There is some debate amongst dance studio owners and people that are offering coaching to studio owners about whether or not to charge for trial classes. Personally, I am 100% pro free trial class. I am so pro free trial class that I wrote an ebook to teach other studio owners how to set them up and make the most of them.
As far as I can tell, everyone wins with the free trial. It was only after I implemented an organized system for booking free trials and following up after them, that my dance studio became truly profitable and its continued growth became reliable and predictable. Free trials don’t just benefit the prospective student and their parents. Free trial classes create several benefits to the studio, aside from the obvious goal of getting new bodies in the door.
In my own studio I offer an entire week for a prospective student to try every class on the schedule that they think they may like that is appropriate for their age and ability level. In addition to making free trial classes available during my regular sessions, I host 3 open houses each year that include free trial classes in all of the styles of dance and music that my studio offers. I even set aside 2 weeks during the year to encourage current students to try classes that are different from the ones they are currently enrolled in. We call it Crazy Class Week and students are rewarded for participating. Many of them end up adding a class or two to their current enrollment.
Allowing a student to explore all of the classes that they might be interested in helps them find the classes that they will actually enjoy. I don’t know about you, but it is painful for me to have a student in my class that obviously does not want to be there. Dance class is a “get to” not a “have to”. As teachers, we work so hard to create a positive, uplifting environment. One sour apple can really make that challenging.
A student that is happy in class tends to stick around. It’s very difficult to move forward in your curriculum when your class has a new cast of characters every week. Having happy students that stick around creates stable classes that can progress together as well as adding to the financial stability to your studio.
By allowing the unlimited week of free classes, I often end up enrolling a new student in more than one class.
Observing prospective students in their free trial classes also gives your studio the opportunity to guide the student into the class or level that will be best for them. That, again, will lead to better class quality as all participants are able to work at the appropriate level together.
In some instances, those free trial lessons might even save your studio from dealing with a potential nightmare parent. It could become apparent to you that your studio will just not be the right fit for that particular family and you can both avoid future problems.
Perhaps most importantly, the willingness to invest a week in making sure that a new student finds the perfect classes builds trust in you and your studio with the student and their family. It shows without a doubt that their success and happiness is your number one priority. Even if they decide that now is not the time to start dance classes, or that your studio is not the one for them, you will have a new fan telling their friends about the good experience they had at your studio.
If you would like help implementing a reliable system to help new students find the perfect classes, make raving fans of new families, and keep your studio growing year after year, check out my ebook, Grow Like a Pro.