Ways studio owners can promote their business during the holidays
Along with shopping, decorating and eating, the holidays are also a great time for studio owners in North Texas to get out and promote their business. From holiday productions and fundraisers to festivals and parades, studio owners have plenty of opportunities available to them. But many owners, who are overloaded as it is, may be reluctant to add one more thing to their plates. Hopefully these testimonials from some local studio owners will help you get into the holiday business spirit.
HOLIDAY SHOWS. Instead of another Nutcracker consider putting on your own holiday show. “We wanted to do something exclusive and unique to our studio,” says Debra Montalvo Swaim, owner and director of Frisco Dance Force and Prosper Dance Force, talking about her winter production Adventure in Toyland. Swaim opens her production to the community so anyone can participate as long as they can make the commitment, according to Swaim. “My studio philosophy has always been that anyone can dance so I knew from the beginning I wanted Adventure in Toyland to be a community-based performance,” Swaim says. “Plus, it helps build more interest within the community.” KJ Dance in Plano, TX, has found that performing its holiday show, Who Stole Christmas, every other year proves beneficial for everyone. This both builds up anticipation for the less frequent show and lessens the time commitments families must make during a busy month. “It’s important to me for the families to spend time together during the holidays,” says KJ Dance owner and director Kristy Ulmer. “Our dance lives are so busy and it’s easy as studio directors to find ourselves spending more time with our dancers than their parents do.”
COMMUNITY EVENTS. Get into the holiday spirit with community events such as parades and festivals. KJ Dance recommends participating in local parades. “It’s a great way for the community to get to know your studio, and it also gives our dancers the chance to perform without the required rehearsal times attached to a holiday show or extravaganza,” Ulmer says. Another option is performing at a local holiday festival. “We always do a holiday show at Santa’s Village in Richardson in December,” says Mimi Robbins, owner and director of Dance, Etc! in Dallas. “And this year we’re also doing a show in November at the Shops of Willow Bend in Plano,” Robbins adds. Dove Academy of Dance Arts, (where I teach part-time) has also performed at local events such as Santa’s Village and the City of Garland’s Christmas on the Square. “These events are a cost-effective way for the kids to perform more than once a year,” says Ericka Dove, owner of Dove Academy of Dance Arts in Garland, TX. “But you have to be proactive,” Dove says. “The event organizers are not going to try to find you. You have to seek them out.”
HOLIDAY CAMPS/FUNDRAISERS. Studio owners often consider holiday camps and fundraisers as ways to advance their business during the holidays. KJ Dance offers 2-3 day workshops during the holidays. “These arts and crafts/Nutcracker workshops are great for younger kids and give their parents a chance to go shopping,” Ulmer says. Swaim also offers holiday camps which last two weeks and include different holiday themes. “It never hurts to try new things,” Swaim says. But when it comes to fundraising Swaim says she hasn’t had a lot of success during the holidays. “We’ve tried, but fundraising demands a lot of outside time and energy on the parents’ part,” Swaim says. “Our fundraiser also ran into a lot of school fundraisers,” she adds.
VALUABLE ADVICE. “You have to be willing to take chances,” Swaim says. Swaim admits her winter production put a hole in her budget its first year, but she says turning a profit wasn’t her goal. “The goal was to see if the interest was there to make Adventure in Toyland an annual event,” Swaim says. Her strategy seems to have worked because the production is currently in its second season. “If you are willing and able to put forth the effort, it will pay off in the long run,” Swaim says. Ulmer adds that if you are putting on a holiday show mainly for monetary reasons then it’s probably not worth doing. “It’s about the unspoken rewards,” Ulmer says. “Giving the kids the privilege and opportunity to perform in front of their friends and families is so much more valuable,” she adds. You also need the right people in place, studio owner say. “You have to find someone you can delegate to and who knows A-Z what you want,” Swaim says. Ulmer adds, “You also have to believe in your staff and let them know how much you appreciate them.”
Katie Dravenstott is a freelance writer and dance teacher in Dallas. If you have a business concern or story idea, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally published in the Nov.-Jan. 2012 issue of DANCE! North Texas.