How to Start Tutoring Service

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Pranav
Posts: 186
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2016 11:25 am
Location: Austin, Texas, United States

How to Start Tutoring Service

Post by Pranav » Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:42 am

Please share advice on how my spouse can start offering tutoring near our home.

Background:
  • Bachelor's degree in Biotechnology
  • Master's degree in Biochemistry
  • Interned at a pharmaceutical company
  • Has a Pharmacy Technician Certification (2017-19).
Preferences:
  • Science, but open to other subjects
  • Elementary School students, but open to other levels
  • Part-Time, but open to Full-Time
Thanks in advance!

Updated 10/30/17: Thank you all for the useful advice, which I have been review with my wife (tutor). We spread the word on Nextdoor and got in touch with a parent who is seeking a tutor for her 7th & 9th grade kids for Science/Math. Parent asked for the tutoring charge. Since we didn't quite know how to answer that question yet, we deflected/postponed that question by saying we could do the first session for free for later this week. We thought this could give both sides to experience tutoring without any pressure, and give us time to think about how to answer tutoring charge question, and perhaps buildup some goodwill with the parent. If there happens to be a good match between my wife and students, perhaps my wife could answer the tutoring charge question by saying that we could go with the tutoring charge the parent has had with previous tutors.
Last edited by Pranav on Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:46 am, edited 6 times in total.
Pranav

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CAsage
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Re: How to Start Tutoring Service

Post by CAsage » Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:52 am

I cannot speak to the business/tax side of things. But, for tutoring, start by contacting the local schools. Most schools keep lists of tutors to provide parents, or have study groups. If you are active in any PTA/parenting networks or neighborhood facebook groups, post and start networking. in my experience, there is little need or willingness to pay for tutoring of science at the elementary level, but a great deal of interest and $$ at the competitive AP or High School honors level. Why do I say that? Elementary tutoring focuses on remedial reading and math (core skills); the science tends to be light and fun and grades really don't matter. High School students working to get into college care, and their parents tend to pay.
Salvia Clevelandii "Winifred Gilman" my favorite. YMMV; not a professional advisor.

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LiveSimple
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Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 7:55 am

Re: How to Start Tutoring Service

Post by LiveSimple » Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:24 am

Focus on premed, chemistry. If she can tutor.

Chemistry seems to be the weeder class for medicine.
You may have a market, both local and online.

JBTX
Posts: 1522
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:46 pm

Re: How to Start Tutoring Service

Post by JBTX » Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:32 am

Pranav wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:42 am
Please share advice on how my spouse can start offering tutoring near our home.

Background:
  • Bachelor's degree in Biotechnology.
  • Master's degree in Biochemistry
  • Interned at a pharmaceutical company.
  • Has a Pharmacy Technician Certification (2017-19).
Preferences:
  • Science, but open to other subjects.
  • Elementary School students, but open to other levels.
  • Part-Time
Thanks in advance!
Google each xxxxx one of the above “ xxxxx tutoring” and see what platforms they are on. I know thumbtack is one platform. There are other popular platforms.

See if you can make some local school contacts such as high school counselors and maybe even teachers. They will usually have contact information via email.

Go to local colleges and put up flyers with tear off numbers in any of the buildings of subjects you want to tutor. See if there are any school related social media you can access. Obviously set up Facebook account for your business and see if you can get some likes from potential students. Maybe offer discounts if customers like you and forward and offer referral bonuses.

We could definitely use you on some of the above, including pharmacy tech test for Texas.

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mattyfu1
Posts: 54
Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2016 7:35 am

Re: How to Start Tutoring Service

Post by mattyfu1 » Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:37 am

Hi!

I currently run a tutoring business on Long Island in NY. I tutor ACT/SAT.
I started from nothing and now make over 3k a month.

The fact that you have a Science background is amazing, you can charge top dollar and not have much competition.

1. I would go for the High School students as there is more demand for tutors (state tests, graduation requirements)
2. Don't underprice yourself, you can easily charge $80/$100-hour
3. Text and email everyone in your contact list saying you are offering tutoring services
4. Join mom-parent groups on Facebook / list your name with local schools and libraries
5. Make business cards on VistaPrint or something and give them to everyone

*Your business will grow through referrals, so getting that first client is key. Literally tell everyone!
I have done the whole marketing with flyers etc., but have found telling people you know is the best way to get your business moving.

PM me for any more advice!

Good Luck!

MattyFu

FeesR-BullNotBullish
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Joined: Sat May 28, 2016 11:22 am

Re: How to Start Tutoring Service

Post by FeesR-BullNotBullish » Wed Oct 25, 2017 12:17 pm

A family friend tutors high school kids through a web site called Wyzant. Wyzant pairs tutors with students and handles the payment processing side of the business. She felt Wyzant was very fair and they even have policies that encouraged her to keep working through them after a few sessions when she and a student could have gone rogue.

She strongly preferred neutral locations like a library rather than a student's house. Regarding the business side of tutoring, if after a single session she sensed a parent would be difficult to deal with she waived the fee and moved on. Setting expectations is a crucial part of tutoring. The parent should expect to see improvement, but expectations need to be clearly communicated so the parent doesn't necessarily expect their kid to become a Rhodes Scholar after a couple sessions.

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mattyfu1
Posts: 54
Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2016 7:35 am

Re: How to Start Tutoring Service

Post by mattyfu1 » Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:12 pm

FeesR-BullNotBullish wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 12:17 pm
A family friend tutors high school kids through a web site called Wyzant. Wyzant pairs tutors with students and handles the payment processing side of the business. She felt Wyzant was very fair and they even have policies that encouraged her to keep working through them after a few sessions when she and a student could have gone rogue.

She strongly preferred neutral locations like a library rather than a student's house. Regarding the business side of tutoring, if after a single session she sensed a parent would be difficult to deal with she waived the fee and moved on. Setting expectations is a crucial part of tutoring. The parent should expect to see improvement, but expectations need to be clearly communicated so the parent doesn't necessarily expect their kid to become a Rhodes Scholar after a couple sessions.
- I used to work with these companies and realized if I struck out on my own I made WAY MORE money, and got CASH!

- +1 about not dealing with difficult parents, not worth the money and they wont give referrals.

- I also tutor at a library, neutral safe location.

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Pranav
Posts: 186
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2016 11:25 am
Location: Austin, Texas, United States

Re: How to Start Tutoring Service

Post by Pranav » Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:38 am

OP here. Thank you all for the useful advice, which I have been review with my wife (tutor). We spread the word on Nextdoor and got in touch with a parent who is seeking a tutor for her 7th & 9th grade kids for Science/Math. Parent asked for the tutoring charge. Since we didn't quite know how to answer that question yet, we deflected/postponed that question by saying we could do the first session for free for later this week. We thought this could give both sides to experience tutoring without any pressure, and give us time to think about how to answer tutoring charge question, and perhaps buildup some goodwill with the parent. If there happens to be a good match between my wife and students, perhaps my wife could answer the tutoring charge question by saying that we could go with the tutoring charge the parent has had with previous tutors. Please let us know if y'all have any other suggestions.
Pranav

delamer
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Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 6:13 pm

Re: How to Start Tutoring Service

Post by delamer » Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:15 am

Speaking as a parent who hired a couple of tutors when my kids were in high school, I would have been hesitant to use a tutor who had no experience as a teacher or a tutor. Knowledge of a subject does not necessarily translate into the ability to teach it.

I myself am not a good teacher, so I am very conscious of this issue.

If your wife does not have experience, then consider having her work for a service to get some before going out on her own.

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Pranav
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Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2016 11:25 am
Location: Austin, Texas, United States

Re: How to Start Tutoring Service

Post by Pranav » Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:26 am

delamer wrote:
Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:15 am
Speaking as a parent who hired a couple of tutors when my kids were in high school, I would have been hesitant to use a tutor who had no experience as a teacher or a tutor. Knowledge of a subject does not necessarily translate into the ability to teach it.

I myself am not a good teacher, so I am very conscious of this issue.

If your wife does not have experience, then consider having her work for a service to get some before going out on her own.
She has also applied for a volunteer tutoring program with the local school district and nearby school.
Pranav

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djpeteski
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Re: How to Start Tutoring Service

Post by djpeteski » Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:35 am

It really depends on the income goal. If there is just a desire to earn some extra money, as a tutor, the using a service is a fine enough way to go about this.

However, if the goal is to earn as much as possible marketing in the modern world really needs to be studied and leveraged. Finding and keeping clients using twitter, facebook, instagram is important. Perhaps she is better at others in explaining certain complicated subjects. You Tube can be a very useful medium and really volumize her time.

It all depends on the goal.

student
Posts: 1325
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2015 6:58 am

Re: How to Start Tutoring Service

Post by student » Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:00 pm

Do you need the money or are you really interested in tutoring? Presumably those students who need a tutor are not very good, you will have to be patient. Can you imaging yourself teaching fractions or repeating the same concepts multiple ways, and the students still getting it?

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rocket354
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Re: How to Start Tutoring Service

Post by rocket354 » Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:13 pm

I had my own very successful private tutoring business for 8 years.

The tutor in the family sounds overqualified for elementary school kids. If s/he wants to go down that route out of personal preference, by all means, but it's a completely different skill set working with younger children. It's more about relating to them and presenting the information in a fun interactive way then it is in knowing anything specific. It also pays less. On the science side, I think the fat part of the demand curve is junior/senior level high school classes (chemistry/physics) and entry-level college classes (core requirements or people who thought they were going to be a chemistry major until halfway through their first semester and now just need to pass desperately before switching to psychology).

If the prospective tutor can help with math effectively, definitely look into that. There is absolutely never a shortage of demand for math tutors. Additionally, clients will stay with you longer. People can "get by" earth sciences or biology and maybe need some help with chemistry or physics, but a lot of people need/want help with math starting with algebra I, all the way through SAT/ACTs and graduation.

Your #1 advertising medium is word of mouth. You can start out advertising on Wyzant and/or Craigslist, etc, but most families will take the recommendations of their friends. Get a few clients, even if you have to start with lower rates ($30-40 a session) and once the referrals start rolling in then up the rates on the new clients. I tried to (almost) never raise rates on existing clients, but just on the new ones. I always felt bad essentially saying to someone "Thanks to all your referrals, I am now so busy that I'm raising your rates!!" I might as well throw in a sinister laugh and twirl my mustache at that point.

There will be turnover. As long as your business in growing overall, don't obsess over the few people who quit after a few sessions. The old adage "the best way to guarantee failure is to try to please everyone" holds very true. You can't be everything to everyone, so as you progress you will learn your strengths and weaknesses and should accept the market you appeal to, whether it's biology or math or chemistry, whether it's homework help or SAT prep, whether it's high school kids or elementary school kids.

Working as a volunteer tutor is great. It will help determine if you really want to do it. It will also give you an appreciation of how much better you are treated when someone is willing to pay money for your services (I learned that people don't appreciate what they don't pay for through my years as a volunteer tutor, as much as I loved my time doing it overall).

For location, I would always just say "whatever works best for you." As a result, 90% of my sessions were done in the clients' homes, and 10% in the local library.

Finally, just remember that tutoring is a service-industry job. As you move up the pay scale, you will be just one of a parade of servants coming through your wealthy clients' homes: the gardener, the pool guy, the music teacher, the college admissions consultant, the plumber, and then you're there for your hour as well. You will have to be deferential much of the time, and always on your clients' schedules: never cancel a session and almost never move a session, even if it's extraordinarily convenient for you. Never be late, but also, never be more than a couple minutes early, even if it means sitting in your car for a little while. "Yes" should be your most-oft used word and you should always be smiling, even if your favorite uncle just died. You exist to make their lives easier, and the more you can do that the more you will be liked, the more business you will get, and the higher rates you can charge. I maxed out at $100/hr in a MCOL area. In places like NYC or San Fran some of the best can get multiples of that.

Just be warned--the people who pay higher rates also have considerably higher expectations. There's nothing wrong with sticking it out at a certain level (say $50-60/hr) to lessen the demand and stress.

Good luck!

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