There are many things to consider when opening a new business. Whether you’re launching a swim school, gymnastics gym or dance studio, there are factors you must consider as a new business owner that are critical to your success.
If we’re being honest, they can be pretty overwhelming. That’s why we created this article to break down the must-know tips to help you juggle the parts of running a new youth activity center business in the new year.
9 tips to help you open a new business
Invest in marketing your new business
There are many reasons to invest in marketing a new youth activity center. The most obvious reason is to establish your program as the best choice for parents when looking to enroll their kids in swim, gymnastics or dance lessons.
Raise your hand if you’d drive to a cornfield in the middle of Iowa without reading, hearing and seeing the benefit of doing so? No offense to Field of Dreams but if you build it, they won’t necessarily come.
When launching a new youth activity business, use a combination of email, social media, word of mouth and community events to help spread the word about the programs you offer, your staff and the value your teaching brings to children in the community.
Set strategic business goals
One of the best ways to get organized and stay organized while opening a new business is to set goals. Goals are important for every type and size of new business– not just dance studios, swim schools or gymnastics gyms.
Whether you’re starting a new business or opening a new location, you should consider establishing goals.
So what kind of goals should you set? The answer will be as unique as the classes you offer, but here are some ideas to help get you started:
- Enrollment – Grow new student enrollment by X percent each month in the first year of operation.
- Retention – Retain X percent of students from season to season or annually.
- Staff – Hire X new staff members (instructors and/or admin) in a set time period or move X staff members to full-time instead of part-time.
- Tuition – Maintain competitive tuition rates while increasing tuition annually to offset business expenses.
- Professional Development – Read a new book, attend webinars, network with peers, etc. once a month to stay on top of business trends.
Create a user-friendly website
As a new swim school, dance studio or gymnastics gym, it’s important to give potential customers easy access to you 24/7. And by you, we mean your business.
This is where creating a user-friendly website comes into play.
These days, every business needs to develop an online presence. One of the best ways to get ahead of established youth activity centers in your community and appeal to the new students you need to enroll in your program is to create a phenomenal website that easily informs potential families.
Need help creating a website for your youth activity center? Here’s a great resource we created for dance studio owners. Hot tip: the advice rings true whether you’re opening a new swim school or gymnastics gym too. Enjoy! Read more.
Effectively manage tuition and cash flow
Starting a new business gives you the unique opportunity to establish or reestablish the way you set tuition rates and collect tuition from customers. And contrary to what you may believe, tuition doesn’t have to be difficult.
Keep these questions in mind when managing tuition at your new youth activity center:
- Will you offer discounts and prorated tuition? If so, how will you calculate them?
- How frequently will you increase tuition?
- What contactless e-payment options do you want to offer customers?
- How can I automatically post and process tuition payments?
While there are many things to consider when managing tuition, these considerations will help get you started on the right foot.
Managing the cash coming into your business can be a challenge for new business owners. Do you know what percentage of revenue is being spent on rent, labor and other expenses like utilities, marketing, fees, insurance and benefits and what percentage is profit? Do you know what those percentages should be?
Depending on your skill set, you may be better off hiring a numbers person to help manage tuition revenue and business costs. Remember: your expertise is your art or sport. It’s okay if you’re not also a business operations or money management expert.
Start delegating tasks to staff
Much like hiring a numbers person outside of your business to manage cash flow, it’s critical as a business owner to delegate tasks internally, too. If you haven’t mastered the skill of delegating business tasks, it’s okay, it can be learned.
It’s no surprise that most business owners are very proud and very protective of their business and find turning any part of that over to someone else is quite a test. But don’t let that fear of handing responsibilities over to someone cripple you.
To be successful at delegating an owner must:
Hire good people. You may not be able to do it all, but you can hire the right people to help you do it all. Hiring the right people to take over teaching and other business tasks will allow you the time to focus on strategies that will help your new youth activity center grow.
Trust the people you hire. Why hire good people if you’re not going to trust them? Sounds silly, right? In addition to spreading yourself thin by not delegating tasks to the people you hire, you’re making an expensive mistake by doing the job of the staff member that you’re already paying.
Trust your instincts. When the time comes to start delegating tasks to staff, don’t hesitate. Without immediate action, owners can miss out on the opportunity to leverage the skills of staff who are itching to establish themselves as trusted members of your team.
Use video in social media
True or False: Video is the new photo when it comes to social media?
While it’s important to share multiple types of media socially, there’s something about video that engages followers more than photo and text-only posts. Strong videos that introduce followers to your swim school, gymnastics gym or dance studio will help capture attention and set you apart as a new business.
The best way to utilize social media for your new business is to have a plan. Set SMART goals, create a social media calendar, and choose the platforms that are right for your business to help you get the most out of the video and posts you share socially.
Create a compelling corporate identity
If you’re opening a second or third location, this will be an easier step than if you’re just starting out. Be intentional about articulating who your business is and be consistent with portraying and communicating that identity. This is the basis for how you will differentiate yourself from your competition.
Unfortunately, many think corporate identity is all visual. Don’t make that mistake! Your core values, culture and community presence can have greater reach than your logo.
Improve critical-thinking skills
Opening a new business or expanding to multiple locations takes vast problem-solving skills. Using critical thinking is essential – yet not all who open youth activity centers come to the battle armed. It’s okay to admit this too! If only you knew how, right?
There are helpful professional development resources that can help you improve skills like analyzing a situation, communicating with others, thinking outside the box, keeping your options open and solving problems.
A great way to stretch your muscles to sharpen critical-thinking skills is networking. Online community forums, industry trade shows, webinars and your peer group are excellent places to soak up resources that will help you improve your new business owner skill set!
Use a cloud-based business management platform
There is a plethora of technology available to new business owners. One of the most important decisions you have as a new gymnastics gym, swim school or dance studio owner is to identify which cloud-based software will help your business streamline operations and implement it.
In a software solution, you’ll need the flexibility to:
- Manage class schedules and attendance
- Work on your business anytime, anywhere
- Choose an ePayment partner that offers meet or beat pricing
- Manage staff schedules, time and payroll
- Communicate with parents and staff
- Allow customers to enroll in classes from your website
- Add apps to your subscription that further enhance your customer’s experience.
Starting a new youth activity center in 2022? Get started with Jackrabbit Class today to help streamline operations, manage student enrollment and achieve your business goals.