Who sets the schedule for your tutoring business? Your administrators or your instructors?
For most tutoring and test preparation companies, it comes down to where the tutoring takes place, in a dedicated center or in-home. Most center-based companies have administrators manage the overall schedule, where most in-home companies have instructors manage their own. While instructor-managed schedules make a lot of sense for the in-home market, there are some compelling reasons to consider having your administrators handle scheduling even in that model, at least at key times in the customer service cycle.
One of the main benefits of administrator managed schedules is their availability to take a call or get back to the client quickly. While an instructor might be great at mathematical problem solving, they may not have the skill or desire to problem-solve when it comes to working out a schedule conflict.
Administrators can pull in resources like other instructors for one-time sessions. Parents engage with tutoring companies for the added services those companies provide.
Administrators are also typically better trained to deal with situations when the tutor is not available. When an administrator calls a parent to notify them that a tutor is unavailable for a given date, they should be prepared to offer alternative tutors.
This is something that you cannot rely on your instructors knowing how to handle. How many times does a tutor simply tell the parent they are not available on a given date without working to reschedule or place the student with someone else?
Many times the parent will simple accept this, but at a cost of poorer student support and lost revenue.
The same goes for when a parent calls to cancel or needs to reschedule a session. If the instructor has a fairly full schedule, they may not be able to accomodate a rescheduled. Administrators can quickly determine other instructors whom may be available. That level of service can really elevate customer satisfaction and prevent lost revenue.
Even with the benefits of administrator-scheduled sessions outlined above, having in-home instructors manage their own schedules has two key benefits.
- Reduced administration costs
- More efficiently managed schedules
Here are some ways to get the benefits of both.
Instructor Managed Basic Scheduling
As a policy, have your instructor manage the basic schedule. If two sessions are prescribed, as long as both sessions take place, all is good.
When the Instructor is Unavailable
The instructor should determine the likelihood of rescheduling a session. If they have a lot of alternative openings, they should be empowered to reschedule the session. However, if the instructor has no or very limited availability, they should notify their administrative supervisor.
This administrator should follow up with the parent to see if rescheduling is possible with the instructor for the same week – given the instructor’s limited availability. If rescheduling with the student’s primary instructor is not possible, then the administrator can reschedule with a substitute for that week, ensuring that the substitute instructor will review past session logs and connect with the primary tutor if necessary. This policy can be communicated to the parents when first engaging with them as a means of ensuring consistency, one of the most important factors in tutoring and test preparation success.
An additional benefit of having administrator help with special scheduling situations is the added direct contact opportunities with the client. Scheduling conversations are a great time to get customer satisfaction feedback. It is also a great time to check with the parent on other needs, communicate future workshops and upcoming practice exams, and present seasonal offers. That’s right, done correctly (and tactfully) scheduling is a great marketing opportunity.
Last Thing To Consider
Are your instructors disciplined about adding every session to the calendar? If not, parents and students can use the lack of a reminder as an excuse for not showing up for a session. And at the very least, receiving session calendar reminders for only some sessions is unprofessional and can be very confusing.
If you are committed to instructor-managed calendars, one way to mitigate problems of calendar events falling through the cracks is to use a system that is configurable to only allow instructors to make calendar entries in the future and only allow session logs to be created from calendar entries. Of course, instructors only get paid from logged sessions.
By doing so, instructors are incentivized to keep their calendars up to date and are not allowed to ‘back date’ calendars and session logs. No session log means no timesheet entry and no pay. Instead instructors will need to call an administrator to fix the issue: a good opportunity to reinforce your policy and procedures.
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