Q: During registration time, several of my junior and intermediate competition families shopped around at other studios, looking for the best tuition rates. Then they came to me, asking me to match the other studios' prices. I offer a higher standard of training, but I feel like if I don't compete with these other studios' fees, I'll lose several families. What should I do?
A: I understand families' concern that competitive dance is expensive. But I also believe you get what you pay for. Explain to these parents that the high level of classes you offer justifies your tuition fees. In order to provide high-quality dance education—in all genres—you must pay for the best teaching staff. You also need to give your talented faculty the tools they need to continue teaching at the highest level—sprung floors, mirrors, great sound and editing equipment, assistants. Offering a great studio space and environment are all necessary to providing the best training, and all of it comes at a cost.
Remind your parents that a quality dance education for their child is worth the investment. I like to make the comparison of a pair of Prada shoes versus shoes from Payless—they both cover your feet, but they're very different in terms of quality.
If you have some leeway in your budget, you can offer financial perks, like a discount on your summer intensive or a break in tuition for a sibling. Suggest some money-saving options, like not adding on extra choreography or offering to reuse costumes from last season. But stay strong and believe in what you have to offer at your studio.
Joanne Chapman is the owner of the award-winning Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Brampton, Ontario.