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Spartacus Maximus
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 01 Jun 2014
Posts: 1250

Styles: Shorin ryu

PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:43 pm    Post subject: Your idea of a decent tuition Reply with quote

A question about the business side of running a dojo or school. What do you think is a reasonable tuition without being outrageous?

Imagine a dojo offering three weekdays plus weekends with each training session being an hour and a half. The cost is one 100$(or equivalent) per month.

Is this an expensive dojo? How does it compare to what is offered in your area? How does it compare to your own dojo?
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Lupin1
KF Sempai
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Joined: 15 Dec 2009
Posts: 1449
Location: NH USA
Styles: Isshinryu

PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2017 6:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A lot of it depends on where you live.

Here $100 for 3x a week would be an amazing deal. The cheapest I've found around here, other than my free program, is around $100 a month for 2x a week and that was a school where it wasn't the instructors' main job and they only held those two classes a week and it's in a smaller town sort of in the middle of nowhere.

The average in this area for a commercial dojo with full time instructors and multiple programs seems to run around $120 for 2-3 time per week.

The most expensive in this area is Buzz Durkin's school-- $200 a month with a contract and deposit or $275 a month without a contract. And that's for 100 lessons a year, which averages to less than twice a week. Granted, they're an amazing school with a lot of amenities and great training, but I consider that outrageous. He's in a very well off town (it's actually the town I work in) and people there are willing to pay it, but it's too rich for my blood, unfortunately (if it were closer to $150 a month, that's totally where I'd be).
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JR 137
KF Sempai
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Joined: 10 May 2015
Posts: 1368
Location: In the dojo
Styles: Seido Juku

PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2017 7:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It really depends on the cost of living in your area and how many students you'll potentially be able to have.

That price will put someone out of business in the NYC area due to not covering the rent, but may be too much to be competitive in a small town.

The best advice is to look at the competition. Charge somewhere in line with comparable schools. Not really stylistically similar schools, but location, hours, number of students, etc. Also keep in mind if this is a full blown commercial school or if it's more of a club. Is it a business atmosphere you're after or a family type atmosphere (I don't mean kids, I mean tight knit).

Last thing is people price themselves out of the market by over charging and surprisingly under charging. When something's too cheap (in price), people question why. Great example is my dojo. My CI charges $55/month for adults and $45 for kids, no contract. The norm is $125/month with an annual contract. I have several friends to send their kids to McDojos that charge that and more, and have even longer term contracts. And for kids! I tell them where I train and the price, and the look on their face says it all - it's not premium instruction if the price is bargain basement.

I've talked to my CI about his price vs everyone else's. He say "I charge a price I think is fair. I always wonder how many more students I'll get if I jack up the price." The dojo is a second family for him. He's recently retired from his day job. He only relies on the dojo paying for itself and covering his expenses of training. He and his wife probably get a vacation or two per year out of it after the bills are paid.

Do I think $100/month is a fair price? Depends on what you're offering. Seems quite reasonable on the surface. It wouldn't turn me away during an initial inquiry.
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DWx
KF Sensei
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Joined: 17 Jan 2007
Posts: 5655
Location: UK
Styles: Tae Kwon Do & Yang family Tai Chi

PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2017 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JR 137 wrote:
It really depends on the cost of living in your area and how many students you'll potentially be able to have.

That price will put someone out of business in the NYC area due to not covering the rent, but may be too much to be competitive in a small town.

The best advice is to look at the competition. Charge somewhere in line with comparable schools. Not really stylistically similar schools, but location, hours, number of students, etc. Also keep in mind if this is a full blown commercial school or if it's more of a club. Is it a business atmosphere you're after or a family type atmosphere (I don't mean kids, I mean tight knit).

Last thing is people price themselves out of the market by over charging and surprisingly under charging. When something's too cheap (in price), people question why. Great example is my dojo. My CI charges $55/month for adults and $45 for kids, no contract. The norm is $125/month with an annual contract. I have several friends to send their kids to McDojos that charge that and more, and have even longer term contracts. And for kids! I tell them where I train and the price, and the look on their face says it all - it's not premium instruction if the price is bargain basement.

I've talked to my CI about his price vs everyone else's. He say "I charge a price I think is fair. I always wonder how many more students I'll get if I jack up the price." The dojo is a second family for him. He's recently retired from his day job. He only relies on the dojo paying for itself and covering his expenses of training. He and his wife probably get a vacation or two per year out of it after the bills are paid.

Do I think $100/month is a fair price? Depends on what you're offering. Seems quite reasonable on the surface. It wouldn't turn me away during an initial inquiry.

Great points so far from both JR and Devin.

What I would add is for some reason some Martial Arts instructors offer out lessons for little to no money. Its not a bad thing to charge for your time and effort; you're under no obligation to run a charity.
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JR 137
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Joined: 10 May 2015
Posts: 1368
Location: In the dojo
Styles: Seido Juku

PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2017 7:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Couldn't agree more, Danielle.
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sensei8
KF Sensei
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Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 12352
Location: Houston, TX and/or Van Nuys, CA
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 2:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've struggled with this very question back in the late 1970's, when I first opened my Kyuodan Dojo in the San Fernando Valley, in the city of Van Nuys, California.

What was too much?? What wasn't too much?? So on and so forth.

Finally, I decided on a price, and I stuck to it with very little variance, if at all. As a part of my searching within myself, I decided that what I was teaching was a "WANT" and not a "NEED" of any of my prospective student. Also, what I was teaching was just the MA, and while one can learn effectiveness and so much more from the MA, I felt that the MA shouldn't be constrained by what one can afford.

Coming up with the right price defines if the school will be open for the long term or just for a season. Tweeking the price is a must, however, doing that too much gives the consumer an uneasy feeling right in their wallet about a lot of things, especially if the school cares about me or my wallet.

After all, it's just the MA!! Well, as a consumer, that's all it is to me; nothing more and nothing less. To me, as a consumer, the MA is a 'want' because I don't 'need' it to sustain a more healthy quality of life.

Is a $100 dollars to much?? For me, the consumer...yes...that's way too high of a price to pay. Yes, I know that the time of the instructor is of value. However, so is mine!! And if I'm the consumer, than I decide to darken the door of any MA school or not, and more importantly, what price I'm willing to pay.

To me, the consumer, I could care less what amenities that school of the MA might have because I'd be there to learn the MA, and that alone. I want to be taught, that's what I'm paying for...amenities mean nothing to me!!

The consumer within me doesn't tolerate much across the board, and right at the very top of the list of expectations is price. I've a number I'm willing to pay for before I even come to any MA school. If the price is around or at my desired price, then I can check that off my list, and my list is long. If the price is akin to me buying that CI a brand new fancy car or house. Sure, that CI deserves those monetary rewards, but I'm not going to pay for them.

Yes, I'm as cheap as they come!!

$100 per month is high, however, anything above that $100, to me, is criminal, and I've seen $250 per month. For the MA?? I don't think so, not today, not forever!!

Yes, and perhaps, that might warrant a MA school to ask for absorbent payments for their services, but only if THAT was in demand. For something, to me, to warrant $250 per month, that better be more than being on demand. All of the business excuses for charging so much for lessons are just that...excuses...with I don't accept.

I'm a reasonable man, I have my faults, but I will not gouge my prospective and current students for any reason(s); and that's integrity. What another CI/School does is there business. After all, if they can get what they're asking for, then more power to them. Why? We live in a free-enterprise system, and they're protected to pursue whatever it is that they desire.

It's their choice and it's their life to do with as they see fit, just don't ask me to cast away my rights away with the baby water as a consumer.

Now, as a MAist, is that $100 too much?? No, it's not!! How do you find that middle ground?? Btw, I've never ever charged $100 or more per month. I floated around the $50 per month point of sale. I personally wouldn't sleep well if I charged away from what I'm familiar with. When I first opened Kyuodan Dojo, I charged $15 per month; I lived quite comfortable, but that price point was back in the late 1970's. Can I, at the end of the day, sleep soundly with my chosen price point?? That battle right there, might rage for sometime, one way or another.

Having said that, overhead dictates quite a lot when coming up with a comfortable price point. The more overhead, the more one might have to charge to make a profit, and even non-profit schools have overhead! To make any profit or to meet monthly obligations, one has to divide ones overhead by how many students one has. Either you'll break even or you'll have surplus or be in deficit...here's where the tweeking comes in.

Charge what the market will bear!! That's Business 101!!




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LLLEARNER
Blue Belt
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Joined: 10 Feb 2016
Posts: 323
Location: Central Maine

PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The inner bargain hunter in me would say keep it low.

The practical side of me says consider the value of your time and the location of the school. Like real estate, location is one of the most important factors. look at what other established schools are charging for similar services. Is there something that differentiates you in that marketplace? Style, lineage, business hours, etc. A great resource on this forum is Sensei8. Do you have any business training, or have a resource that does?

Discover what your differentiating feature is. Examine other schools costs. Add up your monthly expenses (rent, heat, lights, equipment, etc). If you add up your expenses you should be able to come up with a break-even point (number of students) pretty easily. There will be surprise expenses. Sensei8 started marketing by hanging flyers. Maybe you can do demos at schools to get interests. Consider every face to face moment an opportunity to promote your services.

Do not forget about profit. This is a business necessity.
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Nidan Melbourne
KF Sempai
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Joined: 21 Aug 2013
Posts: 1981
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Styles: Goju-Ryu, BJJ, Balintawak Arnis

PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At my dojo it varies between $95 (Direct Debit; Monthly) and just over $1000 (48 Month Membership).

Each of our membership options you are able to suspend with no penalty or payment. You are able to suspend your membership for as long as needed; as such if you need to suspend your payments, we will be ok with it.

Each of our memberships broken down include;
- Unlimited Training
- Grading Included
- New Belt (Part of the Grading)
- Grading Certificate
- Insurance
- Training Hall Fees
- Instructor Payments


We give the students of the following Membership Options
- Direct Debit (monthly)
- 30 Lessons (Grading Free)
- Red Belt (12 Months)
- Blue Belt (24 Months)
- Black Belt (12 Months or 24 Months)
- Often for advanced students (3rd Kyu +) and Current Black Belts
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The Pred
Blue Belt
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Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 296

Styles: Goju Ryu

PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 8:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well first I think as people noted before you need to understand your demographic. Second ownership vs rent can be a big difference. Second if you are paying for staff how much is one putting out in payroll?
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Spartacus Maximus
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Joined: 01 Jun 2014
Posts: 1250

Styles: Shorin ryu

PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here are more details for the hypothetical dojo being discussed:

The location is in a city of about 600 000 people
No other places teach the same thing, the closest dojo offering something similar is at least 10hrs drive away.
Besides the instructor, there is no staff or assistants of any kind.
The dojo is limited to the bare minimum of a rented space with basic utilities, toilets and changing area.
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