I was furious. Absolutely steaming…
I stood there with the pages of the performing arts section of the local newspaper open to see the studio just a few blocks over essentially copying our advert from the week before. Colors, wording… the lot!
This wasn’t the first time and it wasn’t the last.
I’ve owned and sold three businesses now, a dance studio, an online dance magazine and a dance competition and it’s continued to happen over and over again. But over the years I have cultivated a superpower to help me deal with this but more importantly, I’ve used it to grow my businesses.
More on that in a second…
I’m sure you have been in a similar situation right?! You work hard on a student attraction campaign, implement a new student/parent handbook, create a recital/concert theme all to have the studio up or down the road do the same thing.
When it comes to keeping an eye on what the other studios are doing in your area there are 3 categories you can fall into.
- Stalker – This is the studio owner that is checking the social media accounts of their competition daily. Obsessing over everything they are doing and spending way too much energy thinking of ways they can get one up on them.
- Unaware – You go through your day, weeks, months and years just focusing 100% on your business. You have zero idea of what other local studios are doing.
- Vigilant – You keep tabs on what local studios are up to (each month or so) but it doesn’t take you off course because you have absolute clarity on your studio’s values, mission and vision.
In my experience after working with thousands of studio owners to date, the successful ones sit in Camp C – Vigilant.
It’s beneficial that you know what your competitors are up to but when you get all stalker like (single white female style) this is what negatively impacts on the growth of your business. When you start to become obsessed with your competition it takes you into reactive mode meaning everything you do is in reaction to them. This causes your studio to lose creativity, you’ll lack innovation which as a result means you’ll lose students and teachers.
The good news though… that doesn’t need to be you!
What I learned all those years ago when I noticed other studios copying ours, which was making me want to eat my face, was that after about 2 years of this torture the only reason I was getting angry was because I thought they would take business away from me. The reason I thought that was the case was because I had NO PLAN myself of what I wanted the business to look like, I wasn’t following a strategy, I was just doing whatever I felt like.
This was the DUH moment I needed and I’m glad it didn’t take longer than 2 years to knock me in the head.
You see, when you can see what the next 12 months looks like in your business, how many students you want, your retention rate, your financial plan, you teacher training dates etc then you have direction, you have clarity of where you’re headed which means it’s a lot harder to go off track and get distracted by your competition.
I liken it to a recent Uber experience I had. I was going to the airport from the place I was staying and generally when you get in an Uber you just sit there, relax, eat all their mints (maybe that’s just me!) and you end up at your destination with zero to little effort from you because they have the directions. In this case I was the one giving him the directions and I was not given the skill to navigate so as you can imagine it took us an extra 30 minutes, we made a few wrong turns and it kinda stressed me out.
I’ve seen these two scenarios play out in studios everyday. There’s the one with the plan and the one without. A plan gives you direction, clarity and power. And this is what I want for you in 2018.
Now is the perfect time for you to be thinking about what your studio will do in 2018 to make it your best year in business. To get you off to a great start, I’m going to give you the 4 core areas of your studio you need to plan for growth and development in:
- The “Attract” sequence that gets new parents and students paying attention to your studio!
- The “Enroll” sequence that not only gets students through the door but has them signing the enrollment forms the first day they come in.
- The “Stay” strategy that has your students staying at your studio for longer.
- The “Refer” strategy that has your students and parents turning into raving fans who bring their friends to you.
This is the foundation. This is where you need to start every year and these are the areas you need to review regularly to make sure you’re on track.
If you’re interested in this full planning process then I want to make sure you register for my FREE Studio Success Masterclass on Monday September 11th, where I will give you everything you need to stay one step ahead of your competition and ensure your 2017/2018 season is your best yet!