The Ultimate Guide To Growing Your Dance Studio
I love the quote, "There are shortcuts to happiness, dancing is one of them".
Sure, there may be many paths to happiness... but why not take the shortcut and just DANCE, right!?!?
My sentiments exactly!
Many studio owners would agree with me on this quote but might not be as open to the idea that there are shortcuts to dance studio success as well.
That doesn't make it any less true.
First, we need to define "dance studio success".
For me, this is any dance studio that fulfills the personal goals of the studio owner AND makes a profit.
Being a very passion-fulled industry, most studio owners find fulfillment from running their dance studio so that's a good start, but it's not the whole picture.
If you're running a dance studio as a BUSINESS then by definition the goal is to make a profit, ideally AFTER you pay yourself.
Otherwise, you'd be better off volunteering your time or at least getting paid to teach at someone else's studio (either of which is just fine by the way).
My point is that if you've decided to open a dance studio as a BUSINESS, it should be fulfilling for you as a teacher and artist but it needs to make a profit as well (otherwise see my previous suggestion to volunteer or teach for someone else- both will be A LOT less time and effort for you and will likely be just as fulfilling).
Okay, so if you're still reading, I'm going to assume we agree that a "Successful Studio" is one that's fulfilling for the studio owner and makes a profit.
We'll circle back to maximizing your fulfillment in a minute but for now, I want to focus on the profit part of the equation.
While all students are "equal" in terms of their importance as people, not all students are equal in terms of their contribution to studio profit.
In general, advanced-level students are typically less profitable than beginning-level students even though they might be paying much more in monthly tuition. This is because even though advanced-level students are typically paying MORE on a monthly basis, because of multi-class discounts they're typically paying a fraction of what a beginning-level student pays on a per-class basis.
Typically, the students attending 1-2 classes a week at your studio are the studio's most PROFITABLE students on a per-class basis. (Don't take my word for it, feel free to run the numbers on your own studio's classes and see what I mean.)
So we've established that recreational/beginning-level students taking 1-2 classes a week are your most PROFITABLE students.
Next, not all students are equal in their lifetime student value either. Their lifetime student value is the total amount of revenue they contribute as a student including tuition, recital fees, recital tickets, birthday parties, summer camps, etc.
If your studio typically serves children 3-18 years old, then simple logic would tell us that the POTENTIAL lifetime student value of a brand new 3-year-old student would be more than that of a brand new 17-year-old student. That's because the 3-year-old could POTENTIALLY be enrolled and paying tuition (and buying recital tickets, and costumes, camps, etc.) for the next 15 years while the brand new 17-year-old will only be enrolled for a year before they graduate.
I'm not saying you shouldn't offer beginning-level teen classes at all, I'm just pointing out the fact that in terms of potential lifetime student value, younger students are more "valuable" to a studio than older students.
So when we combine these two facts:
- That students taking 1-2 classes a week are the most "profitable" students in a studio and...
- That younger students have much higher potential lifetime student value than older students (due to the number of years they could potentially be enrolled at your studio)
... we can conclude that in order to maximize studio profits we should focus on filling our studio with the most "valuable" students (in terms of profit).
Typically, this sweet spot for the most "valuable students" are in the 3-5-year-old range.
This is the age group where students are able to participate in an independent dance class without any parental assistance AND it's the age when parents typically start to actively enroll their child into activities like dance classes.
In other words, it's the perfect studio storm of potential profit for your studio.
So if the goal is to maximize profit, it seems logical that a studio would focus on filling as many classes for 3-5-year-olds as possible since they will be the most profitable classes now and have the greatest lifetime profit potential in the future as well.
So how would you fill your studio with these most valuable students?
You would want to create a program that's designed JUST for them, to attract them in like moths to a flame.
In other words, just give them what they want and they'll come in droves.
Next, we need to discuss "who" these people are that we want to attract so we can know what they want (and give it to them).
Once again all potential students aren't "equal" in terms of studio profit.
You might not like to hear this but the fact is that 95% of families looking for dance lessons for their 3-5-year-old child are looking to enroll their daughter.
Yes, I know, I know... boys dance too, but they're in the vast minority.
This isn't an article about WHY there aren't more boys involved in dance, I'm just simply stating the fact that there are, statistically speaking, a lot more families looking for dance classes for girls than boys.
A lot more.
So I would argue that if your goal is to maximize studio profit, you should focus on not only attracting the most profitable students (the 3-5-year-olds) but that you should offer programs that are meant to appeal to the people who are already looking for dance classes, and that's parents of little girls.
At this point, we've established that the shortest path to maximizing studio profits is to focus on creating programs that will attract the attention of parents of 3-5-year-old little girls.
Is that it?
Well, that's a good start but we still have a few more steps in our profit-maximizing formula.
Let's say, we create the WORLD'S greatest gimmick to attract these precious 3-5-year-old female students into our studio... but then they drop out after a month (you know, because it was just a gimmick).
Well, what's the point of that?
Very little, which leads us to the next challenge.
Yes, now the REAL challenge begins and that's the game of student retention.
Student retention is what turns "potential lifetime student value" into profit and cash in the bank.
Retention matters, big time.
Yes, we have to attract them in the first place, but then we have to keep them month after month after month.
For the purpose of this article let's just leave it at if you want to maximize studio profits, the ultimate path to studio success is to focus on designing programs created specifically to attract and retain the most profitable students in a dance studio: 3-5-year-old girls.
What's that? Your passion isn't in teaching 3-5-year-old girls?
Fear not. Remember, I said we'd circle back to your fulfillment as the studio owner.
You don't personally have to TEACH these classes, you just want to have as many (full) classes of them as possible to maximize your studio's profits.
Once you have a thriving 3-5-year-old program that's pouring profits into your studio each month I have absolutely no problem with you directing your attention to more fulfilling projects.
A maximized and profitable studio is meant to give you FREEDOM to create the studio of your dreams, the life of your dreams.
Teach what you want, or not at all. That's the point!
Now, how do I know so much about all of this? Well, I've spent A LOT of time (possibly TOO much time) thinking about all of this. I can come to these conclusions as a 14+ year veteran dance studio owner.
It took me a long time (again, TOO long) to figure this all out, but I finally realized that if I wanted to maximize my studio I needed to focus on the students that had the most potential for profits (3-5 year old girls).
I then set out to create the best possible program I could to attract (and retain!!) families of 3-5 year old girls.
The Princess Ballerinas Dance Program was born and it's far surpassed my wildest dreams. Not only was it successful for my own studio but since I started sharing it with another studio owner, the program has enrolled an estimated 48,000 students into hundreds of studio programs in 10 countries around the world!
Whether you use a ready-made curriculum like Princess Ballerinas or create your own program from scratch, it PAYS to serve this valuable market of 3-5-year-old girls.
Not only is it a shortcut to studio growth, profit, and success now (AND in the future), but it's incredibly rewarding to follow students on their entire dance journey- starting with their very first steps.
I hope this article helps you move closer to achieving your studio's goals.
There ARE shortcuts to studio success and focusing on girls ages 3-5 years is one of them!
P.S.- If you're interested in learning more about the Princess Ballerinas Dance Program to help you grow YOUR studio you can learn more here.