It was 10am on a Tuesday. My project for the day was to work on ideas for growing enrollment, but with evenings and Saturday mornings booked, where could I put new classes?
My class schedule was a logjam of 140 classes. I hunted for a way to open up several 30-minute sections in the evening for more preschool classes. “Why can’t they just come during the day?” I groaned to the empty studio.
Driving home, I saw the answer to my problem marching down the street: 10 kids from a nearby daycare center on a neighborhood walk with their teacher. That was it! I would fill those empty daytime hours by offering classes to daycare centers.
I drafted a brochure and registration form stating that Misty’s Dance Unlimited was offering a six-week session of dance classes on Mondays from 11 to 11:30am for $49. I included a parent release form, asked about medical concerns, and gave my business address and contact information. “Come join the more than 750 students taking dance lessons at Misty’s each week!” the brochure read.
Next, I called the center director to introduce myself and my new program. My approach was simple and business oriented—my studio would offer an activity for the daycare kids, one that would add value to their program but at no cost to the center.
I explained how the daycare kids would have fun dancing to our upbeat curriculum and get their energy out and their teachers would enjoy being a part of something that breaks up the day. I predicted that parents, who would pay for the lessons, would appreciate an extracurricular activity held during the day so that they would not have to spend evening hours rushing to another activity. Another plus: the center could advertise that it offers dance lessons.
To seal the deal, I gave the daycare center the option of bringing the children to the studio for lessons or having the dance teacher go there. As an added enticement, at the end of the six-week session the students could participate in our Christmas Social, held at a local theater. Not only could the kids perform, I said, but the daycare center would get some great advertising if the kids wore T-shirts sporting its name and logo during the event. I got an immediate commitment over the phone and I emailed the registration form to them to send home with the kids that same afternoon.
My approach was simple and business oriented—my studio would offer an activity for the daycare kids, one that would add value to their program but at no cost to the center.
Energized by this success, I called two more daycare centers near my studio. One never returned my calls, but the other one signed up right away. Of the two centers that agreed to this partnership, one chose to have our teacher teach at their location and the other walked the kids over to our studio. The daycare centers were in charge of collecting the tuition and paying the studio on the first day of class.
With 13 children from one daycare and 7 from another signed up for lessons, this was the easiest and fastest increase of 20 students my school has ever had. Since the kids performed in our Christmas Social we were able to show their parents the caliber of our program, so when I offered a six-week spring session it was an easy re-sell.
This relationship allowed me to fill empty studio space during the day as well as advertise the school’s offerings to the daycare centers’ clients.
Here are some tips:
Keep it easy. A short session with a simple registration form and one-time payment is best and will encourage both new parents and daycare owners to give it a try.
Keep it simple. Daycare centers cater to both boys and girls in a range of ages, so gender-neutral, dance-activity songs built around holiday or seasonal themes work well. You can introduce elements of ballet through this format, but packaging the session as dance instead of ballet will widen your audience.
Above all, keep it positive. The unique thing about partnering with a daycare center is that your task isn’t to sell dance to them. Instead, you’re selling the value of a partnership with your studio. Focus on the positives of what a relationship between your organizations will bring to the daycare, their teachers, and their clients.