Drama Free Dance Studio | Facebook, Lies and Dance Moms
Facebook (and all social media) has changed everything—from the way we grow and conduct our business as well as offering a platform for moms to talk: about the good, the bad, and the ugly to each other and the world about your studio. I am going to make this short and simple based on the challenges we all now have to face as business owners. Preventing and controlling drama, hearing about a potential coup (i.e. mass exodus), and having your studio take the high road, are critical for maintaining a healthy business as well as your sanity. Follow these tips to help you stay healthy, wealthy, and wise.
Rule #1: You are a business owner first and foremost.
You might be a dancer and an artist. But, they are secondary. Running your business in a professional way, and handling the messiest situations without emotion –at least externally, is critical. Once the crisis is past, go home, cry it out, and have your favorite glass of wine (and listen to Sarah McLaughlin.)
Rule #2: Facebook
Because of social media, unfortunately, we are now reverting back to the days of high school drama. Thus, you must have a personal Facebook account… and keep it personal. This has a different user name and is only for your personal friends and family. You will also have to use a different email address from your second, “personal” Facebook page which will be your: “personal business Facebook” page. This is the page that all your dance moms and students can friend you on, and feel like they are part of the cool crowd. No dance mom or student or employee can or should know about your true personal page. And of course, have a business page. (Most important for growing your business.) This will allow you to keep your private life private.
Note: Do not unfriend any of your dance moms on your ‘business” personal page. That is like telling them they are no longer part of the cool crowd.
Apply to rule #2 to all other forms of social media or just don’t tweet, pin, Instagram, or anything else about your personal life!
Rule #4: Foster conversation and welcome comments and “suggestions”:
Even if that means hearing the problems of every mom, dick, and harry about costumes, why isn’t Susie getting more solos, getting to dance more in the group class, or whatever. This is your thermometer on the temperature of your school. This is the Dow Jones, the S&P, and stock market of the health of your business. When they stop coming to you, they start going to each other and you lose control of the delivery of the conversation. No matter how bad it gets, you must remove personal feelings from the subject of the conversation. You might be burning inside, but there is no room for nastiness if you are a business owner and don’t want all the moms (or faculty) to start blabbing about what a bitch you are. This is hard. As my mom would say, Lori, you are an actor (I was) so act! Then you can go home and rant and scream at the dog –er- your husband, partner, and follow the end of Step #1- Have a glass of wine, etc.
You also might be doing something that needs to be changed. And if there is a hint of dissatisfaction, wouldn’t you rather know about it from the mom than your Facebook fan ratings?
Mom: Suzie’s mom told me that she hates the costume. And so do I.
You: (with much kindness.) I am happy to hear your complaints about the costume and I am happy to discuss your daughter. However, I will not discuss Suzie or her mom with you. But Suzie and her mom are more than welcome to come to me themselves with any issue they have. I understand that not every year will you like the costumes. I dance and my kids dance, and some years, we didn’t like our costumes either. It happens! I am sure next year there will be another costume that you will like better. I am so happy you came to me with your thoughts. My door is always open to everyone! It helps us make our studio better. And that brings us to…
Rule #5: Never, ever give your clients fuel for the fire.
But by not allowing mom any room to go back to Suzie’s mom, you have prevented her from whipping the other parents into a frenzy, while at the same time shutting down mom. You’ve also made her feel like you value her, her opinions, and her business. This is business. And this rule is critical for a no-drama dance studio.
The End Game:
Of course, behind the scenes, it affects you, but you must always think of the end game and that game is your business health and survival and your health as well. We all have that fight-or-flight reaction when hit with an offensive situation. But a knee-jerk reaction can be very damaging to your business. Try and think before you speak and act. Whether you count to ten, give it an hour or two, or don’t handle it until the next day. More often than not, the final outcome will be far better than your initial response would have been.
There are many dance studios with great instructors, competitive teams, teachers, etc. There must be a reason that your parents stick with you. And the reason is the personal elements that your studio offers them. You must always (at least as your studio’s director) put your client first. (At home, to your friends, your shrink, your family, you can moan all you want.)
So lest you think “but hey, Lori doesn’t own a studio.” True. However, I am a business owner and yes I do have a few clients that I would rather do without. And yes, sometimes we don’t have a solution for them or they are completely unreasonable. At which point, I offer them a full refund. Yes, full and say thank you very much for your business, but I don’t think we offer the right solution for you. And yes, it hurts to lose the money, and I sometimes lose sleep over it. However, I feel secure that I have the best product out there, and the best service, and even with having to deal with all the nonsense, I still love being a business owner, with many amazing clients.
A big gigantic thank you to Shannon Goodman at Edge Dance Company
in Jenkintown, PA (who is one of those clients I really like.) Much of the advice on here comes from her and well, it made a lot of sense to me. You all teach me and inspire me, so I hope this article helps you remove the drama from your life!