When growing your business, you may find the need to alter policies. New circumstances, customer requests, and changing markets can present you with situations where policy change can be advantageous. You don't want to lose that "family feel" but your growing client base demands it. Here are some ideas to help you set limits and while still maintaining your studio's personality.
Set Policy You Believe In
- From dress code to arrival requirements, set policy you truly believe in. Decide on policy you can support even when faced with conflict. If you do not believe in the policy, you will be far more likely to allow others to break your policy or break it yourself.
- Every policy your studio has should reflect a dance practice or business practice you want to imprint upon your students and parents.
- Make sure that your website has this rules stated clearly as in this website HERE: (Thank you Isabelle!) If you need to, you can also have a policy hand out, or a PDF on your website that can be printed out by a parent.
Keep Everyone In the Know
- Consider, and I use this word lightly, having a PARENT GROUP-- a small group of parents (informally or formally) that can be your advocates. As you make the policy, inform this group and ask them for opinions, advice and feedback on how to enforce the policy. This can be a "focus" group of sorts to help gauge how change will affect the overall student population. Consider a rotating parent meeting, where different parents are involved in a monthly meeting so everyone has a "voice."
- As a customer, a change to policy that is not clear can be frustrating. If you policy changes, it is very important that all affected are informed about the change and what it means to their participation in the program. For example, if you have decided on a new policy that charges students a dollar for wearing street shoes into the studio during the winter season, send out an email and a hard copy (such as a flyer) informing the students and the parents about the policy.
- It is also important to let every family know that the reason you are making changes is for the BENEFIT of their children as well as the business. Afterall, if you spent $1000's on a new floor that gets ruined, it hurts them as well as your studio.
- Utilize multiple lines of communication when it comes to changing policy; set up signs, email blasts, send home letters with students, make announcements, and get the word out in any other way you can think of, including posting on your Facebook page.
- Keep a positive tone! Your change in policy is an accomplishment brought about by your success. When you write about policy change to your customers, start by thanking them for their support. Be sure to include how the policy update will benefit everyone it effects, and why it is a good change. Always keep a positive tone in writing and speaking!
Stick With It
- Once you create a policy and inform those it may affect about the policy, stick by the policy unless it is significantly affecting your business in a negative way.
- If you waver in your policy you will show weakness, something that is not attractive in a business or a leader.
- However, you must also be reasonable enough to reconsider your policy making sure it is beneficial to your business and fair to those affected. For example, if there IS a parent that has lost their job, but has been a good payer, consider the extension of a payment plan or scholarship as you see fit.
Treat Everyone Equally
- Stick by your policy as much as possible and only make exceptions in extreme circumstances.
- If you make an exception for one student it is only fair to make exceptions for others who ask. If students and parents feel they are being treated unfairly because policy does not apply to all involved, you will most likely lose business and might even gain a bad reputation.
Policy & Pocketbooks
- Double check your math! Ensure that all your policies are sustainable and will keep your business alive.
- As a caring owner, it is natural to want to assist those in need. But remember many of your policies are put in place to keep your business alive. Too much charity and you will be out of business, which is bad for you and your students!
Setting policy is a difficult but essential duty of every studio owner, especially when in the process of growing your business. Use these tips to make sure your policies are effective and met with the least amount of challenge possible.
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