Who puts the dance in DanceStudio-Pro? The entire team! The dance software company’s professional staff includes former dance studio managers, studio owners who run their business by day and work at DSP at night (or vice versa), and dance parents who provide feedback on how DSP systems run.
Oh, and don’t forget the DSP customers—studio owners—who give comments and suggestions through an “Idea Portal” where they cast yea or nay votes on each other’s suggestions or products in development. Studio owners also serve in focus groups and beta test new DSP products.
CEO Laura Cole doesn’t have a background in dance, coming instead from the world of payment processing in the world of higher education. But she has something equally important—a parent’s perspective. “I register my own kids for activities online all the time, and I can see what works well or is clunky in other software, giving me the same perspective as our customers’ parents,” says Laura..
“We want the customers’ voice in all that we do.”
When she joined DSP in October of 2020, Laura quickly recognized the value of the company’s base of loyal customers, and the strength of the product’s simplicity. Yet there was no sales or marketing team in place—most customers had found DSP through word-of-mouth recommendations—and customer communication was imprecise. “My number one challenge was changing from reactive to proactive communication,” she says. “We needed to do a better job of helping our customers understand ‘why’ and ‘what’s in it for you’ when we changed something.”
And they have. After a few missteps related to COVID in the 2019-20 season, the DSP team has worked tirelessly to build trust and improve customer communication, and has built a robust sales and marketing operation. “We value our partnership with our customers,” she says. “To build respect you must communicate, and we are doing that.”
Buoyed by Laura’s extensive background in secure payment processing, the team worked to fully integrate what was previously an add-on service and focused on educating studio owners about the advantages of online payment systems for tuition and other studio charges. Their efforts have paid off big time—today, about 90 percent of DSP studios use the software to easily and securely process payments.
“Yes, there is a fee with online payments, but if you do the math you’ll see how much time this saves versus taking a check, logging it in, taking it to the bank, and waiting for it to clear,” Laura says. “If you are using DSP, our online payment processing saves incredible time and is a much safer way to secure your business.”
DSP is now speeding ahead with new products and services, such as DanceStudio Pro-Premiere ($69/month) which features:
- “Studio Chat.” Studio owners can engage in chat discussions with individual clients, groups, or entire classes through an app, eliminating the need to give out their personal phone numbers. Clients receive notifications for new chats, and studio owners see which clients have read which chats.
- “Zapier Integration.” Allows for automation by linking data in DSP with other software tools such as Mail Chimp, Constant Contact, Keap, Google Sheets, Google Mail, Excel, and others. While DSP offers multiple reports and systems for processing data, “every studio has its own way of doing things,” Laura says. With Zapier, studio owners can connect easily to any external tool they like.
- “Individualized User Settings.” While DSP allows studio owners to assign staffers specific roles with specific permissions, Premiere users can block or allow individual tasks: for example, Miss Suzie can have administrative permission with no access to financial data but permission to process credit cards at the door at recital. “We want owners to have flexibility on how they run their businesses,” Laura says.
These and other enhancements will assure that DSP remains a top contender in the dance studio software field where yesterday’s newest thing is practically passé today. “Rarely a week goes by when we don’t roll out a new feature,” Laura says, that adds to the software’s studio-centric offerings such as class registration, tuition and fee payment processing, recital planning, online ticket sales, student database, staff management, internal and external communications, online store, and more, all for a low monthly base price ($39).
Using language familiar to studio owners—and with a new onboarding resource that helps new DSP customers quickly get the software up-and-running—DSP “takes talented teachers and transforms them into successful business owners” by providing everything they need in a secure and supportive software system. With DSP, studio owners don’t have to be physically in their studio to run their business—as Laura sees it, DSP software “saves stress all the way around.”
“The DSP secret sauce is that we’re really simple,” she says. “Our fees are simple; our tools are simple. It’s easy to track how healthy your business is. We do all the hard work behind the scenes.”