Q: What policies do you put in place to encourage parents of competition dancers to pay their bills in a timely manner?
A: After many years of feeling the pinch of not being paid on time, we set clear guidelines in our team agreements and made a payment schedule that requires all expenses to be paid in full in advance of competition season.
At our studio, all competition-team costumes are billed by October 1 and are payable no later than November 15. Any student not paid in full for costumes will not be eligible to compete in February for our first regional event. We attend four competitions, and all entry fees are posted to student accounts six months before each event. Parents have 30 to 60 days after fees are posted to be paid. Any student who has not paid in advance will not be eligible to compete. Most competitions require a $500 to $1,000 deposit in the summer before the new dance season, so we need advance payment in order to secure our dates and release a finalized schedule for the year. What’s more, when we pay early, we generally can get discounts that help with the cost of running our program. Any regular tuition, choreography fees, and solos, duos or private lessons must be paid in full 30 to 60 days before our first event. We make it easy to pay by credit card, cash or check, and parents can see the breakdown of fees and rates in their studio account.
It takes effort and consistency to regularly track payments and send reminder e-mails so early in the year, but a fall billing and payment schedule allows for the spring competition season to be a time of celebration. We find our parents truly appreciate the system, and it gives us time to handle any overdue account with sensitivity and timeliness.