How To Make Your Teaching + Studio Life Easier + Better with Micaela Crites
Ooooh we’re getting techie up in here today! My Backstage Blog guest today is Micaela Crites, the owner of The Streamlined Studio. Micaela’s business is all about making your dance studio more profitable, easier and better with tools like automation, lead generation, and ad tools.
Read on to learn some amazing tools from Micaela on how your studio (and you) can live your best, most efficient life!
KC: What's your earliest memory of dance?
MC: My earliest memory… definitely leaping over pretend ponds from corner to corner in the dance studio. I was probably the most excited 4 yr old in the room. I LOVED leaps!
KC: What's your background with dance?
MC: I started dancing at the age of 3 and haven’t stopped since! After high school, I continued my education at Western Michigan University as a dance major. One year in and I couldn’t take the cold. I moved out to Los Angeles to pursue my career in commercial dance. When I was in California, I began my career under the mentorship of Darryl and Linda Retter (directors of the Dancers Bridge LA program).
During my career, I was blessed to work with AMAZING choreographers and artists. Some credits include Disney Jr.’s Choo Choo Soul live tour, Australian pop artist Katja Glieson’s music video, a Toyota Commercial, dance education videos with MusicWorks, Dance Excellence Sunday Night Live performances, Mykel & Kyle Thorn’s collaboration music video and more. I can’t recall them all!
During my career, I had a ton of odd-ball jobs! I was a dog walker, See’s Candies girl, manager of MusicWorks, social media manager of Retter’s Academy of Dance, dance teacher, office assistant and more.
When I decided my heart wasn’t into auditioning, I started geeking out on the role that technology plays in the dance studio. I had spent thousands of hours behind the desk, learning how to run the studio. After a couple years, I noticed how I was repeating a lot of my tasks. When I started to become overwhelmed by everything that had to be done, I started creating automated systems. I was determined to make it as simple as possible, which is why I started my business, The Streamlined Studio.
KC: Was it love at first plie?
MC: Heck no! When I first started dancing, I tried so hard to suppress my love for it. I have two older brothers so I tried to ‘fit in’ by doing every sport under the sun and playing in the dirt. I still love sports and getting my hands dirty but I think it was undeniable that dance was my true passion.
KC: How did you get into dancing/teaching?
MC: I have no idea why I actually started dance classes as a 3 yr old. However, I know I stuck with it because I was bound and determined to be amazing at it (like everything else I tried). Dance always gave me an outlet that nothing else did. I could be creative AND athletic.
I found my love for teaching when I was super young… maybe 5 or 6 years old. I was always playing dance class or school with my pets, stuffed animals or friends. When I was an early teen, my dance teacher invited me to help choreograph for a few of the younger classes. I worked my way up to teaching my own hip-hop class. I thought I was HOT STUFF! Ha!
When I was a part of the Dancers Bridge Program in Los Angeles, I truly found my ‘voice’ for teaching. I fell IN LOVE with teaching the little ones. Every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday I taught 3 to 5 year-olds and that is where my magic came out. I loved finding new ways to ‘speak their language’ and empower them to grow as a dancer and a good person.
Now that I’ve moved back to the Midwest and no longer teaching a weekly class, I take every chance I get to sub or teach camps!
KC: What's your favorite thing about it?
MC: My favorite thing about teaching is seeing the ‘ah ha’ moments in the student’s face or winning over a little one when they refused to come into class but ended up having the time of their life! Another thing I really love is when they come back to class and show me what they’ve been working on and how proud they are of themselves!
There are so many things I love about teaching! :)
KC: Who are your dance heroes, and why?
MC: From the age of 13 yrs old my dance hero has been Ferly Prado. When I was 13 yrs old, I found her on YouTube (this is when YouTube was starting to get big). I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I used to try to learn her dances from the videos! I would play and pause them until I got it.
I grew up in a rural community, so hip-hop wasn’t really a thing! But I loved it! She was my first role model in the hip-hop world and I clung to everything she put out on the internet like it was my job.
When I moved out to LA to pursue my dance career, I continued to study her every move. Then, a big surprise happened. I walked into class and BOOM! She was teaching! Holy cow! I was finally meeting her! I was obviously fangirling... hardcore... but at that moment, I was so proud of myself for following my dreams. It was a reality now. My dance career was in motion and I was training with someone I had so much respect for! She taught me how to really go FULL OUT without hesitating, be confident, and OWN what I’m doing. Most importantly, she taught me that one person’s opinion does not determine my destiny. (Later on, she hired me for a commercial shoot she was doing with a German clothing line. That was cool!)
KC: Tell us about your business, The Streamlined Studio.
MC: The Streamlined Studio is designed to help studio owners create order and efficiency in their business with automated systems. We create systems for task management, recital success, lead generation, expanding your online presence, email marketing and more!
KC: What's one of your goals in working with studio owners?
MC: When I work with a studio owner to simplify their business, I don’t mess around. I help studios get straight to adding customer value with personalized and automated Welcome messages. We simplify and automate everything we can so that when we direct new traffic to your studio, you are able to handle the increase in students without hiring more admin or working more hours. After we simplify, we work on capturing the data from people visiting your website organically. Once we capture their information, we keep in contact with them until they become your happy customer. If you want to supercharge your growth, we create ad campaigns to spread the word and target your ideal customers. There is no wand to wave to make all of this happen without the use of technology and good ‘ole experience. I care about my clients and I know they need this in their business in order to have time and money for themselves. I know that not everyone is wired to love learning new technology, but I totally geek out over it! I spent years creating and testing systems to help studio owners save time so I know what works and what doesn’t. My goal is to make their life easier and BETTER… plain and simple.
KC: What's one of your favorite funny or heart-warming stories about working with clients?
MC: My clients know that when we’re on a call, they might here my dogs in the background. (I have 3 and keeping them completely quiet 100% of the time is nearly impossible.)
Last week I was on a call with one of my clients when someone knocked on my door. YOU BET MY DOGS WENT NUTS! I led them out of the room and shut the door. Right after that, hers started barking in response to mine! Funny or heart-warming? Could be both. We both chuckled for sure.
To me, it is the coolest thing to be able to connect with someone and be on totally opposite sides of the country. And when you’re on a web call, even your dogs can communicate!
KC: Are there any cliches or preconceptions about dance you try to correct in your work?
MC: 2 things I’m working to shift in my work:
Dance studios are ‘hobbies’.
Automation takes the personal touch out of a business.
Both are HUGELY wrong. The truth is that dance studios make communities beautiful. They aren’t just a place to learn pliés… they empower the next generation of leaders to be confident, artistic and strong. Owning a studio isn’t just a hobby either. It’s hard work! But it doesn’t have it be :) I believe that automation helps us fills the gaps when otherwise our human nature would fail us.
How many times has someone called into your studio and not signed up? Did you send them an email? If they didn’t respond, did you follow-up? Did you follow-up a second time when they were deciding on classes? Did you follow-up a third time after they took the trial class? If you haven’t forgotten by now, you have an amazing memory and a lot of time or a whole sales team. Most studio owners don’t have either one! With automation, we can make sure that whoever comes in our doors are welcomed and never ignored.
This means 3 things:
Your business can finally grow (more students have the chance to learn dance).
You don’t have to be overwhelmed by the influx of students.
Your studio is running like a BIG BUSINESS!
KC: Is there one thing you think the dance community needs more of, less of, or to get better at?
MC: Your dance studio is your business… invest in it like one. I think as creatives, it’s tough to invest in our businesses because we care so much. We care about the little girl who can’t afford dance classes. We care about teaching Suzie the private lesson. We care about hiring the best teachers. We don’t realize is that the backbone of our business is our business.
With all of the competition that is out there now, just having a ‘good program’ isn’t enough anymore. We need to invest in our marketing and systems just as much as our program.
KC: What's next for you and your business? Do you have any exciting projects on the horizon?
MC: I have recently rebranded and updated my services! I now have resources for your studio’s social media, SEO, marketing automation and more!
When you are a Streamlined Studio client, you will have all of the tools and resources you need to get more students, manage them with ease, control your online presence and have more time for the stuff you love. I make sure that everything is set up for you so that all you have to do is push go!
To learn more, go to www.thestreamlinedstudio.com
KC: And now, just for funsies…
KC: Burritos or tacos?
MC: BURRITOS all the way, but hold the cilantro, please!
KC: Legwarmers or ballet skirts?
MC: Hmmm… ballet skirts. They grew on me when I was teaching the little ones!
KC: Disco balls or rainbows?
MC: Definitely disco balls!
KC: Center Stage or Flashdance?
CM: Center Stage :)
KC: One word to describe yourself?
Thank you SO much Micaela for sharing your time and tips with us! I hope you got some great ideas out of today’s blog post, and if you’re digging the sound of this automation thing, make sure you check out this article on how automation can help your dance studio save some major books and be more profitable!
Happy dancing (and studio managing)!