Starting a tuition business is a great way for teachers to earn a large second income. I speak as someone who taught full-time and did 40 hours of tuition a week. It is rewarding work on a personal as well as financial level. You build up a relationship with each student as you help them to grasp difficult concepts.
Starting a Tuition Business – Pros and Cons
- Pay is good
- You can work evenings and weekends
- You can run it alongside a teaching job
- Emotionally rewarding
- Expenses are low
- It is tiring work
- You can have weeks with zero free time
- It is seasonal with very little work away from exam times
- If you travel it is a lot of extra driving
Where to Start
Research the Competition
You need to know who your competing tutors are and how much they charge.You will find your competition by searching classified ads in local papers and by doing a search for eg History tuition + Your Town. Ring the phone numbers and ask as a potential client how much they charge.
Some of the ads you find will be from agencies. If you work for an agency the agency takes a large cut and you earn less money. It is worth signing up to the best local agency in the off-season, when your diary is empty. When your diary fills up with your own clients then you can try to coax the agency clients into paying you directly. This is against every agency’s terms and some clients will report you to the agency, which will then terminate your contract.
Agencies are parasites, sucking away the money that you earn. Sign up for one when you are starting a tuition business, but move to your own clients as soon as you can. No good, experienced tutors work for agencies.
Finding your first 10 clients is the hardest part, which is why you should consider agency tuition when you start. You can run ads in your local free newspaper for a very low cost. To keep the cost down try putting them in for alternate weeks, Many people keep newspapers around the house for a few weeks and they will check old issues as well as the current one when they are looking for a tutor.
Print up business cards and give a few to your clients to help your word-of-mouth marketing along.
Your Place or Theirs?
This is the biggest decision you will have to make. If you use your own home you need a room, preferably downstairs that you can set up as a dedicated office to work in. If you travel to your clients you put extra miles on your car and lose time between clients. There are advantages to each and anyone who is starting a tuition business needs to decide which one suits them better. You cannot really mix the two models.
Most clients prefer tutors to visit them. The exception is music teaching, where instruments are bulky and parents expect this to take place in your studio.
How Much to Charge
Never compete on price. If you are good then people will pay a premium rate. You need to value yourself as highly as you want other people to value your help. There are very few good tutors in any one area, you will be the best; people expect to pay more for quality.
As a rule find out how much the agencies charge parents and add 20%. People will happily pay that for a superior tutor. You will have to pay tax remember, so you will lose half what you earn to the tax man.