With gaps in the diary caused by people cancelling lessons now is the ideal opportunity for driving instructors to look at how to improve their business. Here we look at 5 steps that driving instructors can take at this time to turn this potential problem into an opportunity.
1. Take a break – recharge your batteries.
If you can afford to, this may be the perfect opportunity to take some personal time to recharge your batteries, read some books, do some gardening – maybe things that you normally wouldn’t get time to do. Maybe your work-life balance is a bit skewed and this is the time to adjust it even if only temporarily!
2. Get more training
I break this down into two parts:
Firstly, improving your skills as a driving instructor. This includes self-study such as reading Ged & Claire’s book “Who’s In the Driving Seat?” and other excellent resources such as Target 51. If you have spare time now, plan now for your standards check rather than panicking when the brown envelope comes. Look at how you can adapt your normal lessons to become more Standards check friendly so that you are less conscious of “putting on a show” for the examiner.
Secondly improve your general leadership and management skills. There are some excellent books out there. I would recommend John Maxwell “Developing the Leader within you” and “The 4 hour work week”(!!!!) by Tim Ferris. Alternatively there are loads great podcasts out there. Again I would recommend the John Maxwell team podcast or Craig Groeschell’s podcasts. By and large these are well researched, well -crafted podcasts not just the rambling thoughts that you get from some amateur podcasters!
3. Improve your marketing.
One temptation during a downturn is to cut back on marketing. Research shows however that those businesses that invest in marketing in a downturn are best-placed to come out of it and grow healthily. If you only start your marketing up again when the downturn is over you will already be behind the curve when new customers start to become more plentiful. Although I don’t suggest a radical pruning of your marketing spend, it might be time to look at how you make your marketing more effective.
Also now is a time to use your time (which you have a bit more of now) in marketing activities that cost nothing. If you pay for Facebook ads analyse how effective they are, research better ways of using Facebook ads. If you use your personal Facebook page for your business consider setting up a dedicated Facebook business page (Facebook terms of service say you shouldn’t use your personal page for business anyway!) Take some time to add more content to your Facebook page – make sure it has all your information, add some photos. Also why not contact former pupils and ask them to add reviews? Plan and schedule future Facebook posts. You could create a series of short posts with a question a day from the theory test or a post on a Highway Code rule. All these things take time – time that you normally don’t have when your diary is crammed with pupils.
One thing you certainly shouldn’t do is close down your website – that is unless you are planning to close down your business completely. If your website goes offline then it won’t be long till it disappears out of Google’s index and it could take a long time to get back to a prominent position. What you could do is add some content to your site. It has to be well written so it needs time and consideration but adding some good quality content to your site can only benefit your website and your business.
If you don’t already have a website now is the time to start planning one! Check out www.wanasite.co.uk for driving school websites.
4. Try out new tools to benefit your business
There are some great tools to help you improve your business. Look at what diary/calendar system you use. If you have a paper diary system you could experiment with an online diary. Even if you have already made up your mind that you already prefer a paper diary, step outside your box and try some alternatives. They could help you in the end. There are numerous apps available.
I use the normal Google calendar. I have it synced to all my devices and record the pupils payments and lesson mileage with each entry. It’s not complicated and works for me much better than any paper diary system ever has. There are also other more advanced diary systems targeted at ADI’s that you might try. Many have a free trial version. Use your free time to try one or two out.
Another great tool I use is Pulse. Pulse enables me to see text messages on all my devices including my desktop computer. The Pulse SMS app is available for free from Google Play Store. There is more info about useful apps here https://adininja.com/productivity-apps-for-driving-instructors/
5. Improve your driving lesson resources
There are a number of things you could look at here:
- upgrade your driving lesson diagrams,
- download a driving lesson app for use on your tablet,
- start using a reflective log,
- upgrade your terms and conditions
- review your pricing structure
- improve how you log and record driving lessons
- research free handouts that you could give to pupils