Ask the Experts: Competing with Extreme Discounts


Q: I have a 15-year-old studio with 300 students in an area saturated with other studios. Several of these studios have started offering extreme discounts ("Take two classes, and the third is free," "Boys dance free!"). Financially, I can't compete with these prices—my overhead is just too much. What should I do?

A: This has been a big problem in our area, too. Studios competing for recreational dancers seem to be offering outrageous deals to get kids through their doors. Unfortunately, I feel this is at a great cost to the students' dance training. Classes are overcrowded and taught by inexperienced student teachers. It's not what the next generation of young dancers deserves. I always say: If someone's giving you something for next to nothing, it's probably worth next to nothing.

My faculty members are fully certified and accredited dance teachers, and they are paid very well. I can't afford to discount my classes to compete with these studios. Instead, my advertising lets parents know that by coming to our studio, their children will be taught by experienced dance educators and receive quality dance training. By making clear that their children will train with experts, I'm letting them know that they'll get what they pay for.

You could also revamp your own discounts in a way that makes sense financially and demographically for your studio. For example: In the past few years, we've noticed a decline in the number of boys enrolling, so this year we offered discounted classes for our recreational male dancers. We've now tripled our recreational male dancer enrollment.

Joanne Chapman is the owner of the award-winning Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Brampton, Ontario.

Teachers Trending
Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending

Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.