Ask Rhee Gold | What to do when another studio opens down the street

Advice for dance teachers

Q: Hi Rhee,

I love your magazine and this column! Now it’s my turn to come to you for some advice. This year I’m reaching the 30-year mark for my studio. Recently, a well-known school that has been in business for 65 years (ironically, the school I attended as a girl and later taught for), moved its studio two blocks from mine.

They had the money to open a million-dollar, state-of-the-art studio and they did it right up the street. While people are telling me that I’ll be fine, I am seeing some of my students leave. My lease is up at the end of this year and I’m afraid I’ll have to leave the area where my business has been all of these years. I’m angry, hurt, and frustrated because this studio owner was like family to me over the years.

I get that there are no territorial boundaries to opening a school but courtesy and respect seem to have fallen by the wayside. Any helpful advice? —Liz

A: Dear Liz,

Don’t make any hasty decisions about moving. Not every student or parent is going to want to leave you, and some of those who do will be back. You may not be able to see how loyal your families are because fear is clouding your view. Muster all the confidence you can, and realize that this situation could be a kick in the butt to change how you do things.

It’s time to think about where you’re going next. Do you believe that you still have some good teaching years left? If the answer is yes, then figure out what that looks like and what’s most important to you. Is it time to upgrade your facility? Is it time to learn fresh curriculum to help you keep up? Would you be OK with running a smaller school or teaching for someone else? You have 30 valuable years of experience: pat yourself on the back for surviving all that time, and think about out how you’re going to use that know-how to continue doing what you love. I’m rooting for you. —Rhee