Building a great relationship with your local school can be one of the most powerful student attraction tools you have under your belt, so it’s important to have some clear goals and strategies in place to ensure your time spent is worth the investment.
After all, if you’re a studio running classes for children this is the perfect place to find bucketloads of your target market!
In the past you may have had your local school promoting your studio by handing out flyers or advertising in their newsletter but there is SO much more you can be doing if you think outside of the box. Here are our top 5 things you should be doing to work effectively with your local school.
1/ Do Your Research
It’s important that your first step is to identify which schools your current students are coming from – you can find this out easily by including this question in your enrollment paperwork, but if you don’t have that in place just ask your students. Once you have this information you can make a list of the top 5-10 schools your students are attending – don’t forget to take into account the age range within each school so you have a nice selection of junior and senior schools. When you create the list, It’s a good idea to find out the headmaster or principal’s name and contact details as this is going to be your first step in building that relationship. Get the contact details from one of your students or parents that attend that school if you’re not sure or just jump online.
2/ Nail Your Approach
A common mistake that studio owners and other business owners make when they’re going to schools is to immediately ask for them something: ‘Hi, how can I promote my studio to your students? Can I do an advert in your newsletter?’ This is asking them to do work for you, but is not going to build a long-term relationship with the school. Think about your long-term relationship, and what you can offer the school in terms of value… could you go and speak to students about a career in the performing arts? What it’s like to work full-time as a performer and the 10 tips you can give them to prepare for working in the industry? You could do an hour-long presentation with a Q&A for the last 15 minutes. Then you could hand out free class passes or gift vouchers at the end of your presentation. This is a great way to get in. Also, you can do this for multiple age groups. This is just one example of a way to get in the door and offer something to the school that will have more impact than a flyer or advertisement. Think creatively – there are a lot of things you could suggest that will be specific to your studio.
3/ Bring In Your Expertise
There could be an opportunity here for you to supply your local school with a teacher from your studio to teach dance for school sport. Some schools with a sport or dance program may have internal dance teachers to run the sessions while some others may be contracting someone outside of the school. If they have external suppliers, ensure you keep in touch and tell them that you’re interested to apply for the position when the new year starts. Teaching at the school gives you the opportunity to really build a solid relationship with the students and teachers. You can encourage the school to feature the students at the assembly where the rest of the students would see them, as well as perform representing the school at community events. This then promotes the school as well as your studio. It’s a win-win situation.
4/ Spread The Performance Bug!
If your local schools have concerts or musicals, consider offering yours or your teachers’ services to help. This is also another great opportunity to get in with the school and build a relationship. You can be paid for this work but it shouldn’t be a major revenue stream for your business – it’s about building relationships with the schools. If you haven’t been successful in building a good relationship in the past, make sure that this time around you are speaking with the right people and offering value up front.
5/ Be Persistent
Always keep in mind that schools have many other priorities, so you need to ensure you’re helping them out first. Once you make the initial approach, keep in touch with them every 90 days. Maybe it’s around a birthday or you’ve seen that the school has performed really well at a sports competition or in an academic way. This will ensure you and your studio stay top of mind all the time. Once you have built the relationship and have given value to the school, then you can speak with them about advertising your studio in their newsletter. This is only part of the strategy and your best chances of making this work extremely well is to have a longstanding relationship with the school. This process has been proven time and time again with studio owners and it’s a great way to engage with your local schools to have them become a great referral machine for your studio.
Sure, building a partnership with one or more of your local schools with take a little bit of time and energy, but in the long run this will certainly pay off as you see those students walking through your studio doors!
For more tips on attracting students to your studio and real advice from our team of experts, join us in the Dance Studio Owners Association today!