The Definitive Guide To Growing Your Tutor Business - Retention Methods

Retention Feedback & Add-Back

After you have read this, at the bottom, add a comment with your feedback to answer these 3 questions...

  1. What was most useful?
  2. What has proved to be the most successful method within your own business? 
  3. What more do you want to know about?


Index Of Retention Methods

​Below is the table of contents - the index - of all the different retention strategies you might like to consider.

This table is interactive.  You can click any of the marketing methods to view that section.

It is also a powerful business reference tool.

Consider your business.  Where are you lacking? 

If you find that your paying students are not staying as paying customers for long, then you need to action as many of the "Retention" marketing strategies as possible.




Loyalty Program

​You've seen it before.  The Costa Coffee loyalty card where you get your card stamped for every coffee you buy, then you get your 10th free (or whatever their current number is).

Most loyalty cards work on the same principle. Buy some of our product and get the Xth one free.

They work.

Interesting Aside:  Recent studies have shown that loyalty is increased when some of the marks on a loyalty card are pre-stamped.  In these studies, a 12-mark card with 2 marks pre-stamped (ie 10 empty marks) was more effective at bringing people back to the store than a standard loyalty card with 10 empty marks.

Discount is good. Added value is better.

Beware of training your customers to the discounted price.

Any competitor can compete with discount. Adding value that is unique is hard to copy.

So for a tutor business, a loyalty system might be such that twice a term you hold a special "loyal customers-only" day class where any and all students can come for extra tuition. Or whatever might work for your business.

Don't be afraid to test new ideas.

The obvious choice is to encourage pre-paying or signing up to a regular payment system like the TutorPay recurring billing system.

It helps the parents to pay because it is easier, and it helps you as the tutor because you get paid automatically. But it might be a good move to reward your customers doing what you want them to do.

Encourage them to pay you automatically.

Could you offer 1 free lesson per term? Or a "catch-up class" once a month? Or what else could you offer as a value-add? A day out?


Feedback & Improvement

Using feedback and improvement serves 2 crucial purposes...

  1. It helps your business improve, and
  2. It encourages customers (students & parents) to feel included and therefore important.

By getting feedback, you can find out where the niggles and annoyances are with your students and parents; where you could improve.

Encourage feedback. Act on the frequent suggestions. Very often as business owners we can't think of everything.  But with more and more people, and more and more feedback, we can cover everything that is important.

Imagine you gave some feedback to a business or person, and they thought your idea was clever enough to enact.

How many people would you tell? You would probably be telling everyone you possibly could, subtly implying how clever you are that they took your advice. Your students and parents are just the same.

So ask for feedback.

You can use online tools like Survey Monkey. Or simply email your customers and ask them to reply with their feedback.

Using a questionnaire or survey has the advantage that you can more easily compare all the answers, but can put people off. Some people just hate answering surveys. You might have to ethically bribe them to give feedback.

"Give your feedback and enter your chance to win X"

Either way, make sure the method you use is enticing and intriguing. The wording of your email asking for feedback can do this. Such as...

"Should we have longer lessons or smaller classes? The latest results will be revealed to you after you complete your feedback".


Set Customer Expectations

The quickest way to disappoint is to over-promise

Duncan Ritson-Elliott TutorTube CEO

 It is always best to under-promise and over-deliver.

Sure, we all have the natural tendency to 'puffery'.  To 'big something up' a bit.  But tread carefully.

If your students and parents expect too much, they will be disappointed.  And then leave.  And probably bad-mouth you to their friends and family.

And that can go a long way, across Facebook.

So focus on managing expectation. What should they realistically expect in the next few weeks and months? Keep close communication with students and parents.


Build Trust Through Relationships

This should most likely happen automatically over time. You should work towards better and better relationships with your students and parents.

Try to help the students to want to come to lesson.

With the parents, make sure they see the ongoing benefit of your work. Reinforce the progress you are making. Be their friend. Have as many conversations as you can, so they feel they know, like and trust you.

The more they feel you are their trusted friend, and have their best interests at heart, the more likely they are to continue with you.


Implement Anticipatory Service

Rather than the old-school process of having a 'customer care' system for problems to be reported, anticipate them in advance and communicate any expected problems.

If you expect some issues and problems, give your students and parents the heads-up. Tell them before any problem happens.

If the student is struggling in a certain area, tell the parent.

If you have a pending health problem or operation, or are going to be off work for any reason, tell your students and parents as early as possible. Help them to make plans for this.

If your premises have to change, give as much notice as possible.

This all ties in with managing expectation.

Specifically, it is about managing bad news before it happens, rather than waiting for complaints before you act.

Similarly, ask them if there are any problems. Is there anything more you can do?


Reinforce The Sale With Social Proof

Buyer's remorse is a powerful negative force on sales. People buy, then instantly regret it.

Studies show that simply stating "Congratulations, you've made a wise decision" can reduce refunds and cancellations.

The same goes for longer term recurring payments like tutoring.

Make them feel like they have made a wise decision, and continue to make a wise decision in buying your tutoring services.

In addition to simply stating "You've made a wise decision", how else can you reinforce the (continued) sale?

Who would you listen to, more than the seller?

Other buyers.

That is called 'social proof' - getting proof of the correct behaviours from social cues. So harvest testimonials from current and past students and parents, and drip feed them to your other students and parents, by email, online video, anywhere you can.

A great place to put testimonials is on the order/registration page on your website, and also, on the "Thank you for ordering" page. See the section above about getting testimonials, especially video testimonials.


Reduce Pain-Points & Friction

The points in your sales process at which a customer feels pain or is annoyed with your buying process or the process of consuming your offering, are known as pain-points. Points of confusion or lack of clarity, or ambiguity, that will slow the customer down, are known as friction points.

You want as few points of pain and friction as possible.

Some will be obvious to you, if you simply imagine 'what if I were the customer here?'

Sometimes it is less obvious, but asking for customer feedback will surface the problem.

Sometimes the pain or friction isn't quite conscious for the customer, but it is affecting sales (or retention). This is when good analytics can come to the rescue. See the section on Google Analytics to learn how to use your website visitor tracking stats to see where any problems may lie.

Usually, once you know what the problem is, the solution is intuitively obvious. If you're not sure, split test using Google Analytics.

Keep asking yourself "How could I make this process easier and more pleasant for the customer?"


Use Reciprocity

​Robert Cialdini's seminal book "Influence: The Psychology Of Persuasion" outlines the power of six principles that you would do well to understand. They are nicely summarised here.

Robert CialdiniProfessor of Psychology

The rule [of reciprocity] says that we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us.  By virtue of the reciprocity rule, then, we are obligated to the future repayment of favors, gifts, invitations, and the like

When someone gives us something, society has us ingrained to feel obliged or to feel indebted, to want to return the favour.

Interestingly, scientific experiments show that people return a bigger favour than was originally given them, in order to make sure they fully 'pay off' the indebtedness.

This is why free samples work. Because people feel they have been given something for free, and feel the need to pay off the obligation, by purchasing the product.

You can use reciprocity within your tutor business in any number of ways.

You could give something free each month, preferably with your tutor business branding on.   A free pen one month.   A free compass, or protractor, notepad or music stand or whatever is appropriate for your tutor subject.  

Anything you can give your students or parents will invoke some element of reciprocity.

Giving a discount is still giving. So it still invokes reciprocity.


Build Community

If customers feel part of a larger group, they feel more loyalty, and are more inclined to stay as paying customers for longer (source).

Create a community, a 'tribe' that has you as its leader, and a means to communicate.

Seth Godin Yahoo Founder, Author

A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.

This concept of a 'tribe' is very deliberately built into TutorTube, both a tribe of tutors, and a tribe of each tutor's students and parents.  TutorTube is built to facilitate this.

Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work.

Seth Godin Yahoo Founder, Author

Be that leader.

Your customers - your students and parents - will bond and follow you.  And stay.


They have their shared interest, in the subject(s) you teach, and in you.  You need to give them the means to communicate, with you and each other.

There are many ways.  Digital is best.  Your own online forum is the most obvious.  You can set this up quickly and easily within your TutorTube account, for free.  You can also use Facebook Groups.


Publicise Their Self-Identity

We humans love a shortcut. The quick easy way to X.

The same goes for how our minds work.  We make mental leaps of faith.  Or we are 'energy efficient' with our brains.​

And the fact that we don't (usually) question and re-question our decisions means we have to keep making the decision over and over.  Once we have made a commitment, we accept that decision as the shortcut.  We don't have to think hard about it anymore.

Also, good personal consistency is valued in our society.  We like people who do what they say they will.  So we stay consistent to commitments and decisions we have already made.

And we stay extra-consistent if we 'go public' with the commitment.  When the rest of the community or country knows about your decision, you feel more committed than ever.

Robert CialdiniProfessor of Psychology

There are certain conditions that should be present for a commitment to be effective in this way: they should be active, public, effortful and freely chosen.

Once your students and parents feel committed to the decision they made to use you as their tutor, they are far more likely to stick with that decision.​

So how can you encourage students and parents to go public with their commitment / decision to use you as their tutor?

It doesn't have to be a statement as obvious as "I decided to use tutor X".​  The simple appearance in any publicly visible place is enough.

A large sticker on the outside of their bag (of paperwork or equipment) will display their commitment to the world.  And to themselves.

If your students all wear your tutor business T-shirts and appear in the local paper, helping out at a local event, this is a public display of that commitment.

Anything or any event or place where your students can be seen wearing their tutor T-shirts, or anything identifying that they are students of yours, will serve this purpose.

The same goes for the parents.  Could you have car window stickers made up?

On a smaller scale, ask them to include in their email a signature text as a P.S. announcing that they use your tutor services.​

Give each parent and student 5 or 10 brochures or fliers.  Ask them to give them to anyone who they happen to talk to about their tutor.  They will inevitably have conversations with other parents about the tutor they are using.  If they can give out a brochure/flier, it serves 2 purposes - to encourage new sales, and for the parent to make a more 'public' statement of commitment to you.​

Sales retention - continued use of your tutor services - will increase because of all of this.


Feedback & Add-Back

Now that you have read this, add a comment with your feedback to answer these 3 questions...

  1. What was most useful?
  2. What has proved to be the most successful method within your own business? 
  3. What more do you want to know about?


The rest of this Definitive Guide is as follows;

Definitive Guide Introduction & Marketing Th​eory <<

  1. Increase your student base:  To read the detailed methods for getting new potential students, converting them to paying customers, and keeping them...​
    - Click here to read the Online methods <<
    - Click here to read the Offline methods <<
    - Click here to read the pure Retention methods <<
  2. Increase your average transaction value
    - Click here for details <<  NEXT
  3. Increase the frequency of repeat purchases
    - Click here for details <<