Ballroom and the economy

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by pygmalion, Apr 20, 2005.

  1. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Would you walk into a fine resturaunt, and ask the see the wholesale prices of it's food suppliers? Ask to see the payroll and lease payments?

    No - in fact, you might not even seen the menu before you walk in the door, and then there's always the chance it wouldn't have prices on it.

    I don't like premium pro-am pricing, but I'm not going to complain about it - I'm simply not going to pay it. I could envision doing pro-am sometime on a whim, but only if it fit in my (rather low) budget.
  2. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Exactly. I don't necessarily think people have a God-given right to see wholesale prices. In an ideal world, every pro-am teacher out there could be trusted to charge a reasonable mark-up, whatever that means.

    *shrug* It is kinda nice to be able to go online and see what the wholesale prices are. Who knows? :?
  3. spatten

    spatten New Member

    But why couldn't the competition be the end product? Why does it have to be the wholesale?

    Does a studio provide any value added to the competition? Not really. It's not like you are buying the competition services from the studio - as you would a restaurant. So there is a subtle difference.

    I prefer the pricing to be straightforward, and wouldn't deal with any Pro who obfuscated the prices. Now if they want to give kickbacks to the Pro - ok, I don't need to know that.
  4. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Huh? Sure you are. You're buying the services of the coach to dance with you. But you're also buying their experience in dealing with comps, getting you through the rigamarole, explaining how to get you lined up, dealing with heats, dealing with the nerves, sometimes helping with selection of costumes, explaining how the process works... The whole nine yards. It's a service, big time. You're not just paying for entering the comp. The pro is providing a lot of service and support, over and above dancing. On top of which, they're foregoing their day(s) off and/or opportunity cost of not coaching someone else, while they're at the comp with you. At a minimum, they deserve to be compensated for the time spent. Just my view.
  5. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Yes, theoretically you could hire a pro as your employee, send in their NDCA pro-am teacher paperwork, make all arrangements, etc and be largely in control. But if you go to an established studio, they are going to do all of that their way.
  6. DancingMommy

    DancingMommy Active Member

    This is partly what sparked the discussion so many moons ago as to how exactly to charge for a competition - what was fair - and how to recoup costs to the studio for loss of business etc.

    I'll post MY views in another response. 8)
  7. Laura

    Laura New Member

    I don't think people are saying that the pro shouldn't be paid for their time dancing with you at the competition. Not at all. I just think it's weird that the basic entry fee isn't made clear. This isn't like a restaurant, it's a sporting event! If you enter a tennis tournament the price is the same for everyone entering. If you enter a ski race the price is the same for everyone. If you enter a poker tournament the entry fee is the same for everyone. So treat it like a sporting event and make the basic entry fee the same for everyone since the basic service (providing the actual competition itself) is the same for everyone. The studios and teachers then can/should tack on a per-dance fee or per-competition fee on top of the regular entry fees to pay for any studio time or effort and the teacher's time of course. All I think people are asking is that it not be some state secret what the basic entry fees are.
  8. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    Somebody needs to take a basic managerial accounting class. There are formulae to figure out such things, or at least a starting point.

    I think you did post a proposal sometime last year, with some pretty sound ideas that sounded fair to me, in terms of distributing travel costs, etc. Of course I don't remember where that thread is anymore. :oops: :lol:

    But my bottom line is I strongly support the right of pro-am teachers to be adequately compensated for their services (even the less obvious ones.)

    There is a point at which, IMO, those charges can become unfair. It's not always clearcut, which is part of the reason I can't support price caps.

    The costs of a small studio, for example, may be much greater, per capita, than a larger studio. Or the expertise of a high-level competitive cooach, may have a higher market value than a less-known or less experienced coach. So how can a body like NDCA (or even a specific comp organizer) set a recommended retail price for any comp? There are too many variables involved, IMO.
  9. spatten

    spatten New Member

    Hmm. Yes, I agree compeletly. I must not have been very clear. I am not suggesting your dance Pro is not adding value, or helping with the comp - I was suggesting a difference in the bussiness model.

    Just as Chris suggested, the Pro is working for you - and you are purchasing entry into the competition. Rather than the Pro, buying entry to the compeition, and you buying the whole package from the Pro or Studio.

    Both models do exist, I happen to prefer the first - I guess that is what I was trying to suggest.
  10. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Amen.

    I still think this whole discussion would probably be a non-issue if it weren't for all the slime in ballroom's past in the US. But still. Amen.
  11. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Okay. Cool. I misunderstood. 8)
  12. Laura

    Laura New Member

    I really like the model that my teacher used. He was an independent. It worked like this:

    - I filled out all the forms and paid the basic entry fees and ticket fees directly to the organizer

    - My teacher presented me with an invoice (usually written on a sticky note) that looked something like

    number of dances @ his per-dance fee = $ amount that I owed him for dancing
    plus
    (for out of town comps) my share of his travel expenses (evenly divided amongst all attending students)

    It worked great. The organizer always got the entries done right and on time. I always knew how much money I was paying him for his services and expenses at the comp. Even when he doubled his per-dance fee I still felt like I was getting my money's worth. It's a very basic, simple, honest model.
  13. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Works for me. Especially the sticky note part. :wink: :lol:
  14. spatten

    spatten New Member

    I think you are right here. And part of what we who know better are doing on this board is protecting future dancers - as you have alluded to several times.

    After you have been exposed to such a simple model as what Laura explains - anything else seems underhanded by comparison.
  15. Laura

    Laura New Member

    Exactly. I haven't heard stories like these in several years, but when the competitive community first started showing up on the web, I'd hear horror stories of people being asked to pay $10,000 to dance in a competition that I myself only paid about $1500 for when all was said and done. When the price differential is an order of magnitude of difference, you have to wonder.

    To get back to the restaurant metaphor (even though I think it's a bad analogy), I know that eating at Chevvy's is about 10 times the price of eating at McDonald's. But I also know that for that order of magnitude I'm also getting wait service, margaritas, a salad, and a cooked-to-order meal. That makes sense. But for two people to go to the same dance competition and one pay nearly an order of magnitude more for the same thing, then you have to wonder....

    To the industry's credit, I've heard very very few of these kinds of stories in the past year or two. I think discussion boards like this have gone some ways to waking people up to the older/slimier practicies.
  16. DancingMommy

    DancingMommy Active Member

    Here's my take on competition pricing...

    You have a hypothetical studio and it has 5 employees, all of whom are teachers with students. They all take turns running the desk, answering phones, etc.

    You have this upcoming MAJOR competition (like USBC, say) and ALL the teachers are going with students. Maybe 2 teachers are entering pro events together. Here's where it get TRICKY.

    Because all the staff will be out for the time of the comp - maybe not the WHOLE time - the studio needs to recoup the amount of money IT would have lost for the days it was closed. If you have a comp that runs Tues- Sunday like USBC, that can be a HUGE amount.

    Then you have the cost to transport everyone to the event - especially if it is a studio sponsored event - and house them and feed them. Obviously you can't expect the staff to pay this since if they were home, they would have their own bed and groceries and cars/transportation.

    Then you have the actual cost of entries/tickets into the ballroom/etc that have to be prepaid before you get there (or at least a minimum deposit). Then you have to pay the teachers for their time that they are there since they ARE working the entire time they aren't eating or sleeping. They are basically "on call" for the entire trip.

    When you think about this, then it becomes plain that you get a LOT more from your instructor during the time you are at a comp than you do in your one hour lesson. Know what I mean?

    So here's the magic formula..... I used to have it on a spreadsheet that automatically parsed the amounts... let me see if I can find it, lol! Tee hee - I found it, lol!

    What I had devised was a method that was completely fair to everyone involved.

    Teacher A has X number of standing appointments that normally occur during the time that they would be going to the competition. They have to be paid for the time they would have been teaching. They also get a per diem for meals not accounted for by being on a package. Travel arrangements/hotel must be covered.

    Teacher A has Y number of students going to competition for Z number of person days. A person day is how many days total there would be if they ran consecutively rather than concurrently.

    Student N will be attending for 3 days
    Student M will be attending for 5 days
    Student L will be attending for 2 days
    ---------------------------------------------
    This leaves a total of 12 person days

    X = total expenditures / Z days (Z = 12 in this case)

    So, student N is 3X, M is 5X and L is 2X + their own entry fees/tickets/etc.

    In this example, Teacher A has 8 hours of regular appointments that they needed to reschedule. They get paid $20/hour - a total of $160.

    They will be on a package to cover meals so there will be no hotel or per diem, but the package for the entire 5 days is $300.

    Total expenses = $460

    X = $460 / 12 or $39

    So, student N is $117, M is $195 and L is $78 + their own entry fees/tickets/package/whatever. This is the payment to their teacher for *their* time. then you have the LOI supplement (see below).

    If however, the *studio* has no income over the entire time of the competition, then the entire hours of operation that the studio loses would be split amongst ALL attending students.

    SO, Studio B is losing 35 total hours of *booked* lessons but has 15 students going.

    35 hours * $ per hour = Loss of income

    LOI / # of students = student LOI supplement

    For example, 35 * $50 = $1750
    $1750 / 15 = $117 LOI supplement.

    The total expenses for the students would break down this way:

    N is $117 + 117 (234) + their own entry fees/tickets/package/whatever
    M is $195 + 117 (312 + their own entry fees/tickets/package/whatever
    L is $78 + 117 (195) + their own entry fees/tickets/package/whatever

    It gets complicated, but basically the upshot of it is that no one pays more than their fair share.
  17. Laura

    Laura New Member

    That's the key: everyone paying their fair share. No one objects to that. It's just that some of the horror stories I used to hear included each student being billed for her teacher's ENTIRE travel expenses and missed lesson time, thus a good deal of "double-dipping" (or more than that!) was going on.

    The person-days division makes sense...with my old Pro/Am teacher we just divided it all up equally by the number of students attending rather than the number of person-days. I think either way is fair for different reasons.
  18. DancingMommy

    DancingMommy Active Member

    Exactly. This was something we discussed when i was working in a studio in Atlanta. The staff at our studio was pretty disgusted with the way things had been done by the previous managerial staff and so we decided to shake things up a bit. Boy was there a lot of drama that summer, lo!
  19. spatten

    spatten New Member

    Nice post DancingMommy. Let me make one quick comment -

    I have heard of some Pro that charge a pro fee for going to a comp (either per heat or total). And then they tell you they are going to charge for missed income on top of that. That doesn't fly with me.

    If I am charging time to a client, I have an hourly rate- lets say 150$/hr. I don't charge them for lost income during that time (nobody does) - I have to schedule my time so that I meet all my clients needs.

    Just a pet peeve of mine.
  20. DancingMommy

    DancingMommy Active Member

    Well, it depends on how high the per dance/pro fee amount is. If they are only charging you $20 per dance, then they are NOT making up their lost income. And when you factor in the cost of costumes, etc that they must provide for themselves AND the oftimes cruddy wages they get paid anyways, they got to make a living SOMEHOW. Ask me how I know this......

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