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Old 02-02-2007, 09:39 AM   #8
Larry Feldman
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Dojo: Atlanta School of Aikido
Location: Atlanta, GA
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 333
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Re: Fees Ranting (Caution)

Rocky -

I teach in a gym, partly to avoid the costs of a storefront, so I do not face all the financial pressures you do. But there is no way to put a pencil to to the time and money I have put into Aikido and the pay I get.

Not to depress you, but if you figure out your hourly pay, you probably would be violating minimum wage laws - I am sure I am.

Somehow the spiritual aspects of what we do sometimes overrides this idea that we should get paid for our expertise. I am not sure you can find any other 'job' that requires so much training and expertise, with so little pay.

My rates are substantially below others who teach Aikido, I used to justify it by the fact that we only met a couple times a week, but comparisons to other schools or other arts may help you set your rates more appropriately. We are adding class times now and the gym said I have to raise my rates - they didn't care how much, just that if I offer more time, I needed to charge more.

That said I have never had someone not make a seminar because they could not afford it, I have instituted 'I lost my job rates' - free, and helped out anyone
who had financial problems until they could get them straightened out. I discount the rates for students and police officers. (Many people who I let practice free because they lost their job were embarressed about not being able to pay and stopped coming). This may be the best way to deal with the increase you have to institute. You are a good man to fret over losing students over money, so don't.

On the Gi's - I am a reluctant seller of GI's, after I got tired of my students buying junk for $75 and thinking they got a deal because it was on the internet. I may only make $5 a Gi, but I don't lose money on them. My concession to the beginners is that they don't need a Gi to practice for the first 2 months, and if they continue they will need to get one. If I had a permanent school I might also have a trade-in policy for student's quiting and just resell used ones.

FWIW, I used to skydive, and my first parachute was an old military surplus piece of junk. At one point it needed a patch, so the local rigger who knew I was a student, patched it for me for $10, which was cheap at the time. I told my father what it cost, and my Dad (who grew up in the Great Depression and was tough with a buck), who I expected to tell me what a great deal I got. Instead he told me that that man didn't charge me enough, and what would I do if he wasn't around to help me in the future - that I should have paid him more to make sure he could survive.
I was shocked that my Dad said those things, but he was right. The rigger was of course looking out for me, a young kid, just a student etc. But the bigger message was that if you can't afford to teach -your students will have no teacher.
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