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THE MULTICYCLE METHOD
By Mike Seastrom
Some clubs are really growing. Their classes are bigger and by giving more attention to their new dancer program, more people are starting and staying in square dancing. We have a whole generation of "baby boomers", between the ages of 45 and 55, whose children are beginning to "leave the nest". These "boomers" are looking for an activity to share that can include some exercise. Many of those that did a little country western dancing, when it was real popular a few years back, are looking elsewhere. Square dancing is one of the most "politically correct" activities and we're crazy not to capitalize on it now, and share our activity with more people.
Market researchers have told us for many years that we don't have a product to offer, if we can only make it available once or twice a year. The old way of starting a new dancer program only in September and/or January has not been very successful. If someone wanted to join, and missed the opportunity, in the few weeks the program was open, they'd have to wait another year. If a new dancers wanted to bring a friend, they would have to wait until next year's new dancer program. We now have a solution!
The Multicycle Method of organizing new dancer dances has been around for some time now. Former Chairman of the Board and Producer of Ranch House Records, Darryl McMillan, brought this idea to the Board of Governors attention in the 1980's and Keith Rippeto promoted the idea further while he was chairman of the Recruit, Promote, Maintain (RPM) Committee.
You might notice that we are now using more up to date names for our new dancer programs. Instead of beginners, new dancers is much less condescending and instead of classes, new dancer dances is much more accurate. New dancers are already a little uneasy when they first attend. By making each new dancer night more like a dance, it not only is less stressful, it's more fun. Think about it.
The Multicycle Method has also been called 10 Plus 10, among other names, but the concept is still the same. By starting more than once a year, you make our activity more available to potential dancers. Instead of waiting until next year, your enthusiastic new dancers become your best recruiters and can bring their friends several times each year. They can even dance with those they recruit immediately. By having two or three new dancer groups on the same night, you increase your revenue and more people means more fun. Those who miss dance nights or need additional dance time can repeat a cycle as necessary, instead of dropping out and waiting so long to start again.
There are many ways to run the Multicycle Program. You'll want to adapt this plan to fit your group and modify it as you go to make it work best for your situation.
You still need to promote and recruit new dancers with as much effort as before. The LEGACY Promo Pak, available from Stan and Cathie Burdick, P.O. Box 2678, Silver Bay, NY 12874, is a great source of ideas. The cost is only $5.00. Use as manu ideas as you can, and really encourage your new dancers to bring their friends. Personal contact is still the best recruiting tool.
I've been teaching for a group using one form of the Multicycle Method for three years now. The club has gone from around 75 members to almost 300. After deciding that they needed to "try something different, because the old way wasn't very successful", this club turned their attention to their new dancer program and really went to work. They include their new dancers in club picnics, camp-outs, theater nights, and other club activities, as soon as they start. They also distribute copies of the club newsletter each month where all names are mentioned for birthdays, anniversaries, and in other special interest articles. After going past the half way point, the new dancers are invited to club dances, where every other tip is called using only the calls they know. It increases the attendance at club dances and is a great way for club members and new dancers to establish friendships.
We start a cycle in September and start a new cycle every 17 weeks (three starts per year) and have three hours of dancing each night. For your very first cycle you can hold a new dancer dance from 7:00 - 8:30 and a "club funshop" from 8:30 - 10:00 p.m. We've even heard of clubs holding a line dance program the first half of the evening and a square dance program the second half. You decide how best to run the first cycle for your group. Even if you've planned the "old standard" program of one start per year, you can always switch to the Multicycle Method and start another cycle on the same night to increase your numbers and revenue. The next start is in 17 weeks, or the first part of January. Divide your night in two parts, and teach your new cycle 7:00 to 8:30 and your September group from 8:30 - 10:00. After another 17 weeks, or the first part of May, you can graduate your September group and start another cycle. This spring start is around daylight savings time and has proven to be an ideal time to recruit new dancers.
The shorter dance time is great for new dancers because it gives them time to build stamina. Instead of them going home tired out, you actually leave them wanting more and excited about coming the following week. As the dancers finish the first cycle they are encouraged to bring their friends, and while they are dancing the second cycle, they are also "angeling" their friends in the first cycle and reinforcing what they've previously learned.
If dancers get behind or miss a few weeks, they are encouraged to repeat that cycle and don't have to wait a year for a cycle to start again. We also find that we gain many former dancers, because they have opportunities to join where they feel comfortable many different times each year. Call your former members and encourage them to come back and "help" at your new dancer dances.
It takes several starts to build momentum, so don't give up after one or two cycles. You really need to try this program for more than three starts to fine tune it to fit your situation. Once you get to where your new dancers become your primary recruiters, the momentum you can build is exciting.
The only downside is that this program works best if dances are held once a week all year long, going dark only if necessary, for holidays. It keeps the momentum going and your dancers can always count on it. It can be run part of the year, if necessary, but it will take more effort to start it up again each year and this may decrease your numbers in the long run.
If you want to increase the numbers in your club, then update your new dancer program. Focus your club's attention on your new dancers. You'll make it easier for people to join square dancing and will be delighted with the results.
For additional information on the Multicycle Method, contact CALLERLAB.
From the Western Square Dancing Web page. Copyright notice.
Maintained by Tom Dillander - -