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Offering free starter lessons....does anyone do this?

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by langteacher, Aug 4, 2015.

  1. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    I see that Tutor Hunt are asking tutors if they would be willing to offer free taster lessons. Does anyone do this? I don't. I don't ask people to commit to a set amount of lessons or anything but I don't do the first lesson free either
  2. maurice-r

    maurice-r Established commenter

    No. Professionals should be paid.
  3. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    I agree. No one says to the plumber , "if you fix the tap for nothing, I will pay you to fix the toilet"
  4. phatsals

    phatsals Established commenter

    I noticed Tutor Hunt doing this. It seems to me a way of charging tutors for clients, bypassing the rules on such. They still charge their finders fee which includes a 'free' lesson, ie, they are paid and you are not.

    Splendid idea,
  5. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    Not sure what you mean here. The finder fee is just that, a finder fee, it is not a free lesson. The free lesson is an optional thing. There is no way I am working for nothing
  6. phatsals

    phatsals Established commenter

    I was also very surprised when I saw it and have taken the liberty of copying from the site here re providing a 'free' hour:-

    'This change will dramatically help us provide you more clients, because instead of charging students a finder's fee, we will charge an administration fee to the student which will incorporate an hour complimentary session from yourself.'

    Quite shocking.

    I'm not sure what their finders fee is, it's about £10 on FirstTutors. ...Just checked, they charge £24 at the moment.
  7. decj

    decj New commenter

    I have always carried out an initial assessment for free. This gives me the opportunity to see if I can meet the pupil's needs and also gives the potential client the chance to make a decision about whether or not they want to proceed. It's always worked well; I have never come across a pupil I don't think I can help and, equally, no parent has ever said that they don't want to go ahead with lessons. I certainly wouldn't teach a 'free' lesson just because Tutor Hunt has suggested it.
    tsarina and swazisam like this.
  8. GordonNome

    GordonNome New commenter

    Free lesson? err.. no, I don't think so!

    I make sure my introductory class includes an assessment of the current level and usually also something new to learn (or a proper revision of a key point). I plan for it, I supply resources for it, and I travel to the class. I am not about to supply my services free of charge.

    Can I ask a cleaner to give the house a good clean for free so I can see the standard of their work? Can I ask a mechanic to fix my car for free so I can decide whether to give them more work? Certainly not. I am a professional and I value my own time and skills enough to require that I am paid for sharing them!
    swazisam likes this.
  9. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    Glad I am not the only one. I travel up to 15 minutes before I charge for travel time. If I were to offer a free lesson of an hour that would be an hour and a half of my time that I am not paid for.
  10. Georginalouise

    Georginalouise New commenter

    Interesting thread. I offer to meet a potential client (and a parent) for an hour for free, where I find out something about them and their expectations and then we put together a plan to take forward. I also lay down my terms and conditions. I don't actually tutor in this time, but I view it as my 'get out of jail' card, in that if I don't think I will have a good relationship with either the student or their parent, I tactfully suggest that I may not be the best tutor to suit their needs and that they may wish to continue their search for someone better. I don't see this as supplying services free of charge, but as a way of weeding out the troublemakers and avoiding a headache further down the line. I should add that I work completely independently of both agencies and tutoring websites.
    tsarina likes this.
  11. Georginalouise

    Georginalouise New commenter

    I should add that in eight years I have only turned two clients away. One kept telling me how expensive I was and asking what added value I would give over other tutors. A PGCE, a proven track record and a string of testimonials wasn't enough. The other (mother) had an A level student who had just got the results for her January AS module (remember those days?) and they wouldn't tell me her result, but were insisting I guaranteed an A grade in the summer. I had the impression that if I failed to deliver the mother her much wanted "A", she would sue me!
  12. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    If it was a recommendation from a friend then I would consider it. I know what you mean about weeding people out and timewasters though.

    I do a bit of both independent and tuition sites (but never an agency!) I have a lot of adults learning for holidays and retirement, many have bought property abroad etc. Where there are exam results and targets involved, I find all that out before I agree to start. I don't blame you for turning that mother away! Never in a million years would I guarantee anything.

    I have had a fair few inquiries from the likes of tutor hunt etc who, once it got to the bit where they have to pay the fee, have disappeared, I have had a number who have just paid up and I have also had a fair few who have then found me via another avenue, with a bit of digging, it is not that hard! I have a facebook page and a website. I suspect that the reason for them asking us to do this now is that they can see that a number of people are not willing to pay the finder fee.
  13. WaylonWu

    WaylonWu Established commenter

    I would certainly not do a free lesson through an agency. The most I might consider is charging a reduced fee for an introductory lesson which would be to assess the student to see whether I could help them or not.
  14. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    I would not touch agencies with a barge pole.
  15. I agree decj. I too always carry out an initial assessment which is so important particularly with younger students as you both need to check that it is the right match. I see it a bit like a normal sales orientated business in which you meet with the client to check their requirements and agree what is to be provided and for how much. Likewise I have always ended up tutoring all students I have met with.
  16. At Tutora.co.uk, we offer our students a money back guarantee for their first session. Unlike other sites, we don't think it's fair for our tutors to offer this themselves so we will pay the tutor ourselves if a student requests this. This helps tutors find more students and gives students confidence to book with us. We believe in the quality of our tutors and we rarely have to use this. We cover the whole of Yorkshire and are always looking for new tutors.
  17. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    Tutor Hunt seems to have 'gone funny' over the last year or so. I joined up three years back and got about half a dozen students in the first year. Since then, the site seems to have signed up more or less anyone as tutors (students, etc.) so, in my area, NW London, there are some many people getting in on the act that the work, offering rock-bottom rates, that the work has dried up.

    There are also some strange clients on the site, recently. Some claim to be running their own tutor agencies (these give themselves away by advertising for tuition in all subjects from KS1 to university entrance level), while others send bizarrely-worded messages, all very similar but with different names.

    TH is a bit of a waste of time, these days.
  18. hanna9575

    hanna9575 New commenter

    I would advise everyone against it. I have signed up for this but am now going to stop doing it again as I have had students just take the mickey. My offer was to have the first lesson free if they book subsequent lessons, and I've had one particular student who booked several lessons and then only turned up for one. i should have know as this was right before the exam week, but it's not really fair. I've been chasing them up ever since, but because it's only a small amount of money I think they will just continue to ignore me.
  19. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    Hanna, you are right!

    There will always be some clients who mess tutors around. I drop them almost instantly! But offering a free lesson is just begging for grief. An excellent way to spot potential troublemakers is those who ask if you do a free trial lesson, and those who ask if you give a discount. Just say no, and save yourself future irritation.

    Another thing I tend to do, to weed out the time wasters, is end any conversations that prospective clients take more than a couple of days to reply to. These are usually people who aren't serious or deeply resent spending money on tutoring.

    Also, never give a list of available times, or reply to that disrespectful message that just asks what your availability is. Serious clients will tell you a bit about their circumstances and when they can take tuition. Good tutors can afford to pick and choose their clients!
  20. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    Nope. No. Never

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