Q: Do you waive tuition for your instructors' children? As we grow, I'm finding it hard to keep giving away free spots that could be for paying customers.
A: The children and family members of your instructors are often a special part of your dance family, but when determining what will work, you must consider the size of your studio, the number of children any one person has and how many hours they work, or years of employment. Use this as an opportunity to establish a fair but financially feasible benefit for your teachers, and understand that you will reevaluate as you grow and change.
You'll also need to know what your actual costs are for running any class—payroll, studio usage—to determine if free tuition is possible. In most cases, you're paying a teacher the same rate for all classes, even when students who dance for free participate.
One way to gradually shift away from a free policy is to offer instructors one free class for each child and a discount on any additional classes. You may also make discounted or free classes dependent upon space available: If you have an opening, and both a paying customer's child and a faculty member's child are interested, ask your instructor to choose an alternate class for her child or pay at least 50 percent to meet your expenses.
At our studio, we offer part-time instructors (those who teach less than 15 hours a week) a 50 percent discount for their children. Children of full-time instructors/staff (who teach or work in our office for more than 15 hours a week) get free classes. All of our instructors get a discount on costumes and dancewear and pay full-price competition fees and expenses.