Whether you run a dance studio that caters to adults only or have just a handful of adult lessons throughout the week as part of your schedule, chances are you know the challenges that come along with attracting new adult students as well as keeping them engaged and motivated to return week after week.
That’s why today we are sharing the 5 best kept secrets for getting more students through your doors, re-enrolling each season and bringing along their friends and family members to your studio so that you can finally fill those adult classes and keep them full!
Take a Close Look At Your Fee Structure
Adult students are notoriously slack at committing to classes each and every week as they get busy at work, they lose focus or life simply gets in the way. If you are charging “casual” prices for your adult classes where they pay as they attend then you are not only losing a lot of your potential income, but also as the crucial ability to forecast and plan around your revenue. So what are your options? Here are our 3 favourite ways to charge for your adult classes to bring you more cashflow and financial security year-round.
1/ Weekly direct debit – this is where you enlist the services of a third-party direct debit provider to set up a recurring weekly withdrawal from your client’s nominated bank account or credit card. There is a nominal fee per transaction (usually only a couple of dollars) that you would pass on to your client. This is our favourite way to set up your payments for ALL classes – not just adults – as you can easily set up a contracted period and be assured that these payments will continue to come straight to your bank account each and every week whether or not your student attends class. You also get the comfort of knowing that any failed payments are dealt with directly by your provider which will save you time and resources in admin. There are loads of options out there such as ezidebit and debitsuccess – use your search engine to find the best fit for your studio.
2/ Full payment upfront – this is your next best option to ensure you are paid for the classes regardless of whether or not all students attend every week. Here you would issue an invoice prior to the term or season for your student to pay in full for 6 weeks, 6 months, 12 months etc.
3/ Class passes – This is still quite a common way for studios to charge for adult classes, in which your clients will pay for an 8 or 10 class card for $100, for example. Ideally this would have a 6 or 12 month expiry date so that your clients can attend any classes they like during that time frame and have their card scanned or punched each visit. This is a bit of an old-school model that still isn’t great as a predictor of your expected monthly revenue so if possible option 1 or 2 is best.
Supersize Your Class Attendance
As we said earlier, keeping the attendance rate up in your classes is possibly the biggest challenge when it comes to adult classes. If you’re a pole, aerial, ballroom, salsa, pilates, yoga, swing, social, burlesque, zumba etc studio then you know how frustrating it can be to see those numbers dwindle as the season progresses. This is where your adults need that extra bit of TLC, so it’s a great idea for you to jump in and fulfil the role of motivator and accountability sargeant even outside of your class hours! But the million dollar question is this – how can you do it week in and week out? A simple text message can be your most effective tool here – if you have studio software you can usually integrate an automated text message system so that you can send a message to multiple recipients at the click of a button. Alternatively there are loads of automated sms services online, such as EZ Texting. After they have enrolled (and you have followed the 11 step process which also involves a bit of texting) it is a great idea to send them a friendly text at the following times:
1 – The morning following their first class:
“Hi Penny! We hope you aren’t too sore from last night’s class – you did a great job and we can’t wait to share in your progress over the coming weeks! XYZ Dance”
2 – The day before their next class:
“Hey Penny! Looking forward to seeing you in class tomorrow – we have some awesome new moves planned that I know you’ll love. See you there 🙂 XYZ Dance”
3 – The morning of their next class (this is the most powerful one, as it is essentially saying “I’m expecting you”):
“Looking forward to seeing you in class tonight – don’t forget your towel, we are going to be working up a sweat! XYZ Dance
Continue sending them text messages once or twice a week, you can mix up the times and messages so that they are more personal, but the key is to make sure your clients know you value their commitment to your studio, and that you are equally committed to their progress and accountability. If they miss any classes without notice it is always best to jump in with a phone call within 24 hours to check in and reiterate that you care.
Stand Out From The Crowd
We know it seems easier said than done, but it’s so important for you to think outside the box and find unique ways of standing out from your competition with some special touches for your adult clients. This will vary from studio to studio, depending on the goals of your class or clients. You can have loads of fun with these with ideas such as:
- Branded merchandise for your clients AND their loved ones. For example, with registration you could provide a free keychain, bottle opener, hat with the slogan “My wife goes to pole classes at XYZ Studios and all I got was this lousy keychain”. You can keep it clean but cheeky, and use things like this to your advantage to build a buzz and increase your brand awareness.
- Competitions within your adult classes. If your clients are attending your classes to get fit, lose weight, finesse their skills or similar, then a “before and after” type competition is a wonderful motivator. Not only will it keep them on track to achieving their goals by offering a cash or high-value prize, but you will also be using their shots in your marketing to showcase the benefits of dancing at your studio.
- Special events. If you have a class who are attending mostly for social reasons, then have a monthly wine and cheese night after class for your students, or plan a nice dinner or outing with them. The social aspect of dance is a huge motivator for a lot of adult students, so tapping into that is a wonderful way of building your studio culture and if you get them posting about it on social media where they can tag your studio, then your referrals will skyrocket.
- Give them what they need. If you are hearing the same excuses from potential clients like “I don’t have anyone to look after my children” or “I don’t have the time”, then address those barriers and provide a service that they need. Offer a “bring your baby to class” session, set up a preschool class at the same time for their children to attend at a reduced rate, or schedule some early morning classes .
Find out where they are hanging out online
Digital marketing is going to be your best friend in attracting new students and building brand awareness of your studio – but only if done right! It’s crucial that you find out and target exactly where your ideal clients are spending their time online. Usually it’s Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest for your mature students, so start looking at amplifying your online presence in these spaces. Do not try to be everywhere at once – just go where you know that they will be.
But how can you find out where they are spending their time?
The simplest way is to ask your current clients either in person or through a survey. Then go to your enrollment forms and replace the age-old question “Where did you hear about us”? with “What are the last 3 places you heard about us?” which will give you a much better indicator of your online and offline reach.
Build Relationships And Culture In Your Community
This one takes a bit of time and energy that pays off in dividends in the long run, and is guaranteed to set you apart from your competitors. Basically it is all about establishing yourself and your studio as an expert in your field and essentially the “Go To” studio for adults to attend. Here’s an example:
You’re in an online Facebook group for local mothers, when a member asks the question “I’m looking to lose baby weight, what are some local fitness classes that this group would recommend?”.
Now, you could be like the other dozen studio owners who swoop in and say “You can have a free trial with me at ABC Ballroom Dance, here’s my number” OR you could spend some extra time offering some tips and engaging with the audience by responding: “Congrats on the new bub!! We find that a great way to gently get back into the swing of exercise is to start with some pilates-based stretching exercises like (give some examples) Also some strengthening exercises that won’t put stress on the abs like (give detailed examples). Most importantly though, enjoy your bub! The cuddles and rocking is great exercise in itself ;)”
When people start to engage in the conversation, you can then go into the specifics of your role and your studio, then give contact info. The key is to give them some value before hustling them for business.
Similarly you could partner with your local coffee shop (you’ve seen this before, right?). Typically studios or businesses will have their little discount voucher or flyer and nothing more. OR you could write and publish a one-page guide called “The Top 5 Yoga-Based Exercises That You Can Do While You Work” where you provide potential customers with a value-packed piece of free content, with a unique URL at the bottom of the page where they can contact you for more information about your products and services. The unique URL part will allow you to track where those enquiries are coming from so please don’t skip this step!
For more strategies guaranteed to boost your studio’s growth in 2017, make sure to join us for January Jumpstart today!