The last year was tough for dance studios across the board. With the necessity of social distancing, dependence on virtual classes, and a lack of regular revenue, dance studios were forced to pivot quickly to maintain operations.
While some jobs easily adapt to the work-from-home model, dance studios are a little more challenging to manage when remote. Common obstacles include teaching dance classes in person while remaining safe, transitioning to online classes while staying valuable, and maintaining studio growth while being mindful of potential budget issues. This is where tech solutions and management software come in.
We, at CommunityPass, are experts in recreation center and afterschool program management and also understand the struggles of managing traditional in-person activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Investing in capable scheduling and virtual class management tools was crucial last year, but are tech innovations here to stay?
We’ve found that a flexible business model and a 100% SaaS (software as a service) tech solution can prepare you for the ups and downs that may come with your dance studio. With this in mind, we’ve compiled the following tech trends that dance studios should keep in mind for this year and beyond:
- A focus on quick communications between students, parents, and teachers
- The need for remote management capabilities to keep dance programs on track
- Flexible tuition payment options to meet parents’ financial needs
- Intuitive reporting and dashboards to set your dance studio up for growth
- Software that supports a contactless experience for dance studios
Ready to learn more? Let’s begin.
1. A focus on quick communications between students, parents, and teachers
From new state legislations to health protocols, many of your previous dance studio programs had to change operations quickly this past year . In fact, you likely had to cancel classes or switch to online learning without much notice.
If there’s anything that your dance studio learned, it’s that quick communications are crucial. It ensures that everyone is on the same page at a moment’s notice, including your staff, students, and parents.
This is where an integrated communications system comes in handy. With connections between your communication tool, your student database, and the program scheduling tool, you now have one centralized data source to pull key information.
Managers like you can use an integrated system to send automated texts and/or emails based on specific triggers and use data to segment recipient types and create more targeted communications.
How might this look in action? Let’s consider the following scenarios:
- A dance class has to be canceled due to a weather warning. Use your email and text tools to send a mass announcement to all relevant recipients.
- One of your in-person classes must pivot to virtual due to a positive COVID-19 case. Send an email to those students and parents explaining what’s happening and how to participate virtually.
- Need to remind students of important calendar dates? Schedule email reminders in advance for holidays, picture day, and even tuition payment due dates.
With an integrated communications system, you can even automate the process of personalizing communications. You can populate emails with the recipient’s name and other personal details in your database.
Having the ability to contact all of your students and their families at once is critical now and for the future—you never know what might come up.
2. The need for remote management capabilities to keep dance programs on track
When social distancing guidelines swept the nation, various programs like yours needed to offer virtual learning options. At CommunityPass, we saw this happen firsthand for our school clients, with many of them turning to school management software to facilitate program management while not in-person.
Similarly, your dance studio needed a reliable solution to help them oversee classes and students even while working from home. In particular, a 100% SaaS system with cloud accessibility is your best bet. This way, you can access pertinent tools and real-time data from anywhere at any time and on any device.
Whether your students are dancing socially distanced in person or are learning through Zoom, use your management tools to:
- Create new classes with capacity limits, auto waitlist management, and age/gender control options
- Access attendance/check-in information that is taken digitally on tablets for accurate, real-time data
- View all classes from one system, including different sessions as well as your full-year programs
- Allow instructors to communicate with parents and access attendance data
- Pull up student medical history quickly in case of emergencies
Cloud-based tools that allow for remote management not only benefit you and your staff but ultimately ensure that everyone has access to the same information. You don’t want to answer a phone call from a parent asking where their child is and provide them with inaccurate information.
3. Flexible tuition payment options to meet parents’ financial needs
This year has been economically challenging for many of us. According to the Census Household Pulse survey, around 81 million adults (35% of adults in the US) reported that paying rent and other monthly fees has been harder to cover. The survey also noted that those with children had particularly more significant hardships.
Parents will be much more careful with their spending and will prioritize their budgeting differently this year. To ease the burden on your students and their families while still encouraging them to attend dance studio classes, we recommend offering flexible and convenient payment options.
Look to your management solution and make sure you have the following financial capabilities:
- Auto bill pay with card on file so that parents don’t have to worry about filling in card information over and over again
- Deposit options and payment plans to allow families to pay when is most convenient and easiest for them
- Automated discounts based on siblings, multi-class registrations, and other triggers
Not only do these features help ease parents’ worries when it comes to paying bills on time, but they also reduce late payments and cut down on invoice processing costs on your end as well.
4. Intuitive reporting and dashboards to set your dance studio up for growth
Your students and their families were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequently, so was your dance studio. You might have even had to temporarily close doors to comply with guidelines and figure out the next best business steps.
While some studios were able to receive government aid, this was often not enough. For instance, some dance studios in LA couldn’t even cover rent with their loans from the Paycheck Protection Program.
At this moment, it is unclear whether the government will offer further financial help. To maintain (and hopefully grow) studio operations during unpredictable economic conditions, it’s recommended that you look to your data.
Your management solution should offer dashboards, centralize key data points, and display a visually engaging view of essential metrics. Specifically, having a financial dashboard can prove to be extremely beneficial at this time. This way, you can actively ensure that the studio is set up for growth, tracking its progress, and staying within proper budgets.
Along with this dashboard, make use of reporting tools. Both custom and pre-built reports will help make sense of your data, providing insights to help you make informed decisions that grow revenue. It’s also handy to pinpoint areas of weakness.
5. Software that supports a contactless experience for dance studios
At the beginning of quarantine, we saw dance studios across the country turn to technology and virtual platforms to continue their lessons. While this was a great temporary solution, everyone is eager to incorporate in-person teachings back into their programs. Dance is based on feeling the rhythm and emotion of movement, something less intuitive when there’s a screen barrier.
Right now, you’ve likely already begun to offer in-person classes or plan on it sometime later this year. This all depends on your current state and city guidelines. While in-person learning is exciting for both students and instructors, it’s still critical that your studio take proper precautions when it comes to making sure that everyone is safe.
Your very own dance studio management solution can help by promoting as much of a contactless and safe experience while still teaching in-person. You just need to know how to use it. Here are some key tips to follow:
- Keep dancers socially distant with set capacity limits for each class
- Focus the majority of communications online with email and text or phone
- Encourage families to pay and register online
- Provide COVID-19 specific digital waivers and forms with mask mandates
- Comply with contact tracing protocols with real-time attendance data
- Sell digital admission tickets to dance performances
- Host an e-commerce store where parents can buy uniforms and costumes by filling out customized forms with the right size and color
Make sure that all of these digital engagements are also accessible through mobile devices. You might even create your own dedicated dance studio app as an easy and contactless way for students and parents to communicate with instructors, register for classes, and more.
We at CommunityPass know that arts programs, recreation centers, afterschool programs, and other similar operations were all hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we also saw how a flexible business model and key management tools make a world of difference. This is no longer just a temporary solution, and a 100% SaaS solution will be your best bet for success not only now but way into the future.
Your dance studio needs to be prepared for anything. Ensure you have the capabilities to quickly pivot classes to virtual, offer personalized and convenient payment plans for parents, and adapt to new changes without any hiccups. Good luck!
Joseph Oriente is the President and Founder of Capturepoint, creator of CommunityPass software. Joe established Capturepoint in 1999 and launched CommunityPass in 2003, which was initially created to provide online registration and payment for a local town sports council that was overwhelmed with an increasing number of paper registrations. Since then Joe has been responsible for expanding CommunityPass nationally to become one of America’s most well-respected and complete online management solutions with registration, membership, and facilities software serving the recreation and school markets.