It's said that dancing like nobody's watching is a virtue, but most dance teachers would disagree. To dance like nobody's watching is fun, but it won't teach you discipline, timing or win you any competitions. Enter: the dance teacher, and with it, the thriving dance studio.
Starting your own dance studio means saving the world from those cringe-worthy wedding dances, the nightclub injuries and the failed YouTube performances. It also takes a lot work, so we've put together a list of the top 10 things you need to do to start your own studio. Read on for the details.
Find your Why
Starting a business is a big commitment, so you must be passionate about not only the industry you're entering, but the prospect of actually running a business. This might mean dancing or teaching less than you'd like, in order to focus on daily operations, finances and general business planning. Are you ready for it?
Pro Tip: Before planning and running your business, you must set up scheduling. A scheduling app like Cogsworth will not only help you find and manage customer leads and get class bookings, it'll make setting up meetings with real estate agents, builders, solicitors and everyone else involved in getting your business off the group a drama-free experience. Find our why you can't live without it here.
Get the business essentials
Your business type will determine what to set up, but start with:
An ABN: your business number
A business name: something catchy that describes exactly what your business does.
A business plan: include your business type, financials, marketing plan, operational plan, a market analysis, your competitive advantage and other key business details.
Pro Tip: before launching, get clear on all the details. What's your refund policy? How will you recruit new employees? Include relevant FAQ on your website.
Find the right location
When choosing the right location, consider:
- Parking options for staff and customers
- The fit out opportunities/requirements
- The cost of the property to rent or buy
- The floor size, type and condition
- Parking options
- Public transport options
- Council requirements such as strata, opening and closing hours and noise restrictions
- Storage inclusions
- Heating and cooling
- Other nearby businesses
- The location demographic
- Other nearby dance studios
- Foot traffic
Find your specialty
While at first opening a dance studio may seem simple, there are many types of services, specialties and niches to consider. As with any other business, casting your net too wide will mean you're not able to excel at anything. This includes:
- The dance styles you offer: Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop, Contemporary, Ballroom, Latin, New Vogue etc.
- The teachers you hire: current dancers, ex-professionals etc.
- The events you run: parties, balls, medal tests, competitions etc.
- The decor, lights and furniture
- Your lesson focus: kids, adults, wedding couples, seniors, group sessions, private lessons, competition couples etc.
There will no doubt be other dance studios nearby, so establish yourself as one with a special niche to differentiate your business.
Pro Tip: Start small. Don't try to launch everything at once and take on too much work. Start with the basics and stagger new features from there.
Locate your clientele
Once you know what kind of business you'll be running, you need to determine the type of client you're looking to attract. You may like to think about preferred ages, income levels, interests and other demographics. Keep this in mind when you start marketing, hiring and fitting out your space.
Determine your services and pricing
Many studios offer a combination of private lessons, wedding dance services, group classes, classes for seniors and children's classes.
- Half-hourly/hourly prices for private lessons, paid either directly to the teachers who pay you a cut, or to the studio.
- Bulk passes e.g. 10 or more. These work well in conjunction with buy X get X free style discounts.
- Casual session prices.
- Free passes for new or prospective customers.
There are three key things to keep in mind when hiring staff:
If you're going to be scheduling medal tests or want to teach the latest dance techniques, you'll need teachers with qualifications. Research the qualifications in your local area to find out what's most appropriate.
The experience you're looking for in an employee will depend on the type of classes you want them to run, or the type of work they'll be covering, e.g. reception, people management, teaching etc. Experience working with children, patience and time management are all highly desirable.
The personality of your teachers is extremely important. The role requires face-to-face contact with people of all ages and backgrounds, all with varying levels of commitment, interest and potential. Keep this in mind when interviewing potential teachers: while some may be excellent dancers, if they can't work with people, they aren't right for the role.
Effective marketing doesn't require a big budget, though it certainly does help. Some free and and paid options include:
- Setting up social media pages and posting business details and special offers.
- Amplifying and boosting social media posts to attract new customers.
- Regularly updating your website.
- Advertising at local businesses near the studio.
- Creating special offers and discounts for new customers.
- Creating partnerships with nearby businesses to cross-promote services.
- Throwing a launch party to encourage new business.
Pro Tip: If you're offering kids classes, connect with local schools and community centres to share information about your juvenile classes.
Iterate, make changes and learn
The business you launch will look very different to your business in three months, six months, and years down the track. You'll make mistakes, learn valuable lessons and make changes along the way. If you're open to ideas, flexible and ready to work, your business will be a rewarding and successful venture. It's time to start dancing!