Online Tutoring – Is it right for my tutoring business?
Online Tutoring – Is it right for my business?
Although online tutoring has been around almost as long as the Internet itself, it is only in the last five to ten years that it has started to steal a significant share of the multi-billion dollar global tutoring industry. There is a wide range of online tutoring services being offered, from an informal Skype session between tutor and student, to the big tutoring websites such as TutorVista. And for tutors or tutoring businesses considering dipping a toe into this market, there is a wide range of supporting services to help them get into this market.
But before you jump into the online tutoring business, there are a few things to consider before deciding if this format is right for your company. Here are a few considerations for you to ponder…
Why do you want to offer online tutoring? Do you have clear objectives for venturing into this field, or do you just think it’s a cool new opportunity that will be easy to set up? If you want to expand your business beyond your local market, and you have a good plan that demonstrates how you will accomplish this, then you are probably doing it for the right reasons.
How will this fit into your existing business? If you have an existing business, you should have a clear understanding of how online tutoring will integrate into it. Will online tutoring become an adjunct service offered to your existing students, for instance when it is not convenient for them to come to your location or vice versa? Or will you set up a new division offering online tutoring to new markets?
Do your customers really want this service? If you are planning to offer this service to your existing students, you should do an informal poll to determine if there is really a demand for this. You may find that your customers prefer face-to-face tutoring, because it allows for more focus and better communication.
How much will it cost to set up? There are a number of methods to facilitate online tutoring, from informal Skype sessions, to websites that host tutoring sessions with interactive whiteboards, scheduling systems and other useful services. Or you can set up your own tutoring website, for a more professional look and feel. Regardless of how you want to set it up, you should clearly identify all of the set-up and ongoing costs before you jump into this market.
How will you market this? It is one thing to set up an online tutoring service, while is another thing entirely to drive paying customers to your new website. You should include in your business plan exactly how you plan to do this and how much it will cost. This may include such activities as a multi-tiered social media campaign, pay per click advertising, word of mouth advertising or more conventional methods.
Can you compete? There are a lot of online tutoring companies out there competing for the same students. Do you have a specific skill set or strategy to allow you to compete effectively? If not, you may find it difficult to attract a significant number of new students.
Is this profitable? You will likely find that customers are unwilling to pay the same hourly rate for online tutoring than they do for face-to-face tutoring. Right or wrong, there is a higher perceived value in face-to-face versus online tutoring, and this will definitely affect your bottom line. For instance if you currently pay your tutors $20 per hour and charge your customers $60 per hour, then consider how your profit will be affected if you can only charge $30 per hour, but must still pay your tutors at the same rate.
What about quality control? Your hired tutors will be working more autonomously online than when they are working in your tutoring centre where they can be observed and coached when necessary. Are you okay with this, or do you need to put certain processes and procedures in place to ensure that the quality and integrity of the tutoring sessions is maintained?
For more information about starting a tutoring business consult: