Fees - how much and why charge fees?

Discussion in 'The Instructors Room' started by Paul of the Northwind, Aug 1, 2012.

  1. I have been teaching for nearly 12 years now. I have had a professional school in a small city pop 1.5 million with 66 students where i charged $85 per month, grading fees were $50 each student and association fees were $50 pa. I was always frowned upon by the old school instructors in the association that i charged too much and i should be non-profit. My school was mostly children and they were all very good, regualrly competing at tournaments and helped the school be ranked 4th most competive in the country. never saw a problem with how much i charged as a personal trainer i was charging $75 per hour so $85 per month for 2-3 hour classes i thought was a good deal. Members never qusetioned fees and always paid on time.
    2006 i had an opportunity to work on a cruise ship as a personal trainer and took it, 9 mths later i came home and moved into the rural country side with 5 small towns all within 20 min of each other. each town has populations between 7 and 3.5 thousand people. In 2007 I opened courses in Taekwondo, in 5 towns and was quickly teaching again with 18 hours of coaching along with personal training at the local gym.
    No longer with the previous association i had alot more flexability in what i could charge. I settled with $55 per month and away we went. Success within 18 months membership was at 90 people. Then came the credit crisiss, four years later and now i have 12 students and are charging $30 per month. Over the four years I had so much trouble getting people to pay their fees and on time. these days i only charge enough to cover the cost of the venues. I have been wondering these last few months with people being so poor and few jobs is it morally right to charge people for something that could save their life or someone elses?

    I have always been in favor of a percentage based fee system, where you would charge, say 3.5% of a familys total gross income. They then would be able to have as many of their imediate family attend lessions as oftern they like. (Registration fees and belt exam fees would be extra.) this would mean well off familys would pay more and the not so well off would pay less, in general it would be relitive to how much they earned. if you earned no income, training would be free. which all sounded very good, untill you try and get people to declear their income. every one seems very resistant, and subsquently it has never worked.

    So how much and why do you charge fees?
    WonderingFist likes this.
  2. Kevin

    Kevin Admin Staff Member

    I can understand why a percentage of someones income would not work. What I earn and what you earn should be of no concern to anyone else. I do like the idea of helping those who need help financially. Why not charge a set fee for people who are working and a reduced fee for those that are currently out of work. You may occasionally get some people lying about their situation but generally this should work well.

    It's more common in North America for schools to be run for profit rather than simply to cover fees. I think there will be a conflict of interests from time to time if you run a martial arts school for money. For example, your best students might always be bad with payments whilst a disruptive student might always pay on time.

    I don't think there is inherently wrong with charging for training. You've got bills to pay too. Supply and demand will dictate whether people will join or not.
    Paul of the Northwind likes this.
  3. Aaron Hutto

    Aaron Hutto Master

    This has always been a struggle with martial artists and probably always will be. The percentage idea sounds like a good plan but I really think that it would cause problems down the road. First, you would have to rely on people to be honest. As martial arts instructors how many times have we heard that "I'll have to talk it over with my husband" and we never hear from them again? Most of us ... a lot ... Second, people who are paying more are going to complain about it. This is the reason that my rate is my rate is my rate. I don't change it. I don't have specials or sales. I learned this when I was the program director for a McDojo. We were constantly having specials and such. I had people in the same program paying anywhere from $250 per month to $5 per class for the same exact program. Parents start talking and things get ugly.

    I have three schools that I teach at and the rates are different in all three places because my overhead is different in all three places. I have places that I pay no rent for and I have places that I pay a lot of rent for in more populated areas. Here are my three school rates:

    School 1: One class per week for $40 per month. No membership fees. Belt tests are $25.
    School 2: Two classes per week for $75 per month. No membership fees. Belt tests are $25.
    School 3: Either $113 per month or a punch card of 10 classes for $160. Two classes per week. No membership fees. Belt tests are $25.

    Yes, people do complain sometimes that some of my classes are cheaper than others. I invite them to join one of my other classes if they think it is a better fit for them. Luckily for me, they are a good distance apart, so no one wants to make the drive.
  4. ron moore

    ron moore Initiate

    I have a small school basically just so that i can teach my nephews and family what i know. My style is a cross between shito-ryu and taekwondo. For students that aren't family i charge $65 a month flat fee no testing fees or anything like that, basically enough to cover gas and rent. If we go to tournament they are responsible for their own fees. I had about a dozen paying students at the beginning of the year, but when school let out they all stopped coming. I wish i could find a way to attract more students myself i even posted on craigslist,.. if anyone reading this wants to add mist martial arts on facebook we always appreciate it!
  5. MadoreGojuRyu

    MadoreGojuRyu Master

    I have no contracts and charge $100 per month, I want to do this for rest of my life and still need to care for my family. I dont charge a sign up/membership fee but I do charge for the test and thats mainly to pay for the cost of things. I dont see any problem with someone charging fees, if the student or potential student doesnt want to pay or doesnt believe in paying they simply find another school/dojo.

    This is the same thing as a buddy of mine that went and paid for specialized training to computer the computer genius he is today and people expect him to give them free service when they need/want it. I paid for 18+ years fees/membership dues and test fees and never saw any issue with it.
  6. MadoreGojuRyu

    MadoreGojuRyu Master

    just hit you on facebook, a like back would be much appreciated also
  7. ian t

    ian t Initiate

    The class i teach at in england charge .....its a cross with goju shaotokan and white crane kung fu
    I do not physically earn anything becuase what i would get pays for my children to train.
    The costs have just gone up as the cost of venues has dramatically gone up and we haven`t had a rise in class fees for four years.....I beleive you should pay to learn in general as you are as sensei`s are sharing some thing wonderful that YOU have paid to learn in most cases and you get nothing for nothing in life .
    I have been a student in many martial arts over the 32 years i have been a practitioner and i love it and love what i do.....
    If any of you regular commenters on here should visit our fair land either on vacation or business you can come and train with me for free and share some of your knowledge...
  8. WonderingFist

    WonderingFist Disciple of Mind

    Since I haven't been teaching for more than 7 or so months, and I'm teaching in my garage or the reserve, I just tell them "25 p/w, don't come. don't pay."
    That covers private sessions, questions, and the 2.5hr class on Wednesday (it's broken up so there are breaks).
    They all happy with that....though I'm aware I'll have to change the schema when I get a physical location of my own.
  9. It is hard to place a monitary value to an untangable thing such as martial arts which provides such atrabutes as, knowledge, physical skills, wisdom,and comradary; things that never wear out or grow old, they last almost for ever in a persons life.
    I will never be able to recover the cost of learning the skills i have. As i have spent many years traveling 260km 3 times aweek, as i lived in the middle of boondocks. Let alone the subsquent years to get to the skill level to teach. People just wouldnt pay that price.
    I once taked to a Japanise man while i worked on a cruiseship in the Caribbien. He approched me while i was in the aerobics room, i was practcing,and he asked me what i was doing. I said Kata. Taekwondo, 'Toi Gye' , he comented on how simila it was to Shotokan. It turned out he taught a school in Osaka. At some stage we got talking about students and charging fees. He put it quite simply; "to sell your art is like cutting off your finger and selling it to someone for money. You give a part of your self to your student, which is almost near impossible for the student to give back. How can you put a price on that"

    I dont agree with supply and demand in the context of martial arts classes, as i have a school in a town where my class is the only school for 30 km and my student numbers go up and down from 7 to 25 students 0.7% - 2.5% of pop from year to year. Then i have has a student whose perants were on unemployment benifit and never missed payments and never complained about the fees, they were paying 25% of their income so their daughter could learn. On the flip side i had a boy whose perants complained how expensive the fees were all the time, never got belt exam fees in on time. Yet they owned a quarter of the propertys comercial propertys in town and operated serveral business's in the district. Clearly these two familys valued what i was teaching diffrently. ( Both students are very good students)
    ian t and Kevin like this.
  10. Aaron Hutto

    Aaron Hutto Master

    [quote="On the flip side i had a boy whose perants complained how expensive the fees were all the time, never got belt exam fees in on time. Yet they owned a quarter of the propertys comercial propertys in town and operated serveral business's in the district. Clearly these two familys valued what i was teaching diffrently. ( Both students are very good students)[/quote]

    It certainly is easy to see which parents value thier child's training isn't it? I don't actually belt test. I award rank when they are ready. I still do have a fee to cover the cost of the belt, shipping and certificate. I tell the parent's 3-4 weeks before I award rank so that they have plenty of time to pay the rank fee. Since the students do not ever know when they are going to get a new rank, I just don't award it until the fee is payed. That puts the weight on the parents.
    Paul of the Northwind likes this.
  11. dgasmd

    dgasmd Disciple

    At times I thought the school I attend was pricey, but when you account for the reality of building costs, insurance, facility maintenance, instructors salaries, etc. I begin to wonder how they make it.

    They charge $100/month for single and $5/family member to a cap of $120/month. Your first gee is included in the first fee. No contract. Class is twice per week. You can do all disciplines or as many as you choose for the same fee. They offer jui jitsu, karate, tai chi, judo, and aikido is sort of incorporated with the jui jitsu. Testing is $40/adult and $20/child as they do half tests. Weapon seminars and testing are separate but required ($30 each/person). I believe Dan testing is between $250-500 and it includes an engraved belt with name and rank.

    As an individual, it sounds expensive, and it may be depending how you define expensive. As a family of 4 (we are) or more, it is fair I think. The school is family oriented and the children classes are very much tailored to kids, not miniature assassins in the making.
  12. Master Fahy

    Master Fahy Samurai

    How many of you have paid for your instruction? How many have received free instruction? It is normal to pay for anything you get in life! I paid and received free instruction. I arrived at my first class and paid for my first month's instruction. I was at the school everyday for a month (as I was not sure if I could continue to pay), I was 11 years old at the time. My father told me that if I want to take martial arts, I had to pay for it! I was the first to arrive and the last to leave everyday! When my month was up, I told my instructor that I wanted to continue training but could not afford to pay each month and that I wanted to do this more than anything else in life! He told me to go clean the bathrooms each day before and after class for the next month's fee. I did that and cleaned the rest of the school as well. I had the next month's fee and master told me to put it in the bank, then he said clean the school! I was so glad that he said that! Our school was very clean and I never paid for class again under him. I did pay testing fees. While in Korea I paid 40 USD each month during my 4.5 years of training there. I paid for all of my three children to take classes and their testing fees. I even paid to take classes while I taught for my different master instructors. Operating a school cost money and takes time to get established. Time is worth something right? While I would teach for free if I could, it does cost to operate the school. Question is, "What is a reasonable price to charge?" I would think it comes down to your location, What's it cost to rent or pay a mortgage, carry insurance and any equipment needed? At the present time, the school I work at charges 65 USD per month per student or 125 for a family. Classes are scheduled three days a week. Master Fahy
    Aaron Hutto likes this.
  13. Aaron Hutto

    Aaron Hutto Master

    I totally understand what you mean about being the first one there and the last to leave. I started paying for my own martial arts lessons around age 10-11. As far as I knew, I was the only child who paid for their own lessons. I trained at least three times per week and practiced on my own at least two hours per day. This was much more than most other kids trained. I still have my white belt and it is kind of tan and almost see through because even if I trained alone at home, I trained in my uniform. I felt like it put me in the right mentality.
    At one point, I had trouble paying for my classes (as I was a kid and didn't really have a job). My Sifu, let me work it off by helping him teach the younger kids classes (I was probably 13-14 by then).
    I wish that most of my students paid for their lessons. I feel that they would (as I did) work harder if they actually had something to loose.
  14. Master Fahy

    Master Fahy Samurai

    I have a few students that fall into the same situation as I did however, only two have even expressed any interest in cleaning the school! I call them my scholarships students! I don't just let anyone into my scholarship program, they must meet certain criteria to enter. #1) rule to enter is.... they must ask me! I never ask them to do anything that I don't do myself! #2) Their family must be in a hardship situation. #3) Pay when the situation improves or when they can. #4) Never disclose that they are on scholarship! I never disclose to any other student or families. This is my way of giving back to my Master who recognized the good in me at such a young age! Also to help others who are just as needy and just as good! Master Fahy
    Aaron Hutto likes this.
  15. NWPSNZ

    NWPSNZ Disciple

    I charge $35 a month for one student, $55 for two and $65 for 3 - 5 Students. 5 and above is $100 a month. $25 every 3 months for grading fee. if you don't show up for a month you don't have to pay. if you don't grade you don't pay the grading fee.. we train twice a week an hour and a half each night

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