Studio Private Lesson Rates Not Upfront?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by freeageless, Mar 28, 2011.

  1. Wannabee

    Wannabee Well-Known Member

    In one of my posts, I included the phase "life isn't fair" to indicate that I was not looking at this from a rose-colored glasses standpoint of everyone will always be treated the same, I don't deserve this, blah blah blah. As many on here have alluded to, I believe I do have a right to ask why my rate has been the only one increased, not to mention the whole "you have to continue to take the same number of lessons each week and pay for the same block at a time that you always have or it will be even more $$" aspect that is also not being required of his other students.

    As Fasc said, how he responds when I politely inquire about this new set of circumstances (not just the new rate) will be a good indicator of his motivations for the rate increase. He certainly does not owe me an explanation, but if he is either unable or unwilling to explain the rationale behind his actions, then I can only assume he cares very little that I feel I was treated unfairly. I don't think anyone would take that lightly from any service provider.

    And I have no doubt that Larinda would not be offended by me politely asking a question about my new rate increase, esp. if this increase was for me alone. If she is willing to sit down with a student who was angry and upset by a comp bill, then I think she would be more than willing to discuss my new rate with me. I'm still hopeful that my pro will do the same.
     
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  2. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    Personally, I've never been in a situation where I got charged more( or less), than the other students working with a particular pro. Can't even imagine it.
     
  3. Wannabee

    Wannabee Well-Known Member

    I haven't either until now. I'm hoping there is a very reasonable explanation and that in the end, it won't be a point of contention.
     
  4. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member


    Me neither. I've never heard of charging someone based on the number of lessons they take per week and threatening them with a rate increase if they take fewer lessons per week (yes, less per lesson if you buy in bulk, and I get that, and at both studios I've danced at that applies to everyone (in the Boston case I know from being the one tracking records for students.) I would be extremely uncomfortable with being told that my rates were going up when no one else's are and if I don't keep buying the same amount at the same time and using them at the same rate, I'll be paying even more, and I would want an explanation. I don't think that's unreasonable or none of my business as I'm the one paying. If it's a reasonable explanation, well and good. If it's not (and I would consider "You can afford more and I depend on your business more" to be unreasonable gouging) I'd assume they're fine with my going elsewhere and with my informing people who ask about their pricing policy and why I moved.
     
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  5. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    here's the thing, and I know this has nothing to do with the OP, but I throw it out there as something I could probably live with if it came up...if I found out that X student was paying less than me and I inquired of my pro and there was some sort of explanation like: she has been a long time good and loyal student and has recently lost her job and I have decided to lower my rate temporarily, and or have her babysit to offset costs (or something like that) I could see myself not be-grudging something similar...absent that, most of these problems can be solved either by pros having same rates for everyone or, if they are making exceptions, they need to make sure that they have assurances that students will keep their own terms in confidence..personally I think option A is just a whole lot cleaner to navigate...and then people can decide how much to purchase based on their income, but the unit cost is the same...
     
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  6. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    What I s wrong with tying the cost of your lessons to the overall income the teacher gets from you? It works both ways... If you expect a discount based on more lessons, you should expect or at least be understanding about a rate raise for less. And the teacher is combining your overall $$$ and saying that they need to see xxx dollars from you either thru comps or lessons to give you rate x.
     
  7. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    that is simply a matter of opinion...and people can agree to disagree...the bigger issue is whether or not the student is entitled to inquire and make a subsequent decision
     
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  8. doingmybest

    doingmybest New Member

    Interesting discussion that I just had to make the jump to posting since I am studying economics and business management at the moment.

    It is a free market economy and one is negotiating rates for a service.

    The rate one gets depends on many things:

    Consider the many pro's available:

    (1) Amateur novice working at a studio (would be defined as a pro) and no competition experience.

    (2) Amateur novice working as an independent (would be defined as a pro) with limited competition experience.

    (3) Open amateur who placed at competition and started working as a professional independent teacher.

    (4) Open amateur turned pro rising star and looking to go further.

    (5) Rising star caliber pro doing competitions to stay visible, but main goal is teaching.

    (6) Retired small time open professional dancer becoming a teacher and trying to improve his visibility in the industry.

    (7) Championship open professional dancer trying to earn money on the side to support his training.

    (8) Long term Pro/Am professional who brings lots of students to comps with okay placements.

    (9) Long term Pro/Am professional who has a record of bringing students to comps and winning.

    Can one imagine the difference in the cost for each of these professionals?

    Now imagine the types of students:

    (A) Social dancer looking for attention from a professional.

    (B) Beginning bronze level dancer who expects their pro to carry them around or back-lead.

    (C) More dedicated bronze level dancer who wants to do it on their own with limited assistance from the pro.

    (D) More advanced dancer (or someone who thinks they are) who expects their pro to carry them around or back-lead at the higher levels of competition.

    (E) More advanced dancer who is capable of handling herself (or himself) on the competition floor where the pro is a substitute for an amateur partner where none is available.

    Can you imagine which students a pro would prefer?

    There are also factors like: (1) How many lessons are you taking per week? (2) How many pro's are in the area? (3) How many students does the pro have and how many lessons is he giving? (4) Does the pro want to use the student to get visibility in the industry and whether or not you give the pro good visibility or bad visibility? (5) Is the student/pro female or male?

    Now start matching . . . Student E with pro #1 or #2 who wants to dance many hours/week and take lessons with high level professional coach can probably negotiate a very good lesson rate with the pro. Regular students will just get the standard rate. Student A with pro #9 taking one lesson a week, won't get any discount and may even pay a premium to get pro #9 to take them as a student. I doubt Pro #7 - #9 will deviate much from their standard fees (I suspect this is where Larinda is coming from). If you are student #C or #E, you could probably negotiate a better rate with Pro's #1 - #6 depending on your answers to the other factors. If you are student #A, #B, or #D, you will probably be paying the standard going rate.

    One may have to trade-off level of instruction versus time dancing with a partner and cost. It's a complicated analysis and may depend on where the student is in her (or his) dancing. My main point is that pro/am dancers are paying for a service. You and the pro need to determine a mutually agreeable amount or decide to move-on.

    Like discussing salaries, it is bad idea to discuss what one is paying. Even when I've gotten discounts, I always tell any prospective student asking about my pro the standard rate and not my rate (whether it is negotiated or grandfathered in).
     
  9. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I think many pros, instead of offering different strokes for different folks, are simply more selective at the outset...my pro makes no bones about being a competitive instructor... maybe on a slow week, someone can call and get in....but his interest is in competitors and his clients are competitive amateur couples or competitive pro/am students....he is much more likely to screen at the beginning than use a pay scale as a deterrent...again, I think the wiser move...
     
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  10. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    and welcome to df doingmybest
     
  11. Wannabee

    Wannabee Well-Known Member

    The fact that I love it so much, and have no other options in my state for quality instruction, have almost got me thinking of going the "put up or shut up" route and just not saying anything to him about it. Every time I think I have mustered enough courage to broach the subject, I get scared that the outcome of said discussion will end in me being out a dance instructor. And then I think that I could always just do fewer lessons, no discussion needed as this would be pretty self-explanatory. But then I'm reminded that fewer lessons will mean an even larger increase that his other students aren't required to do, and I'm back to square one.
     
  12. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    as an aside, I know of very few students who "expect to be carried around"...I know a plethora who, rather, have no idea that it is happening and are allowed to remain blissfully ignorant for a variety of reasons...and some, who once informed, decline to do the work necessary to change it...only then would I classify them as expecting to be carried...end highjack
     
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  13. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I guess you have to ask why you should have to feel afraid to have a decent conversation, would he actually throw you to the curb for asking?...do you want him if he would? you do have a right to dance with someone you respect and who respects you...here is the thing, if you elect not to handle it, and you elect that you would rather dance and not take that chance, you kind of forfeit the right to resent him for it KWIM?...I mean there isn't much point in letting it fester if you have no intent to deal with it...so you have to ask yourself, can you truly drop it? should you have to? how big is your state for goodness sake?...I drive over 2 hours each way and have never regretted it...shrug...these decisions are personal...I am sorry you have to make them...hug
     
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  14. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member


    Yes...the reason I got an intro lesson with NP was because I had a "reference"--when I contacted the studio, I said I'm moving from Boston, I danced there at this studio with these pros, and this comp organizer recommended NP by name as someone in my area who would be a good pro-am instructor." Normally, he doesn't take intros and he pretty much sticks to students who are going to compete or do showcases, with a few couples and social couples thrown in. But we all pay the same rates for his time, and you can see the sheet showing his rates (X for Y lessons) if you ask.
     
  15. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    my pro is transparent on that as well...
     
  16. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    Wannabee, without divulging too much info about yourself, is there no other pro within 2 hours drive? Maybe even someone who you could group lessons together and meet every other week if you didn't want to drive a long distance each week? It sounds like if you could figure out some clear options you would not be as hesitant to have the conversation.
     
  17. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    as we all know..F does not care to fly...and F lives in just such a scenario...while I drive 2 1/2 hours now, each way...I have pondered what I would do if pro decided to escape and retire to Aruba tomorrow...and I am fairly certain that, while it is not optimal, at my level (which is open in smooth, full silver to closed intermediate gold in the other 3 styles), I think I could travel at far as 7 hours once a month and do two days once a month if I had to...it is funny how I was so concerned about my having to drive such a distance before I started doing it...now it seems like no big deal...and the added benefit is that it has taught me the discipline of having to persevere for a long period of time under less than ideal circumstances on my lessons and to keep the jibber jabber to a minimum, b/c I can't just call and cancel whenever I like and I need to use all of that time...it has also forced me to learn how to practice well on my own
     
  18. Wannabee

    Wannabee Well-Known Member

    I have looked high and low in my town and in the towns around me. I have seen pros from all over the state with their showcase students. I am one of about 5 students that compete in my entire state (and 2 of those are with my same pro). My current pro is by far the best option for quality dance instruction within easy driving distance (3 hrs or so). I live in a large state with lots and lots of prarie grass between towns. I have seen one other lady from my same state, not even my same town, at any NDCA comps. A few more may do small local comps from time to time. But none of their instructors are worth the money for what I'm wanting out of my dancing.

    And I am very humble and don't tend to toot my own horn, but I am not exagerrating when I say that I am at the same level or better than most of the other male dance instructors in my neck of the woods. I mean when I can watch these pros at a showcase and see the heel leads throughout their cha cha routines, their lack of drive across the floor in their waltzes, etc., it makes me cringe. They really are that bad. I don't want to spend the kind of money I am spending right now for an instructor who IMO has nothing to offer that will progress my dancing.

    My fear is not that my pro will kick me to the curb, it is that I will not like his answer or be able to live with his explanation to me about the new rate and stipulations. It's almost like if I stick my head in the sand, I can pretend everything is fine. And I guess I'm sort of trying to decide if I just don't want to know at all, if I do want to know but plan to stay regardless of what he says, or if I have to stand my ground, not tolerate being treated unfairly, and move on. All I do know is that I will not pay lots of money for a pro that takes heel leads in rhythm.

    Driving several hours one way and staying in a hotel might be a little easier to take if I felt that it was because I outgrew my current pro. But the expense of all that could easily translate into a couple of more lessons if I stayed where I am. So it becomes more of an ethical dilemma for me. How much am I willing to tolerate to continue dancing with this pro?

    And there is always the possibility (however remote) that this was a big misunderstanding....right? Fingers crossed.
     
  19. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    well, I would certainly never encourage you to trade down...and I do fully understand...I can tell you that I would be every heard pressed to find a pro in my area for similar reasons...there are some about as far away as my current pro, but I would still feel hard-pressed to consider it a lateral move or an improvement...and, inside of an hour, there is probably not a male teacher with more dance experience and technique than that which I have obtained...and I don't mean that arrogantly either..best to you
     
  20. bia

    bia Well-Known Member

    Wannabee, I was thinking that it made sense for you to wait until after the upcoming comp to have "the talk," but given how much this is preying on your mind, I'm wondering if it's a better idea to talk about it with him sooner. I really have a hard time imagining that a pro would dump a student for daring to ask about rates. If you're worried that having the conversation would make things awkward between you, well, it seems to me that you're already feeling awkward with the situation. I don't see a conversation making you feel worse. Now, 1) he may agree to equalize your rates; 2) he may refuse for reasons that make sense to you; or 3) he may refuse for reasons that don't make sense to you. You can decide going in how you'll react in each situation. If your decision is that you'll stick with him regardless, the worst of these options (3) leaves you in the same position as you would be if you avoided the conversation entirely. And options 1 and 2 put you in a better position than now. So maybe it's time to (calmly!) bite the bullet and initiate the conversation?
     

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