A Tale of Two Studios Part I

This is a story about two studio owners with two very different tales to tell…


For many of us, our childhood was spent with idyllic scenes of laughter, beautiful music and friendships made through years of performing.  


The long rehearsals perfumed with the lingering scent of hair spray, practicing at home in front of the mirror and sing-a-long car trips to performances are memories we treasure.  


For Sally and Sarah, our two studio owners, this was no different.


These two girls grew up performing together in musicals, going to competitions and eisteddfods together, practicing their routines and lyrics on weekend sleepovers.


As the glue of their friendship, the sun rose and set with performing.   


When the end of high school neared and the question was posed to them, “What do you want to do with your life?” there seemed like only one possible avenue to pursue.  


Smart, passionate, ambitious – these two girls had the world at their feet.  They both decided that nothing makes them happier than performing and having done a bit of work as junior teachers at a summer camp, they decided to forge a career within the performing arts.


The two girls graduate from university and return home with big dreams to open their independent studios and give children the same childhood experiences that they cherished.  


Fast forward five years and life for the two women could not be more different.  


Sally runs a highly profitable studio with 650 students and a team of dedicated teachers she adores.  With a beautiful purpose built space, she has a reputation in the community for excellence and enrols on average about 10 students per week with very little marketing.  


Her retention is outstanding at 90% and she is comfortably financially free.  She does work very hard (too hard, her husband says) but the level of growth within the studio fuels her to the point where it doesn’t feel like work to her.


Sarah, on the other hand, has never quite managed to get momentum happening in her studio.  She’s a one woman show, doing all the teaching, marketing, invoicing and admin.  It feels like she can never quite get on top of things at the studio.  


To put it bluntly, Sarah is in survival mode – struggling to make rent, barely paying herself a wage yet working like a dog.  


To keep afloat, Sarah took a morning reception job at a local real estate agency, but with less time to work on the studio, she works late into the evening after teaching.  She’s on the path to burn out – and she knows it.  


Her family are lovingly – yet annoyingly – encouraging her to close down the studio and perhaps look for a full time job.  


You’d be an amazing school teacher!  You’ll have a stable income – and think of the holidays!”, they tell her.  


But in her heart, she knows she wouldn’t have it any other way.  Yes, she may be flat broke, exhausted and at times demoralised, but the smiles of her gorgeous students are worth every long night on the computer.  She just needs to find out how to make this work.  


Sarah looks at Sally (even though she loves her like a sister) and cannot help but feel envious.  


“Why is this so hard?  What am I doing wrong?  Why can’t I make this work?  Why is it so easy for Sally?  What am I missing!??!”


It begs the question: Why did Sally’s studio flourish, yet Sarah’s studio flounder?


With such similar backgrounds, both with intelligence, education and passion behind them – why were their results so different?  


How is it possible that even within the same suburb, some studios can sustain 500+ students, while others fail to crack the 50 student mark?  


This is what is so fascinating about Sarah and Sally’s story and the story of so many studio owners around the world.


What is the secret to creating a thriving studio like Sally’s?  What does Sarah need to do to turn things around and elevate her studio to the next level?


To find out what happened to Sally and Sarah, keep an eye out for Part II.  


In the meantime, let’s play a game…


What do you believe is the secret to turning a studio around?

If you were to give advice to Sarah, what would you share with her?

Post your advice in the comments below and I’ll reveal Sarah’s journey from trying to thriving in the next post….

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