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COVID Related Updates

Posted Friday, May 1st, 2020 by Akada

Hang in there!

Akada’s COVID-Related Updates

 

The emergence of COVID-19 has changed everything about the way we live life over the past several weeks. While the guidelines and changes have been anxiety-inducing and scary for so many, dance studios are getting creative to give their students some sense of normalcy.  To support that creativity, Akada was right there, with updates that help dance studios withstand this pandemic.

 

Virtual Class

Using Akada’s new Virtual Class Options, studio owners and teachers can add classes with single or multiple meeting dates, share meeting links, set tuition amounts for classes, and easily share with parents. The virtual class link can be sent via email, or parents can access it from their parent account.

 

Class Materials

Materials, such as instructions, videos of routines, and even recital music, can be uploaded for parent access, and the portal is mobile-friendly. For larger files, we recommend you upload to an outside storage service and provide a sharable link.

 

Moving Forward

We aren’t done yet. We are working on updates that will help studios once your students return to the classroom. Soon, you’ll be able to take and record your student’s temperatures using the studio interface or Akada Express.

 

Akada Express

Akada is excited to release Akada Express, our free studio-facing mobile app. Teachers can log in and record class attendance, studio owners can schedule classes, and billing can be completed – all from an app in a smartphone or tablet.

 

Online dance classes may be a new experience for young students and teachers, and there can be frustration and sadness as a result. However, technology gives us a chance to continue reaching out to one another, offering camaraderie and comfort. Akada is proud to continue being a part of the solution, providing a reliable platform to help dance studios stay connected to their students.

The Benefits of Google and SEO for Dance Studios

Posted Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020 by Akada

In today’s world, consumers turn to the Internet for just about everything. While word of mouth and personal recommendations are still important, having a strong web presence is essential. The dance studio industry is no exception. When a potential customer is searching for a local dance studio, dance studio owners should do everything possible to make sure their studio shows up in the search. Here are some tips to help dance studio owners boost their SEO (search engine optimization) ranking.

 

Optimize the website

Make sure the studio website is functioning the best it can. Page speeds affect how long people will wait on a website to load, and a slow website can mean lost business.

Utilize Google Maps

Google Maps is an awesome tool to find local businesses with just a general search, and dance studio owners need to make sure their studio is listed in Maps Google even makes it easy with Google My Business, a free tool that allows a business to promote their business profile and website on Google Search and Maps. This tool can be used even if a studio already has a website.

Get reviews posted online

Ask families for lots of reviews online. Websites like Yelp will help SEO. Patrons can also write reviews on a Google My Business account. Lots of positive reviews help a website stand out among others in a search.

Make sure content is relevant

A dance studio website should have everything from location and hours, to dance styles, photos, teacher bios, and anything else that will make a potential student feel welcome and excited to be a part of the studio. Don’t skimp on the information!

 

Taking the time to work on and monitor online presence will help dance studios get the online attention they need. If the studio owner does not feel comfortable handling these tasks, it may be a good idea to have a staff member or contractor help optimize dance studio websites. The investment of time and money in SEO could result in a full, well-known dance studio.

 

 

 

Akada Covid Resource Page

Posted Wednesday, March 25th, 2020 by Akada

I am writing this to create a centralized place for you to keep up with updates to our program and any additional resources that we’ve come across that we think may be helpful to your studio.

 

Program Updates:

Virtual Class Link and Class Materials – Easily link your virtual classes or youtube videos to your client’s parent account.

Uploading Large Files – A new, more efficient way to email those large video files that you may be sharing.

 

Additional Resources:

How to use Zoom to Stream Dance Classes Online by Joe Naftal, Dance Connection

Zoom Music Quality Solutions – Danielle Tucci-Juraga, Downstage Center Dance Studio

More Zoom Sound Quality (video) – courtesy of MusicWorks Unlimited

Secure Your Zoom Classes – Learn how to protect your Zoom classes from unwanted outsiders. Courtesy of Dan Goodin, Ars Technica.

Dance Studio Virtual Class Waiver – Jordan Mojzer-Brown, JMB Dance Academy**

 

Websites:

Rhee Gold – Rhee is always on top of things, and his site is adding daily content with useful tools, ideas, and links to support dance studios.

Dance Teacher Network – This is a private Facebook group just for dance studio owners, teachers, and vendors. DTN is a great place to share questions, concerns, and occasionally a good place to vent with other people in your industry.

**Akada can not guarantee the validity of this waiver. Please consult with your attorney and insurance provider before releasing it to your customer.**

Keeping Recital Planning on Track

Posted Wednesday, February 26th, 2020 by Akada

Keeping Recital Planning on Track

by Joe Naftal

Dance Connection

Islip, NY

 

For many studios across North America, our spring recitals are just a few months away.  While that may be an unwelcome reminder or sound like a cause for alarm, it is the perfect time to review your recital checklist and make sure everything is on track for another perfect recital this year.

 

  • Make sure all of your dance families are on the same pageYou’ve sent out what seems like hundreds of email reminders about dress rehearsal dates, tights colors, ticket sales, recital arrival times and more, but without fail, you know a parent will arrive to the recital clueless about the dozens of newsletters you’ve sent out. Boil down your newsletters to the top five or ten things your parents must know before the recital – if they read nothing else all year. What do they have to know?  Mail this out as a postcard right before the recital.  With the numerous emails parents receive daily, receiving something in the mail seems novel.  You can also include a flyer with the “must have” information in each costume.  They must have the flyer with them if they brought their costume to the recital (and hopefully they will!)
  • Figure out what tasks you can delegate to other trusted peopleThe studio director is the captain of the recital ship. But the captain can’t steer the ship if they’re pre-occupied with raising the sails, mopping the deck, cooking in the galley, and supervising the brig.  The same goes for the recital – if the director is pre-occupied with setting up the lobby, organizing the dressing rooms, running check-in, and calling cues for the show, then the recital will steer off course.  Like any good captain, find your first-mate and other trusted ship officers.  Delegate a dependable leader to each area so you feel comfortable that the show is moving smoothly and can manage the big picture – directing an entertaining recital.
  • Think through some of the finer detailsA recital works like a machine. There are dozens of moving pieces, and each gear needs to move correctly to avoid a jam, which could affect other parts of the machine down the line.  Take some time to think through some of the details (gears) that are prone to cause issues and added stress at showtime.  Review your recital check-in procedure to make sure you can check in all of your students in a timely fashion so that the show may begin on time.  Ensure you have enough ushers and lobby staff to accommodate the number of audience members you anticipate.  And most importantly, double-check to make sure you have enough time between songs for dancer’s costume changes, and you have volunteers in place to help with quick costume changes.  (Tip: utilize your studio management software’s costume conflict manager to get a listing of all quick changes and anticipate what your needs will be).

 

  • Explore recital revenue enhancers 

    The recital can be a huge revenue driver for studios. It can be the difference between a studio breaking even and making a profit for the year.  It can float a studio through the cash-less summer months.  It can even afford a studio owner the opportunity to take a well-deserved family vacation.  Because of the profit potential, it’s important to leave no stone unturned when it comes to increasing revenue at the recital.  Take some time to look into selling snacks and drinks, flowers, toys and novelty items, t-shirts, dancewear, program ads, raffles, and more at your recital.  Parents will appreciate the convenience and thought put into enhancing their overall recital experience, and your accountant will appreciate the added income.

 

The recital is an important event for every dance studio.  Besides being a year-end focus of classes and a central revenue source, it is an opportunity for studios to showcase the talent and hard work of their students as well as the dedication and experience of their teachers and staff.  Following these tips will help your studio stay on track to have another great (and hopefully, less stressful) recital this season.

 

About Joe

 

Growing up in the studio family business, Joe Naftal is the marketing director for Dance Connection in Islip, New York. Joe has taught seminars, classes, and workshops for dance teachers and studio owners from around the world, has been on the seminar faculty of the Energize Conference, the Dance Teacher Summit, the UDMA Dance Teacher Expos, and has been a contributor for DanceStudioOwner.com and Dance Teacher Magazine. He is the author of Standby in the Wings, which has been sold across North America, the UK, and Australia, and is the creator of Check In Pointe and RecitalProgramAds.com. As an advocate for arts education, Joe serves on the Board of Directors for Robin Becker Dance and CM Performing Arts Center. Aside from his work at the studio, Joe is a lighting designer and production manager for classical and contemporary theatre, modern dance, ballet, and opera. He holds a BFA in Lighting Design from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

To learn more about Joe or to purchase his book or other recital planning tools, visit his website: https://www.standbyinthewings.com/

 

A NEW APPROACH TO PRE-REGISTRATION / RE-REGISTRATION

Posted Tuesday, February 18th, 2020 by Akada

The Problem and A New Way of Thinking

After owning my studio for several decades, it was just three years ago that I had my “aha” moment.  At the busiest time of year, April through June, we are standing on our heads, barking like a carnival barker and doing the elevator pitch for Re-Registration.  We hope that everyone returns for the following dance season, but we need their cooperation and commitment AND we need their registration form.

I’ve been creative with verbiage like:

“As a member of our studio family, you (AND ONLY YOU) are being offered Re-Registration in advance of the general public.  Don’t delay – classes fill up and we don’t want you to be shut out”.

Throughout the years, I have offered: The first 100 students that Re-Register before Dress Rehearsal will:

  • be entered into a raffle to win FREE TUITION for a FREE CLASS
  • get a special limited-edition studio shirt
  • get 2 front row seats to the recital
  • be entered into a raffle to win $100 Visa gift card
  • get my next unborn child, etc., etc.

I did it all and to some extent, it worked.  But, what MORE could I do?  I was always worried – will my students come back?  The anticipation was killing me!  They say they will return – but show me the money!

 

Every year I waited and prayed and every year there was a “situation”. After Re-Registration closed (just before summer classes began) I would issue the following year’s class schedule and of course, I mixed and combined students to fill the classes.  After a class was full – inevitably a student would come back at the beginning of September and expect to be back in the class.  Parents would say “You knew I was coming back – I’ve been with you 6 years”.  Really?   My thousand Re-Registration notifications didn’t give you enough incentive to fill out the form.  So sorry that my mind-reading skills didn’t work and that I didn’t KNOW that you would be coming back to classes.

Finally, I had enough of this. How is it that we are one of the only businesses, that I know of, that wipe out our clientele and completely start all over again year after year.  Who started this and who thought that this was a good business practice?

I needed to run my business in a more professional and competent way.  I needed to change my way of thinking about Re-Registration.  I needed to be able to project my numbers, make class schedules, hire enough teachers and plan better for the next year.

Why do we handle Re-Registration this way?  Why can’t we be like a gym membership or daycare center?  In those establishments, you are IN till you tell them you are OUT.  Even when I order my hair products on Amazon, they offer auto deliveries for an indefinite time period until I cancel it.

So, here’s how I introduced the new procedure to my students and parents:

 

ROLLOVER REGISTRATION PROCEDURE

As we come to the close of another dance year, we are aware of how busy your schedules are going to be in the next few weeks.  We hope we can help take something off your plate.  With the help of our studio software, we are happy to announce that we have instituted a new procedure – Rollover Registration.  That’s right, if your contact information has NOT changed, you will no longer need to fill out a full registration application year after year.  No need to worry about being closed out of your classes – you are assured placement in the dance subjects you desire and continue to be part of our dancing family. As a current member of our dance studio family, if you are in good standing (accounts paid in full, no studio policy violations), you will automatically be re-enrolled for the next dance season.

 

If you want to make additions or changes to your classes, all you need to do is inform the office before __________ (date of choice).

Confirmation of classes will be emailed to you by _________  (date of choice).

 

We have had GREAT results with this new procedure, and I have only one regret – why didn’t I think of it sooner?  Now, I can plan teachers’ schedules more efficiently.  I know what classes are full or need to be pushed and best of all, I have money in the bank . . . in the summer!!!!!!!!

If you want to take control of your destiny and studio schedule, if you want to enjoy your summer because you know where your business stands, go ahead and sit on the beach because your enrollment is back.  I know that not having financial stress and being worried about my enrollment for next year has made me a happier studio owner, and everyone benefits from that!

by Hedy Perna

Perna Dance Center

 

About Hedy

Hedy has run Perna Dance Center for more than 30 years and is active in dance organizations that promote the education of teachers and students.  She is President Emeritus of Associated Dance Teachers of NJ and a lifelong member of Dance Educators of America. Additionally, she has presented for Rhee Gold’s Project Motivate, The DanceLife Teacher Conference, the Dance Life Retreat Center, Dance Teacher Summit, United Dance Merchants of America, is a contributing writer for Dance Studio Life Magazine, as well as a long time Akada Customer.

If you have questions about how to make this registration procedure work in Akada just let us know. We’ll gladly walk you through it. – Brett

2020: What you can expect from Akada

Posted Friday, January 10th, 2020 by Akada

2019 was a great year at Akada. We celebrated our 25th anniversary, engaged with more customers than ever, and doubled our scholarship program.  2020 is already off to a great start, and we are looking to build off of last year’s momentum. Keep reading to learn more about what we have planned for the year.

Software Updates

First up, a mobile app for our studio users called Akada Express. This app will start off small in functionality, but we will continue to add to it as we learn what functions studios need. From the start, however, your teachers and admin will be able to enter attendance from their iOS and Android devices. Akada Express will save your dance studio both time and money. No attendance sheets or purchasing expensive tablets — your teachers will be able to download the app right to their phones and enter attendance in the classroom. Akada Express will be available in late February or March.

Possibly the most exciting project we have in the pipeline is an app for your parents. We have partnered with Mobile Inventor to develop a parent app that will enable your customers to access their accounts, receive push notifications, make payments, and register for classes. Additionally, all the branding for this app will belong to your studio. Your customers will search your studio name within the app store, not Akada. Currently, the plans are for the app to be available late spring, in time for the summer registration cycle.

We’re also continuing to work on an entirely new studio interface. We’ve been working on this project for several years now, and we think it will have been well worth the wait. The new interface will be completed in the next few months and will then undergo an extensive testing process. Our goal is to have it released as a Beta late in the 2020-2021 dance season. Your studio will be able to opt into the new format, giving you an ample adjustment period before the start of the fall 2021 season.

Engagement

Last year, through our webinars, trade shows, and social media, Akada was more engaged than ever before. But we can still do better. This year we will again be the title sponsor of the Dance Life Teacher Conference in Scottsdale, AZ. Additionally, we’re excited to be joining Studio Owner’s University for the first time next month. During the summer, you can find us at Energize Dance Conference, and we’ll be returning to both Dance Teacher Web and the UDMA teacher expos. If you’re planning on attending any of these shows or have questions about the benefits, drop us a line and let us know.

On the training front, our spring webinar schedule is available now and will have the registration links up within the next few days. We’ll be doing the basics again, but we have added quite a few new topics based on the feedback we received to our intercom question a few weeks ago. As always, if you or your staff would like to schedule one-on-one training specific to your studio, just let us know. Now is the time to review the way your studio is using Akada and to allow us to help you use it as efficiently as possible.

Finally, don’t forget that we offer a referral program. Recommend us to a friend, and when they sign up using the promo code Referral, you will both receive three months free. Tip: Click on the word Referral, and you can share the link with them.

Scholarships

Last, but certainly not least, our scholarship program is back for year three, and we are excited to have EVO joining us once more. This year we will again award ten $1,000 scholarships to students in need, special programs within the studio, or charities supported by your studio. We received four times as many applications last year as we did in year one, and we expect that to grow even more this year. We’ll kick this program off again in May with an application deadline of June 30th. We will announce the winners on Monday, July 13th.

 

 

 

Putting a Bow on 2019

Posted Wednesday, December 18th, 2019 by Akada

It seems like we were just projecting our 25th year of existence and making our 2019 plans, and here we are now, about to say goodbye to another great year. Thanks to the support of our customers, we were able to establish a referral program, grow our scholarship program, and increase our engagement efforts. Additionally, our staff was able to attend some trade shows, meeting more of you across the country! It has been a great year!

Akada would like to thank our loyal customers and friends. We love getting to have a helping part in the operation of a smooth-running dance studio so you, the dance studio owners, can focus on training the younger generation of dancers and artists who will do great things. 

Creating a positive studio culture starts with a happy, united front of staff members who believe in the goals of the studio and feel valued for their talent. Making time for that reconnection during holiday breaks can be motivating and give everyone a boost for the upcoming spring competitions and recitals.

Moving into 2020, we see 366 opportunities (thanks to leap year!) to keep striving toward greatness. Let’s set goals; let’s make plans, and let’s make 2020 an incredible year!

Holiday Recital Planning Tips

Posted Monday, November 25th, 2019 by Akada

No doubt fall has been a busy time for dance studio owners, and it probably feels like classes just started back. Halloween has come and gone, and the holiday season is underway. With the holiday season comes the holiday recital.  Recital dates are quickly approaching, so it’s time to put the finishing touches on holiday recital planning in the coming days and weeks.

Double-check reservations

Nothing could be more catastrophic than realizing that something is missing, or a date or time is mixed up. It’s worth the effort to check the dates and times with the venue for rehearsals and the recital.  If anything, it’s one less thing to worry about, so take the time to do it. Also, make sure there will be tables available for selling flowers, check-in and out, and dressing rooms are reserved.

Take care of costumes

By now, dancers should be trying on costumes so any alternations that need to be made can be scheduled. Families should be notified of the costumes, hair, tights, and make-up requirements so they can prepare and make purchases. Order extra tights for those dreaded last-minute runs that inevitably happen.

Finalize the program

Whether using publishing software or hiring a designer, make sure the programs are proofread thoroughly and ready to print. This will be one less thing to deal with at the last minute.

Put volunteers in place

Parents have a lot going on during the holidays, so do not wait until the last minute to ask them to volunteer! Be direct and specific about the dressing room needs, backstage needs and anything else they can help with. Let them know what kind of tasks will be expected, and how best to prepare.

 

Putting pieces in place may be time-consuming but doing the work now will save – or at least help with – the stress later. Regardless, remember that it isn’t the end of the world if every tiny detail isn’t perfect. Dance studios have a big part in creating lasting memories for families, so remember and honor that privilege.

Selecting the Right Costume Company

Posted Monday, September 16th, 2019 by Akada

Progressing through the dance studio year, a dance studio owner must make many decisions. One important decision is selecting the right costume supplier for recitals. Working with a costume supplier business can either make an already-stressful process even worse or a much smoother process. Preparing ahead of time and asking the right questions can prevent a lot of problems down the road.

 

Look for a variety

Does this company have a variety of styles? Do they offer a variety of accessories? Can you get a wide selection of sizes, and can you get costumes for boys too? When there is a variety of students, dance styles, ages and sizes, all of this variety must be considered.

 

Look at the fine print

It is very important to plan and not get surprised by an unexpected bill or find out that something needed isn’t included in the contract. Read the fine print so billing, exchanges, payments, and returns aren’t an issue when least expected.

 

Look for the extras

While reading the fine print, also look for the value bonuses that costume companies offer. A service is being offered, so look at reviews of the company. Check on discounts, customer service options, the turn-around time for exchanges, and any other extra that is offered.

 

Because so much is at stake with the costumes, it pays to do the homework ahead of time. Costumes are a big part of expenses, and if the studio owner is unhappy, chances are the students and parents that are ultimately paying for the service will be unhappy as well. Hopefully, the costume company that wins the studio’s business will be a company that deepens and grows a relationship for years to come. 

Energizing Fall Enrollment in Your Dance Studio

Posted Tuesday, August 13th, 2019 by Akada

Hopefully, the summer brought a newfound sense of energy and excitement for studio owners and staff as fall approaches. Soon the studio will be back in full swing of classes with a mix of new and returning faces. Enrollment stress is real though. Many studio owners nervously watch to see if the classes offered get filled. There are two kinds of students: retained and new. Here are some tips to make sure both types of students are being reached and the buzz of a new season stays energized.

Energizing retained students

Retaining students means showing your appreciation and making them feel like they belong.

  • Start with a bang! Plan some fun events, like a back-to-studio water balloon fight and picnic or a min-fair at a park.
  • Give incentives, like a referral discount to families who bring in new students.
  • Offer an enrollment period for returning students before opening enrollment to the public. 
  • Engage with students – get their feedback, listen to their ideas, and always thank them.

Earning new students

New students are earned by having a stellar reputation and offering something of value to them. 

  • Offer a free trial class.
  • Offer shorter commitments. Maybe some new families aren’t sure they want to lock into a long contract.
  • If these students don’t enroll, reach out to them later with free tickets to one of the shows. 
  • Make sure every student is welcomed by teachers, every time. If they feel appreciated, they’re more likely to return.

 

Overall, show that you love your studio and everyone in it. Be enthusiastic and welcome people with genuine care. Emphasize to the staff that this care is also expected by them because everyone has a part to play.  By striving to make students feel like a family, the fall return could feel more like a fun family reunion, without embarrassing relatives!