Tier Pricing Tuition and Add-On Packages

NSRTKD

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No, I understood what you were saying. It's still a case-by-case approach which could likewise be applied to any tuition scheme we come up with, is it not? We can always cut individual students some slack and work with them if they need extra time.

I'm coming from a purist approach. If we accept money for teaching, really what difference is there between any arrangement other than agreeing to what services are provided at what price? I understand a flat fee, all-you-can-eat structure can seem more 'fair' for students, but I am challenging that there's anything unethical if a school owner elects to price his services differently, so long as he is upfront about his fees. This coming from a guy that teaches a free TKD class at his church...

Um... I'm very unclear as to why you are engaging me on this then... yes it "could" be applied to any tuition scheme we come up with, such as "only up to green belt" but the original thread asked, "how do you feel about" these tier pricing situations, and I have answered that I "feel" it should not be done with a limit on how high you can progress at your current price tier. I'm not sure that we need to continue to dispute this, I "feel" the ethical way to handle pricing is to not restrict it to a belt color and be flexible and YES, case-by-case when there is trouble, but because, from a business standpoint, you have to have a general structure of pricing, I "feel" it should be how I have already stated. (ETA) As in, tuition remains the same throughout training, testing fees can apply but must be reasonable, and plenty of notice and flexibility given for when students pay the testing fees, and testing not required at specific time increments.

Did I answer your original post off-topic or something? I thought I gave an honest answer to your original post, and certainly never implied that ALL schools should do it this way. Please understand that I come from a small, family-oriented school where the relationships we build are as important to us as the material we master, so I realize my perspective might not be shared by many.
 
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dancingalone

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There are many BJJ schools that teach kids and kids love it.
That teach children as their primary client base? That's not the case in my area. BJJ is very much an adult activity here with the bulk of the students in their twenties and thirties. Contrast this to the average TKD or karate school where I would bet that the pre-16 crowd greatly outnumbers any other age group.

Grappling, particularly for boys, is natural and fun. They love it. And it is absolutely run differently for kids than for adults. The expectations are different. Classes are run differently and the emphasis is different, focusing more on fun and character building than on technique (although it's certainly there.) I get all of this, and I have zero issues with it. I expect from youth martial arts programs exactly what I would expect from a youth football league, a youth music program or even the chess club.

I agree. For a number of reasons, you just can't teach kids like you can adults. It's why I refused to teach children for a long time, because I had very specific requirements in what I wanted to teach then.

Just to be very, very clear. I'm not calling out the inherent value of any martial arts style. I don't know enough about the technical aspects of TKD to do so, and I wouldn't do that anyway. I'm calling out the business practices. And some styles encourage them more than others. They are more prevalent, to the point of becoming the rule and not the exception, within some styles. I feel comfortable doing this because I have seen it. I see it every day in my community, I read about it in the papers, and I hear about it from you guys, people in the business of running TKD schools.

Like I said, you can make a McDojo out of any system. If it is more common in TKD, I see it as more of a popularity and cultural expectation thing rather than because TKD school owners inherently are a more rapacious lot than others.

I also want to be very clear that I'm not talking about making a buck. Of course, a business should be successful. What I'm suggesting is simply this. You know when you've crossed the line. It's a decision. A business decision. A conscious decision where you effectively say to yourself, "Today I am going to sell out and fleece the parents in my community."

I think the situation can be more murky than that. As I argued above, I don't believe that charging variable tuition makes one dishonest or unethical, not that I do it myself.
 
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dancingalone

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I'm not sure I follow you. I don't believe anyone is talking about teaching anyone and everyone. You deserve to be compensated for your time and expertise. Once again, I come back to you know it when you've crossed the line. It may not be a clear distinction outside of your brain, but when squeezing more dollars from parents becomes more important than delivering a solid product at a fair price, you've crossed over to the dark side.

This doesn't mean you have to open a charity, taking in all comers.

I was talking about belt test fees. They innately connect revenue generation to promotion or advancement. So what is the real difference between 1) charging someone money to test for green belt assuming they pass so they can then learn purple belt material and 2) asking someone to upgrade to a high level of tuition so they can learn material past the green belt level? Not too big of a difference in my book. In both cases, you're not learning the more advanced material until you pay up (unless you work out an EXCEPTION with the school owner).

Why does one draw more opposition than the other? Because we are used to belt test fees and not variable pricing in martial arts schools?
 
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dancingalone

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Um... I'm very unclear as to why you are engaging me on this then...

Oh, don't pay me any mind. I was playing Devil's Advocate off your post and I certainly wasn't trying to say you are wrong on a topic that is clearly based on subjective feelings.

Cheers!
 

NSRTKD

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I was talking about belt test fees. They innately connect revenue generation to promotion or advancement. So what is the real difference between 1) charging someone money to test for green belt assuming they pass so they can then learn purple belt material and 2) asking someone to upgrade to a high level of tuition so they can learn material past the green belt level? Not too big of a difference in my book. In both cases, you're not learning the more advanced material until you pay up (unless you work out an EXCEPTION with the school owner).

Why does one draw more opposition than the other? Because we are used to belt test fees and not variable pricing in martial arts schools?

1. If a martial arts school is affiliated with an umbrella company (ITF, HTF, etc) the school owner has to pay the umbrella company for certificates and approval.
2. Belts cost money, uniforms cost money, and keeping the school stocked with higher-ranking instructors with the ability to teach higher ranking students costs money.
3. Every time an instructor promotes a student, he/she is promoting a potential future competitor in the local area.
 

NSRTKD

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Oh, don't pay me any mind. I was playing Devil's Advocate off your post and I certainly wasn't trying to say you are wrong on a topic that is clearly based on subjective feelings. Cheers!
I think I get more where you are coming from though now, in light of your last post about testing fees. I think I didn't understand exactly what you were challenging. :)
 
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dancingalone

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1. If a martial arts school is affiliated with an umbrella company (ITF, HTF, etc) the school owner has to pay the umbrella company for certificates and approval.
2. Belts cost money, uniforms cost money, and keeping the school stocked with higher-ranking instructors with the ability to teach higher ranking students costs money.
3. Every time an instructor promotes a student, he/she is promoting a potential future competitor in the local area.

Couldn't we use the same reasoning to justify charging a higher price for higher level training?
 

NSRTKD

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We could, but this way, students can choose the rate at which they progress and still rank up. They can pay for testing once a year or twice a year, but they aren't forced to stop advancing altogether simply because they can't afford a higher price every single month of the year. $30 twice a year to advance is better, imo, than $30 extra per month or you don't get to advance at all. Testing fees make advancing possible at the students pace, tiered pricing with belt restrictions make advancing impossible unless you can commit to an increased price every month, rather than at the pace you can afford, which is offered through optional testing. It's a way of saying "do, if you can" versus "you have to, or you can't." You might see it as semantics, but having seen it in action, a student can stay a blue belt for two years if that's all he can afford - at least, once he CAN afford a fee, he can move on to his next material, even if he has to stay there, again, for a long time.
 

harlan

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Sorry, not sure I understand the comment. I'm not against whatever anyone wants to do as long as it's legal. Caveat emptor. ;)

Everyone gets the same treatment. Start at the beginning, train along everyone else. You want more...go home and practice and move ahead while in class. You go beyond what I can/am allowed to share and I'll pass you along to other dojos to train there. I know my limitations, and am not looking to cash in on parents ambition or a student's ego.

As for charging, I am for passing along the cost directly related to training, and nothing more. If a 'deluxe' program means that the student is getting extra classes, then sure, charge more. But if the tuition is based for the average student on a certain number of classes, and that 'special' student takes the same number of class hours but in advanced subjects...then no difference in tuition. Basic 101 kata, or weapons, or BB club...same tuition.

Would you like the standard courses or the deluxe? Your kid? He looks well coordinated... smart. I see him getting bored in the standard classes. If you sign up for the deluxe package, which includes a free uniform, we'll push him harder. He'll have access to additional classes throughout the week and he becomes eligible (for an additional fee) to participate in the weapons seminars.

Come on, guys.
 

Steve

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Sorry, not sure I understand the comment. I'm not against whatever anyone wants to do as long as it's legal. Caveat emptor. ;)

Everyone gets the same treatment. Start at the beginning, train along everyone else. You want more...go home and practice and move ahead while in class. You go beyond what I can/am allowed to share and I'll pass you along to other dojos to train there. I know my limitations, and am not looking to cash in on parents ambition or a student's ego.

As for charging, I am for passing along the cost directly related to training, and nothing more. If a 'deluxe' program means that the student is getting extra classes, then sure, charge more. But if the tuition is based for the average student on a certain number of classes, and that 'special' student takes the same number of class hours but in advanced subjects...then no difference in tuition. Basic 101 kata, or weapons, or BB club...same tuition.
The comment was simply meant to express my belief that if your business model is the same as or similar to a used car lot, comparisons are going to be likely.

If your sales tactics resemble those employed by used car salesmen, comparisons will, again, be likely.

I'm not accusing anyone here of doing anything. I'm observing that these tactics are used, and there are some specific things we can point to that would indicate some shenanigans going on.

For example, an overly complicated pricing structure. Charging add on pricing for things everyone really needs, costs in addition to monthly tuition for things that are compulsory or mandatory (such as "seminars"), requiring students to purchase the "new" club t-shirt or uniform or any of a number of specific techniques employed by many MA studios.

Once again, I am not accusing anyone here of anything. I don't believe i have to. I have said before, you know it if it applies to you. If you're into shifty sales tactics, somewhere along the way you made a decision. As I said before, if the tier is to offer a BETTER DEAL, go for it. Not a thing wrong with that.
 

andyjeffries

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1. If a martial arts school is affiliated with an umbrella company (ITF, HTF, etc) the school owner has to pay the umbrella company for certificates and approval.
2. Belts cost money, uniforms cost money, and keeping the school stocked with higher-ranking instructors with the ability to teach higher ranking students costs money.
3. Every time an instructor promotes a student, he/she is promoting a potential future competitor in the local area.

I completely and absolutely disagree with point 3!

It's my job as an instructor to pass on all my knowledge and aim to make my students better than me! If I worry about making a business competitor then my students will only ever learn a watered down version, eventually diluting the art through generations. It seems completely ****-about-face in terms of martial arts ethics to worry about whether your student will be more successful or better than you.
 

andyjeffries

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As far as testing fees, I think they're justifiable, assuming they're not exorbitant or mandatory. In our program, test fees are pretty minimal, and you're never required to test. Nor are you invited to test if you're not expected to pass.

I just wanted to add my agreement to this. I charge 瞿2.50 per session (about $4), with no contract and no monthly fee. Belt testing is only every six months (as my students only train once per week) and as above you don't have to test and you won't be allowed if you aren't ready. Pre-dan/poom level testing is 瞿7 (about $10). This covers the cost of the belt, the hall fee (as they don't pay the 瞿2.50 on top of it), a certificate and then a little bit of profit (which goes back in to the club to buy equipment/class trips, etc).

I don't make money from my club (I have a decent day job for that), my club is there to help people and the profits go to helping the club (at the moment in terms of overall balance I've put more money in setting up than I'm likely to recoup in terms of profit over a year). So, why shouldn't I charge for testing?
 

Cyriacus

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I completely and absolutely disagree with point 3!

It's my job as an instructor to pass on all my knowledge and aim to make my students better than me! If I worry about making a business competitor then my students will only ever learn a watered down version, eventually diluting the art through generations. It seems completely ****-about-face in terms of martial arts ethics to worry about whether your student will be more successful or better than you.

Of course, it could be a McDo...jang. That actually does just want Competitors.
 
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dancingalone

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I don't make money from my club (I have a decent day job for that), my club is there to help people and the profits go to helping the club (at the moment in terms of overall balance I've put more money in setting up than I'm likely to recoup in terms of profit over a year). So, why shouldn't I charge for testing?

I can only explain why I don't have testing fees. It's so I can separate the two elements of revenue and advancement completely from each other in both my mind as well as students' and their family members.

Aside from the purity issue, having a testing fee actually makes promotion more tied into a regularly scheduled event in my opinion as people may have to plan for it in their budgets. I'd rather have the flexibility of holding examinations whenever I want, even putting a student on the spot at times (something occasionally good for the right people), without having to ask students for money. And sometimes I don't even test my students. I just hand them a new belt if they have more than proven themselves in my eyes - and it's rather awkward in circumstances like that to ask for a fee, unless I waive it altogether, in which case we're back to 'why have testing fees in the first place'.
 

NSRTKD

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I'm just arguing points for why testing fees are charged, not saying all of those reasons apply at every school. for example my point #1 was about umbrella organizations, and there are very many schools who are not affiliated at all. I'm not an instructor at all in fact, merely a student, so I'm not in this debate from a "business that I run" perspective. I don't run a business at all. :)
 

andyjeffries

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I'd rather have the flexibility of holding examinations whenever I want, even putting a student on the spot at times (something occasionally good for the right people), without having to ask students for money. And sometimes I don't even test my students. I just hand them a new belt if they have more than proven themselves in my eyes.

When I was younger, testing dates were announced about a month before and held every 4-5 months. That was the way I was used to it. A pretty formal affair, etc.

Over the years my current instructor (who took over the school from my original instructor) has migrated to doing more adhoc tests just during a session when he feels the student is ready.

However, when I look over the class I see a difference in the focus. When testing dates were organised in advance students worked up to it. They knew they had a deadline and that it would be in front of their classmates all watching/waiting, parents at the back. Now the students just seem to keep training and training hard, but without that focus of "I must improve not just repeat".

So, in my club I'm doing gradings back the way my original instructor did them. I've set the dates for the next year's gradings and all students will know them.

I'm not saying I think you're wrong - whatever works for you in your school is your business - just explaining the reasons why I do it differently.
 

Earl Weiss

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I completely and absolutely disagree with point 3!

It's my job as an instructor to pass on all my knowledge and aim to make my students better than me! If I worry about making a business competitor then my students will only ever learn a watered down version, eventually diluting the art through generations. It seems completely ****-about-face in terms of martial arts ethics to worry about whether your student will be more successful or better than you.

Not sure if you disagree or simply are not concerned about it. Never happened to me but I have heard of several instances where it has.

The solution is good non compete agreeement for students to sign when they join or test.
 

msmitht

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Couldn't we use the same reasoning to justify charging a higher price for higher level training?
justify it any way you want. If you wish to charge more then charge more! If you run a business then do as you see fit. Others, like myself, see it differently. I charge a flat rate for everyone and 20 bucks for testing (100 for poom/dan). Competitors pay 30 more per month but have 2 special classes per week. That's it. Competitors pay coaching fees if travelling more than 100 miles.I don't believe in raising prices as they advance. That is forcing them to pay more if they continue. Sounds like "nickel and diming" to me. That is why bb drop out rate is high in those type of schools.
 

Master Dan

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I disagree so strongly with this type of pricing. Flat rate, every month, every student, unlimited classes, is what I believe in. Extra charge for non-grading based classes such as fitness boot camps, weapons, etc, on a voluntary basis without affecting rank. Student instructors get a discount once they are leading classes consistently.Signing people up and only allowing them to advance past a certain level without an increase in price is, imho, vastly unfair to the students. It commits parents to paying more because they aren't going to crush their green belt by saying oh, I can't afford for you to advance... and once again puts social pressure on the less financiAlly well off kids because their wealthier friends can make black belt in half the time because they are paying more.I feel this system fosters unhealthy attitudes, unhealthy relationships between students and social classes, and unhealthy patterns for future behavior. I also think it is similar to the attitude that you should test as soon as you have mastered material without having a minimum amount of time put in. *shrug* just my two cents...
Boy you said a mouthful and you are spot on I infact am against commercial MA period it ruins the whole structure of teaching. the rents due bills comming and can you afford to not have rank testing every 8 weeks for ever stumbling bumbling lazy out to lunch student??? no in many cases and it leads to all the other marketing issues above. The mentality of we are a commodity to be exploited was brought here and has left us with what we have today a mess. That doesn not mean there are not good people doing good things but the pay per student fee system is short sighted there is much more money to be earned on the non profit and health issue side than could ever be earned by strictly student fees but trying to educate or convince the mainstream powers to be is like talking to a wall
 

Master Dan

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Not sure if you disagree or simply are not concerned about it. Never happened to me but I have heard of several instances where it has.

The solution is good non compete agreeement for students to sign when they join or test.
What ever happened to loyalty and respect? a non compete agreement? back in the day if you started with a pioneer first you never even considerd teaching outside untill master and before that it was considered duty infact a rank requirement to log a requred documented number of hours of teach for each level. If you did want to start a dojang you did it in cooperation with your GM or master and he would do all he could to assist you. But out of respect your dojang has his name on it at least untill master. I have always said you cannot buy what a good master knows regardless of what the monthly payment is that gets you in the door its that way in all trades aprentetices pay thier dues by extra hard work and respect and loyalty and a certain amount of seeing what your made of you earn it not pay for it. Anyone who says the past Gm's and masters were not preferential in what they taught and to who even on ethnic lines is either lying or was not around much. There are all kinds of tenants and idealogical montras on and on but human nature is what is practiced most. Any man master who has decades of training has the chi and a knowing that regardless of what person says knows the truth weather he calls them on it or not like a horse sense and can tell if a person has a true heart or not. A non compete? I make it clear I give everthing to my students but I expect the same if I feel they cannot be trusted or they are not developing good behavior and training they will not advance and no one will ever get a black belt that cannot truly defend themselves on the street and have a commitment to teach those in need and committed to thier personal training for life. Go some place else. We were always taught to love your master as a father and to take care of him in his old age and he loves you as a child and your students are his grand children and great grand children it is his and your legacy. I feel sorry for the people who do not have that. Frankly some of the stuff being promoted at the seminars about how to run a Dojang as business make my stomach turn. Yes it is an honor to have a student do better than you but they should give credit to the person that gave them life in the first place.

There are people jumping out at non black belt and first Dan to start thier own dojangs who go behind their masters to others to get rank on paper all based on a Western spoiled attitude of I have to have my own way right no waiting or dicipline or I don't want to do what I am told. There is even one here in this state that has a web site that advertises claiming all kinds of accompishments and certifications and then adds you don't need to go to some fat, balding or smelly master from the 70's to get instruction. They try to cause trouble at state tournaments. Frankly I find politics based on jelously related to money and income in state associations common and as far as I am concerned it all gets back to money and sport competiton relates to money and has infected every aspect of it so far that no one remembers the real reason for going to tournament, fellowship, education, good sportsmanship.
 

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