Your studio’s rent is most likely your biggest monthly expense. But what if your space could actually help you bring in more money? Some studio owners have discovered that renting out their space for dance auditions, weddings and birthday parties, or to outside dance and fitness instructors, is a great way to boost revenue—and bring in new students. We asked four studio directors to share their rental strategies. They each have different approaches, but all stressed the importance of requiring advance payment, written contracts and proof of insurance or a liability waiver.
Gotta Dance Atlanta
A large part of Gotta Dance Atlanta’s identity—and revenue stream consists of renting space to national recording artists and major TV and film organizations for auditions. Founder Kim Thomas says her 9,000-square-foot adult-based studio makes 20 to 25 percent of its annual income from rentals, which she uses for marketing and facility improvements. Space is rented week days during 9 am to 5 pm office hours, when full-time office staff is onsite to manage. Price varies by studio size, and weekend events cost extra. Thomas provides dance equipment, like barres and a sound system, and rents out fabric chairs, metal chairs and the refrigerator. She advertises in the Georgia Film, Video & Digital Entertainment Sourcebook and markets the studio as a venue for weddings, bar mitzvahs and other events.
A $250 deposit and 50 percent payment are required up front, with balance due 10 to 14 days before the contracted date. If there’s no damage, the deposit is returned one to two weeks after the rental. “I get their credit card numbers up front,” she says. Thomas also requires all renters to sign a contract and provide proof of insurance that covers up to $1 million for personal injury or death and up to $2 million for property damage.
Millennium Dance Studio
Like Gotta Dance, the 3,000-square-foot Millennium Dance Studio is a popular place for TV and film dance auditions, especially because renters can choose one of three rooms or take the walls down to create one large space. Each weekend, director Tracie Coleman opens her space to ballet, hip hop, Bollywood and other dance classes, and she says that from February to July, there are as many as four parties in the studio every Friday and Saturday night. “It’s an easy, quick money-making tool,” she says. Her studio made $15,840 in rentals this past season.
Charges are $25 to $45 per hour for dance-based events and $100 to $2,500 for class reunions, holiday parties and bridal showers. Tables, chairs and linens are available. All event-based rentals pay a 25 percent deposit, and weekly renters pay a 50 percent deposit. Coleman has a two-week cancellation policy (one week for weekly rentals). An insurance waiver must be signed if the renters cannot provide proof of their own. Before coming to terms with any renter, Coleman contacts references to verify personal data and asks local police and sheriff’s departments to conduct background checks.
Dance Center Evanston
Bea Rashid regularly rents her 10,000-square-foot studio to two different yoga classes, a Zumba class, an
adult fitness program and a mom-and-tot music and movement class. Renting out her five rooms generates enough money to cover 15–20 percent of her monthly lease. “I like renters who have a regular arrangement with me,” she says.
Hourly rates are based on type of use. Corporate events, like filming industrial videos or choreographing for a commercial, cost $30/hour; group classes are $20/hour; nonprofits pay $14/hour; and private lessons are $15/hour. Rental hours are during the normal workday, when the full-time office staff is in the building. Rashid meets with prospective renters and often takes class from them to make sure they will reflect well on her studio. She provides them with storage space and highlights them in her newsletter. “Their solvency is good for the dance center as well,” she says.
Live Love Dance LLC
Even a smaller studio can benefit from rentals. Live Love Dance does not have an office staff present during the day, so owner Valerie Gunnels must let renters in and out herself. She makes $80 to $250 monthly, renting to local dancers and community groups and hosting kids’ birthday parties on weekends.
Regular rentals are $45/hour for the larger studio and $20 for the smaller one. For birthday parties, Gunnels charges $90 to teach an hour-long
dance lesson for up to 10 kids, where she also gives a special gift to the birthday girl. There is an additional hourly fee of $15 to use the party room for cake and presents. “I would do birthday parties every weekend, it’s so easy,” she says.
Once a year, Gunnels rents out her studio to a beauty pageant. She charges the organization $160 to use both studios, plus the dressing room and lobby. And as with all renters, an official agreement must be signed and they must provide proof of insurance. Gunnels’ main reason for hosting her space: “It brings in a lot of little girls who are looking to take dance lessons,” she says. DT
Lauren Heist is a writer and Jazzercise instructor based in Evanston, IL.
Photo ©iStockphoto.com/Alexander Novikov