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6 ways to boost student retention at your studio

Updated: Nov 18, 2022

The key to a growing, thriving and successful studio is to have students that come back year after year.

With predictions of a recession looming, student retention is more important than ever for dance studio owners. It's absolutely more expensive to attract new customers than retain existing ones but student retention is a part of the business that dance studio owners consistently report as one of their biggest challenges.

You put a lot of time and effort into building your student base and it’s disappointing and frustrating when students leave so start by identifying your "flight risks". You can do this at any time during the year (maybe once per term) but as we move into the fourth term in Australia, now is the perfect opportunity to take an honest look at your student cohort, talk to your teaching team and pinpoint students you feel may be 'disconnected'.

Start by personally reaching out to each one - whether it's a quick phone call, a text message, or even an informal chat after class to see how they're going and if there's anything you can do to help them feel more in touch with the studio.

Conversely, if you feel like you're fighting a losing battle, make peace with it. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to inspire someone who doesn't want to be inspired. It can affect your own confidence and have a flow-on effect to the other students in the class.

More generally, there are some strategies you can implement in your studio. Read on for our list of student retention tips to increase customer loyalty and decrease churn.

Create a community

Families will be less likely to leave your studio if they feel like they're part of something. Creating a studio community outside of the classroom is one of the keys to retention so hosting fun events like movie nights or other get-togethers should definitely be in your yearly calendar (better yet if you can offer these events for free).

Don't forget your studio community extends beyond your students so make sure you include events for the parents/carers too. And although it might sound counter-intuitive to many studio owners (especially after Covid), creating a clean and welcoming waiting room can encourage parents to create studio-based friendships.

Offer customer benefits

If your tuition is higher than your competition’s you probably have good reason, but parents still like to feel that there is an opportunity for money savings in other ways. Offering multi-class discounts, regular uniform sales, customer loyalty and/or referral programs are little ways you can demonstrate that you "look after" your customers.

Be accessible

Don't be a faceless studio owner. Make sure you're regularly "in front" of your customers (students and parents) and always respond to messages, emails or requests for face-to-face meetings. Customer service should be a top priority. ILet parents know that they can count on you to answer their questions and handle their concerns in a way that is a win / win for everyone. Let your students and parents know that you are not only dedicated to your art form, but to them as well.

Give regular feedback

Providing regular feedback to your students and parents via written evaluations at your dance studio can have a HUGE impact on overall experience, your retention, and help to grow your programs.

Taking the time to provide a progress report sends a message that you care about your students and their development - the perfect opportunity to go above and beyond for your studio families.

Suggesting additional classes via your evaluations is also a great marketing tool for your other classes - especially during re-enrolment season.

Click here to grab our handy template to create a professional evaluation report that utilise year after year in your studio.

Offer ongoing education (for your team and clients)

Students aren't going to come back year-after-year unless they are being offered something different each year. If you and your team aren't not excited and inspired on an ongoing basis, your students certainly won’t be.

Create a "student journey" through your curriculum either with offers of exams or other progress checkpoints. If you can, look at offering vocational qualifications for senior students. Make sure this "journey" is communicated in your handbooks and marketing material so parents know you're committed to the ongoing education of their child.

You should also provide ongoing educational opportunities for your faculty and management team to be sure that you are always improving, creating excitement, new choreography and music in all of your classes.

Give them something to come back for

Always look for ways to incentivise re-enrolment - especially coming up to a new dance year. You might have a new class on offer, an overseas dance tour or something else exciting coming up that you know people won't want to miss out on. Be strategic in when you reveal your big announcement. For example, you might decide to announce this phenomenal event before the big break. You’ll say, “You’re going to want to come back so that you don’t miss out on this really fun experience.” Get some hype going, and give people a specific reason for staying with you.


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