Compelled To Change
Change is hard, but it is often necessary or even inevitable. As much as we would love to put people, policies, and processes in place that make our studios run like well-oiled machines forever, we know our businesses evolve.
Teachers and administrative staff sometimes take the Mary Poppins Approach and “stay until the wind changes” while others embrace the studio whole-heartedly and stay for years. We are either busy with replacing staff or occupied with keeping tenured staff members motivated and encouraged.
Students come and go, too, and our marketing approach must be refreshed, refined, and redirected each season. Our facilities need improvements, repairs, and enhancements as equipment suddenly fails, buildings age, and wear and tear happens.
And, of course, the world presents new challenges that force us to alter the course of business. From a pandemic to supply chain issues, we all know what it is like to immediately “pivot” (a buzz word with which we’re all too familiar) and modify our usual ways of doing business sometimes at a moment’s notice.
We are often compelled to change out of absolute necessity, and our entrepreneurial spirit pushes us toward affecting that change. Business owners are generally industrious, ingenious, and conscientious. We recognize the need for change, find solutions, and go to work facilitating a favorable outcome.
But what if WE want to change something about our business? What if we want to make changes by choice? Can we implement changes confidently? Without guilt? Successfully?
Change By Choice
I recently changed my business model. I found myself amidst my two-room, non-competitive studio with over 300 dancers listening to the phone ring. It rang often. And when the phone was quiet, the email notifications pinged. So many people wanted to join us for dance, but I had no real place to put them. So many existing dancers needed to move forward with longer class times and elevated skills, but I had no time on the schedule to accommodate them.
Good problem to have, right…except that, with my existing business model, I had no room and no time.
After 10 successful years of offering combo classes, I decided to switch to a more “a la carte” model whereby dancers have more freedom to choose which classes they most want to take. A number of you already do this, and I watched all of you and listened.
When I first decided to make the switch, I worried. Will my staff embrace this change? Would people so accustomed to my current business model actually go for it? How would I deal with complaints? Would it make the same money? How would we fit these separate classes into shows? What if nobody signed up for Tap classes? Could I make this kind of schedule work?
After much consideration (and a lot of needless worry), I carefully and deliberately thought the whole thing through, weighing the pros and cons, scribbling it all on paper, and clarifying my ideas. I asserted the value of such a change to my staff, methodically created the schedule, and launched the new programming. We explained the options to families, and signed up dancers who were as eager and enthusiastic to join as ever before! It is working!
Make Change Happen
You CAN make changes to your studio business model, to your facility, to your staff roster, whatever, without great consternation and with great success. Here’s what I have learned so far about CHOOSING to make big changes.
Forget the fear. If you have the need to make a change, push fear aside, and remind yourself why you have that need. Listen to your gut.
Take the risk. I’m from the South, and old folks around here will tell you that “CAN’T never did do nothing.” and it’s true. You have to strike “can’t” from your vocabulary, refuse to make failure an option, and go for it.
Think it through. Change by choice takes detailed planning. Think about it. Write it down. Anticipate problems and solutions. Predict questions, and prepare your responses. Thoughtful and purposeful change is not likely to fail.
Try it on. For a week or so, pretend the change has been implemented. See it happening in your usual course of business. Watch how it would actually be applied practically each day. How does it feel to you? Do you find that it works?
Implement with confidence. I heard once that the more you’re confident about your choices, the less you have to be worried about what anyone else thinks. Yes! Make the changes you want, and smile. Stand behind them. Champion your own ideas.
Stop the guilt. When you do the right thing, when you do what’s best for you, when the changes your choose to make will improve your business, feelings of guilt are worthless. Don’t let your thoughts run away with you. (We should only ever feel real guilt if we have done something illegal or immoral. Remember that.)
Refuse to lose. Close your ears to the nay-sayers. Be prepared for push-back and ready with a strong, optimistic response. Get people around you onboard to help advocate for the changes. See your ideas through, and stay the course. Accept nothing less than successful outcomes.
Is it time to make changes in your studio? Have you been thinking about a change you’ve been too afraid to implement? Are you bearing the daily burden of some problem just to avoid the discomfort of making a change? Would a change help your business grow?
If this blog post was enough to spark your interest in CHOOSING to change something about your business, move forward. Start thinking about the change YOU want to see, and make a plan. Reach out to the IDEA community of dance studio owners, and ask for help. Contact me directly even, and I (along with my fellow Gold Alliance members and IDEA professionals) will have you believing in yourself and making changes in no time.
Making changes because we’re forced to make them? That’s hard. Making changes because we WANT to make them? That can be even harder. Start now! You can do it!
Amanda Herring LOVES her job! Owner of Center Stage Dance in Hernando, MS, she is passionate about sharing the love of dance while inspiring and encouraging everyone who walks through her door. She loves BIG and has a heart for new dancers joining a class for the first time. She takes pride in offering stellar service to dance families and specializes in efficiency, organization, fair policies, and strong communication. Her shows are HUGE with plenty of lights, effects, and stagecraft. Amanda wants her students to feel like they are a part of something big, and it is always her goal to bring more to class and to the stage than her audience is expecting.