Bryan's Tutoring Service

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Tutoring Service Business Plan

Market Analysis Summary

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.

4.1 Market Segmentation

Graduate Students
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.

Undergraduate Students
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.

Market Analysis
2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Potential Customers Growth CAGR
Graduate Quantitative 0% 2,000 4,000 6,000 7,500 7,500 39.16%
Graduate Non-quantitative 4% 1,800 0 0 500 1,500 -4.46%
Graduate International 5% 300 500 600 800 840 29.36%
Undergrad Quantitative 3% 8,500 500 700 1,300 1,339 -37.00%
Undergrad Non-quantitative 3% 8,200 8,446 0 200 700 -45.95%
Undergrad International 5% 3,500 200 500 700 735 -32.31%
Total -15.12% 24,300 13,646 7,800 11,000 12,614 -15.12%

4.2 Target Market Segment Strategy

While the graduate quantitative segment will remain the core focus of the company, much time will be dedicated to developing the undergraduate quantitative segment. This is a mere matter of population dynamics.

The graduate management students (as well as an occasional law student who has chosen to take a management class) are limited to a total of only 150-200 students at any given time, only half of which are in the core of the program taking the required quantitative courses. Generally, those students in the elective quantitative courses in grad school are those who enjoy the math or for whom it comes easily (as well as an increasing number who have gone through the tutoring and developed the skills they need to survive). The potential market among grad students is therefore quite finite.

The undergraduate campus, on the other hand, consists of 1,600 students, so the potential market is ten times larger. The international student population makes up a large percentage of the graduate school of management. The undergraduate non-quantitative segment is difficult and expensive to service because of the variety of courses students could need help with. For now, only the core classes required for graduation are being handled. So, the goal is to maintain the current levels among graduate student segments while over time expanding the undergraduate quantitative segment.

4.3 Service Business Analysis

Tutoring has been around as long as students. And as long as students get in over their head, they will need tutors to help them catch up and keep up with their classmates. Some materials just need to be explained in different ways for them to make sense.

However, while the need for tutoring exists, the bulk of tutoring taking place in the market is very limited and unorganized. What sets this company apart is its experience and the attention paid to individual needs of students.

4.3.1 Competition and Buying Patterns

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Even the international students can pick up the concept quickly and see how it would work.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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