Founding partners Bill Brown and the late Terrance Curtis began Studio A in the early 1980s on a shoestring budget, a bounty of ingenuity, a blast of raw talent and a never ceasing can-do attitude. More than three decades later, this vibrant Los Angeles-based dance studio not only thrives, but is in overdrive with technology playing a big part in that success. Owner/Dancer Bill Brown discusses the process.
How do you utilize technology for teaching your dance classes?
Back in the early 80s when I was struggling to make rent on the dance studio, my other big expense was music. To keep my classes fresh, I introduce new music every week. Back in the day, I would listen to the radio to keep current. Then I went to the record store to purchase an entire album of a particular group to get just one song — expensive, between seven and twelve bucks. Today, getting the right music is much more economical with both my time and my credit card balance. I sit at my computer, open up iTunes and listen to music samples. I find a song I like, click purchase and immediately add to my playlist.
What is the benefit of using digital music?
Digital music is perfect. I buy a song once, use it as frequently as I like while never needing to replace a scratched album. Also, other songs within the genre I purchase are suggested to me, and more often than not, I buy those too. Since my students often approach me after class to ask the name of a certain song that they like, I take this as an indicator that I am finding great music.
Does social media play a part in your small business?
Since most of my students use Facebook, I use this platform to market my business by posting a weekly video of the class dancing the routine, capturing it on my iPhone. Since I constantly vary the dance combination, students check in to see what's up for the week, be that hip-hop, lyrical, Broadway or even three-quarter time. For each video, I use the tag line, 'See you on the floor!' I also use catchy titles for the videos, like when the presidential election was decided. I titled that week's dance: When Life Seems Low, Dance Goes High! In a sense, I am developing an online personality. Views are well into the hundreds and comments are always positive. I use Instagram too, posting 20-second dance videos that produce tons of likes.
How has technology helped to build your business?
My recent biggest business increase sprouted from one line that I posted at the top of my website's homepage that says, 'Last minute rental space by text.' Within a month, my rentals dramatically increased. That's because wherever I am I can negotiate a rental by texting. In this society, people want instant results, and I can provide. I have also learned to update my own website so I am in control of when a schedule needs last minute updating, like when an instructor cancels a class. Since the site is always up-to-date, I let my students know they can rely on that information to be the most current.
How else do you use technology?
For surveillance. Cameras that are set up on my building can be accessed by my iPhone. That means I can make sure the gate to my studio has been properly locked by the last person who made use of the space. Back in the day, I sometimes made a special trip back to the studio just to make sure the gate was locked. Plus, at any given time from anywhere I am, I can see the sidewalk in front of the building to make sure there is no suspicious activity, which gives me great peace of mind.
This article was written by Jane Lasky for CBS Small Business Pulse.
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