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Get your customers on an automatic payment plan!

Type:

Studio Owner Article

Category:

How to Increase Revenue and Energize Enrollment

We decided that we needed to make a change when we had a very unfortunate situation with one customer. This person had two children taking many classes with us. The account started to get behind and before we knew it she owed us $1200.00 with less than three weeks left in the semester. We always had the policy that if you had an outstanding balance we held the child's costumes until the final payment was made. Both of these children were in quite a few numbers in the show so we knew that if the balance was not paid and we didn't let them participate it would just be another problem for us. The biggest factor was that we really didn't want to put the children in the middle of a situation caused by the parents' lack of communication regarding their financial situation, we certainly did not want there to be any bad feeling on either side. The mom was always the kind that would pay but she usually showed up at the last minute with the cash. On this particular occasion she ended up having a meltdown in our office and blaming us for letting her get behind with her payments. She was very angry and it was steadily becoming an ugly situation so we assured her that we would not stop her kids from dancing in the year end show. To cut a long story short she ended up paying us on the night of the showcase but it was an extremely uncomfortable situation and as a result, even though we had let her children participate in the show, she did not return the next season.

In a way we were glad that she did not return despite the loss of revenue because we felt that she would probably act the same way again and we really didn't feel that we needed that kind of aggravation. As is usually the case we, as studio owners are made out to be the bad guys in a situation that is usually not our fault. After much thought we realized that some of the issues we had with our customers were caused by us trying to get them to pay their bills on time. We ended up spending so much time and money on sending out invoices and it seemed that we were constantly on the phone reminding them that their payments were past due. So we created a new policy for payment plans.

Today, the only way our clients can have one is if they leave their credit card on file. They can decide whether they would like their payment to be automatically deducted on the first or the fifteenth of the month. If they want to pay by check or cash they must come in the day before their payment is due or their card will be charged. We have our front desk staff punch in the numbers and the money is in our account in a couple of days. The way we positioned it for them was that it would alleviate the stress of having to worry whether or not they were late with their payments and it would also make it more convenient for them and in turn for us. For us it has been a real money saver. No more taking time to send out bills, no more postage, no more wondering when the money was coming in. Since we implemented this new system we have eliminated all payment worries.

We have now moved on to an automatic payment system with an outside company but this was a terrific way to eliminate headaches. With the exception of one or two people everyone has been relieved that we have taken the burden off their shoulders and all they have to do is pay the credit card company and if you already accept credit cards there is no setup at all. Just create a form and you are set! Check out the downloadable form in the Templates and Forms Area of the Website to see a copy of our payment agreement. Some people may balk at it but the idea is to show them that it is in their best interest and will save them time. Time is the most valuable commodity that we all have.

Author

Angela D'Valda Sirico

Angela D'Valda Sirico

Originally from England, Angela spent her early years in Hong Kong where she studied with Carol Bateman. She continued her training at Arts Educational Trust in England. After moving to New York City she continued her studies with Martha Graham and Matt Mattox. She appeared with the Matt Mattox Company and toured with the first Disney On Parade working with Disney and N.B.C. Contracted to the Teatro National of Buenos Aires she performed for one year and spent an additional year as a featured soloist at the Teatro Maipo, Argentina. Travelling to Madrid, Spain she worked for Spanish television in a weekly variety show Tarde Para Todos and from there decided to form her own Dance Company. With the Company she choreographed and performed throughout Spain in theatres, and on television. Angela met her husband Steve while working together on a television special The Valerie Peters Show filmed in Tampa, Florida. In 1979 they formed the Adagio act DValda & Sirico appearing in theatres, clubs and on television shows such as David Letterman, Star Search and the Jerry Lewis Telethon. In 1982 they were contracted to Europe and appeared in a variety of shows in Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and Italy before going to London, England where they appeared as Guest Artists for Wayne Sleep (formerly of the Royal Ballet) in his show Dash at the Dominium Theatre. Angela and Steve have owned and directed their dance studio in Fairfield, CT. for the past twenty two years and in 2005 added music and vocal classes to their curriculum. Angela served as chairperson for the tri state panel of the Royal Academy of Dancing and is Co-author of a Partner syllabus currently used for teacher training by Dance Educators of America. She continues to adjudicate and teach for major dance organizations and choreographs for theatre, television and conventions and was commissioned by Boston Ballet 11 to choreograph the highly acclaimed Brother Can You Spare A Dime? DValda & Sirico are currently in production choreographing the opening to the National Speakers Association convention on Broadway at the Marriott Marquis for August of 2008. Angela is co-owner of Dance Teacher Web designed as an online resource for teachers worldwide.

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