How Scott Woodley went from Working until 10PM Daily to Getting Freedom by Systematizing the Operations of his Tutoring Company.

Are you overwhelmed by how much work you have to do each workday at your company and do you want to discover how to systematize your business?

In this interview, Scott Woodley Co-Founder of Tutora reveals how he went from working until 10PM daily to getting freedom from work by systematizing the operations of his tutoring company.

You will also discover how he built an online platform with over 4,000 tutors across UK.

Scott Woodley Co-Founder of Tutora

 

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In this Episode You will Discover:

  • Why Scott believes in putting systems in place only when you know it will benefit your business.
  • How Scott determined how to match up students with tutors.
  • Why Scott set up automated emails to streamline communication with his customers.
  • How Scott created follow-up emails for tutors to encourage them to finish filling out their profiles.
  • Why Scott hasn’t had the need to document processes and procedures until recently.
  • Why Scott believes you need to take the systematization process slowly.
  • Why Scott found it challenging to step back and trust that his systems would work.
  • Why Scott wanted to reduce the use of phones in his business.

 

Episode Transcript:

OWEN: My guest today is Scott Woodley and he is the co-founder of Tutora. Scott, welcome to the show.

SCOTT: Hi, thanks for having me.

OWEN: This interview is all about getting entrepreneurs like yourself who have been able to systematize their business operations so that it runs successfully without them having to be there and so that we can keep our listeners tuned in all the way to the end I want you to share with the listener what are some mind blowing results that you now experience as a result of going through the process of systematizing and automating your business.

SCOTT: I suppose the systems we put in place are what’s really allowed us to scale so rapidly and to such an extent whereby we now have nearly 4,000 tutors across the UK but there’s still only three of us servicing those guys. It’s also allowed us to keep costs down and that let us roll out so quickly across the country.

OWEN: That’s awesome. I’m also wondering how has your company been transformed as a result of systematizing your business.

SCOTT: Massively. When we first started we didn’t have those systems in place here. It really was a case of… Mark and I, my co-founder and I just making calls, call after call after call, chasing everything up manually or having scraps of note paper all over the place. But the systems we put in place have really allowed us to scale. And focusing on business elements that we need to instead of kind of planning in our day-to-day activities.

OWEN: And the reality is we’re systematizing our business to improve the business, but we also have some personal benefits from that. So I’m wondering how’s your personal life been transformed as a result of systematizing your business.

SCOTT: Hugely transformed. I remember when we were first making all those calls, we were working until 10 o’clock at night, emailing over weekends just trying to catch up. But just having those ideas and those systems in place have allowed us to kind of take time away from the business knowing that when we get back it allowed us to kind of get outside, enjoy the wonderful weather in Sheffield, and actually spend time with our partners and friends. I think that’s really important because otherwise we’ll just burn out. So we need that energy to be able to continue and do our best in our working days.

OWEN: And since you’ve actually systematized the business I’m wondering how long have you actually been away from the business.

SCOTT: It’s a good time to ask actually, not much at all. We’re still a startup after all so we still have an incredible amount to do, limited budget to do. Mark’s managed to get a week away. I took a couple of days here in there. But I’m going away Monday and Tuesday so looking forward to it.

OWEN: That’s awesome. Just to give the listeners some context as to the business and what you guys do, what exactly do you guys do and what big pain or problem do you solve for your customers?

SCOTT: Tutora is a marketplace that allows parents and students to find trusted expert tutors here in the UK. We effectively allow tutors to promote and advertise themselves by creating profiles. Students search for the best tutors nearby. Book lessons with them. We take a commission based on what the tutors do. So we help tutors plan, take all of the payments. But basically we’re helping people find the best tutors around for tuition in your own home.

OWEN: How many full-time employees you guys have and even part-time? I’m curious.

SCOTT: We’ve got one full-time employee alongside Mark and I. We work full-time. We’re both co-founders. So there are three of us in total. And then we also use contractors for various, different elements of the business plans and when we need them.

OWEN: The tutors, are they independent contractors that work on your platform?

SCOTT: Our tutors are self-employed.

OWEN: Okay. And so you guys build the engine, the tool that they use to do their work.

SCOTT: Exactly.

OWEN: Okay. I just want to understand the context of what’s going on. Is the company profitable? What was last year’s annual revenue and what do you expect to generate this year?

SCOTT: We’re just coming up to the first 12 months in business. We’ve done around 250,000 bookings in that time. We’re hoping to do an excess of one million pounds worth of bookings over the next 12 months, and two million in 2017.

OWEN: Okay. Take us back to when the business was not systematized and even automated like it is now. What was wrong with it?

SCOTT: I’d say probably nothing was wrong with it to be honest. The beauty of that was, and I think this is something that’s key for systematizing any business is ultimately putting things into place in systems only when you’re really sure that those are the solutions that the business needs and your user’s need. When we’re doing it to start with we didn’t have those systems in place but the business was great. We were taking calls from students. We were searching through all the tutors, calling them. We’re acting as middle men. So that was a great service but it was something that we just could not sustain, and find the best tutors, and scale the business. Really in doing that it allowed us to scale the business.

OWEN: And so the thing is I’m also trying to find out was there a specific low point or even like a breaking point where something happened in the business and you were like, “I have to change this business, make sure that I get it to actually being able to run without me. Share the story with us because we want to understand the pain that you were going through.

SCOTT: Yeah. I suppose it’s on weekends when you wake up at 5 o’clock on a Saturday morning thinking, “I should’ve called that tutor. Why haven’t I called that tutor? They’ve got a lesson today at 10 o’clock and they don’t know where they’re going.” It was horrible. You have so many people’s lives resting on you. Not their lives, blows it out of proportion. But there are kind of day-to-day activities. They’re waiting to hear from you all the time and with that came a lot of responsibility. And I think it was just when you’re working tirelessly to do that and you don’t have the systems in place it’s just unsustainable completely. And it made you question doing a startup in the first place.

OWEN: What was the very first step you took to systematize the business? Do you remember the very first thing you did? Walk us through the first step.

SCOTT: I suppose the very first step was just kind of thinking of the idea for their business. We always wanted to create something that we could scale, something that could become a nationwide or international business. So to do that even before we started we had to think about how could this solution work without us. But I think from that point it was once it’s just getting going and really getting stuck in and actually being on the ground doing and speaking to our customers, making sure that we could find out what we needed… were. Once we had those real [Unintelligible 00:07:17] code and then we don’t need to be involved ourselves personally.

OWEN: We got disconnected there for a second. Can you repeat the last statement you’ve just said?

SCOTT: I was just saying we’re basically just looked to kind of ask our customers what they needed and find things that worked for ourselves in terms of the calls we were making. And when we found we were doing the same things over and over again then we could code them into true solutions that we systematized.

OWEN: Make that more concrete. What were those things that you discovered that you guys were doing over and over again? Just give us a few examples.

SCOTT: For example when we were getting students to find the right tutors for them we would effectively be kind of contacting loads of different tutors ourselves for them and then creating message threads between them and links, but we were acting initially as a middle men between them. And we would be calling students, technical for student calling a tutor, finding out what their availability was, matching them up. But then we quickly knew that actually we wanted students and chooses to be able to do that themselves very quickly. Get some threads together so that they could communicate between themselves. And then we could see how long it had been since they’ve messaged and find which students needed our help at which points, so we could put them into buckets, and then we could deal with all of the same students in the same way. And that would then allow us to kind of find solutions for different groups of students, and then code those into automated procedures.

OWEN: And so what was the second step you took to systematize the business?

SCOTT: The different needs that we had, it was deciding which of those to code first, looking at which was having the biggest impact on our working lives, how much of it was taking our time, which students we needed to solve the problem for the most. And therefore that would free up ourselves as business owners and entrepreneurs to invest our time in other areas that were going to be more profitable for us. So it was deciding which had the biggest impact to both our students and ourselves.

OWEN: It sounds like to me like is busy thinking through the entire process was the first thing. And the now, after having a list of all the different things you want to do, figuring out which of those ones who would have the biggest impact to decide that’s what we’ll start with. Do you remember which one of two things you felt would’ve had the biggest impact that you started with?

SCOTT: Yeah. I think when we first started it was really seeing those students all the way through to the end of the process, so from their initial message through to confirming that booking. So I think from that point of view it was really chasing tutors to respond. So building in kind of a response driver, something that we could improve the communication between the tutors and students. So we started off sending off emails to the students and the tutors once they’ve got a new message. And that allowed us to…

OWEN: …to drive engagement right?

SCOTT: Yeah, exactly. We no longer had to be those people who were making a call or dropping a text. Those emails firing off automatically when a new message was sent allowed us to step back. And that just provided us way more time to kind of automate other areas of the business.

OWEN: Was there any other thing besides driving up engagement within the app, that was the big impact that you focus on next. I was just wondering.

SCOTT: I think it’s also once we’ve started to recruit more and more tutors. It was having those automated system whereby a student would create an account and we would fire it off. We don’t have to look at every single account and be texting every single tutor or calling them to explain which bits of their profile needed to be completed, which bit that said missed where they could improve. So we created an automated system whereby if they hadn’t filled in that kind of title tag or put a profile photo on, we’d text them up and say, “Please add a title tag on your photo.”

OWEN: So that’s kind of like a welcome note where you’re like onboarding them through the steps that you would’ve done manually, right?

SCOTT: Yeah. It improved hugely over time. And everything we do is to save ourselves time and to allow us to grow.

OWEN: So is that kind of like onboarding the tutors with their own way of onboarding them, as well as onboarding the students with their own series of steps as well?

SCOTT: Yeah. To onboard tutors we drop them a message to create an account. And once they’ve created their account we drop them reminder messages to keep creating them, completing their account. And those emails set out the different areas that they still need to complete to create their profile, and ultimate go live to be matched with students. And then when students went to the account we message them at various and the next steps that they need to complete to be able to secure that tutor. And even once they’ve got a tutor we’ll message them to ensure that they’re happy with the services they’re receiving.

OWEN: What other steps did you take to systematize and even automate the business?

SCOTT: I think it’s all about the admin side of things for us. We have students and tutors engaging. Now those students and tutors get to various steps really throughout the process. It might be the message they send to a tutor, but tutor doesn’t get back. We need to follow up with that tutor and prompt them to get back, and match that student with other tutors. So what we’ve done is on the backend of the site with various sections and buckets almost of the different students…

OWEN: To like segments and stuff?

SCOTT: Exactly, yeah, to segment I use this to say where they are in that process. We can then [Unintelligible 00:13:05] those different segments in different ways. And in doing so once we’ve done that personally, hundreds of times and we’re really happy that we found what they need and that procedure we can then automate that. So we can code it out in towards text messages or emails. And that way we allowed our students to receive a really great service because it’s so quick and efficient for them to find the best tutors.

OWEN: And so I’m wondering, you said you used impact as a means to decide what to work on. But I’m wondering was there any other factors that you consider when deciding how to prioritize what to work on first besides impact?

SCOTT: Yeah, money definitely. We always have to bear in mind as a startup, we’d be fortunate enough to raise some investments since April. But I think in those early days when we’re first heading out the systems that we needed we had to contemplate how much it was going to cost us to build the different systems. There was no point designing an elaborate scheme whereby text messages and emails fire at different points. We couldn’t then afford to get that contractor to be built.

OWEN: Okay. That’s fair enough. I’m wondering, it sounds to me like you guys have more an automation going on where you’ve built like this automation workflow that’s doing the work and to facing the customers who are the tutors as well as the customers who are the students, right? I’m wondering. Were there any other kind of things that people would have to do. And so I’m wondering how exactly did you even document procedures and processes for the business for repetitive tasks that human beings within the company have to do.

SCOTT: I suppose, funny enough I’ve just been sitting, documenting it now. But I think up until this point we haven’t really documented much, only Mark, myself, the co-founders, and we’ve just since taken one other person on who’s kind of learned since they’ve gone. But I think the real beauty about it is that our administrative panels are so intuitive that we don’t really need to code a great deal. Our business is one, but isn’t too difficult to understand really. A student’s parents looking for tutors, tutors looking for any students. So buckets are quite self-explanatory and the fact that somebody who hasn’t found a right tutor. We need to put them in touch with other people. And really it’s not too difficult to understand and to see where they are based on the buckets that we’ve created. But I think also that our business moved really quickly. So documenting things has just not been a priority. I think now as we grow we’re going to start to have that transition between a startup to what we’ll hopefully be a larger business. And I think this point now at the juncture we’re at we’re looking to kind of start to document those procedures a little bit more.

OWEN: Yeah. And I wanted to make that distinction clear for the listeners because your business is more of building that platform where what your customer’s interface. And that’s why it’s focused more primarily on the automation parts of things as opposed to documenting procedures and processes, and having things manually done by your employees. But anyways it’s still good to understand how you guys are building the business, and that’s why we’re doing the interview. Moving forward, I’m wondering even at the time you were even systematizing and automating the business and creating this engine that both customers use I’m wondering what books or even mentors had the most influence on you and why?

SCOTT: I think really from that point of view it’s just looking at other sites out there. Those have been our biggest mentors, looking at the sites we really love they’ve done, whether that’s kind of… Airbnb is a classic, or whether it’s dog babysitting sites. Mark my co-founder setup a dog babysitting site when he was initially creating a business to kind of practice his coding. And just looking around on the internet, looking at the systems that other businesses have put in place, looking at how we as clients in those businesses have responded, that’s where our kind of inspiration comes. So I think that’s probably the best way of exploring rather than looking to any one individual as a mentor. Although we’ve been very, very fortunate in working out of University of Sheffield in the U.K. and having great people around us in the city as tech becomes bigger here.

OWEN: Okay. When you guys were initially building the systems you guys use for business now I’m wondering, because if we only talk about what you’ve been able to achieve and not talk about the challenges you have we won’t have a well-rounded interview. So I’m wondering, what were the biggest challenges that you guys experienced initially as you all tried to systematize the business and even for the most part automate it?

SCOTT: I think in our business the nature of tuition and our clients’ parents are looking for guidance to find the right tutors. And so once we looked towards me it’s knowing how much to automate, we still want that self-touch business where we build up a personal engagement with our clients. So we have to balance out that need to automate. And I think as well there’s something to be said for going slowly with… I think a lot of businesses… and there’s definitely a risk of…

OWEN: Can you repeat that? All I heard was slowly. That was the last…

SCOTT: I think you need to go slowly in thinking about what to automate. I think this is…

OWEN: Why?

SCOTT: Because I think there’s definitely a temptation to rush to implement automated procedures that might not ultimately solve the business needs. We made the mistake, and I think this is one of the biggest challenges to learn from us was we automated a lot very early. And what actually happened was build pages, there was quite an expense to it. And I think that was a mistake. So now we use much more of a lean methodology where we try to put things in place and then test them. And then once we really nailed down those procedures we can then automate and more slowly and gradually knowing that the new automated procedures are right for our clients and for us as employees.

OWEN: Just because the listeners who are listening might not have a software or marketplace platform like you do, some of these terms we’re using they might not understand. What do you mean by lean startup, just a quick summary of that.

SCOTT: Okay. Lean startup is a kind of ideology of business whereby you don’t take too many gambles I’d say. It’s testing things and having that feedback loop where you have an idea. You think about how you could test it, what your hypothesis is, and what results you would look to see if it was right and if it was wrong, doing something in a scientific way that you can then test and then put into place if it’s right. And if it’s not then you could pivot and change your idea, test it again, and then put into place once it is right. And we do that in all areas of our business. `That’s kind of how we approach business. We have an idea that this is what we think our tutors or students would need. We test it by putting it into practice with the conversations that we have and interactions we have with them. If it’s not quite right we’ll change it slightly until we get it right, and then we can automate.

OWEN: That’s awesome. I’m wondering, we talked about the first challenge already. I’m wondering, what was the second biggest challenge that you guys experienced?

SCOTT: I think it’s for me, honestly it’s a case of stepping back and trusting the systems that you have in place. I really want to make a difference with people’s lives. We use our site and I use us to make sure that the service we provide them is really, really great. And sometimes I think it’s difficult to rely on systems and trust an algorithm, or trust buckets to pick up the right people. Especially when you’re so connected to the business yourself and you so wanted to be a success. So I think stepping back and trusting the systems that you put in place is for me one of the biggest challenges.

OWEN: Okay. So trust… I think during the pre-interview you also talked about there were some technical challenges as well. Talk about those.

SCOTT: I think as well it’s a case of future-proofing your business. You can automate things to the scale that you’re at currently. And I think that’s something that’s all too easy to do. But I think it’s about making sure that you’ve got the systems in place that can now allow you to grow. You always have that tension, it’s spending more at a current time to enable your business to be ready to get to that next level and maybe a few levels up. But I think that’s really important not to kind of just think, “Okay, this is my problem now. How can I solve it.” If that ultimately means, “Here’s my problem now. If I solve it in this way ultimately in two years’ time that will be redundant and I’d have to do it all again, and that’s not going to allow our business to expand and grow.

OWEN: Let’s make point concrete for the listener by using a specific example. You said something about thinking about features. So use a specific feature that you guys were working on and how that was a challenge regarding this point. That way it’s more concrete for the listener.

SCOTT: Okay. I think from our point of view we have buckets and segments of students. Segments is probably a better word. We just use buckets in our office. We have segments of users. When we first started we looked to segment those students on the individual student and what they required. But sometimes students are looking for different tutors. They might not just be looking for one. If we segmented a student based on their desire to have a tutor that doesn’t then allow us to cope with if the student wants to find a Math and English tutor. So really we’re looking for not just basing our work on the student as a whole, but the student and their relationships for the different inquiries they have. And systematizing our business based on the different inquiries they had that allows us future-proof against, to grow more rapidly and therefore serve our clients in a better way in the future. Even though that demanded more of an investment at the time to build out that system, it allows us to progress quicker in the future if we get that done straightaway.

OWEN: What was the issue you guys had with scale being that you’re building a platform. Talk about it specifically.

SCOTT: We effectively want to build to a point where we can service students and parents across the country, if not internationally. So to do that we didn’t want to have an agency style system whereby we were using phones a lot to call and individual manage all the business. And ultimately nowadays I don’t think… people want. I don’t want to go on to a hotel site, putting my inquiry, and then have someone call me. And then I have to wait for them to call the different hotels for me. I want that information to be there. So we want to deal with people’s inquiries as efficiently as possible without them having to ever contact us. And I think that’s about finding the way in which you can segment your users more marginally. And then providing limited procedures that will service them in all of those different areas.

OWEN: Okay. And so at what point did you feel that you guys had actually automated the business and it could actually run without you?

SCOTT: I’d love to say we’re at that point, but of course we’re not. We’re still doing that. So just before I came online to you today I was sitting, thinking about the next steps in which we can improve the automation that we’ve got. So yeah, at the moment I think we’re doing a pretty good job. There’s only three of us. We starve for a really personable service. But we’re constantly trying to improve.

OWEN: Let’s say you’re not 100% at the point where you say it’s totally hands off. Give us the percentage. Where are you now?

SCOTT: I suppose we’re at the point we want to be for the size we are.

OWEN: So you say if 100% is if everything is just running without you guys have to be there, where will you guys be now?

SCOTT: That’s to say if we weren’t in the office at all things would go pretty smoothly for 90% of the time, but the 10% of the time that we’re needed then people would be pretty unhappy I think if we run around.

OWEN: Ninety percent is not bad. Some businesses are like 10%. Just so the listener can understand the different parts of the business currently right now I want you to use an analogy. Think of it like a conveyor belt. On one end is the… It’s twofold because you have two customers. Usually it’s easier using this analogy when you have only one type of customer, but technically you have two types of customers, the tutors as well as the students. I want you to show us. Imagine on one end of that conveyor belt is this student who potentially has needs for a tutor. And on the other end of that conveyor belt is that same student who has now used your service, is out there raving about you guys. What exactly is happening behind the scenes to make that transformation happen? I want you to talk about the different parts of your company that’s making that transformation happen. And if you can also walk us through that same conveyor belt on the tutor side, assuming that it might be different for the experience of the tutor. Walk us through it.

SCOTT: Okay. I think for students when they first come to our site they search for…

OWEN: Let’s probably start on how you even get them in the first place.

SCOTT: Okay. We advertise heavily online. When they come through to our site it’s generally from advertising on search engines or other listing sites. So when they come through to our site from there sometimes we will send them off to a landing page, but other times they’ll come through to the home page. They’ll then search for a tutor based on their subject and [Unintelligible 00:28:39]. From there we use an algorithm which takes a lot of information that we collate on the student on the tutor’s previous experience and the views of their other students. So that orders the different tutors for them, to represent the best tutors for them at the top of the search results where they then will create an account and send a message. Once they do that we have a job board now. So that creates an automated list of pending jobs. All we do is re-frame that, making sure it’s read nicely and easily understood by our tutors, and then we post that live. Tutors then can automatically apply to those jobs, and students will receive lots of inquiries from tutors who are relevant and who can help in their area. So that’s one way in which we automate the procedure. We used to manually rematch a new one who didn’t initially find the right tutor for them. But that saves us loads of time as admin. Once they send that initial message to the tutor that they have selected an automated text and email will fire off to the tutor so that they can then click on a link on their mobile phone and that logs them back into the site and then they can respond using their phone, almost like they’re texting each other, same for a student. Again, that makes the process really efficient but it takes us out of the loop of having to rematch them. We could track where the students are in their journeys. Whether they have contacted a tutor and whether than initial tutor can help, so tutors click a button to say, “Yes, I can help your student.” And then we can leave them to have that conversation. Whereas if the tutor clicked, “Sorry, I can’t help the student,” we can then post the job for students who might otherwise have been lost to the system. And again, it’s depending for us to create the job. Once they then being chatting we can track the amount of time it’s been since their last message and then we’ve got to automate it, prompts for them to contact each other and get chatting again. And then once they’ve booked in a lesson, the tutor books in the lesson for the student once they’ve agreed to time and location. The student gets an automatic email asking them to confirm a lesson by entering their payment details. And they’ll get a text reminding them to do that. Then to their payment details and that confirms the lesson. And an automated text gets sent to the tutor and the student at that point, exchanging their phone numbers so they can have a chat. And they can message each other in case they don’t find the right way to get to the lesson. And then basically once they’ve had their lesson we take payment 24 hours later from the card which is all automated. We use Stripe. And then we pay the tutors directly into their bank account 7 days after the lesson. Again, that’s all an automated process and that commission is taken from that. But until they get to that point, once the tutor has created the lesson. We segment those users so those students we class as pending. If they’ve yet to confirm the session so we give them a call and we can make sure they can talk through that process. For automatic messages, we’ll put in a message thread to remind them and to help them explain how to do that. So alongside all of that once they’ve had their lesson we then have different segments of students as to how many lessons they’ve had, where they are in the process. We have reminders for students and tutors. We have automated systems that say when their next lesson is coming up, when we [Unintelligible 00:32:09]. We also have automating systems, ask the students to leave reviews for our tutors. So that builds a trust in that community. So all of these things are kind of done very automatically and prompt users for that.

OWEN: And I’m glad you just walked us through the workflow on the student side. I’m wondering is there anything on the tutor side of the workflow that you want to share with us that we’ve not talked about yet?

SCOTT: I suppose it’s a very similar set-up. And the tutors get automated reminders. There’s pop-ups on their dashboard. We’re building out an education system which will notify tutors to new improvements on the site, guide them when we think they can improve the service they offer. And those types of things will all help us ??overall to make the business in the future. But I think it’s pretty similar. The one thing that I touched upon earlier was when tutors first sign-up. We have many automatic reminders that tell them how to go about creating their profile and getting it to the point where it’s good enough to go live on our site.

OWEN: I know earlier how one of the things you guys did internally with your admin tool for managing students is that you set it up so that it kind of like shows like maybe a Kanban board or whatever. You’re showing different buckets and moving the students through the different stages, so that’s kind of how it helps you guys know exactly what to do for that student specifically in that stage. But I’m wondering besides this kind of thing you have in the admin on your dashboard internally. I’m wondering, are there any other systems you have in place that enable your employees to know what they needed to do besides that? And if there’s nothing else feel free to say that.

SCOTT: I think those are the main ways that we do that. I would recommend some other services that we’ve used. Twilio has been fantastic. So that’s an automated text sending machine.

OWEN: SMS text, right?

SCOTT: Yeah. That really allows us to supercharge our business and the fact that so many of those students have received messages so quickly, and so tutors can know exactly when they’ve received a reply because frankly we’re all on mobile phones nowadays. And once we’ve got email capability on those. I think we’re still primarily reliant on text messaging for speed. We also use obviously hotkeys but…

OWEN: What is hotkeys?

SCOTT: Just so we can use all the shortcuts on our keyboard. It sounds so simple but I think the amount of people I see, you’re clicking around with a mouse all the time instead of… Well, I’m on a Mac, so instead of using a Command button to its full potential is just crazy. It must’ve taken me so much time just going between screens. And when you’re working through buckets, when you’re working on kind of a high volume business I think the time you can save on that is huge. [Unintelligible 00:35:14] as well is something that we find really helpful. That’s kind of a text expander machine that allows you to… Let’s say type in [Unintelligible 00:35:24], it will create a paragraph with text that you use quite often in your messages to people. It’s not that we want to avoid that personal touch, it’s just that we know that that is the best way to word an answer so that people understand it. Then we may as well write in that way.

OWEN: That’s awesome. I’m wondering, how do you even track the results delivered by your employees and your systems?

SCOTT: We’ve got loads in-built metrics on the site. We track revenue, we track conversion over different points of time. So whether that’s a 3-month conversion, 6-month conversion. We have cohort analysis to track the impact of the decisions we make and ensure that we’re always moving in the right direction. And we also just [Unintelligible 00:36:11] the different agents we have, the new procedures and systems so that we can see when we’ve got something in place and track the impact of that new policy or procedure over the next month or two.

OWEN: Okay. So you have metrics in place, KPI’s to track each of the different things. That’s good to know. And I’m wondering, it seems obviously that compared to when you started before, when you started the business initially and now it seems you have more free time because you have automated a lot of things. I’m wondering, with this free time you have which areas of the business do you focus on now and why.

SCOTT: We’re looking to just get out there to more and more people. I think we’ve started to use content marketing, just creating a blog. It ultimately improves our buy-in with our customers and it offers a better service. We’re also looking at advertising. Since securing a bit of investment we’ve got a larger budget to go out there and expand the business and scale it. So we’re really focusing on getting out there to more parents, recruiting more tutors. We’re now looking to hit 5,000 tutors by September, good nationwide coverage and really focus on expanding. And building out new services as well so we can kind of step back away from the day-to-day workings of the business as it were and look at where we want to be in 6 months, a year, and start planning and be more strategic for that rather than just having to deal with demands of our current clients.

OWEN: I’m wondering, what’s the very next stage of growth for the business? What do you plan to do and achieve?

SCOTT: We’ve just rolled out a couple of new features, but we’ve got a few more that we’re really excited about. When we started we had this vision of really improving the tuition industry in the UK. I was a primary school teacher and parents just didn’t know where to look for the best tutors. They rely on word of mouth. So we’re looking to really change that industry so that they can go to our site and know that they’re going to get the best tutor. So to do that we’re recruiting really heavily at the moment for new tutors. We’ve taken on lots of tutors very rapidly and we’re going to be advertising through those guys come the new school year. It’s really exciting times. September’s coming where children go back to school in the UK, and we’re basically looking to roll out there the new features that’s going to make the process even smoother. Improve the tutor dashboard for example so that tutors have a better experience when they’re booking in lessons and contacting their students, and looking to make the most of the investment we received.

OWEN: And so as we come to the end of the interview I’m wondering, because the reality is you talked about how primarily you’ve built a system or workflow engine that actually allows it so that your customers can actually use the tool to get work done and at each stage is showing them what they need to do next. But I’m wondering maybe the listener might not be necessarily at that stage where they’re trying to build a platform like you are. But I’m wondering what is that very next thing that you think that would apply across the board to any type of listener listening regarding the next step they should take regarding at least getting the business to the point where it can actually run without them?

SCOTT: I’d say don’t rush it. And I think if you are at a point where you’ve systematized a lot and you’re just about to jump in and go to the next stage of automation. I would say just go back and talk to your customers and make sure that what you’re about to automate is what your customers want. I think it’s all too easy to rush and automate something because it would take pressure off yourself as a business owner. And because it will allow you to go and watch a bit of football on a Saturday afternoon. But I think ultimately it needs to be done because you are sure that that’s the right thing to do for your users. So speak to them. Make sure that you’ve got it really honed and then looked towards me. I think also plan how you’re going to test it. Once you are, you do put that system in place, so many of these things are things that you can roll back from. But I think you can’t do that if you don’t have something you can test in a hypothesis that you’re looking to prove or disprove.

OWEN: During the pre-interview you said something about the listeners should ask themselves about something they hate the most about doing their business, or even what their employees hate the most. Talk about that and how that plays a role into…

SCOTT: I suppose that’s what I was saying, by kind of getting the feedback, going and speaking to your users. And speaking to your employees and thinking yourself, the question we continuously ask ourselves of our business and what do we hate the most. We find that generally if we… And we also ask our users, you can ask people what you think of our business, and they’d always say something nice. If you ask them what do you hate about your business they’re generally pretty honest and tell you what the worst thing is. And then there’s that that you can go and change, and that will have the biggest impact on your business.

OWEN: That’s awesome. Is there a question that you’re actually wishing that I would’ve asked you during the interview that for some reason I didn’t get to ask you. Go ahead and post the question and the answer.

SCOTT: I suppose for me the question is always when you’re automating, how do you go about which element to automate first and I know we’ve touched upon that. But I suppose it’s balancing the money you have, the time you have, and how long it will take to automate it. You can do things that will take a day and they’ll improve things a little bit. But it’s when to say, okay, that thing that’s going to cost an extra couple of grand and take two months to build. When is the time to just go for that? I think that’s the kind of question I’d always like answering and how other people go about making that decision for themselves and their businesses, because it’s really difficult. I think we’ve all got things that [Unintelligible 00:42:58] and take away a lot of time for us, but it’s deciding which one to do and in what order.

OWEN: Okay. I like that answer. And so what is the best way for the listeners to connect with you and thank you for doing the interview?

SCOTT: Yeah. If they want to get in touch with us they can drop us an email, that’s tutora.co.uk. Or check us out on Twitter, tutorauk, on Facebook as well.

OWEN: And so now I’m speaking to you the listener. Thanks for listening to the interview all the way to this point. And just because you’re here at this point I want to invite you to leave us your honest review on iTunes. To do that go to sweetprocess.com/iTunes, and there you can leave us your honest review, and hopefully give us a 5-star review. On top of that if you know another entrepreneur that will find value in this interview please feel free to share with them. And finally, if you’re at that stage in your business where you’re tired of being the bottleneck and you want to literally document step-by-step procedures for how you get repetitive tasks done so your employees know what you know, and even track the task being done properly, well, sign-up for a free 14-day trial of SweetProcess. Scott, thanks for doing the interview.

SCOTT: Thanks for having me, pleasure.

OWEN: And we’re done.

 

Noteworthy items Mentioned in this Episode:

  • Twilio for sending text messages

 

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Here are 3 Steps to Take After Listening to the Interview:

  1. Don’t rush into systematizing your business.
  2. Talk to your customers and ensure that what you’re looking to automate is something your customers do want.
  3. Plan how you’re going to test your systems.

 

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