Studio Tips, Sponsored by TutuTix

3 Tips for Doing Discounts Without Losing Money

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Discounts on tuition attract new clients and encourage existing clients to register for more classes. But while discounting has its benefits, if not thoughtfully administered, it can be a money loser. Here are three ways to structure your discounts to bring in the volume you want while keeping your business in the black.

1. Keep it simple.

To make it easier to see how much your discount is costing you, establish it as a percentage, rather than just subtracting a few dollars from monthly tuition. As a rule your discount percentage should always be considerably less than your profit margin. "The average dance studio makes a 10 percent profit," says CPA Sean Dever, whose business manages payroll for dance, gymnastics and swim schools. "Say you give a 10 percent discount for paying full tuition up front. You've already lost all your profit on that student."

2. Time it right.

Model your discount on the travel industry. For instance, travel discount programs offer bigger discounts closer to departure dates. So as the start of classes approaches, you might consider a deeper-than-usual discount to fill an empty spot—as long as it's not a prime-time class. "Once a session is locked down, and you know which classes have empty spots, send a notice to your e-mail list advising them of a 'special' discount," says Dever.

3. Save Groupon for special occasions.

Deal-of-the-day websites like Groupon don't make sense for a business that is based on building long-term relationships. "It's disruptive because you get dabblers," says Dever. "Parents typically try it to get a child in an activity, then switch to something else when the session is over." Instead, use Groupon for special events and one-off occasions, such as birthday parties or a trio of dance lessons for an upcoming wedding.

Music
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Securing the correct music licensing for your studio is an important step in creating a financially sound business. "Music licensing is something studio owners seem to either embrace or ignore completely," says Clint Salter, CEO and founder of the Dance Studio Owners Association. While it may seem like it's a situation in which it's easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission—that is, to wait until you're approached by a music-rights organization before purchasing a license—Salter disagrees, citing Peloton, the exercise company that produces streaming at-home workouts. In February, Peloton settled a music-licensing suit with the National Music Publishers' Association out-of-court for an undisclosed amount. Originally, NMPA had sought $300 million in damages from Peloton. "It can get extremely expensive," says Salter. "It's not worth it for a studio to get caught up in that."

As you continue to explore a hybrid online/in-person version of your class schedule, it's crucial that your music licenses include coverage for livestreamed instruction—which comes with its own particular requirements. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about music licensing—in both normal times and COVID times—as well as some safe music bets that won't pose any issues.

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Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to onstageblog.com, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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