Nine Reasons Why Tutoring Packages Are Better than Hourly Tutoring

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The best professional tutors know how to value their services.  Just as important, they know how to present their tutoring services in ways that maximize their perceived value and help parents and students to understand the options available.  The key to achieving both these objectives is offering tutoring packages.  

At Clear Choice Test Prep, we specialize in providing 100% custom branded test prep tools for tutors. But that's only part of the role we play in the industry.  Over the past few years, it's become clear to us that many tutoring companies have developed organically without a formalized business plan or market research. 

As a result, many tutors have continued to offer the same tutoring services that they started out offering years ago.  Changes in the industry and developments in technology require that serious professional tutors take action.  A great first step is to consider shifting your pricing model to deliver tutoring packages rather than hourly tutoring.

Let's define those terms.  

Why Tutoring Companies Don't Offer Packages.

There are a number of reasons why tutoring companies -- especially newer firms and solo operations -- are reluctant to move away from the hourly tutoring model.  The first is the mistaken belief that providing hourly tutoring represents a value-add in terms of convenience for customers.  While this is not entirely untrue, the convenience of the hourly model is vastly over-estimated in light of the considerations we'll explore below.

The "convenience" of hourly tutoring can more aptly be described as "no commitment." And while that may have value to some parents who fear the prospect of hiring an ineffective tutor and getting stuck in a bad situation. In reality, this objection is easily answered if you're willing to demonstrate the value of your tutoring services during the initial consultation.

Furthermore, the supposed benefit of tutoring without a commitment is far outweighed by the inconvenience of constantly fluctuating schedules and the lack of clarity about the service being provided that inevitably comes with pay-as-you-go tutoring. Also, it's worth pointing out that how you value your own tutoring services will go a long way toward framing how your students and their parents experience that value. That, however, is a subject for another post. 

For today, let's examine Nine Reasons Why Tutoring Packages Are Better Than Hourly Tutoring.

1. Tutoring Packages Help You Simplify Your Sales Process.

Even with standardized test preparation, your tutoring should never be standardized.  You don't pay your tutors to simply read to students and turn pages on a timed cue.  That's not how effective tutoring works.  So let's dispel that myth before we move any further.  This post isn't about convincing you that you should simplify your tutoring services at the expense of students and score improvements.  Of course not. 

This first benefit has more to do with the actual sales process than with the tutoring itself.  By limiting the number of options you present to a parent, you can avoid what's known as analysis paralysis.

Parents have a lot to think about. And in most cases, they don't feel particularly well qualified to make determinations about what's best for their son or daughter when it comes to tutoring.  This is especially true when it comes to college admissions and SAT tutoring and ACT tutoring, subjects that have traditionally baffled even the most involved parents. 

In this case, providing parents with a simple list of options -- and a specific recommendation from among that list -- can help them overcome analysis paralysis and help you close the sale. 

2. Tutoring Packages Help Streamline Your Training Process.

You're probably tired of hearing tutors ask, "When should I administer a second full-length practice SAT test?" If you'd sold a specific package, then you'd already have that date on the calendar. That's a distinction with a meaningful difference. Scheduling practice tests before the first session causes students and parents to view them as fixed appointments rather than easily rescheduled events. This is just one way you can use tutoring packages to keep parents and students more engaged and committed to the course. 

Or maybe you get this one all the time: "Should I schedule the course to conclude two weeks before the test? One week before? The night before?" Here's the answer, by the way: Why Test Prep Tutors Should Taper Their Tutoring Before the Official Test Date.

The takeaway here is that tutors can more easily wrap their heads around standardized packages than they can around an amorphous test prep course. That's not to say that you should make everything super rigid, forcing every student to sit through the same course. Tutors should NEVER read scripts. That's certainly not best practice. But tutors will always feel more confident making meaningful deviations from the established course when they first understand the standardized course.    

3. Improve Your Tutoring Results.

We could spend an entire blog post on this point. In fact, we have -- a few times:

The simple fact is this: all else being equal, longer courses with more clearly defined parameters are more likely to produce greater score improvements than shorter courses that lack defined parameters. Thus, because offering tutoring packages rather than hourly tutoring tends to create longer courses, it stands to reason that offering tutoring packages correlates with greater score increases. 

4. Simplify Tutor Scheduling 

When you offer hourly, pay-as-you-go tutoring, parents and students expect to maintain near 100% scheduling flexibility. Often they expect that each week's session will conclude with a chat about the coming week's commitments and how to fit tutoring in among all those commitments. That's a mess you'd be wise to avoid. 

When you offer packages of tutoring, parents' expectations about scheduling sessions changes fundamentally. During the process of purchasing the package, parents then expect to be able to schedule the course from the outset. If they're buying all those hours, they want to make sure they're going to get all those hours.  That means scheduling them ahead of time.

This can be a tremendous benefit when you consider how chaotic it can be scheduling the next sessions on the way out the door. Even better, parents and students don't feel entitled to reschedule via text message at 10:00 PM the night before.  

5. Promote Student/Parent Accountability.

As we've discussed in the past, accountability is The Number One Predictor of Test Prep Score Improvement. Tutoring packages work in a variety of ways to promote accountability on the part of the student, tutor, and the parent. Take advantage of this tool for increasing the effectiveness of your tutoring!

6. Lower Student Attrition Rates.

When you sell a test prep or tutoring package (as opposed to hourly, pay-as-you-go tutoring), the impetus to complete the course shifts back from the tutor to the parent and the student. If I recommend 24-hours of tutoring, but sell it as an on-demand, pay-as-you-go service, I may find that my average student only gets through 20-hours of tutoring.

There are lots of reasons for this attrition, but it all comes down to the fact that "life gets in the way."

On the other hand, if you're selling tutoring or test prep packages, then you've already been paid for the 24-hours. In this scenario, the parents are much more motivated to make sure they're not delinquent in scheduling their tutoring sessions. They're less likely to cancel or postpone sessions because they've already paid for them. Furthermore, in the case of SAT and ACT test prep, there's an urgency to recoup all the sessions before the exam. 

And in the case when a student doesn't recoup all the sessions, they're likely to consider prepping a bit for the next test date. This opens the door for the sale of additional test prep tutoring. 


7. Increase Opportunities for Cross-Selling & Up-Selling 

Becuase tutoring packages tend to lengthen tutoring relationships, you'll have more working with each client. This enables you to identify other needs that you or your tutors can help service.  Selling additional services to clients who are already happy customers is always easier than sourcing new clients. The word for this is cross-selling. SAT and ACT tutoring are great cross-sell services because parents often contact tutoring companies and learning centers for help with a student's work in high school classes. Many students who come in for tutoring in biology, algebra, chemistry or other high school subject tutoring ultimately wind up purchasing test prep tutoring when the time comes to think about college admissions. This is a great example of cross-selling test prep tutoring to existing clients.

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For many, the idea of up-selling has a negative connotation. This is not entirely undeserved. The idea of upselling is often conflated with the action of selling customers goods or services that they won't benefit from purchasing.  

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There's nothing wrong with wanting to make each relationship with clients more profitable. That goal, however, should never take priority over making sure your students receive EXACTLY what will benefit them most. If you're guilting parents into buying more tutoring, then you're doing it wrong. If you're playing on fears of failure to sell a bigger package, then you should really knock that off. 
 
What we're talking about is something entirely different. If you offer a package of tutoring hours, you'll be able to schedule it to coincide with natural stopping points in the student's schedule. In the case of ACT or SAT tutoring, for example, tutors can choose to have the course end a week before the final exam. You can encourage students to review their notes and work through one or more full-length tests, one test section per day, over the remaining days until the exam. This philosophy is outlined in our recent post Maximize Test Scores By Tapering Your Tutoring
 
Be sure to provide your students with ample study resources to review independently. If you're concerned that you need additional test prep materials, be sure to look into Clear Choice Test Prep's 100% custom branded test prep system. In fact, if you sign up for a free software demo between now and the end of the year, you can get a FREE teacher edition of the workbook. 

8. Get Paid Sooner 

Offering tutoring packages enables you to charge for the package rather than charging in advance for hours of tutoring that you have yet to deliver. Whether you charge a deposit for the course or payment in advance, you'll get paid sooner. And, as a bonus, you won't have to worry about the hassle of following up with parents, providing an accounting of hours vs. payments, and coordinating collections. 

9. Help Parents Feel Better about Their Investment 

Test prep tutoring is an investment. Help the parents feel good about making that investment. Nobody likes to feel like they're being nickeled-and-dimed. What's worse than that? Well, cutting a check for $150.00 every single week feels a lot worse!

It should be your goal to minimize the number of times that parents have to take out their checkbooks. Selling hourly tutoring on a pay-as-you-go basis may sound preferable to parents. However, in reality, parents will have a more positive experience if you enable them to pay for the package as quickly and as painlessly as possible. That's why selling tutoring packages is so important. Doing so enables you to limit the number of times that parents have to pull off the band-aid. 

Schedule a Demo

Note: If you're concerned that your hourly rate would create an unreasonably high package price, then consider selling your tutoring as a package with two or three payments.  You can even offer a monthly payment option. But if you do, be sure that you're not asking for monthly checks or manually processed credit card charges. You'll want to set up a recurring charge, so the parents don't have to pull out that wallet each week.

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Matt McCorkle