Bryan's Tutoring Service
Problem & Solution
Problem Worth Solving
Schools are underfunded, kids need schooling, some kids need more help than others; some parents want to help more than others do. Tutoring helps kids learn.
Bryan’s Tutoring Service offers a wide range of academic subjects. Sessions can be set up as private or students may form groups for tutoring. Private sessions offer intense individual assistance, but groups sessions can also be beneficial with decreased economic costs and the use of team-based approach that the business program encourages. For The Atkinson-based courses, Bryan’s Tutoring Service offers an extensive collection of past exams which are invaluable for teaching the material and for exam preparation. For all students, Bryan’s Tutoring Service uses the Systematic Analysis Framework (SAF). This unique problem solving approach taught to students provides a system to approach all topics that they encounter in school. This system seeks to provide the student with a way in which they can better solve their own queries. This system differs from most tutors who are primarily concerned with answering the students immediate questions and not concerned with providing the students with basic problem solving skills for future applications.
Market Size & Segments
The company was founded tutoring students in the graduate school of management in their quantitative subjects. This remains the core segment, although other segments have been developing and show potential to provide the bulk of future income. Graduate students can be divided into three groups: quantitative subjects/students, non-quantitative, and international students.
Undergraduate students will also be served, however Bryan’s Tutoring has a less intimate relationship with the various undergraduate schools and professors. There are several colleges, public, private, and community-based that will provide Bryan’s Tutoring with a steady flow of students. Bryan’s Tutoring will offer tutoring in the courses offered to graduate and undergraduate students. Please review the following section which provides additional detail regarding the different target segments.
The company was founded tutoring students in the graduate school of management in their quantitative subjects. This remains the core segment, although other segments have been developing and show potential to provide the bulk of future income. Graduate students can be divided into three groups:
- Quantitative: These are students who are at the graduate school level and enrolled in quantitative course such as: accounting, finance, business algebra, calculus, and statistics. While this remains the backbone of the company’s business, other areas have been growing quickly and are poised to take off.
- Non-quantitative: These are students who are requesting tutoring for other subjects that are not quantitative. For example, marketing, international management, organizational behavior, and economics. While this was traditionally not as demanded as the quantitative reviews, the experience that the company has developed in tutoring quantitative courses lends itself well to this segment. The ability to prepare students for upcoming exams and to give them practice tests has been a popular service that should only continue to grow in the future.
- International students: Because of the large percentage of students in the program from foreign countries, a specialized service is provided to them. The same courses are tutored, but the focus is less on explaining the complicated math and more on helping them understand the English explanations of the math. From the beginning, a sizeable percentage of students requesting tutoring were from foreign countries. It didn’t take long to figure out that most of these students were quite bright and really did understand the math concepts behind the different subjects being taught. They were just struggling to keep up with the lectures and understand the difficult examples given in class. The same is true of the non-quantitative courses. Tutoring and review courses taught for international students focus less on the math or subject of discussion and more on helping them develop the language skills necessary or simply reviewing the subjects their professors covered. Originally the students who sought these services were quite desperate. Bright individuals who had always been at the head of their class back home, they found themselves struggling to keep up in the classes being taught in English. However, more and more students have been taking advantage of these services to give them the edge they need to compete with their American colleagues. The stigma and embarrassment of having to seek out help have been replaced with a view toward the services as the price of being able to compete in the foreign language (English) at their true capacity. Growth is expected to continue as more and more students use the services and their stigma diminishes.
This is a new and exciting area that is bound to become the main revenue generating segment (or group of segments) for the company. As graduate students attended tutoring sessions, they spoke with some of their undergraduate friends and acquaintances. Some of these undergraduate students began seeking help with their respective classes. At first it was mostly for the quantitative courses they were in. As that market began to establish itself, the company began investing time in building a database of old exams, class notes, etc., for the quantitative courses being taught on the main campus to undergraduate students. These students, then began seeking help with their other courses as well. The same segments of quantitative, non-quantitative, and international exist for students at the undergraduate level.
Tutors tend to be individuals with a little extra time and specific expertise in a given topic. However, few have the resources to provide a comprehensive tutoring program covering every possible aspect of a course from understanding the material, to getting the best grade possible from a given professor. The majority of competition comes from one-on-one tutoring conducted by friends of the student. There is no organized tutoring service available to students that really covers their specific course from soup to nuts.
As the company looks to expand beyond the walls of Willamette University to cover community colleges and potentially franchise out to other colleges in other states, there appear to be few organized competitors. Companies like Sylvan Learning Center are mostly geared for handling the needs of younger students, K-12.
Now, while one-on-one tutoring from a friend may be a cheaper way for a student to go, there really is an advantage to paying for tutoring. The tutoring sessions include examples that have been tried and tested previously with prior students. Over time, Bryan has developed a repertoire of examples and approaches to help students with nearly all of the challenges that prevent them from getting the most out of the experience.
As an example, in accounting and finance classes the professors like to use examples that are complicated for some students to grasp. Often the principle is shown using a huge corporation with millions of dollars in revenue, multiple divisions, and decades of history. The principle being taught may be quite simple, but having to wade through the complicated organizational structure and many other accounting principles can be very confusing to some students.
Bryan’s approach is different. Students are better able to see these principles when isolated temporarily in a very simplified manner before placing them back into context. So, students are introduced to a very simplistic business model – Billy Bob’s Lemonade stand. It is shown that each of the accounting or finance principles being taught can apply to a lemonade stand. The advantages of this approach are:
- Many of the North American students had their own lemonade stand at some point in their childhood and so they can relate to the business.
- Even the international students can pick up the concept quickly and see how it would work.
- Using the same business throughout the tutoring relationship provides a safe place for students to learn where they are already familiar with what the business is and how it works.
- Accounting and finance principles work the same whether revenue is in the hundred of dollars or hundreds of millions of dollars and whether the calculations are round numbers or not – for purposes of discussion it is easier to work with smaller numbers to teach the principle before applying the principle to complicated situations with large numbers. Too often students are confused not because the principle being taught is confusing, but because they are daunted by the large numbers being used. Once they become familiar with the principle, the numbers are easy to figure out.
- By using the same business to introduce each principle, students don’t need to spend time learning everything about a new business each time they learn a new principle. This means that more time can be spent discussing the principle and less discussing the business.
- Having already seen other principles applied to the same business (before simplifying it back down to its core), students are better able to see the principle inside a complicated business structure.
This is just one technique that has been developed successfully over several years that sets Bryan’s tutoring sessions apart from other options.
After each exam, students are encouraged to bring in their exams to be reviewed. The collection of exams over the years provides the tutoring service with a number of examples for use in tutoring session and to better prepare students for upcoming tests.
Similarly, over the years, certain handouts have been prepared to help teach students particular principles. These are accumulated and updated occassionally as needed. Students who are enrolled in tutoring sessions have full access to several years worth of materials. The cost to the company to provide these materials is very low because they have been developed from time to time over the years when a need arose. Although some investment of time was required to produce them, it is an overhead cost and can be spread out over several years for as long as the handout remains current or useful.
One challenge that the tutoring company faces is the cyclical nature of demand. Students tend to seek tutoring more when an exam is looming. Because of its experience in the school and its understanding of when exams will be coming up, topics of discussion for tutoring classes can be planned and students can be encouraged to keep their studies on a more even track. The focus is on prevention of problems so that last-minute cramming is kept to a minimum.
Finally, the services offered by the company are differentiated from competitors by the quality of Bryan’s teaching. He is fun, energetic, and has a certain stage presence that makes it interesting to attend his tutoring sessions. Moreover, his personalized attention focuses on the specific needs of individual students.
Bryan understands that different people learn in different ways, so classes are taught on various levels. Board displays and other visual aids are employed whenever possible to reach those who learn visually. Explanations are thorough for the audio learners. A training model is employed that gives students a good deal of hands-on time during the session so they can learn by doing. And an analysis of each student helps determine which of these approaches will be the most useful for each individual.
There are no other companies providing specialized and targeted services to the target market. This gives the company an edge that will help it to survive for some time to come. The experience with and knowledge about each of the professors and their courses gives the company an ability to provide specialized services that no one else can compete with on anywhere near the same level. Moreover, the service is further differentiated by the following items:
- Individualized service, based on personalized evaluation of each client and his or her specific needs and strengths. This takes into account the recognition that students learn in various ways, some students learn visually, others orally. Bryan’s Tutoring first evaluates each student and their best way of learning and tailors the tutoring to most effective serve each student.
- The option of one-on-one tutoring or review sessions offered to small groups (enough students so they can learn from each other, but not so many that it becomes confusing and distracting in the session).
- Specialized handouts prepared over several years of tutoring.
- Experience explaining difficult concepts and knowledge of what works best with certain types of students. Sessions can be focussed to better meet the needs of individual students.
- Systematic Analysis Framework (SAF) will be applied to all tutoring. SAF is a system where each student is taught to properly approach any type of problem with a systematic method that provides them with the tools of handling problems with a formal problem solving technique, empowering the student to be able to learn more on their own. This is in contrast with most other tutors who assist the student with specific problems or questions. This is short sighted as it only addresses the difficulty at hand, it does not assist the student with problem solving techniques that provide students with tools to assist them in the future with unforseen problems.
Keys To Success
Keys to Success
Our Keys to Success are:
- Developing methods of approaching subjects that helps students get their minds around challenging concepts.
- Creating excellent word of mouth promotion of services – clients sell services to other students.
- Truly listening to clients’ needs and diagnosing where their understanding of concepts is breaking down.