Editor's Note: The Game Has Changed
In DRN, we’ve always talked about the importance of building relationships with local dance teachers and studio owners as a way of driving traffic into your store. But those partnerships have never been more necessary. With seemingly unlimited discounts available online, the increasing prevalence of studio-only apparel and shoe brands and the introduction of services that allow studios to sell directly to students without the need to hold or manage inventory, you now need teachers and studio owners more than they need you. You must continually work to show them that you’ll go above and beyond to keep them and their students happy.
Get creative: Consider hiring a messenger and adding a same-day delivery service so your busiest customers can have the last-minute tights or shoes they need within a few hours of picking up the phone. Or try renting a corner of the lobby at your busiest studio and setting up a branded satellite location filled with tights and studio uniform basics, so students can grab them before class and be prompted to visit your main location for fashion items and accessories. And make sure you’re offering can’t-miss services to remind studio owners that it’s worth supporting your store because you’re providing more than just product. (For example, in “Relationship Reboot” (page 36), Diane Stein discusses how her in-store custom costume service is a huge draw to local dance educators.) The game has changed, and you must make it clear to your VIP customers that you will do whatever it takes to adapt.
With this in mind, back-to-school is more crucial than ever. Don’t wait to make sure you’ve got all of your ducks in a row for the busy season. “Back-to-School Guide” (page 20) features key fall ordering deadlines and incentives from leading manufacturers, plus ordering tips and tricks from several veteran retailers. Read on and get to work!
*Talk to me: How are you incentivizing teachers and studio owners to support your business in today’s marketplace? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject! Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.