This is your business, your success is down to you, but you’re not on your own
Passing your Part 3 is no mean feat, and you should be rightly proud of your accomplishment. Not only have you become a valuable asset to society – even if they don’t always appreciate it – most of you have had the courage to embark on a new career. You now have the skills and knowledge to help your customers. There’s no stopping you; the world is your oyster.
Becoming a driving instructor is about more than delivering tuition; it’s also about running a business. Most driving instructors consider themselves a teacher as opposed to a business owner, and that’s understandable – that’s the bit they’ve trained to do. The majority of ADIs have never been involved with setting up, operating and growing a business before, so it’s all new, and not all ADI trainers focus on the skills needed for this fundamental part of the job. But those who want to build a sustainable income for themselves over the longer term soon realise that being self-employed requires a whole raft of new business skills too. The best piece of advice is to ask questions. The only stupid question is the one you didn’t ask, and that applies to the ADI fresh out of training, through to those 30 years into their career. Ignorance is no excuse for failure in business. Remember, nobody knows it all, but between us, we can give each other the support needed to make informed decisions, on how you work, with whom you work and what you build around you to support you and your business.
Go To Contacts
A good place to start is to find out if there’s a local association in your area you can join; look online or look for posters or leaflets in the local test centre (or go to: intelligentinstructor.co.uk for a listing). Speak to other ADIs too – they’ve all been where you are. You’ll pick up so much by being part of a group of fellow ADIs. Of course I can’t guarantee that they’ll all contribute positively, but soak it all up and keep the nuggets that you feel will help, and there’s always something to learn from others, however long in the tooth you are, even if it’s how not to do something!. Joining a national association is another positive move, such as the ADINJC, who are on hand to provide you with a wealth of information, knowledge, support and experience (as well as MSA GB, DIA or DISC in Scotland). Many ADIs hide in the shadows of this industry, but it would be so much stronger if everyone engaged with it, voiced their opinions, and helped the industry have a stronger voice with the policy makers, official agencies and government ministers. You’re reading this article, and that in itself is a great start. Subscribe, soak up everything, broaden your knowledge and understanding, and then utilise them.
Dial the Number
Perhaps the biggest decision you have to make, is whether to join a franchise or work independently (see last month’s issue of Intelligent Instructor for a feature on this). Joining a franchise can be a great way to learn the ropes and fill your diary quickly when you start out. That’s not all they’re good for though – many offer so much more, including cars, insurance, management tools, marketing resources and camaraderie, and a career structure too. The national franchises often get a bad rep amongst more experienced ADIs, but I wouldn’t rule them out. Call them and make your own mind up as to whether they provide you with the value you need. Local franchises, whilst smaller, have other attributes and probably know your local area better, so speak with them too. Whoever you work with, make sure you’re on top of your administrative responsibilities from Day One. It can seem like a chore, but you don’t want to have to back-fill your records, so keep up to date, preferably on a daily or weekly basis. Record customer details, lessons, progress and payments, and make sure your business finances are recorded too, your income, outgoings and professional expenses (opt for a modern electronic solution to help you).
Ultimately, remember that people buy from people. Do your best to always look (and smell) and act the part. Create a great teaching environment, always welcoming and enthusiastic, providing customers with your undivided attention so that they succeed, spread the love and help you succeed. When all is said and done, your supply of pupils relies on customer referrals. Deliver a great customer service, and they will come running, or calling , or messaging….
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.