Manuel Bermundez, Owner of Tutor Zones

This+is+a+photo+of+a+tutor+putting+long+hours+of+work+into+planning+lessons+for+his+students+and+better+help+them+meet+their+educational+goals.+Photo+credit%3A+William+Ebert

This is a photo of a tutor putting long hours of work into planning lessons for his students and better help them meet their educational goals. Photo credit: William Ebert

Jonathan Gonzalez, Staff Writer

Manuel Bermudez is the owner of Tutor Zone, a business designed to tutor students in and for a variety of school subjects. There are currently three locations: in Whittier, 10255 Colima Road Unit E; La Habra, 1491 W. Whittier Blvd; and Placentia, 1225 E. Imperial Hwy.

Bermudez decided to take the chance of opening a tutoring business because of his enjoyment for teaching and helping struggling students succeed and understand what they are learning.

Bermudez was 19 years old when he had started his tutoring business in Whittier; He worked up to 24 hours a week at the beginning and needed assistance with answering phone calls and requests for help.

Once his business became steady, he opened up his second [La Habra] and third [Placentia] locations confident they would succeed as well as the first.

Bermudez offered his services in person at first, but adjusting his services to also be offered online- due to the pandemic- caused a strain on the business as well as their students.

“It was a very challenging to transition to tutoring online after being used to tutoring in person,” he said. “Students are always bummed out about not being able to be inside our facilities due to COVID-19.”

The first six months of the pandemic made business difficult for the whole world- not just Tutor Zones; profit, customers and the number of employees all declined.

Tutor Zones, specifically, lost about 90% of their customers when the pandemic began- this eventually led them to extend their services online via Zoom.

The decline in customers and financial stability caused Bermudez to shut one of his locations down in order to prevent Tutor Zones from going bankrupt (as they were on the brink of it).

As the demand for essential employees- and employees to work, in general- increased, so did expectations for wages and benefits; Hiring employees to work became difficult for Tutor Zones as well as many other businesses.

Tutor Zones charges $38 for an hour session; Some of the money goes towards the tutor and the other half goes towards business utilities.

Bermudez had to take out loans to keep his business running and keep up with his employees. With the Paycheck Protection Program, all of the money was to be given to employees.

Learning online is difficult enough- but receiving tutoring services online is even more challenging.

While tutors were still able to communicate with the students, the main struggle lied within the actual students; you can only learn and cooperate with technology so much.

This is a photo of a school room where students learn.
Tutoring facilities specialize in creating safe learning environments for students where they can meet with tutors one-on-one. Photo credit: Manuel Bermudez

“In the beginning it was foreign but also exciting to see how fun it could actually be,” Bermudez said. “It was convenient for tutors and students as they didn’t have to travel for it but there are still the struggles.”

Bermudez pointed out that students would often not show their faces on Zoom calls which sometimes made it difficult or frustrating for the tutors.

He said, “We assume it’s [students not showing their faces on Zoom cameras] because they are embarrassed or they were probably doing something else instead of letting us help them.”

Bermudez added that most of Tutor Zones’ tutors are really energetic and try to replicate the energy online to ensure their students are comfortable, having fun while learning and also doing their homework.

Now that students have returned back to school in person, individualized, one-on-one tutoring sessions on any subjects within the Pre-Kindergarten through high school curriculum are offered.

The tutoring business was a huge gamble for Manuel Bermudez, who had no idea how to run a business; He took a chance and ended up becoming a successful businessman.

The pandemic challenged the business, but in the end it created an opportunity to adapt and find new ways to support students.