You Get What You Pay For

I’d like to start by telling a story. Not too long ago, I was teaching a group class at a private club. As a favor to the members of this club, I was offering them a discounted rate so that they had the opportunity to try the class and see if they liked it. When I arrived, there were several people waiting for me, and a few others floating around the clubhouse. I kindly walked up to everyone and asked them if they were here for the class. One couple replied, “Oh no, it’s way too expensive for us.” I should mention that the class price was $36 for a four-week session, which boils down to $9 per class. They informed me that they had taken lessons before, and they were not nearly as expensive as what I was charging. They also told me that those lessons were fifteen years ago. I think what this couple didn’t realize is the idea of inflation, and that prices on everyone’s services will change as time goes on. (As a point of interest, $9 now is about $6.47 in 1998.) What I also think they didn’t realize was that professionals who offer their services invest a lot of time and money into giving great service, and that service is valuable. But really, the most surprising thing is that immediately after our conversation, they went to the bar and bought a round of drinks that cost the same amount of money it would have taken to participate in the class.

My guess is that, really, it wasn’t that the lessons were too expensive – it was that the couple wasn’t interested in the first place. As a professional offering my services, it would be more beneficial to me to hear the real reason. So let’s break down why we pay what we do for dance classes.

1 – Everybody’s time is valuable.
Imagine if your boss said to you, “You are too expensive. I want you to do the exact same job but I will only pay you half your current salary.” It’s pretty much the same thing when you say that to a business or professional that offers their services.

2 – Professionals invest their time and money.
Just as a doctor spends hundreds of thousands of dollars and many years of their life earning the degrees and skills it takes to keep people healthy, professionals who offer their services and knowledge are in the same boat. We are constanty spending money on training, materials, and continuing education, not to mention the hours of time that we put into practice being prepared.

3 – Overhead
You probably go to a nice studio for your lessons. What most people don’t realize is that it takes quite a bit of money to maintain a quality atmosphere. There are the basics, of course, like rent and utilities; there’s also a nice dance floor; providing a safe location; and many other things that go into keeping a studio running well.

4 – Every customer should be treated equally
Transparency is a big thing right now. One of the reasons that we post our prices is because every customer should be charged the same for every service. I’ve had customers approach me from time to time asking to strike a deal or pay less than our posted prices. I will usually respond, “How would you feel if I charged you more than the person standing next to you?” That usually helps them understand, but the bottom line is that we treat all customers not only equally, but also fairly.

If I could teach the world for free, I would. It is my personal belief that dance is for everyone. Unfortunately, we do have to charge for our services, but for myself and most professionals I know, it’s not about the money; it’s about the passion to teach dance.