How Clark is Optimizing Tutors’ Workflow
When our friend Megan O’Connor told us she was launching Clark we couldn’t wait to see how her team would change the lives and workflows of tutors; Among the most important influences in children’s academic confidence and success. We were fortunate to spend time with Josh Sohn, an industry veteran who’s tutored more than 1,600 kids, to discuss how Clark is empowering him to better support his students, seamlessly manage payments and scheduling, and be prepared to thrive as the industry evolves. Meet Josh below and check out Clark here.
Can you give us a glimpse into your daily life as a tutor?
What life? It’s insane. I see 35 or so kids every week. As a result, scheduling and transport are where the puzzle really begins. There aren’t enough hours to see everyone unless you are really careful mapping it out. In New York, for all of the wonders of public transport, things can get thrown off really quickly. If you are zig zagging all over the city and someone is delayed or you’re delayed, things can get hairy; Especially, when you’ve built a puzzle around being places.
A typical day: First session is typically 11 a.m. A little break in between and then we go straight from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday’s are even crazier: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday’s, if I’m feeling bold, I leave as my off day. It’s tough, though. It’s rewarding and frankly can be very lucrative so it’s really hard to say no. The kids are all so distinct, the work is challenging, and can be so fulfilling. There are very few people who cross my radar who I tell I’m not interested. I’m a little guilty of saying yes more than I should because I enjoy it.
It’s clear that you love what you do because you’ve been doing it for so long. Can you tell us how long you’ve been tutoring and what makes it special for you?
I started tutoring in 2001 and have been going full speed ever since. I started a little slow with a couple of kids my first year. 15 years later, it’s about 100 kids a year so I’m pushing 1,500 to 1,600 students. Mostly, high school but I work with some really little kids and also some grad students too.
I suppose people in all fields say this, but I think the key to feeling fulfilled in your work is some kind of variety. Tutoring is untouchable in that regard. Even if you are teaching the exact same material to kids in the same class it is wildly different. Tutoring is so varied from kid to kid. There’s micro-experimenting happening with every child: How do you keep this kid doing their work? How do you keep them interested when the material isn’t very engaging? I love the ability to tinker. When you’re seeing five to 10 kids a day, you try something in one session, think you’ve hit on something, and then you can test it out immediately in your next session to see if it works.
How did partnering with Clark influence your work, especially when you had a serious system in place?
Clark’s big pitch is the time that you would be spending on admin and scheduling and not teaching, they’ll take care of that. In exchange, you can do with those hours what you want to do; Whether that’s more tutoring or more downtime. They are really right.
I was a little skeptical going in whether their system would exceed my system. It really has. I already feel like I’m getting a couple of hours back every week that I would typically spend hunting people down. It’s not a secret that the big thing in tutoring is extracting payments. It’s not as easy or as smooth as it should be. In my experiences, it never has anything to do with what a family can or cannot afford. There are plenty of families who are amazing at paying on time and don’t have a lot of money and vice versa. Clark has already reaped tremendous benefits for me in terms of connecting with those people.
I have more time and less anxiety dealing with people who need to be repeadetly contacted.
The other big thing Clark does that I really appreciate, and my clients really value, is session reports. It’s something I was doing informally, but with 30–40 kids a week it’s a little insane touching base with all of the parents to let them know what we covered. Clark has a wonderful organization system where they check in with me after a session, I give them feedback, and they pass it along to parents. Not only is that wonderful for a parent to keep tabs on what’s going on, it’s a great sales ad for tutors. If you are considering who to hire, someone who is going to give you constant updates on your child’s progress and let you check in whenever you need is a much more attractive option.
How does Clark help you better support your students?
The session reports are amazing. Parents are giving me feedback that it’s a great addition.
I have heard from a number of parents that Clark’s session reports make them feel like their child is in wonderful hands.
The kids get to see them too. I think eventually Clark is going to add the ability for kids to rate the quality of the sessions. So students will have an Uber model and they can share feedback when they want too. If tutors are late or unprepared, the kids should be able to acknowledge it. It’s a little scary, but I take this really seriously. I want to be held accountable if I’m not connecting with kids the way I should. I want to get feedback so I can get better.
Why would you recommend Clark to other tutors?
First of all, the people who work there are really cool. They are so steeped in the industry. A lot of the challenges that tutors face have to do with payment and scheduling. Knowing that Clark is processing the experiences other tutors are having and finding out what works and what doesn’t is really helpful.
Clark’s birds-eye view of the industry makes me feel like I’m in very good hands.
I don’t just mean billing by the week or month or session reports, even duration. I’ve come to feel like a 60-minute session isn’t enough time to be really valuable or an opportunity for major improvement. One of the exciting things about Clark is that these are questions you can get answered like: How many days do tutors work? How often do they see kids? Are the sessions in person or remote? These questions help me contextualize where I am and how I can be successful as the industry evolves. In many ways, the most important part is to see where tutoring is going. Whether that’s online tutoring or more frequent sessions, all of these things help you be there when the industry moves and not get left behind.