Ballroom Dance > Franchise Experiences

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by SDsalsaguy, Jul 20, 2003.

  1. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    To the best of my knowledge there is no over-arching requirement to this effect but, rather, that the pertinent regulations and laws vary from state to state. Here is some information provided by the Fereral Trade Commission regarding dance studios back in '92:

  2. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    I know the state of Florida has some pretty strict regulations regarding dance studios.

    Wouldn't it be nice if someone kept a record of studios that have been featured on television because of their unethical practices?

    I once tried to help a lady at a certain franchise location. She pretty much spent $60,000 in one year. Her husband had taken care of the finances, and when he passed away, she was pretty clueless. They had her taking two lessons per day and each lesson was taught by 2 teaches, so she was paying for 4 lessons per day. There were times when they would raise their voice and semi-jokingly, semi-threateningly tell her she had better give them more money if she knew what was good for her. She was lonely and sad and the dance lessons were the drug. Now she is living on Social Security and has nearly nothing left.

    There ARE studios like this out there. Usually, it's the elderly that are at the greatest risk.
  3. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    Good find, SDsalsaguy! :D
  4. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Hmmm, apparently California, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin regulate the offer and sale of franchises....anyone know the nature of these regulations?
  5. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Here's some background information on AMI as provided by their website.

    AMI also has this to say in its FAQ section:
  6. Taita

    Taita New Member

    Thanks for the info Jonathan,

    It's good to know the official FTC rules on this matter. As always, one should not be afraid to make sound business decisions for yourself. Dancing is supposed to be fun. I'd hate to see someone lose their love of dance because of a poor business decision. The AMI background is useful too. Did you take lessons at an AMI? What brought you to the aforementioned AMI event? As far as franchise restrictions, I'm not aware of the specifics of these states. However, it is my understanding (just from chatting with a manager of an FADS) that there is a limit to how many lessons in advance they are allowed to sell someone. I'm not sure if this is a company rule or a state regulation. Anybody know for sure?
  7. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Hi Taita…as per my original post in this thread I did, in fact, start at an AMI studio. I was actually looking for a place to learn salsa and, at that time, didn’t know any better. :(

    As far as the aforementioned AMI event, I was there for my research. I’m wrapping up my primary fieldwork phase this fall and realized that, although I’d visited several franchise studios (including both AMI and FADS), I hadn’t been to a franchise event yet so had wanted to make sure and include that as well.
  8. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator


    I'm pretty sure this varies by state. I know Florida, for example, has stricter regulations than other states. I'll try to remember to ask a studio owner (I talk them every day) to see what they have to say.
  9. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Yes, this came about as a result of legal actions having been pursued against a number of studios that took particularly reprehensible advantage of any number of elderly students.
  10. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    I've never been to a Fred Astaire and once took a group class from Arthur Murrays; both of which are no longer in town.

    Back when I was first learning to dance over 20 years ago one of the other students told me that they had gone to one of the two I don't recall which, but when there was a dance they could only use what they were taught at that studio and not anything learned outside of it. :eek:
  11. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    I spoke with a FADS state director and he told me there is a federal law capping contracts at $7500. He told me that people still sell more than this, especially in Florida.
  12. MissAlyssa

    MissAlyssa New Member

    Clearly a missunderstanding. You can only get SO much out of what someone types and frankly, I missinterpreted your statement.
  13. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    In support of the programs that franchises sell, I will say that programs can really help a student to stay committed. Also, many studios offer payment plans. Even though you commit to a certain amount of money, you are making payments, and it's pretty easy to get out of the contract if the services have not been rendered.
  14. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    This is entirely dependent upon the franchisee! Some actually have ethical business practices and understand that, in the long run, good business involves customer satisfaction even of a student who wants to leave. I, myself, however, was given a very hard time in this regard and was not allowed such an out…and I know of several others with like experiences!

    Many (most?) franchisees do, of course, understand this and conduct themselves accordingly. And, as some of the posts in this thread have pointed out, the value of the franchise programs can be quite good when group classes and parties are taken into consideration—especially earlier on in one’s dancing “career.” Also, and I really do want to stress this, the enthusiasm and camaraderie that I have seen at studio events is unmatched by any USABDA or NDCA event (although I would put the college circuit in the same boat).

    The problem is that franchisees (not that they are unique in this regard) often want it both ways—they want the name recognition of their franchise without the concomitant “used-car-sales” smarminess also being associated with them as the results of an unscrupulous minority. One key element then is that the franchises need to do a better job of self-policing such that the few do not continue to discredit the reputations of the ethical majority. The problem, however, remains apparent in the Teflon-esque claim of “it depends on the franchisee” when still claiming only the benefits of franchise systems.

    Note, for instance, this comment:
    Breaches of federal regulations are known, yet the problem remains!
  15. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    A good point for us all to remember MissAlyssa! Thanks for the reminder! Also nice to "see" you again :D
  16. MissAlyssa

    MissAlyssa New Member

    <3 Hi SD, nice to "see" you again also! <3 :p
  17. B. Smith

    B. Smith New Member

    In the registration process it says that "slanderous" claims would be a bad thing, yet I notice that several posters say "the chain" or "the franchise." Why not spit it out? Say it out loud or zip it. This forum/thread seems to be leaning towards a few other s from other sites. Ones that anonomously ripped AMI and FADS without recourse. Yes, I am FADS. Yes, I am offended by anonomous mud slinging.
    I do agree that some franchisees are better business people than others, some are better dancers than others. However, we do have to follow legal guidelines that independents do not. Including sales limits and the "terrible" contracts. So many independents brag about no contracts. Big deal, we have to use them. I would use them even if I did not have a franchise. They make everything clear. The students know what they're getting from beginning to end. They also end the " you're my favorite student" discount. This one pays "x" and that one pays"2x." Everyone can compare and see they are all being treated well.
    Last thought: treat the franchises with a bit of respect. We have helped spread the ballroom bug for over 50 years. Many of the top competitors would not be where they are had they not started with AMI or FADS. And we will be here a long, long time.
  18. B. Smith

    B. Smith New Member

    Sorry for the typos and misspellings.
  19. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    Hi B. Smith,

    I'm glad you've joined the discussion, keeping this from becoming one-sided. You make some great points. Let me put some of them into my own words:
    1. Franchises have been a major force in bringing ballroom dancing to the masses.
    2. A contract also makes certain promises to the student to help keep the studio honest.
    3. Just because some frachises aren't well run, that doesn't make all franchises bad. And folks, there are some awesome franchise studios out there!
    4. In the US, I would be willing to bet that at least 75% the top competitors received training at a franchise.

    B. Smith, people are not required to reveal their identity, but they may if they wish. Concerning liability, there have been cases of people being sued for making posts on forums. However, the forums themselves have been protected from liabilty in recent court judgements.

    I think it's okay for someone to say something like, "I felt I was misled at an Arthur Murray studio", but not "The Arthur Murray Studio at 123 Main Street is running a scam on every student that walks through the door." If we noticed such a post that was specific to one studio, it would be edited or deleted.

    Once again, I want to emphasize there are some wonderful Fred Astaire and Arthur Murray studios out there and there are also some terrible fly-by-night independant studios out there.
  20. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    B. Smith...welcome to the forums and thank you for contributing to this thread.

    As I have tried to point out in my various posts, the franchises (both AMI and FADS) include both good and bad--just like anything in life! If you have additional points regarding what you perceive as benefits or advantages of FADS (or franchises in general) then please feel free to add those to our discussion. I, for one, would welcome such contributions.

    On the issue of contracts, it should also be pointed out that the term is not a singular, monolithic referent. For one, not all contracts are created equal. I have visited franchise studios where the price per unit remains constant regardless of the number of units purchased and others with discounts for larger purchases. I'm not making a judgment call on this, but just pointing out that even the term "contract" has some variability involved as well. It should also be kept in mind that there are any numbers of independent schools who work on a contract basis as well--this is far from the unique purview of the chain schools.

    Finally, as a point of clarification, I have been saying "franchise/franchises" in order to keep the thread open to input from all, not just those from one chain, so if that generalization was taken in the wrong way I do apologize.

    (FYI, I did look on the FADS website for a history comparable to the one provided by AMI but, unfortunately, none such was available. Do you know of anything to this effect that could be shared?)

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