Q: What is the best answer when a parent asks what the registration fee covers? (I know that during advance registration, I can say it holds your spot.) “Administrative costs” sounds vague and doesn’t seem to satisfy them. Suggestions?
A: Many educational programs charge a registration fee to cover the cost of administrative processes. We charge $25 per student for a registration fee; generally, fees might range from $15 to $30 per student. (Some studios offer a “family” limit registration fee of $40–$50 when there are multiple students in one household.) When a parent questions what the fee covers, there is no need to apologize or give a lengthy explanation. Instead, answer with a simple, confident statement like: “This fee helps offset the administrative cost of setting up your student in our studio-class-management system and helps keep your monthly tuition costs lower.” When positioned as something that helps keep tuition lower, a registration fee sounds much more reasonable to parents.
If you’d like to share specifics of what the fee covers, consider answering: “The registration fee covers the costs of paperwork processing and computer time required to set up your student in the attendance and tuition-billing system. It also covers your dancer’s insurance, music license fees and studio communication costs—all separate expenses from class tuition.”
If you want to avoid the question entirely, you could spread the full registration fee across monthly tuition payments, rather than charging a one-time, up-front fee. However, you lose out significantly in the long run, because you cannot recoup the total from those students who only stay in class for a month or two.
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