Your Preferred Availability Set-Up

Hey everyone! :slight_smile:

Hope you’re all having a marvellous week so far and are looking forward to the weekend!

I want to start off a conversation with our lovely Tutors to understand your pain points and improvements we can make in our availability set-up.

First off, let me acknowledge that this is in no way meant to be the “be all end all” conversation we have about this, and we want to be very inclusive when it comes to this topic (as everyone works slightly differently).

I want to list out what I’m aware of as far as concerns or issues that’ve been brought up by Students and Tutors about availability, as well as ideas that we’ve had (both given to us by our Tutors or Students and ones we’ve had internally) to see if it resonates with you?

What I’d ideally like to get out of this is a general high level idea of where we need to get to with availability and priorities to get sorted right away or things that can wait.

Without further ado, here I go!

Issues and concerns:

  • The calendar is pretty much “one size fits all” -
    • For example, if you’re going on vacation next week and are unavailable, you can’t set yourself away next week, you can only set yourself offline or set your availability having “no days open” and then having to update it when you return
    • If you want to tutor every other Tuesday, you can’t set your calendar up to do that, you have to either be available every Tuesday, or no Tuesdays
    • You can’t book in shorter or longer lessons without having to make individual bookings (e.g. student wants 1.5 hour lesson)
  • It doesn’t sync with your “outside of Tutorful life”
    • If you’re tutoring outside of Tutorful, you may have those lessons saved on your email calendar, a physical planner, etc.
    • If you want to schedule in “prep time” or “extra time” for a lesson (like 10 or 15 minutes between lessons), you can’t do that and are instead having to show yourself as unavailable for a half an hour window
    • You can’t book things far in advance, like holidays or time off
  • Bulk or recurring lessons that need to be at different days or different times have be scheduled as individual lessons rather than all at once
  • Can’t change availability based on subject/level being unavailable (e.g. “I am not taking on any more GCSE students, I’m only taking on A-Level students”)
  • The calendar can sometimes be perceived to be half hour lesson slots rather than an hour, as the availability is structured in half hour slots (so 4:00pm - 4:30pm - 5:00pm)

Some of the ideas that have been raised to solve this:

  • Integrate with calendar software where Tutorful can see blocks of availability, but not the details of what that block is (to protect tutor privacy, but allow for tutors to have a constantly updated calendar that integrates with their “outside of Tutorful” life), so that students/tutors can book in lessons whenever they want and whatever amount of time they want
  • Allow for tutors to book in “unavailable” times (like holidays, breaks from tutoring, prep time, etc.) that doesn’t affect the “bulk” calendar availability (e.g. I’m going on vacation next week, so availability shows unavailable for next week, but available the week after)
  • Recurring/bulk lessons can be scheduled and re-scheduled to fit the tutor’s and student’s schedule (e.g. the student wants to book in a lesson every Monday and every other Wednesday for the next 6 months)

What else can we do to improve this feature? What are some other pain points you have?

If you’d rather chat with me about this, please shoot me a private message or an email (natalie@tutorful.co.uk), and we can schedule in a chat!

As always, thank you all so much for your time and thoughts, I really appreciate it so much! :smiley:

Natalie

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That all sounds encouraging. The current calendar is, to all intents and purposes, useless for me. For all the above reasons. I have a very busy schedule that changes hourly, and frequently end up having to apologise to Sydney’s for not being able to accept their requests as my availability is completely at odds with the TF calendar. I did start passing on my Calendly account for them to use, but got the standard ‘taken off line until I report to the head’ treatment. I believe this is because somehow you think we are all going to get the call, then bugger off and book our own appointments directly. Firstly, as professionals, it would ultimately harm us to do this as a routine and automated alert already indicates our take up stats, so it would be easy to stop anyone doing this. So why I not just allow us to use Calendly and keep an eye on the metrics?

I run a separate business, and sit on a number of boards and committees. I simply cannot keep TF calendar up to date. TF calendar is just too rigid.

Hi Doctordeej,

Thanks so much for responding, this is really useful feedback, and what I was hoping to understand. We’re working through plans to improve the calendar, but I agree with you that being able to link your “outside of Tutorful” calendar to your Tutorful calendar would help your availability be truly up to date, so thank you for clarifying that for me!

I’d love to chat with you privately about this, if you’re free for a chat at some point? My email is natalie@tutorful.co.uk, if you’d like to set up a chat!

Kind regards,

Natalie

Yes I’m on a paper diary system as well because I also work for our local council through an agency to do extremely vulnerable students during week days, and I have a few other ( not Tutorful) private clients.

I am losing some of those this year as they will be finishing with me and I am hoping to replace them with more Tutorful clients with in person or online. Both methods have an advantage for me.

I have to keep going offline because I only currently have weekends free but I could accommodate enough 7 students, I wish we could have a dedicated team member at Tutorful helping us to fill those gaps. I know others who are overflowing.

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The availability calendar needs to be a lot more effective than it is. Or maybe there just seems to be a lot of lazy parents at the minute.

I was messaged today from someone supposedly requesting 1:30-2:30 pm on a Monday. From our messages I learned the child was in Year 8 which struck me as odd as to why they’d be available for a lesson on an early afternoon on a Monday. Turns out they actually wanted 7pm on a Thursday or Friday, two times where I already have lessons. This isn’t an isolated incident.

I just wonder whether the availability needs to be more prominent somehow to prevent this kind of thing happening or whether it doesn’t matter how highlighted it is, some parents will still ignore it and press on in trying to book a lesson despite it being logistically impossible.

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Hi Basmati64, thanks so much for responding! :slight_smile:

This does sound quite frustrating. You’ve said it isn’t an isolated incident, how often on average per week would you say that’s happening?

In terms of ignoring availability I’d say it’s happening perhaps once a week at the minute. I’m not sure if it’s better or worse than the parents that kickstart their messages with “Your availability doesn’t say so but I was just wondering…” :grimacing:

Ah okay, yep, so they’re basically using the availability selection as a suggestion more than a rule, so something like “I’ll select a random day/time, hoping that the tutor will be flexible on the time and day I actually need”?

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Pretty perfectly surmised in my experience! Can’t speak for everybody but this has certainly been the case for me (not all parents but some).

Okay fab, thank you for clarifying! This is good information.

I’m currently running a survey on the student dashboard to try to understand how they’re using availability and how we can improve it, so we’ll hopefully be able to understand the behaviours!

Happens a lot to me, too. It appears that the calendar will not let me double book, thankfully, but requests do not seem to go through any kind of availability check. I’ve had requests for time I’m already booked, and days I don’t even tutor.