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I am thinking of opening a members only clay studio, as all of them in my area have long waitlists and the demand is there.  I haven’t found any recent threads on the operations costs or best practices associated with running a studio.  Can anyone help me out by providing hard expenses associated with and any tips for this business?   Thanks in advance for your help!

Edited by Clay Studio Mike
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I agree with Callie. The costs will be specific to your operation because of differences in rent, utilities, and what you're able to charge per student. It's just going to be a matter of crunching the numbers there.

I can tell you that the one thing my students really like, compared to other studios, is that once they've paid for an 8 week session, there aren't a bunch of little fees that nickel and dime them to death. Tuition charge cover open studio time, too. Clay prices include glazing and firing. If you want them to keep coming back, don't make them feel like it costs them every time they walk in. It's also a lot easier for me as the owner to not have to be dealing with the money all the time.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Took a look at that in my area and decided that the number of members might not do it here and unless in a walk-able shopping/tourist area we didn't think the gallery would support the effort alone. In my case the expenses for renting what we saw as on the small side was about 4 grand a month with rent/triple net and utilities and that essentially penciled out to having about 50 paying members at all times to make it work without employees. You have to decide on employees because members will span mornings and evenings 7 days a week and if you try to scale that back it could seriously impact the number of members.

Trying to make up losses with gallery sales just to break even might work but seems risky. When I ran various projections with various scenarios it just got crazy risky with possibly tens of thousands in losses very quickly and just seemed unlikely to make it long term. I know a guy in the NW who has failed three times and the forth is currently working out (and has for a dozen years) but I think you have to really key on what your ramp will be on adding members and how you will weather the storm if membership drops off or fluctuates

Good luck!.    

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"...penciled out...to make it work..." - aye, that's key, based on what little I've seen in small business ventures (the stats aren't particularly good, new small biz launches that stick). There are a few small studios in our neighborhood, all ran out of homes. In town ("town" being SLO, largest town nearby) there is an open type studio.

Per my eye, the in between would be running the venture out of owned/mortgaged property vs. rented, where a big part of the long term is owning the property (however, much bigger risk). Old friend of mine put together a string of group homes and drew a modest salary; long row - once hoed, nice retirement, as the properties were carefully selected...

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