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TakeLessons helps the smallest enterprises be more productive, profitable

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San Diego-Based TakeLessons' suite of cloud-based enterprise tools helps mom-and-pop instructors do things that they’re typically not very good at, such as market themselves to find students, keep schedules straight and collect payments.

The business enterprise sector is one of the five primary market segments that we cover—the others being government/military, public safety (law enforcement, fire, EMS and 911), utilities and transportation. When we think of the “enterprise,” we generally think of huge entities, such as national or regional big-box retailers, large warehouse-and-distribution operations, regional healthcare providers, commercial trucking firms that operate large fleets, and so on. All use myriad forms of communications technology to make their operations more efficient and profitable

But today, I’m going to write about one of the smallest subsectors within the enterprise sector: the mom-and-pop instructors that dot the map and teach Americans of all types and ages how to do things they want or need to do, whether it is learning how to play piano or understanding the mysteries of mathematics or a foreign language.

While these instructors help their students open doors to wondrous new abilities, San Diego-Based TakeLessons helps them unravel the mysteries of running a small business. Formed six years ago, the company has developed a suite of cloud-based tools that help these mom-and-pop instructors do things that they’re typically not very good at, such as market themselves to find students, keep schedules straight and collect payments.

“Our strong suit is the creative part of this,” said Brett Dameron, an independent piano, guitar and voice teacher. “TakeLessons takes care of everything else.”

TakeLessons CEO Steven Cox said that he got the idea for the company from a fellow band member, a drummer who said that he was going to have to quit the band to find a job, because he had a baby on the way. Soon, Cox realized that potentially there were thousands of people nationwide in the same boat—people forced to abandon their creative dreams, because they had no idea how to monetize them.

“Most people do this out of passion, and they have trouble switching from the teacher mindset to the business mindset—it’s a very different mindset,” Cox said.

Here’s how TakeLessons’ offering works. First, the company interviews instructors to determine what they want to teach, their level of experience and proficiency—as well as who they want to teach.

“Some people only want to teach kids, and some only want to teach adults” Dameron said.

Then, TakeLessons helps the instructors craft a marketing pitch that is posted on the company’s website. It’s a huge help, according to Dameron.

“Finding students is very difficult for any independent teacher,” he said.

Cox said that the online marketing pitches—with customer reviews, after the instructor lands a few clients—is a huge leap forward from how it has been done in the past.

“The old way was to post a flyer on a telephone pole,” he said. “This is a better way.”

Once the vetting of each instructor is done, they go into a database. TakeLessons then triages requests from prospective students to find the best match, based on a variety of factors: where they live; when they want to schedule lessons; how much they’re willing to pay; what they want to learn; and whether they prefer in-studio lessons or are willing to go to an instructor’s home. Once a match is identified, the instructor is notified, so that he can contact the student to arrange final details.

If that’s all that the TakeLessons platform did, these mom-and-pop instructors might be satisfied. But the platform also provides scheduling and billing functions—both of which are vitally important, according to Cox.

“Our surveys found that 67% of instructors still use pen and paper to manage their books,” he said. “And from 20-25% of appointments are changed. Managing that—even if you’re using Outlook—is difficult. On top of that, 15-20% of instructors get stiffed by their students.”

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Insights from Glenn Bischoff and Donny Jackson concerning the most important news, trends and issues.

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Glenn Bischoff

Glenn Bischoff is the editor-in-chief and publisher of Urgent Communications magazine. Over a 30-year journalism career, his publications have won several ASBPE awards for editorial excellence. He...

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Donny Jackson is editor of Urgent Communications magazine. Before joining UC in 2002, he covered telecommunications for four years as a freelance writer and as news editor for Telephony magazine....
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