Did you see our story on three former owners who found the right successors for their studios? Here's another owner with a successful transition story.
After nearly two decades of ownership, Beverly Spell decided to sell her Lafayette, Louisiana–based school, because the licensing of her curriculum for creative movement and beginning ballet was demanding more of her time and travel. "You can be an absent owner," says Spell, "but I didn't want to be." Last August, she sold The Ballet Studio to faculty member Brie Castro. "We offered her a down payment with four-year owner financing," says Spell. She says it's been surprisingly easy to let go of the responsibility. Well, except for one small thing: "We always have fresh flowers at the studio," she says, "and I still tend to pull out the dead ones when I go in."
Dance Teacher: How did you find your replacement?
Beverly Spell: I knew I needed to find the perfect person—and I did. She was one of my first students. She danced with me growing up, and then she went to college and majored in dance and business. Last year, she came on full-time with me as a teacher. Because she grew up in the studio, she understood the values, the foundation, the clientele, why people come to The Ballet Studio. I just asked her. She said, "Ms. Bev, this has been my life's dream."
DT: Was there a moment when you knew you'd made the right decision?
BS: Last year, I was at a conference, and I was supposed to come home in time for our year-end performance photos. My flight got canceled. I called and said, "Brie, you need to do it. Make the decisions—just handle it." When I got back, one of the moms said, "Hey, Bev, Brie was amazing! We didn't even need you here."
DT: How did you make the announcement?
BS: I wanted my top-level dancers to hear it from me. I called all the kids in, and the parents who were there. Brie and I sat in front of them, and I said, "You know how I also do Leap 'N Learn? I've been very busy with it, and it's growing. I'm also a grandma. I think it's time for me to start focusing on those parts of my life. Brie will be taking over ownership of the studio. You'll see me from time to time—I'll be the sub." They were shocked. But after we talked, they were fine. There hasn't been one negative comment.