Ballroom Dance > Franchise Experiences

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

  1. Yup, happened at my old franchise studio, too, except with Quickstep. Because the one Gold student at our studio took some QS lessons from a friend of hers who happens to be a dance teacher, and word got back to the franchise teachers/management. But the series classes that were taught in Quickstep... was... not... Quickstep, as I later found out when I started going to my indy studio, which teaches International Style. I dunno, maybe it was American Style Quickstep or something?? :p
  2. Dots

    Dots Active Member

    I have been at an Arthur Murray studio for approximately two years now and so far, I have been thrilled with my experience. I have to admit that I got lucky, however, since I knew next to nothing in dancing and had no idea what to look for in terms of credentials (nor did I really search for any). Here’s my experience so far:
    • The owners have been in the business for decades and it shows that they have lots of experience in dancing and managing. They have proven flexible in payment options when necessary.
    • There have always been two gold level teachers at the studio which constantly formed the other less experienced teachers. "Less experienced" is also relative since they were at least silver leveled (but not necessarily trained to teach silver leveled steps as I understand it).
    • There has never been a case of "6 weeks wonder". The studio would rather take the time to bring an experienced teacher from the outside, even if that meant months. Transitionning from one teacher to another is also possible without too much fuss.
    • Once I made it clear that my budget would only allow one 30 min private per week, I was never pressured into taking more lessons.
    • The studio has only insisted that I complete my progress checks in a certain number of dances prior to accessing a higher leveled group class. I have never been held back due to not taking an X number of privates or contract.
    • Practice between students is encouraged and sometimes, teachers can’t help but give a few free tips as they walk by.
    • I have been encouraged to try spotlights, formations and competitions, but I have never been emotionally blackmailed into any event.
    • Coaches are occasionally being brought in before competitions for expert advice. Sometimes it costs a few extra bucks, but they are well placed and the coaches had high credentials.
    • I know from seeing other students that the studio does not frown on students taking classes elsewhere for whatever reason. They seem confident that the quality of their teaching will be enough to maintain client fidelity (and so far it has).
    • What I have learned, I have managed to apply successfully in the "outside world" with complete strangers. That’s perhaps the biggest success marker that I can think of aside from competing.

    So yeah, its positive review.

    After two years, however, I have seen enough from other Arthur Murray studios to understand that the same situation is not necessarily replicated elsewhere. Were I to go back in time, I would still chose the same studio, but I would have done more homework and asked pointy questions concerning credentials, etc. A franchise is not a guarantee of quality; only that certain standards are applied.​
  3. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    I've noticed this, too, since the area where I live has predominantly american style. I happened to be in our studio when they had a beginner quickstep class, taught by someone who mainly teaches american style. I think it was put together upon requests from people who now sit quicksteps out (it's played a few times during the parties, since we have some people who do international style). But it looked nothing like quickstep I know. I think the premise was that it's like foxtrot, but faster and without any open position work (since it's international).
  4. bia

    bia Well-Known Member

    I'd consider this a common issue for ballroom studios in general, not just franchises. Though I suppose that it might be more straightforward for an indy studio to bring in teachers from those communities for those particular classes (not that they always do), while a franchise studio would be more limited to their current teachers. (I say this with no franchise experience whatsoever, so take it with all the necessary grains of salt.)
  5. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    And that's why it's always important remember, restaurant or dance studio or any other franchise, it's just that--a FRANCHISE. There are basic standards you have to meet, but the feel of the place is up to the individuals running it. I would probably be more leery of an AM or FADS just because of the pricing, but I wouldn't automatically rule them out just because they're a franchise. The individual owner makes a huge difference.
  6. gardinercd

    gardinercd New Member

    My independent studio was recently purchased by a franchise, so I (unfortunately) have been able to experience the differences at the same studio run by indy and franchise owners. There are definitely pros and cons and I'm hoping in the end they even out and I'm able to continue improving at this studio.

    When it was independent, it was a lot of fun. The parties were livelier, the music was good and everyone seems to be having a great time. The owner was very charismatic. Lessons were inexpensive, there were a variety of comps to go to and you could order a la carte. One the con side, there were some inexperienced instructors being weened and I felt as if I had to use lessons in order to give them some experience. Also, the books were a mess; business was often done with a handshake.

    Now that it is owned by a franchise, the feel is that it is first and foremost a business. The owners are very nice and gracious, but when I lost my partner due to the acquisition, I was told I couldn't attend the comp I was training for because "frankly, we wouldn't make any money off of it". The lessons are much more expensive and we're expected to attend the franchise comps which are mucho dinero. Also, their footwork is a bit different than i was taught, so it seems like I'm going to have to spend time relearning dances "their way". One the plus side, the instructors are very experienced. Also, the studio now keeps track of my lessons, payments, etc. so I don't have to keep an eye on things so closely.

    So, while I couldn't recommend one over the other, I would say there is a trade-off. Now that my studio is a franchise, I find myself attending many more group lessons and parties not only to find another partner, but to try and justify the added expense.
  7. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    as to them keeping closer track of your lessons and payments, leaving you with less work in that regard; I am not so certain that you want to adopt that perspective on that issue...I am also not sure that I would want to dance somewhere where I was expected to attend any one event or a consumer, I don't feel that I owe a provider isn't a church where there is inherent communal responsibility...having said all of that, I think we all have the ability to gage whether or not the total package that any studio presents is, on balance, one worth accepting...and we needn't feel that we need to justify that decision to anyone else...and I am happy that you have had a trasition that has proven feasible for you :)
  8. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    This sentence puzzled me...can you be a little more specific ?
  9. gardinercd

    gardinercd New Member

    To clarify, when the franchise took over, I was training for a competition and the franchise pro was unfamiliar with the syllabus I was learning. Many of the figures (I believe) either had different names or were not taught at his franchise. So, it was difficult for us to get on the same page because I didn't want to stop and learn his syllabus with the comp looming and he was unfamiliar with some of the terms on my lesson plan. So, there is a difference in steps and figures to dances.

    Also, I've noticed small things like the dances begin differently - which throws me off a bit, but I quickly catch up. (eg. the rumba beginning with a quick quick to the side rather than a slow step forward.)

    Last, at parties, we would dance mainly EC swing, Waltz and Salsa - but this fanchise prefers WC swing, Viennese, and Samba. Dances with which most of the students are unfamiliar. So, not worse, just different.
  10. suburbaknght

    suburbaknght Well-Known Member

    This is very, very frequent between studios. It's actually much more common among independent studios which may be using ISTD, USISTD, DVIDA, DTC Boston, NDTA, NADT, PATD, or USTA syllabus, or whatever the studio's dance director has put together from his or her own background and experience. At least with a Franchise you know that every studio will be using the same syllabus with the same figures and steps.

    The solution is not to worry about relearning steps for the competition. Focus on technique which is universal. I do lessons with many instructors and coaches who don't know the ins and outs of my preferred syllabus but no good technique and how to correct it regardless of the step. I find this actually more beneficial than someone who teaches to syllabus because at a competition it's unlikely all the judges will know your specific syllabus.
  11. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure I understand. Would you mind explaining? :)
  12. wooh

    wooh Well-Known Member

    I think he's referring to his pro-am instructor?
  13. gardinercd

    gardinercd New Member

    Yes. That's what she is referring to. :)
  14. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Well-Known Member

    Ah, thanks for clarifying.
  15. Countess 4

    Countess 4 New Member

    Franchise V.S. Independent

    My experience 6 years with a franchised studio...mostly great! Also good at independent studio.

    Franchise: My teacher competed professionally and was up to date on latest coachings etc. The social part and group classes of franchised studios is all part of the package..loved it. I was a competitive student and had opportunites at both franchised and independent comps. Made friends that I still have...a bonding social enviornment.

    Franchises speak about independent studios as though they are at the bottom of the food chain.

    I now dance at an independent studio and guess what? Very similar to the franchised studio. Buy a package of lessons per month (I buy 20): Group classes every evening; showdance events semi-annually; competitions local and away; professional coachings offered.

    A few differences......
    Franchise: choreography by an outside coach; buddy system; restricted teacher/student interaction; teachers qualified through franchise.

    Independent: teachers do choreography.....outside coaches evaluate it.....; teachers are certified; no buddy system, however if you want more than one instructor that's okay; appears that more students compete locally and away.

    Conclusion: Neither franchise or independent is automatically better than the other. Depends who owns the studio, how profesionally it is run and whether the studio really gives a care long term about their students or is a large turnover just part of the reality.
  16. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    welcome to df countess
  17. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Well-Known Member

    Are there no experienced male professionals either? :)
  18. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yes to this.

    And welcome, countess. :-D
  19. TangoRocks

    TangoRocks Member

    Actually, TC, I am taking lessons from the experienced male professional right now. However, if I had my druthers, I'd rather dance with a girl than with a guy ;-)
  20. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Well-Known Member

    Heh, I wonder about *his* druthers. ;)

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