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When Your Dance Studio Isn’t Working Out: 4 Tips to Rebound

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By Olivia Mode-Cater EdM / Edited by Samantha Bellerose, B.Ed, Dip.Dance(Performing Arts)

You’ve poured your heart and soul into your dance studio as a qualified instructor or business owner, and yet you’re struggling to keep it going. Maybe it’s because of lower attendance numbers, an ineffective marketing strategy, or difficulty connecting with your students. But just because you’re going through a rough patch doesn’t mean you can’t bounce back!

When Your Studio isn't working out - Image of Empty Ballet Studio with a Ballet Barre along a wall.
Empty Ballet Studio with a Ballet Barre along a wall.

Running your own dance studio relies not just on maintaining the relationships you build with students and parents, but also on incorporating strong business practices that apply to every company, not just dance studios. That means that you might have to do more than just teach classes. For instance, to recruit new dancers, you need to effectively market your business across different channels.

Every dance studio faces unique challenges, but some best practices can help you improve your business regardless of your struggles. Here are our top four strategies you can use to get your dance studio on the mend:

  • Double down on marketing.
  • Focus on connecting with your current dancers.
  • Re-evaluate your management style.
  • Return to your business plan.

As you’re implementing these new strategies, don’t be afraid to get your current dancers involved. They will want to support your efforts to keep the studio’s doors open, so be open with your plans and share the obstacles you’re facing. As the saying goes, honesty is the best policy. 

Following these tips can help you get your dance studio in tip-top shape and ready for any challenge. Let’s get started!

Double down on marketing.

One of the best ways to help your dance studio thrive is to bring in new customers. But how can you get more dancers through the door? The answer: an effective marketing strategy.

Perhaps you’ve already been using a marketing strategy or you’ve left it up to chance. Either way, there’s no substitute for a carefully planned and executed marketing approach. By taking the time to perfect your messaging, design memorable and creative visuals, and share them with your target audience, you have the best chance of inspiring new dancers to join.

When creating and implementing your marketing strategy, you should:

  • Ask for student testimonials: No one can speak to your offerings as a dance studio better than your students. Consider asking some of your best students if they’d be comfortable sharing testimonials about what they’ve enjoyed about your dance studio. Then, you can share these testimonials across your different marketing channels to reassure potential students that your dance studio is the place to be.
  • Use multiple channels: The secret to a great marketing strategy is to capitalize on every platform that you can: social media, email, text messaging, direct mail, the list goes on. Using every resource at your disposal means that you increase the number of people who are connecting with your brand. If your funds are limited, don’t worry! You can still reap the benefits of multiple marketing channels by combining a digital marketing channel (like social media) with a physical one (like flyers posted around your community) to reach a diverse group of people.
  • Launch a referral program: Everyone loves a great incentive. Get your current dancers involved in the recruitment process by rewarding them for referring new students to your studio. For example, let’s say one of your dancers brought in three of their friends for lessons. To thank them for their recommendation, you could offer them a discount on their lessons for that month.

These days, marketing is easier than ever with tons of free tools and platforms you can use to promote your studio, meaning you can implement a successful strategy without draining your funds. Take the time to get creative so your marketing materials are inspiring and memorable. You’ll have a new cohort of dancers in no time!

If you want to learn more, DanceStudio-Pro’s guide to dance studio marketing has some great tips that can help you get started.

Focus on connecting with your current dancers.

Strong relationships are essential for a successful dance studio, and that’s why it’s important to spend this rough patch building meaningful bonds with your current students. It’s natural to encounter problems with your fellow instructors and dancers but you can work as a team to overcome them. And, if your dance studio is struggling, you’ll need the support of your dancers to get through it.

Here are some ways to connect with your students:

  • Communicate often: From schedule changes to differences of opinion, it’s crucial that you keep an open line of communication between you and your dancers. Clear communication demonstrates your professionalism, organizational skills, and customer service commitment.
  • Ask about their lives outside of dance: Your dancers have lots of other interests and hobbies outside of dance — so ask about them! Your students will probably be delighted that you’ve taken an interest in them and want to learn more about who they are outside of the studio.
  • Help them set goals: You’re not just a dance instructor, you’re also a teacher and mentor for your students. Play an active role in their goal-setting and development. Encourage them to set goals — whether dance-related or not — and do everything you can to help them achieve them.

Demonstrating that you really care about your students and their success shows that you’re passionate about what you do and that your dance studio is worth their time, money, and energy. Building loyalty among your current students can help you ride out any difficult times.

Re-evaluate your management style.

As a dance studio owner, your management style influences every aspect of your dancers’ experiences. Although it can be difficult for all of us to admit our faults, taking some time to reflect on your shortcomings as a leader can be a very healthy and valuable way to improve your dance studio.

Take a moment to reflect on your recent activities or conversations with your dancers and their caregivers. You might even try journaling or writing a list of your strengths and opportunities to gain a bird’s-eye view of your current management situation.

After you’ve taken the time to re-think your management style, you might be wondering how you can strengthen your skills. Here are some ways to improve your management style:

  • Focus on organization: Being organized is a great way to convey your professionalism and commitment to your studio. No one wants to attend a dance studio where the instructors are confused about classes or competition schedules. For this reason, consider investing in dance studio software to help you keep track of your dancers, classes, calendar, and more.
  • Check in regularly: Conducting regular check-ins with your dancers and their parents demonstrates your investment in each student’s progress. Try quarterly check-ins with your dancers to ask how they’re doing and what they think of their work with your studio.
  • Listen to feedback: According to Gingr’s guide to wowing your customers, feedback is one of the primary ways that businesses can improve their operations and create better client relationships. That’s why whenever you receive feedback, listen carefully and think of ways to incorporate it appropriately. And remember, if your dancers are willing to share feedback with you, that means they want to help you improve so that everyone has a better experience!

Dancers want to choose the best studio for their interests and needs as a performer, and a studio owner’s management style can wield a lot of influence over whether these requirements are met or not. Spending some time re-evaluating your management style and then taking any necessary next steps shows that you’re committed to keeping your doors open and helping your dancers thrive.

Return to your business plan.

If you’ve been running your dance studio for a few years, it’s easy for you to stray from your original vision. However, returning to your early plans might give you the motivation and refined strategy you’ve been looking for. As you work towards recovering your studio, it’s highly recommended that you reference your initial dance studio business plan to have some guidance.

While there are some aspects of your business plan that might not be accurate to your studio today, returning to your origins can provide some much needed guidance during the uncertainties you’re facing now.

Additionally, you can also identify opportunities in your business plan that promise growth. For example, you could begin to offer virtual dance classes, which might not have been an option included in your original plan but make sense now. Identify vague areas of your business plan and brainstorm ways to fill in the gaps. Doing so can not only bolster your business, but it can improve your studio in the process!

Although your dance studio is going through a rough patch, there are effective strategies you can use to help strengthen your business. By focusing on building stronger relationships, improving your management style, and doubling down on your marketing efforts, you can connect with your existing students and hopefully encourage more to join your studio. Good luck!