Title: How to set up a calendar with student reminders for online tutoring

My dentist, my doctor, my mechanic and my son’s karate school send me confirmations of my appointments and reminders the day before. The YMCA, where we’ve taken swimming classes doesn’t send out reminders about schedule changes and upcoming classes. Guess which one I miss most often? Setting up your schedule with reminder messages for tutoring reminders for your clients is not necessary, but it is a helpful service that many parents will appreciate. 

One less thing to remember

Set expectations with parents

When you set a new family up for online tutoring, it’s important that they view what you’re doing with their child as a business. This can be difficult for new tutors when they are starting out because most of us come from a school background, where the relationship with parents is different and school teachers are expected to go out of their way (and work outside of their contracted hours!) to meet the needs of students and families.  

Having a calendar service that sends confirmations and reminders is one way to make your business appear professional and differentiate what you do from the family’s casual commitments, like play dates and group classes that go on with or without them attending. Sending calendar reminders is also a way to meet parents halfway and help them to comply with your policies around cancellations and no-shows. You are likely to get more notice if they have to cancel when they get a reminder 24 hours before the lesson. This service is also an added value that makes it easier for students to benefit from your services.

Simplify your systems

Sure, you could do this by hand, keeping your schedule in Google Calendar, texting or emailing parents to confirm. But the time you spend setting up a calendar service is worth the investment if it means you don’t have to sit down before every work day and send out reminders. 

Having automatic reminders also cuts down on the “Are we meeting this week?” messages. It puts the responsibility on parents to cancel for minor holidays or for vacations. Most of my students continue to meet with me on holidays like Veterans Day or President’s Day, but if they don’t plan to, a reminder email prompts them to cancel if they have plans. 

My students also come from all over the US, so I can’t keep track of everyone’s school vacation weeks. If parents haven’t remembered to cancel, the reminder email serves as their cue. When parents give me more notice for cancellations, I have a better chance of rescheduling students and I can make better use of the spot that opens up in my schedule. It sure beats sitting at my desk waiting for a no-show!

If you’re ready to try an appointment scheduling service, I recommend 10to8.com. 

Make it easier to run your business

I hate to break it to you, but you run a business. I know, I know, it’s just a little tutoring, maybe on the side of your other job. But if you’re here, you, like me, are in business. Using an appointment scheduling service helps me feel and look like a business because it has several important features. 10to8, like other services, handles time zones for you. Users view your calendar online and see it translated to their own time zone. None of that “3:00 your time? My time?” nonsense. 

Second, and I know I’ve said this before, using a scheduling service makes it clear that you’re a professional. Instead of going back and forth by email with parents who are hoping you can “squeeze them in” or “just move the meeting 15 minutes later because of basketball practice,” you can say, “Here’s the link to my calendar. You can book the time that works best for you.”

One reservation I had about turning control of my schedule over to 10to8 was that students would see and book times that I didn’t really want to be available. But as I have ironed out the kinks in the system, I have figured out how to take control. 

  1. I set my availability to reflect the hours I really want to teach.
  2. I sync it to my personal calendar and used the “blocked time” appointment in 10to8 so I don’t get double-booked at my kids’ bedtime or the day of a family party.
  3. I set up the online booking so people can book a consultation directly from my website, but they can only book an hour of tutoring with a link I give them directly. That way there are no surprise students on my calendar, but I can still give existing parents the link to reschedule or add a new session. Ultimately, 10to8 saves me a lot of time.

There’s no reason not to

So why should you set up an online calendar service for your tutoring business? Why not? It takes a little time to set up 10to8 and tweak it so it’s just like you want it. But over time, you save a ton of time that you would have spent on communicating with parents. You also can potentially save lost income from missed lessons and cancellations. And you give your students the added benefit of email or text reminders before sessions. That is something that makes my life easier for parents and other busy humans, so I am happy to offer that to my students and their families. 

Ready to try it? Sign up for 10to8. If you use this link, I get a small commission, even if you sign up for the free version, which is what I would recommend to start. 

Check out more tips for setting  up new online tutoring students here and here.

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