Competition trophies, well-respected faculty and an end-of-year recital with Vegas-level production elements are all powerful attractions for potential students and their families. But what about recognition outside the studio sphere, in your community? Is there value in that?
These three owners answer with a resounding yes. They've each been so active and well-recognized in their communities that they've received awards from local chambers of commerce and Better Business Bureaus. And they've felt the ripple effects of their community involvement: invaluable word-of-mouth advertising, enrollment growth and studio dancers who understand the power of giving back.
Snap Dance Studios
Cochrane, Alberta, Canada
Recognition Since its inception in 2010, Snap Dance Studios has won several "Best of Cochrane" readers' choice awards from the local newspaper and Cochrane Community Awards from the city's commerce organization.
How Snap gets involved Sproule and her students recently helped launch a movement in town called Scatter Kindness. "The kids brainstormed the idea," says Sproule. "We give out a poppy, candy in a bag and a personal note. We hand them out at stores like Walmart, and each one comes with a card that says, 'Pass it on—you've been hit by kindness.'"
After visiting her grandmother in a nursing home and finding her lonely, Sproule began holding class occasionally at a nearby old folks' home. She also organizes showings there of competition solos and duets for pre-competition practice. "It's a good dry run for the kids, and we get to be a part of the community," she says.
The rationale The studio's community involvement has always been anchored in creating well-rounded dancers—and humans, says Sproule. "We want to raise great dancers, but our thing is that we're here to raise an entire person," she says. "That analogy is for our business, too. Of course we want to do well at competitions, but we want to be great in our community."
The reward "I think that's why we're doing well," says Sproule about the community activities. "I definitely see it in registration numbers and loyal customers who know what we're about. I think people come for good dancing, but they stay for the community."
Sunflower State Dance
Recognition In 2018, Weitekamp and her studio received the Business Appreciation Month award from the Kansas Department of Commerce.
How Sunflower gets involved Weitekamp is a board member for the local chamber of commerce, and she participates in monthly general chamber of commerce meetings that are open to the public. Her studio participates in Eudora's annual Trunk or Treat event (participating organizations decorate the trunks of their cars and invite kids to trick-or-treat by going from car to car) held downtown, and dances at the mayor's holiday tree lighting each winter. Weitekamp, who took over the studio only four years ago, isn't yet able to donate money to many community organizations or causes, and instead volunteers her time and participation to events. "Being active in events in your community is just as important—if not more important—as just giving a check," she says.
The rationale "I always thought, 'When you're a business owner, you should be involved in the community.' It's helped me get the studio's name out there," she says. It also offers Weitekamp the chance to connect with other local businesses and create partnerships—even ones as simple as getting businesses to advertise in SSD's annual recital program.
The reward Word-of-mouth advertising. "The more you get out there, the more people can get to know you and the studio—and the more likely they are to come try a class," she says.
Photo by Ben Bagwell, courtesy of Point Performing Arts
Point Performing Arts
Recognition Point Performing Arts won a Torch Award from the local Better Business Bureau in October 2018. The Torch Award (per the BBB website) "honors companies that demonstrate best practices, leadership, social responsibility and high standards of organizational ethics that benefit their customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders and communities." Or, as Allgeier puts it, businesses that are super-trustworthy—who inspire complete faith in their customers.
How PPA gets involved Allgeier's biggest focus of late has been her Superstars program. It's an opportunity for special-needs kids to take class for free on Saturday mornings. In May, the Superstars will attend their first competition. This year, she officially gained nonprofit status for the Superstars program.
The rationale "We want to be pillars in our community," she says of her Superstars program. "We pride ourselves on going above and beyond just a typical dance studio." Being a member of the Better Business Bureau conveys that Allgeier's customers can trust her. "It's a level of accountability for the studio," she says. "From the very beginning, I knew making my place in the community would give me some sort of backing."
The reward Since receiving the Torch Award, Allgeier has noticed an uptick in website visits. "We've also had a lot more people reach out in the community to have our dancers perform," she says, noting a Christmas show in their local Springfield, MO.