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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SOBuzz: Snow Days… When to Close?

If you live in the northeastern US – well, ANYWHERE in the US this past month, you probably just got hit with some bad or unexpected snow.  My friends in the southern states also just dealt with high winds and flooding and all of us in New York are experiencing the brunt of winter’s worst…  So whether its snow storms, flooding, or high winds…how do you decide when to close the studio or cancel a performance? 

When to close?
One easy way to decide when to close is looking at your local school districts.  Generally they have their information up early in the mornings.  I decide my closings for morning classes by 8am.  If the local schools districts are delayed by 2 hours or closed, I cancel morning classes.  With one hour delays, I will check the main roads myself and then make a decision.

For afternoon and evening classes, it is a tougher decision.  I base my decision on the evening weather forecast and how far my instructors have to travel.  I have a few instructors who commute 30-60 minutes to teach and ofter their area gets hit worse with bad weather.

Canceling a Performance
This is one of the hardest calls to make, but is it really worth it to put parents and students at risk to hold a performance for a small audience? No performance– no matter how many hours– is worth that risk.

Should I Offer a Make-Up Class or Refund?

The view from my  window is depressing these days

For classes that clients pre-pay for, such as semester, monthly or yearly tuition, it is good business etiquette to offer a make-up class if you are not giving a refund.  If you offer multiple classes of the same level, you could allow students to attend a second class during the week to make-up their missed class.

For classes that are pay-per-class, no make-up class is necessary since no one is out any money.

We have found that if we plan snow make-ups on a separate day or during spring break, the attendance is poor at best.  So we built in one extra week into the season for the inevitable snow day that happens each year.  We do not make-up the first snow day.

For canceled performances, if you can re-schedule, find a way to do so.  If you can’t, you will have to refund ticket holders.
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Keep an eye out for our next post for suggestions on how to get the word out to your students and parents when you need to cancel dance class.

What was the last reason you had to cancel class?