If Silence Is Golden, My Studio Lobby Is Violet …And I’m Turning Red!!
(OK, I know the headline is a stretch. Please refer to the accompanying color wheel.)
LinkedIn is not only a great way to connect to others in your field but its Groups feature offers a fabulous forum for asking questions and sharing ideas with peers. I’m a member of the Dance Teachers/Studio Owners group where recently a member presented the problem she was having keeping her school’s viewing area quiet.
Be it your lobby, viewing room, hallway, or waiting area, I’m sure you’ve dealt with noisy patrons (namely siblings, waiting dancers, or possibly the worst offenders: parents)!
According to the responses on LinkedIn this studio owner was definitely not alone! I’ll summarize the suggestions and share some solutions of my own.
Then it’ll be your turn – let us know how you’ve solved this common problem. What worked, what didn’t?
How To Quiet The Clientele
Showing movies/DVDs was often suggested and is actually something the original poster had already been doing. So obviously this one isn’t surefire (is anything?).
You might try diversifying your options and displaying recital videos, kids shows or family friendly movies, providing an array of books, magazines, toys, and games. Someone even suggested headphones for viewing. Test a variety and see what works best for you.
Again, this one was reportedly tried. However, I liked the suggestion of our friend Richard Maddock about using quotes on silence because it brought a touch of humor to the situation, though perhaps too subtle for some. His example was “Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose.”~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.
It made me think about our use of signs for getting messages across and beyond passing the Scan, Scroll, Stroll test, making something memorable (funny is good, so is a unique visual) is probably crucial for effective signage.
Designated Parent Observation
Many commenters replied that they designate specific times for watching class. You may find this is trickier in an area designed specifically for viewing class but still, if spectators can’t stay quiet, you’ll have to implement limits and restrictions.
The traditional parent observation is one option whether it’s once a month or once a semester. Another alternative is allowing viewing only for 15 minutes at the start or at the end of class.
Spending a little extra time or money to sound proof a room might save you from a lot of headaches in the long run.
B.Y.O.E. (Bring Your Own Entertainment)
Another possibility is to suggest approved entertainment sources for viewers to bring along to the studio. Communicate these in your outgoing newsletter. Just remember, a newsletter is similar to posting signs. The communication has to meet some basic criteria to be effective.
Send a Message
There are lots of ways to send an immediate message when things are getting too noisy. An assertive or reprimanding tone of voice or a particular phrase or threat might be all that’s needed to muffle the mayhem. Less direct recourse included on LinkedIn was turning lights off and on and pointedly closing doors.
Going back to the basics of behavior modification, don’t forget to document your rules and regulations in a handbook (perhaps with a signed agreement). Then, issue warnings when necessary and follow through with consequences for repeat offenders.
Reward Appropriate Behavior
A little positive reinforcement can go a long way and the methods for granting rewards are as numerous and unique as dance studios themselves.
A positive and hopefully creative solution involves incentives. Nominate some “Quiet Cops” to patrol the area. Let your clientele know that these officers will be listening and issuing rewards to especially quiet lobby dwellers: a recital ticket voucher, class coupon, snack bar vouchers, or tokens to collect and turn in for merchandise.
You could be the lone enforcer and quickly hand these out after class or appoint volunteers to monitor the room. The idea is to keep it fun and positive – a reward system rather than punishment.
A Parent’s Observation
It’s interesting to note that a parent replied to the discussion reminding all that if you elect not to deal with unruly viewers, you could lose parents and students who do follow the rules!
When A Problem Resolves Itself
What a relief that is, right? It does happen occasionally and seems to have occurred in the original poster’s case. Sometimes what seems like huge problem just needs a little time or a minor fix.
- Perhaps it’s the beginning of the year and parents/students are catching up after a summer apart.
- Perhaps the problem isn’t as widespread as you think or fear. Take a close look, maybe only a few are ‘ruining it’ for everyone. If so, take them aside and deal with it privately.
- Perhaps a tactical change is all you need. If you’ve been loudly voicing your displeasure and getting no response, try a calmer approach to get everyone’s attention.
Remember, it is human nature to socialize and even considerate people sometimes let the volume of a conversation escalate without meaning to.
Apply the Golden Rule and extend to others (especially your paying customers) the same respect and compassion you’d desire if you were in their shoes. But don’t let noise be a distraction for your students. When it comes to learning, silence from the waiting room IS golden.
Over to you…
What solutions have you found to this problem?
Can you suggest particular phrases or creative ideas that might improve a noisy lobby or viewing area?
Nichelle Suzanne is a writer specializing in dance and online content. She is also a dance instructor with over 20 years experience teaching in dance studios, community programs, and colleges. She began Dance Advantage in 2008, equipped with a passion for movement education and an intuitive sense that a blog could bring dancers together. As a Houston-based dance writer, Nichelle covers dance performance for Dance Source Houston, Arts+Culture Texas, and other publications. She is a leader in social media within the dance community and has presented on blogging for dance organizations, including Dance/USA. Nichelle provides web consulting and writing services for dancers, dance schools and studios, and those beyond the dance world. Read Nichelle’s posts.