A recreational preschool dance program is a great source of additional income, a great way to market year-round, and a great way to strengthen the future of your dance studio.
The preschool age group should be the foundation of your dance studio if your studio caters to children. The stronger this base is, the stronger and more profitable your whole studio will be; assuming that you are awesome at student retention.
Before we talk about how to add a profitable recreation preschool program, let’s define recreational. The term recreational can mean different things to different dance studios. For the sake of this article, I am describing a short term, low commitment session of classes that make it very easy for families to dip their toes in the dance studio water.
Marketing Your Program
To start marketing your recreational preschool program, I recommend reaching out to preschools in your area. Cultivate a real relationship. Offer free creative movement classes a couple times a year at their facility. Ask for the opportunity to share information about your studio’s preschool recreational dance classes in exchange for your free classes. I did this in the early days of my studio when I had more time and less marketing budget. Because it was so successful, I no longer have time to provide classes at the preschools. However, the time that I invested and the energy that I put into creating a fun and beneficial experience for their students won the respect of the teachers and administrators. They are always happy to hand out fliers about my recreational preschool dance classes. (Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that I always bring a sweet treat when I drop off those fliers.) I always deliver in person so that I can say hello, ask how things are going, and let them know how grateful I am to them for handing out my information and endorsing my studio. I also ask if they have events coming up that they would like me to share information about at my studio, and I ask them to put me on their list of businesses to hit up for a donation when they have fundraisers.
Make it Easy and Make it Awesome
Easy is the key to a successful recreational preschool dance program. Don’t create any barriers. I am amazed at how many prospective new dance parents that have been told by my neighboring studios that they will have to sign a year-long contract if they want to enroll their 3-year old in dance. (Obviously, they are calling me because that is a major turn-off. I mean take them out to dinner first before you ask for a commitment like that.) They are asking a parent that has no idea what to expect from the studio or the child to commit to paying for a year. The studio is also committing to keep a kid in class for a year that may hate it, and they are committing to keep a set of parents for a year that might be a nightmare. With a very short term commitment for newbies, everybody wins. I have tried 4, 6, and 8-week sessions. For me, 4-week sessions have been the most popular and they are the easiest to work into my studio calendar.
Keep it easy by keeping the price reasonable and make it a flat rate with no additional fees. Mention to your prospects how much they are saving by not having to pay a registration fee on your fliers, posts or ads. (Ex.; No registration fee! That’s a savings of $45.) It’s ok to make the cost of the session slightly higher than a month of classes in your regular programing because you are providing convenience.
Don’t impose a dress code that requires parents to purchase anything special. Comfortable clothes that dancers can move freely in and bare feet should be acceptable. Again, making it easy for the parents.
Make it easy to sign up. Have a user-friendly online registration and payment system as well as a friendly staff available to take enrollments and payments by phone and in person.
Be welcoming. On the first day of the session, make sure that a staff member, volunteer, or the teacher of the class is available and on the lookout to give a warm welcome to the new families that are coming into your studio for the first time as well as those that are returning. New families should get a tour of your facility and a rundown of need-to-know information like where parents should be while class is happening.
And, of course, make the classes so amazing that your new students can’t wait to come back and get enrolled in your regular classes. Create organized class plans for these brand new dancers that will make them fall in love with dance. Remember, this might be the first activity of any kind that some of these kiddos have ever done without Mom. Be ready to be patient and nurturing. Keep the classes small. Whenever possible, have an assistant teacher with you. You will tend to have a lot of students that ask to use the restroom, and your assistant can take them to their parents so that you don’t have to stop in the middle of an exercise or game and run the risk of losing the attention of your class.
Make Your New Students Stick Around
Once you’ve gotten new students in the door with your irrestably easy to join recreational program, and you’ve made them fall in love with dance with your amazing classes, it’s time to present their parents with the next steps to get more involved at your studio. On the last day of class, present each dancer with a certificate of completion with a line that says “what to sign up for next”. Have someone available at the front desk to get them signed up for the next recreational session or switched over to your regular classes
Get a free step-by-step guide to starting your recreational preschool dance program here and reach out to me with any questions that you may have at firstname.lastname@example.org.