Ask the Experts: Getting People to Pay on Time

I can’t get anyone to pay on time. Our policy states that tuition is due on the 1st and considered late after the 10th, with a $10 late fee. If it’s still unpaid, kids are pulled out of classes. I send out reminder e-mails and mass texts and even staple invoices to newsletters. Any suggestions?

Sending so many reminders is an unnecessary drain on your time. There are automatic options to bill your customers that will make this part of running the business so much easier for you. If you aren’t already using a studio management software program, now is the time to implement one. You can easily and safely process credit cards and e-check (ACH) transactions with programs like Jackrabbit Dance, which links to your merchant account. With a push of a button, you can collect tuition and have funds deposited on the day of your choosing. The small percentage fees incurred from credit card processing are a worthwhile business expense. And parents will appreciate the convenience of auto payment and the flexibility of paying by credit, debit or ACH.

If you aren’t ready to make auto-billing required, we recommend you request a backup payment method to keep on file. With that policy, if a family hasn’t paid by the 10th, you can send an e-mail restating your terms: If they haven’t paid by cash, check or credit card by the 20th (giving them a small grace period), you will process their tuition with the card on file.

Bear in mind that converting to auto-billing as your standard operating procedure will require you to inform customers. Be confident in your decision to make collecting tuition easy for everyone. Moving forward, use your newsletters and notices for communicating fun and exciting studio happenings.

Kathy Blake is the owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire. She and Suzanne Blake Gerety are the co-founders of DanceStudioOwner.com.

Photo by B Hansen Photography, courtesy of Suzanne Blake Gerety

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.