Independent vs. Franchise
Once you qualify and become an instructor you will then be faced with the daunting task of finding regular pupils who want to learn to drive. Usually you will know a few people like friends of the family etc to get you going, however, this alone won’t cover the typical overheads such as:
• Dual controlled car
Along with dual controlled car, fuel and insurance/tax you will need to consider the following:
• Marketing and branding
• Car livery, roof sign, stationery, pupil record cards
Most instructors become a driving instructor to teach not to do marketing.
Unfortunately, if you go alone you will need to deal with the marketing and branding as the pupils won’t come out of thin air.
If you’re looking to go full time, then you will need at least 20-30 pupils all doing 1-2 hours a week. Typically most pupils can only afford 2 hours a week. You will find pupils wanting more hours though, however, when they pass, they leave a big gap in the diary, so you don’t want to many pupils wanting intensive courses.
You may speak to other instructors at the test centre and they will say, go independent, don’t pay a franchise. The questions you have to ask the instructor saying this is;
• How long have you been an instructor?
• How much do you spend on your own marketing?
• What’s your perception of being busy? (Many instructors are retired from another job, so teaching 3-4 hours a day is busy to them, as their mortgage is paid off and they have a pension coming in)
There’s a very high chance the instructors saying “go independent” are instructors that have been in the business for 15 plus years, when Google and social media weren’t around and the only means of finding an instructor was looking in the paper, bakery window or asking a neighbour or friend.
How to get pupils yourself as an independent instructor
Forget putting posters up in the village bakery, leaflet dropping or putting an advert in the yellow pages. That was 10-15 years ago.
The question you need to ask yourself is; Where do 17-20 years go to look for driving lessons?
Answer: Google & Social Media
Costs of marketing & social media explained
Step 1 – The hard part
Finding a cheap web designer that can knock you up a good looking website on the cheap – good luck!
Like you may say to your pupils – you get what you pay for. It’s the same with a web design. If you are only willing to spend £500-£800 on a website then it probably it’s not going to be very good.
Minimum spend for a decent website these days = £1500.
Step 2 – Even harder part
If you manage to find a good web designer on the cheap, the next hard part is getting your website onto the first page of google. So now you need an SEO expert.
SEO means search engine optimisation.
Minimum spend for a local area where you teach = £150 a month.
Step 3 – Tricky but possible
Social media is quite important nowadays. As you probably know, most 17 year olds use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. So these are good tools to increase your awareness. However, you do need to know how to sell yourself to a 17-20 year old audience.
Branding is also important. If you are uploading poor quality pictures, you have a poor looking logo and your website is poor then social media isn’t going to be very productive for you. The whole idea of using social media is to give the viewer a taster and then get them to click onto your website to read and find out more.
Total cost is generally free. However, you can pay companies a fee to manage your social media if you’re not confident that you can portray the right image etc.
Step 4 – Updating your website regularly
Like most things in life you need to keep up with the times. If you don’t, you get left behind. The same goes for websites.
Recently, Google has started to rank websites that are mobile friendly and have faster load times above desktop websites.
Sometimes your website will develop errors that need fixing or may require updates to fix the errors. So be nice to your web designer afterwards, you may need them to fix the odd issue from time to time – whether it be emails not coming through or pages not loading properly.
Step 5 – Tricky but possible
Answering the phone and responding to enquires.
If you have steps 1-4 sorted and in a good place, then it’s probably safe to assume the phone is going to ring. At the beginning you will be able to answer, but do you feel comfortable answering the phone during a pupil’s lesson? Remember, if you don’t answer the phone, the pupil who has called you may call someone else. 2 hours later you can call them back, but the chance that they don’t answer or have already booked in with someone else is going to be quite high.
Can you afford a receptionist? Can you afford a virtual operator that answers the phone for you and gives out basic information? Will that virtual operator care as much as you when they are answering the phone to possibly 50 different businesses in one day?
When you qualify, the most obvious thing to do is join the school you were training with. If it’s a large establishment, they have possibly already warmed you up. It’s good to shop and ask around though, especially if the school you are thinking about joining requires a long commitment from you i.e. signing a contract.
Why choose a franchise?
A franchise is ideal for those instructors that want to stick to what they do best – teaching.
If you don’t want the worry of investing money in the wrong places
to win work or answering the phone in the middle of lessons (which is illegal) then a franchise may suit you – As long as the driving school you choose actually provides you the work.
Obviously we are going to encourage you to consider driveJohnson’s, however, should you read this and move on then just avoid committing to franchises with long tie ins.
Every company will expect some commitment from you, but signing
an agreement for 6
or 12 months is way too long and high risk.
If you don’t get the pupils, your stuck paying a franchise for months on end.
What can driveJohnson’s offer?
At driveJohnson’s weare very easy going and like to put our money where our mouth is. We offer a free trial and if you choose to join and then decide to leave, we ask for just 4 weeks notice, in some areas of the UK just 1-2 weeks.