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.
When students are on your premises, their safety is your responsibility. Set an injury policy. For instance, "any student who's injured, whether it happened inside or outside our studio, has to provide a doctor's note before they can come back to dance full-time," Dorsey says. "If they contract an illness, in addition to the doctor's note, we require that they're not contagious for at least 24 hours before they come back."
You should also settle on procedures for safe pickups and drop-offs. "Our younger dancers aren't allowed to leave the building until a parent or guardian picks them up," says Dorsey. Policies like these let parents know their children are in good hands.
Once you've decided what policies will work for your studio, put them in writing, in a studio handbook. At registration time, have dancers and parents sign that they've read and agree to your rules. If there's a question or a complaint later on, you can point back to that signature.
Whatever happens, stick to your guns. There's no one-size-fits-all guide to governing your studio—just like there's no one-size-fits-all dance school.