The Myth of Online Enrollments

Ever wish you could automate student enrollments at your studio?

As I’m sitting down to write this entry I’ve just finished a consulting call with a new studio owner. She’s owned a studio in the past, has recently started teaching again, and has recommitted to doing things the “right” way this time.

On the call the very first thing she asked me was how to use the Compete Services software to do online enrollments. My experience has taught me that studio owners have learned from other dance studio management software companies that this is absolutely the pinnacle of automation. Why would you run your studio any other way? Just put up a website and add our online enrollment software. Students will magically fall right into your hands. You don’t ever have to hassle with enrolling students ever again. Think of the time you’ll save. Think of the money you’ll make!

But, the reality is that it simply doesn’t work that way.

I’m a numbers guy. I want results that are repeatable, sustainable, and reliable. I don’t want “good ideas” that don’t really pan out in the real world. Show me a studio that is getting better results with some sort of online enrollment system than I am with my system and I’ll switch. You’re not going to be able to, and the reasons why might not be so intuitive.

(Now, before you read on, let’s make one thing clear. The Compete Services software can do online enrollments, and there are a couple of scenarios where using that service might make sense. But, you should absolutely consult with us before diving right in and using it. There is a really good chance that we’ll be able to find a better way of doing what you’re trying to accomplish.)

Reason #1

It creates more work, not less work. This happens lots of ways.

Most studios underestimate the amount of work that goes into setting up and managing something like this. Do you have to charge each student a consistent amount for each class? What about family discounts? Do you offer discounts for students enrolled in multiple classes? Is there a certain time of year that enrollments are open? Does tuition vary depending on the time of year a student enrolls? What about registration fees and down payments? The list of variables go on and on. How many are you going to really track? Just because software can do something does not mean that it should. (Go back and read that line again.)

What happens when a student enrolls in the wrong class? Do new students know exactly what level they’re supposed to be in? On the first day of class you end up with frustrated teachers, and frustrated students. Your schedule might have to be redone because you had expected a certain enrollment, and actually ended up with something else. New students and staff members lose respect for your studio.

Do you really expect new students to be able to look at your schedule, pick a class, enroll in that class, and show up for that class prepared with no input from you and your staff? Naive! Unprofessional!

Reason #2

It forces you to compete on price.

Think about it. Supposedly, people are looking for dance classes online and find your site. They can enroll online and see the prices listed. What’s to stop them from searching for cheaper prices at studios in the area? How would you know if they were doing this or not?

Are you really looking for bargain shoppers that are willing to sign up for a class sight unseen? Or, do you want to attract committed students that are training with you because they truly believe you offer the best value even though you charge much higher prices?

We do not recommend you compete on price. We do not want to be the Wal-mart of dance studios. We avoid any strategies that require us to compete on price.

Reason #3

It causes bad student organization.

What happens to your student database when a current student tries to enroll in a new class. Do they have to create a new student record? Will you end up with duplicate students in your list?

This is bad software design in the first place. Imagine this scenario. A student registers for a class one day by visiting your site and filling in all of their information. The next day decides to enroll in another class. Rather than logging in and adding a class they simply visit your site and fill out the form for the other class. You now have two different students in your system enrolled in two different classes, but they represent the same person!

How long will it take you to figure this out? How will this mess with your studio statistics, your attendance policies, future marketing efforts, and your customer service strategies.

Never expect a user (especially a new one) to use your software the way you expect them to.

Reason #4

It’s a customer service nightmare.

If I’m trying to enroll in a class on your website and I encounter some sort of problem what do I do? Do I call you? Should I email you? Do I give up and call the next studio on the Google results page? Are you and your staff trained to help troubleshoot a technical problem with the software?

If I call or walk in to your studio and want to enroll  do you direct me to the online enrollment feature, or stop what you’re doing and help me right now? What would your staff do?

This might be a minor reason not to use online enrollment features, but it is definitely a drip in the bucket. Every negative experience a student has with your studio counts. This is doubly true for new students.

Remember, the likelihood of something going wrong is directly proportional to the number of moving parts in the system.

Reason #5

It becomes very difficult to track statistics that are vital to your studio growth.

Maybe you aren’t far enough along in the studio business training that we offer to know how important many simple statistics are to your studio health. One of the most important stats to track is the number of students that are invited to enroll that turn down the offer. (And, as a corollary, why they didn’t enroll.) That one statistic can make or break a studio. With online enrollments it becomes virtually impossible to track.

On the other hand, with enrollments done by humans it is ridiculously easy. It can literally be done with a pen and a post-it.

Let’s take this one another step further. What do you do if this statistic is too low? Can you retrain your software to be a better sales closer? Not as easily as we can retrain a staff member to do the same.

Reason #6

It’s a red flag that the system you’re looking at doesn’t really know how to run your kind of business.

Online enrollments sounds like a good idea, right? Who doesn’t want a magic studio that fills itself with students and only requires a teacher and a dance floor? Reality is, whoever sold you on this idea probably doesn’t know what they’re talking about. For sure they’re not making as much money and enrolling as many students as they could be. Don’t let software salesmen sell you on how to run your studio. Trust people that are doing it.

The Good News

There is light at the end of the tunnel. The solution is not any more difficult. Call us and set up a consulting appointment. We can get you and your staff trained to easily and efficiently handle enrollments and track your statistics. Then you hand everything else over to us. You don’t have to worry about late payments, mixed up accounts, even human errors you might make entering data. Our friendly professional staff will help manage it all!

Ready to get started?

 

Ballet instructor up for national award

Classical Ballet Academy  is another successful studio.  Compete Services proudly handles their tuition billing for them.  We think they’re amazing, and the studio owner Jennie Creer King is up for a national award.   Check out this article.

2012-10-26T08:30:00Z2012-10-26T08:50:50ZLocal ballet instructor up for national awardCody Clark – Daily HeraldDaily Herald
October 26, 2012 8:30 am  •  Cody Clark – Daily Herald

Do you have a favorite teacher who lights up your life? Jennie Creer-King, founder and director of Classical Ballet Academy in Provo is among the 2012 nominees for the Women Who Shine awards handed out by Web portal Yahoo!

Voting from visitors to Yahoo! (shine.yahoo.com/women-who-shine) will determine which of the women nominated in eight categories — Creer-King is nominated in the Teacher category — will be chosen to receive awards. There’s also a grand prize award that includes a $10,000 cash prize.

A graduate of the University of Utah with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in ballet, Creer-King is a former dancer for both Ballet West in Salt Lake City and Oregon Ballet Theatre. After serving as assistant professor and director of the Theatre Ballet at Brigham Young University for five years, Creer-King established Classical Ballet Academy in 2004.

Creer-King is also a former winner of the Mrs. Utah United States title.

Women Who Shine voting is open through Monday. Award winners will be announced Nov. 12.

The Secret to Growing Your Dance Studio Without Going Crazy

There is a lot to do in your dance studio business. You can’t do it all. At least not all at once, and not on your own. Most of us dance studio owners have tried to do too much at one time or another and begun to feel the burnout. It is enough to make you crazy.

Ultimately, your success as a dance studio owner will be tied to how well you are able to manage your time, prioritize what needs to be done, and how well you can get others to help you accomplish goals. Getting the right people on your team, helping them to build the same vision, and keeping them motivated is a real challenge in and of itself.

When you first join CompeteServices.com one of the first things we do our best to help you manage is your time. Your time is so much more valuable than anything else. You and your staff shouldn’t be spending your time running after late payments, updating student accounts, taking checks to the bank, or doing anything else with student tuition. That’s what we do, and we’re good at it.

Once you’ve freed up some time we can get to work on everything else that needs to get done. Our business and dance marketing consulting and training are second to none. We’ve helped hundreds of dance studio owners build their business and reach their goals. Most importantly, we’ll help you do it in less time, and for less money than you’re currently spending. It’s all about automating everything. You set it up once and then move on to the next thing.

We’ll show you marketing strategies that will flood your dance studio with prospective students. We’ll show you how to enroll these prospects at the highest possible tuition rates. We’ll show you how to make sure you keep them actively training and paying tuition for as long as possible.

A Business Mistake Dance Studios Make

I’ve spoken with a couple of dance studio owners lately that are very interested in doing a lot of marketing  to drive new students into their studio. This is actually a mistake for them for several reasons.

First, they’re not charging enough tuition. They are positioned right in the middle of what everyone else in their area is charging. They should be somewhere close to TWICE what others are charging. There is simply no other way to increase your income as quickly as raising your current tuition.

If you haven’t already, contact us and we’ll send you a copy of “6 ways to Raise Your Tuition and Have Your Students Thank You For It.”

Second, they’re not very good at retaining the students they have over the long-term. On average, if you’re losing more than 5% of your student base per month you should really be focusing on committing all students to training for longer terms and upgrading them to more expensive programs. This is a HUGE step to making your studio more successful. Call us to set up a consulting call and we can talk more about this.

Third, the marketing needs to be designed in a way that pre-frames, and pre-qualifies their prospects. In other words, it needs to get people thinking about you the right way, and it also needs to make sure you get the RIGHT kind of people through the door.

How do you guarantee that new prospects will be willing to pay the higher tuition you’re charging? How do you convince them to train with you for the long-term before they even call you? How do you ensure that a majority of the people coming through the door can afford your classes?

We’d love to talk to you about how you can accomplish all of this, and in the right order. Do it wrong and you’ll be stepping over dollars to get to dimes, like so many other dance studio owners.

Hope to hear from you soon!

 

 

Higher Tuition Prices for Dance Studios

I just got done with an impromptu visit at my studio from the marketing manager from a local group of dental offices in my area. We’re working on some cross-promotional marketing together. One of my staff members had stopped by their office to leave some rack cards (one of our more successful simple marketing strategies) and chatted with him briefly. He wanted to bring by some free stuff for our own staff members and we had a short discussion about marketing.

He belongs to an organization that does marketing research for dental offices nationwide and he shared some interesting information with me. Their office is currently running a $59 intro package that includes a cleaning, x-ray, and exam for new patients. They recently raised this from $39. The marketing organization he belongs to had tested a couple of different price points for this new-patient program. They found that independent of location, the higher prices pulled more new clients.

While my marketing buddy seemed surprised by this, it didn’t surprise me at all. Because of my experience with Compete Services I know that the higher priced studios are virtually always more successful. People want the best, not just the cheapest, and they correlate higher prices with higher quality.

That’s why one of our first steps with new clients of Compete Services is to get them to increase their tuition SIGNIFICANTLY. It’s so hard for studios to do. They’re afraid. They’re afraid they’ll lose their students, or that new ones won’t sign up. We’ll help you do it, and it will work. You won’t lose students, and the new ones will come in faster than ever before.

But, you’ve got to make sure you’re doing it the right way. Give us a call and we can send you a copy of “6 Ways to Raise Your Tuition and Have Your Students Thank You for it.” We’ll also schedule some time for you to talk to one of our senior consultants to learn more about how Compete Services can help you reach YOUR goals.

Stop collecting your own tuition and use all that free time to build your program the way you know you should. We’ll help!

Tips for Building a Passionate Business

I had an interesting experience this weekend. I was up in the middle of the night updating some new systems on Compete Services. I had the TV playing in the background and  PBS was running a cooking show that featured a guy in Vermont that ran a pizza restaurant.

This guy didn’t just run any old pizza restaurant. This place had a huge wood-burning pizza oven built from river stones gathered from the region. He cooked all of his sauce over an open fire pit in a giant cast-iron cauldron, and used only locally sourced ingredients, including Vermont maple syrup.

The interviews with this pizza chef had him talking about how he felt that his mission was to give people comfort in a healthy way. He was passionate about making food better, not just easier or faster. He believed it was important for his staff to have a physical connection with the food they were making and serving to their customers. He had
obvious oppinions about how to make and serve pizza, and he was passionate about it.

By the end of the program I wanted to move to the forest in the Northeast and open a pizza shop!

What does this have to do with running a successful studio? A lot actually. As you’re getting your business and marketing systems in place you need to make sure that you’re developing on top of a mission. A mission that you’re passionate about, and that is bigger and more important than the arts that you teach.

How is what you’re doing enriching lives? How is it building community? How is it creating future leaders? How can you show this to people in a passionate way?

If you can do that you’ll generate more than just more students and more income. You’ll get your staff behind you 110%. You’ll get parents that are willing to bend over backwards to help you succeed. You’ll get students that are growing in a healthy, safe, and nurturing environment, and that will be more successful in life.

Sound like a good idea? Would you like to learn more about building a business like that?

Stop collecting your own tuition and get on the phone with Compete Services. Have a serious talk about what it will take to free up your time so you can focus on what’s really important.

We’re ready. . .  are you?

Click here to learn more about all Compete Services has to offer.

Dance Studio Tuition Billing

We understand that it might be hard to believe that hiring someone to do something for you can save you money and also make money for you, but that’s exactly our job!

We are passionate about collecting tuition and have set up a system to help you and your studio not only avoid the hassles of tuition collection, but to learn how to make more money as well.

You see, we make our money only if we collect and deliver for you. The more we can help you do the more money we make as well. This awesome relationship makes both of us invested in your success.

Dance studios all over the country, teaching all kinds of different things are enjoying the freedom they get by using Compete Services to collect their tuition for them. They can spend their time on what they love and are passionate about.

What are you waiting for? Get started right away!