I’ve always lived in Peru, so I’ve never had the experience of working abroad or teaching abroad. My experiece here is kind of broad especially in the realm of private tutoring both for General and Business English Courses.
At the very beginning of my career, I started offering private lessons (1:1) and I realized I couldn’t just offer a fee per hour, I had to offer a broader selection of packages or discounts, being more flexible so students would feel motivated to have a longer period of classes with me.
Firts of all, you need to find out what the average fee per hour is in the market where you are. For example, I live in Lima – Peru, here the fee per hour goes from $12.00 to $25.00 per hour. So a decent average would be $18.00 per hour. I think you first need to know the market and average fee, I do not agree with charging more than the average but of course you need to be sure that your service has an added value that you can make students aware of and therefore charge a bit more for that. You would pay a bit more for a quality service, wouldn’t you?
Having said that, here are some of the things I learned, which I have been using for almost six years with great result:
Upselling: You may have heard about this. Upselling is a sales technique where you offer upgrades, or other add-ons in order to make a more profitable sale. Some student have though about taking a couple of hours a week and maybe pay on a weekly basis. Upselling would mean that you present your costs like this:
Fee per hour = $20.00
12 sessions a month (1.5 hours each session) = $330.00 (As you can see, here the fee per hour is less than $20.00 but you want to consider this because students would be paying for the whole month and are more likely to keep on going after the first month has brought results for them)
You can then offer sessions 3 times a week, 4 times a week, or 2-hour sessions (whatever is more convenient for you) and keep adjusting your offer on the way.
Offer a Premium Service option: We have said that last-minute cancellations are what bother teachers the most. You have a student who calls you one hour before the class to say that they won’t make it and then they expect to just postpone or take it the next day. This can get very uncomfortable for the teacher. Eventhough there should be clear rules for last-minute cancelaltions, I have found that when there is a student who is on a ever-changing or tight schedule, I can offer them (paying upfront) a service in which they can cancel or postpone their lessons without penalty. So how is this convenient for you? You will charge a higher fee per hour because of this extra flexibility and also you will give students a certain time limit to take the classes, which is going to motivate students to actually take the classes during a certain period of time. I have tried this and I can assure you it’s a win-win situation.
Offer Group Discounts: If you teach English for Business or General English for kids maybe, you can contact the HR Department or some of the parents who are interested in your service and offer group lessons with a special fee. This is usually really convenient for the teacher, because offering group lessons (3 or 4 students in the class) will allow you to charge double the fee per hour and students would be paying half the price. Another win-win situation!
Offer fee according to schedule: When it comes to Business English teaching, for example, there are some times in which you will surely be free. From 10:00am to 12:30pm, you are less likely to have classes, because of working hours (students are busy at that time) However, some students may have the possibility (or make room for their class) when I offer them a great fee or package. It works!
As you can see, it’s not about charging the highest fees, but building long-lasting relationship of trust with your students, which may bring new referrals and recommendations for you. That’s the real business.
Question: How do you charge for private lessons? Do you have any other solution that has worked for you? I’d love to hear from you! Thanks for your comments below if you found this useful.