Franchise Experiences

danceronice

Well-Known Member
I have been at an Arthur Murray studio for approximately two years now and so far, I have been thrilled with my experience. <SNIP> 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.​
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.
 
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.
 

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 another...as a consumer, I don't feel that I owe a provider anything...it 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 :)
 
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.
 

suburbaknght

Well-Known 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.
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.
 
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.
 
Inexperienced teachers are not sufficient for the SERIOUS social dancers either, speaking as one. I have never competed, and does not look like I am going to in the foreseeable future, but I do take my dancing seriously and one reason I might be leaving my franchise studio soon is because there are no experienced female professionals left to teach me. Correction, the only female teacher left is a former student, and while she is great dancer and I have danced with her a lot when we were both students, I am not confident I can learn from her, which makes it extremely difficult and frustrating.
Are there no experienced male professionals either? :)
 
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.
Absolutely.

In the UK, the majority of our studios are small and independent. The success or failure of each studio comes down to the quality and dedication of the teachers and staff, and their capability to run a shrewd business as well as teaching with passion and knowledge. If they can do all this - they succeed. If they can't - they don't.

There are probably three major players in my local county, and they all succeed because they are capable teachers who run a tight ship. There are many other studios that are mediocre or worse, but that is down to poor teaching or fly-by-night ideas, rather than the fact that they are independent.

:D
 

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