The typical career of an ADI probably goes something like this: you train, you pass and you join a franchise. They provide you with some pupils, you teach them until they pass their test. You gain experience, build your confidence and begin to grow. You gain pupils through referrals and recommendations. You may decide to stick with the franchise, comforted by the reassurance and security of being part of a team – a path my wife has taken, and that works for her. Alternatively, the lure of independence and the personal freedom to do things your own way leads to a break from your franchise and going ‘indie’. You have your name on the roof box, and so the journey to build up your own driving school begins. Soon, your diary is full, and you’re making a decent living, selling 30-40 hours per week in tuition, and doing so with professionalism and enthusiasm. You don’t let your standards slip, because you know there is plenty of choice out there, and as a result, the enquiries just keep on coming. By this point, you are flourishing. You are one of the top earners in your area and have a growing waiting list,
and all because you deliver a fantastic service and it’s well known. As the years go by, you see hundreds of new drivers onto the road, perhaps spanning generations. Your well-earned reputation for quality and success means you have a constant, high flow of customers.

Managed Success

Then comes the day when you decide you might want to wind down, perhaps going part-time before considering retirement or trying your hand at something new. But even after years, perhaps decades of delivering driver training, maybe, like many ADIs, you still don’t consider yourself as a business owner. Consequently, you whittle down your hours and, in doing so, miss a huge opportunity to continue earning, long after you have put down your car keys. You stop accepting new customers, who go on to learn with one of your local competitors. But these potential customers, each worth upwards of £1,000, are likely to have contacted you first – tens or hundreds of them, maybe…The question is, do you want to simply walk away and let your hard-earned reputation disappear without any reward, or do you want to continue earning from your brand’s reputation long after you’ve stopped actually teaching?

Profile Performance

Remember, strong brands have real value. Think of Sony, Ford and Coca Cola. They spend millions each year on brand awareness, so that the first name in your head when you want to buy a new TV, lease a car or quench your thirst, will be theirs. It’s psychological, the sub conscious in action, and the same is true with your business, albeit on a slightly different budget! You see, even though you’re the individual that has built up the brand name, it’s not just about you, but what you represent, the effect it has on people. Most of us know who Bill Gates is, but we don’t buy a Microsoft computer because of him. Instead, we buy it because of the Microsoft brand, though it is founded on his vision and principles. The same is true with you; it’s your principles and your tuition style that they want, whether it’s delivered by you personally
or someone else. Unless you advertise your retirement to the world, people will still want your service and approach your brand first. It means that if you protect your brand name, it can continue to earn you an income.

Nurturing Growth

It’s important to recognise that the better you do at building your business and reputation before you retire, the better you’ll do after it. Keep standards high throughout your career to ensure everyone smiles when they see your roof box. While it’s tempting to take your foot off the gas as you approach retirement, you’ll simply be destroying the years of credibility you’ve worked hard to establish, undermining the brand name, which seems like a waste to me. When it comes to stopping teaching, the simplest way to continue earning is to pass new enquiries to a select group of local instructors, who will pay you an introductory commission in return. But to continue protecting the brand’s earning potential, choose ADIs who share your values and quality of service. If you want a clean break from the industry, then you should offer to sell your business to another local instructor who can continue to work under or in partnership with your banner/brand, but paying you a lump sum for it, based on the levels of business you’ve been able to generate and the brand’s ongoing earning potential. Your reputation and ability to generate leads without advertising will be very attractive to an instructor who might be struggling themselves. Again, choose wisely, unless you don’t mind the risk of your legacy being tarnished.

Live It Up

My recommendation would be to approach local instructors about coming to work under your name as a franchisee. You can manage everything from a tablet these days, continuing to be the face of your driving school without the practical workload. Bring ADIs on board who share, or are willing to operate to your high standards, providing them with the benefit of your experience, regular leads and your reputation, all for a tidy weekly fee. In the longer-term, you may wish to consider whether any of ‘your’ ADIs would like to buy your business from you, before you step away completely! The important point is that your ability to earn from the business you have worked to build up over the years doesn’t have to stop the moment you give up teaching. Let your well-earned reputation allow you to work less for more pay.

MyDriveTime is the must-have driving instructor app that helps you manage your diary, students and money, so you spend less time on admin and more time teaching.