Consider placing a vending machine in your lobby as a convenience for students who forget to bring snacks.

Making food and drink available at your studio—whether through your main office, a vending machine or a donated refrigerator—can sustain students (and waiting parents) between classes and boost your business. And it can be as easy as making a quick trip to your local bulk grocery store. Here, four studio directors give you a taste of how it’s done.

 

Lauren Taylor

DanceWorks Conservatory (100 students)

Kansas City, MO

DanceWorks Conservatory offers students a selection of healthy, low-calorie snacks, like granola bars, packets of peanut butter crackers and juices. “We try not to totally hop them up on sugar,” says studio manager, Lauren Taylor. Soft drinks and Oreos are also available, but most of the cookie buyers are dancers’ siblings. Taylor prices those offerings higher to discourage students from choosing them: A granola bar is 50 cents for two, while a single packet of Oreos costs 60 cents, and soda goes for 75 cents, representing roughly a 30-percent markup.

Taylor sells the snacks herself and accepts only cash. She stores the drinks in a mini-fridge and the food in a drawer in the main office. She usually spends $15 at Sam’s Club or Costco every two to three months. The $25 or $30 she nets helps pay for studio upkeep.

 

Doreen Keith

Dancers’ Corner (300 students)

White River Junction, VT

Doreen Keith, owner of Dancers’ Corner, keeps a vending machine in the lobby as a convenience for waiting parents and dancers who forget to bring snacks. A local company set up the machine and sends a technician once a week to keep it stocked. She selects refreshments from a provided menu, choosing popcorn and pretzels (which sell out first), animal crackers, granola bars, licorice, M&Ms, fruit juices and Coke products. She warns that not all parents approve of the junk food sales. One parent was appalled at the presence of the sugary drinks and took her child elsewhere. But students who spend hours dancing are entitled to a handful of M&Ms, says Keith. Plus, most of the soda buyers are parents. No item costs more than a dollar; however, the vending machine company keeps the profits. Keith’s only charge is electricity, which varies in cost throughout the year. The studio also sells coffee to parents for $1 per cup. Half of that goes to a scholarship fund.

Younger students who study for more than an hour can eat in the lobby during a five-minute break between classes. Older students, who dance for three or four hours at a time, can snack in class during choreography breaks. Keith has never had a problem with cleanliness, partly because she reminds students to clean up after they eat. “Quite frankly, I pick up more dirty socks than food-related items,” she says.

 

Ashley Bryant

Corky Bell School of Dance (100 students)

Fairfield, AL

The vast commercial-grade refrigerator in the lobby of Corky Bell School of Dance lets Ashley Bryant sell out of about $400 worth of refreshments—mostly sports drinks—every month. A studio family donated the refrigerator when Bryant took over the business three years ago. At first she was surprised that her dancers don’t buy drinks in bulk themselves. “Several of them buy two or three Gatorades a night and dance three nights a week,” she says. Bryant tried selling fruit as well, but it went bad. Instead, she sells fruit snacks, animal crackers, SunChips and Baked! Lay’s. Bryant asks parents to alert her about students’ allergies on the registration form, a policy she put in place after learning one student had a severe peanut allergy. She banned peanuts from the studio as a result, and she makes sure to notify teachers of allergic dancers.

Corky Bell is in a low-income area, so Bryant tries to keep her prices as close to cost as possible. Edibles start at 50 cents, while sports drinks cost $1 each, including a 20-cent markup. Most students pay cash. Some charge items to their accounts and settle up with the monthly tuition bill, while others have their parents put down $10 in advance. She runs the concession primarily as a convenience for her students, because the profits are just enough to pay the fridge’s power bill.

 

Gina Tate

The Pointe! Studio of Dance (100 students)

Greensboro, NC

At The Pointe! Studio of Dance, students purchase snacks on the honor system. And in the four years Gina Tate has used it, dancers and their parents have grown accustomed to honestly putting their change in a basket next to the refreshments. Only three students have been caught not paying—and none were repeat offenders.

Students can purchase bottled water and fruit juices for $1.25 from a refrigerator on the studio’s first floor, or fruit snacks, microwave popcorn, SunChips, Doritos and fruit for $1 from a nearby rack. Parents frequently donate goodies like candy and chocolate. Tate keeps the profits from the donations. She stops by Sam’s Club if the snacks are running low. On a typical bimonthly visit, she spends $45 or $50. A 30-pack of chips nets just over $20 in profit, while a 24-pack of 100 percent fruit juice can bring in $30. The studio contributes $60 to $100 of monthly concession sales to a student scholarship fund that pays for tuition and offsets costume and activity costs. DT

 

Leigh Kamping-Carder is a New York–based journalist who writes about visual culture, the arts, real estate and other topics.

Photos from top: iStockphoto.com/ShawnGearhart; by AJ Taylor courtesy of Lauren Taylor; by Diana Seaver, courtesy of Doreen Keith; by Steve Plimpton/Focus on Kids Photography, courtesy of Ashley Bryant; by Jamie Tate, courtesy of Gina Tate

 

 

 

The Conversation
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo courtesy of Hightower

The beloved "So You Think You Can Dance" alum and former Emmy-nominated "Dancing with the Stars" pro Chelsie Hightower discovered her passion for ballroom at a young age. She showed a natural ability for the Latin style, but she mastered the necessary versatility by studying jazz, ballet and other forms of dance. "Every style of dance builds on each other," she says, "and the more music you're exposed to, the more your rhythm and coordination is built."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Burklyn Ballet, Courtesy Harlequin

Whether you're putting on a pair of pointe shoes, buckling your ballroom stilettos or lacing up your favorite high tops, the floor you're on can make or break your dancing. But with issues like sticking or slipping and a variety of frictions suitable to different dance steps and styles, it can be confusing to know which floor will work best for you.

No matter what your needs are, Harlequin Floors has your back, or rather, your feet. With 11 different marley vinyl floors available in a range of colors, Harlequin has options for every setting and dance style. We rounded up six of their most popular and versatile floors:

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty Images

Q: I'm trying to think of ways to maximize studio space and revenue during the summer. What has worked for you?

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Insure Fitness
AdobeStock, Courtesy Insure Fitness Group

As a teacher at a studio, you've more than likely developed long-lasting relationships with some of your students and parents. The idea that you could be sued by one of them might seem impossible to imagine, but Insure Fitness Group's Gianna Michalsen warns against relaxing into that mindset. "People say, 'Why do I need insurance? I've been working with these people for 10 years—we're friends,'" she says. "But no one ever takes into account how bad an injury can be. Despite how good your relationship is, people will sue you because of the toll an injury takes on their life."

You'll benefit most from an insurance policy that caters to the specifics of teaching dance at one or several studios. Here's what to look for:

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty Images

In 2019, dance parents are more eager than ever to observe their child's progress, and stay up-to-date with the ins and outs of what's happening in the classroom. That means yearly recitals aren't always enough to keep them satisfied—especially if you have rules against visitors observing class from week to week. The solution? Visitor observation weeks. Trust us, the guardians and loved ones of your students will love you for it!

We caught up with Suzanne Blake Gerety, vice president of Kathy Blake Dance Studios and regular contributor to Dance Teacher's "Ask The Experts" column, to hear her tips on how to have a successful visitor observation week.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Success with Just for Kix
Bill Johnson, Courtesy Just for Kix

Running a dance studio is a feat in itself. But adding a competition team into the mix brings a whole new set of challenges. Not only are you focusing on giving your dancers the best training possible, but you're navigating the fast-paced competition and convention circuit. Winning is one goal, but you also want to create an environment that's fun, educational and inspiring for young artists. We asked Cindy Clough, executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner with over 40 years of experience, for her advice on building a healthy dance team culture:

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Adequate dorsiflexion mobility is needed to find a supple demi-plié needed to bound into the air and land safely. Getty Images

Dancers are trained to think often about the range of motion, stability and power of their extended lines: the point of the foot, the reach of the penché, the explosion of the sauté in the air. But finding that same mix of flexibility and strength in the flexed foot is just as integral to technique and injury prevention. Without adequate dorsiflexion mobility, it is nearly impossible to find the kind of supple demi-plié needed to bound into the air and land safely.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by World Class Vacations
David Galindo Photography

New York City is a dream destination for many dancers. However aspiring Broadway stars don't have to wait until they're pros to experience all the city has to offer. With Dance the World Broadway, students can get a taste of the Big Apple—plus hone their dance skills and make lasting memories.

Here's why Dance the World Broadway is the best way for students to experience NYC:

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
Irina Kolpakova in the studio with Katherine Williams. Photo by Quinn Wharton for Pointe

Being coached by a treasure like former Kirov prima Irina Kolpakova is an experience most dancers only dream of. But company members at American Ballet Theatre have been the lucky beneficiaries of her wisdom since 1990. Thanks to Instagram, where pros like Gillian Murphy and James Whiteside share snippets of their sessions with Kolpakova, any ballet lover can be a fly on the wall during rehearsals with the famed ballet mistress.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by The Fleet, courtesy of Lion's Jaw Festival

Growing up in New Jersey, Lisa Race trained with a memorable dance teacher: Fred Kelly, the younger brother of famous tapper Gene. "Fred would introduce our recitals," she says. "He would always cartwheel down the stairs." It wasn't until years later, when Race was pursuing her master's degree and chose to write a research paper on Kelly, that she realized there was a clear connection between her own movement style—improvisational and floor-based—and his. "In this television clip I watched, Fred jumps up to the piano, then jumps off it—he's going up and down and around," she says. "I thought, 'Oh, wow, all this time, I've thought of my dancing as my own, but that's where it started!' Moving upside-down and into the floor. There's a thread there. I rerouted it in different ways, but there's a connection."

Now, as a professor at Connecticut College, she concentrates on how to introduce her students to that love and freedom of upside-down work—and how to best prepare them for life after graduation, no matter what dance path they take.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty Images

It's summertime, which means we're all starting to feel HOT! HOT! HOT!

While a warm room is certainly better than a cold room when it comes to dancing, you don't want your students to get heat stroke at your studio. To help you survive this sweaty time of year, here are tips and tricks that will keep your classrooms comfortable for an excellent class.

Enjoy!

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox