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In Home Tutors: Are You Feeling the Effects of Suburban Sprawl?

Recently, I've noticed other tutors asking questions about raising rates and client retention.  Professional tutors learn how to provide this educational service and negotiate payment for services rendered.  This website is great for providing leads and helping a new tutor get started.  Attaining a level of education and specific tutor training will help beginners become effective professionals, not simply peer tutors with high GPAs.  Successfully tutoring others who achieve high marks on writing assignments and exams takes preparation and time.  This job requires more than just one hour with a student.
 
When I first started tutoring I did not calculate all of my travel expenses, including my time, into my hourly rate. As I quickly gained experience, I began to realize that my clients appreciate and value my willingness to drive to their homes once or twice a week.  Then gas prices began to slowly rise and I had another epiphany.  My expenses are not just gasoline, the car needs oil, tires, and a tuneup periodically.  Additionally, my time was more valuable than I initially calculated; also, I had prep time and printing expenses.  Therefore, I decided to raise my hourly rate early my first year to compensate for transportation expenses and these other costs.  I am happy with my paychecks now.
 
If you haven't considered raising your rates and are feeling short changed, it is probably because you made the same mistake I did when I began tutoring.  In home tutoring is an expense that is affordable to those who value higher education.  Being paid for providing an individual with a customized lesson plan each week is important.  Maintaining a vehicle is expensive.  Your clients will understand when you explain why you feel the need to raise your hourly rate.  If you are uncomfortable doing so, just raise your advertised rate and negotiate a raise with your current clients.  They will gladly pay you more, if you split the difference with them.  Being negotiable is also one way to attain a long term client.  This is not an original idea‚Ķhere's a quote from the rates and policies page.
 
"Non-tutoring charges should be incorporated into the hourly rate. Travel, parking, prep time or other expenses that you wish to defray to the customer must first be agreed to by the student. The mechanism to assess these charges is to adjust your hourly rate. Under no circumstances should the tutor receive payments directly from the student."
 
Happy Tutoring in 2014!

Comments

Excellent advice. I found that traveling even the short distance to the local library and back takes at least an additional 30 minutes (both ways)out of my schedule. I only tutor in my home; however, I recently had a family  ask me to come to their home.  I think it would be great if Wyzant allowed tutors to advertise two rates, one for in student's home, and one for in tutor`s home.
Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for your feedback, Sheila!
Great information.  I never factored in gas and car maintenance fees.  I agree that the two rates should be listed up front.  It gives both the tutor and the students options.  Thanks.
 
If you want to advertise two rates, just use your free response profile page to clarify your rates.  You can state what services you offer and breakdown your fees, if you like.  For instance, whenever I decide to start offering online tutoring, the rate will be less and I'll update the profile page to provide this information: "Now offering online tutoring services at reduced hourly rates."  Then I will probably list the blocks of time available and the fees for each (i.e., Online Sessions: 1 hour = $40, 1.5 hour = $55).  
I think posting a dual rate -- one for tutoring at my place (or a local coffee shop, which I sometimes use) vs. tutoring in a student's home (which requires travel) is a GREAT idea.  I wish I had thought of it.  I have a student in Bel Air, and it regularly takes at least an hour of my time just to get there and back, for which I am not compensated at all. And the lessons seldom last longer than one hour.  It is barely worth it.  I do wonder, how long are the sessions other tutors routinely give?   -- Robert
Robert, my tutoring sessions last from 1 to 1.5 hours, depending upon the student.  Younger students generally do not have the attention span for more than 1 hour.  Motivated pre-med track high school and university students handle 1.5 hour sessions with no problem.  Orlando's suburbs are so sprawled out and the traffic is so horrendous here that it can take an hour or more to cross town at rush hour.  That is why I raised my hourly rate and adjusted my travel radius.  I also negotiate travel time into the equation and try to be efficient with time management.  
Good ideas! What I do for my tutoring practice is to scheduled students of the same zip come to come to the public 
Robert,
Most of my high school and college test prep tutoring sessions last 2 hours.  I state this up front in my tutorin subjects.  Many semester, EOC, SAT, ACT, etc tests last 2 hours or longer.  Many times the student's problem is not the subject, but the stamina in taking the test (focus in subjects he/she does not like in the first place), especially since most high school class periods are less than 1 hour.  For my athlete students, I provide a training analogy.  Soccer players are only in a game a maximum of 90 minutes (two 45 minute halves), but do training that includes long distance running in addition to the players' drills. 
 
I have only had one client so far--an LSAT prep.  I charged him my quoted rate of $45/hr and tutored him an hour at a time once a week.  By the time I factored in the prep time, I wasn't even making minimum wage.  Not even close.  Now I probably won't get those no-prep clients (like English and reading, for me) because the rates are too high.  I wish there were a way to have more than one rate.
Vicki,
 
I live in a rural area. Distances to tutees are long.  I agree with your two rate plan. 
 
Did you have any problem getting Wyzant to approve the verbiage about online tutoring?
 
Also, what rate is on your main listing - the traveling rate or the closer to home rate?
 
Thanks!
 
I also live at a distance from my regular weekly students and the rate that is advertised is my rate for writing consultations/tutoring sessions.  I have specific education/training as a writing consultant at the university level and undergraduate education in chemistry/biomedical topics.  I specialize in working with high school and university pre-med students, several of which are also ESL students, consulting on specific writing assignments.  As I mentioned, I use the guidelines on this website for everything.  Each client has specific needs and I negotiate rates and charge for some travel time, depending upon the location.  I tutor part-time.  I hope this helps answer everyone's questions.  Happy Tutoring in 2014!
I started with WyzAnt about 18 months ago at a rate of $30 per hour.  My first client was for 2 hours per day, 5 days per week, in her home.  I still have that client, although we are now down to 2 hr 45 minutes per week.  I still charge her the same rate at which we started.  After I obtained my 2nd client, I raised my rate to $35 and have gradually raised it to $50 per hour.  It makes no difference to me how far I travel, (I have one student for whom I travel 25 miles each way, work with three hours per day 5x a week when he is in town.  When he is out of town or out of the country, we have class via Skype at the same rate.)  I never have students come to my home.  To me, that is a matter of security, as well as keeping "work at work."  I never discuss mileage, prep time, or post time.  My rate is $50 per hour, regardless of where we meet.  No one has ever asked me to negotiate rates.  I do, however, stick with my posted rate if they contact me prior to a rate increase.  Oh, and I will be raising my rate again soon.  Set your rate based upon client progress, satisfaction, and longevity.  If that is all quite positive and you know you are good at what you do,  don't discuss your rates with your students.  You will know what you are worth, and they will soon find out.
I agree with Cindy, I do not tutor in my home and I don't believe in discussing rates unless absolutely necessary!  My negotiations have been via email and that's best for me.  My fee is posted on my profile.  I also believe that if people want to discuss the rates when they see you, they can't afford in home tutoring!  I am amazed every time I pay an electrician or a plumber to come to my home.  Most charge at least $75 for an in home trip charge.  We rarely have a professional leave our home without paying them at least $200 for their services.  I have no idea how tutors are charging only $25-$45 an hour and earning more than $5 per hour.  With prep time, scheduling, parent communications, printing costs, gasoline, oil, auto maintenance & repairs, and post tutoring session notes/billing--being an in-home tutor is a time consuming business.
I have a base $40 fee, which covers a single student, one hour, help with existing material (homework/schoolwork or material I already know and have stated that I know), up to my driving radius, which is 15 miles.
 
I schedule my students on days depending on where they live, so I'm traveling east for 2 students on one day, west for 2 on another, and so on. I plan my trips! and I talk to them about this planning, so they understand.
 
I charge $10 more per hour for an additional student in the same subject and level in the same hour. I charge $10 more per hour for travel between 15 and 20 miles, unless the student wants 2 hour sessions. And I reduce my charge by $5 an hour if they are willing to come to ME, and note that I will be happy to go over the time by 10 minutes (and usually do at home!); I only accept my adult female students coming to my house for security reasons. I have several of those, both private and through WyzAnt; when women go back into the job market and need to pass a test requiring Algebra, they often need some help!
 
That about covers it.
 
--Louise
Great feedback, Louise!  It is interesting to read that you've been helping women return to the work force.  I know I benefited from tutors for algebra and chemistry when I first returned to college after being away for many years.  Sometimes one just needs that extra boost to either refresh old skills or to reinforce new concepts.  I did not study chemistry in high school and my first experience with chemistry in college was with an instructor who expected prior knowledge and was short on patience.  Fortunately, my first college biology professor was great at teaching chemistry too!  Without his encouragement, I know several of my classmates and I would have quit--instead, we faced the challenge and majored in chemistry/biomedical topics because someone believed in us. 
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