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BranchingOut


What StudioOwners ShouldKnow BeforeExpandingTheirBusinesses


byKatieDravenstott


But howare studio owners to knowif the time is right?Or, should you add a roomormove to a bigger location?Are you even finan- cially capable of expanding? These are viable questions that all own- ers strugglewith nomatter howmany expansions they have gone through. So, before going out on a limb,why not take some cues fromstudio ownerswho have succeeded in their own business expansions?


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LookBeforeYouLeap Timing your business expansion can be challenging, studio owners say, especially if you’re not looking out for the signs. ForDana Bailey, owner and director ofDana’s Studio ofDance in Southlake andKeller, TX, expansion has always been in the cards, but itwas her class sizes that got the ball rolling. “When your class ratios are too large and you cannot expand by adding additional classes, it’s time,”Bailey says.Amajor sign forCindyBrenna, owner ofCindy’s School ofDance inAllen andCelina, TX,waswhen she started offering classes on Friday afternoon/evenings. “We did have good


any dance studio owners inNorth Texas experience a lull in business during the summermonths and should therefore use this time to seriously consider expansion.


enrollment on Friday’s, butwe also had sporadic attendance,” Brenna says. “Iwould say if you need to add Friday classes formore than one season youmightwant to look at expanding.” In addi- tion,CandaceMurphy, owner and director ofUCan-DANCEInc., McKinney, TX, says if your business starts growing and you are anticipating a need for your services, chances are you are ready to expand. “I knewtherewas amarket for a dance and performing arts ‘think tank’ and the creative services thatwe offered,”Murphy says. “With that inmind,we set our sights on growing.”


Funding theGrowth Budgeting for expansion can be difficult; so it’s important to start planning early, studio owners say. “Unfortunately,we didn’t have that opportunity, but ideally youwant to start one year in advance,” Murphy says. To help get organizedMurphy recommends putting together amoving and a post-moving budget. “Youwillwant to include all the things youwill need in themove, for example the cost of boxes, the cost of a truck and the cost ofmovers or people to help,”Murphy says. For after themove, she suggests owners then get “all the things youwill need to get things up and running at the newlocation, including utilities’ deposits, phone, internet and sup- plies.”Brenna adds, “Try tomake a list that includes everything you will need and don’t cut your budget short. It is difficult to come up with themoney after the project has started and you realize you need additional items,” she says.Brenna also suggests exploring all the options for leasing property. “Will your landlord give you a fin- ish out allowance, and if so, howmuch?Do you plan to put down a wooden dance floor? Youmust also be aware of city codes in your area,”Brenna says. “Sometimes these require finish out items that youwould never dreamof.”


Pictured:Dana’s Studio ofDance lobby page 18


LayingDownRoots In terms of location and square footageAmandaDalton, owner of AmandaDalton’s School ofDance inDallas, says it all comes down towhat kind of business youwant to run in the long term. “I have alwayswanted to be a small neighborhood studio,”Dalton says. “I didn’twant to bemarried to the studio,” she adds. So,with this in mind,Dalton says if she did expand again itwould probably be into a two-roomstudio.And that second room,Dalton says,would be a multi-functional spacewhere any type of class, including ballet, tap, jazz, Irish, yoga or Zumba®could be taught. “And the only reason I would look for space outsidemy current neighborhood is ifmy area of town started to depreciate or ifmy clientele began to decline,” she says. LikeDalton,Bailey has always knownwhat shewanted her business to be; in her case the planwas to open several loca- tions. “Iwanted to reachmore families,”Bailey says. “But opening a second location does addmore responsibility in the long run.” When searching for a newstudioBrenna says she looks for a loca- tionwith enough space for one classroom, restrooms,waiting area, observation roomand office. “I have found that approximately 1,200-1,400 square feet allows for one reasonably sized dance room (20x40) leaving 400-600 square feet to divide between the other areas,”Brenna says.


may 2011 www.thedancecouncil.org DANCE!NORTHTEXAS a publicationof the dance council ofnorthtexas vol. 14 • no. 2


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