and support when I started!
There are so many challenges facing studio owners, but I consistently hear from studio owners that they struggle with studio finances, marketing and hiring/training employees. Interestingly, my mom recently gave me a magazine for dance teachers from the 1970s that she found at an antique shop, and guess what? Studios owners were dealing with the same topics in that time. Finances, marketing and leading employees are timeless challenges for owners.
The biggest mistake owners make is thinking that they are marketing their studio when they are really just doing "random acts of advertising." There is a big difference between having a cohesive marketing strategy to grow your business and copying the latest fad-ad of the day.
When we hit our 15th year in business we had refined our studio operations to a point where I didn't need to be there everyday and could focus on raising our five kids. I was doing a lot of national teaching at that time and I had a desire to grow our operations and help more people. Founding More Than Just Great Dancing® was the perfect way for me to build on what we had honed over the first 15 years and help other studio owners reach their own definition of success. Six years later, we have a team of 10 who provide around the clock support for over 200 affiliated studios around the world that serve over 75,000 students per week! It's been an amazing journey!
It's no surprise to anyone reading this that so much of marketing for all businesses has moved online; social media in particular. But, what might be surprising is the rise of digital noise has actually made traditional methods of communication, such as letters, stand out more than ever before. I think the savvy marketer of the next two years will be the ones to find a the right digital/personal mix.
The best advice I can give the studio owner who is just starting out is to find a mentor or coach. We all understand that no dancer ever became a great dancer without a great teacher...so why do so many owners try to go it alone in business? :)
I love the energy and enthusiasm of the attendees at DTS! They are so eager to learn and grow. I can't wait to meet this year's group in NYC!