What studio owner wants to spend time thinking about the worst that can happen? Yet as the dance studio business continues to expand, the number of dance studio–related scandals seems to grow in proportion: Sexual abuse allegations make headlines, copycat studios pop up around the corner and "borrowed" choreography winds up onstage at the next competition. Thinking through a crisis management plan ahead of time and adopting wise risk-reduction strategies will help protect the hard-earned success you've achieved. Read on for three studio scenarios and the steps to appropriately deal with them and prevent them from happening at all.
When Your Employee Leaves—with a Contingent of Students
If a faculty member has recently gone on to start her own studio and absconded with a significant portion of your clientele, it is always best to immediately address the situation with your parents and students, according to Henrie, rather than hoping it will pass unnoticed. "You need to let your clients know that you're aware of what's going on and that you care enough about them to keep them well-informed," she says.
Henrie recommends putting a positive spin on the situation, letting your clientele know via e-mail or your studio newsletter that your former teacher has left to realize her own studio dream or to join another school and that you wish her well. But focus your message on who and what will be the replacement at your studio. Introduce a new faculty member in an exciting way, highlighting what she brings to your school and what new classes will be offered.
Include a noncompete clause in your employees' contracts (independent contractors have more autonomy), stipulating that they cannot open their own studios or join the faculty of another studio within a specified radius. See rocketlawyer.com to download a free, fill-in-the-blanks noncompete agreement, tailored to your state's legalities—but have it reviewed by your own attorney.
Foster faculty loyalty by offering salary incentives for long-term employees, alerting your teachers to continuing education opportunities via educational workshops (subsidized, if possible) and giving the faculty your respect.
Rotate teachers among the different levels at your studio, so that your students become attached to the studio itself and not to one particular teacher. Keep yourself in the classroom, too, to remind your clientele that you are more than just the titular head of the studio.