It could be argued that half the battle of owning a dance studio is getting people to follow the rules. To ensure your business will run like a well-oiled machine, it helps to have clear expectations in place for students and their families—and, most important, to make sure everyone knows them from day one. Of course, every school is unique, and behavior that may be acceptable to you might be out of the question for someone else. "There are so many studios out there," says Dana McGuire, a studio co-owner in North Kansas City, Missouri. "Know and stand by what you're about." Here, four seasoned studio directors discuss the issues they consider non-negotiable.


Attendance

Obviously, you want students to show up—but how many absences should you allow? At Stafford Dance Company in Stafford, Virginia, competition team members get three excused absences per season, whereas recreational students are simply encouraged not to miss classes. Meanwhile, at Priscilla and Dana's School of Dance, "dancers are allowed one miss per routine or class before Christmas, and one after," says McGuire. "We're really strict about it; if they have a vacation or a wedding, they have to save their absence for that."

Other attendance-related questions to consider when deciding your absentee policy: What counts as an excused absence? How should students notify you? Is there a penalty for missing too many classes or rehearsals?

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