Forum: Welcome

How do you advertise and bill your lessons?
By instructsy
On Mon Jul 01, 2013 12:59 PM

My name is Stephanie Chen, and my friend have been working on creating a tool
for dance instructors to set-up shop painlessly.

Our idea is that in minutes, you'll be able to create a beautiful, high-end shop for your class schedule and billing. Parents will be able to search our site for local dance instructors and studios like yourself, then sign-up and pay you for them right there.

There will be no fee to join.

Is this something that would be useful for you? If so, we'd love to have you be among our first classes available. Visit instructsy.com to sign-up.

If this sounds like a not good idea, we would love to hear why. What tools do you really need? We are passionate about the dance community (I myself have witnessed the amazing work that ODC and Mission Dance in San Francisco does for kids and the community) and want to connect with your needs.

Feel free to respond here or email me personally at hello@instructsy.com.

Thanks!
Stephanie Chen, co-founder.

12 Replies to How do you advertise and bill your lessons?

re: How do you advertise and bill your lessons?
By RosePremium member
On Mon Jul 01, 2013 02:16 PM
Why would I want a shop for my class schedule and billing if I have a website? (Besides that I don't understand what a 'shop for class schedule and billing' is.)
Why would parents search Your website for Local dance instructors/studios when there is Google Search?
Why would parents go to Your site to sign up with me?
Why would parents go to Your site to pay me?
If there is no fee for me to join, parents surely will have to pay you for your services. Why would they pay you more, when it's cheaper to pay directly to me?
re: How do you advertise and bill your lessons?
By instructsy
On Mon Jul 01, 2013 02:54 PM
Hey Rose!

Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments, and they are all fantastic questions:

"Why would I want a shop for my class schedule and billing if I have a website? (Besides that I don't understand what a 'shop for class schedule and billing' is.)"

Totally understand that the language may not be clear. It's our first stab at what it might be...Essentially we were thinking of it as kind of like an Etsy shop - where there would be a variety of class listings that a parent could review and if they wanted to sign up, they just click, pay and be done.

Our hope is that our online space will be much easier to maintain or establish and keep beautiful than a self-made website. I know for myself, I keep a portfolio as a designer (www.superchen.com), and it was a pain to update even though I coded it myself. So I switched over to an online tool called cargocollective.com. It meant I could put up a new site immediately, and also I'm connected to a ton of people in the design community that I can follow, link with, etc.

"Why would parents search Your website for Local dance instructors/studios when there is Google Search?"
Great question. Our hope is to build up a reputation and community so strong that when you think of kids classes, you think of our online space. In the same way I might think to go to Yelp before Google if I'm looking for a great BBQ lunch place, or I go to Etsy if I'm looking for a customized gift for my mom. This will help you guys hopefully, so that when a parent is looking for, say, a fitness modern dance class, they can use our mapping tools, or look to our blog for recommendations, or any number of tools we're developing specifically to help parents find the right match for their kids.

"Why would parents go to Your site to sign up with me?
Why would parents go to Your site to pay me?"
I know I have found in my own searching experience that it's been really hard to get in touch with some groups or teachers once I'm interested. Even ODC, which is really established in our community, has a very difficult to navigate class schedule and I still have to pay when I arrive at the studio. And one of their buildings doesn't even take payments, you have to already have credit.

We were thinking that a lot of amazing instructors don't have the time to maintain all the business side, like taking credit cards, or adding a new group class.

"If there is no fee for me to join, parents surely will have to pay you for your services. Why would they pay you more, when it's cheaper to pay directly to me?"
We won't charge anyone to join, that's for sure, not even parents. Our business model is to take a fractional percentage off the class price - about the equivalent of a credit card fee - like a 1 -2% fee. So in a $10 transaction, you would get paid $9.75. And of course there's always the option of bumping up the fee of your class to cover your costs.

But bottom-line - we want you to succeed and we won't unless you do, so we're always going to be working for your best interest. And this never has to replace what you're already using. But we think this might be a helpful addition to how you're already doing business.

Phew, I know that was a lot! Please, feel free to respond or ask more questions - this has already been so helpful to us!

Stephanie.
re: How do you advertise and bill your lessons?
By Dream_chaserPremium member
On Mon Jul 01, 2013 03:41 PM
I doubt that it will take off and I, personally, would have no interest, because I am quite capable of doing it, on my own.
re: How do you advertise and bill your lessons?
By instructsy
On Mon Jul 01, 2013 03:46 PM
Hey there,

Totally understand that this may not be for you. Is it because you already have enough business through word-of-mouth that you're not in need of another source of advertisement? I'm just curious, because I'm sure there are other like you, and we would love to better understand your point of view.

Thanks!
Stephanie.
re: How do you advertise and bill your lessons?
By vfdtPremium member
On Tue Jul 02, 2013 01:21 AM
Here on the east coast, we are not only saturated with too many dance schools, but too many similar kiddie classes in everything imaginable. Many of the latter are offered cheap through a town's Parks & Recreation, or YMCA, via email blasts, a mailed quarterly course catalog, and of course their own website. I can't imagine a parent having trouble locating courses, or signing their child up. It would be more of a problem for you to maintain the myriad listings, given that any of the posted classes can be cancelled last minute, due to low enrollment.

Another consideration is most kids today want to flock with their friends to FUN activities. Therefore, parents aren't looking for a "good" long-term dance teacher with credentials, but convenience - in terms of travel times, carpools, and multiple days to choose from, for the same classes - to permit over-lapping conflicting commitments for their dancer and her siblings. They are automatically going to find a nearby dance school, which has the most/best "word-of-mouth" - and be done.

Finally, I agree with Dream Chaser; I already have PayPal up on my website, for which I'm paying a small fee to get online payments, so why do I need another redundant service & fee. Unless you become a highly recognized brand, like Zumba or Amazon, that's going to draw the clicks, and raise my school's profile, the opposite can happen: mom can find a better-fitting class at my competitor's. There have been previous consolidation sites (for babies, etc.) that tried and failed. Anyone can download yellow pages "dance school" listings and claim they are the "premiere" site. Bottom-line: I really don't have the time to check out such claims, and will opt out no matter.
re: How do you advertise and bill your lessons?
By SammyBeth
On Tue Jul 02, 2013 12:12 PM
You mentioned etsy but etsy is for people to be able to purchase an item somewhere out of state that they can't find locally. Dance is a service and a local one at that. Your thinking people will shop for a dance class but none of the moms i knows thinks of it that way. Really it its just adding a middle man that is not needed. Most people are not going to sign up for a class with out first calling the location and getting a feel for the studio first, which would probably cut your website out and just pay the studio when they arrive. My suggestion is get on dance.net and get a better understanding of where our frustations lay. Then head back to the drawing board with a fresh prospective. To get you started most frustrating thing for me is doing a recital program I hate it! Good luck!!! SB ;)
re: How do you advertise and bill your lessons?
By instructsy
On Tue Jul 02, 2013 09:38 PM
Hi VFDT,

Thanks so much for the insights - that's an incredibly helpful perspective about the saturation of the dance market being a problem in getting distinguished. Do you mind if I ask what state/city you're in? I've lived in the East Coast but only in NYC, so it's helpful to get the perspective of another area.

Also I would be curious, in general do you feel a need to advertise at all, or is word-of-mouth sufficient? And, as SammyBeth suggested, if logistics is not an issue, are there problems that do concern you that technology could aid with?

Thanks!
Stephanie.
re: How do you advertise and bill your lessons?
By instructsy
On Tue Jul 02, 2013 09:44 PM
Hi SammyBeth,

Thanks for your unique insights of the mother - I think it's really helpful to know how much parents want to actually meet and talk with the studio. I also appreciate your thoughts on the uniquely local issues that dance teachers face - it's something we've been trying to understand better, so that's really helpful.

And I appreciate your invitation to understand better what problems teachers ARE facing, that's definitely something I'm beginning to try to understand. I invite all the readers of this thread to post what they think is a more worthy problem for technology to tackle for dance teachers - we're genuinely curious.

You mention a recital program - can you delve more into what challenges you, do you just mean the design, or the organizing of the event?

Thanks so much!!
Stephanie.
re: How do you advertise and bill your lessons?
By SammyBeth
On Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:02 PM
Designing programs is more the hassle than anything. Once I have a template down its not too hard, its just plugging in the names and songs. Now one thing we could us in the dance world is a app. Not sure what kind of app but an app for dance teacher and studio owners. That I would pay a few bucks for maybe a little more depending on the features. Keep in mind though most of are not super tech savey so make sure people outside your circle and not in the tech world can easily understand the concept and it has a very user friendly interface. Not sure if I was clear im not a mom I just know most of my clients, which are moms, call me after they google dance classes for our area. I don't think I have ever had someone sign up for dance classes without calling me first ;) we are in south carolina
re: How do you advertise and bill your lessons?
By instructsy
On Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:38 PM
Hey SammyBeth,

Thanks for the speedy reply! Can you tell me more what you mean by "an app for dance teachers and studio owners"? Do you mean something to stay connected in the community with? Or a way to transfer students? Or a way to record routines, lessons, etc.?

Maybe another you could tell me is what the problem you see with the tools you have at hand now?

For your programs, consider using a print-on-demand service liked Minted - like maybe you could repurpose their products for menus: www.minted.com . . . relatively low cost for designed products with a lot of ability for text customization. Hope that's helpful!

Thanks again!
Stephanie.
re: How do you advertise and bill your lessons?
By vfdtPremium member
On Wed Jul 03, 2013 07:51 AM
Hello Stephanie,
I just sent you a Private Message, with some answers to your questions, that I can't post on this public Dance Teachers forum. Don't know if you can receive it, or respond to it as a PM, as DDN has funky rules about this.

You really will get better feedback on Admin issues by posting your questions on the "Studio Owner" tab here, using the public-permitted access via "Ask a Studio Owner." Otherwise, it is a private forum in all other categories, to protect the candid discussions from being visible to the general public via Google.

Some info I can share with you no matter:
I use Excel for my single page recital programs (I don't demand parents to sell ads to generate revenue), and hence can print them myself. I use Vistaprint online to easily/cheaply create and print my glossy brochures and tickets. Intuit's Homestead.com has hosted my website for 10 years, and I can access/update it myself in an instant (without using HTML, which I do know) - don't need help with that either.

When you're a very small dance school, you have to become self-sufficient to survive. And thanks to this economy, many of us are shrinking; plus, too many new dance schools have sprung up and cannibalize the few kids who still prefer dance over their school-mandated free sports. Unfortunately, the general public has a perception that we're all mega-schools, making millions from 500+ students who crowd our warehouse space. Those schools do exist, but they're in the minority, and likely don't need to spend their time here on DDN - desperately looking for ideas to grow.
re: How do you advertise and bill your lessons?
By instructsy
On Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:01 AM
Hi VFDT!

Thanks for all your insights, super-incredibly helpful in understanding the unique challenges dance instructors face.

I was able to see your message, and will continue the conversation, thank you!

Stephanie.

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