"Focus time" - a couple of hours of deep concentrated work, free from distraction. Best done early in the morning. The work that's done before the emails and messages and calls begin. Ideal for creation and planning.
MONEY & METRICS MONDAY
Start the week with the most important thing. Get into business CEO headspace with a detailed review of your business report from the previous week. Whether you have admin staff and department heads who can write and compile the report for you, or even if you have to do it yourself over the weekend. Monday morning is time to look over it, armed with a coffee and a notepad - and use it to determine your business goals for the week. This compulsorily-scheduled focus on the finances and the metrics of your business will help you avoid getting stuck in the whirlpool of time-stealing inconsequential little things that clog our email inbox, and will make sure that the most crucial parts of your business are being managed first. Push costuming, music editing, concert planning and the million other things on the list to the side for an hour or two, and be money-minded for a moment. What is in your report? We will cover this in more detail later, and I'll post a sample "studio report" next week for you to use as a template. But essentially it's the important stats, like a weekly health check for your business. The equivalent of a hospital chart hanging on the end of your bed. Weekly profit and loss, cash flow status, new enrolments, cancellations, total number of students enrolled, total class “imprints”, class breakdown of revenue and occupancy rate as a percentage of maximum capacity, staff absences, customer complaints, success reports of projects/events etc. as well as work logs from support staff. Plus a summary of the week ahead, including special events, major upcoming expenses, expected staff absences etc. And it’s not just about reading it. It’s about arming yourself with this data to make informed big decisions about the business. You are the captain of the ship! Your business plan is the map and THIS is the weather report. And we all know that to reach a goal you have to measure progress… your weekly report does just this. And to have it on file is of major benefit in the long term too. You’ll be able to look back on them and measure patterns, graph data and use it as a diary of what happened each week at your studio. Continue “Money and Metrics Monday” with all the yucky money things: A call or meeting with your accountant when needed. (And this should be scheduled regularly - at LEAST every quarter). Process your staff pays. Pay all the bills due this week. Get all the money stuff done and out of the way… partly because it usually isn’t the fun stuff, but also because “batching” the tasks is more efficient. Finish with paying yourself. Your reward for being business-person of the century and knowing your business metrics back to front.
With so much on our plates - between advertising, customer service, managing our teams and rocking our financial spreadsheets - it’s easy to forget the main reason we all got into this business, which is to TEACH young people how to dance. Our classes are our product. Teaching dance (and other performing arts) is the service we provide. The teaching has to come first. The quality of the education is paramount. Whether your role still includes a lot of teaching, or as director of the school you mostly have others teaching for you, dedicate Tuesday’s focus time to evaluation and development of your training programs in your studio. Either looking at how you train your students, or providing more guidance and instruction to your teachers for when they are training their students… (or both).In a law firm, this would be the equivalent of focusing on allocating time to keeping up with changing laws, mentoring the associates and boosting efficiency. In a toy factory this would be focusing on new toy research and development, improving manufacturing efficiency and the quality of the toys being made.This is what you do!Look at each class, are the students progressing? Is the teacher doing an excellent job of teaching their students. Are all the technical foundations being taught properly? Is class time being used efficiently? What are the students actually learning? Which classes are not up to your standards, and what can you do about that? Are there new teaching tools you can implement? Do your staff need more training? Do you have class expectation documents, report cards or some way of measuring (and celebrating) progress?So the question of the day on Training Tuesdays is always… “What can we do to improve the quality of the training of our students, so that we can be sure that we are providing the best possible dance tuition across all of our classes from pre-schoolers to our senior performance team?”
What is “wow-factor”? It’s the impressive things you do that are above and beyond your client expectations. Why are they important? Because the improve retention, and boost cult-like obsession and fandom for your studio brand. Wow-factor is the things that happen in your studio that make your customers RAVE about you to their family, friends and neighbours. It cultivates word of mouth. There are a million ways to achieve wow-factor in your dance studio. The key is to create magical moments, in class, on social media, at events and through performance. Here’s an example:Option #1 - Mum and dad enrol their 3 year old into your pre-school dance class. They arrive for their first lesson and a greeted with a smile, taken in to the room and introduced to the teacher. Parents invited to wait in the foyer, child participates in the class, comes out happy. It’s a good experience. Job done. Expectations met… tick.Option #2 - Mum and dad enrol their 3 year old into your pre-school dance class. They get an email from the studio principal with a full welcome pack and a video introduction. Then they get phone call from the studio on the day before their first lesson to “check-in” and offer to answer any questions they might have before they begin “their special journey” at your studio. When they arrive at the studio (feeling confident of what to do when they get there, and what to expect), they are greeted by name, and given a special welcome gift of a studio t-shirt, a cute soft teddy bear wearing your studio uniform and and a laminated certificate that says “My first day at dancing” with your studio logo. They are invited to take some photos in front of the studio media wall that’s set up in the foyer - which adds to the excitement for the parent, and provides an opportunity for your studio to be featured on their social media for all their friends to see. Parents are offered a coffee while they wait, and the teacher comes out to meet the family before class and spends a moment gaining some trust and getting to know the 3 year old. The child is introduced to some of the other class members to encourage fast friendship. The students go into the room and the class begins. The parents watch via CCTV on giant TVs in the foyer. At the end of class, the teacher comes out again to tell the parents how well their little 3 year old did on her first day, and offers to answer any questions they might have. The child has a sticker with the studio branding on it. The teacher offers to take a photo with their child to commemorate their first day. The teacher says “Can’t wait to see you next week!” and uses the child’s name. The parents leave super-impressed, and the child leaves beaming with excitement. The next day they receive an automated email with some additional on-boarding information about the studio, joining the Facebook groups and another video from the studio principal, as well as a link to some YouTube videos that your studio created for kids to practice at home.Sure, option #2 might sound a little over the top… and perhaps a bit daunting to achieve (especially at scale), but you can’t argue that it would be an exceptional initial experience at a dance studio for a new customer. And if that were their first impression of your studio, how many customers would feel naturally inclined to RAVE about it to everyone they know. That level of MAGIC can be continued throughout the entire customer journey. It’s a Disney-eque approach - how to skip from good to exceptional.So your “Focus Time” goal for Wednesdays is all about planning the wow-factor. Themed weeks, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, Easter, guest choreographers, social events, outstanding customer service, next-level communication, simplicity and convenience for parents, gifts, prizes, generosity and the general awesomeness that you can create each week. It can be as simple as a pizza party, and as complex as the world’s most elaborate Halloween disco. Your goal… whatever you do, make it special.
There’s never enough time to think. But if you are the visionary behind your behind then you NEED to prioritise proper planning and thinking time. Just you and a notepad and your creative juices flowing. And there’s ALWAYS a project that needs a plan. Concerts, costumes, events, timetable, new hires and any big policy changes. Or maybe it’s the choreography of your recital opening number. Put aside a couple of hours to think and dream and create. And make a thing of it. A quiet space, a drink and something nice to nibble on, instrumental music playing softly in the background, notifications turned OFF, no distractions. Enjoy the process. This is the fun part.
Did that thing get done? Did that customer enquiry get answered? Did that parent’s complaint get dealt with? Are your customers happy? Are your staff meeting expectations? It’s the end of the week, and so Friday’s “Focus Time” is all about following up. Checking the lists twice and chasing up loose ends. Cleaning out the week. Emptying the email inbox completely. Calling clients.This will hopefully help avoid that situation where things slip through the cracks of a busy office. Some time dedicated specifically to finishing tasks, and finalising matters. Checking in with clients, so that they are feeling valued. Following up on goals with your teachers so that feel supported (and watched).
The parents are our customers, but the students are our priority. It’s all for them. Everything we do must be in their best interest. Our duty is to them first and foremost. Saturday’s “Focus Time” is about our students. Celebrating them, challenging them, serving them. Ok, realistically maybe this isn’t two hours of “Focus Time” - it is Saturday after all. Maybe it’s just a bit of extra mindfulness and planning from staff.
Work-free Sundays are a rare and valuable commodity. When you don’t have extra rehearsals, eisteddfods, performances, exam prep or working bees, it’s important… no VITAL that you rest, and enjoy a proper day off. That means studio phone isn’t answered, emails wait until Monday, unfinished tasks get put on hold. It’s not procrastinating, it’s living! Exercising restraint.Compartmentalise. Switch off. Be a person. If you have the opportunity to not be a studio owner for a day, take it and enjoy.
There’s no day set aside for marketing… because there should never be a day where you are not promoting your studio in some way or another. Daily social media posts, constant story-telling to your audience, engaging with your target market through online community groups and local community events, communicating with your mailing list, running targeted google and Facebook campaigns. Anything and everything you can do to ensure there is a steady flow of new customers coming in. Even with the highest retention rates in the industry, the very nature of our business is conducive to student turnover. Kids change their hobbies, develop new passions, try new things… or simply just grow up. To make serious money in this business, having profitable classes means having full classes. Your dance studio should have a comprehensive marketing plan that is scheduled on a calendar and followed like a recipe (not improvised with a daily scramble), with a healthy mix of set’n’forget, seasonal and also weekly and daily actions.