Imagine being a dancer teacher, business owner, social media manager and website designer, plus any other role your dance studio requires. Sound familiar? Many studio owners wear lots of hats when it comes to running their businesses, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
Meet three educators-turned-entrepreneurs who are using their knowledge to help dance business owners market and manage their studios more smoothly and efficiently.
Who They Are
Former teacher and choreographer Danielle Guillermo helps studios increase enrollment and revenue by designing custom websites that clearly state their mission. After needing her own site when she was selected for Breaking Glass: The Emerging Female Choreographers Project in 2013, Guillermo created a personal domain on Squarespace that helped people find her online. Fast-forward five years, Guillermo decided to open her own dance-apparel site, MyDanceNerd.com, in 2018. “I felt like I was getting more compliments on the website than the work for My Dance Nerd apparel,” she says, leading her to reconsider her business plan and start designing sites for studios.
Stacey Marolf began helping studios with websites and marketing in 2001 after taking a business course that required her to create a fictitious business, and by the end of the semester, she realized she had a viable business plan and started StudioOfDance.com. “The majority of studios didn’t have a website then, so it was a great time to get into it,” says Marolf. She began by publishing small ads in the back of Dance Teacher magazine, and now she, along with her husband, Craig, and website designer, Kristen Smith, has helped over 150 studio owners through the creation of user-friendly websites.
With the pandemic creating financial struggles for many studios, studio owner Susan Mendogni decided to help other dance businesses stay afloat. Having opened her own studio at the age of 19, Mendogni knows firsthand what it’s like to struggle as a studio owner. “Honestly, I was drowning in work,” she says. “I was supposed to be a business owner and have more freedom and I didn’t have any.” Forty years later, Mendogni now has four successful studios in New York City that she is franchising, and she founded The DanCEO, where she and her team teach studio owners how to manage their finances and market their classes.
How They Do It
Mendogni starts off by helping studios understand their numbers. Where can they cut waste? How much does each class make? What is their revenue each year? She helps them implement growth strategies to track and increase retention, followed by branding and marketing coaching.
Guillermo guides studio owners through a process to help increase enrollment by creating a brand guide for each studio—which includes their values, colors, mission and vision—and then designs a customer-focused site that consistently reflects who they are. The end result “converts browsers to buyers,” she says.
Marolf begins by becoming familiar with the studio’s needs and goals: She asks about how they are perceived in the community versus how they want to be perceived, learns their aesthetic wishes, and what their pain points are. She and her team then use this information to design their site and help them create Facebook ads and email marketing campaigns.
Why Their Work Is Important
“I realized the only way to affect more children’s lives is to run a really good business,” says Mendogni, who helped a studio in Georgia go from 175 to 250 students. “Learning the business side of dance is equally as important as being an artist.” When she opened her third and fourth studios, she started thinking of herself as the CEO of her company, and now she helps others shift their mindsets from dance teacher to business owner.
“There’s a level of education that I need to provide in order for people to understand why they need my services,” says Guillermo, who helped one studio hold its first profitable Nutcracker in 19 years by redesigning its website and social media. “Everyone wants to DIY in dance, and a lot of that comes from lack of funds instead of having the understanding that if you invest in something that gives you results, you don’t waste time and money,” she says.
Advice for Starting Your Own Studio Consulting Business
“If you don’t know what kind of business you want to have, pay attention to what people are asking you to do,” says Guillermo.
“If someone wants to start coaching, they should pick their niche that they’re really good at, like marketing or doing Facebook ads,” adds Mendogni.
“Talk to as many studio owners as possible and find out what their pain points are,” says Marolf. “Find out what they want and what’s keeping them from getting there.”