View Full Version : part time dojo, student vacations, do you charge?

5th May 2002, 23:45
Hi, we have opened a "part time" dojo for mostly children one month ago. We have 4 classes at this time on Saturday afternoons. We have almost 30 students and we are very pleased with our students. We train in a space where the availability is limited however we are adding an adult class and two additional classes per week for our students. One question I have is this: we charge a flat rate of $40 per month for (soon to be) two classes per week. We have had some parents essentially tell us they are going on vacation and expect to have some sort of credit for the missed classes. They claim that other organized events give you credit...(being a mom, we have never ever been credited for missed classes). Does anyone have any suggestions for what to do when the students are going away for a week and will miss 3 classes? Should we offer to extend their "month" that they paid for? Should they miss class at their own expense? I would appreciate any input. Also, should we charge more for the extra class as when we figured out our expenses, we hadn't factored in the rental cost of additional evenings? In our area, the rents are high but we got a good deal and only pay by the class, but that fee is steep. To credit or not to credit, that is the question. Thanks for this wonderful and informative forum!


Terry Ham
6th May 2002, 04:18
Hi I dont give credit for missed classes, I have had this happen in the past as well and I inform everyone up front now about this. I tell them they are not paying per class when they pay for the mth that is just what it is for the mth if they show or not. Some students elect to pay $10 per class if they have odd work hours or cant train each class day. (we train two days a week for 2hrs )but I have a small group and if they are going to miss like 3 weeks or something I tell them not to worry about the fee, I teach at a Taekwondo school now and pay the owner a fee perstudent (my class fee at this time is 35mth I give 15 to the owner ). When I use to teach kids at a ymca there was no credit given either no pay no play:smilejapa

6th May 2002, 04:18

First, it goes like this...

Let me ask you a question, if youo go on vacation do you still have to pay your water bill? or your phone bill?

Whether we use our water once, or we use it for a month straight, we are still billed. Just because we decide to go on vacation doesn't mean the instructor shouldn't eat that month.

Are they going to stop from using your karate for that month even if they are attacked? NOPE!!

You are paid, not just for instruction, but for the effects you have on someone.

I know where you are coming from, people like to take advantage of instructors as much as possible...

However, ask yourself this.... are you in it for money, or because they need help (Obviously)

This is only my thoughts on payments.

when it comes to crediting, that's up to you. I don't think 1 month will kill... and that will make them want to come back...


6th May 2002, 10:10
The "utilities" argument doesn't hold water.

Yes, you pay a utility bill, but you don't use as much water, the price drops, albeit not alot.

Telephone? You won't be making as many long distance calls but your cell phone bill may go up or your calling card bill. Either way, you pay because you cannot do without water or phone. The bill may or may not go down, it depends on how it is used.

The reason it doesn't hold water is that you didn't think you answer through before you posted it.

I used to be a music teacher and whatyano, I charged forty per month. This includes those "strange" months which, for some, will have an extra week in it, ie, five lessons, but I'm charging for one month. Do I raise my price because the calendar serves that way? I don't think so.

If you charge per month as most do, they don't pay you more for the one day in the same month which adds another lesson, so speaking equally, you do not credit them, as they don't credit you.

Of course you don't credit. Does it lower your expenses whether they show or not? I doubt it. Don't even think about it. As was mentioned, I also teach out of the public schools and the YMCA. They pay in advance, for the month, but do not pay more for the "fifth week." Again, the price is forty/per month.

If you are thinking you may lose a student, speak with the parent[s] and let him/her know what your policy is. If they leave, well someone will take his/her place, eventually. Forty a month is rather low as it is.


6th May 2002, 12:50
Thank you all for your posts and for confirming my suspicions. As I thought, you pay and you play or not... We have our policy clearly spelled out on one of the sheets I give them even PRIOR to them joining our dojo. Nothing is a surprise, however, even still, I get these parents wanting credit and making us feel as though we are in the wrong. I have NEVER seen any lessons of any kind that credit you unless you pay BY THE LESSON. We can't do that because we have rent to pay. I think from now on, I will point to our policy page that they were given prior to signing up and say simply that this is our policy and we will stand by it. Or something nicely put although I want to be sarcastic and tell them to have a good time at the ocean on vacation and have a nice life!


6th May 2002, 13:47
The way I have seen this situation handled is by allowing the student to make up the missed class(es) at another class(es) during the same month. This policy was clearly spelled out, clearly posted for all to see, everyone was reminded of it in monthly newsletters,etc. and it was strictly enforced. We had this policy in a kids MA program my kids were in and I used to teach in. It was pretty much the same policy when my kids were in dance, gymnastics, piano--whatever.

Don't let the parents intimidate you. If they are going to be that difficult you don't need them or their kids in your program. Mark is right--others will replace those who leave. Sounds harsh, but it is the voice of experience.

Good luck to you!


6th May 2002, 23:05
Hi Mary,

This is all good input. I run a school full time and here is what I do with this situation. I offer no credit if a student takes off less than 15 days. If they do take more than that time off, say for travel or summer school, whatever, I require a thirty day notification. This simply keeps the parents and students in check. For each week the students take off, I will offer one, one hour private lesson to cover the course plans for those weeks they missed (do you have course plans ?). I let the parents know that I receive more than sixty dollars an hour for private training so this will certainly benefit the child (they learn), the parent (more bang for the..), and the school (we don't have to sacrifice income). There are special cases though where I do allow people to slide. I have an adult student who is blind. Each year he takes a two month summer program for the visually impaired. He let's me know the days almost a year ahead of time. I simply prorate his agreement (yes, I do use agreements), tacking the two months to the end of his term. It's easy.

As for what you charge, it is WAY too low. I'm sure your costs amount to more than $5.00 per student, per hour. That is the going rate of a babysitter..in 1974. Just because you are part time doesn't mean squat. For children, twice a week , :45-:50 minute classes, you should not be making less than $75 a month. Reasonably, you could be charging more depending on your facility, resources and charecter (yes, these have a value). The most successful "part time" schools charge up to $100 for kids classes twice a week. And why not? Many say they are not in it for the $$. True, I'm not. But the fact of the matter is that you are teaching a specific skill, involving years of rigorous training. You must continually perform and be precise and consistent with what your acquired abilities. That is value and if someone tells you otherwise, they are wrong. Don't be afraid to charge.

Adam Mitchell:toast:

7th May 2002, 00:14
I think fees depend on your overhead. So yes, I agree. I grew up in Upstate NY as well (Syracuse area). $35-$60 per month is the going rate of MA schools there, depending on the overhead. People don't make as much money upstate. I now live in NYC and I pay a guy $100 per month and he teaches out of his livingroom! (the screwed up part is that it's a deal!) But I also get paid more than any job I did upstate. Big cities have different costs of living. For a part time school, I don't think the prices are overly high or low. But you could probobly get $50 per month. Factor your overhead per month, and then some more to cover the unexpected situations.

When I ran my dojo in the Toronto are there was no credit. There should be no credits. You snooze, you loose. I offered a free introductory class, $50 per month or $10 per class. Sometimes I would get visitors here and there that I woudln't charge at all. Now that I'm looking into opening a dojo in NYC, you bet your behind my rates will double. They will have to. Cost of living is crazy and rent it high. But I will rent dojo space, not living room space.

Good luck