Hold up! Don't Announce Anything Yet...
Well, I'm sure many of you are in the thick of planning for next season? Have you decided what classes you'll offer? Which ones you'll take out? Are you going to invest in a new program or expand on your current ones? Maybe you actually will be cutting back in certain classes because you're growing in other areas.
There is a lot that goes into planning for a new season, so that is why I want to break this down a bit. I have been listening and reading (which also means I'm listening) to some great podcasts and books this past week on studio growth. I'm going to add them to my growing list of podcast recommendations as well as amazing books that I've read. (tip go straight to the comments)
There are a few things we need to make sure we're doing. And I'm gong to cover them over the next three weeks.
Whoa, hold up. Three weeks Melissa?
Don't worry, after todays blog, you might be able to shout your season out to everyone. But if you're like me, you might want to go back to the drawing boards to tweak and refine it just a bit.
So let's get started, shall we? This weeks topic -
...and I'm not talking water.
Before we event start navigating through all details of next years's season, we need to know what our retention rate is, so that we can intentionally plan for growth. Not just raise our rates or add classes in our schedule and hope it fills.
Clint Salter of the Dance Studio Association just shared some great wisdom regarding this topic on his awesome podcast. If you are a studio owner, check out his site and all the freebies he has to offer to help us studio owners. And if you're a podcast junkie like I am, subscribe to "Transform your Dance Studio."
So this past week, whilst shoveling out of yet another snow storm in WI, I was listening to his lovely Australian voice, thinking, "He's not shoveling snow! He's probably on the beach, because it's summer in Australia now!" When he brought me squarely back to reality with this question,
"What is your retention rate?"
I was like "Awesome!"
But then he challenged me. What is the actual number?
"about 90%" I thought. I mean, my numbers are great. However, I was a little scared to see what my retention was. Why? Because I teach a lot of beginner students, so they only stay with me about 3 years. So in all actuality, it's probably not at all 90%.
But How do You Figure Out Your Retention?
A little math friends, but don't worry, it's not calculus.
Take your students that returned this year, divide that by the total number of students you had last year, then multiply 100 to get your percent. (or forget that step and just move the decimal two spots over to the right.)
So like this: This Year Returning Students / Last Years Total Enrollment =____ x 100 =____
Easy example: 200/230= .869 x 100% = 88% retention.
Mr. Salter recommends 80% or more, to be a healthy studio.
He also has some sound advice. We should be looking at this number 3 different ways:
Season to Season: 2018 compared to 2019
Year to Date: February 27, 2018 to February 27, 2019
and Month to Month: January 27, 2019 to February 27, 2019
So what's yours?
Mine came back a little under that. Average 76% in all three categories. I'm ok with that number. I'm not going to get worked up that it's not 80% or 90%. Would I like better? Absolutely, and it gives me a number to strive for.
So take a few minutes and look at your retention numbers. And if you want to go deeper, I would recommend you do the math on all your classes and find out what classes provide the highest retention and work For you!
- Is there an aspect in your program that you see a higher turn over?
- Is that intentional? For example, most of the students graduate out?
- Or it's for a certain age or level?
- How could you do to create a longer relationship with your tribe?
- Do you even want to?
As you see, and probably know, there are so many factors that play a part in the puzzle of retention. Age, time of class, season, skill level etc. But when we really know and understand where our numbers are telling us, we can serve our tribe even better.
Which is the whole point.
When we serve better... we can receive greater.
So please come back next week. We will be chatting about creative, out of the box, ways you can GROW your studio a.k.a. revenue. And it's not just raising your rates or offering another class. Even though my retention numbers aren't "ideal," it hasn't prevented me growing.
Creative sources of income have allowed me to grow in big ways. And I'm excited to share some ideas with you!
I hope to see your eyes on this blog next week! And yes, I see all of you and so appreciate you. :) If you're super brave, comment with your retention number! I'd love to encourage & cheer you on!