December 2016 | On My Mind

Words from the publisher

Let’s imagine that one town has two very good schools, and let’s say that they are roughly equal in size and that each offers a quality dance education. What could make one school stand out above the other?

Photo by Mim Adkins

Photo by Mim Adkins

Believe it or not, the answer is kindness. At a time when new schools seem to be popping up everywhere, you can push yourself to the top of the pack by building a strong reputation as the school that makes students and parents feel like they are part of an extended dance family. From the clients’ perspective, the kind of dance school they want for their children or themselves is a place where people know their names and where they believe their business is appreciated.

Filling your staff with personable teachers who are excited to welcome their students each week can only enhance your business. When I owned a school, I liked to set a goal for my teachers—to work in such a way that when the students headed home, they would be excited about their classes and would tell their parents that they love to dance. It’s a simple goal, but it can transform a business.

Creating an atmosphere in which everyone feels comfortable enough to ask questions of or express concerns to non-intimidating employees is the way to go. Yes, there will always be parents who go too far and create unnecessary tensions—but some school owners tend to put all parents in that category. If the owners analyzed the unpleasant incidents and who was involved, they’d discover that “problem” parents make up only a fraction of their clientele. It’s important to remember that having questions or concerns is natural for parents. Their instinct is to make sure they understand and feel comfortable with their children’s activities.

Add to your “kindness recipe” a solid organization that offers clear and consistent information to keep your clients on top of their responsibilities, and a resolution that you will always give them more than they expect, in everything you do.

It takes years of study and a commitment to continuing education to become a qualified teacher. Being kind is easy, and it costs nothing. Make it a priority and you’ll make your school a standout.

DSL publisher Rhee Gold has owned a dance competition, presided over national dance teaching organizations, and founded Project Motivate. His book, The Complete Guide to Teaching Dance, is in its second printing.