A+ Resources For Tutors
In the following series, Philip White, a Maths tutor for over 15 years, offers tips on how to start and run a successful private tutoring practice.
3  Promoting Your Services
|3.8||Local Shop Windows|
3. PROMOTING YOUR SERVICES
The key to getting yourself known quickly is to ensure that you have a number of possible sources of pupils. Do not rely on just one.
Advertising, at least initially, is likely to be your most successful method of recruiting pupils.Referrals from satisfied pupils should be your next best source. However, do not overlook other methods of getting yourself known, most of which I have listed below.
There is an old clich� in advertising that the best form of advertising is a satisfied customer. It is certainly true in the case of private tuition. If you are a good tutor, who offers a beneficial service, you will find that referrals come easily.
This is particularly true if you tutor in one of the more popular subjects, such as maths, where many pupils experience difficulties.
3.3 Tuition Agencies
There are a number of tuition agencies, both national and local. I have experience of the national ones such as County Tutors and Personal Tutors, both of whom advertise in local newspapers and in the Times Educational Supplement.They are a useful way of picking up a few new pupils, but do not rely solely on them if you are looking to recruit a number of pupils.
However, they are worth joining because they can help you to market your own services, even if you do not obtain any pupils whatsoever from them. This is because they do check the tutoring credentials of prospective tutors before they are accepted. Parents who contact them requiring tuition are reassured that only those people who are well qualified are accepted as tutors.
By including the fact that you are registered with leading national agencies on your Tuition Profile, you will be lending further authority to your image.
3.4 Professional Associations
You could also subscribe to The Association of Tutors. Details of your membership would also look good on your Tuition Profile.
I believe that testimonials are one of the best ways of marketing your services.
If you are a good tutor, you will find that from time to time you will receive a letter of thanks from a former pupil. Apart from the personal satisfaction you will feel, it is also a superb way of recruiting new pupils. Do not hesitate to include any positive comments you receive as part of your Tuition Profile. If you are quoting more than a couple of sentences, however, obtain the permission of your pupil first.
If prospective pupils, and their parents, can see that other pupils have been delighted with your services, they will be very pleased to have found someone of such quality.
The cost of your tuition will not be the overriding factor determining your success. The quality of your service, and your reputation, are the key factors.
Libraries are a free source of advertising.
Your local library will probably not display your Tuition Profile or business card within the library, but should retain it on file in case of enquiries.Take advantage of all free sources of advertising.
Similarly, it is worth writing to your local education authority, enclosing a copy of your Tuition Profile.
They often receive enquiries from parents looking for suitable local private tutors, and should be happy to pass on your details.
3.8 Local Shop Windows
This is another free source of publicity which could be useful to you.
However, if you do decide to advertise in your local shop windows, it is important that you present a professional image. Do not insert a hastily scrawled piece of paper. Business cards, if you have them, are ideal.
Bear in mind that you will be unlikely to recruit more than a couple of pupils as a result of shop window advertising, but used effectively with other forms of promotion it should prove to be fruitful.
I have always made a habit of keeping an eye on the competition.
I read all of the local tuition adverts each week, as well as the evening ads in the Leicester Mercury. I am always on the look out for anything which might be interesting or different.
Do not forget that you never stop learning. It may be that you could improve your service significantly by imitating a competitor, or by adapting an idea you have spotted in an advertisement to your own service.If you do not keep your eyes and ears open, you could be missing out on a highly profitable new dimension to your business.
Any business worth its salt should always adopt the following philosophy.
"The best source of market research is to ask the customer what they want, and how much they are prepared to pay for it."
In other words, if you adopt the right approach, you will learn more from your pupils than you will from any other source. After all, they are the ones who are on the receiving end of your service, and whose needs you are supposed to be satisfying.
You can guess what they think about your service, and what they want from a private tutor, but there is no substitute for actually finding out.
Do not be afraid to ask.
When each of my pupils has their final lesson with me, I always give them a questionnaire to complete, which I ask to be returned in the stamp addressed envelope I give to each pupil. Not everyone will return your questionnaire. A few will pocket the free stamp. However, most of your pupils will oblige.
For the price of a second class stamp, I have found each questionnaire to be a very good investment. If you have a PC and printer, you will be able to produce a good questionnaire quite easily.
The first section consists of questions concerning school lessons. The second section is designed to ascertain my pupils views on my tutorial services.
If you adopt this idea, you will find that it is an excellent way of determining what your pupils (and their parents) think you should charge, how they feel your service could be improved, and whether they feel that they benefited from your tuition.
An additional benefit is that you will be able to use some of the results (if they are good) as part of your Tuition Profile.
3.11 Private Education
There is no doubt that you will carry even greater authority in the eyes of your prospective pupils if you have had formal teaching experience, particularly in a private school.
I used my initial success as a private tutor to obtain a part-time teaching job at a local private school.
Although academic standards are often less than ideal in private education, independent schools do seem to have entered the mythology of British education. Many parents seem to be in awe of private education.
If you include private school teaching experience on your Tuition Profile, you will find it even easier to attract pupils.
3.12 Correspondence Schools
Similarly, you could try and obtain a job with a distance learning college.
Do not be put off applying because you have read that it is difficult to gain part-time employment with correspondence colleges. If you write to several, on your best business stationery, you may obtain a suitable position as easily as I did. Enclose a copy of your Tuition Profile.
The work should not prove to be too taxing. During an entire academic year, I was only required to mark about twenty scripts. I did not do it for the money (which was poor), but because I knew that such experience would further enhance my public image.