When I was growing up, there was that one kid’s basement where we all hung out. It was dark, had glow-in-the-dark posters, and better yet, her mother never ventured down. It was where we all wanted to be. Shouldn’t your studio be the place where everyone wants to hang out? Yes, it’s that simple. How do you do that? Inspiration, Aspiration and Differentiation. This was going to be a much longer post, but since we are all short on time, a word to the studio that wants to retain students and grow enrollment:

1) Make each student feel special, unique, and gifted: by giving them continual encouragement and kind corrections. 2 minutes after class with an extra pointer, goes a long way. Yelling doesn’t make me want to stay, why would a child or teen?

2) Trust each student to know their limits: That means if a student wants to check out a more advanced class let them. It is your studio’s time to inspire your students… show them the places they can go if only they stick with it. At the same time, let the student know that the class is very advanced, and to not get discouraged. In time, they will be there! (Don’t slow the class down for them.) Plus, watching better dancers gives your students something to aspire to. What do you have to lose? And, hey, why not suggest a private help them step up their game? (Maybe discount it to make it even more appealing.)

3) Every student should get something for free, for being your student through thick and thin…maybe that means an extra class twice a year, an invitation to participate in an advanced class… something to show them you appreciate their patronage. They are doing you the favor. Not the other way around. Some studios send birthday notes, and ‘thank you’ cards, but a $5 treat from your store goes a long way too.

So you’re probably thinking…what the fudge does Lori know? Since when did she become a studio owner? I’m not an owner, but I am a beginning student and I can tell that my experience as a student over the past year has differed wildly from teacher to teacher. I most recently danced with a studio for over a year—spending well over $1000. I never got any “freebies or extras”, but nary gave that a thought until…

Last week, I jumped in a cab after my 12-hour work day, anxious to try out a new class I just saw on my instructor’s website home page. I arrived breathless and 2 minutes late, only to be told “Lori you missed the 6:30 class. You can’t go into this one—it’s by approval only*

*Note: all the other students from the 6:30 class were there, taking the class and watching the entire scene. Did I feel like I was still in high school or what? And while it might NOT have been the right class, if this were my business I would say, “sure, stay this time, and we’ll see how it goes.”

I said, “Ok,” and never looked back. I’ve since started dancing in a more advanced class, that welcomed me with open arms. When I voiced my concern that I might not be at the right level, I was told, “don’t worry, keep at it. We will help you get there. Relax!” During and after class, both teachers gave me pointers (about 3 minutes worth) to help improve my technique.

The icing on the cake, for me, was, last Saturday, after my 4:30 class, my new studio needed an extra woman to round out the couples. They asked me to please stay. For free.

I’m just sayin’, it’s really easy to be the cool place… the place that I, as a student want to hang out. And that my friends, is how you can inspire and differentiate your studio from the others. Be that place where you students want to be.