Q: I have had my ballet studio for seven years now, and the most students I’ve had enrolled at one time is 80. I’ve read about other studios and know that some in my region have hundreds of students. I live in a rural area where there are many families and not much competition close by. How can I build enrollment to make a profit? How long does it typically take for a newer studio?
A: Studio location, limited floor space and narrow offerings can be barriers to increasing student enrollment. We suggest that you determine first if you can add depth to your current offerings. It is possible to offer a variety of classes that appeal to a wider student base, while maintaining your ballet focus. Consider adding part-time faculty to teach Pilates, Zumba, yoga, modern or contemporary, or rent space to adjunct faculty who teach music/movement, ballroom dance or voice. (See “For Rent”) Adding pre-school and adult-beginner programs could also bring in more families.
Make sure your tuition prices and discount incentives are designed to encourage student retention and attract prospective students. For instance, offer a 50 percent class discount for parents of registered students, a 20 percent discount for dancers over 50 or a 10 percent family discount for two or more children taking a class. Promote free trials, introductory or one-day special-event classes for new students. And make doing business with you a stress-free process: Accept credit cards and offer online registration. If you take consistent action, it could take as little as one to three months to add 10 to 20 percent more students. But reaching your goal of being profitable may take one full year of operating with the new additions and implemented changes.
Kathy Blake is the owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire. She and Suzanne Blake Gerety are the co-founders of DanceStudioOwner.com.
Photo: Adding pre-school classes could bring in more families. (©iStockphoto.com/Maria Zoroyan)