If you haven’t already, go check out my article, How to Hold Your Dance Studio Growth Back: Part 1, where I wrote about some other great ways to make sure that your dance studio will never be able to function without you. In this article, we will delve into how to hold your dance studio growth back by being a lazy communicator. This topic includes how you communicate with studio parents, students, staff, and faculty. I am the expert at being a lazy communicator and have worked hard to put systems in place that overcome my tendency to keep my office staff and teaching faculty uninformed and my studio parents and students in the dark. I have added these systems without adding work time to my day or post-it notes to my shopping list. In fact, my communication systems save me tons of time and they save my sanity and the sanity of those around me.
I, like many dance studio owners, started my studio journey alone. For some time, I did everything myself. I didn’t have any staff or faculty to communicate anything to. Additionally, having been in a dance studio environment since I was 3 years old, I often made assumptions about what studio parents would automatically know and understand. Even with the things I did communicate, I often did it reactively rather than proactively, because the information was often delivered last minute, only after I realized I had dropped the ball by not thinking to get it to them sooner.
When I did finally have some front desk help, I would cook up plans, set dates for events, make updates to the class schedule, or set up online promotions and then fail to tell my desk staff about it. The result was that my staff was confused and frustrated and my studio appeared unorganized and unprofessional… because it was.
I also failed to have an organized plan for the time that I had a warm body there to help me. I was missing out on the opportunity to delegate work.
As I was able to add other teachers to my faculty, I defeated myself once again by making assumptions about what I would or would not need to communicate to them about everything from studio policies, conduct expectations, events on the calendar, etc.
And while I may be a lazy communicator, I don’t like to appear unprofessional and disorganized, and I do want a profitable studio with a happy vibe that students, parents, staff, faculty and myself can all enjoy and benefit from. Here is a quick list of how I changed my ways and organized my studio communications.
- I created a handbook that lays out systems for everything that should happen from opening to closing.
- I send out a monthly email to remind my office staff of special things coming up, any issues that have occurred, and special goals that I would like everyone’s energy focused on.
- I use a Google Sheet to update my office staff daily about any updates, changes, interactions with current or prospective families; basically everything I have done during the day that will affect their job in the evening. I also use it to assign specific tasks for specific days. They can leave me notes in it as well. They always look like rock stars because they know all the details of every awesome thing going on in the studio. I can update it or refer to it from anywhere.
- I created a handbook for my instructors that not only lays out policies and expectations, but also communicates our studio’s mission statement and vision.
- I provide teachers with all the important dates and deadlines for the year well before the year begins.
- I have all of my teachers sign a detailed contract for each year.
- I send out a monthly email to remind them about events, important dates, deadlines, or changes in the coming month.
- Again, a thorough handbook that they can find easily on the studio website, is a must; with policies, payment information, dress code, etiquette protocols and important dates. They also receive it in an email automatically when they enroll.
- I send a newsletter on the first of each month.
- I send a billing statement on the 15th of each month detailing what they will be paying on the 1st of the coming month.
- I keep the studio website up to date.
- I publish all of the important dates for the coming year before the year begins. I put them on the class schedule, in the handbook, and on the website.
Note: All of these communications are scheduled in my planner for the entire year before the year begins.
Whether it pertains to your staff or students, you can’t communicate plans that you haven’t planned. The biggest part of what makes my communication strategies work now is that I have a plan for the entire year before the year begins. Of course, some new things come up that get added, and some things get dropped as they are no longer advantageous. Overall, however, I am able to use my plan to communicate quickly and concisely to my studio staff, faculty and parents. This means that more gets done in less time with less stress for everyone. Studio families stay happy and students stay enrolled.