Franchise Experiences

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

  1. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Fair enough... certainly the franchise system provides an excellent entry point, training, and competitive experience for those who haven't been dancing for years already. And having a "starting-out" category is fine for helping out with floor experience, etc. Basically then the question becomes how, in any way, does having such beginning pro events benefit anyone but the new instructors, i.e. the consumers/students? More specifically, two questions come to mind:

    (1) Even if a "beginner" event, why not still have a full division, i.e. 4/5 dances, like the independent comp rising star division? As pointed out in another thread dancing and teaching dance are two different, albeit highly related, skills. So, while I recognize that a great teacher may not be a great competitor, I still wonder if someone should be presenting themselves as a competing professional if they are dancing the equivalent of an amateur pre-novice, open event (2 dances).

    (2) Why should this "floorcraft training" essentially be subsidized by students? The prize money for these events are coming from additional padding added to student prices. If we're talking a full rising star or open professional event then I can see it...but to watch "professional competitors" do the aforementioned two dance event?
  2. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Okay, so I'm jaundiced. But I think that this system is designed to primarily benefit the dance studios and/or the new teachers. (Edit: by "this system" I meant the franchise studio system. I was not talking about dance competitions, which are a different issue, in my mind) The students, for the most part, pay the costs, with few benefits. Why do the students go along with it? For the most part, because they don't know better and/or there are no better alternatives. * shrug* What can I say? I've had some pretty bad experiences with otherwise nice people who were turned into self-serving salesmen by the franchise studio system. :?
  3. MissAlyssa

    MissAlyssa New Member

    wow, that really sucks that you had that experience Jenn. I promise not all of us franchised instructors are predators.
  4. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yes, I know, MissAlyssa. No matter where you go in life, there are good people and bad. Dance instructors are no different. *shrug* What can you do but beware, but stay open-minded.
  5. smoothdancingirl

    smoothdancingirl New Member

    They also did have a rising star event and open. However I will tell you preparing two dances is a lot easier than four. Also in the future champion events you don't need a gown and tux. Both as you know are very expensive. This event is only for teachers who have been in the business for less than a 1 1/2 yr. or less. That means you have to find a compatible partner and get two routines together in 1 1/2 yr. That's almost impossible. I was in the business for three years before I found my current partner and it took us another two years before we had all our choreography and ready to perform it.

    You don't have to take students to compete professionally at any competition. In fact most comps I go to I don't take students. But when I was a new teacher competing in future champions division I was there with a newcomer student, so was my former dance partner. Plus professional routines are much more difficult than even some Gold students routines. So the floorcraft is a lot more challenging than fwd-fwd-sd-together! :)
  6. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Now that I've had a little time to reflect on this, MissAlyssa, I'll reply again. I've had nine dance teachers so far. Two of them, coincidentally at a franchise, were snakes. :evil: The other seven, six franchise and one independent, are all very nice people.

    The difference between the independent and franchise teachers, is that the franchise people are under much more pressure to make sales, and they're given training and scripts and coaching in how to make sales.

    My independent instructor can make his own rules and can live by his own conscience, which appears to say give the students good training at a fair price -- no pressure. I'm sure, if he were still working at a franchise, which he did for years, the story might be different. Not because he wanted it that way, but because he was pressured into making it that way.

    Here's my overall take, say what you will. Most, if not all, dance teachers have one agenda, the same agenda as the rest of us mere mortals. They want to use what they know to make a decent living. And that's fair. They deserve to make a decent living.

    The problems start when people, dance teachers or otherwise, use the need to make a living as an excuse for indirect, or high pressure, or deceptive tactics. And I'm sure you find that in franchises and out. *shrug*
  7. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    SD and smoothdancingirl, this is such great information! Especially for me, since I'm just getting started in the world of pro/am competition. I'd hate for it to get buried in the franchise thread. I'm going to start a separate thread on competition rules and regs, so you can continue the conversation. Okay? :D

    Jenn
  8. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Hmmm, let me be clearer. Even if you don't take students with you when you are competing professionally, where does the pro prize money come from? From extra padding added to other students’ packages to offset this expenditure.
  9. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Here's my take on this, SD. Bear in mind I'm biased, because I have a great instructor who works hard to keep prices low, so the "padding" is minimal. ( Thanks, guy. You know who you are. :D )

    To me, this is like the old R&D argument. Everybody wants the new improved product but nobody wants to pay the development costs. (Sorry. Years in Bell Labs -- what can I say?)

    Here's the thing. If my instructor is an experienced competitor, I benefit. If there are lots of competitions that I can enter, I benefit. If world class dancers and judges see me dance and critique me, I benefit. The only way to make those things happen, that I can see, is to provide some sort of incentive to make it worth people's effort to sponsor or to enter these competitions. I know, at least for smaller competitions, the purses aren't that big, but at least there is some incentive. These are my thoughts.

    Please correct me, because I'm sure don't have the whole picture. :? Anyone?
  10. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    I like the R&D metaphor Jenn. Hadn't thought of it that way before...hmmm, must go ponder...
  11. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I didn't mean to kill the conversation here. I was hoping that someone would come back with things they've seen done or out-of-the box suggestions to improve the current situation. Things like corporate sponsorships, or entry scholarships for juniors, or for people who demonstrate financial need. Or caps on allowable mark-ups studios can charge, or recommended price guidelines. Come on, folks, let's think about it. :D
  12. DennisBeach

    DennisBeach New Member

    Me and my wife decided to try ballroom dancing about 3.5 years ago. We went to a Fred Astaire studio after seeing an introductory offer in the newspaper. We quickly discovered, we liked ballroom dancing and have continued with the studio ever since. We have tried a few group lessons and found we do not like group lessons, we also do not learned a fraction as much as we do in our 2 hours at the studio every 3 weeks. We have had quite a few different instructors, since they do move around a lot, particularily with 4 studios in Milwaukee. Teachers have ranged from good to excellent. All have been extremely nice. Taking 2 lessons every 3 weeks, we are not a big source of revenue for them, but they treat us extremely well.

    Our objective is purely social dancing. They originally tried to talk us into showcases and competitions, but that is not our area of interest. Once it was clear, what our objectives were, they have been very supportive of our goals. We are rather frugal ( cheap ), so we really have to be convinced of the value, to spend the money for lessons at a major franchise. But we felt that FADS is the best value for our investment.

    We practise at least once a week and go dancing once a week. Even though we only take lessons every 3 weeks, we are progressed way beyond our expectations.

    The studio also tries to match the teachers to the students. As we have progressed, the capabilities of the teachers they assign to us, has went up. We currently have one teacher, who is awsome at technique and has really helped us improve extensively in 6 months he has worked with us.

    They but us in what they call the amalgamated program or something like that, that allows them to work with us at different levels in each dance, based on our progress in that dance.

    There organization is very beneficial, when a teacher leaves, the new teacher just needs to review our book to see where we are at. They also pick the patterns that we will be able to use on a rather crowded dance floor. We have been very please with FADS and would recommend them to any who wants get into social or competitive ballroom dancing.
  13. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Hi Dennis, and welcome to the forums!

    Thanks for sharing your perspective as a very satisfied customer. I'm glad to hear that your experiences have been so positive, that your goals have been accepted and respected, and that you and your wife have met with such enjoyment and success. :D

    Out of curiosity, what actually drew you are your wife to try ballroom? What was it that grabbed you once you tried it?

    And, again, welcome to the forums!
  14. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Hi Dennis! :D Welcome to the forums. :D

    Yes, from what I've heard, many people are very happy with their experience at Fred Astaire studios. Enjoy the studio, and, more importantly, enjoy the dancing.

    Welcome to the forums. :D


    Jenn
  15. DennisBeach

    DennisBeach New Member

    Thanks for the welcome. When we started, I thought we would learn a little and maybe going dance once every couple of months. I did not think we would like it enough to drive 50 plus miles to dance every week. We keep hearing, we need to exercise. In my opinion the key to actually doing that, is finding something we enjoy, that provides good exercise. Ballroom dance really covers that for us. It also puts the courtship back in the marraige, which is something that we should never lose.

    The people at the studio seem to really enjoy helping people get into something that provides enjoyment and excellent exercise.
  16. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

  17. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

  18. DancingMommy

    DancingMommy Active Member

    This makes me laugh out loud. Really. On the inside. I started dancing at an Arthur Murray franchise in Atlanta (got good training from the owner - but the other teachers were a different story).

    I ended up *teaching* if you can believe it not too long after that - a twist of fate really - both in Atlanta and in Orlando. And then I ended up "retiring" permanently from teaching due to a serious back injury.

    I now dance am with my husband (when I'm not pregnant, lol). We train with Rick Elliott at Longwood Independant Studio in Longwood, FL.

    I can say this with assurance... Not all franchises are equal and not all independant studios are equal. If I compared the independant I worked at in Orlando (owned/operated by a former AMI franchisee and former partner of the owner of the AMI in Atlanta that I began at) to the studio we currently train at, there is NO comparison whatsoever. Of course, comparing Rick to "the other guy" is apples and oranges considering that Rick is a former Blackpool Finalist (as a junior) and is currently ranked with his new partner in Am Smooth. The "other guy" last competed in the 60s (I think). Go figure.

    I'll say this for the AMI owner in Atlanta, the woman KNOWS how to teach. And she knows how to run a business. I only wish it hadn't cost so much for lessons. :)
  19. DancingMommy

    DancingMommy Active Member

    There are some pretty stiff regs here in FLA regarding the sale of contracts, etc. I know for a fact, that a studio has to have like a minimum of $15,000 bond if they sell contracts.

    The law basically revolves around this dollar amount: you collect more than $200 tuition at one time, you have to have a bond and a contract with super-specific wording regarding refunds etc. That's why there are a SLEW of independants here and not that many franchises/"typical" studios.

    In fact, most "studios" are pretty much run "like franchises" but without benefit of the network of coaches etc. These particular studios really stink as far as their teachers and the quality of their students' learning.

    That being said, I'm aware that NDCA has passed a ruling that all registered pros have to get "certified" through a member org by a certain date, or their NDCA membership will not be renewed. I'm hoping that will alleviate *some* of the bad teacher problem we have down here (at least as far as comps are concerned). Hopeful, but not really expecting it to do much.

    That in itself was one reason why I quit teaching (along with the back injury). I knew there was NO way on earth I could get certified before the deadline in all 10 dances/9 dances. Currently, we're just working on our standard routines and getting ready for our first am comp.
  20. DancingMommy

    DancingMommy Active Member

    Here's the deal... Up until now, competitions in general have been <ahem> difficult to know about unless you were "in the know" or had a contact that was. Now, with the advent of places like AccessDance where comps list everything on the website - including order forms, etc and *prices*!!! Even an average joe can go about ordering tickets etc without paying the usual markup that studios charge. Also, organizers are starting to offer "local" or "no room" packages for attendees who could otherwise make alternate arrangements for food and lodging that are more budget-wise.

    I'm all for mark-up caps on the prices that the organizers charge. Or better yet, let there be competitors "at large" who choose to compete without a studio affiliation. I know that AMs can do that...

    Also, I have had a formula worked out for some time that actually limits the amount that an AM in a Pro/Am would have to pay. It's pretty complicated but it works, lol. :) It is predicated of course, on whether or not the Pro is already attending a comp and how many other students are attending with said Pro. I don't think most AMs like to be baby-sat (as one of my former employers called it) like some studio owners think they do. If you are going there to dance, then do that. It isn't a freaking Disney World Vacation after all. I mean if you go to Disney World, do you expect Mickey to shuttle you around and be your tour guide? Heck no.

    </end rant>

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