How much do dance classes cost? Or more importantly, how much should you be charging for the lessons you teach in your dance studio? It’s one of those polarizing questions that can honestly make or break your business. Get it right, and you’ll have happy customers, and be able to pay your bills on time. Get it wrong, and your studio could start bleeding money while your employees and clients suffer the consequences.
If you are running a dance studio, or just thinking about opening a dance studio, this post will hopefully shed some light on how much you should charge for the classes you offer.
First Things First – Know Your Numbers
Before you can truly explore the question of how much dance classes cost, you need to know your numbers. That is, you need to factor in all the fees associated with running a dance studio.
You should start by tallying up every expense including:
- Monthly mortgage or rent of your studio
- Utilities such as water, electric, heating and air
- Staff costs
- Subscriptions, and dues
- Software and hardware fees
- Maintenance and upkeep (you should always be putting away a portion of your profits for potential upgrades and repairs)
You get the idea. You can’t break down the amount you need to bring in, until you know what will be going out each month. Next, you’ll need to determine what types of classes you will be offering.
If you’re reading this before opening a dance studio, your options are a little more open than if you have been established a while. However, there’s no rule that states you can’t add more classes, or start charging higher fees if necessary to keep up with the cost of doing business.
The Types of Classes You Can Charge For
There are generally four types of classes you can teach in your dance studio. These classes are:
- Private classes: one on one with student and instructor
- Couples classes: one couple with one instructor (Often used for wedding dance lessons)
- Small group classes (semi-private): one instructor with three to five students
- Large group classes: one instructor with five to 10 students (Although some large group classes can have even more than 10 students, the more students a class has, the more likely they will require a second teacher to assist students with the choreography and technique)
The reasons a student may choose to take a private class could be:
- They need specialized attention to break down the material
- Embarrassment over their technique
- The student desires to learn at a faster pace, and learn their strengths and weaknesses quicker as well
- The student doesn’t want to socialize with other people
Because of the fact one on one instruction is so constricting (i.e. the dance instructor can’t earn from other students during this time), private classes are typically more expensive per class than other class types. As such, it’s not unreasonable to charge between $85 and $95 per private class.
Couples want to take dance classes for a variety of reasons. Weddings, parties, even just impressing their friends. Like a private class however, the instructor won’t be able to earn from additional students while teaching these classes. Therefore, the pricing may be similar to private classes around $100 per session. Then again, if there are special requests for unique choreography and custom music, it could be more expensive since it will require additional work outside of the classes from the instructor.
For some dance studio owners, to offer this type of class, you may need to hire an instructor who is well versed in dances for couples. The instructor you choose will also need to be able to adapt their instruction to themes, styles, and music genre the couple is looking for.
Small Group Classes
A benefit of a small group class is that as the number of students in a class goes up, the lower the sticker price can go. In many ways, a small group class is the happy medium between expensive private classes and big group classes. Because there are only a few students, the teacher will have plenty of time to work with each pupil to ensure they understand what is being taught.
At the same time, the teacher will be able to closely monitor technique and form, and correct easily. It’s not abnormal for a small group class of three people to cost between $150 and $200 per lesson. The more people being taught in an hour, the more money there is to potentially be made for the studio.
Large Group Classes
Again, additional instructors may need to be brought in depending on just how large the group is, but typically this is the most cost effective way for a student to learn dance. Everyday Health found that on average, large group dance classes can cost between $40 and $160 per month for one dance class per week. They also found that some dance studios charge a registration fee. Speaking of which…
Factors To Consider In Your Fees
Running a dance studio isn’t cheap, but high class costs could have your potential customers heading to your cheaper competitors. With that in mind, here are some additional factors you may want to consider when creating your pricing structure for your classes:
It’s not abnormal to charge them, but waiving them could be a selling tactic. For example, you could run a special that allows students to sign up without a registration fee if they sign up by a certain date. Then, everyone who signs up after that date, has to pay the fee, and you’ll enjoy a profit boost.
In some cases, a student might have to cancel or reschedule their dance classes. You may want to consider implementing cancellation fees in your studio for two reasons:
- The loss of that student now means a loss of income.
- To try and make up that loss, you may have to scramble to refill their slot.
Your cancellation policy could be that they forfeit their registration fee. If they didn’t pay a registration fee but cancelled their classes, they get charged a registration fee. A word of caution on cancellation fees – like class costs, if it’s too high the client might not come back. On the other hand, the threat of a cancellation fee could be just enough to keep them enrolled for the duration of the season.
One way your studio could encourage sign ups is to offer dance packages. Instead of charging per class, your students pay one up front sum monthly or even quarterly. This fee could be less than the per class price to reward them for paying in advance. Think of it as a class pass.
Should you offer pricing by the class? Maybe, but maybe dance packages will better serve you. One of the glaring reasons why dance packages is more appealing to studio owners than per class pricing, is that by selling a package, they are guaranteeing a certain amount of revenue in a given time. When you offer per class pricing, if the student stops showing up, your studio stops making money. At least if they bought a package and stopped coming, you’ve already got the money in the bank.
Some studios prefer to only offer dance packages, and others like to give their customers the option. To determine what would work best for your studio, you could consider surveys and polls with your customers to find out what they would like. Or if having the peace of mind of guaranteed money in the bank sounds better than weekly income, go with dance packages.
What’s Next? How Much Do Dance Classes Cost?
Now that you’ve gotten clear on how much it costs to run your studio, and you’ve analyzed all the ways you could charge for classes, and considered the types of fees you could add on, it’s time to actually set your prices. As you finalize your per class cost, keep in mind that you should make sure you have a healthy profit margin not only because you want your studio to be in the black, but also because there may be ups and downs in terms of registrations.
Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that you will have every class filled each year. Then again, that’s just further proof that you must be marketing and promoting your dance studio business all the time.
Chasing prospects when you’re desperate can be incredibly stressful. But, steady promotions could yield steady interest so you don’t have to worry as much come registration time.
To learn more about marketing your studio and making it successful, we’d recommend checking out some of the following posts:
- 5 Tools for Marketing Your Dance Studio
- 7 Tips for Owning a Successful Dance Studio
- Here’s How to Attract Customers to Your Dance Studio
- Build Customer Loyalty and Advocacy for Your Studio
How to Increase Profits In Your Studio
Whether you’ve been running a dance studio for years, or are just now opening a dance studio, odds are you want to increase profits. Extra income never hurt anyone, after all. Just a few things you can offer to increase profits in your studio include, but aren’t limited to:
- Hosting events and recitals: While this may not be an extreme money making opportunity, it certainly can boost your profits. And, parents will love watching their kids perform to see how they are progressing in their classes.
- Sell gear – branded or generic: From tights to shoes, dance bags to leotards, you could generate income via a retail area inside your studio. In fact, you could add an ecommerce section to your dance studio website as well. If your stuff is branded, you’ll enjoy the added benefit of other people promoting your dance studio on your behalf.
Side note: perhaps creating branded t-shirts and other gear is a good idea even if you don’t plan to sell it. It could be a great way market your studio, and could be used as an incentive for class signups.
- Rent out your studio when it’s not being used for classes: People are always looking for unique locations to host parties and events. Speaking of parties, you could turn small group lessons into dance parties. Imagine a birthday party where kids or even adults come to learn a dance, and then get to actually use those skills to dance the afternoon or night away.
- Sell your choreography to other studios, and to the public: If you are already consistently creating new and unique choreography for your students, you could develop simple video tutorials that you sell online. These tutorials could also be offered to your current students who want refreshers at home between classes.
Need to Bring Dance Class Costs Down? Find Ways to Decrease Your Expenses
There may come a point when sign ups are stagnant because students are looking for less expensive instruction. In the event this happens, you will need to start decreasing expenses to maintain profits while still being able to lower your prices.
A fabulous tool to help you decrease your expenses is one that should already be in your business owner toolkit – Dance Studio Software. By using good software such as The Studio Director you’ll save time and money, and have a bird’s eye view as to where you are bleeding money, and where you’re most profitable, which gives you the knowledge of where your efforts should be focused. To learn more about how The Studio Director can help you maximize profits, click here.