Today we are happy to present Suzanne Blake Gerety for our “10 Questions With…” feature…
1. Can you tell readers who you are and how you are involved with the dance world?
I was born into the dance world: it is all I have known, my entire life. I’m an only child, the daughter of two parents who were both talented dancers. While other kids may have grown up playing little league and going on trips to Disney, I spent my days at dance competitions and traveling the world via cruise ship where my mom was a guest ballroom instructor for many years.
Personally, my own training peaked when I was thirteen. Having learned to sew fringe on leotards and the basic steps to the cha-cha before middle school, it was at this time I realized I was most comfortable backstage calling the show, working on costumes, and organizing the productions. My mom was so supportive and encouraged me to follow my heart, I stayed involved in the studio but also ended up excelling in sports in high school and college and knew that my dance training contributed to that success.
Fast forward about 20 years, I’m now a mom of two, my son is 6 and daughter is 4, I have an entrepreneurial spirit and heart I’m proud to be the 2nd generation in the family business of owning and operating the dance studio. I get to experience the joy of dance not only through the eyes of our students, but also through my own children.
2. How does Dance Studio Owner serve the dance community?
Primarily through our website and also by speaking at live events such as the Dance Teacher Summit and other dance conventions, we work with new and experienced studio owners who are interested in resources and support to start, run and grow their business. It’s like having a dance studio management team at your fingertips 24/7.
Our big focus is in giving our members and readers information that not only saves them time and money but also contributes to growth in their business both financially and artistically. It’s easy to burn out if you are trying to do everything yourself, working fourteen hour days, dealing with parent complaints, and lack of resources. We help you keep your passion for dance alive as you grow your business.
3. What are some of the “perks” of membership in DanceStudioOwner.com?
Our members often say that they don’t know what they would do without the personal support they receive from my mom, Kathy Blake, myself and the other successful studio owners on our discussion forum.
Everything we share and coach our members on is relevant and based on tried-and-true experience from having over thirty five years of consistent growth in the face of changing trends, personal losses, studio splits, and economic ups and downs. Each day we are actively running our studio so we can relate to and help our members with managing the million details it takes to keep your studio running and growing.
They also say that they love the hundreds of resources on our site including: useful customizable downloads, templates, interviews, coloring pages, printable choreography routines, forms, surveys and more. These save time and money when it comes to things such as writing a letter to collect over due tuition, interview and hire a new teacher, contracts for staff, or create a studio rental agreement to name a few.
Plus it’s the best of both worlds, you get to collaborate with owners all over the globe through technology that allows you to do so from the comfort of your home or business.
4. You recently signed on with Dance Teacher magazine. Can you tell readers about that?
It is such a privilege to contribute to Dance Teacher Magazine, “Ask the Experts” is a great advice column for the dance world.
Specifically we have been invited to serve as columnists to focus on the issues that keep dance studio owners and directors up at night and concern them most: many of which we’ve experienced ourselves.
We understand that most dance studio owners and directors have been or continue to be actively teaching. The added complexity of being responsible for handling parent concerns, staffing issues, marketing challenges, and setting policies is what we focus on in this column.
5. You work with a lot of studio owners. What do you find they have in common with one another?
Whether a studio focuses on ballet, middle eastern dance, adults-only, ballroom, musical theatre, Irish step, dance fitness, or general performing arts they all need students in order to stay in business.
The other commonalities include staying informed on the latest technology to collect tuition, automating registration, marketing, website and social media communication to name a few. Not to mention each studio owner faces the challenge of a suitable space and facility plus the right schedule to fill their classes.
Although the dance disciplines, teaching methods, and personal student concerns can vary widely, I find that each studio owner has a lot in common with one another when it comes to starting, running and growing their studio.
6. What do you enjoy most about being involved in the dance community?
Being able to lift a dance studio owner or teacher’s spirits, encourage them, and contribute information that makes a difference. This is one of the most creative and enthusiastic communities: often working incredibly long hours, giving so much, whose rewards and satisfaction are found in areas that aren’t often measured monetarily.
In everything I write and create I always imagine that my best friend and trusted business partner is reading and using it. That’s who I feel our members and readers are: friends and trusted colleagues. I’m incredibly grateful and lucky that they give me the grace and opportunity to contribute to their lives and businesses.
7. What is the biggest change you’ve seen in dance studio ownership over the past 10 years or so?
I’d say the marketing channels. It used to be that you could print a nice looking brochure, send it to your mailing list, wait for the phone to ring and people would call to register. Or you could run an ad in the local paper and people would know you were open for classes. There were a few direct paths for people to follow.
Now we have online registration, automated billing, instant website updates, social media interactions, video sharing/critique from our teachers, email groups for communicating, and text messaging. There are review sites like Yelp, Merchant Circle; mobile check ins with Facebook and Foursquare; advertising online and offline, and much more.
Not only do the dance studio owners have many, many more marketing channels to communicate with current and potential students, they have to learn how to compete against the information overload to keep their business running and growing.
8. What has been the largest challenge for you in terms of serving the dance community?
I’d say the largest challenge has been to remind and encourage them to treat and relate to their studio like a business. This goes for everything from charging what your time is worth, properly setting tuition rates and fees, to learning when to let the wrong teachers go or how to hire the right ones.
The other challenge is the lack of time to focus on planning. When you spend so much time working in the day-to-day aspects of your business without taking time to really plan and work on the business you end up reacting to situations. This causes overwhelm and often feast or famine marketing attempts to find students.
9. What do you think about the recent explosion of dance blogs and online dance resources?
As creative and prolific as the dance world is, I think it’s a natural extension to see so many dance blogs and online resources available, they are outlets and access to further self-expression for both the writer and their audience. The other bonus is that the world is that much smaller now, you are not limited by your location anymore, from videos to online learning, you can get instant information when you want it and on very specific topics.
10. What is next for you and for DSO?
My mom, Kathy Blake and I will be presenting seminars again at the Dance Teacher Summit in New York City from July 29-31, this is such a great event for teachers and studio owners. We’d love to see you there! We are also going to offer some limited opportunities for aspiring and experienced studio owners to work with us in a more personalized way to accelerate their results. The site will continue to be enhanced, in fact we just rolled out a new website forum upgrade that members love. Plus we’re working on some products that stand alone and can be purchased separately. So stay tuned, there is much more to come!
BIO: Suzanne Blake Gerety owner of On Pointe Media LLC, the parent company of DanceStudioOwner.com, is the daughter of Kathy Blake and Vice President of Kathy Blake Dance Studios.
She is a regularly featured contributor in various pieces for Dance Teacher Magazine including, “Ask the Experts”, business articles, and has presented live workshops at Dance Media’s Dance Teacher Summit in New York City and the Turn It Up Dance Challenge Conventions. Suzanne is a featured contributor in the The FabJob Guide to Become a Dance Studio Owner, FabJob Guides have been featured in stories at The Wall Street Journal and Entrepreneur Magazine sites.
In addition to a degree in Psychology and Child Development, Suzanne has training and experience in communication and leadership from one of the world’s foremost personal development companies. She is the mother of two young children and is an advocate for dance education throughout the world. Suzanne brings the resources and support to current and future dance studio owners to help them achieve success.
You can follow Suzanne on Twitter:
http://www.Twitter.com/SuzanneGerety or connect on Facebook: