Summer Moving, Happened So Fast

Summer moving, havin’ a bla-a-ast!

Summer?  In October?  Ok, its been a crazy last few months – but I finally have had some time to write about my summer adventures!  Hope you are all having a wonderful start to your school years – I’ve missed blogging and am happy to get back to it.

A little background – I have two studio locations, with the smaller location having one dance room. We are in a strip of businesses and we are currently the second-to-last unit from the end. The last unit on our end used to be rented by a Curves (workout for women), but the owner decided to move on and the space went up for lease last January.  It sat vacant for a few months and I looked at the space, did some calculations, negotiated the price and by June, we were in contract!

It may sound like I jumped in quickly, but in reality, I tried to make sure it was a smart decision, talked it over with just about everyone I could think of who could give me some perspective and triple-checked my break-even calculations.

So here is a super short tour of what we started with, and I apologize for the poor quality cellphone pictures:

That is standing in the front of the building, looking towards the back. The doorways back there lead to a utility closet (furnace / AC units) and bathroom.

And here is standing in the back by the bathroom and looking at the front.  Our existing space is to the right (“through” the purple wall). Windows look out onto the sidewalk and parking lot and there is an exterior door to the left.  Also strangely located air conditioner to the left and yellow ladder, which did not come with the space, much to my husband’s disappointment.

Here is a floorplan to help visualize. The new space is in purple:

So as you can see, the purple Curves space is a loooong room, but with a lot of potential!  And a lot of PURPLE.  Purple walls, purple trim, purple rug. What’s hard to see in the photos is that the ceilings are actually 10′ tall – which is awesome!
After brainstorming, our potential game-plan into turning this into a functional dance studio was this:
1) Divide the space and create a waiting area – one of the biggest struggles of our existing space was the waiting room was very narrow and small.  It was impossible for anyone with a stroller to enter and would be crazy when one class was leaving and another arriving.  I wanted to make the new waiting room a little bit deeper to help fix this problem.
 
2) Adding connecting doorways – we needed to connect the two spaces together, by joining the waiting rooms and in another spot.  In the waiting room, I wanted an open doorway to make the rooms feel very open and encourage overflow from the narrow waiting room into the larger one.
I also wanted to a door connecting the two studios, but <SPOILER ALERT> apparently the wall between the two studios was filled with bricks?!  My contractor found this to be annoying and confusing (as did I).   The only other place that had just sheetrock separating the two spaces was all the way in the back through the furnace closet.  Not ideal, but as Tim Gunn says, we made it work.

I know you are anxious for beautiful before and after photos, which I PROMISE will happen, but in another post!

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Studio Owner Buzz: Negotiating a Lease

Studio Owner Buzz is a series of posts on useful tips for Studio Owners. Costume catalog reviews, business tips, and more. Click here for past SOBuzz articles
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Most studio owners got into the dance business from their love of teaching and of dance, not their love of contracts, business management and administrative details. However, being a studio owner also means being a businessperson and often that means negotiating with business people who have been in business much longer than you and will not be afraid to throw some punches.

My first year of owning my own studio, I was 22 and had no official "business" experience. Walking into a meeting to "negotiate" a lease with my future landlord, I might as well have been a lamb being brought to slaughter. I had no idea what I was talking about, and probably came off nervous and lacking experience… which I certainly was. Sure I had done my research, but that's not the same thing as actually negotiating. I ended up signing the lease for 2 years more than I had wanted to, but got more square footage out of the deal so I felt somewhat accomplished.

But you! You're smart! And are doing even more research so you can learn from my mistakes and be ready to negotiate with the big dogs.

First, let's learn about commercial leases.
Read more after the jump
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