ad 4 Artemis

Gilded Serpent presents...
How the Recession Affects Your Classes
And What You Can Do About It!
by Mira

It’s all over the news, it’s online, it’s everywhere—the United States is likely headed for a recession which could very well ripple around the world. The doom and gloom is depressing, and totally unwarranted. Yes, a recession will affect your classes. The good news is there’s plenty you can do to counteract those issues and keep your classes going stronger than ever.

The major issues with attracting students are ever-present. They’re just more pronounced during hard times. Here’s what you’ll likely start hearing from your current and prospective students.

Issue 1: Gas is Expensive
Getting to and from class is a big issue for many people, especially if you teach in a rural area without public transportation. I’ve actually had students quit simply because they couldn’t afford the gas. Encouraging your students to carpool is a great idea, but not always practical.

You can’t do much about the price of oil, or Middle East politics, but you can try setting up classes where people already gather. It’s far cheaper for you to go to the class than for the class to come to you. Decide on your minimum class size and advertise “Get 6 students together and I’ll come to you.”  There. No travel required for the students, and you may pick up some new ones along the way. Plus, beginners always have more fun in class if they are with folks they know.

The most obvious place is to do this is in the workplace--after hours, before hours, or during lunch. I’ve taught elementary school teachers who gathered in the gym after school. Larger corporations often look for new fitness alternatives for their employees, too. Start with your current students and ask if any of them are interested putting together a group where they work.

Don’t stick with the traditional—think “outside the classroom.” A lunchtime workout could give your schedule some diversity, so you’re not always teaching in the evenings.  Want to add some morning classes? Try the local hospital—doctors and nurses coming off the night shift might enjoy a relaxing class.

Other places people already gather? How about housing communities or senior centers? 

Issue 2: Childcare is Expensive
A great number of students are moms, and childcare takes a huge bite out of their budgets. If you can find a way to let them take class without paying for childcare, you’ll remove one more financial stumbling block. Some teachers allow children to play quietly in the back of the room during class, but this can lead to problems. Make sure you have guidelines in place to deal with any disruptive issues that arise.

Here are some easier ways to deal with the problem:

  • Offer to pay a teen you trust to watch kids in a separate room during class.
  • Hold class at a local “Y” or gym with available daycare.
  • Team up with a dance studio and hold concurrent “adult” and “kids” classes.

Issue 3: Little or No Disposable Income
Recession means everything is going to cost more and people’s extra income gets eaten up with the everyday items. I don’t know about your part of the country, but my weekly grocery bill has nearly doubled in the last few months. There’s simply not enough left over for “luxuries” like a dance class.

You need to address this problem head on. Your marketing should be understanding and proactive—acknowledge the problem and offer solutions. Students will feel better knowing you understand that it’s tough all over. But they shouldn’t ignore their health and emotional well-being either.

So, what kind of solutions can you offer?

  • discounts for extended enrollment or multiple classes each week
  • Special reduced fees for mother/daughter signups
  • Bring 2 friends-get ½ off your enrollment
  • Print up gift certificates for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Birthdays, etc.
  • Get grants to cover partial scholarships for students in need
  • Partner with corporations or health organizations for “get healthy” initiatives

I’m sure you can come up with lots of other ideas. The whole point is to make it as easy as possible for your students to afford class without sacrificing your income.

Mira teaches sword technique as a specialty class
to keep more advanced students coming back for more.

Marketing is more important now than ever before
It’s tempting to pull back your marketing efforts during tough times, but that’s how studios (and big corporations, for that matter) die. Sticking your head in the sand won’t keep you afloat. You must get the word out about why belly dance is essential to good health and emotional well-being. And you must make prospects understand why they should spend their money with you. Just putting out a few flyers isn’t going to cut it.

There are plenty of free or low cost ways to get the word out.

  • Press releases entice local reporters to do a story on you.
  • Online promotions using video of your class (with permission, of course)
  • Live demonstrations at area festivals and street fairs

Make sure wherever you perform you always put out a sign-up sheet for people to add their email addresses. They will get caught up in the excitement and put their name on a piece of paper a lot faster than they’ll seek out your studio and actually sign up for a class. Make it easy for people to talk to you. Having a list of people to contact puts the effort in your hands, so make sure you follow up with people within a day or two of the event. You don’t want their enthusiasm to cool.

Experts are predicting this recession could last six months to a year. How long can you stay in business if you’re losing students the whole time?  Get proactive, make a marketing plan, and follow through—you’ll be just fine.


Have a comment? Send us a letter!
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for other possible viewpoints!

Ready for more?
2-5-07 Tips on Getting Tips by Zaheea
Some audiences don’t know that they are expected to tip. Don’t take it personally.

10-29-06 Opening a Bellydance Studio, Tips for Success by Keti Sharif
She has recently retired fully from bellydancing but offers great advice on business plans for dancers wishing to expand their hobby into a career.

8-30-06 Independent Contractor or Employee? by Taaj
The important thing is that the relationship between worker and payer be classified correctly for tax purposes so that you are aware of what taxes and filings you are liable for

2-27-08 One Night at the El Morocco in Las Vegas by Anajim
Oh God, now we have to stay or be rude. I had a brainstorm, and retorted, "Well, I only like Armenian music. If you can play any of that, we will stay".

2-18-08 A Conversation with Dr. Mohamed Geddawi Ahlan Cairo Nights, August 4, 2007, Dallas, Texas by Catherine Barros
Dr. Mo is attentive to the workshop participants, giving a breakdown on each combination, and provides individual attention when someone has a difficulty. His no-nonsense style of teaching is informative, making you think about why you dance, how to dance, how to be a better dancer, and making you laugh.

2-18-08 A Night at Wahib's Roxxanne Shelaby's "Pure Sharqi" video and photos by Lynette
On January 19, Gilded Serpent was in Los Angeles for Pure Sharqi, a special evening of live music and dance, hosted by Roxxanne Shelaby (Hypzotica Productions), at Wahib’s in Alhambra. The evening featured the house band, led by Mouhamad Salem, along with invited dancers Aubre, Alexandra, the Lumina Dance Company, Debbie Smith, Sahra Saida, and Roxxanne herself, in addition to the regular house dance company the Sahlala Dancers.

2-16-08 An Invitation to Haiku the Bellydance by Najia Marlyz
Haiku often does not take itself or its subjects too seriously and is simply word images and sensory feelings conveyed by means of three lines only.

ad 4


 Gilded Serpent
 Cover page, Contents, Calendar Comics Bazaar About Us Letters to the Editor Ad Guidelines Submission Guidelines