Are we there yet? This day... I'm done. Exhausted and the term hasn't even begun. 12 hours at the studio again. Thank god I don't have a husband or I'd be divorced.
Technically it started at 2am when I decided that despite investing over 150 hours of staff time into migrating our systems from DSP to Dancebiz, setting up the timetable, fees packages, online registration form, processing 500 online enrolments... we are now moving BACK to Dance Studio Pro!!! And we have to manually transcribe all of the customer info over - not to mention set up the 150 class timetable - all in 4 days!!! DYING!!!! But I think it was the right decision, and it was a decision that had to be made now, because mid-year would have been even worse. Dancebiz was too clunky, it didn't work well with our FEES setup, there were compatibility issues with the app on some of my staff member's computers and the Integrapay direct debit features (the very reason... in face ONLY reason I had even considered to switch from DSP to Dancebiz in the first place) didn't provide as much freedom and customisability as I'd originally thought. AND Dance Studio Pro just happen to release a new feature called PAYMENT PLANS which does the VERY EXACT THING that I wanted it to do, but it didn't do when I switched everything over. Annoying!!!!
So my day was trying to solve that problem, meeting with my admins, tidying up the reception area, meeting with tradesmen, tradesmen and more tradesmen, getting quotes on a bunch of stuff needing to happen at the studio over the next 4 days... like laying tarket, pressure clean of exterior and car park, doors being fixed, fridge seal being fixed, metal framed door being spray painted, reception desk being re-finished with new gloss, signs being installed, rubbish and old furniture being removed, props being transported... yes all today. It was like Pitt Street at the studio with all the coming and going of people. Plus I had some volunteer mums there organising our costume library and putting together some kid tables I'd bought. One of my teachers picking up uniforms from RSD HQ, one of my shoe stockists (for the littlest size of Jazz shoes that Weissmans don't offer) dropping stock off, and a uniform shop / shoe fittings afternoon open session with a couple of dozen families popping in to be fitted, pick up uniforms and a few private-session Troupe auditions too for new students to the studio. All whilst fielding phone enquiries (yes, I'm still the guy that answers the phones), trying to stay on top of the emails, messages etc. that provide a musical symphony of notifications throughout the day, and booking guest teachers for the term.
So I'm done. Crashing right now on the lounge, a mess of a human being - with a half-eaten burger I grabbed on the way home that's had to double as both my lunch and dinner. TV not daring to be switched on, else it distract from my night-work I've got to do before bedtime.
Back tomorrow for another 11 hours. When is it holidays next? Oh wait.... it's meant to be now! But I'm not complaining. Maybe if anything, riding the high of achievement. I'm actually feeling really good about it, because I ticked off at least 40 things from my list today, I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and some of the things that are getting done are things that have been on the list for a few years, so it feels incredible to finally cross it off. And each new thing done makes me more excited about the year ahead - and the prospect that I might just actually be a little bit organised this year. That's the dream! Today's lesson: Don't switch studio accounts software 4 days before Term One begins, after all your students have already enrolled online into the other system. Oh... PS - we had our first transgender student join today. She came into the studio to meet our team. She suffers from Austism and anxiety, was very very shy and is 8 years old. It's new territory for us - not that it's a huge big deal, but I believe it's really important to make sure that as a studio our actions (and procedures) are in line with our values and mission statement. Another tip, whilst I'm thinking of it... don't "downplay" the uniform, shoes etc. For years I have approached it apologetically. Parents would ask "What do they need to buy?" and I would automatically go into a strange defensive mode, saying things like "Well they'll need Jazz shoes, but any shoes are fine for now", and "there's a leotard but it's not much money and if you want to wait a few weeks before buying it then you can". I was projecting my own [inherited from my parents] fear of expenses. I recently realised this is not only such terrible business practice and sales technique, it also just sucks the excitement away from what can actually be one of the most enjoyable parts of the "dance studio" experience for a lot of parents, which is the procuring of the uniform and gear. Now the more I've embraced it with excitement and passion and making quite a big deal about it when talking to the parents, the more they have been happy to get whatever is needed, and have chosen to buy a lot of the "extras" like the uniform add ons, the merch etc. I got some really brilliant bags from Kmart on sale for 50c (down from $10.... gotta love Kmart) that are sort of silver/holographic and look amazing. I bought about a 100 of them (this was last year sometime and they've been waiting in my store room for me all this time), and I'm using them as shopping bags for everyone who buys dance shoes and uniform at the beginning of this year. It's so nice to put their stuff into the cool bag and hand it over. I don't know why this is such a big deal to me, but it feels like I'm actually creating a "shopping experience" for the customers as opposed to just getting money off them for things they're pretty much forced into buying anyway. The bags are getting lots of compliments. But yeah - today's mission is to think about how you could turn the [what we might deem] unpleasant parts of our customer journey into exciting moments in their experience. Whether it be the uniform purchasing, or the costume pick up at concert time, or the selling of the concert tickets, or the setting up of the direct debit for the year... how can we sparkly some magic fairy dust onto it and make it special. (For that last example, with the setting up of the direct debit - I'm utilising the fact that we want the parents to do this in person to create a communication check point for each customer with my admin staff so that we can carefully make sure they are fully aware of their obligations and clear on how to cancel enrolment if they want to, exactly what the costs and payment timelines are, and also that they are members of our FB group, have read the info pack on our website, have got the concert dates in their calendars and personally checking if any of them have any questions. For a large studio like mine, it's actually NEVER happened before where we've physically made every customer come in to reception and do a run-through of what they need to know (like what normally happens when you open an account with a bank, or sign up for a gym). I'm hoping that the level of explanation, personal 1-on-1 attention, and real customer care will reap massive rewards with better retention throughout the year, greater customer satisfaction, and a confident feeling of understanding and belonging for all. I have extra reception staff rostered on, and I'll have pretty printed summarised mini-info packs to hand out to each customer... plus the free slushee I've organised.)