It blows my mind that dance studio owners settle for only 9 or 10 months of tuition each year, although I used to be one of them. How many months out of the year are you collecting tuition? If your answer isn’t 12, WHY!? Mathematically speaking, if you are only charging 9 months of tuition, you are leaving 25% of your money on the table.
Why are you suffering through sad summers? Why are you not getting the consistent year round income that you deserve? Do you have an exceptionally kind and understanding landlord or mortgage holder that lets you skip payments June through August? Of course, not! So why aren’t you getting paid too?
What would change in your life if you knew that you were going to make the same amount of money every month in your dance studio? How much money are you sequestering from your monthly cash flow September through May to cover those summer months? What could you be doing with that money instead?
I made the switch to 12 months of equal tuition payments in 2012 when the schools in my area went to what they called a “balanced calendar”. They shortened summer break to only 7 weeks and lengthened breaks inside of the school year. There were now two weeks off for fall break, spring break, and winter break, most of a week off for Thanksgiving, and of course shortened weeks for other federal holidays. In fact, the only months that students would actually have 4 weeks of school would now be August and February.
I panicked. If I followed the school calendar, not only would I never be able to put together a decent recital, I would lose tons of revenue. What parent is going to pay full tuition every month when little Suzy is only getting 3 classes? Not to mention the fact that summer breaks were now so short that no one wanted to commit to any camps. They were guarding their time off with their lives. I was pretty sure my studio was doomed.
That is when I had the thought to “balance” my calendar. I figured if they were getting rid of summer, I could too. Furthermore, my dance studio is not part of the public school system. It is a facility for training both physically and artistically and it is a business, which should be providing an abundant existence complete with financial peace of mind 12 months out of the year.
I’ll admit, I was worried that the plan would backfire. I figured as soon as I published the calendar for the coming year that I would have hoards of angry mothers with pitchforks and hairbrushes after me. Spoiler alert: no angry hoards. Things kept going on like they had been, minus the sad summers.
I do still have breaks in my year, including 1 week in the fall, 3 weeks over the winter holidays, 1 week in spring, and a 4 week break in the summer. I use 3 of those summer weeks to run camps. (Or have other instructors do that for me while I enjoy traveling with my family with the money that I didn’t have to squirrel away for surviving a summer with no tuition.) Those camps are just the cherry on top of the steady, year-round revenue stream. That even gives me a chance to test run new types of classes with no fear of lost income.
There were some happy surprises that I found after I made the change to my 12-month tuition calendar. The months that our studio had an entire week or more off with no payroll created a buffer in our budget. That meant extra money to make improvements to our studio, give our instructors a nice bonus, or bring in an amazing guest teacher. A shorter summer break actually benefited my students and strengthened my teaching team, with just enough break time to get refreshed and reignited for more dancing, without losing momentum or technique. We are not starting over when we come back to a new season. And, with tuition coming in during the summer, the money we make on summer camps or workshops becomes the icing on our income cake.
Remember those angry moms I was worried about? I am sure that if you are convinced now that you should be receiving tuition all year long, that you are also wondering how to avoid any unpleasantries with your studio families in the transition. I am now making it my mission to help dance studio owners do just that at studioplannerpro.com
For me, it turned out that there was no angry hoard. There was, however, 25% more income without adding any new students. From there, I created a passive system to bring new students into my studio all year long. Read about it in my article, How to Get Your Dance Studio NOT to Kill You in 3 Simple Steps.
If you are frustrated with your dance studio cash flow, you might consider making the move to a year-round tuition plan. If you would like to learn more, you can learn my system. I would love to see all of my fellow dance studio owners have a profitable studio that can serve their students joyfully for years to come. You deserve to have a studio and life.