Cost of Running a Dance Studio

pygmalion

Well-Known Member
ya know, I actually know of very few people who actually stay stuck in the unfortunate mindset that social dancing will sully their comp skills...I think that is mostly a temporary phase ....


I said that tongue-in-cheek (aka sarcastically,) fasc. I dance socially because I love it. There's nothing lowly about it, IMV, and I don't presume that all competitive dancers feel that way. I've encountered more than a handful of DFers who couldn't possibly see things differently. They value dance.

As for me? I just plain love dance the noun, dancing the verb, and dancers, the people. I don't have any need to categorize or judge. I just wanna dance whenever I can and hear about everybody else's dancing when I can't. :cool:
 

pygmalion

Well-Known Member
I think it tends to be an "either-or" proposition, though. The studios either just rent space to independents and live on the floor fees, or their teachers are their employees. I don't know what is better business-wise, but the setup that survives best here is independent kind, in particular if they're big enough (and have liquor license) that they can also rent space for private parties, for example.
Hmm. Hadn't thought about that, T. Will give it some thought. :cool:
 

nucat78

Active Member
Ok, so who's volunteering to write a hypothetical business plan for an indy studio? Let's see the spreadsheets and research references! Four instructors X 20 lessons per week X $60 per lesson less rent less liability insurance less...

Oh wait, there was something about DVDs in this thread. I like DVDs. I like pie. LOL!
 

pygmalion

Well-Known Member
nucat said:
Ok, so who's volunteering to write a hypothetical business plan for an indy studio? Let's see the spreadsheets and research references! Four instructors X 20 lessons per week X $60 per lesson less rent less liability insurance less...
!

I suspect that the business plan might be the beginning and the end. Dance studios cost big bucks and somebody has to pay. No such thing as a free lunch. *shrug*

And any argument that one should just rent space is very, very short-sighted, IMV. One can't rent space that doesn't exist. You can't rent practice space from a studio that has closed its doors because it can't pay the rent. It costs what it costs to be in business. That's all. Like a manager of mine once told me, [this] is not a charitable institution. We're here to make money.

Same thing with dance teachers. They have houses and cars and kids and dogs to pay for and feed. Any argument that takes food out of their mouths while exploiting existing resources is not okay with me. As much as I prefer to be non-judgmental, it's not okay. Dance teachers deserve a good living. Having people out there trying to exploit the system is kinda sucky, IMV.
 

DL

Well-Known Member
If there is a floor for rent to independent teachers in your area, then it's very easy to know the market value of running a studio facility to support lessons.

You then take what teachers are willing to work for, and you have the appropriate price of a private lesson for an informed (advertising not required) student.
Perhaps not. The rental price of the floor that's not fully utilized might be a welcome amount for the proprietor compared with zero, but not sufficient to sustain the facility if were only used to serve rentals at that price.

Likewise for phone service, actually. I used to (what follows is a few years stale) work in the telco industry. Product managers there go nuts trying to monetize the services they offer. For many of their offerings, they actually lose money; but can't afford to discontinue money-losing offerings for strategic reasons. Customer acquisition/retention/churn and support are incredibly expensive, and competitive pressures make it tough indeed to even break even on data services. Just about the only thing they DO know how to monetize reliably is text messaging. It's a popular service, and it turns out the market will bear quite a bit there.
 

fascination

Site Moderator
Staff member
maybe we should start a new thread wrt the financial feasibility issues on running an independent studio...as we are now far afield from what is admittedly an already badly beaten horse, which is why I let it ramble this far
 
impressive knowlege of our archives
I wasn't aware that two posts earlier in the thread was considered to be in "the archives" ?

DL said:
Perhaps not. The rental price of the floor that's not fully utilized might be a welcome amount for the proprietor compared with zero, but not sufficient to sustain the facility if were only used to serve rentals at that price.
Actually, with some parties and event rentals, it is. Otherwise nobody would be in the business of offering that to the effective exclusion of staff-instructor programs.
 

tangotime

Well-Known Member
It's a shame that the studios make so much money because if they were less greedy the cost of the lessons would go down while the instructors could make a fair living.

" Too " much money ??.. of all the yrs Ive been around owners ( including myself) I could count on one hand, Franchises apart, and even many of those have not , that have become wealthy from operating a dance studio .The old adage " Perception becomes Reality " never seemed truer

What I find interesting about some of the posts, are how many have had ACTUAL experience of owning, or even running, a dance school .

As a good friend of mine was once asked about his studio " Is this a business? ".. the response.. " It started off that way ! "
 
" Too " much money ??.. of all the yrs Ive been around owners ( including myself) I could count on one hand, Franchises apart, and even many of those have not , that have become wealthy from operating a dance studio .
Indeed. But there can still be a very common problem with trying to squeeze out maximum profit wherever plausible (often to cover past losses) in ways that are shortsighted, and hurt not only the students and teachers but the long term health of the business itself.
 

tangotime

Well-Known Member
Indeed. But there can still be a very common problem with trying to squeeze out maximum profit wherever plausible (often to cover past losses) in ways that are shortsighted, and hurt not only the students and teachers but the long term health of the business itself.

Again, its the " bad apples " that seem to be in the forefront as THE rule rather than the exception.. show me a business that does not have its rogues .There are thousands upon thousands of teachers/studios that give good value for money .

I doubt the majority on this or any other dance site ,have the actual experience of being involved in the industry in mutliple locations ( the only way to do a fair sample ), and if so, you would find that the unscrupulos seldom survive( incompetance is another matter ! ) .

As to max. profit.. I see no illegality in that ( dont all businesses do that ? ) with the proviso that is does not, as you say, hurt the business.

In the final analysis, the wheat does eventually get sorted from the chaff .
 

toothlesstiger

Well-Known Member
It's a shame that the studios make so much money because if they were less greedy the cost of the lessons would go down while the instructors could make a fair living.
I have yet to see anyone who got wealthy teaching dance or running a dance studio.

Quick back of the envelope estimate for the money to be made in a dance studio. People actually running dance studios, please feel free to correct me if I have some completely out of line assumptions here.

Let's say a modest sized dance studio has a 40x30 dance floor. You need some room for facilities, offices, let's say we've got an 1800 sq ft space. You've got to pay rent on that every month.

With that size floor, you could reasonably have, what, six simultaneous private lessons before you get too cramped? Prime time for dance lessons is 6pm to 10pm. You've got a four hour window. Cut down the number of possible lessons in half for a small group class. Forget about privates if you have big group classes.

If you've got a few teachers on the payroll, you are paying them whether or not they are teaching private lessons or group classes any particular hour. If your teachers are independent, and if you pay them a flat rate for group classes, they've got better financial possibilities recruiting your students for private lessons.

Around here, at median rates, you would need the full private lesson take of several near fully booked instructors just to pay the rent.

Now, I'm being conservative with rent, because when I looked at what biz rental rates are around here, my eyes popped. At rental rates around here, teachers charging $85/hour, it would take three instructors booked at five hours per day just to pay the rent. If they are on salary, and you pay benefits, figure six or seven instructors.

They may be greedy, but they are really in the wrong field to satisfy that greed.

Now, to group classes versus privates, the only benefit to the studio on privates is if they can get you to commit to a block of private lessons. That way they have a more predictable revenue stream. If we assume $12/hour for a group class, you're making more money than privates once the eighth student pays.

From what I've seen in terms of the behaviour of the dance studios around here, I don't think I'm too far off in my guesstimates.

Where I have seen some considerably better financial prospects for instructors is in pro-am competitions. Yes, they work hard for that money, but the hardest working ones can clear a couple of months worth of private lesson fees in one weekend.
 

tangotime

Well-Known Member
People actually running dance studios, please feel free to correct me if I have some completely out of line assumptions here.



Prime time for dance lessons is 6pm to 10pm. You've got a four hour window. Cut down the number of possible lessons in half for a small group class.
That really does depend upon ones location.. Florida, for e.g. , daytime hrs in many locations, are very busy all day, and evenings, and in the larger cities, there again, pretty much 7 day a week operations.

Ive owned schools( and rented space ) in Metro areas and taught in numerous ones all over the States, and even now , in the "backwater " of a very small UK town. ALL locations vary, not only because of size, but more about demand for the product .

The UK is in a way very unique. Most schools here ised to be primarily a nite time operation and w/ends. Most teachers had full time jobs and some never aspired to own, in fact, the majority. Even people with the high profile of Binnick, rented space, as still do many of the top Pros in the UK .
 
Again, its the " bad apples " that seem to be in the forefront as THE rule rather than the exception.. show me a business that does not have its rogues .There are thousands upon thousands of teachers/studios that give good value for money .
I'm not really concerned about the bad apples... because they are bad.

I'm concerned about the good apples doing bad things in some corners of their business. For example, someone who is a great teacher seeking to expand their business by employing others, but doing so in a way that those lessons are primarily "business" and not "dancing" in the way that the owner's own lessons are. This is unfortunately the norm, not the exception.

In the final analysis, the wheat does eventually get sorted from the chaff .
The problem is that the students get sorted too. Those who are promising and lucky get a good value, but often everyone else just looks like money. And they provide a little, until they realize they aren't being helped and drop out, necessitating a large advertising budget for their replacements.

You can go after a trickle of high-margin business and find much of it short-term, or you can go after a lot of low-margin business and try to make it an attractive long-term value. Since learning to dance is inherently long-term, only the students who can afford to stay with you will accomplish much as dancers.
 

toothlesstiger

Well-Known Member
Same thing with dance teachers. They have houses and cars and kids and dogs to pay for and feed. Any argument that takes food out of their mouths while exploiting existing resources is not okay with me. As much as I prefer to be non-judgmental, it's not okay. Dance teachers deserve a good living. Having people out there trying to exploit the system is kinda sucky, IMV.
OK, now I'm afraid I have to argue the other side. ;-) This hits close to home, after dealing with the righteous indignation of a young one that dancers make so little money compared to engineers.

Making a living wage doing something you love is not a right. It is something to strive for, something to cherish if you have it, and certainly something not to be taken for granted. And even if you have it, you have to be prepared for the economic winds to change direction, and to have to do something else to pay for the basic necessities of life, wherein food, clothing, and shelter rate somewhat higher than art and beauty.

Dance teachers have every right to avoid exploitation, and people who try to game the system fail to appreciate that they may be destroying a resource they enjoy. But while I agree to a right to work, there is no right to have fun at work, just good luck if you do.
 

pygmalion

Well-Known Member
Sorry, tt, but I feel like you're refuting something I didn't say. Or maybe not. :confused: I'll go back and read through the earlier posts to get context (later today when I'm awake,) but, FTR, I didn't say or intend to suggest that dance teachers deserve to teach dance whether it pays the bills or not or that anybody owes them a living. Is that what you're getting at? If so, I agree with you. Just like me, you, and every other adult in any profession, they need to be able to make reasoned decisions about their financial position in today's economy and, in the absence of a rich auntie, to earn a living just like I do. *shrug*
 

pygmalion

Well-Known Member
I suspect that the business plan might be the beginning and the end. Dance studios cost big bucks and somebody has to pay. No such thing as a free lunch. *shrug*

And any argument that one should just rent space is very, very short-sighted, IMV. One can't rent space that doesn't exist. You can't rent practice space from a studio that has closed its doors because it can't pay the rent. It costs what it costs to be in business. That's all. Like a manager of mine once told me, [this] is not a charitable institution. We're here to make money.

Same thing with dance teachers. They have houses and cars and kids and dogs to pay for and feed. Any argument that takes food out of their mouths while exploiting existing resources is not okay with me. As much as I prefer to be non-judgmental, it's not okay. Dance teachers deserve a good living. Having people out there trying to exploit the system is kinda sucky, IMV.

Yes, tt.

My point, taken in context, was that it costs both dance teachers and dance studios what it costs to do business, and that arguments that they should somehow lower their prices to satisfy students' expectations are short-sighted, IMO. :cool:

I would never argue that dance teachers (or any other group,as a whole) are out there looking for a free ride (ETA: and especially that they should get away with it.) I'm sure there are some of that ilk, but I've never met any. Established dance teachers are busy, IME, and new teachers are struggling to survive on the little they earn while trying to establish a clientele.


It's all good, though. Your points are well taken, :-D
 

DerekWeb

Well-Known Member
The dance industry is subject to the economic reality of competition like most other in a market economy.

In my area, I have many independent studios, franchise studios, adult education classes, usa dance chapters and similar organizations, independent teachers teaching in their basements, on and on.

The price is what the market will bear. The range of options and corresponding pricing is very wide. This is how I think it should function.
 

nucat78

Active Member
I'm concerned about the good apples doing bad things in some corners of their business. For example, someone who is a great teacher seeking to expand their business by employing others, but doing so in a way that those lessons are primarily "business" and not "dancing" in the way that the owner's own lessons are. This is unfortunately the norm, not the exception.
(My emphasis.) Interesting. At how many studios have you observed this?
 

nucat78

Active Member
The dance industry is subject to the economic reality of competition like most other in a market economy.

In my area, I have many independent studios, franchise studios, adult education classes, usa dance chapters and similar organizations, independent teachers teaching in their basements, on and on.

The price is what the market will bear. The range of options and corresponding pricing is very wide. This is how I think it should function.
>OT<

Lovely! Econ 101! Like the stock market, I suspect the dance market is totally irrational. (Apologies to the technicians! :p)

>BOT!<
 

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