Are you looking for ways to help your dance studio grow? Nervous because families haven't pre-registered for next year? For a variety of reasons, people are tightening up their wallets once again and enrollments seem to be down. However, there are many things you can do to help boost your enrollment. Here are a variety of ideas (excluding running ads) that may help. Just remember, what works for some, might not work for you. So, consider your community and find something that works best for you.
1) Participate in events - The best thing you can do (in my opinion) is to build a presence in your community. Get out of the studio and be a visual presence around the neighborhood. There is something true to the saying "give more than you take". It will strengthen your reputation and capture the attention of those not looking for dance classes. What type of events am I talking about?
- Volunteer for summer festivals - I don't just mean perform either. While that's a good start, perhaps you can partner at an art festival's event by taking tickets. A banner at their event provides free publicity and you're out in the public serving and building positive vibes.
- Partner with the local library to promote literacy with a dance book. Story time is a great way to get those young new students involved. Organize an event that includes a story, a small craft, and a 10-minute dance session. The kids will love it!
Here's a link to popular dance picture books
- Partner with an elementary school music teacher or local chamber orchestra - Peter and the Wolf or Carnival of the Animals are great performances that support instruments and dance. If a performance is too much, consider getting a small troupe of 5-10 children together to learn a single dance to perform. They could perform for an assembly or even for individual music classes.
- Find a cause to contribute to like, Relay for Life. This is a great way to strengthen your studio's community as well as others.
- Schedule a sporting event half-time show for your upcoming season. Many sporting events have family nights and allow for community performances.
- Other events and shows to consider - Amusement parks, Trunk-or-Treat events, and local restaurants that have live music nights.
2) Schedule a family fun day/carnival- Similar to an open house, holding a family fun day for all members of the community is a great way to attract families. Turn your yard or nearest park into an afternoon of fun. Games, face painting, fun hairstyles, hair bow making, bounce house...there are so many options for all ages.
3) Add variety to your summer classes. Offer unique summer classes that are flexible and not a huge commitment to spice up enrollment. Personally, I like to offer classes I'd like to add to the following season. Students can test them out and fall in love.
You could also bring variety by leaving a 45-minute spot open in your yearly schedule for a short-term class that constantly changes.
4) Competition team or pointe class requirements - I'm not a big fan of requiring students to take multiple genres of dance, but it does work for many studios. Will it work for yours?
5) Free trials - I'm not a fan of offering discounts either. They give the impression that you're overcharging tuition to begin with and you'll attract clients who will continue asking for discounts in all things. However, it is always important to offer free trials. Dance can be expensive and many parents want to know their child likes the class before committing to a full year. So, offer a free trial week before the start of your season. You could also offer a "first class free" policy for those who miss the trial week.
If you'd still like to offer a discount, perhaps try a drawing for discounted enrollment at your end-of-season production. Returning families will be encouraged to enroll sooner and it will give you peace of mind.
6) Community welcome wagon advertisement - It may sound old-fashioned, but it is a great way to advertise to new residents. Check with your chamber of commerce to see if they provide a folder (or an actual wagon of supplies) to new residents. If they do, add a little flyer offering a free trial class. It is a minimal investment that can go a long way. You could also spice up the flyer by attaching a scrunchie or some other type of studio swag.
7) Year-round enrollment - Finally, consider switching your business structure to have year-round enrollment. Break up the year into two terms with a short recess after each term. Essentially you are shifting one long summer break into two shorter breaks throughout the year (which could save your pocket book!).
Remember, there are advantages and disadvantages to any decisions you make. Consider your community and give something a try. If it's risk heavy, poll your current clientele to assess the potential interest/outcome. The important thing is to try something. Success comes from persistence and willingness to try new things. You've got this!