Watch this short video below for a brief introduction outline of this guide...
Welcome. This Definitive Guide is a 'reference book' to help you work on your tutor business where and when needed.
You may find it most useful to read quickly through it today, to get an overall understanding, and in future to come back here to get specific help on the different component parts.
Rather than publish this in paper format in a book, which would necessarily have a cost attached, we have opted for this online version. This means it is available free of charge to you, and it also means that you can give feedback and input of ideas, so we can more rapidly edit and update it for everyone's benefit.
As with any subject, there is a 'Theory & Background' section, to help give a framework of understanding, and there are 'Practical' sections, for the specific tactics and strategies to apply to help grow your business in the right way.
We suggest at least skimming and scanning through the Theory section, to help structure the practical strategies, and to enable future growth.
Who Is This For?
This guide is for all private-hire tutors, with their own business, for novice tutors, existing tutors (with a moderate business) and experienced tutors.
This guide is for tutors teaching any subject, to any age range, whether 1-to-1 or in groups.
Because of this broad range, the person being taught and the person paying for lessons may or may not be the same person. This means that for different tutors, the person paying may be referred to as the 'parent', 'client', 'customer' or 'student'. Here, we will differentiate the person paying as the 'parent' or 'customer'.
Similarly, the terminology that different tutors use for the person they teach may vary. So we will interchangeably use the word 'pupil' and 'student' to mean the person being taught.
This guide will show how to get more pupils, how to keep them and how to increase profits.
About The Authors
Duncan Ritson-Elliott: Full time internet marketing expert and advisor for 15 years, both within his own insurance business and an online marketing agency.
From hands-on experience in the 'trenches' of running web businesses, Duncan knows all you need to know to grow your tutor business successfully online.
Esther Ritson-Elliott: 25 year veteran of international consumer marketing, International Marketing Director, formerly at Saatchi & Saatchi advertising agency.
Esther has extensive experience internationally managing marketing and promotion campaigns, and has vital input to help you grow your tutor business.
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Theory & Background Part 1 - Introduction
With the UK tutor business being worth an estimated £6 billion (according to EdPlace), students and parents clearly know the need and value of having a private tutor.
This means you are in a potentially profitable and rewarding occupation.
It may also mean you will face heavy competition, so it makes sense to work smart to grow your tutor business.
Growing your business - and doing it the smart way - means using as much intelligent 'Marketing' as possible.
To some people, 'marketing' means having to cold-heartedly sell-sell-sell. To others it means having a logo.
They're both wrong!
The purpose of marketing is to make selling unnecessary
With great marketing, that is well thought out and integrated across the whole customer experience, business growth becomes easier and more effective.
Recall the last thing you bought, where it was the first time you'd bought it (ie not a regular purchase), where you enjoyed the process, and didn't feel like it was a hard decision.
That was good marketing by that company.
Many Apple iPhone fans feel that way. That is because Apple have some of the best marketing in the world (Apple's marketing is worth studying).
So what are your options? It would be fair to assume that as a private tutor you don't have Apple's marketing budget. So how can you do it more cost-effectively?
Below are some marketing concepts that are separate but overlap. These can be stitched into the framework which comes after.
This metric is important when analysing the future strength of your business, and making marketing decisions.
It reflects the income your business made from an average customer across the time period that they remained a paying customer.
It can be measured as gross profit (total money paid by a customer in the whole time period they are a paying customer) or net profit (gross profit minus costs to acquire that customer, to get them to become a customer ie advertising etc).
To get this gross CLV figure, add up the total payments from all customers and divide by the number of customers to get the average figure. If possible, if you can ignore all current paying customers, you will get a more accurate figure, because you do not yet know how many more payments current customers will make in the future.
For the net CLV, add up the total payments from all (discontinued) customers, minus all marketing costs (advertising, printing etc), and then divide this figure by the number of customers.
Gross customer lifetime value is a useful number to know because it tells you the maximum that you can spend on getting a new customer.
An excellent book worth reading is "Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success" (available on Amazon here). It is all about how their success is based on simplicity. Not on technological gismos. It's about making it very simple for their customers, and how it isn't necessarily easy to keep it simple, but absolutely vital.
This 'make it simple for customers' approach works.
Value is added when hassle, stress and frustration is removed
Most valuable products and companies apply this rule...
Consider the ice-cream vendors on the beach. The ice-creams are usually more expensive than in the supermarket, but people buy them anyway, because it saves them the hassle of walking to the supermarket in the nearest town.
Think of why you use any product.
Most products and services save customers time, effort and/or money. The best companies focus on simplicity-of-use and hassle-reduction.
So how can you make your tutor service easier and simpler for your students and parents?
In everything you do within your business, ask yourself "is this as easy as it could be for my customer?"
If it is easy and simple, more will buy and more will continue to buy.
You are their fiduciary, their trusted advisor
You are the trusted adviser to your students and parents, in your field of expertise. You want to be seen as the expert, with their best interests at heart.
Jay Abraham (world-renowned business advisor) talks about you being their "fiduciary"
Fiduciary: "involving trust, especially with regard to the relationship between a trustee and a beneficiary."
More on this "Strategy of Pre-eminence" here.
Think of this as old-school local business methodology. You are their local friend. No funny business. No shenanigans. If some other business can serve them with a certain skill or service, you tell them.
Equally, if you know what you offer is exactly what they need, it would be failing in your duty of fiduciary care if you didn't fully help them to purchase all they need of your services.
You help them fully within your business where you can. You help them elsewhere where you can.
For example, we consider it our fiduciary care to help tutor readers here to better their business in every way possible. Within this Definitive Guide To Growing Your Tutor Business, we are pointing you to many resources and ideas, not just towards using our TutorPay and TutorTube service.
Yes, you would be well advised to consider how TutorTube and TutorPay will help you receive automatic lesson payments and simplify your lesson admin, and also simplify the parents' own experience of paying you, and learning online.
And also, yes, right here, we will be pointing you to many other helpful resources, companies, concepts and strategies to help you grow your business.
It's about offering what's in the best interests of the customer, not the business.
Because ultimately, this is what builds trust and loyalty, which is good for long-term business.
Another marketing concept worth thinking about is Darwinian Marketing - or simply the idea that marketing evolves over time. The tactics and operations do not remain the same.
"Evolve or die"
For instance, 10 years ago, not having a website was acceptable. Now it is not only a loss of business and respect, but it is pointless; it is so easy to have your website, whether you make it, or someone else builds it for you. In the Online Marketing section, we will outline exactly how.
Right now, today, we live in both a digital world and a real, physical world. The online world is now a big part of our lives, and is a big part of your students' and parents' lives. So you need to be there.
Your students and parents are also (obviously) in the real, physical world. So you need to be there too.
This is why we will break this Definitive Guide down into Online marketing and Offline marketing.
If a potential customer has seen your business card, when they go to your website you want them to think "yes this is the same company, I'm in the right place".
With your offline and online marketing, across all the methods, business cards, website, brochures etc, you need brand continuity.
You should have a matching brand, layout and colour scheme throughout - the same logo, the same background colour, the same text font, the same text sizing, the same layout of where the logo sits etc.
Stories are the universal language of the human species. Across millennia, stories have been passed on. People forget details, but remember stories. Stories get retold.
Tell stories within all messages.
If you can add a human element to the story, so much the better. People remember people.
For example, see how we blended a human story into our 'About' page, while showing the reader how the service will help them.
Create helpful content. This is part of the story. For example, this Definitive Guide is designed to do 2 things;
So create helpful content that tells stories and guides their education to help them and to show how you can help them more.
At the end of your helpful content, have a call to action. For example, at the end of a web page, place an optin box to encourage readers to give their email address to get more information and to be kept up to date.
Theory & Background Part II - The Framework
There only 3 ways to grow any business...
1. Increase the number of clients / pupils
2. Increase the average transaction value
3. Increase the frequency of repurchase
Because of the power of exponentials, a 33% increase in each will not mean a 33% growth in your business; it would mean a 235% increase in your business (for example if profit was £100; 100 x 1.33 x 1.33 x 1.33 = £235). So it is worth considering each and all of them. Similarly, it is worth returning to this guide in the future, to optimise the other elements within your business.
In this guide, we will look at each in turn. First, the brief overview;
Increasing the number of clients / pupils. Note that this element of 'client base increase' includes lead generation, conversion from enquiry to sale, and retention (keeping them as a paying client). Below you will find many strategies outlined to help you achieve getting more paying students/pupils. These are what might commonly be called 'marketing strategies', from advertising, to using a referral system. In this Definitive Guide you will also find conversion strategies as well as retention strategies. See the index tables for a quick overview.
Increasing the average transaction value. This means raising the amount of money taken per payment. You might increase your prices, up-sell and cross-sell other items, package complementary services together, offer greater units of purchase (ie sell more lessons and services in one package), and change the profile of your service to be more 'up market'. Could you improve your skills and qualifications?
Increasing the frequency of repurchase. How soon could you have your customers buy again from you, repeatedly? You might incentivise repeat, regular purchase. For instance, TutorPay will enable you to facilitate this more easily (regular, automated, repeat payments based on calendar-scheduled lessons). You might run extra 'club' sessions, for existing customers only. You might develop an online course as an add-on, or 'back-end' sale to your lessons. TutorTube enables this as a members-only online learning course. You may want to follow all the 'Retention' strategies, to maintain your relationship with your pupils and parents. With a solid relationship, you may be able to up-sell to a more frequent lesson schedule plus add-on services.
This Definitive Guide is structured using this same framework. The Guide sections are;
Now let's look closer at the details of each element to grow your tutor business.
Increase The Number Of Pupils
The following formula will help you to identify how to increase the number of students within your tutor business;
Traffic + Conversion + Retention = Pupil Growth
Some quick definitions for clarity;
"Traffic": Visitors, potential customers, leads, who first see your offering, whether that is talking to you, seeing your website or whatever marketing you have in place. A bit like a person walking through a shop door for the first time.
"Conversion": The process by which you take these fresh 'visitors' and turn them into paying customers - into paying students (or parents).
"Retention": The processes you apply to help keep them as paying customers for as long as possible.
So in order to increase your pupil numbers, you need to;
These 3 steps may seem obvious, but when you break it down into these parts, each has specific methods and tactics, so you can work on specific actions to improve targeted aspects of your business.
So you can break down the work you need to do to get more paying clients into...
Feedback & Add-Back
Now that you have read this Theory & Background section, add a comment with your feedback to answer these 3 questions...
The remainder of this Definitive Guide to Growing Your Tutor Business is the practical action-steps and is in sections according to the framework outlined above, for easier reference.
Get The Extras:
We've had to strike a balance between making this Definitive Guide as useful and actionable as possible - and it not being absolutely huge to the extent that it is a long-slog to read through it all.
So we have had to make editing decisions here, to include enough for you to get started on any one of these marketing strategies, and then included how and where to get more advanced and detailed help.
You do not have to use each and every one of the methods and strategies outlined in this Definitive Guide.
We would suggest that you skim, scan and scroll down through the rest of this Definitive Guide to Growing Your Tutor Business, and make a few quick notes of the ones you want to take action on. Some will take a few short minutes and then they're done, and don't need to be repeated (like submitting to tutor directories) and some take repeated work ongoing (like SEO and Facebook marketing).
So it is recommended to do 2 things;
You don't have to do them all at once.
The rest of this Definitive Guide is as follows;