How Online Dating Grew My Tutoring Business


Parents are skeptical of online dating because of context (first interaction was in-person).

Parents are skeptical of online tutoring because of context (the tutor meets in-person).

When I first thought about the differentiator for my tutoring company, the first idea that came to mind was: matchmaking.

At my former company whenever there was a refund or complaint almost 100% of the time it was because the student-tutor relationship wasn’t solid.

That’s because larger tutoring companies say they focus on pairing the right tutor for your student, but what they really do is match based on availability.

As a parent, you say Tuesdays at 6 PM works best so whoever comes up in the database with that opening goes to the top of the list. Sales people are quick to take public information such as bios to sell you on the fact they thought this potential pairing through (false).

When I initially used the analogy of online dating with a parent I felt myself cringe (or maybe that was the parent…), but over time I realize it’s a perfect way of describing what we do differently.

As resistant as the average person is to change (tutoring in-person vs. online) it’s important to speak to what’s relevant or trendy for context purposes. Online dating and online tutoring are both Billion dollar industries that cannot be denied.

You may not agree with how technology has changed the two services mentioned above, but you can agree you’ve heard of them before.

Effective marketing is clearly communicating the value they receive in exchange for an investment. I can’t force parents/students to work with us, but I can clearly explain how working with us works.

Matchmaking in online tutoring works with students because they want to like who they are talking to.

Matchmaking in online tutoring works with parents because they want to know who is working with their child and that they don’t hate their tutor.

Chemistry between the tutor and student is the most impactful quality that affects results because a stronger relationship equals more commitment, engagement and motivation moving forward.

Online dating helps us pair the right tutor with your student and that makes for a match made in academic heaven.

Marketing To The Generational Preferences Of Online Tutoring


Imagine a triangle. At one point is you, the company. The remaining two points represent the parent and student.

Any type of business where you’re dealing with students, parents will be involved. The challenge is figuring out messaging.

You can have the same message, but the way you communicate it must be different.

In this case it comes down to: generational preferences.

Online tutoring is accepted by teenagers because it’s their preferred medium of contact. Parents, on the other hand, grew up experiencing tutoring in-person. Context is everything.

Since parents invest in their child’s education, it’s important to “sell” adults on the benefits of online education. Here’s how:

Convenience: technology eliminates the commute. Before, tutors would make house calls, but that limits the talent pool based on your location. Traveling also allows tutors to charge for time spent commuting. Online tutoring makes it convenient for both parties to work remotely.

Laptops “analogy”: if you were being tutored by someone chances are you’d bring your laptop. Tutors tend to use a computer too, so most of the time spent would be looking at each other’s screens. Online tutoring eliminates that. Screen sharing, editing documents together and using annotation tools to illustrate concepts can only be done virtually. Online functionality beats what you can accomplish in-person.

Show & tell: one of the most powerful ways to become a believer is to watch a recorded demo. Once parents see both the tutor and student’s faces with the interactive lessons on the screen, they’re sold. That’s why we offer a free 30 minute video meet and greet to parents and students with their tutor prior to committing to a package. Experience is better than hearing about it.

It’s key to understand what the parent (credibility) and student (tutor’s likability) care about most. When I speak to parents, physical sign-in sheets, demo videos and answering questions turn skeptics into believers. For students, we tend to hire tutors in their 20’s and 30’s for relatability purposes. Let’s face it, students don’t normally want to be tutored, but if we pair teens with tutors they actually like chances of success increase tremendously.

Connecting is meeting people where they are. It’s doubly tricky in this industry, but if you address it correctly you create long-term advocates.

Tutoring Is Actually A Relationship Business


Ok not that type of (romantic) relationship…

A little over a year ago I started working for a test prep company as a faculty manager. Prior to that I’d never worked at an education company so the learning curve was steep for me initially. Fortunately I didn’t have to tutor students (not my role or skill set), instead I managed a team of 30 tutors remotely.

Being immersed in a new industry you learn the lingo quickly, but one thing never clicked for me while I was there: why do we care more about sales than people?

I get it — the difference between a business and a hobby is profit made, but the lifetime worth (loyal customers) and tutor retention make or break your company.

What my former company saw as the “why” was much different than what I believed it was: relationships.

Without great tutors and customers you have no business.

After I decided to leave one motto stuck in my head: if you take care of your people, they will take care of your customers.

That’s why months after starting my own online tutoring company I know I’m in the relationship business.

Truth be told, market research is important, but in a service industry people come first. Being in a relationship-driven business it takes time to grow. That means no overnight contracts, quick sales or cutting corners. Each interaction matters.

Once your sales strategy is determined you stay committed to it and live with the results (pivot over time if needed).

Part of creating and strengthening a working relationship is transparency and vulnerability. Although it sounds risky, it actually attracts the type of person who aligns with your vision.

When it comes to test prep (SAT/ACT) competency is the qualifier (if you don’t know the content, you can’t teach it), but the chemistry between the tutor-student is what determines how successful the results are.

That’s why as a parent previewing the tutor ahead of time makes the biggest difference. It’s why we offer a free 30 minute video meet and greet with student, tutor and parent before committing. We put our money where our mouth is.

What we’re selling isn’t really knowledge…it’s a relationship.

Why Online Tutoring Is The New Black Of Education


Traditional education has a huge disadvantage: size.

Even when decreasing the student to teacher ratio individualized learning cannot occur.

It’s not the teacher’s fault. It’s a numbers game stacked against instructors.

That’s why online tutoring works. It’s customized learning.

Besides instructor knowledge there are a couple of factors that determine how much student’s comprehend: personality and learning style.

First, teenagers need to like their tutor. That doesn’t mean best friends, but there has to be some point of connection both can build on.

Second, a tutor needs to be able to identify very quickly how a student learns. When I interview tutors to join the team one of the questions I ask is, “Explain your teaching philosophy/style as a tutor. How does it change depending on the student’s learning style?”

The answer to that question lets me know if they are able to think on their feet and adjust to the student, not the other way around.

Most students these days have busy schedules. We work with student athletes, boarding schools and highly academically-driven individuals that need flexibility in meeting times.

That’s why we have tutors spread across the different time zones to accommodate their needs.

Learning isn’t something that can be forced. If so, students reject it.

Instead focusing on learning style, personality and priorities make a student more committed, engaged and motivated to do the work to get the desired results.

Education isn’t going anywhere, but the way we consume it is shifting.

Why Perfect Scores Don’t Make The Best Test Prep Tutors


True or false: the best tutors are the near perfect performing ones.


Content knowledge is the qualifier, but it’s not the most important factor in finding the best tutor for your child.

If I asked you to name the best teacher you’ve ever had I guarantee the description includes personality characteristics and how that person made you feel.

It’s not any different with tutoring.

Let’s face it, your son or daughter can choose at least 5 things they’d rather do outside of school than meet with a tutor. That’s exactly why pairing the right tutor with you child can make the difference between success and failure on test day.

In fact it’s so important to me as the owner that I express to candidates if I don’t get along with you we can’t work together. Now that may sound completely subjective, but relatability is the reason our tutors on average are 10 years older than high school students.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” is one of my favorite leadership quotes.

Translation: what good is working with a smart tutor if the student doesn’t like or respect them?

What matters is how well the tutor can teach the content and strategy of taking the test to the student independently.

In business, the term culture is brought up frequently. As an entrepreneur, it’s important to find tutors that can pretty much work with any type of student. Part of the interview process to join our team is teaching me some problems so I can experience being in the “student’s shoes.”

It’s easy to identify personalities that mesh well with teenagers. In sports, “player’s coach” is often used which is a perfect analogy for our tutors.

And even though I take pride in my student-tutor matchmaking ability, we take is a step further by offering a free 30 minute video meet and greet with parent, student and tutor.

It’s not impossible to score well preparing alone, but working with our team is having an “edge” on test day (that voice in your head talking you through the process).


The Dreaded Trigger For SAT/ACT Prep


Test prep helps battle the fear of the unknown, or test anxiety.

If I asked you to do a word association for taking the SAT/ACT most descriptors center around stress.

When else in life are you going to take a 4 hour test? (Unless you want to become a doctor or lawyer)

Comprehension is key. If you don’t know the material, you probably won’t score well, BUT studies show the difference between good and great scores come down to limiting mental mistakes.

That can include: rushing, going too slow, not checking your answers, forgetting what you learned, etc.

The methods we use at Growing Forward Academy focus on strategy: how to take the test.

Did you know the makers of the test wrote it to trip students up?

Colleges accept students on a curve and since universities have gotten more competitive over time a higher score on the SAT/ACT is needed just to be considered. (If you want the exact score needed to get into your college of choice: find it here)

Therefore the value in hiring a tutor is being able to identify a problem, eliminate half the the wrong answers immediately and feeling confident in your solving process.

Being in the right mental state helps you perform at the highest level. That’s why the more reps (homework) you accomplish between sessions will produce the greatest results.

There’s a misconception that tutors give students the answers, but we believe that doesn’t really help. Your tutor is not going to take the test for you, so what’s most important is knowing the tips and tricks of the test ahead of time so when they appear on test day you’re prepared.

Most of the students who work with us on test prep transition to academic subjects once the test is over because the “chemistry” between the student-tutor is already there and a lot of the test taking strategies are transferrable to other classes.

The goal here is: to equip your son/daughter with the skills to beat the test. The added confidence of knowing what to expect on test day can heavily influence their future.

Why Failure Is Important In Tutoring


You read it right.

Step back for a moment and think back to how you learned a new skill.

Did you get it right on the first try?

Did you receive help from someone else?

Did you feel like quitting at one point?

Failure is the prerequisite to growth. You may hate the journey until you reach the destination.

Parents hire tutors to give their child an advantage academically. What matters though is: how willing the tutor is to allow the student to fail.

The tutor doesn’t take the test. The student does. If your child is dependent on their tutor for the right answers, they’ll underperform on test day.

Understanding the problem and identifying the right steps to take when solving is what gets results. But in order for this process to work, students have to be given the opportunity to make mistakes.

The best advice given is helping you come to your own conclusion. There’s buy-in. Ownership is taken. If someone tells you what to do, you become dependent on that person going forward.

In tutoring that is a recipe for disaster.

Growing Forward Academy adheres to a coaching philosophy. Our tutors are motivated to help your child, but not become a crutch along the way. True growth comes from experiencing struggle.

Don’t get it twisted, we’re no masochists. We just believe learning happens at the point of resistance. Once the student is hungrier than the teacher, results naturally appear.