TPAPT || October 2017 Strategic Brief.
As we approach October, we should see differential growth across test prep & admissions revenue streams. SAT/ACT Score Release dates in September, combined with both an earlier FAFSA window in October and impending Early Action/Decision college admissions deadlines will drive this demand.
If the latest U.S. economic data is to be believed, there should also be an uptick in college counseling services. We assume that the Early Decision/Early Action candidate pool is at least equal to that of 2016 and also feel that increase in new firms/services will generate more consumer interest and more gross revenue overall. However, this trend is softening due to a reduction in international applicants. Having said that, the most competitive schools have remained largely unaffected in terms of applicant numbers and acceptance rates. So, if your business relies on the “one-percent,” you have nothing to fear this fall but you should plan differently for 2018.
At the 30,000 foot level, large firms began to pivot several years ago by moving from a brick and mortar model and to asynchronous web prep and live online tutoring We believe that this industry-wide restructuring is complete and that the larger players have organized around functional business units. This adds a bit of context to the “where” market share leaders are looking for students; they have simply been repositioning towards a digital consumer.
TPR and Kaplan are preeminent among this group and their divestments from real estate has a created a market opportunity for independent firms. At least one national firm, C2, seems to be capitalizing on opportunity through expansion via aggressive franchising.
Overall, industry trends still support the idea that small firms should lock down their content, protect their brand equity, and keep prices steady. There is definitely more live one-to-one market share on the table for independent firms and, for folks wedded to the idea that tutoring should be a face-to-face experience, we still expect revenues to increase 5%-7% over prior year. Those growth numbers are muted in comparison to October 2016 so we still favor product line extension to include Live Online Tutoring as well as Web Based LMS prep.
Those 5-7% figures should be better for independent tutors–particularly good ones. Expect a continued increase in demand for Math, Hard Sciences, and AP Prep. As colleges seek to distance themselves from an over-reliance on SAT/ACT test scores and as grade inflation stories continue to surface, GPA and course rigor are likely to gain more favor among admissions committees; the AP tests, in particular, are well suited to differentiate between between transcripts.
Which brings us to ideas for one’s Product Mix in October.
• PSAT/SAT Combined Programs
• SAT Long Programs. Prep for both October and November SAT Dates
• SAT Bootcamps not later than two weeks before that test
• Early Decision Bootcamps
• FAFSA Workshops
• ACT Long Programs for the October 28th test date
• Combined ACT/SAT Programs in preparation for end of October and early November tests.
Product mix and pricing together inform one’s brand positioning in the market. If you feel as we do–that demand has increased–be sure to maintain current pricing. If you think there is potential for growth beyond the 5%-7% range, consider using a well orchestrated discount or rebate tactic. If you have more demand than you can handle, it may be time to schedule a price increase.
The next ‘P’ is for Promotions. The most basic promotional tactic involves the use of the Free Events. Here are some standard event titles to try at high schools in the fall:
• Free ACT or SAT Practice Testing (schedule multiple dates and promote)-September & Late October
• SAT or ACT Scores Back Seminar (From the most recent release of ACT & SAT scores).
• SAT vs. ACT – Which Test is Best? September, Early October
• Free Personal Statement Workshops, College Essay, SAT/ACT Writing Workshops
Need additional information about any of the above? contact us
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