General Dance Discussion > Cost of Running a Dance Studio

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by Larinda McRaven, Jan 4, 2008.

  1. mop6686

    mop6686 Member

    I was at a studio where most of the teachers worked full time jobs during the day till between 4 and 6pm then would teach at the studio until 10pm. Didn't make for a very successful studio though. Teachers could never fully commit to their teaching/dancing, so students were scarce or rarely came back. In fact, the studio once had one of their top students demand a refund for the rest of his program (2 lessons/week for 2 months @ $90/hour = $1440) which sent them into the red and they couldn't pay the teachers that month. I got out of there soon after.

    I also knew a teacher who took Master's classes in the morning then worked at a studio from 1-10pm. But she soon fell by the way side.

    I have taken part time jobs while teaching, but even 8 hours a week at something else left me feeling exhausted and distracted. But once I was at a studio that only paid $10/lesson, so I needed it.
  2. mop6686

    mop6686 Member

    Most studios I've been at pay a little less for teaching group class and you are generally paid for comps, which I've also seen vary in rate. Some places pay flat rates for each heat you do and others have a bunch of bonuses built into the payroll if you meet certain goals. At one studio I was at, if you didn't meet those goals then you got nothing. Which means a teacher could be competing/performing all night for free.
  3. nucat78

    nucat78 Active Member

    Having cobbled together various full- and part-time job combinations at one time or another, that's a very long day even if one's full-time job is just a "cushy" office job.

    Especially if the 8 hours is something like stocking shelves at HoPo. I'd wager that Starbucks folks are beat after 4 hours of standing on their feet making coffee.
  4. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    Most I've ever worked at once is 60-70 hours a week at up to four different jobs at once. It wasn't so much the hours as the commute times involved, plus when it's six or seven days a week (plus the skating school, so sorta five, but that was only 2-3 hours on the weekend with a drive between rinks), never having a good long stretch off became very draining. That and "OMG I have to get from X to Y, I have an hour to do it..." I would not want to have put the on-your-feet most physically demanding one at the END of the day. Especially as sometimes it wasn't even not having a weekend, it was getting home at ten or eleven at night and having to be ready to leave for work at eight the next morning.

    I dunno, maybe if you're really young and fit you can keep it up for a while, but it just gets physically and psychologically destructive eventually.
  5. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    I think most of my local teachers have day jobs. It's just a financial necessity. Some of them get up about 6 a.m. for the day job, work all day, then they're at the studio teaching classes, privates, coaching performance teams, rehearsing their own comp routines, etc., until late at night. Of course they are young and fit, but I'm pretty sure they're depending on a lot of caffeine.
  6. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    I can promise, ten/twelve hour and longer days, six+ days a week, will eventually bite you in the butt. On top of the physical, it's mental wear. I wonder if some of the turnover/burnout with some teachers is related. (Plus the day jobs have to be flexible enough to go to competitions, which was another hassle.)
  7. nucat78

    nucat78 Active Member

    I know several people who tried combining a day job with a second (simultaneous) career. Very few lasted for more than about a year.
  8. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    It's a sucker bet for most people I've known.

    And, when it comes to dance studios, whether it's feasible or not is sometimes not the main issue. Most studios I've been affiliated with (that had newbie teachers) prohibited moonlighting.
  9. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    I did a competition a little less than two months after I moved, not having seen Chris and Tibor in that time and not having danced a step. Chris was probably half-joking but he said when we went to practice "If this is how you dance without them, don't take lessons!" I think the real difference was I was now working literally half the hours per week than I had been before and not seven days a week! Trying to work massive hours and just be a student am (who had to treat those competitions as "vacations") was hard enough. Trying to work 60+ and be the PRO would probably put me in the hospital.
  10. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Way back when, in the UK that was common practice. Many profs had day time jobs ( no business in daytime ) but had thriving businesses in the evenings and W/end.. and.. they produced top quality dancers. Most of this was in the small provincial towns .
  11. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    There still is very little business, around here, in the daytime. I teach six evenings out of seven, and every weekend, but less than 10% of my teaching time falls during the Monday to Friday 'working day'. I think that's a pretty common pattern in UK. I'm busy enough not to 'need' a day job, but the majority of teachers I know only teach part-time, more-or-less as a paying hobby.
  12. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Not asking you directly, UK. :cool: I wonder how they balance both without killing themselves.
  13. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Well, you can easily have a successful (ie enjoyable and profitable) small business that only operates one or two evenings a week. Mostly such teachers are independent and hire halls for classes. They probably represent the majority, but my only evidence for that is anecdotal.
  14. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Its done out of 2 things.. necessity, and the love of teaching dance .Also to consider.. Priv. lessons ( often in 1/2 hr increments ) were 10shillings( 75 cents now ) and classes were 2shillings ( 15 cents now ). The majority of income was made from class and practice sessions, and the sale of tea and coffee .

    I cant speak personally for how they were in their private lives, that was always taboo, but, they sustained that routine for more yrs than I can even remember .

    Also, most schools in the UK were in rented space, usually above a store/shop, with great wood floors, and even the world class coaches used rental space ( Binninck taught out of the Hammersmith Palais in the daytime ).
  15. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    How did the whole rented space model work? I know that Chris (nottomention and other aliases) has been lampooned here, for suggesting that model should be applied across the board. Have you seen it work? How? (Not challenging. Looking for information.) Is there something that dance studios could do state-side to make dance more accessible to larger numbers of people? That's what I'm getting at.

    Of everybody in DF, TT, I think you're one of the few, if not the only one, who's seen both sides -- the UK model and the US model -- in action, from the perspective of a working dance coach over the long term.

    What can US learn from UK (if you don't mind sharing :cool:) ?
  16. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Thats a tough one to pinpoint.. I think one of the main considerations ( and this has been discussed on another topic ) is the fact that a " client " base, as well as the late starter in life, contributes significantly to many schools continuing sucess , not to the degree it was, but still is effective . Also, maybe price structure . Most class work here is between $6 an hr and 9 in metro areas, and seems reasonable compared to other forms of entertainment.

    Many schools also have very large kids classes on Sat. the charge is low, but the volume can be very good .

    From my perspective, I was offered thru one of my Soc. the opportunity to take up examining again ( I declined as i no longer have a car and its all w/end work ) but, its something that can give good suplemental income . The states does not promote medal tests like the UK, which can be a valuable source of income and is a win .win for both ,and by default would require more examiners in the States.

    When I was a D.D. in NYC back in the early 60s, I ran 2 practice nites .. one Latin/Rhythm and the other Smooth, the same type practice sessions were a regular staple here, and they were both well attended .

    The UK also uses inter city comps ( students only ).. very successful in some areas .

    When I introduced this concept in LA between 2 local schools, the powers that be, had to be persuaded that the students could accept 2nd place !. They also were well received.

    In small town Educ. schools ,Local dance teachers should try and persuade the education board for them to teach childrens classes at a very nominal rate.. 2 english pros , good friends of mine, built a huge following in their local school system in the States thru that endeavour .
  17. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Ballroom & Latin American dancing in the UK is largely sustained by social dancers, not competitive dancing. Late middle-aged and retired people dominate the social dance scene (not to the exclusion of anyone else, but they dominate). As TT says, there are many children & young people attending classes too.

    There are lots of social clubs and community halls all over the place that have decent floors suitable for dancing, and they are usually available to hire, by the hour, at very reasonable rates. Such floors are in buildings that are usually run on a not-for-profit basis, and that is reflected in the rent. A suitably experienced dance teacher can walk into a hall at 6:50pm, plug in his portable music system, and be teaching classes at 7pm, 8pm & 9pm. At 10:10pm, he puts out the lights, and leaves. The premises cost him absolutely nothing until the same time next week, and if his classes are well attended, he will probably make more, in one evening, than many small studios can make all week, because of all their fixed costs.

    A studio has to work its floor for many hours a week, just to reach break-even, and with a hope of a profit. A peripatetic teacher can judge which of his locations (if he has more than one - I use four) are the most profitable, and from time to time, look for a better venue, dropping the least profitable. If there is a downturn in business, he can drop a venue at a week's notice. The poor hapless studio owner has signed a lease, and has to pay the rent, business taxes and insurance and all the other associated costs whether any students materialise or not.

    In the current economic climate, I'm very glad to teach out of the boot of my car, and with a capital investment in my business of rather less than £500. I could walk away from it tomorrow.

    My typical student is a beginner or social dancer of a modest standard. They don't need to come to a studio to practise or dance socially, because there are dozens of venues they can use, every day of the week. Within half an hour's drive from my home I know of 750+ social dances that are held every month. Almost none of them take place in dedicated dance studios.
  18. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    In my B/room classes, I dont believe i have had more than 4 people in 6 yrs, under fifty, whilst teaching in the UK .. all, but for 2 comp. types are/were, social dancers ( I still use the Amer.system in Br and Silver with a mix of Intern. ) . One of my close friends in the same town, taught a Bronze 1 dance medal test class with great response.. then they all quit !..

    Ive had students in social levels,stay with me up to 3 yrs plus.
  19. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    I would think that's fairly common everywhere. After all, aside from the rich students who don't have to work (spouse supporting them, retired, etc.), your clientele is at their day jobs. :)
  20. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Except Florida.. and Atlanta is pretty good

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