Thursday, February 13, 2014
The Tutoring Session: The First Call Part 2
The Business End of the Call
Tutoring is the easiest part of what we do. It would be great if we had someone else to handle all the business aspects of tutoring. If you did that, you'd be working for a company and they'd take a little bit of your cut. Not that that's bad...but when you get $40 from an $80 fee (true story!), it makes you wonder if that's the kind of work you want to do.
When I was working as a temp worker early in my life, I received $12.00 per hour! Then I found out that the company charged $25.00 per hour for me. I felt so used and exploited. I didn't hesitate to quit without notice. I couldn't afford anything with $12.00 hour. As time went on, however, I realized that it's business. I needed a job and they needed revenue. We both benefited.
Enough about that! Let's talk business!
The hardest parts of any business transaction is price, terms, and location. Customers come from all backgrounds and react differently. It's up to you to stand firm and hold your ground. Remember, you're doing your client a favor.
Once I get the "ok" from the parent, I start with my prices. I immediately tell them, for example, I charge $25.00 per hour at 1 hour and 15 minute minimum. I explain that the 1 hour and 15 minutes works better with my style of tutoring.
I lay it all out to them in detail.
For example: "Ok, so that's 1 sessions at $25.00 per hour at a 1.25 hours for a total of $33.25. Payment is due every 5th lesson. So a total of $125 is due at the fifth lesson.
I then transfer that to a contract, which will be signed at the first session. Notice how detailed I am about this part. I'm upfront and let them know I mean business. I value them as a client, but I also value my service. I will provide a copy of some contracts at some point in the future for reference.
When I say Terms, I mean my rules of what's ok and what's not ok. I cover items such as Late Arrivals, late fees, last minute cancellations. The terms are simple and easy to understand for the customer. There's no legal "mumbo jumbo" here. I'm clear, simple, and to the point. For example, I tell clients "You may stop sessions at any time for any reason." I will provide examples of terms later for reference and provide a hyperlink. These items are also included in the contract.
The next discussion is about location. I have one location that I tutor from. In the beginning, I found myself catering to the client...sometimes you'll need to, especially if the client has special needs. It is important to understand that I'm not trying to be a jerk about location, but you'll never survive if you go from location to location. Either you are solid on your location or you're solid on price.
Clients are going to try to choose a location that suits them best, if that means inconveniencing you, then they will. And why not? They work a lot, they've got kids, and life is tough. They've got a lot on their plate. But the truth is that if they need to get to a Target department store, they're going to find a way. As such, they can find a way to get to you, or increase your fee.
Location is purely up to you and your preference. I typically choose a place that is public, quiet, and accessible to everyone. That's usually a Barnes and Nobles, Books a Million, or a public library. As a rule of thumb, I never use my current employment as a location. Eventually, I'd like to have a spot that I can rent out for tutoring.
It's your business, your terms. When you talk with a client on the first call, make sure you cover pricing, terms, and location. Transfer those to your contract and provide them with a copy. Be firm during your call, but remember to be flexible where it counts Remember, you've got to look out for yourself.
So what do you talk about during your first consult?