Q: My studio has recently gone through a split—one of our teachers left and opened her own studio in the area. I found out she contacted many of our current students through Facebook, and it was enough to encourage some families to leave. I’ve since hired a new teacher to replace those classes, but the fallout still stings. How can I rebuild my business and encourage new families to register?
A: Start rebuilding by establishing a social media policy with your faculty. With regard to Facebook, we’ve found that a good business practice is to direct all communication through the studio’s official page, not through personal profiles. While you cannot control or monitor everything, you can state expectations clearly in a written contract with your teachers.
At our studio, we include this social media policy in our “Roles and Responsibilities” document, which covers all areas of expected faculty and staff professionalism: “An individual’s social media is for personal use and not to discuss studio business, experiences or relationships. If you wish to post any studio news or announcements on Facebook, contact the directors.” The “Roles and Responsibilities” accompanies all employment contracts and is signed and stored in each faculty member’s file.
Ultimately, your Facebook page is an effective marketing tool, and one of the best ways to communicate your studio’s events, promotions and activities. You can inspire loyalty with your existing customers, plus gain new students by offering incentives such as a tuition credit for new student referrals. Make it easy for current students to bring a friend by holding seasonal visitors’ weeks and open houses. Include tours of your space, class demonstrations and general information seminars, and make it easy to register in person or online. By extending sibling, family or multiple-class tuition discounts, you can encourage a whole family to participate.
Remember: Give yourself reasonable time to bring enrollment back from the loss, and know that new families will be attracted to your studio when you maintain your professionalism. Focus on providing quality dance programs and offer great customer service.
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 by B Hansen Photography, courtesy of Suzanne Blake Gerety