Dance Studio Management Software — Can I Justify the Expense?

By ClassJuggler Dance

Is now the right time to start using a software product to manage your dance business? To answer that question, consider doing a simple cost-benefit analysis. In other words, what will it cost you to use it, and will the benefits justify the expense or effort?

It might not make sense for some dance schools to make the investment, or at least not yet — we’ll cover what to consider deeper in this article.

On the other hand, a dance school may be losing business or throwing away valuable time (thus increasing expenses) by not making the investment: by continuing to do things manually rather than using intelligent software designed to help you manage your dance school.

What is a cost-benefit analysis?

It’s a systematic approach to estimating the financial strengths and weaknesses between two options. The calculations you make to do a cost-benefit analysis will help you determine the best of the options for your business — in this case, whether to incur the costs of getting and using online dance studio software or to incur the costs of continuing to use manual approaches to running your dance business.

Why do a cost-benefit analysis for my dance school?

Time is money.

After performing a cost-benefit analysis, you’ll be able to determine which option is the best for your school. Once done, you’ll know if the cost of the online dance class software you are considering will sufficiently save you from the costs of how you currently do business. Business inefficiencies are common when you are managing the daily aspects of your dance business manually, rather than benefiting from a powerful business management tool designed specifically for dance studios.

Note: When we use the term “expenses” here, we are not just referring to actual dollars spent but also time spent – which is indeed an expense since, as they say, time is money.

How do I do a cost-benefit analysis for my dance studio?

A good way to create your own cost-benefit analysis is to create a table with three columns; the first column identifies the expense item, the second column tracks the cost of that task, the third column tracks the benefits as time saved (i.e. cost savings) by using software to simplify or automate the manual tasks you are already performing.

Create your own cost-benefit analysis for your dance studio.

For your expenses column

Jot down the hours you and your team now spend doing things manually today that the software can automate or simplify for you tomorrow. What the software can do depends on the service provider but, generally, you’ll want to include how much time you spend doing common tasks, such as:

  • collect and manage payments from customers.
  • Send updates and communications to your customers.
  • Set up new classes and organize their schedules paying attention to conflicts and instructor availability.
  • Announce your classes and schedules to customers and update your website or printed materials.
  • Enroll students in classes, and manage attendance.
  • Track costume deposits and other fees.
  • Bill regular class tuition each month.
  • Determine which customers are behind on payments and send them reminders.
  • Figure out monthly and annual revenue in order to budget for payroll and expenses.
  • Identify how much front-desk time goes to taking payments and making a record of those payments.
  • …and all of the other day-to-day tasks of running a bustling studio.

Once you’ve identified as line items all the tasks that dance software may positively influence, come up with time estimates you spend on average for those tasks. Of course, some tasks, such as creating classes for a new session, may only occur 2 or 3 times a year, so be sure to capture those time intensive tasks. 

Total up all those current time costs at the bottom of your expense column.  You can even consider assigning a per-hour dollar value to the total to give you a feel for the cost of your time (which could be an average of your staff’s hourly rates).

Fill out the dance software benefits column

In your benefits column, you’ll calculate for each line item how much time you estimate you’ll save each month by moving those tasks into your dance studio software. Coming up with those values is not always easy without prior knowledge of the software, but a good rule of thumb is to figure a 35 percent total savings by implementing studio software at your business (see “survey data” section below for more on the savings).  As with the expense column, multiply that time savings figure by the average hourly cost of you and your staff, and total those figures up at the bottom of the benefits column.

It’s satisfying to see how much you can save using actual, quantifiable numbers!

Add up the savings!

Let’s take a conservative view and say that your expenses column comes to 35 hours of administrative time each month, and let’s say that you multiplied by a staff rate of $22/hour; that comes to $770 of added monthly expenses. 

For your benefits column, we’ll use that 35 percent average admin time savings rate to show that you’ll save a total of 12.25 hours monthly or $270 in administrative costs by using dance studio software.  In this example, we could easily pay for studio management software with those type of savings.

To calculate the fees you’ll pay for using the online software, consider that some providers have upfront fees (ClassJuggler does not), and all have monthly fees that usually vary in amount based on the number of students you have. Some have a base monthly price that doesn’t include all the features, so find out if there are any extra costs for tools or features you need beyond the basic service fee.

How specifically can dance studio software save me time or frustrations?

Here are some business processes that most leading dance studio software streamlines for you:

Customer self-service capabilities (like paying for classes on their own phone) take the burden off your front desk staff.
  • Literally a click or two lets you run many reports that identify expenses, income, attendance, student info, etc. by feeding the data from your school database. This could turn a 2-to-3 hour manual process into a 20-second process!
  • With a click, identify and notify by email all customers who are not up-to-date with payments, letting you send out mass email messages to each person who meets that criteria.
  • Use built-in SMS texting tools to notify specific groups of students of, say, a weather-related school closure. The software can first let you filter the list of recipients by class date, class location, or any other information you track.
  • Online customer self-service tools can handle such onerous and common tasks as signing up students for classes, registering new customers, processing student payments, etc.. Letting customers set up their own profile, update their profile with a new address, and even make class payments (at any time from any web connection) will save you and your team significant time monthly.
  • If the software has a staff portal, you can make a tedious instructor task–such as viewing their class schedule and rosters and taking attendance, happen in real time, with absentees and students present for the class identified and entered by the instructor with the tap of a finger on their smartphone.
What will you do with your savings?

Time saved is money saved!

What if using online dance studio software can save you even just three or four hours of administrative time each month? With those three or four extra hours returned to you and your staff, you can:

  • Grow your business without having to increase proportionately the number of employees you hire.
  • Focus on important things that often get swept away, such as promotions or sales, and contacting prospective dancers. Adding just a single customer to your monthly roster could be worth more in additional monthly income than the monthly cost of the software.

What factors should I consider when choosing to buy dance business software?

For a larger or busier studio (say, 80+ students), the monthly cost allocation of a powerful studio management software system can quickly become negligible compared to the amount of time the software may save you, or compared to valuable insights you may gain that can help you improve how you run your business.

When deciding if the time is right, consider:

  • The size of your studio (A startup school with just a couple of classes may not yet have enough revenue to benefit from the cost)
  • The stability of your business (Are you planning to expand? Planning to retire soon?)
  • Growth factors (Are you growing faster than you can hire instructors?)
  • Business model (Are you a solo teacher, working out of your garage, with no plan of teaching more than one class a week? Or do you plan to add classes and instructors?)
  • The size of your studio (A startup school with just a couple of classes may not yet have enough revenue to benefit from the cost)
  • The stability of your business (Are you planning to expand? Planning to retire soon?)
  • Growth factors (Are you growing faster than you can hire instructors?)
  • Business model (Are you a solo teacher, working out of your garage, with no plan of teaching more than one class a week? Or do you plan to add classes and instructors?)

The more your business grows, the more complex it will become. As you grow beyond a class or two weekly, the efficiency you will gain from management software will continue to add to your profit margins. From what our clients tell us, they universally experience significant cost savings by using ClassJuggler if they have as few as 50 students.

Survey data shows that class-based businesses spend on average more than 35 hours a month on administrative tasks related to registering customers, creating student files, signing students up for class, and handling customer payments for fees. That same survey showed that, on average, class-based business software users cut their administrative tasks by 35 percent, with nearly 20 percent of survey respondents seeing administrative tasks cut more than half!

One of our clients told us that, as her business grew, so did the paperwork.  As a dance studio owner, she said she had to find a solution that would enable her to keep better and faster accounting on new and present customers, making it easy to pull up data, run reports, and more. Before using ClassJuggler, she was creating paper reports, using time that she would rather spend on her students. In her own words, “Time is money, and doing reports doesn’t make you money; serving customers does.”

“Time is money, and doing reports doesn’t make you money; serving customers does.”

Buy or don’t buy dance studio software? It comes down to this…

If you find that the time you’re spending on the business of managing your dance school business is interfering with your joy of teaching dance, it’s probably past time for you to make the investment in one of the leading online software dance school management solutions available.

ClassJuggler Dance is the best online dance studio management software for the unique business needs of ballet studios, tap dance schools, jazz classes, ballroom dancing schools, and any other business that manages classes, customers, and students.

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