How you manage your tutor schedules can make a significant impact on your business. There are three primary options to consider:

  1. Customer self-scheduling (including online booking)
  2. Tutor-driven scheduling
  3. Administrative scheduling.

In this first of three blog posts, we will consider option #1, customer (i.e. parent) self-scheduling and online booking.

Option 1: The customer sets the schedule

Model: Tutor Broker

When talking to education services companies looking for comprehensive data management solutions, it is not uncommon for them to ask about customers/parents managing their own schedules via a self-serve scheduling software.  At first glance, this seems like a good idea.  Wouldn’t it be great to allow customers to log in and select a tutoring time that works for them?

The short answer is no, as there are several issues with this “feature”.

  1. First, it doesn’t allow the administrator or instructor to act as a problem solver.What if the student has an important upcoming test?  An admin or instructor could take the information into account and either rearrange a schedule or seek out another tutor who is able to work with the student.Additionally, by allowing customers to self-cancel appointments, the admin or instructor doesn’t have the opportunity to find out why the customer wants to cancel.  Often times a parent who is attempting to cancel a student’s session can be directed to rescheduling the session at another time.   What about parents who are canceling because of a bad experience with a previous tutoring session? You cannot address concerns you don’t know about.This very situation came up in my tutoring center: after finding out about a parent’s concern for her child’s lack of grade improvement, we were able to explain why the results were not showing up yet and demonstrate how we were seeing very positive changes in the sessions we were having.  This client ended up expanding her enrollment to twice a week sessions.

    Rather than losing a customer who might share her negative experience, we ended up exceeding the parent’s expectations by the end of the semester and doubled the revenue we received.  That’s a better outcome for everyone.

  2. Second, it requires a parent to do the work.Self-scheduling is fine for haircuts.  However, weekly tutoring sessions are often more time-sensitive.  A haircut can wait.  Tutoring often can’t wait.  A test on Tuesday requires a tutoring session before the test!Customer self-scheduling requires the parent to log in to a booking system, check the tutor’s availability, request, and wait for confirmation.  If the tutor is not available, the customer has to look up other potential tutors and hope that for a good match.Compare that process to calling or emailing a request to a tutor or administrator.  The tutor or administrator provides a valuable service of finding a solution that works for the student.  That’s why these self-service marketplace platforms charge less than services that add value by managing the schedule for the customer.

Conclusions, Part 1

Even thought it can be tempting, tutoring business self-scheduling is not a customer benefit and should only be offered by marketplace solutions with tens of thousands of tutors.