A recent study from Accenture found that the easiest way to get a raise or a promotion was to ask for one. Yup, 85% of those surveyed who said they had asked for a raise actually got something.
It reminded me of Nathan’s recent tutoring negotiation. He was recommended, by one of his old math teachers, to the mom of a seventh grader who needed help in algebra. Her first email to Nathan did not mention the fee she was willing to pay and Nathan came to me asking me whether he should state it in his response to her.
“What is your fee?” I asked him.
“I dunno,” he said. “What do you think?”
“Well, last summer you were paid $10 for one hour of tutoring per week. How did that work out?”
“That was fine. But he came to our house to be tutored. If they want me to drive to their house, then that takes time and gas money.”
He had obviously given this a little thought. Then he added, “Plus, I’ve had experience not only tutoring but working with kids of all ages during your summer math camps.”
“How does that affect how much you get paid?” I asked.
“I guess it shows that I’m qualified. I think I’m going to ask for $10 an hour if he comes here and $15 an hour if I have to drive there.”
He went on to ask if he should write all of that in the return email. So I offered a little direction.
“What about telling her that you are interested in tutoring her son but you’d like a little more information. Things like how many days per week and for how long and where the tutoring will be done. Before telling her your fee, let’s see, first, if she comes back with a number.”
This seemed reasonable to him so he drafted and sent her the email.
She was quick to respond. And she did offer her fee. $10/hour. She said it was what she discovered while doing research on tutors from another school. She also said that she’d like Nathan to do the tutoring once, maybe twice a week, at their house, and gave the address. It would take Nathan about 10 minutes to get there from our house.
“Now what?” he asked.
“That’s up to you. You need to respond with what you think is fair and reasonable.”
He had me read his return email before hitting the ‘send’ button:
“…I have also done tutoring in the past. My mom is a math teacher, and each summer I teach math camps with my mom (have been doing this for about 6 years). Additionally, I tutored one-on-one last summer. Last summer, I charged 10 dollars an hour, and lessons were held at my house. I would be willing to do the same deal, or, if you like, I could do lessons at your house, but I would charge 15 an hour, as I have to pay for gas and time spent driving.
Either way, let me know your thoughts and opinions.”
Her response back:
“I really like all of your math experience, sounds like you would be a good fit for what we are looking for. Depending on what part of town you live in, I am pretty sure I would prefer you coming to our house to help him.”
It has been three weeks since Nathan’s first tutoring session. He is scheduled for two times this week. “Time really flies by,” he said after coming home from his last session. “I love doing it.”
And I love that he felt confident to ask for what he wanted…and had the reasons to back it up. This may just be a little tutoring job, but it’s a big step in learning how to negotiate what you think you are worth. That’s a priceless lesson!