General Dance Discussion > Opening your own dance studio - how?

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by pygmalion, Dec 21, 2003.

  1. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    In other threads, a few DF members have mentioned a goal of having their own dance studios. So I want to start this thread to help give them some decision making information.

    What are the things needed to open and succesfully run a dance studio? And what are the options? Franchise? Independent? What are the requirements? How does one get financing? Can any of us comment, either from the perspective of studio suppliers or studio consumers?
  2. DancingMommy

    DancingMommy Active Member

    In a word? Moneymoneymoneymoney.... MONEY! :car:
  3. KevinL

    KevinL New Member

    DancingMommy is right, what you need to open a dance studio is money. And patience. And the willingness not to make any money for the first year.

    There is a lot of small business advice on the web, all of which is very helpful.

    Check the links from the Small Business Administration website:

    I'm pretty sure there is a business plan form on there that (if you think about and answer the questions) gives you lots of things to think about that most first-time small business owners don't think about.

    I like the free marketing advice offered at Marcia Yudkin's website:

    Not all of it applies to a dance business, but a lot will be helpful.

    I'll try to think of other things later.

  4. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    One thing I've noticed about the dance businesses in my town is that they don't stay in business. It may be difficult to open a dance studio, but even more difficult to KEEP one open.
  5. MeiYin

    MeiYin New Member

    In terms of marketing, I feel there is a need for internet presence too. In my country, ppl are constantly surfing the net and checking out social media/video-sharing websites like youtube. Be there so that ppl can find out about you. Share videos of the latest event you had, set up a fb page so ppl can find you easily via your friends (its a crazy network you can get there).
    and yes! money! you need capital to get a space!
    Just some thoughts.
  6. JetQueen

    JetQueen New Member

    I would love to resuscitate this thread!! I am currently in the beginning phases of scouting out possible venues for rent to start my own studio. I'm not at liberty to disclose too many details about how this journey has begun because I do not wish to compromise the current employment of my future employees.

    I am looking to rent approx. 5,000 - 6,000 sf. with pure open space (i.e. no posts or other obstructions), that can accommodate the following;
    - competition size ballroom (floating floor)
    - good size secondary ballroom (same floor)
    - one classroom size "lab" with dance floor as I plan tUo offer DVIDA based instructor training
    - mirrored walls
    - reception area with guest 'lounge' w/ vending machines
    - managers office and Dance Director's office
    - 3 bathrooms (to be kept clean, lol!)
    - a/c to be supplemented by ceiling fans
    - nice staff lounge with kitchenette and dishwasher
    - loads of safe and well-lit parking
    - utility closet
    - dressing area w/ make-up tables (one of my pros will be offering competition hair/make-up workshops and services)
    - if there is room I'd like to have a small area for consigned ballgowns and also offer catalog sales of shoes

    BTW, I have several pieces of pilates and gym equipment but don't know if that is something my students and staff would make good use of...the studio space needs to be used effectively. Thoughts, anyone?

    I already have an incredible Dance Director and two pros who among themselves will be bringing (without solicitation) private students to equal no less than 60 hours of private instruction/wk before we even open the door. These three are capable and willing to teach about 12-16 group classes/wk until we add more staff. One pro is heavily involved with his student in ProAm with very high rankings on the circuit. He and the other pro plan to partner up and compete together and I plan to move heaven and earth to support them.

    Financially I am blessed to not have to service any debt to fund this but I am a very cautious person with my finances. That said, however, I don't want to cash- flow this indefinitely either, KWIM? This is the due diligence phase and I am just beginning to flesh out all the details. I do have an excellent attorney, accountant , webmaster, in- house IT guy, photographer (we will trade out services), investment advisor as well as the invaluable support, guidance and counsel of one of the premier ladies of ballroom in the area.

    In a perfect world I would like to reach out to other studios so we can hold team comps and combine our resources to invite the best possible pros to town for serious workshop events for our students and staff. We have no ballroom community here and ( in my humble opinion) the studios do need to come together in some capacity if we want to survive economically and for ballroom to sustain itself culturally. My background is in business with a heavy emphasis in marketing and I just happen to love ballroom dancing. I am currently in teacher but my best contribution will be as an owner/manager. Additionally, I have worked effectively with the public all of my life and this is a people business too!

    My vision is to create a venue that not only embraces the casual social dancer, but also a think tank where the talents and goals of the students and staff can be sustained and broadened. There will be on- going workshops (pro coaching for staff) and strong studio support for professional goals. It is my sincere hope that if my staff is happy then our students will reap all the benefits:)

    We are truly excited to tackle this adventure. The personalities of my crew is that of kindness, light-heartedness, high moral character, discretion and extreme professionalism - each has been closely watched and observed for over a year and selected by me. I feel, they are among the best of the best in all ways (each has that all-important heart of a teacher) and I am willing to protect them but also back them as pros and human beings. Yes, i will essentially, be putting my money where my mouth is!! There will be an open door policy for students and staff. All will find respect from strong, fair and firm management and everyone will know where they stand at all times.

    Please forgive me for rambling everyone! I meant this to be a brief post to rekindle the thread and I went way overboard. My apologies!

    My future students and staff and I would be eternally grateful for the input of this intelligent and thoughtful forum. I thank you in advance and wish you happy and healthy dancing:)
  7. bia

    bia Well-Known Member

  8. JetQueen

    JetQueen New Member

    Thanks so much for the links bia! I had located one of those but completely missed the others. A sign that I should probably slow down, lol!
  9. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the DF, JetQueen.
    There are a business few considerations for you.
    1) Spaces large enough for a competition floor without posts, and in a good neighborhood for a dance studio, are not so easy to find.
    2) Have you developed a detailed business plan, accounting for costs, revenues, dance programs, etc? That will give you a good estimate of what your reasonable price range for rent will be.
    3) You're probably going to need to alter the space you rent for a change of usage. You will need an architect who can work with you to get the necessary permits from your city.

    Unless you are fortunate enough to buy out an existing ballroom, or you own land on which you can build, you will probably be converting warehouse or light industrial space.
  10. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    I've owned ( and built ) nearly 20 studios in my career.

    Will give some thought to your post,and hopefully, some guidance .
  11. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    T/Tiger has covered some salient points.. would like to add the following..

    MOST important.. LOCATION; research the area of your choosing ( and, it doesnt matter if others are close by ) .

    To consider.. sometime its a much wiser financial decision to buy a property and re design interior. This method builds you equity and a much more attractive saleable business in the future .If renting, see if you can get financial help in the " build out ". Ive had success with that many times ( you are improving their property ) .

    The size of the city/town in which you reside, may open up other attractive revenue possibilities ( wedding rentals etc.. build a small stage ) .

    Also, if a larger population, then 3 main rooms are very desirable.

    Ive had in the past, one for ballroom/smooth.. 1 for latin and 1 for classwork .

    Make sure you have adequate parking, and, see if you can obtain an alcohol licence, the rental side will benefit .

    Make sure you have business contracts with your "employees ", unless you are going the contract labor route .

    And, make sure you advertise well in advance of opening , and, get a good, large sign on the frontage .
  12. nucat78

    nucat78 Active Member

    A suggestion from a consumer: Don't run 6-8 classes / lessons in one room simultaneously with music blaring so loudly that the teachers have to shout to be heard - it's horribly distracting IME and a good way to drive students away.

    DP & I have run across two studios like that and agreed we'd never take a class at either again. (But maybe that's just us.)
  13. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Nope. It's not just you. :cool:
  14. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    JetQueen--besides that toothlesstiger said...that is tens and tens of thousands in investments of loans to create. Do you REALLY have the market to support it, would be my #1 question? You're going to need a lot of students and not entirely cheap socials to cover your costs. Can your area support it?
  15. bia

    bia Well-Known Member

    And how are you going to get new students in the door? Your background in marketing will help, I'm sure. One thing I've seen work for studios I've gone to is for the teachers to teach affordable beginning classes for other already-established organizations, hosted either at that organization's facilities or at the studio -- university ballroom clubs, informal classes through universities, local school systems, town parks & rec, senior centers, etc. Then the organization does the publicity (or at least some of it), and you've got an easy, non-intimidating way for people with just vague curiosity about ballroom to try it out. And those who want more are likely to come to your studio for it, since that's where the teacher they know and like teaches. Those classes don't necessarily pay for themselves directly, but I'd consider them a worthwhile advertising investment. (It worked for me -- I spent a good number of years at the studio owned by one of the teachers for my university club. Didn't even bother to research others, and only left because I left town.)
  16. abundancer

    abundancer New Member

    what do you mean by money, money, much?
  17. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    Welcome to DF, abundancer. Money to pay for a space for a studio. Money to build it out to your specifications. Money for marketing. Money to pay staff until you have enough students. Money to pay for insurance, money, money, money.
    How much all depends on the specifics of where and how you try to open. In my area, a build out from scratch could easily cost $100k. Buy out the right failing studio and you could probably get it for cheap.
  18. abundancer

    abundancer New Member

    Hi Toothlesstiger, Thanks for the info. Where do you live? What dance training do you have? Do you follow the medal system?
  19. abundancer

    abundancer New Member

    Hi Kevin, what type of dance training do you have? Do you use the medal system in your school? Thanks
  20. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Hi abundancer! Welcome. :-D

    Kevin hasn't been active here in quite some time (a loss, as he was a great resource and a nice guy.)

    Maybe someone else can help. :)

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