Jeffrey Haper owns Midwest Dance Center in Sioux Falls, SD, with his wife, Carla. These days they eat, sleep, and dream of the sport of dance. The funny thing is that it never occurred to them to own a dance studio until three years ago.
Jeffrey always knew he wanted to own a business. He loves coffee and used to dream of opening a small coffee shop or café, and that didn't work out, but then the sport of dance entered his life when his 3-year-old daughter started at Midwest Dance Center.
The journey to owning a dance studio
While entering the world of a new sport as a parent is daunting, Jeffrey knew pretty quickly they were on to something. At the first dance recital for his daughter, Jeffrey saw firsthand what dance could do for a young girl’s strength and confidence, and he wanted that for his daughter.
“The first year we saw her dance we went to one my daughter’s recitals, and I was just blown away by the talent of the young ladies on stage and I thought, WOW if my daughter could grow into something like that it would be unbelievable.”
From there, Jeffrey and Carla were hooked. Midwest Dance Center became their community, so when the previous studio owners were ready to move on, they had an awakening. The Hapers became the owners of Midwest Dance Center.
They’ve built the business to serve approximately 110 families across recreational and competitive programs and classes. Midwest Dance Center also started using SportsEngine Motion to manage its entire business nearly two years ago.
Why Midwest Dance Center is special
When Jeffrey’s family was first introduced to Midwest Dance Center, the dance community at the studio immediately accepted them as their own. They became friends with everyone there and grew closer to this new family they were a part of over the years.
When the Hapers took over as owners, they knew they needed to keep the environment and community that they loved.
“We try to promote that family atmosphere and get to know people. We talk to the families that come in to figure out where they’re at and try to provide that home atmosphere.”
One thing Jeffrey loved about the studio before owning it was how creativity and individuality were encouraged. Along with the staff, they’ve stayed true to their nature and made it a comfortable environment for all.
“We’re eclectic, we’re a little crazy at times, and we can get a little weird, but we make sure we have fun while we’re doing this. Then when it’s time to get serious, we can do that too.”
A fun-loving nature mixed with the competitiveness to get serious when needed has helped Midwest Dance Center find a niche in the Sioux Falls community.
The goals and challenges facing Midwest Dance Center
Now nearly three years into owning Midwest Dance Center, Jeffrey wants to start thinking bigger. He has fully embraced the life of a dance studio owner and wants to spread the sport and the organization's values on a larger scale.
A goal they’re shooting for would be opening another studio location in the Sioux Falls area and potentially elsewhere in South Dakota. It’s all in pursuit of exposing more kids to dance.
“Something went off for me when my daughter got into dance and I was able to watch her and other dancers grow. I was able to watch dance change the lives of many girls turning them into strong and confident women.”
“I think dance is so unique because you can express yourself individually and as a team.”
It won’t be easy, though. While the Hapers are happy that there are other options for dance, it is difficult to compete with school programs that can offer a lower price point for their programs. The last several years have been particularly challenging as budgets have tightened for families in their community.
Midwest Dance Center isn’t just competing with other dance programs in their area. Options for many other youth sports have increased, leaving a smaller fraction of families’ time and money that can be spent on dance. Jeffrey has found that the key to keeping members is to be honest with people.
“If someone’s new to dance, we want them to find their spark through dance, but there are so many other options out there. You need to make that connection right away to get them to continue to pursue it as a sport.”
How SportsEngine Motion helps Jeffrey and Carla run Midwest Dance Center
One of the significant ways that Jeffrey says they have boosted their business is by managing their studio with SportsEngine Motion technology. Nearly two years ago, Jeffrey was purging his email inbox and stumbled upon an email from a SportsEngine Motion sales representative letting him know they could save time and money using the all-in-one software.
They had been using a program called Studio Director to manage their class registration. Still, they had to use separate platforms to get a mobile app and a website for their business. It took up so much of Jeffrey's time to manage all of the technology and wasn't providing the optimal customer experience.
“We were running three different platforms— we had a studio program in the background, then a website, and a separate mobile app from a 3rd party. It was super time-consuming.”
Once Jeffrey saw that SportsEngine Motion could provide all of those things in one platform, he was sold.
“I love that everything is connected. One platform for the main business features I need.”
“The fact that I can do three main things, website, studio organization, and mobile experience, is a must-have. So that is why I’ve loved SportsEngine Motion so much.”
When Jeffrey signed up with SportsEngine Motion, he was connected with an onboarding representative to help him learn the system and an account manager to be his long-term advocate with the technology. As impressed as he was by the customer service, he says the class management features set SportsEngine Motion apart.
“Having the flexibility to set up classes the way I need to has saved a lot of time. I can’t appreciate enough how flexible the platform is and the functionality built into it.”
We’ve heard how passionate Jeffrey has become about dance and the community he gets to serve every day. SportsEngine Motion is proud to reduce his time spent with administrative tasks and allow him to spread his passion for the sport, grow his business, and help reach Midwest Dance Center’s goals.
“I am so happy to have found a platform that works so well because I was very frustrated before SportsEngine Motion.”