Picture this (and for some of you readers, it might actually seem like a scene from the movie of your life): you’re a dance studio owner, and it’s another one of those days. There’s more than one message with less-than-welcome news on the office answering machine, you just had to settle a dispute amongst the advanced competition dancers (started with viscous gossip), and you notice that the waiting room floor is littered with crumbs from the toddlers’ pre-class snack.
You know that some things with your studio business just have to change, but you don’t have the time and energy to even approach the question of how that can happen. There can be hope, however, with help from Steve and Angela Sirico and Robert Landau of Dance Teacher Web. In their Extreme Dance Studio Business Makeover, they offer more than just typical consultation – but also their indispensable expertise, clear and objective messaging according to each studio’s needs, and ongoing support.
I recently spoke in-depth with the Siricos and Landau about the program. Quite early on in our talk, Steve expresses the unfortunate truth that (one which I’m sure, again, many of you readers will recognize) many dance studio owners are so invested in running their business day-to-day that it is hard for them to see how to reach solutions to significant problems, or to imagine what else could be possible with it.
“As studio owners, [my wife and I] have seen how we’re so busy working in our business, we don’t have time to work on our business”, he explains.
The three describe how their program offers an outside perspective, a team that can offer that time and mental space to see things objectively and to think creatively. In addition, these unbiased outside observers can see things as they really are, and without the sometimes dangerous attitude of “well, this is how we’ve always done things.”
The three travel to a client studio’s location on a Friday, and have initial meetings with staff members and studio owners. In the Level One package (see the link at the end of this article for description of the three different levels and associated pricings that are available), studio owners also submit a questionnaire prior to the team’s arrival. They then have a baseline of understanding of the studio’s needs, other pressing issues, potentials, strengths and more. On the other hand, the three discuss how a studio’s energy can cue a first-time visitor into such factors, without any prior knowledge of it – and that can truly mean a lot for one’s business.
On that Saturday, the team tours the studio, talking at length with everyone from parents to students to teachers. “We’re looking at things like, is the studio welcoming? Is it clean? Can the front desk person articulate the studio’s program?” Steve explains.
They tour separately, they explain, which enables them to develop independent viewpoints. In later meetings, they bring their views together into comprehensive, multi-dimensional messaging for studio owners. Angela describes how they strive to look at a studio “from every angle, every perspective”.
Further Saturday night and Sunday meetings with the studio owner and teachers follow. They work with teachers on team building and communication skills. The three agree that many problems that arise in the dance studio business result from lack of communication. Angela describes something that many of us in the dance world surely recognize, that “because it’s an artistic business, there are often egos involved.” If they can help studio staff and faculty communicate more clearly, that can bring about incredibly positive change. “The smallest steps can make the biggest waves,” she affirms.
The team’s support doesn’t end with their visit, however. Over the following weeks, they hold four separate phone consultation meetings with the studio owner to ensure that things are going in the right direction. They also send an in-depth written evaluation within 10 days of that weekend.
“Studio owners get our written evaluation, and the question then becomes, ‘Well, are you going to keep it on the shelf, or are you going to act on it?’” Landau shares. All three articulate the importance of not only setting goals but also following through with the necessary actions to achieve them.
In order to help studios go through that essential, but often difficult, process, the team is always there to support past clients. Steve affirms, “We have one goal: we want studios to accomplish theirs. And we stay with them until that happens.”
I ask them how all of this might be changing in this smartphone and social-media driven age. Steve describes that his number one tip to studio owners is always to have a fully current website with active links, with information on anything someone might want to know about the studio and what it offers.
“We’ve run into so many studio owners who see their website as an afterthought,” Steve explains.
Yes, the world is constantly changing, and the dance studio business must follow those changes if it is to thrive. On the other hand, Landau describes how some things never change – such as good customer service and respect for everyone involved with your business.
Continuing on that theme, Angela describes how Dance Teacher Web’s program is “trying to bring more positivity into every situation, and show [studios and their owners] that it can be done”.
They describe how if, because of their work, everyone going to a studio can feel great about going there and being there, then they’ve done their jobs. One thing is for certain, however — this team has infectious energy, passion and generosity. It’s a unique blend that can surely be an inspiring example for any dance studio and its team.
Interested in learning more about this program? Visit www.dancestudiomakeover.com/Services.html for more details, including various package and pricing options.
In addition, the Siricos and Landau will be offering a pre-conference workshop entitled “Goal Power” at Dance Teacher Web’s 2016 Conference, which will focus on how to set goals and how to take the steps to achieve them. Visit dtwconference.com for more information and online registration.
By Kathryn Boland of Dance Informa.