Q: We're about to build a new, bigger studio, but I'm terrified! Will it feel like we're taking a step backward, having to pay more instructors and higher monthly fees?
A: With each of our expansions, we've realized that the only way we can effect positive change is with some necessary growing pains. Remember that expansion doesn't always mean increased profitability—at least not at first. Just as you did when you first opened your studio, you must expect that it will take time and resources to reach your new studio's full capacity.
The best way to alleviate your worries is to have a clear plan in place, with a timeline and projections for what it will take to cover expenses and eventually become profitable. We recommend you meet with your accountant and/or bookkeeper to understand the financial impact an expansion will have on your operating expenses. Although your payroll, rent and utilities will increase, you'll also have the opportunity to offer more classes to a wider range of students. If you haven't already, we recommend you survey your current students to learn what additional styles or class times they'd like to see offered. This allows you to set a schedule that not only provides your current students with more classes or styles but also allows you to build your new student enrollment.
Be prepared to put time, energy and financial resources into the launch of your new space. Create some excitement and celebration around the opening! Tell the story of your growth. People love seeing before-and-after photos—take some and share them on social media. Post your new class schedule far in advance. This excitement will translate into referrals.
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.