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    9 Replies Latest reply on Feb 23, 2009 2:00 PM by instantv

    Trying to make the next step in company expansion

    coffeebean Wayfarer



      This site seems great!


      I have owned my home tutoring company since 2001. I tutor and also "broker" tutors. I handle the company plus interviewing, screening, mentoring,
      marketing, etc. I recently hired two part-time office assistants. As the recession plays out, I want to do my homework and lay the groundwork into expansion into other areas of Orange County. Can anyone recommend books or other resources on how to properly expand a small service business?


      Also, as I attempt to move into other areas that already have tutoring companies, how can I differentiate my company? We generally cost less than several other companies, and we have great customer service, as well as effective and upbeat tutors. But is that enough?


      And then that leads into the management of this growth. I refuse to give up my own tutoring (the student work is the easy part of the business!). But, more tutors and families mean more issues. I seem to have a "tipping point." I can easily manage up to 14 tutors and families, but I struggle to manage more than that. But if I don't expand, this little company will STAY little and won't provide me any type of retirement, etc.


      Any input or resources would be much appreciated!


      Thank you!
        • Re: Trying to make the next step in company expansion
          LUCKIEST Guide
          The next step in company expansion, Welcome

          I would recommend that you Develop a Business and Marketing Plan.

          Also you should Contact SCORE. SCORE is FREE both in person and on line.
          SCORE also has a FREE Virtual Learning Center with 26 online courses.

          Good luck, LUCKIEST
          1 of 1 people found this helpful
            • Re: Trying to make the next step in company expansion
              coffeebean Wayfarer
              Thank you, Luckiest!

              I have used SCORE for years and agree that the couselors (especially Robin!!!) are great. Before I set up my appointment, I want to do my homework so I know what questions to ask. I'm looking for some "Expansion steps" list that may or may not exist.

              However, I didn't realize SCORE offered the Virtual Learning Center. Thank you for mentioning that! I just did the "Developing efficient systems" class. Now I have an action plan for making my home office even more efficient, which I know will be crucial to any expansion. (I was happy to see how organized I already was!)

              Thank you!
            • Re: Trying to make the next step in company expansion
              instantv Adventurer
              Have you considered setting up an online tutoring program?
              1 of 1 people found this helpful
                • Re: Trying to make the next step in company expansion
                  coffeebean Wayfarer
                  I've thought about it, but I'm worried about becomming a "me too" service in the tutoring field. And, without some super-cool technology, I'm not sure how well an online presence will match the warm-fuzzy of an upbeat tutor in the kitchen, modeling the work with colored pens on a whiteboard. I guess I should research that more, too.

                  Again, I need to see what angle I can put on an online service that makes us stand out.

                  Thank you, instantv!
                    • Re: Trying to make the next step in company expansion
                      coachterri Newbie
                      Lucky and Alex had some good suggestions for you, so I'm going to come from a completely different angle.

                      When considering expansion (or just starting up for that matter), it is extremely helpful to envision what you want both your company and your work life to look like. Then build your company so that it reaches your vision. You want to make sure that you are driving your business, that it's not driving you!

                      I am going to make some assumptions about you and your business from your posts. Please forgive me if I'm off-base or just plain wrong! It's easier to truly understand someone when you talk to them in person or on the phone. I will do my best nonetheless.

                      About differentiation in the marketplace: You seem to have so much heart around the service you're providing, making sure that the approach of your tutors is effective and upbeat. The pricing is less than several competitors. It also sounds to me like there is something around hearth and home that you really value in the work you do.

                      Effective, upbeat, less expensive--it sounds to me like you are already differentiating yourself more than you realize. I would recommend exploring that differentiation, especially the piece around hearth and home, within yourself. What does tutoring in the warmth of the kitchen mean to you? What might it mean to your students? What is the effect on them and on their parents?

                      Identify the values you are honoring. Then make sure you are communicating those values throughout your marketing efforts, including how you talk about your business in casual situations or with complete strangers. The conviction you feel will come through. If the people you connect with honor those values, too, they will be more likely to utilize and/or refer business to you. Kids are extremely important to their parents and clearly to you as well. Utilize those incredibly honorable intentions of yours to attract parents to your services. Make an emotional connection.

                      About managing your growth: Make sure you are designing your work life in alignment with your own values. I think you said it was really important for you to tutor students directly, as well as brokering the services of other tutors. If you are tutoring directly, do you want to be doing it at night, on weekends, after school? Which daypart will give you the time you need to be with your own family (if you have one), or recharge your own batteries through connecting with friends, working out, etc. Then make sure that the time you are working is the time when you want to be working. Assign the rest to other tutors.

                      Use technology to make yourself highly efficient. For example, is it possible for your tutor to log-in to your website and record hours that are transmitted directly to an client invoice and to a tutor 'record of hours worked' without additional human interaction? I bet there is, and I bet someone on this site will be able to direct you to more than one resource. Is it okay with your clients to receive their bills via email? Lots of time saved there. These are just a couple of thoughts I had. You might already be doing them.

                      Finally, look at your pricing. You mentioned that you have priced yourself lower than your competitors. This is not uncommon of people who are just starting out. I watch my own clients go through this all the time. I will tell you what I tell them: Since you've now been in business several years, it might be time to re-evaluate your pricing structure. If you are really good, and you are already getting a considerable amount of business through referrals, it might just be time to take the leap and charge more. You might have a smaller client base at first, but you will be presently surprised how much pressure is taken off of you, because you will be generating more income with less time spent working. The business will continue to grow at a competitive rate until it reaches or exceeds the rates of your competitors. Nothing like being the best and being paid for it!

                      Anyway, Coffeebean, I hope this has been helpful. If you have other questions, please feel free to ask.

                      Terri Fry Brukhartz, LCSW
                    • Re: Trying to make the next step in company expansion
                      coffeebean Wayfarer
                      Hey, instantv!

                      Thanks for bringing this up! I have been thinking about this ever since I replied to you and have some ideas. I'm going to take start a new thread of questions on the "technical" and "Starting a business" and "marketing" forums, but thanks for getting me thinking about it!

                        • Re: Trying to make the next step in company expansion
                          instantv Adventurer

                          Thank you for your note, actually we have tons of experience in bring
                          you to the next level and taking the online tutoring directions. This
                          is for sure the direction which tutoring is now seeking to take at this
                          point. This form of tutoing will be the major directions of the future. If you
                          would like to ring me or provide me with your contact info I can give
                          you more information and suggestions. You will find my direct contact
                          information in my profile and if you would like to email your contact
                          information just send me an email to I look forward
                          to continuing our discussion.
                      • Re: Trying to make the next step in company expansion
                        Analysight Newbie

                        Let me speak to your question about differentiation. Think about the demographics of the areas where you plan to bring your tutoring business. In those areas, what is the median household income? The racial breakdown? The level of educational attainment? The age distribution? You can obtain this information by ZIP Code, State, or Census Tract from the Census Bureau's web site ( How do the demographics of these areas compare to those of your current customers? This information will also yield clues into what marketing tactics you should employ to reach prospective customers.

                        You seem to have some good ideas of what differentiates your tutoring services from the others in those areas. To determine if they are "enough" or "spot-on," you might want to conduct some marketing research. Call some of the other services in those markets and obtain their marketing brochures, and find out their going rates. See what services are included in those rates. Also, find out how they measure effectiveness of their methods (e.g., an improvement of two letter grades, a quarter-point increase in GPA, etc.).

                        Also, survey households with school-aged children in those areas. See what they (would) look for (if) when they had to purchase home tutoring services. Find out what their willingness to pay would be. Determine how they would define "effective."

                        All of this information will help you determine whether there is demand for your services in those markets, as well as what message you need to convey to potential clients.


                        • Re: Trying to make the next step in company expansion
                          LUCKIEST Guide
                          *Sounds interesting. I am a SCORE Counselor and yesterday we had a
                          presentation and slide show on Email Marketing. Without mentioning the company's
                          name, the presentation talked about staying in front of your customers,
                          Communicating with them regularly, Reminding them of your value, and setting
                          yourself apart from the competition, with Email Marketing.*

                          *Life has
                          gotten very exciting, LUCKIEST*
                          1 of 1 people found this helpful