“Excuse me, Mr. Clint? Can I talk to you for a moment about my little Suzie? It’ll only take a minute.”
“Sure thing, Mrs. Smith. I’m all ears.”
What I really wanted to say was this: “Actually, Mrs. Smith—no. Every week you ask to talk to me for ‘just a minute,’ and end up cornering me for more like an hour (or what feels like it, anyway). I’ve heard you complain about how your Suzie is missing costume parts, didn’t get to be in the front of the line, and wasn’t invited to Sally’s birthday. You’ve told me—in great detail—about how she wasn’t asked by Miss Sarah to perform a solo number, and about how she’s recently developed a gluten allergy that makes it imperative for me to ban gluten from the studio. Let your child be a child. Let her love her dance class. And please—go find someone else to annoy.”
(Side note: journaling is a great way to get it all out on the page. Now that’s what I call cheap therapy!)
Anyhow, I remember getting stuck in this situation a few times as a Studio Owner, and I always thought it was an unavoidable (and annoying) inevitability—until I started speaking with other Studio Owners.
In fact, this very event came to mind recently as I worked with one of our Studio Success Formula members who is currently dealing with parent-related issues. Read on to see if any of the following issues strike a chord with you. Her parents are:
- Texting her late at night to complain about other students, teachers and parents
- Interrupting class with non-urgent matters
- Sending essay-length emails with suggestions on how she can improve the studio
- Holding mother-meetings in the car park after class
- And more. The list goes on…
Time to Get Real
All jokes aside, if you’re habitually running into problem parents, it’s time to examine your business to see where things are going wrong.
After working with the Studio Owner above, I was able to identify two things she needed to focus on in order to exterminate pesky parents for good.
1. Killer communication
It’s not enough to send out a monthly newsletter and sporadic email correspondence. Parents want to know what’s going on. Create a communication schedule (you can do this in a spreadsheet) with a list of all the necessary information. Include the following:
- Who. Who is this information going to?
- What. What’s a brief summary of the information you’re sending?
- Why. Why is this information important? (This will help you make your information concise—don’t beat around the bush!)
- When. When will you send this information out?
- How. How will you send this information out? (Newsletter, email, audio, video, letter, etc.)
I’ve found that over 80% of Studio Owners don’t have a communication schedule in place. When parents feel out of the loop, challenges arise. Get organised and create your communication schedule today.
2. Set Boundaries and Expectations
When a new enrollment is standing at the office window, do you find yourself falling into Yes-Mommy mode? You want that new student badly—so you just say yes to everything?
Mommy: “Can I get the uniform next week?”
You: “Of course. No problem at all!”
Mommy: “Can I pay the fee in a few weeks? We’d like to get settled into our new house first—after returning from our month-long cruise to the Maldives, that is.”
You: “You poor thing. Of course!”
Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
It’s crucial that you establish clear expectations about how you as a Studio Owner operate—and how you expect students and parents to behave as part of your dance family. I firmly believe that if you are clear on your ideal student and parent, this won’t be a challenge.
Give a list of values to all students and parents. Be firm and fair when it comes to expectations from both perspectives—your expectations and theirs as paying customers.
What does all this come down to? Communication.
If you find that you’re constantly putting out parent-fires, it’s time to revisit the way you’re communicating with your customers—both students and parents.
Now I’d love to hear from you. In the comments section below, tell me: what was your biggest takeaway from this article?
Until next time,
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