Forum: Ask a Studio Owner

How close is too close to a competitor? (Need Help)
By ChasingDreams
On Sun Jan 20, 2019 09:31 PM

I am opening my own studio within the next few years and I'm still figuring out the location. Unfortunately, the area I live in is very saturated with dance studios. Not just within a few miles but many. All surrounding towns have multiple dance studios. At this point, I'd have to move an hour or more away to find a town with less competitors and those far away towns are not necessarily the best options anyway. My questions are, how close to an existing studio is too close to build mine? Also, will I get any business being a little bit close to an already established dance studio? Any advice helps. Thanks.

2 Replies to How close is too close to a competitor? (Need Help)

re: How close is too close to a competitor? (Need Help)
By jms9t2
On Tue Jan 22, 2019 09:48 PM
I think it really depends on a lot of factors and your specific community. There is another dance studio right down the street from mine but we rarely compete for students. One thing to look at might be whether you will offer something that the nearby studio(s) don't. Something that might draw customers to you or make you stand out. Like if the other studios are more competition-oriented, maybe you are more welcoming to the recreational students. Or maybe you offer a style of dance that the others don't.
My guess is that you would get some customers who are curious about the new dance studio. And then you have to provide an experience that makes them want to stay with you.
Just my two cents. Good luck!
re: How close is too close to a competitor? (Need Help)
By vfdtPremium member
On Mon Sep 02, 2019 01:31 PM
I bought an existing 40 year old dance school, about 10+ years ago, when its original owner retired. Since then, many more new studios opened up all around me, without doing their demographic homework first, and wisely choosing another spot. We're in an older, declining suburb, with small 50 year old houses, full of grandparents aging in place. Most young families with kids, opt to move to the further out suburbs, where their jobs have gone, and with new large cheaper houses.

Now, I'm stuck here, as early on, I sunk my personal savings into upgrading my storefront space, advertising my brand, etc. Same as above, I would have to relocate many hours away, since this whole area is saturated with too many competing dance schools. I own a paid off house nearby, and I'm too old to move.

My best advice to you is to try to buy an existing dance school, because it will be very hard to start up from scratch in an already crowded locale. Teachers who do otherwise are forced to be unethical, by initially working for a large dance school, bonding with their students, then opening up their own studio down the street - taking "their kids" with them, and gutting their former employer. (They can rationalize this as a savvy business move, but this behavior then makes every DSO cut-throat, and turns some dance schools toxic.) So while this works, it's a very cruel thing to do, and someday, someone will probably do this to you!

Years ago, specialization might have helped, but not any more, as my nearby mega-competitors in warehouses immediately copy EVERYTHING that I do, purposely destroying my niche. (This is what happens when you're in a sour over-crowded spot, instead of a sweet growing spot.)

Also be aware that today's kids are told to cycle through an over-abundance of competing activities, so don't expect your babies to stick with you, making dance their priority for the next 12 years. Meanwhile, colleges continue to pump out dance majors, with no immediate career prospects, so this saturated situation won't improve any time soon. Dance has lost its priority to sports, karate, and low cost local schools' activities (musical theater shows, dance team) right on their premises every night - a boon to working moms, but lethal to small businesses like ours.

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