How can I build enrollment to make a profit?

Q: I have had my ballet studio for seven years now, and the most students I’ve had enrolled at one time is 80. I’ve read about other studios and know that some in my region have hundreds of students. I live in a rural area where there are many families and not much competition close by. How can I build enrollment to make a profit? How long does it typically take for a newer studio?

 

A: Studio location, limited floor space and narrow offerings can be barriers to increasing student enrollment. We suggest that you determine first if you can add depth to your current offerings. It is possible to offer a variety of classes that appeal to a wider student base, while maintaining your ballet focus. Consider adding part-time faculty to teach Pilates, Zumba, yoga, modern or contemporary, or rent space to adjunct faculty who teach music/movement, ballroom dance or voice. (See “For Rent”) Adding pre-school and adult-beginner programs could also bring in more families. 

 

Make sure your tuition prices and discount incentives are designed to encourage student retention and attract prospective students. For instance, offer a 50 percent class discount for parents of registered students, a 20 percent discount for dancers over 50 or a 10 percent family discount for two or more children taking a class. Promote free trials, introductory or one-day special-event classes for new students. And make doing business with you a stress-free process: Accept credit cards and offer online registration. If you take consistent action, it could take as little as one to three months to add 10 to 20 percent more students. But reaching your goal of being profitable may take one full year of operating with the new additions and implemented changes.

 

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: Adding pre-school classes could bring in more families. (©iStockphoto.com/Maria Zoroyan)

Teachers Trending
Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Diary
Claire McAdams, courtesy Houston Ballet

Former Houston Ballet dancer Chun Wai Chan has always been destined for New York City Ballet.

While competing at Prix de Lausanne in 2010, he was offered summer program scholarships at both the School of American Ballet and Houston Ballet. However, because two of the competition's winners that year were Houston Ballet's Aaron Sharratt and Liao Xiang, dancers Chan idolized, he turned down SAB. He joined Houston Ballet II in 2010, the main company's corps de ballet in 2012, and was promoted to principal in 2017. Oozing confidence and technical prowess, Chan was a Houston favorite, and even landed himself a spot on Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch."

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.