Dance Studio Secrets is Amazon Bestseller Clint Salter’s latest book, and is your must-have collection of dance studio ownership stories and studio growth tips from owners all around the globe at different stages of their business.
Pull back the curtains for an up-close and personal look into how other studio owners are creating thriving businesses and fulfilling lives both inside and outside of the studio.
Check out this week’s sneak-peek into Dance Studio Secrets, featuring Academy For The Performing Arts CEO, Hillary Parnell.
I have so much admiration for Hillary and her ability to juggle multiple successes at one time without letting any of the balls fall on the ground. Her stamina to keep growing and innovating in her business while raising four boys is hugely inspiring. When I started planning Dance Studio Secrets, I knew right away that I wanted to share Hillary’s story.
You are a bit of a delegation goddess. What is your advice to studio owners who may not feel comfortable or confident in delegating important tasks in their business?
I think where people go wrong is they are really outsourcing things, rather than actually truly delegating things. And those are very different. If you give somebody a list of things to do, you’re really just outsourcing. You’re saying “do this, check off the list and give it back to me.” But you’re still managing that, and that energy is what’s exhausting you.
To truly delegate something, your staff has to be empowered to make decisions without you. They need to be able to run things and move things forward and do things without you saying “hey, did you order the programs? Did you order the t-shirts?” All of that should be part of their job description and they should know how to do that without needing you entirely.
If you’re not giving your staff the tools, and some responsibility and vision of their own, then you’re still bearing the burden of all of those tasks. Early on I empowered my directors by helping me to define our mission statement and brand promise.
They know how I would make a decision, and if it falls within the mission statement and also our brand promise, then the answer should be obvious.
The next step is really taking the time to train people to let them do it and make mistakes. Let them come back and ask you what you would have done differently, and stay hyper focused on that process.
Now my departments run themselves. We have a poster in the office that says, “departments make decisions”, so they remember that I will support their decision, whatever it may be. You have to be able to do that, so you have to let go of a little bit of control.
If I disagree with a decision, we’ll talk about it and say, “next time I prefer you do this.” But if they don’t make mistakes, they don’t understand why things are the way they are and you have to let them go through that same process that we all go through starting out. I didn’t glean all of this knowledge perfectly the first time and I think that makes a huge difference.
I can’t believe how well things run now without having to even involve me. Registration happen, and recital will happen whether I’m there or not. It’s great.
You have a number of thriving revenue streams within your studio, including dance photography. What processes have supported these non-dance profit centres in your business?
This also ties into the delegation process. For example, it’s recital season right now and there’s no way I could dedicate weeks of my time to work on new projects if I were still doing recital-related things like cutting music, ordering costumes and writing a program. So step one: I had all that taken care of to give me the time.
The photography initially stemmed from frustration, which I’ve heard from so many other studio owners.They’re spending a week in the studio, they’re exhausted from posing kids, from being there and dealing with the parents on photo day. Worse than that, their revenue is going right out the door to somebody who doesn’t seem to care, is too expensive and takes too long. Or sometimes the quality of the pictures are bad. The complaints are so varied when it comes to that area of the business.
I shared all those same frustrations. I also had my first son at the time and realized how expensive pictures were going to be for me, as a mom. So right then and there I thought, “you know what? Let’s just see if we can do this.”
I bought the equipment, and at first it was all trial and error because there wasn’t a YouTube video for everything. It wasn’t hard to get started After all, people were used to buying amateur pictures, but now they were buying my amateur pictures instead. I was making revenue from it so quickly that I easily paid back all the equipment that very first year, and I only did it for my competitive kids because they know me well and proved to be a wonderful first test group.
From that point, year after year, I just tweaked the system, eventually adding my Posing Guide that ensured the poses are unique for every student every year.This in turn increases revenue and takes all of the stress out of picture week because you don’t have to think at all. It’s just all right there and anyone else can pose the dancers for you.
I’ve logged all of my hours for editing, compiling and ordering for another studio this year and it was about 15 hours worth of work where we easily hit $12,000 in revenue. To have that extra boost of income right before summer is amazing, and it’s not hard work.
What advice can you give other studio owners who may be looking to innovate and expand into new projects and revenue streams?
Try things but don’t be afraid for it not to work. We’ve tried a million things over the years. We’ve had an adult program, we’ve had a kids’ Zumba program, we’ve tried cheerleading. We’ve had different programs throughout the years and I would say, first and foremost, have a good handle on what you are already doing. If you feel frantic and you’re scrambling already, don’t add anything new. Then once things settle, and you’re comfortable with what you have you can explore your ideas more effectively.
And don’t ever react with a new program. That’s a mistake I’ve made in the past, where a couple of adults enquire about a Tap class, and there’s a knee-jerk compulsion to say “okay, let’s put a tap class together!”
Make sure that you’re being profitable or that you have room to grow, and if you do it as a very clear system, an analyzed system, then you’ll either know that it worked or it failed and you’ll know whether or not to keep it.The Dance Studio Owners Inner Circlehas definitely taught me that some things work so well for some people but don’t work at all for others.
It might be your market or just your personality. Photography worked wonders for me because I actually enjoy taking pictures. If you have absolutely no interest in it and it doesn’t intrigue you at all,, it might not work because you don’t have any passion for it. You’re not going to be excited about it, so don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole.
Dance Studio Secrets is your must-have collection of dance studio ownership stories and studio growth tips from owners all around the globe at different stages of their business.
Pull back the curtains for an up-close and personal look into how other studio owners are creating thriving businesses and fulfilling lives both inside and outside of the studio, including:
- How to fill your classes in your first year of business without spending a fortune
- Cultivating a life by design that is fulfilling for you, your family and your dancers
- Navigating your growing team and evolving studio culture
- Planning for growth the right way (more students doesn’t always mean more money)
- Finding hidden revenue streams to boost your profit with minimal effort
- Scaling your business so it runs flawlessly without you there
- How to WOW your customers with an unparalleled dance studio experience
- Setting up the right business systems so that you can grow your studio and get back your life.
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