Why is there the worry and risk of client poaching?
When you’ve established a tutoring business or even if you are starting up a company, poaching is a serious concern on the minds of many.
We all know it happens, whether we know someone who was affected, someone whose poached before or just heard of it in general media. Just like anything, we want to know how to protect yourself to give you the best chances of not having your clients poached.
The best way to tackle this problem is to first understand why this happens. I can say a few words on the matter from first hand experience. While I was working for a Supply Teaching Agency doing Cover Supervisor contracts, I came across many schools guilty of poaching. Once poached nothing could be done. It goes to say that in most contractor situation, poaching is a threat.
Everyone wants to cut out the middleman if they think there is no real benefit to him. Plus, would you rather share a treasure two ways or three ways? In my case the school found a reliable teacher who proved to have a great record and met all their needs. Then presented the teacher with a job opportunity directly with them, long term. Why would the teacher not accept? A stable full time job compared to unknown future contracts, seems like an obvious choice.
The agency responded with the ‘’I thought we had a gentlemen's agreement?’’ but sadly that doesn’t hold up to much legally and if people can find a loophole then they will take it. Although you would want everyone to play fair, in the business world, it’s just business; nothing personal.
But what can you do to minimize the risk of it?
- Be fair to your tutors by giving them a fair cut and pay them as well as you can. This shows that you respect them and what they do. It’s the general rule of thumb here, in a business you have to make your employees feel valued and this is one of the best ways to show it. Not only that it gives you competitive advantage; tutors are less likely to go to other agencies and are less likely to venture into self employment with a good steady income. You make it easy for them, they pretty much keep it easy going for you.
- Touching on respect, this expands into a few more forms that also should be known. Recognition and acknowledgment are just as important forms of respect. Show appreciation for the work they do and maybe offer rewards for loyalty and hitting certain milestones. Not only that but know that they will have a personal development plan and will want the opportunities to build themselves. See how you can help them grow. Look into the reasons they have gone into tutoring, majority of the time it is a passion alongside other interests. Respect that they will have other things they want to pursue outside of tutoring and allow flexibility for them to have time in the schedule to do that.
Don’t overload tutors and clients with administrative tasks and planning. You as an agency should cover all of this so it makes the job easier for them. After all this is the reason they are using an agency, they don’t want to be managing and organising everything themselves. Let them feel your importance and sustain the need for your presence.
Make resources available to the tutors, offer training tools and any support you can. TutorCruncher can assist to this as you can upload documents, tutors can create record reports within the system and access an online whiteboard to get creative in lessons.
How you market your company is also very important, a lot of tutoring companies often like to showcase their tutors along with their profiles. This makes it almost like a directory or a marketplace for clients and free advertisement for tutors. I can see how it can also work for many companies in a certain direction as to give an introduction to who clients and students can work with. But ultimately limiting this information could benefit you better. Focus on selling learning as a service rather than selling tutors. Showcase the powerful tools, services, guarantees, packages/services as a whole and it will make it a harder choice for a client to choose a tutor over the company. You have to be the better package!
Speaking of packages, as a final resort you can include a non-compete agreement in the contract to refer to as a way to disencourage poaching. In TutorCruncher you can implement a contract in the sign up process, making it electronic and safely stored. As well as that you can take further actions in not allowing there to be any direct contact between clients and tutors for it facilitate any conversations that can lead to poaching. You can hide student and client details so they are only viewable by admins, keeping you in control.
There are two ways about it, the client can give the tutor a preposition or the tutor can pitch to the client. You just have to make sure you are giving them both a better deal than they can give each other.