The Peninsula School of Dance has been operating out the Rosebud community hall and before that in Mornington for over 53 years. Formerly known as the Rosebud Ballet School it started its Rosebud beginnings in 1961 with 23 students, pianist and a talented dance teacher Ms Sandra Allen. Seven years ago, Ms Sandra passed the ballet barre on to me and the Rosebud School of Dance became the Peninsula School of Dance.
Over the past 7 years our school has grown from 90 to 300 students, and we have come to need more from our dance space. We have a mighty legacy of dance passion and community connection. So, it was a with careful foresight and planning that we orchestrated a move from the rented space at the back of a community hall, to our own dedicated Dance Studio in a Warehouse nearby Business Service area of the peninsula.
So how do you survive a move from a small dance hall to a large Warehouse studio in just 12 months? Here’s Part 1 of my 12 top tips…
- Let your staff and your clients know ahead of time of your move
Don’t risk the potential of losing clients, or staff. It’s best to announce well head of time that you plan to move as some of them may also need to prepare for relocation. We were aware that our move impacted on some parents and their ‘mum and dad taxi service schedule’ in ferrying kids around. We wanted to give them an early heads up so they could consider conflicting schedules and locations. Aside from posting notes on our facebook page, website and our seasonal newsletter, we also posted a note on our current studio location and the new location.
We also made sure we kept our suppliers and business supporters in the loop with regular emails to avoid any inconvenience and to help them message our changes as well.
- Milestone lists & involving staff are a must
Every task seems so big, and seems to lead into the next job! Making a schedule helps prevent any unnecessary panic. & in utilising the volunteering of people who ask randomly ‘how can I help?
We assigned specific people with the task of managing the actual studio / office move. That person was someone who could concentrate on set tasks, while I got on with the rest. We are a small business, a small team and I was fortunate that my team provided support and made sure that the move was successful and nothing was left behind.
I involved the staff in the process as much as possible. They pitched in with painting etc. into the wee hours sustained by pizza & chocolate! They also have played an important role in working out the function of the space – layout, positioning of furniture through to where to house the all important fairy wings are. Like most of us in small business, I called upon the support of my family and friends who donned overalls, packed boxes and hitched trailers.
Many businesses have to deal with fragile equipment like computers and IT equipment. For us most of the fragile gear was the dance equipment like the piano, ballet barres and rails, mirrors and costumes. Being surrounded by ballerina’s meant that my costumes in particular were in good hands, and they diligently labelled boxes and tubs with names and content.
Some of our move was a gradual process as the space we were in was a rented room in a community hall. My office, and many costumes were still housed at my residence. Our beloved piano however was moved by the professionals and great planning was involved to facilitated the move and its careful care. For a dance teacher, the piano is a valuable and necessary tool and one which required professionals!
Some of my technology needs however required a little more thinking. I I alerted my IT service provider of our move and was across any back-up needs and considerations before I set up in my new office.
- Prepare for planning permits
Applying for a planning permit is an extensive process. It was important to build a respectful relationship with the relevant planner’s at the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council and communicate our business goals. We allowed ample time for this application process – we all know the cogs of local government don’t always turn as fast as we would like! I also spoke with other dance school directors who had been through similar processes and this was valuable advice. However each local government authority does tend to do things slightly differently to one another so it’s important to read their guidelines and talk to locals.
- Dream big and be clear insharing that vision
During the planning phase in considering how to best utilize the space, we explored a variety of options. It was my talented brother-in-law who helped a blue sky vision of a mezzanine level come to fruition thanks to his building skills and hearing our needs. Along the way there were extensive negotiations with architects, engineers, builders and ourselves. It was important for us to communicate clearly what we wanted from the space so that the experts we called upon could do their job and understood just what our needs were. We were not building a mezzanine for storage or office purposes but for dancers and we had to clearly communicate this difference through diagrams and clear conversations.
- Prepare a services list
With a business depending on services such as electricity, water, phone and others its important to notify services prior to move. In our case we were also fitting out a warehouse and needed to understand the complexity of relocating bathrooms and building an extra floor to accommodate an additional dance studio. Make sure you are in touch with your service providers form the beginning so that you understand what’s involved and there’ll be no unnecessary disruption of services.
- Have a back up plan
Your backup plan will need to cover things like accessibility of files, what phone will clients ring in the interim. Who has access to passwords, will there be a sign on the old door and the new door?
If the timelines get blown our, isthere temporary space you can borrow temporarily? We had a backup plan to remain at the hall if our timelines blew out and had discussed this with the landlords.
Exhausted? I was at that point too. But having a plan sure did help us in our dance school move. Tune in next week for Part 2.
PSD is a dynamic little dance studio and peninsula business with successful community and business connections. Learn more about us at www.peninsuladance.com.au
A celebration of a boutique dance school’s family friendly community. Miss Melanie shares her passion, skill and knowledge in nurturing young dancers as they express themselves through the joy of dance. Offering tips, how-to’s, a dance teachers reflections and connections with the on-line dance community. Peninsula School of Dance is located on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula.
Melanie Gard is a respected Licentiate with Cecchetti Ballet, an affiliate of the Australian Teachers of Dance and the Director of the Peninsula School of Dance. www.peninsuladance.com.au