Opening a Successful Driving School
A career as a driving instructor can be an incredibly rewarding job choice. With over 1.5 million driving tests taken each year, being an instructor gives you the chance to help a lot of people achieve an important and life-changing skill.
With changes in testing and pass rates decreasing, a good instructor is arguably more important than ever when it comes to getting the green light to take to the roads.
You might be thinking of getting into the industry.
However, before you do so, there are a number of qualifications, costs and realities to consider before you know it’s the right path for you.
To become an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI), you’ll need to pass several tests, but first you’ll need to apply to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to become an ADI. You also need to check that you are eligible to apply to become an ADI, which you can do on the gov.uk site.
From there, you’ll need to pass:
- ADI1: Theory test
- ADI2: Practical driving test
- ADI3: Instructional ability test
You may take your ADI1 as many times as you need (although it might be worth reconsidering your options if you repeatedly fail), and then have three attempts each at the ADI2 and ADI3, both of which must be completed within two years of your ADI1.
Once you have completed these tests, you will be DVSA approved and qualified to get on the roads.
Calculate Your Costs
There are a number of essential costs to take into account when planning your driving school:
- A dual-control fitted vehicle: note this isn’t legally required but definitely an expectation of most, if not all, customers.
- Driving instructor insurance: to cover dual control, personal liability, comprehensive insurance, loss of earnings and employer’s liability insurance.
- Fees for the ADI: these include revision materials, test and registration fees.
- Marketing costs: web design, business cards, car modifications, additional advertising.
- Possible loan requirement: depending on your circumstances, you may need to access a loan, in which case you must take account for repayment and associated interest.
Understand the Realities
While being a driving instructor is a highly rewarding and outgoing career, there are some realities to the industry that you need to both understand and prepare for when making a business model.
There are tens of thousands of instructors in the UK, so your market will be highly competitive, so you’ll likely be aiming to corner a small part of the local population.
Your earnings will fluctuate with seasonal changes. This is down to fast and slow periods in the market calendar that are also influenced by the weather (for example, poor weather discourages new drivers from getting out on the roads).
Your customer base will be flaky and unpredictable. It’s fairly common for bookings not to attend or cancel late, meaning fully booked days can become fractured and earnings affected.
Finally, it’s a relatively lengthy process to become a driving instructor. Your ADIs alone should take at least 6 months, and you’ll need to find time to do proper market research, buy the necessary equipment and cover off all pre-launch duties.
If you’re happy to adapt to all the above, then you have the right mindset for the industry.
Have a USP
Lastly, as with any business, you need to have a USP to gain traction in the market.
An obvious suggestion would be to offer lower rates than your competition, however market rates are so competitive that you may well find yourself working every hour under the sun just to turn a profit.
Instead, forget offering bargain basement rates and consider appealing to a particular demographic. A niche for anxious drivers or late starters might serve you better than trying to price out the competition.
Once you have the foundations considered, you’re ready to launch your driving school brand.