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If you are looking to start/grow a tutoring agency, or you are a tutor considering working with an agency, then this is the blog post for you.
At TutorCruncher, we have a flexible and powerful tool that works for all kinds of models of company. Howver, the core of our client base is made up of tutoring agencies. TutorCruncher is highly specialised to make starting, running, and growing a tutoring agency a straightforward, hassle free process. The whole point of a tutoring agency is that you look to expand your tutoring business; TutorCruncher gives you the tools to scale up your operations. In this blog, we look to outline scalable workflows of this model that make it an effective and desirable approach from both the agency's and the tutor's perspectives.
The Agency Perspective
Running a tutoring agency is one of the most effective ways to scale up your tutoring operations. You might start out tutoring yourself, eventually reaching the stage where the demand for your services is too high for you to manage on your own. For that reason, you might start to recruit other tutors to work with your clients to meet the demand. However, as they are your clients, it is only fair that the newly recruited tutor gives you a cut of the client fee. Thus, the tutoring agency is born!
As an agency owner, you might still do some tutoring with some of your clients. However, your primary focus is then going to be on expanding your client and tutor networks so that you can grow your company. In this way, you offer interested clients a wide range of tutors and availability which is suited to them, thus making finding the right match a much more sophisticated and targeted process. The more tutors you have, the more likely you are to be suitable to your prospective clients' needs.
Once the tutor has been matched with the client, the tutoring takes place. At this stage, the agency model throws up a couple of interlinked challenges:
How do I effectively mediate between the client and tutor
How do I process my client and tutor payments
How do I stop the tutor and client cutting out the agency entirely
Without the technology, getting around these challenges can be cumbersome and ineffective. Interactions with client and tutor would be manual, time-consuming, and frankly contradicts the point of scalability with a tutoring agency. Additionally, your best option would seem to be to ask your tutors to collect the total fee from your clients and then ask the tutors to pay you your cut as an agency. This does not make for good client relations (limited payment options, awkward situations of tutors asking for money) and runs the risk of 3) coming to pass.
At TutorCruncher, we were acutely aware of this and so designed a system that changes this workflow to make addressing these challenges a breeze.
This workflow gives your tutors and clients a positive payment experience and optimises your accounting processes. TutorCruncher offers other tools to allow you to communicate effectively between these users. You can have lesson reminders go out to your clients and tutors, you can have your tutors write lesson reports which are emailed out to your clients, as well as send them tailored marketing mailshots from your own email domain. Furthermore, TutorCruncher makes the process of matching your users straightforward and flexible. Using the information stored in your agency's database, you can hone in on the skills that your tutors need for a particular client's needs. Additionally, you can have your tutors apply to work based on the job description through a post on your available jobs board.
The upshot of all of this is that it embeds your clients and tutors into your agency because of the value added to their experience and allows you to scale up your operations. It is worth also looking in detail at this from a tutor's perspective and why they would want to work with a tutoring agency.
The Tutor Perspective
As a tutor working with an agency, the potential benefits are huge. In the same way that a client has a wide range of tutors that suit their needs, an agency tutor can also access a steady stream of work from various clients without having to seek it out. Better yet, tutors can register to work with multiple agencies too. The prospect of having one's admin taken care of and being able to focus on the tutoring is a huge part the value added experience and helps explain why agency tutoring is so popular.
This administration, particularly the accounting workflows highlighted above, is extremely beneficial to a tutor. In the first model, the tutor has to go through the process of asking for payment themselves from the client. This can be awkward, unprofessional, and does not accommodate a range of payment options. Equally awkward is then being chased up by an agency to be reminded that they need to receive their commission from the client's fee, another administrative task that the tutor needs to undertake.
Instead, use TutorCruncher so that the tutor does not have to worry about the client's payment process. The tutor is then happy to receive a regular payment order with all of their lessons with an agency with a PDF document that gives them a clear breakdown of their income for filling out their tax returns.
This Payment Order also stipulates the agency's commission and any tax that the agency is paying on that commission. Whilst this is configurable, our experience is that hiding this information from the tutor achieves little:
Tutors know the agency will take a cut of the client fee
The value added from the agency fee means tutors are happy with the agency cut
Transparency is a positive thing
Additionally, as a UK based company who is VAT registered, it is important if you are charging tax on commission that this information is disclosed. In legal terms, the Payment Order to a tutor is like them invoicing your company (it is just the agency taking care of the admin) so they are required to know what the company commission is.
Whether you are an agency or a tutor, working with a tutoring agency improves the client and tutor experience. TutorCruncher gives you the tools to make running your agency a breeze.
If you are looking to take your tutoring agency to the next level, or are a tutor inspired by this blog to set up your own agency, we would be delighted to hear from you.