My heart broke when I found out on Monday in dance class that all of the other boys I was in competition/performance classes with were in a film clip over the weekend and that I was the only one not chosen.

I knew why. I was too overweight to be in a film clip.

My heart was crushed. At the end of the class the teacher who was also the choreographer of the clip pulled me aside as he knew I was off my game during class and that it certainly had affected me deeply.

I remember the conversation so well… “Clint, I’m sorry we didn’t tell you earlier about the film clip over the weekend. It was a mistake and I should have had this conversation with you prior. As I’ve told you before, you are the most technically gifted male dancer in the studio but if you want to be a dancer and perform then we need to address your weight”.

This was like 16 or so years ago but it’s still so vivid in my mind. He wasn’t telling me anything I didn’t already know but it still hurt.

What happened next, changed my life.

I went from feeling like a complete outcast in that moment to feeling like the most popular kid in the playground. So what changed… the studio owner and teacher realised how impactful building an uplifting and supportive community can be.

After feeling like a complete reject for a few days I went back to the studio with my head held high and the determination to change my situation. To get healthy, to give every class 100% and to focus on my goals.

The studio had my back. All of my teachers were encouraging me, my friends at the studio were lifting me higher and I was truly on top of the world. I had found my second family and what made that happen was my shift in mindset as well as the amazing support from my peers and mentors (teachers).

These then were the people that encouraged me to open my dance studio with my friend. I know for sure that if I didn’t have that support network then my dance studio would never have happened and that means I’m not sure I’d be here writing to you today…

I often think back to this moment because it was the catalyst that changed the direction of my life. What if I wasn’t the fat kid and got into the film clip? Would I have just settled for mediocre? Would I have not realised the impact that surrounding yourself with a powerful, supportive community can bring to your life and business…

I can’t answer that question, but what I know for sure is that inside your dance studio your students join for the dance classes but they stay for the community.

So what are you doing today inside your dance studio to build community. Do you create a culture of support, inspiration, love and connection?

I wrote to you yesterday about competitors and marketing your uniqueness and so today I want you to think about once someone walks through the door… how do you ensure you give them the best experience possible…

When it comes to building a thriving studio, retention needs to be at the forefront of your mind as the studio owner.

In fact, in our recent survey to over 13,000 dance studio owners retaining students come up as the 3rd biggest challenge when it comes to owning and operating a studio.

So take some time today (even if it’s 10 minutes) and take out a piece of paper, put a big line down the centre and on the left, write down all the things you do today to create that WOW Factor for your current students and family (5 minutes), then on the right take another 5 minutes and write down all the things you would love to do to create event bigger smiles and happier customers in your studio!

This 10 minute exercise is powerful. Once you create a list then put in your action plan to make it happen now and across 2017 and I’m going to warn you… your retention will soar (keep students not only through the holidays but all through 2017) not to mention all the rave reviews you’ll get which in turn brings in referrals.

Now go out there and make a bigger difference in the lives of your students and parents 🙂



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