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 (www.telecheck.com). 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
Photo by Yvonne M. Portra, courtesy Faulkner

It's a Wednesday in May, and 14 Stanford University advanced modern ­dance students are logged on to Zoom, each practicing a socially distanced duet with an imaginary person. "Think about the quality of their personality and the type of duet you might have," says their instructor Katie Faulkner, "but also their surface area and how you'd relate to them in space." Amid dorm rooms, living rooms, dining rooms and backyards, the dancers make do with cramped quarters and dodge furniture as they twist, curve, stretch and intertwine with their imaginary partners.

Keep reading... Show less
Music
Getty Images

Securing the correct music licensing for your studio is an important step in creating a financially sound business. "Music licensing is something studio owners seem to either embrace or ignore completely," says Clint Salter, CEO and founder of the Dance Studio Owners Association. While it may seem like it's a situation in which it's easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission—that is, to wait until you're approached by a music-rights organization before purchasing a license—Salter disagrees, citing Peloton, the exercise company that produces streaming at-home workouts. In February, Peloton settled a music-licensing suit with the National Music Publishers' Association out-of-court for an undisclosed amount. Originally, NMPA had sought $300 million in damages from Peloton. "It can get extremely expensive," says Salter. "It's not worth it for a studio to get caught up in that."

As you continue to explore a hybrid online/in-person version of your class schedule, it's crucial that your music licenses include coverage for livestreamed instruction—which comes with its own particular requirements. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about music licensing—in both normal times and COVID times—as well as some safe music bets that won't pose any issues.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.