Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Not enough work for Driving Instructors

Yep, some of you guessed it - I've got too much time on my hands.

I could blame all the trainees coming in from the pink factories like TIC, on a promise of £30k a year and a fully maintained car.

I could blame all the parents, for trying to skimp on good training for little Alfie, who are trying to teach him themselves.

I could blame the DSA, for making me take time from my amazingly effective marketting campaign to do the HPT.

I could blame everyone but myself. But I won't.

There is work out there. There are people who need my services, all I've got to do is get off my (overly large) behind and find them, entice them in with my skills and qualifications, promise them independence and a highly paid job once they pass. But I don't want to. I'm tired and I need a break, so I'm having one!

If you want an opinion (why are you here if you don't?) then yes, there are too many instructors for the available learners. But learners aren't the only people who need training. There's other instructors, there's fleet drivers, there's banned drivers, there's drivers who want to avoid getting points after being caught speeding. There's new drivers who need pass plus for insurance, or confidence and help with new areas or motorways. There's young drivers who need to know how not to kill themselves on country roads. There's police drivers, army drivers, ambulance and fire service drivers.

Look at the roads - who do you think needs driver training!!!!

So, to the whingers - I say get off your (probably also overly large) a$$e$ and start tapping into these markets. Don't sit there complaining about bad driving - do something about it. That's your chosen job.

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Aphorism of the Day

Stop using your frickin phone, you selfish, arrogant git.

I think that says everything dunnit?

Saturday, 24 February 2007

Who should become a driving instructor?

There's a suggestion that is doing the rounds at the mo about potential driving instructors having to be attitude tested before they go through the system. So I wondered who should become an ADI?

People see this job as a retirement job, or as an easy part-time career while bringing up kids. Many people just wanna escape from a job they hate, and they see the ads on the telly. It seems like an easy option - lets face it - everyone can drive, that gives you a head start straight away doesn't it?

To be honest - no. The best drivers often make the worst driving instructors. They have very little patience with learners because they can't understand why it is taking people so long to get to grips with everything.

The job is a teaching job primarily, with a bit of social work, a bit of confidence building, and a lot of life coaching (albeit targetted towards the one goal of becoming a driver).

The driving is a very small part of it, and a part that anyone who already drives can pick up pretty quickly by just analysing exactly what they do.

Good drivers do a lot of stuff without even thinking about it. This is where the problem occurs - which is one of the reasons that people driving with their mum or dad wind up getting frustrated and shouty about stuff. The 'why the f*ck didn't you stop?!' question becomes interesting when you get the answer 'cos you didn't f*cking tell me to!'.

If you try to write down every step of something you do every day (making a cup of tea for example), then imagine an alien reading through the steps and you start to find the problem:

Put teabag in cup - 'cup', what is this earth thing you call a 'cup'?
Pour in boiled water - from where do you get this 'boiled water'?
Let it steep for 20 seconds - where is the angle upon which I can make the cup full of boiled water 'steep', without it falling over and burning AHHH, I'M MELTING.......!

You will need to be precise:
Open 'top cupboard', get out the 'cups' (point to cupboard and cups).
Fill the 'kettle' with water from the 'tap'.
Replace the kettle and switch it on (point to switch).
Open other cupboard, get out 'tea bags'.

Are you getting the picture yet?

So back to the original question - who should become a driving instructor?
Sales people who have had to explain technical details of a product in simple terms are good.
Coaches and teachers are usually good.
Social workers tend to be good.
Communicators - of all types.

If you aren't sure if you're gonna be any good - try teaching someone to do your job, or to do one of your responsibilities around the house. If you get frustrated - work out why, and explain it better.

If you still get frustrated - find a different career.

Thursday, 22 February 2007

Driving Instructor Training Costs

A common question for all trainers is 'how much is the training going to cost?'.

The answer is usually around £3,000, sometimes less, sometimes more. Unfortunately that is not a full answer. That answer is purely how much you are going to pay for your training.

There are other things you might wanna think about.

How much overtime do you do now, that you would have to miss because of your training?

How much will you need to spend travelling to and from your training?

How much will you need to spend on books, exams, and your own practise?

Once qualified, how much will you need to spend on advertising in order to get customers?

Once qualified, how much will you need to spend on a car for the job?

Once qualified, can you afford to stop work while you build your business up?

How much less will you earn during the time you are building up your business?

How much will you need to spend on stationery, computer, business cards, flyers and uniform?

How much will you lose once self employed from the lack of holiday/sick pay/pension/health insurance benefits from your current job?

How much will you have to spend on continued training to fulfill the CPD?

Dont' wanna scare anyone off here, just don't jump into this with your eyes closed.
Good luck.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Suggestion for New Driver Insurance

As we all know, new drivers are the highest risk group on the road. What can we do to change their attitudes?

Well this is just a quick one, no long explanations or twisted logic.

When someone insures a car for the first time, give them the following info:

Quote - for this year.

Quote - for next year without claims, or points.

Quote - for next year with points (3 or 6 and re-test passed)

Quote - for next year after a fault claim.

Quote - for next year after a fault claim, combined with points.

Seeing a quote go from £1500 to £1200 to £3000 to 'insurance refused' in just a couple of lines might have an effect.


Sunday, 18 February 2007

Road Pricing (triple the price of fossil fuels?)

Well, it's coming. Not for another few years (2013 apparently), but it will happen.
I hear all the wailing and gnashing of teeth from all the hard working salt of the earth driving instructors worrying about how they'll put the food on the table, but I still don't care.

This was always going to be the best way of doing things - we ain't got much space, and we've got too many damn cars, something's gotta give.

The only problem from my point of view is that my titchy thingy (now now!) is only 3 metres long (hurhur!). Am I gonna be charged 66% of what a 4.5 metre Jag or Mitsubishi PretendingI'mabighardf*ck*(TM) would pay? I reckon probably not. How about by weight? My little thing weighs around a tonne. Am I gonna be charged 33% of the cost a 3 tonne Land Rover I'mscaredoftheworldbutrichsoI'llgetabigcarandturnintoabullymkIII(TM)? Again, I suspect not. My lovely dinky car does about 55 mpg, am I gonna be charged 25% of the price of a 13mpg Dodge Fatamericantw*t(TM)? You know the answer.

There's a simple way of cutting congestion and saving the world, and making fuel supplies last longer, and creating more local jobs, and ensuring that more things stay local, and stopping the loss of local shops, and making people think about the way they run their lives, and reducing the house price rises that make people who've lived in a village move away because of all the second homers, and develop new fuels, and generally MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE, AND FURNISH IT WITH LOVE... (breaks into song........!).


Yes. You heard correctly. TRIPLE them.

I could cope, and I'm pretty sure everyone else could if they just started thinking straight about how these things work.

But why TRIPLE fossil fuel prices? Why not just add a couple more pence? Well, it hasn't stopped people over the last 30 years has it? A gradual change in prices doesn't create an aknowledgement of a problem, but it does annoy people and disillusion them. TRIPLING fossil fuel prices would make people start to think. They would have to dramatically reduce un-necessary driving (at least 15%, given that a quarter of all car journeys are less than 2 miles - WALK fatboy WALK!). They would have to start using much more economical cars (the average car in the UK does under 30mpg, the better ones do 50mpg, so another 40% reduction). They would have to drive more smoothly, and closer to the speed limit, improving the roads for everyone (and their fuel consumption by around 10%). Plastics would become economic to recycle (dunno the figures, so lets say only 1%). Supermarkets and shops would have to source much more of their stock locally (hmmm, lets say another 3%). So pretty soon we've actually improved live and reduced fuel consumption by 69%, slightly reducing the fuel bill from BEFORE WE TRIPLED THE PRICE OF FUEL.

Now I know I haven't done any of the sums in a manner that could convince a parliamentary commitee, but can you not see that this would soon reduce road use and pollution. We would be eating food from the farm 6 miles away rather than some hydroponics unit in Peru. It would really p*ss off the school run mums (yep - I always walked), which is always a big bonus, with the added plus point of sorting out the youth obesity problem at the same time.

Oh, and the UK would become a world leader in bio fuel production, economic engine management systems, and green energy systems, which the rest of the world will pay us a fortune for once America has sucked the oil wells dry. And because of this we'll all be twice as rich as we were before our wondrous government TRIPLED THE PRICE OF FOSSIL FUELS. For which we will be eternally grateful.

Please? - have a quick scan around this site and think for a moment. - just to put an end to some of the stupid scaremongering about this story.

Friday, 16 February 2007

How much does learning to drive cost?

(if you've got here looking for how much it costs to train to be a driving instructor - look at: How much does it cost to train to be a driving instructor?)

So how much will learning to drive cost?

(A little help to calculate the average amount of driving lessons needed to pass, and the average lesson price! Yeah right - and everyone's average aren't they!)

Piece of string anyone?

Well lets start with how long will it take to learn.

Basic: 20 hours.

Doesn't sound a lot, but you've gotta be good to do it in that - probably a bloke (spatially aware, with mechanical knowledge, and used to riding a cycle/scooter on the road, been watching others drive for the last 5 years and with loads of motivation)

From here, add:

Female - 5hrs (don't shout at me, this is just a generalisation, and it's unfortunately often true, if you want me to explain then comment at the end and I will).

Lack of mechanical knowledge - 10 hrs.

Over 17 - add another hour for every year older you are (even I don't understand exactly why this should be the case, but I promise you, it does work this way).

Add another hour for every mile you live away from the test centre.

Never rode a bike with gears - 5 hours.

Never rode a bike in traffic - 5 hours.

Impatient parents/partners who shout at or beep at other drivers - 10 hours (charge them for this - it's their fault)

Nervous or easily intimidated - 10 hours.

Every break in lessons of a month or more - 2 hours.

Every break in lessons of 6 months or more - 5 hours.

Only a rough guide, but you can see that a confident 17 year old lad who lives near the test centre, rides a bike with gears through town to his apprentice job as a mechanic could pass in 20 hours. On the other hand, the timid 47 year old lady, who lives 10 miles out of town, has never ridden a bike with gears, and has a husband who shouts, beeps and tailgates everyone could take 110 hours or more.

Take 5 minutes to work out how long it will take, then work out how much your lessons will cost.

Basic lesson cost: £19/hour.

Add to this,

£2 if you cannot concentrate on complex tasks for more than 50 minutes at a time (longer lessons are often cheaper, than 1 hour lessons).

£1 if you cannot get a good recommendation (a good recommendation will save you time and effort. If you cannot get one, pay for a good instructor, rather than hunting down the cheapest, they will be cheap for a reason and may cost you a fortune in wasted lessons).

£3 if you live in London, or central to one of the big cities.

£1 if you want to learn in a fancy looking car (the mini is a favourite of instructors, because it draws in customers, but they need to recover the extra costs of running an expensive car somehow).

So going back to our apprentice mechanic - he could do it for £380, but if he lives in central Manchester, doesn't have great concentration, and wants to learn in a fancy car - it's gonna be £500. The timid lady has had a long chat with all her friends at the WI, and has found a marvellous instructor (who may be able to get her through in 100 hours rather than 110 or more), and doesn't care what she learns in, has good concentration, and lives in an ideal quiet suburb for starting her learning off can do it for £1900. (The lady next door though, the narky one who has the badly bleached hair and snobby attitude towards people who don't have fancy things takes 120 hours, and because of the fancy car, and the fact her husband told her not to have longer lessons pays £2760!)

Go on - how much is it going to cost you to learn! Remember, once you've done it - you've got it for life.

(edit: One thing I forgot to mention - if you wanna drive an auto - it should halve the amount of lessons you need, but add £2 to your lesson price)

Thursday, 15 February 2007

How to pass the UK driving test

There really is a simple answer to this.


That's all there is to it.

And yet I hear all the nay-sayers out there:

"but I failed for missing out couple of blindspot checks" - NO, you failed for moving off without being certain that it was safe.

"but I failed for driving at 52 in a 60 zone" - YES, the road was clear and you were driving too slowly - backing up traffic UNSAFELY.

"but I failed on observations on a manoover" - NO, you failed for not making sure that you weren't gonna hit anyone.

"but I failed because I went too wide on the reverse around a corner" - YES, you might have been driving on the wrong side of the road, or been blocking the junction for other traffic causing others to change their line or speed which could be UNSAFE.

"but I failed because I stopped at a roundabout - SURELY THAT COULDN'T BE UNSAFE?!" - TOO RIGHT IT COULD BE, the guy behind is looking at a clear roundabout and he isn't braking, and doesn't expect you to - rear end shunt time!

Think I've probably made that point, so I'll just remind you all - there is no bizaare ritual involved here, there is no need to ask "will I fail if I......?" because you know the answer all ready. You might not know it, but think about whatever it is that you're unsure about, and ask a few different questions:

Do I know what is going on around me? --------- If no, then find out.
If yes, then....
Do they know what I am going to do next? ------- If no, then tell them as clearly as possible without confusing them.
If yes, then....
Could I make another road user with priority change speed or direction? ------- If yes, wait till they're past.
If no, then....
Am I in full control of the car's speed and position? -------- If no, then slow down til you are.
If yes, then....
Carry on as you are! If you aren't putting yourself or anyone else in danger - you're fine. You've already passed, you just need to show them that you have.

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Raising the driving age to 18.

If they raised the age of driving by a year every time this rumour surfaced I'd be too young to drive. In the late nineties a pressure group suggested that the legal driving age should be 21, and there have been rumours ever since.

The curious thing is that the most recent rumours have been about allowing people to drive under supervision aged 16 rather than raising the age!

The fact is, age is not a huge influence until you get past age 25. According to one of the leading scientists who researches these things we can't assess risk properly until then. Unfortunately she throws this bit of information in on a promotional film for the driving school she works for - and I don't think they'll be limiting their potential customers to over 25's! (Especially not when their basic idea is to sell their driving course to mummy and daddy!)

So this is another of those fantastic rumour mill things which come around every now and again.

Have a look around the roads and you'll find 17 year olds whose judgement is fantastic, some 40 year olds who have no awareness of what is going on around them, and some 80 year olds who can overtake sunday drivers perfectly.

Age is not an issue, attitude and inexperience is what kills young drivers, not their lack of birthdays.

Currently in the UK, you can take your theory test on your 17th birthday, and provided you pass, you can take your test as soon after this as you can get a booking.
If you are in reciept of higher rate disability living allowance, you can do all this on your 16th birthday.

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Psychometric tests before you can drive?

Hmmm. This one has started coming up recently.

Attitude testing done at the same time as the theory and hpt.

What would happen if you fail - 'Well you know your highway code backwards - 100% on that, your hazard perception is spot on, you see the problems, and react at the precise moment they develop from potential to actual hazards, but we think you're a bad 'un - so sod off, you can never drive - ever.'

I can't really see this one happening. Not because I don't want to encourage people to have a good attitude to driving, but because I think it is unworkable.

It would be fun though!
Try this one:

1: Do you feel that people who drive within the 2 second gap are -

a) Dangerous, and should be shot at dawn after having their mobile phones rivetted to their ears.
b) Stupid, and should be banned from being in charge of anything which can travel at more than 4 miles per hour.
c) Lazy, and every time they are caught should be whipped in order to get them to buck their ideas up.

2: Drivers who are found liable in the case of an accident should -

a) Be banned from driving as they are a danger to themselves and others.
b) Have to pay for the time and resources of the police and emergency services, thus forcing their insurance up so high they will never be able to afford it.
c) Be banned from driving until they can pass an advanced driving test requiring a thorough understanding of why these methods should be employed at ALL times.

3: Drivers who cannot signal correctly at least 98% of the time should -

a) Have their licences taken off them because if they cannot communicate in such a simple and necessary way they are obviously mentally deficient.
b) Only be able to drive vehicles which are brightly coloured (maybe orange, with 3 wheels), have large and visible warnings that the occupant's actions may be unpredictable, and be limited via a black box gps to the speed limit.
c) Be made to take a sign language course, and a morse code course, and a course in semaphore, passing stringent examinations in all thus enforcing the need and capability of clear and simple non-verbal communication.

If you answered mainly 'A' - you believe that many people on the road are dangerous. This may lead to anger and road rage - hand in your licence to the DVLA and get a bus pass.

If you answered mainly 'B' - you believe that many people on the road are stupid. Again - get a bus pass.

If you answered mainly 'C' - you believe that many people on the road are lazy. Become a driving instructor and help to do something about it!

Monday, 5 February 2007

So you wanna be a driving instructor?

A new car?
Work around your commitments?
Sounds tempting don't it?
Do you know how much work it takes to get £30k a year?
Well let's do a little basic math.
Average lesson: 1hour.
Average time taken out of your day to give that 1hour lesson: 1.5 hours.
Average cash recieved for that 1.5 hours: £18 (after discounts - this is a realistic average)
Average cost to give that 1.5 hour lesson:
Advertising - £1.50 (at least)
Car - £3 (based on £90/week and 30 hours of teaching)
Petrol/Diesel - £2 (at least)
Miscellanaeous - 50p (believe me, it's cheaper sitting in front of the shiny adverts
than it is doing the job)
Average income (before tax) for that 1.5 hour lesson - £11
Average hourly rate (before tax) - £7.33
Weekly income after expenses (before tax) - £330
Average yearly income (4 weeks off, and 5 days sick/car nackered/snowed in etc) - £15,510
Cost per year of continued professional development - £350 (at least)
Cost per year of accountancy - £250
Cost per year of membership of professional bodies - £100
Cost per year of repairs to car not covered by lease/guarantees - £100
Average income after extra costs - £15,060
Amount of time spent building your business without any recompense - ?!?!? (10 hours/week?)
Average hours needing to be booked per week to achieve 30 hours after cancellations - 35
Average number of road rage incidents from other motorists per day - 2 (at least)
Cost of qualifying - £3000
Time taken to build up the business to a point where you actually have a full diary and start to turn a profit - 1 year (how much would you have earnt in that time?)

Do you still wanna be an instructor?

Thursday, 1 February 2007

How much should driving lessons cost?


First lesson free, first 2 lessons for £20, 5 for £99, £16/hour, £20/hour, £25/hour?

What the hell....?

My kids get riding lessons (yeah yeah, don't start), and for each kid it costs me twice my hourly rate. One of my kids gets guitar lessons, and this costs my hourly rate, for which I have to take them over and pick them up, and I guess there are very few running costs (insurance I hope, and a bit of equipment). So am I in the right job?

Believe me, my hourly rate is already towards the top end of the list at the start of this piece, and I don't muck about with ongoing discounts, they pay up front, and they usually have to pay if they cancel late. I did a lot of training for this job, and I still pay about £600 a year for extra training (roll on CPD - I'm already ahead of you guys). I don't give discounts to anyone, other than people paying in advance, and then it's no more than a couple of quid an hour.

So why do I earn less than my kids guitar teacher? Who has the more demanding job? Who has the most (relevant) qualifications?

As always, market forces are at work.

I don't have a problem with the discount brigade, but I do feel sorry for them. They will always be trying to undercut each other. They will always be getting the customers who look at the cash they hand over, and not the training they get back. They will always get the raw deal, and they will never be able to get out of this situation until they change their attitude to their business model.

I don't like teaching fools, and fools don't have any money, so I price myself out of their market. The market I enjoy teaching expect the best training they can get - so I improve the training I recieve, and keep it up. The market I enjoy teaching expect to pay a reasonable price and get value for money - so I give them their full lesson (no turning up late or finishing early). The people willing to pay these prices expect reliability - so I run a new car, and I don't cram lessons together and wind up cancelling if stuck in traffic.

Think about how you want to work. Don't be ashamed of asking for a reasonable amount of money for what you do. And NEVER get caught in the price wars.

Given the changes to our business, these prices will soon be going up, as the pink-factories and the part timers find it harder and harder to keep up with things, or get legislated out of the game.

People will get what they want, but will have to pay for it.

How much is being able to drive worth?