Running a successful online teaching business is not easy, but good systems can make a world of difference to students, online teachers and administrators alike.
But which systems should you look to upgrade and in which order?
The sheer number of tasks can feel overwhelming.
In this article, we'll highlight the biggest opportunities for your online teaching business to thrive with a particular focus on online language schools.
Start by assessing your current operations
These are the most common tasks that online language schools need to get right are:
1. Hire teachers
2. Attract new customers
3. Make the sale and take student payments
3. Onboard new students
4. Schedule classes
5. Deliver online classes
Getting these right is easier said than done but each of these key areas needs robust systems that need to be constantly worked on.
Have you thought through the steps involved to ensure each of the above are running as smoothly as possible?
1. Teacher recruitment, management and quality assurance
2. Lead generation
3. Taking student payments
4. User management (students, teachers, administrators)
5. Class scheduling
6. Class delivery
A good way to get an overview of the efficiency of your operation is to list each step of the learner/customer, online language teacher and administrator journey under these high-level activities of the business.
Then go through each step to assess the time, money and resources that are associated with each of them.
This will make it much easier for you to rank and prioritise the steps & systems that need the most urgent attention. By assigning a monetary value to get a job done, it will help you make better decisions around any investments in virtual classroom software, online school software or other tools. You can also see which steps can be skipped altogether and save time for everyone.
You might have identified that the process requires email sorting of CVs, multiple interviews, training, and testing, only to discover within a few months of starting that the online language teacher is not a good fit, does not have enough availability or cannot meet the standards you are seeking.
In terms of identifying the cost when assessing your language teacher recruitment process, you might find that it takes XX number of steps, XX hours (and X weeks) to hire a qualified teacher. For every day that a teaching position remains unfilled, it could result resulting in $XXX in lost profit, per teacher per day that a teaching job remains unfilled.
There's a lot you can do to solve these, but before getting carried away, let's have a look at each of the other areas.
Note: Every online language business is different, so this article will not assume the time, money and effort involved in each step of your process and you can replace the X's with your actual numbers.
Perhaps your process is different marketing activities, such as Google Ads, that lead to website visits, free trials, an email sequence and eventually invoicing the student or customer.
As an example of the cost of inefficiencies, you might find that you're paying $XXX per month for Google ads, paying $XX for a teacher trial and spending X minutes/hours to sell the package of class hours leads to a total of $YYY per student. This may mean you're barely making any profit which will limit your growth.
Which of the steps associated with lead generation, cost your business the most money or time?
Taking Student Payments
Some online language schools still invoice students after each class. This really exacerbates the time and effort it takes to get payment. Delayed payment, and a much higher risk of non-payment, also have costs, especially if you're wanting to pay your teachers on time. This could add up to X% of classes not being paid on time, with $XXX unclaimed or late and lead to financial stress and frustrated teachers.
Depending on your system of taking online payments, this might be the area you find most or least costly.
Once you have the customer, you may need to email them a certain number of times to help them get comfortable, assign them to the right tutor or group, ensure you understand how many classes they purchased or have used, and have a system for tracking their progress.
There could be a lot of wasted hours in manual emails, X minutes finding the right tutor, X minutes discovering and communicating the goals of the student and X minutes every week checking on the student. What is that total amount of time and how much do the staff involved get paid per hour?
You might use Google Calendar or some other free calendar tool for scheduling. This might be easy enough to manage once you've matched the right teacher with the student(s) but there could be lots of issues around timezones (daylight savings) or enabling teachers to be able to see student emails and communicate with them.
Don't forget to add in the lost opportunity (potentially several classes) if it is difficult or time-consuming for students to schedule a class.
Calculate the time (and potential for lost opportunities) involved in managing your current process, ideally per student. That way you can see how much time your school may end up spending on class scheduling as your grow.
This might be a good reason to start making changes.
If you're using Zoom, it's not uncommon for teachers to try to share their paid Zoom accounts across a team. This can save you money on subscriptions but creates confusion and undermines the student and teacher experience, which can result in churn.
You also might then find that by using a generic business meetings software like Google Meet or Zoom, it takes your administrators extra time to track student attendance or identify teachers that are often late to classes because the reports are isolated from the rest of your data. These can also run up costs you might not initially consider.
Finally, managing teacher quality and understanding what happened in a class could also be frustrating by using an external virtual classroom vs having it integrated into your main platform.
Every online language school needs to understand their student attendance, teacher attendance, lateness, student satisfaction and many more factors in order to manage the health of their business.
Using lots of different spreadsheets may take X hours each week to generate and are easy to make mistakes with, which also has a cost, and may mean important issues are missed and escalate.
Think about all the activities that need to be excellent in an online language school (teacher happiness, student satisfaction, class count, etc) and think about how much time/effort is required to get that information when you need it.
These 7 are just some of the systems you might like to review and upgrade. You can get a full list of the systems you want to improve by reviewing the feature list of LearnCube's Online School. Our software will either provide inspiration of what to improve or you may be interested in getting in touch with LearnCube for a discovery call about our Online School software here.