Dance Teacher Resources

How to Superglue Your Students: Top 5 Retention Tips

Dance Studio Owner Advice

So the best place for us to start, when we’re talking about retention, is to first of all identify which of your programs has the weakest retention.

Where do you find the drop-off?

You get them in the door, but perhaps they leave at a certain age. Maybe it’s after they’ve finished a particular program, or maybe there’s something else that has come up that they want to go do.

Once we know which of your programs has the weakest retention, I’m now going to teach you five strategies and, in the context of that program, think about how we can apply them and start turning things around.

The first strategy is called “flight risk”.

Now, this is really important. You know when you’re teaching a class and you’ve got all the kids in front of you, and you can kind of sense that there’s that kid in the back who you feel is disconnected a little. You can feel they’re kind of just pulling away, and they are what I would classify as a “flight risk” student. We need to act now to turn things around.

What we need to do with a flight risk student is reach out to them outside of class.

Pick up the phone. Give them a phone call. Send them a text. Maybe you have a little moment of one-on-one chat to see how they’re going and how you could help them get more connected in with the studio.

Number two is a strategy I like to call the “shiny disco ball”.

When you have a program with poor retention that you want to turn around, the best thing to do is to go to that program and say, “Guess what! We are doing something so exciting, there’s something so phenomenal coming up, you are not going to want to miss it.”

Be strategic in when you announce a shiny disco ball.

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.” What that does is it gets some hype going and gives people a reason to stay in the studio. If you can give people that specific reason, it’s going to hook them in even further.

The number three retention tip is “phone praise”.

Phone praise is where we call and we take the time to connect with a student over the phone randomly at some stage through the year. It’s unbelievable what this does. You just call and say, “Hi, Mrs. Johnson. I just wanted to tell you today that Amy was so brilliant in class. She was so helpful. She has really come so far with what she has been learning, and we’re just so proud of her.”

Literally, you just call them with no other intention other than just saying how brilliant their child is.

The parent will be on the phone like, “Really? Thank you so much!” It’s quite a shock to receive a call like that. So the next day, the mum comes into the studio and says to the other mums, “Do you know what happened to me last night? I just got a phone call from the studio, and they just wanted to say something really good about Amy.”

This is something that will set your studio apart from the competition and really show how much you value the students and how much you care about them being part of the family.

The number four retention tip is to show them love.

This is where we go above and beyond for a little bit of what I call that “smile factor”.

What could you do for your students that would absolutely make them light up with joy?

Maybe remembering it’s the student’s birthday and playing their favourite song in class. It’s those little touches that make all the difference in terms of your entire retention. It’s going to make you more fulfilled and happy as a studio owner because you can see that beautiful energy coming across in the studio.

It makes you feel good to give and to make your students feel happy. It’s going to make your studio this place that people love coming to, that keeps them on their toes, that surprises them and where they feel like they are part of a beautiful family.

Number five, our final tip, is to keep the family together.

Bring them together regularly because what you will find is that the more you have friendships associated within the group, the more people will be magnetized to stay.

If we have the social networks supporting – not only within the studio but even externally in their friendship circles — that’s going to keep everyone close, to get connected as well.

Having a pyjamas and popcorn movie night, watching a concert or bringing everyone together for a big picnic in the park — these are great ideas to bring everyone together to make them feel special and also to really bond them together.

As a special treat, you’re going to get a free download of one of the handouts from my program, The Retention Solution, which helps you to improve your retention. 

This is the handout that accompanies the “phone praise” tip. So this is the sheet where literally you can list all your students’ names and then track when every student has received his/her phone praise. So we can ensure that across the board we are delivering on giving everyone this kind of personalised feedback and positivity.

It’s a really easy thing to roll out with your team as well.

You can give this sheet to your teachers and say, “Okay, these are the students whom you’re responsible for to contact at some time through the year.”

A super easy system. You can download the Phone Praise PDF now. It’s completely free, and it’s going to really help you put that smile on your students’ face.

So to recap how we’re going to superglue the students to your studio, there are five tips that you can get started with straight away:

  1. Identify the flight risk students in your studio.
  2. Go at them with a big, fabulous, shiny disco ball.
  3. Do the phone praise exercise, and you can download the Phone Praise PDF to accompany and make it easy for you.
  4. Show them love and put that smile on their face.
  5. Keep the family together by bringing everyone together and solidifying all those friendships.

So, of those five tips, which one are you going to start working on first?

I want you to share in the comments below which of the five tips you’re going to start rolling out in the program with the weakest retention. We want to start turning things around quickly in your studio.

By Chantelle Duffield, Studio Strategist at StudioExpansion.com.

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