As a student, and now a parent, who’s attended many dance schools, I’ve noticed some practices that I want to point out are deceptive and made me want to drop out of those schools. So I am going to lay it on the line (worst and best practices of website pricing) for all dance studios out there:
1. Registration fees: Please make sure that if you have a semester registration fee it is clearly marked and clearly understood if it is for every semester, or whether each new semester has a registration fee. I have actually gone to schools where the classes were one price but then there was a “hidden” registration fee.
2. Over promise, under deliver: Don’t over promise what I will learn and how long it will take for me to learn it. As a current parent, I have been told how quickly my 5-year-old daughter will be ready for competitions! As an adult student, I’ve been told that I will be able to Salsa like a pro in no time flat. How can any school possibly promise that without seeing my ability first?
3. Additional fees: Any additional fees should be clearly marked on your website or your policy papers and that includes:
- Performance Fees (recital, etc.)
- Music Fees
- Clothing Fees
- Room Fees
- Supply Fees, etc.
Obviously, if a student is in competitions, all fees pertaining to competitions including costumes, entry fees, travel, etc., should be clearly outlined and defined prior to the start of class.
4. Class levels/student abilities: Keep classes at their proper levels: I know that most studios are very careful about correct placement, especially at the children’s level. But when it comes to adult classes, I have noticed that schools seem more lenient in order to increase enrollment. This pulls the rest of us down and makes me not want to join again.
5. Payment policies: Let me know clearly exactly when payment is due and if I have the option for putting charges on my credit card, setting up recurring billing, and late fees.
And last, but not least, my pet peeve: Please, do not blame a child for the parents not paying. I have been to several studios where children are benched because their parent hasn’t paid. Now, I completely understand letting the parent slide during these economic times. I also understand that it is hard to refuse a child who arrives after school without a guardian. But to have the child sitting and watching the class, while not being able to participate, is punishing the child not the parent. Please try and figure out a way to get the parent to pay without embarrassing the child. It is not her/his fault.
One way is to institute recurring billing where the money comes directly from the bank account or credit card. Yes, you will have some cards that don’t go through, but at least you can then properly notify the parent in advance to not bring the child to school.
I hope this insider’s viewpoint helps you grow your business and keep parents and students happy and tapping back for more!