It’s great setting up yourself as a private tutor – you are your own boss, you decide who you want to work with, you’re building a good client base and people are recommending you. There’s one problem – you are still charging the same as when you started, say, three years ago. So how do you improve this without a drastic re-launch?
Efficiency is key. Where can you improve and what should you change?
The importance of time
Time is our greatest asset and it’s incredible how easy it is to waste time – just look at the packed commuter trains and traffic jams. Now, a lot of the time allocated to tutoring is dependent on the clients’ situation but try to to make sure that your appointments are within an advantageous timetable for you. Massive savings will be made if you travel outside commuting time and, indeed, try to only travel locally as being stuck on a train or in a traffic jam is dead, unpaid time… and you have to pay for it!
Another negative aspect to travelling to appointments is the fact that some people turn up late or even cancel when you’ve already left. The obvious solution is to tutor online, and why not? All you need is a headset and maybe a tablet to write on and hey presto! You’re an online tutor with appointments one after the other and more energy and time to hone your skills. With the savings you make, you can invest in the best equipment – as well as improving efficiency, clients will be impressed to see that you take your business seriously.
Again, time saved will enable you to prepare thoroughly and keep up to date with the latest information regarding teaching developments. While your tutoring is tried and tested, it’s best not to risk going stale – there’s nothing wrong with a bit of re-invention that shows that you care about your clients.
It’s difficult juggling family or social life when you work evenings week days and all-day weekends so as university students have much more flexible schedules, you may want to consider only teaching higher education – the benefits of this would be that most students are comfortable with online tuition, you can charge higher rates for this area of tutoring as the level of work is more specialised and you probably won’t have parents to deal with, too.
However, it might be that some of your regular tutees take some convincing that going online is better than face to face but explain the benefits of better time management plus all the tutorials and videos available online. People will respect you for making a decision that will make it better for all.
Respect for you and your time is vital to the relationship so be assertive and don’t be afraid of using cancellation fees – believe me, people will think twice before cancelling at a late stage if they know they will have to pay. Just make sure you have made them aware via a terms and conditions document.
Be the specialist that you are. Make sure you don’t teach the wrong subjects and don’t spread yourself thin by helping with subjects outside your remit, this way the recommendations will flood in.
Get rid of toxicity
Finally, we often feel the need to do everything for a client – staying on late or reassuring parents for half an hour. Also, when starting out, it’s easy to fall into the trap of taking on any business. Well, be firm – your time is valuable and if people keep taking more and more bits of your time, it will cost you. Make it clear that they have to, on occasion, be flexible so you can fit sort out your diary to suit you and other clients and discard any toxic clients – people who waste your time and endlessly moan or criticise. You’re the professional here and you deserve respect.