The approach to Christmas represents a great time to make an impression that will carry you long into the new year. Here are a few ways you could earn extra before the holidays:

● Incentivise existing customers to bulk book

December is often a tough time for driving instructors, who see customers divert their money from your pockets into the shop tills. To help incentivise your students (or more so their parents) to spend with you, try some pricing incentives, Christmas specials, or an extra hour or two if they book 10 or more during December.

● Branded items There are various companies online who offer a wide range of branded goods that you can buy in bulk. Just look up ‘Branded Items’ in Google and take a look at what’s available. Perhaps a car-shaped stress toy or stationery. Hand them out to your students during December as a small gift, and to help spread the word. Or perhaps wrap them up and do a lucky Christmas dip for every pupil at the end of their festive lesson.

● Send out Christmas cards If you’ve been good this year with your record keeping, you’ll have a list of previous customers that you taught this year, and their home address. It might take a while, but I would send a Christmas card to each one, asking how they’re getting on since finishing with you, and perhaps reminding them that you’re available for additional tuition, such as motorway or night-time lessons. Perhaps include a voucher entitling them to a free cinema ticket for every person they introduce to you during December and January? Remember though, whilst it’s a way to drum up new business, it’s important to make it as heartfelt as you can, so personalise them and handwrite them. You can send digital cards, but they won’t be nearly as effective; a real card is there to remind them and also be seen by visitors.

● Keep a treat in your car to hand out Make space in your glove box for some seasonal goodies to hand out to your students, like candy kanes, Quality Street, Heroes or more Christmas designed chocolate goodies etc. Or even better, how about a bit of home baking and knock up some mince pies (see recipe below)? Try not to eat them all yourself between lessons though!

● Get ready for a January sale Start thinking now about ways to earn more in the New Year by tapping into the January Sales culture, both for new and existing customers. These could be linked to the referral scheme handouts mentioned earlier, and push on the fresh start in the New Year theme. January is a bit of a dark dull month, so starting something new and exciting, and at a special discount price, can be a great incentive to shake off the Christmas hangover and January blues.

● Organise an event Go Karting – this is a bit left field, I grant you, but if you’ve had a good year and can afford it, why not invite a selection of students that have done particularly well to an evening racing around the track in go-karts? It will not only thank your students for their custom, but is driving related and will go down a storm with them, resulting in lots of social media posts about a great evening and a great instructor! This type of bonus can be a great tool for improving recommendations, and also brightening up your (and their) social media links.

● Wear a Christmas jumper Nothing puts people at ease when they’re nervous like a bit of light-hearted fun, especially when it’s self-deprecating! Try wearing a Christmas jumper or some reindeer antlers to bring a little festive cheer to your mobile office in the lead up to the holidays. I’d probably steer clear of mistletoe though – I don’t want you getting into trouble!

● Timing December is not a typical month for your students, with Christmas parties abounding. Work with them to make sure your planned lessons fit sensibly around their seasonal festivities to avoid any issues.

● Charity This idea is less about making more money, and more about making a difference. Whether it’s a driving related charity, Children In Need or a local charity, why not offer to give part of your lesson fee away to a good cause this Christmas? Perhaps select three and ask your student to vote which one they want you to send it to. Again this can be a great marketing and PR opportunity for your business and the charity but, more importantly, it shows generousity and awareness at this time of year that is all about sharing and caring.

Of course, nothing beats a broad smile, great customer service and heartfelt sincerity this Christmas. I wish you all a very relaxing and reflective holiday, and look forward to a fantastic 2018.

12 Mince Pies
Pastry: Butter 4oz/125g, Plain Flour 8oz/250g, Water 4-8 teaspoons (or buy ready made shortcrust pastry).
Put the butter (room temp) and sifted flour together in a bowl and rub together with your fingers. Then add some water and squeeze together into a ball.
Pies: Then roll out on a flat surface using a sprinkling of flour to stop it sticking to surface or rolling pin. Roll it until about 5mm thick.
Cut out bases with a 10cm cutter and place in bun tin, and fill with a spoonful or two of mince meat. Cut out tops with a 5cm cutter and rest on top.
Cook: Brush pies with a little milk and place them in a pre-heated oven (170c/325F/Gas mark 3) for around 15 minutes. When golden take them out and cool on a rack, and why not dust with a little icing sugar?