2018 appears to have been a strong year for ADIs up and down the land, with many reporting full diaries and waiting lists to boot. I hope that’s true for you too, and you can celebrate heartily this Christmas. Either way, the holiday period is a great time to rest, reflect and plan what you can do to improve things in 2019.

Aim for the Stars

Firstly, I would always recommend setting yourself a target. Look at your data for this year and see how you performed on any given metric, then ask yourself if you can improve upon it over the next 12 months. This could be the number of test passes you achieve, the amount of income or profit you generate or the number of new pupils. Is it time to recruit new ADIs to work with you to build a driving school or partnership? Whatever your target, having something to aim at, and reach for, is a great motivator, especially on those dark, cold, rainy Tuesday mornings. The icing on the cake is deciding how you will reward yourself when you hit that target; a weekend away, a new vehicle? Of course, it all depends on what your target can generate in financial terms but, ultimately, aiming at a target is a lot more motivating than working month-to-month simply trying to cover the mortgage.

Baubles & Tinsel

Before we get there, there’s Christmas itself to consider. Mistletoe, wine, cakes, chocolate… Christmas is full of distractions. The savvy business owner recognises this and, while their competitors are letting their hair down, they are utilising the goodwill season to entice customers through their doors. What better way to hit your new target than a head start? So, let’s consider a few ways we can jump on the bandwagon, or should that be slip onto Santa’s sleigh?

Incentivise existing customers – offer special seasonal deals. I love deals. Everyone loves deals. And they work! Our industry often scoffs at those who offer discounted lessons, but they’re not seeing the bigger picture. Sure, if you run deals that don’t generate a profit over the longer term, then you’re on a hiding to nothing. But if you consider the costs of running a deal, the short-term cashflow benefit (especially around Christmas) and the long-term profit you’ll make, then they can be a great way of injecting income into your coffers when you need it, getting one over on Santa and your competition, and offering present buyers a simple, worthy and valuable option. For example; you could offer an extra hour of free tuition for every three hours they complete between now and January. This encourages buying in bulk, the lessons can be delivered thick and fast in a notoriously slow period, and you also get a good cash flow boost and a full diary. Encouraging them to have two-hour lessons instead of shorter durations will help you plough through those ‘free’ hours. Nothing in life is free, and you certainly don’t lose out!

New customers – they’re there for the taking. Parents, grandparents, even siblings are looking for great, thoughtful present ideas. Provide them with a simple solution, and give them a reason to buy from you. Why not pay one of your existing students – in cash or in lesson time – to hand out some flyers in town, highlighting the seasonal deal on bulk buys? Why not add an incentive that encourages them to book up early and pay a deposit. Perhaps make it more fun by offering to deliver a toy car and a voucher to your new customers already wrapped up and ready to put under the tree – it’s much nicer to have a present to open!

Decorate the office – It’s important to show your fun side, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how far a little tinsel and some festive decals for your car will go to help you and your (current and prospective) students to get into the spirit of things; a sense of sharing fun and goodwill that’s attractive too.

Socialising – why not utilise social media? Perhaps run a ‘12 Days of Christmas’ campaign, either in the run up to the big day or immediately after, highlighting a star pupil from 2018 each day, rewarding them with a box of chocolates or a cinema ticket? If you still have a picture of them holding up their pass certificate and can tag them in the post, it’s a great way to spread a message of giving amongst their friends, and success to prospective pupils.

Jumpers and treats – finally, remember to don that Christmas jumper and keep a box of treats in the car for your students to enjoy! Don’t forget that simple tasty mince pie recipe I published last Christmas, or how about some gingerbread cookies (p13) – homemade shows that little extra thought and effort. Little touches go a long way to creating a lasting impression. Happy Christmas and a successful New Yea