Have you the potential to be a driving instructor?
Can you drive? Yes? Then what else would you need?
Driver Instructor Training
Driver instructor training will differ from country to country, but essentially there are three components:
- Driving Ability
- Instructional Ability
Theory covers the theory of driving, road use and how to deal with everyday situations and hazards you will encounter while driving. In many countries, including UK this is tested using a multiple choice question format.
Driving Ability instruction will be done with a person who is trained and qualified to give instruction to driving instructors. This is deigned to improve your own driving standards, to ensure that you are aware of all the bad habits that you have picked up over the years and to make your driving as near perfect as it is possible to be.
Instructional Ability covers how well you are able to instruct another driver. This includes testing you on your perception of hazards and is examined through a role-play situation with an examiner playing the part of a driver under instruction with the candidate the role of a driving instructor.
In UK you are qualified as a Trainee Driving Instructor after completing the Theory and Driving Ability sections of the Driver Instructor Training. This licence allows you to work for a driving school and to give lessons, it lasts for six months.
You must take the Instructional Ability section of the Driver Instruction Training within the six months.
Driver Instruction Training using group sessions costs about £800, one to one training costs about £1500. Some driving schools will provide free driver instruction training, provided you sign up to work with them for a set number of years after passing your three part training.
Most new driving instructors would be well advised to work for a driving school for at least a few years before trying to set up their own driving instruction school. It is better to learn the ropes as an employee, before setting out on your own. You will learn the business from an employee's perspective, before you start employing others.
Some of the driver instruction training courses include modules on running your own business, as a franchise or as an independent driving school. Enquire when you are deciding which course of driver instruction training is right for you.
Most of the driving schools in UK are franchise operations, where the franchiser provides you with a business plan, a logo, website and telephone support in exchange for an up-front fee and ongoing payments. Franchise businesses generally have a much higher success rate than totally independent businesses, 90% of which go bust inside three years. This improved success comes from the successful business model that the franchiser has developed. It is the proven success of this business model that the franchisee is paying for.
Being a driving instructor for a driving-school has advantages:
- You do not need to spend time on marketing
- You do not need to worry about cash flow
- You will always have 30 – 40 hours a week of instruction
The main disadvantage of working for a driving school is that you are still an employee. You will be required to work weekends and evenings, because that is when most people want driving lessons.
Running your own driving-school, whether as a franchise or an independent has advantages:
- You can expand your income by employing more instructors
- You can expand your business by competitive marketing
- You do not have to do driving instruction yourself at weekends and in the evenings, if you employ others who will work at those times
The main disadvantages to running your own driving-school are those common to any small business owner; accounts, cash flow, marketing, expanding the business, employee management, etc.
There are many driving-schools in every town and a new school will find it difficult to carve market share for itself without spending a large amount on marketing. The new school will need to concentrate on particular niches.
Profitable niches worthy of consideration include providing intensive driving courses, advanced driving instruction, motorway instruction, minibus, caravan and large van instruction
An intensive driving-course is one in which you start with a driver with no experience and in a weekend you bring that person up to a level where they can pass their driving test.
Many experienced drivers want to pass their Advanced Driving Test, administered by the Institute of Advanced Motorists.
Motorway instruction is something that can only be given once an individual has passed the driving test
Minibus instruction is required for teachers by local schools before they are allowed to take out parties using school minibuses.
Towing a large trailer or caravan is something that most drivers need lessons in, especially reversing it and learning to judge how wide to take corners.
Driving a van is a skill in itself, both because of the limited vision, sometimes with no back window and because of the long wheelbase that some vans have.
There are countless other niches, where you can offer services like two child seats in your car to accommodate parents with responsibility for young children. You could offer discounts to students of the local college or university.
Your two largest costs if you run your own driving school will be insurance and your vehicles. Insurance is expensive for driving schools, even if the car is fitted with dual controls. New cars give a much better impression than ones a few years old, and might be worth considering if you are aiming at a premium market.
Many people lease a vehicle rather than buying one. Leasing gives you guaranteed cost levels over the period of the lease and has some tax advantages, but it includes the profit being made by the leasing company, so buying a vehicle with a good warranty will work out cheaper in some cases. If you do buy a car you will need to factor depreciation of the car into your costs, so you can replace it when the time comes