This article is probably going to appear strange coming from someone who during my time has completed more Continued Professional Development (CPD) than most driving instructors.
Strange, because in many ways I feel that to be a good driving instructor, you don’t need any of it. Gosh!
Let me explain.
It’s really based on how you measure a ‘good driving instructor’. If you’re the sort of instructor who’s:
- Looking to improve
- Looking to gain qualifications to offer a better service to your pupils (the term pupils can equally read clients)
…then it’s already inside you. I would bet you already offer your students great value. You already learn from your pupils as they learn from you.
Being a good, no – great driving instructor is a mindset. You strive to offer your pupils all you can. What others call ‘difficult’ pupils – you thrive on as a challenge. And not a negative challenge either, but a positive one where you learn more skills to add to your toolbox.
You don’t make things up, but rather use official learning materials recommended by the DVSA. Driving the Essential Skills, The Highway Code etc. While about the DVSA, you work with them as a team where you train, and they assess. There is no conspiracy that they are ‘out to get you’. You accept the advice given to you by the DVSA at your Standards Check to improve.
Know who you can trust
Sometimes it’s difficult to find the right sources for advice or help. Finding good mentors is difficult. It appears that more and more companies and individuals are springing up out of the woodwork to offer CPD on training – and now even offer marketing advice.
I must chuckle at why people who apparently were great marketers in their last jobs, turned to be a driving instructor. I know there are many reasons why this could be, but a good marketer can enjoy the same hours as an ADI, but the potential income would be far greater. Most seem to use their marketing skills best to attract driving instructors to their courses. Fair play I suppose, but I personally use industry experts outside driving instruction for my marketing advice.
Marketers are good at gaining something we like to call Know-Like-Trust (KLT). This IS something you need to have as a business owner, but remember this when reading any glossy sales pitch or even innocent Facebook post offering something for free. I suppose that’s what I am doing here. Offering you free advice. Maybe I am going to try and sell you something later, but as I am in the business of building my driving school, unless you want to become a driving instructor or work for me, then I have nothing to sell you.
In my early days, I did a lot of free work for the Driving Instructors Association (DIA). In fact, I became Chairman of their General Purposes Committee (GPC). I left them when I felt it was all getting to commercial. When in my opinion it seemed more about money than helping driving instructors. I’ve always felt a need – a personal need to help driving instructors. Working with associations is difficult sometimes due to their own agendas. So today I write article and write CPD courses for my website.
I write articles based on empirical fact (proven researched articles) and based on real practical experience gained in 20 years as an instructor, ADI trainer, fleet trainer and trainer of other trainers. I write the articles and courses as they appear to me, often prompted by something I see on Facebook or other forums. Sometimes my articles will be prompted by something I see when training my own PDIs and I think “That would be useful for others.”
I realise these articles can help others who are open to learning. Instructors who want to grow themselves. Writing these things is my way of giving back something to the universe. Many businesses are held back by a personal belief, although they may not know it, that they must not do well because its wrong. We are brought up to believe that bosses are ruthless, bad people and business owners are rich, using workers for their own gain. Deep down we all have these beliefs and they can stop us succeeding. Many businesses give to charity as a way to ease these beliefs and so counter act them. A poor man can’t give to charity.
You can give back by being the very best instructor you can be.
If you’re not sure what I mean, go and look at Facebook and see how many instructors are not exactly ‘pupil friendly’. It’s as if many hate their pupils. But I’ll leave you to decide that.
The best franchise in the world
I make my money by building my driving school and a little from helping my associate schools. My day job is helping my own instructors by offering them training, researching and marketing for them. Looking after pupils and offering the very best experience we can as a driving school. I am trying to offer the ‘best franchise in the world’. I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it. Occasionally I might offer franchise positions within my school but if you’re happy, ignore them, just read all the good free stuff.
Of course, if you want to do CPD, do it.
There’re stacks of it out there and even the poor stuff will give you something. First though, ask yourself “what is it I need?” If you’re short of pupils then I would suggest marketing first. You can’t do anything without the lifeblood of the business. I was at a business mentoring meeting once and I heard something every business needs to think about. If the most important thing that will ensure the success of your business is the acquisition of new customers, what have you done today about the acquisition of new customers? Most will answer “nothing” because they are too busy with this and that, but this has got to be your priority.
Ask yourself every day, set a time, “what can I do today to improve my business?” If you do this routinely, your business will flourish. You have 365 chances (366 this year) to improve your business. It does not have to be a big thing, a small thing will count, but by the end of just one year your business will be in better shape. And don’t stop at the business, what about our health?
I hope you find my articles useful. You can read more of them here. I will continue writing and building courses and cascading the skills and knowledge I have acquired and am still acquiring. Please comment on your thoughts I’d love to hear them.
Dave Foster MA, Dip.DI (or Driving School Dave) is the most qualified driving school owner in the country, after completing his Master’s Degree in Driver Training Education in 2011 at Middlesex University. He also holds a diploma in Driving Instruction and is a Cert Ed. qualified teacher. Dave is the founder and Managing Director of 1st 4 Driving Ltd, and also looks after over 15 driving schools across the country on a consultancy basis.