Q: We want to try a bring-a-buddy week, but I feel like everyone’s done it. I don’t know how effective it would be in upper levels or how it would work, since all of our older classes are leveled to ability. Do you have any advice or new ideas?
A: The use of invitational events to showcase classes as a way to build enrollment can be successful. However, there are some alternatives to consider. In the days before social media, online registrations and user-friendly websites, it made sense for students to bring a friend so they could see the studio, learn about your programs and register. Now potential students can get a lot of information they need about your programs before they step through your door. We notice that parents today have less tolerance for any situation that interferes with the instruction they are paying for and their children’s regular class work. More importantly, if you have a class of 10 students and 5 bring a friend, you’ve suddenly turned a manageable class into potential chaos.
Try instead to schedule regular visitors’ weeks throughout the year, when you invite the family and friends of your dancers to come in, view the last half of the class and share in the excitement of dance education. You can schedule a demo day or week during which your current students and their friends can take a free class from a variety of choices. When it’s free for everyone, the likelihood of upsetting parents decreases, and the excitement of sharing increases. If you do plan a visitor’s event, bring-a-friend or spirit-week type of enrollment-building effort, we recommend doing it as an add-on event rather than interfering with the flow of your weekly class schedule.
Kathy Blake is the owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire. She and Suzanne Blake Gerety are the co-founders of DanceStudioOwner.com.
Photo by B Hansen Photography, courtesy of Suzanne Blake Gerety