Think there are no opportunities to progress in this career? You’re probably wrong! I’ll show you why…
A while ago, while reflecting on some of the problems facing driving instructors, I was reminded of when I first became an instructor. I was quite nervous. I’d completed my training and had passed my Part Three first time but none of this training prepared me for a real driving lesson.
I’m often asked by new instructors about test routes and where to train. There is no training on how deal with pupils nerves or when to take the money.
Another common question is about the test centre etiquette. So many other worries present themselves to new instructors. When you’re out there on your own, driving instruction can be a lonely world – and new instructions often don’t know who to ask. The large franchises tend to distance themselves, not only in terms of physical miles, but nobody in the office knows about the local area or the local issues.
When I was an instructor with the AA, they went someway towards looking at this. They started to use some instructors as coaches. I became one.
It meant that I could claim for 2-3 hours for each new instructor helping them with test routes, paperwork and other stuff they wanted. I would be paid the equivalent of the lower block booking rate per hour. Once the 3 hours were completed, there was no incentive to help. I’m not sure if they still do this system, I’ve not heard about it for a while (anybody know if they still do? Comment below). But it got me thinking as to how a good coaching system could work. Any system has to be fair to the instructor and driving school, not to mention the new instructor.
I looked at how this could work for my driving school, 1st 4 Driving. I came up with this new system to much success. I pay driving instructors a flat monthly fee or ‘bonus’ for each new driving instructor that comes on board after them for the whole duration that the instructor is with us. It doesn’t matter if the new instructor is an ADI or a PDI.
The coach will be their main point of contact for all the subsequent instructors. As well as getting all the usual benefits of my franchises (no hidden pupil fees, access to the office and diary system), the coach receives this monthly fee and (unlike the old AA model) has an incentive to help. Our coaches are selected, as they are pro-active in the profession and will have a good reputation. They are my eyes and ears in their local area in terms of prices and general demands of the business, who will know the local area and be able to help the future instructors.
I have been running this system for around 6 months and I am looking to expand it to other areas.
Something we have absolutely no problem with is finding new pupils in new areas.
Take Portsmouth. 6 months ago, we had no presence in Portsmouth. We’d had massive success in Southampton nearby, but we were looking to develop Portsmouth. We built our Portsmouth web-page and after a few tweaks saw it soar to number one position in the organic search results. The phone started to ring non stop – yet we had no instructors in the area.
Today in Portsmouth we have one ADI who joined us as a coach and another 2 about to start on a trainee licence. We are still turning work away in Portsmouth daily. We have now started the same process in Bournemouth and Poole – although we currently have no driving instructors there! We are looking for a good one to join us as a coach and maybe instructor trainer.
The system we use is unique and one I am hoping fully supports driving instructors in not only in the training and support from the office but at a local level too. It gives instructors upward career progression. Many of my instructors have been with me since I trained them 10 years ago.
I am always looking for ways I can improve the services to my driving instructors and for the pupils they teach. Recently I asked all my driving instructors how we could improve the pupil experience, including the packs we give out free to all new pupils. We have received many great suggestions and are collating them now to produce our new pupil information booklet. We try to involve the instructors in many decisions although we often get some conflicting ideas.
Not every driving instructor wants to run their own driving school. The regular updating of Facebook, running ad campaigns and booking in new pupils is something many instructors would just rather pay a fee for. One of the most cited reasons for becoming a driving instructor is ‘quality or life’ and for some that means doing their job to the best of their ability, then putting their feet up or getting time with the family.
1st 4 Driving Coaches will help cascade our principles to driving instructors and I expect all coaches to endorse that key principle of quality of life.
If you like the idea of taking your career to the next level and think you’ve got what it takes to be a coach – or even an instructor trainer for 1st 4 Driving LTD then I would love to hear from you. My journey in this profession has been fantastic – and yours could be too. I am particularly interested in the areas below but am open to look at other areas.
- North Devon
- South Wales
I really look forward to hearing from you about this great opportunity.
PS: Due to the nature of the offer, we’re expecting a lot of interest, so it’s best to let us know you’re interested ASAP, even if you just want more information!
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.