Best Studio Practice: Dealing with Delinquent Accounts

You've taught the classes, run the rehearsals and survived those long competition days. Now it's time to collect the cash for your hard-earned work! It'd be great if everyone paid in full and on time, but for most studios, there are always some stragglers. And unfortunately, bad checks are common, and suing to collect on one may involve more expense than the check is actually worth. There are several alternatives, however, for reducing the hassle and expenses.

1. First, try to eliminate or reduce the number of checks your studio accepts by encouraging more debit or credit transactions, which allow for an immediate transfer of funds. Having a debit/credit card machine and offering the option of paying online will encourage your customers to pay via credit or debit card instead of using checks.

2. Second, larger studios or those that still have a substantial number of check transactions should consider using a check-guarantee service such as TeleCheck ( The service guarantees payment on any checks verified through its system and pays the studio the face amount of the check, even if they are later returned.

3. A third alternative is to take advantage of the bad check statue available in many states. For example, under Missouri's bad check statue, statutory damages are up to three times the face amount of the check. Check with your local prosecuting attorney's office or from your state's Attorney General's office.

4. It's also a good idea to have a policy in place for returned checks, including a service charge and future payment terms (e.g., cash only, credit card backup required, etc.). Include this policy in all registration and sign-up materials.

When a check has been returned, your first step should be to call the customer or send a letter asking them to make the payment via another method for the face amount of the check plus the service charge. On first contact, it's important to proceed with courtesy for your customers. If you get no response, a second choice is to turn the bad check over to the local prosecuting attorney for collection. However, because of the large number of bad checks and the many other demands on a prosecutor's time, many collection attempts are limited to sending a letter or postcard demanding replacement of the check. The bottom line is, improving your studio's ability to collect payment for services you've provided leads to a better bottom line and business practices.

Parts of this originally from "Money Matters" by Tarra Morris.

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
Dancer Diary
Claire McAdams, courtesy Houston Ballet

Former Houston Ballet dancer Chun Wai Chan has always been destined for New York City Ballet.

While competing at Prix de Lausanne in 2010, he was offered summer program scholarships at both the School of American Ballet and Houston Ballet. However, because two of the competition's winners that year were Houston Ballet's Aaron Sharratt and Liao Xiang, dancers Chan idolized, he turned down SAB. He joined Houston Ballet II in 2010, the main company's corps de ballet in 2012, and was promoted to principal in 2017. Oozing confidence and technical prowess, Chan was a Houston favorite, and even landed himself a spot on Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch."

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.