With some simple tweaks, you can follow in the footsteps of these savvy owners and save time, your sanity and, most importantly, money.
- Keep master class fees low. Any savvy studio owner knows that bringing in guest artists is a good idea, whether for two-hour master classes or a weekend spent choreographing recital or competition routines. But it can be a challenge to bring in the guest you want while keeping your bottom line in the black. Take advantage of downtime and schedule master classes during off-peak times—when an artist might be home for the holidays, for example, or during the summer, when the convention circuit cools down—to cut you a break in their fee.
- Counter credit card processing fees. Studio owner Misty Lown started noticing that the competitions she registered her students for had begun adding an extra fee if she paid with a credit card. After confirming that this trend existed in several other local businesses—her nail salon, for instance—Lown began adding a 3.5 percent fee to tuition payments if parents paid with a credit card, to cover the bank fees. Since implementing this fee at her Onalaska, Wisconsin, studio, Misty’s Dance Unlimited, Lown has seen very little push-back from parents. A bonus: Payment delinquency has virtually disappeared. Now parents like to pay before the due date with cash or a check to avoid the merchant processing fee that would be added if payment went through on their on-file credit card. (Check your state laws to see if adding a fee is legal where you’re located.)
- Go green. Going green is more than a hip trend to latch onto. A dance studio that makes sustainability a priority can also save money, thanks to federal and state tax breaks or rebates from the government: For example, a federal tax deduction up to $1.80 per square foot is available for commercial buildings that save at least 50 percent of the heating and cooling energy of a building, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. (Check with your tax advisor and visit energystar.gov to learn more.) Converting your current lighting to LED bulbs and installing motion-sensor bathroom or dressing room light switches can cut down on energy usage and costs, letting you put the savings into your business. During heating and cooling seasons, clean or replace your filters monthly to save you money—and improve your air quality.
- Go paperless with your recital programs. Cynthia King was sick of shelling out money to print programs that end up on the theater floor. So instead, she came up with a great idea. Now she projects a slide presentation of each piece’s title, choreographer and dancers for her eponymous Brooklyn studio’s recital. Not only does she save money and paper, she can stave off typical printing mistakes last-minute. “This past year, we had somebody from backstage run up to the sound booth and type in someone’s name that was missing during the piece before!” she says. She suggests approaching local businesses to place ads that you can project before the show.