Taking Care of Business | Five Steps to Surviving Summer

We all long for the free time and sunshine of summer. Yet summer is a difficult season for most studio owners. Monthly tuition drops off as students hit the beach instead of the studio. As business owners, we must prepare carefully for the seasonal nature of our field. Let’s take a look at five steps to surviving summer.


If you canceled all classes and stayed on the beach all summer, how much money would you need to pay your studio bills? Consider rent or mortgage payments, utilities, insurance, cleaning services, website fees, office hours, open-house costs—every bill you pay in the summer months regardless of what’s running at your studio. Add it all up and write it down.



Calculate the cost of teachers, additional front desk staff, administration, flyers, advertising, social media posts, props, music, and snacks. Add something for regular studio supplies that will be used: toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, tissues, printer ink, Band-Aids, etc. If programs need special supplies—for example, camps with arts and crafts—include something extra for those programs (and stick to it). Add it all up and write it down. Don’t forget to pay yourself.



Now add your numbers from steps 1 and 2. This number is the total cost of summer—and it’s your revenue goal to break even for the entire summer. If you want to add personal items to this number, go for it. Want to take a vacation? Add a personal line item. You deserve it.



Now divide your number from step 3 by the number of programs you plan to run. For example, if my summer costs $10,000, and I plan to run five camps, I divide $10,000 by 5. To break even, I must bring in $2,000 for each camp. (The actual break-even point for each program may vary, of course, but to avoid frustration—sometimes one program doesn’t break even while another is very profitable—I treat my summer programming as a whole.)



Now you have the information you’ll need to set prices and registration goals. If you haven’t priced a program yet, decide on the minimum number of students you’ll want. Divide your break-even number by that minimum, and set your price there. If you get more than the minimum number of registrations, lucky you!

For example, I decide that one camp’s minimum is seven students, so I divide my program break-even number of $2,000 by 7. Now I know I’ll need to set my price at $286 per child to be sure of breaking even.

If you’ve already set your program price, divide the break-even number by that price. This tells you the minimum number of students you’ll need for each program to break even. This might be the most important number of your whole summer. Once you know it, your goal will be registering that number of students.

Photo by Gary Antle

Here’s the best part: once you reach your registration minimum in each program, stop worrying. Your summer program is successful and self-sufficient. Congratulations—you have officially survived summer.


Teri Mangiaratti owns In Sync Center of the Arts in Quincy, Massachusetts, which opened in 1996 and today welcomes more than 1,000 children into its dance, music, and art programs.