Things that can go wrong

Cancelled lessons
One of the most common problems facing Driving Instructors is cancellations. It is a fact of life that you will get these no matter how professional you are or what safeguards you take. Like a pub landlord who has ullage, a shop keeper who has petty theft and the baker who throws good cake away at the end of the day. You will have to accept this as part of your profession. Do not let cancellations get you down or worried. Build them into your working model and budget for them. Cancellations can account for around two lessons a week. However that is not to say we cannot try to reduce them.

Texting pupils the night before a lesson can often remind them. Use a simple text template that says something like;
This is to remind you of your lesson tomorrow, if there are any problems please text me back. image of text reminder

Ensuring you always turn up and on time will set the standard too. Fill in the pupil’s record card with the next date of the lesson too.

“All associates for 1st 4 Driving have an on-line record keeping widget for their pupils that is filled in on-line or their phone. The pupils can access this information through their on-line login and view how ready (or NOT) they are for test. Pupils and parent alike love this little app. If they do cancel, you will both have a record. All pupils get automatic text messages the night before too reminding them of their lessons. This service alone helps cut down massively on cancellations.”

Try to find a regular slot that fits in with each pupil’s other activities so they have the same time and day every week just like their college lessons. However, how you handle the actual cancellations can really make or break your future as a Driving Instructor.

When they cancel, and they will, do not immediately charge them. Ring them the night after and show concern, ask them if they are ok. Show regret by saying ‘I am sorry I missed you is everything ok?’ They will explain the reason. Sometimes valid, sometimes foolish, however the important thing is to get them back in the car next lesson. Simply re-arrange the next lesson and ensure you send a text to confirm. On that next lesson mention nothing until after the lesson. Say how you are enjoying teaching them and here is where you can politely remind them of any cancellation clause and inform them next time you will have to charge them. Nine out of ten times there will be no other problems. Let’s see how this works;

Scenario one
Pupils cancels on lesson ten and you ring them up and say they will have to pay double next week. The likelihood of the pupil showing for that lesson is slim.
Outcome one
You will lose payment for lesson ten and all the subsequent 40 lessons.

Scenario two
Pupil cancels on lesson ten; you ring up and show concern then book in lesson eleven. They will most probably show.
Outcome two
Lost payment for lesson ten but will get payment for the subsequent 40 lessons, in fact you will still get the payment for lesson 10 as they will still need that lesson sometime!

I would go so far as to say how you handle your cancellations can actually increase your business, as instructors who handle their cancellations fairly but firmly will attract pupils. You have to look at the bigger picture when handling cancellations not just at the immediate lesson.