A new dance season brings a lot of excitement. A new schedule of classes, a new enrollment period, and a fresh start to another great dance year!
However, a new dance season also brings up some decisions to make as a business owner. The cost of living is going up, your rent is increasing, and it’s time to replace your floors or mirrors. Maybe you’ve even outgrown your current space, which is a great thing! At times, it can feel like the list is ever-growing, which has you asking yourself, ‘Do I raise tuition this year?’
Recently, we surveyed a group of owners to find out how often they raise tuition, and here’s what they had to say!
How often should I increase tuition prices?
Every dance studio is different. Your location, demographics, and the market in your area all play a role in your decision-making. Different strategies work for different dance studios but increasing tuition prices should be just that – a strategy.
Increasing tuition prices annually
Many of the owners we surveyed about increasing tuition mentioned that they raise their prices every year at the start of a new dance season. Because this is something these owners do on a consistent basis, their families expect it and don’t ask many questions. New prices are implemented with the new season and registration.
Whether it’s a set dollar amount or a percentage of the current tuition rate, the reality is, your expenses increase year over year and there’s no reason why your tuition rate shouldn’t increase as well! Taking this approach also keeps you from having to increase by a large amount at one time so that families can better plan and budget for the small increase each year.
After all, you’re giving raises to staff, you’re offering a great dance program, and you’ve got classes with waitlists. In the rare case that a family leaves due to an increase in tuition, you’ve got another student ready to take the vacant spot!
Increasing tuition prices every other year
Depending on the market you are in, increasing tuition every year might not work best for you. You may find that increasing rates every other year is a better solution.
The owners that we surveyed who increase tuition every other year mentioned that they alternate the fees that increase each year. So, for example, year 1 tuition increases, year 2 costume fees increase, year 3 tuition increases, etc. This helps you stay competitive and cover expenses all at once in a way that is easily accepted by parents and families.
Increasing tuition prices every few years
For some dance studio owners, raising tuition rates every 2-3 years works really well. They look at expenses year over year and base tuition increases on when their expenses go up.
Another consideration is checking out the local market and analyzing where your tuition rates fall – are you the lowest, highest, or right in the middle? You want to make sure your rates are competitive while also making sure your expenses are well covered as they change.
How to communicate tuition raises to parents
In our survey to owners regarding if they were raising tuition rates this year and how often they do it, one thing was very clear – this is the year to say yes to raising tuition rates. 84% of owners surveyed said they have already raised their prices for the upcoming season or they raise prices every year and that increase will be taking place soon.
So you’ve increased tuition but you need to have a way to communicate changes to families and stay transparent. There are many different ways to communicate your tuition rates with dance studio management software, like Jackrabbit Dance:
- Send an email to all families before posting new rates
- Include the new rates in your monthly newsletter before they go into effect
- Update your policies to reflect the updated rates before opening registration
- Post an announcement in your Parent Portal before rates increase
- Send a push notification through your own mobile app with Jackrabbit Plus
- Update your class listings tables on your website to reflect the new rates
With so many ways to communicate the information, you can easily keep parents in the know to foster the connection you’ve built over time!
That’s not it, though! Learn more about how Jackrabbit Dance can help simplify your tuition to-do list.
What to say when parents are upset over raised tuition
While most parents will understand the reason for tuition increases it’s always a great idea to be prepared for the parents that have questions and find the increase unfavorable. Some of the owners we surveyed shared how they answer questions from parents.
“We raise prices every year. I have very few ask. If they do I tell them my expenses go up every year just like everyone else’s.” Robyn Easlick, owner of Easley Gymnastics Training Center
“We raise something every season. This year is tuition. But I always have an answer ready – all of my costs go up every season.” Carolyn Simpson Wells, owner of Dance by Design Studios
“We do a 5% increase every September. We’ve done it for 20 years. It takes the emotion out of it. The few people that ask are told that it matches our annual staff raises. No one questions it.” Tracy Pronto, owner of Just Jymnastics
“I haven’t posted tuition yet but it’s for sure getting raised. We took a big enough hit these past two years. And you go to McDonald’s and get 3 meals for $31. You aren’t getting a month of dance for $55. Normally I’m scared to announce to parents that tuition is going up but I think everyone just kind of expects it with everything going on.” Sam Taylor, owner of En Pointe Dance Academy
Where does your studio stand on hot topics like this? Download a free copy of our benchmark report to see how your dance studio compares to other studios in the dance industry.