Q: We had a talented pair of sisters join our competition team this season. They came to us from another studio that I've known for many years, and earlier this week, that owner called to ask me to help her collect a large balance due from their family. Should I get involved, or leave it to her to sort out?
A: I've been down both sides of this road before. As a business owner, I can see how you'd be tempted to not get involved, since the debt isn't owed to you, but as a studio owner, I feel we need to stick together as a community. We must lead by example as teachers, mentors, second parents, counselors and role models to our students.
I once had a competitive dancer move to our studio from a different one in the area, and I, too, received a call from that studio's owner. She informed me that the family had left with an outstanding balance. I then spoke to the parents and asked them to clear up the outstanding fees. I told them that their daughter was talented and would gain a lot from the training we could offer her, but clearing up past fees was a must before she could enroll at my studio. I didn't involve myself in the amount that was owed or in how they would collect it, but I made it clear that they needed to have the account resolved.
In the 44 years that I have owned my studio, my relationships with other studio owners have always been on good terms. I have tremendous respect for all those who choose studio ownership as a career path and will always support them in any way I can. And, to be honest, a student who leaves one studio for yours while owing money could very well do the same to you down the road.