I have been a negligent blogger for the past few days... but I have a really good excuse! I have been finishing competitive costumes and making Costume Bills. I just heard a collective gasp from every dance parent reading this!
I will officially become the least popular person at my own studio for a few weeks while parents grit their teeth and write me cheques. I will be feeling no love! However, in my defence, and every other studio owner out there, they know it's coming! I even sent an email this week to let the parents know that their Costume Bills will be ready for pick up early next week. That way they get a little warning about it, and then the sticker shock won't hurt so much.
I think it's probably a mutual feeling, regardless of what activity/sport you're doing where there are competitive costs. Parents know it costs money, and as long as you're honest upfront about what those costs will be, then it is their choice. If a family cannot afford something, at least they can make that decision upfront. I always lay out all the costs for my competitive parents way back in August in our Company Handbook, so they can't say I didn't tell them! I break down every cost, for instance, of doing a solo. The choreography fee, the approximate costume price for a new costume, and how much the entry fees are for each competition. Then they can make an educated decision about it based on the facts. I've found that most parents will never say no to their kid when it comes to competitive dance and what they are allowed to do in terms of routines. If a kid has earned a solo at my studio, even if the parent cannot afford it, they find a way to pay for it.
Of course, I do have a heart, and I know the reality for some families does not leave them as financially stable as others. I always write on every bill that if they cannot meet a payment deadline they are welcome to come and meet with me to make arrangements. But to be truthful, that normally does not happen when I first send it home. Normally parents will wait until the day something is due to send me an email about their situation. At that point I'm not as sympathetic as I would have been had they come to me weeks earlier about it. I appreciate and respect those parents who are right up front about finances with me, as it make it easier and less uncomfortable to deal with. The reality is that I'm running a business here, and money part of the equation.
Now, I can appreciate how expensive competitive dance can be, especially when you're dealing with large quantities of costumes and other expenses. At my studio I do try my very best to give parents value for their dollar when it comes to basically everything, but especially costumes. I don't pay others to rhinestone things, as I will do it myself, or even give it to that particular parent to do. However, some costs are unavoidable, and it is hard to put a dollar value on your time as the person who organized it all. The reality is that every thing you do for your business costs time and money, and it has to be paid back to you in some respect.
At a studio owner's conference I attended a big topic of conversation was how much money every one was making. I don't think it's fair to compare what I make, versus an American studio in a large city where the dollar is worth more. It's probably not even a good comparison to reflect on what a studio down the street from me charges. I think every studio owner has to feel satisfied at the end of the day with what you are taking home. AND if you feel your studio offers more than Studio "X" down the street, then charge more. Parents can chose where they want to go take classes based on what's cheapest if they want, but in echoing one of my earlier blogs, that is not the kind of client I am looking for.
People can always spot value for their dollar. You don't go into Gap and tell them their price is too high for that tank top... you pay for it there because you love it or appreciate its quality... or you go buy it at Old Navy!
I know a lot of studios in my areas whose costume prices start at almost double my lower end prices. I'm not saying that makes my studio better, but there are probably several factors that go into these realities. As a studio owner, we all at some point want to shout "don't you know how great you have it at my studio... Studio "X" would have charged you $400 for that same costume!"... but you can't! You can just let people figure it out on their own, and then just appreciate even more when they come to you and tell you how thankful they are that your costumes are so reasonably priced.
The grass isn't always greener on the other side... and the same can be said for that green fabric I bought at half price from the clearance store! It sparkles just as bright as yours does on stage!