Monday, July 26, 2010

How to judge and deal with "Free-Riders"?

So called "Free-Riding" can be a problem with any service like ours where tutors offer free trials.
(Free-riding is the act of hopping from one trial lesson to another without having the intention of ever paying)

Cafetalk does have limited safety measures to prevent this like not allowing consecutive trial requests. We could do more, but we don't want to create too much of a disincentive for students to request trials because, after all, trials do significantly lower the hurdles for a student to start using Cafetalk in the first place.

That being said, we do understand that some students will try to take advantage of the system, and in this post we want to introduce some of the ways you can deal with this issue.

1. Offer your trials at a reduced price instead of setting them completely free.

On the new cafetalk, you can choose trial with fee. They don't necessarily have to be free. Please login your page, click "service", then change the service details.

2. Check student's profile for potential indicators

You can see how many trial lesson requests a student has made before as well as the overall number of requests.
If the ratio of trial requests to overall requests is unreasonably high that's a good indication that the student is a free-rider and you have every right to decline his or her request.

3. Check the amount of points the student has purchased in the past.

Well, actually we don't have this feature yet, but a tutor suggested to us that this might be a useful piece of information to have when judging whether a potential student is a free-rider or not.
We kind of want to be careful not disclose too much information for fear of making students uncomfortable, but we will consider it if we get an overwhelming response from tutors.

As always, if you have any questions or suggestions please let us know.

Thank you!

Cafetalk team

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Basic lesson flow for tutors.

For new tutors,we have just uploaded the video "Basic lesson flow".
Please check it out.



Thank you!

Cafetalk Team

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fee calculation will be based on a progressive scale starting August 2010

As you know, Cafetalk's fee (formally referred to as the Matching Fee) has been 40% of the lesson price since its inception five years ago. We know many of you would like to see that reduced. And although we can not give everyone a flat reduction (for these reasons) we thought it was about time our more active tutors were rewarded with better rates.

It may not be very obvious but one of our core principles here at Cafetalk is to make our platform profitable for tutors. We know that's the only way we can hope to keep the quality of tutors as high as they are now. Eventually, we would like Cafetalk to be able to support both the casual tutor and the hard-core professional educator alike. And to do that, we realize that a change in the fee structure would certainly be a step in the right direction. And so starting August we plan to introduce two new tutor classes (or ratings, if you will) with decreased fees depending on how many lessons you complete per month. The new ratings are:

Top Ranking Tutors

Cafetalk fees will be reduced to 30% and a "Top Ranking" icon will be displayed on your profile.
Qualification criteria:
  1. Must complete 20 to 39 lessons per month
  2. Must not have negative ratings for the past three months (or since registration) *1
  3. Must be in good standing with Cafetalk and compliant to our Tutor Terms.
Once you attain this rating you will keep it for at least two months (unless you violate the Tutor Terms or get a barrage of bad feedback).

Premium Tutors

Cafetalk fees will be reduced to 25% and a "Premium" icon will be displayed on your profile.
Qualification criteria:
  1. Must complete 40 or more lessons per month
  2. Must not have negative ratings for the past three months (or since registration) *1
  3. Must be in good standing with Cafetalk and compliant to our Tutor Terms.
  4. Once you attain this rating you will keep it for at least three months (unless you violate the Tutor Terms or get a barrage of bad feedback).
Every tutor will automatically be checked at the end of each month to see whether she/he has qualified for these decreased fees. Calculations will be based on the number of lessons completed between the first and last days of the month in GMT. Incidentally, we plan to run automatic calculations around 0:00 on the first day of each moth. Students will not be able to request new lessons for the five minutes or so while these calculations are being done. If the necessary criteria have been met the new fees will come into effect immediately after the calculations are completed.

*1 If you think you've been given a bad rating unfairly we will review it and possibly have the rating deleted. But please understand that our honest disclosure of feedback and ratings is exactly why Cafetalk has gained so much trust from our students so we will not change ratings lightly.

The new rates will come into effect on August 1, 2010 based on lessons made in July.

Hopefully this should come as good news for a small percentage of you who already qualify for the new rates. (We know at least two or three who qualify for the Premium status, for example)

As for those who don't have enough lessons to qualify for the new rates yet, we know it's not necessarily your fault but more because we don't have the absolute student numbers to support that many lessons. Nevertheless, the prospect of reduced rates should be something to look forward to.

As always, we welcome any feedback. But please note that we have thought long and hard about these new rates and their criteria, so we aren't likely to change them. We will however, try our very best to address any questions or concerns.

Thanks again to all of you. We're ultimately targeting to increase our student a hundredfold so hopefully we'll be directing more students your way!

Cafetalk Team

Why are our fees 40%?

Some of you have asked us why we set our fee at 40% and can we please lower it a little.

We’ll in response to such requests we are considering a new progressive fee scale based on performance. However, we also wanted to let you know why our fees are what they are in the first place because we know many of you think it’s rather high.

Now, it's not like we don't understand the tutor's perspective. Several of Cafetalk's in-house development staff use Cafetalk to teach privately (as normal tutors without any unfair advantage whatsoever, we might add) and they've also said that lower fees will:

a) Give them more leeway to offer discounts to students when necessary.
b) Motivate them to do more lessons.

Yes, we completely agree. And we do understand that lower fees may attract more tutors who might otherwise be deterred from using our platform.

So we like to think that we do understand the pros and cons as well as your side of the story. Nevertheless, we also think that 40% quite fair for the following reasons.
  1. We put in a LOT of hard work to maintain the system and to gather students to the site.
  2. We give students discounts of up to 10% for bulk point purchases. (Although we may stop doing this in the future)
  3. Credit card processing company takes about 5%
  4. We use a considerable amount on advertisements, cross-promotional deals, giveaways, etc.
  5. We need to survive as a business so that we can continue to provide this service to students and tutors.
That leaves us with little to work with, and we need to pay for our dedicated servers and our support staff out of what's left. And to give a little perspective to the word "survive" we should mention that our founding members still remain unpaid (no joke) and we have no office of our own (which is why you see us working like nomads, wandering from coffee shop to coffee shop in search of open wireless connections). We don't take pride in our current situation, but at least no one can accuse us of being greedy profit-mongers until we're a little more successful.

But we're not complaining. We really love what we do. We started out with a dream to provide a platform to benefit both consumers and service providers alike, and we think we're getting closer to that goal every day (thanks to all the great work you guys are doing). What we do want you to understand is that we're not trying to rip you off. And that we just want to create a great service but we need all the support we can get.

That being said, we are very committed to making Cafetalk profitable for our tutors and we will continue to make that one of our top priorities. Like we mentioned at the begining, we are planning on introducing a progressive fee scale to make it a little more worth your while, but hopefully our efforts will not end there! So if you have suggestions on how we can make life better for you please don’t hesitate to let us know. (As always, no guarantees, though :)

Cafetalk Team

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Can I change an order of my services?

You can click "services" on the left side of you page,then you can click and drag on a service to change its order.

Thank you.

Cafetalk Team

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What if your student didn't show up ?

If your student didn't show up at the confirmed time, you can cancel the request.
Login to the request page, and click the request.
When you click "cancel", you can choose the reason "Student did not show up at the confirmed time".
You can also choose a Cancellation Charge of 0%, 50% or 100%.

If you choose this reason, the student will not be able to write your review, but you will, on the contrary, be able to write one for the student.

Thank you.

Cafetalk Team

Cafetalk here

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Why you're still getting requests outside of your available times (and what we're doing about it)

Some of you may be wondering why some students manage to make requests outside of your available times. How did these requests possibly slip through! Are the guys at Cafetalk completely incompetent monkeys?

Well, monkeys we are, but there is some reasoning behind what we do - let me clarify how this works.

The first thing you should know is that the system does allow students to make requests outside of a tutor's declared available times. This is because students may be doing so based on a prior agreement with the tutor. (I certainly allow some of my students to make requests at strange hours in the morning because I value their patronage. But I don't want to openly advertise the fact to the entire world or I'd go insane pretty quickly)

So that's that, and we don't plan to disallow this any time soon.

What we have done however, is generate warnings so students will know that the times they have requested are outside of the tutor's available schedule.

And we also have something similar when a student tries to schedule a lesson with less than 24 hours notice.

These changes were implemented only a few days ago. Hopefully you won't be getting any more strange requests unless you're expecting them.

P.S. Thank you Dan for the suggestions that led us to put this in place.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sending more Yahoo! users your way.

Hello all,

We just wanted to let you know of some of our efforts to spread the word on and ultimately get more students for you. The latest of such is our partnership with Yahoo! Japan. Users of Yahoo! can now register on Cafetalk using their Yahoo! ID. And for this, Yahoo! is generously promoting our site on their logout page for a limited time (something like a month). The results have been very positive so far. More students are definitely on the prowl looking for tutors and we hope to make the best of this stroke of good fortune.

Making a site grow is a long, uphill battle, but we're confident that we have the BEST tutors of any online teaching service, and we think it's only a matter of time before students catch on.

If you have any suggestions on how we can spread the word or direct traffic to worthy tutors please feel free to let us know.