Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Young Male Drivers

We've all been one. Well, half of us have. Well, the half of us who're male and learnt to drive before we were 21 were anyway.

Hell, you get the idea.

Showing off, pushing ourselves and our cars - I know I did it, but did I do anything completely stupid? I'm not sure if I'm honest - I know I made a few bloody silly mistakes though. I was never really the type to show off much, but not engaging the brain before engaging the gear? Yep, that was me.

After watching ITV1's program "Crash Scene Investigators" tonight I distinctly had the feeling that I'm glad to be here several years later.

We all know the stats - the number one killer of young women is the men who drive them around.

If there's a better argument for feminism I'm not sure I've heard it yet.

The only way to do anything when attitude is the main cause - make them want to be better drivers.

Until we can make driving well fashionable we will have trouble. Advanced driving is boring - it's a load of old duffers telling us we need to be better before we can speed. It needs to be repackaged, rebranded, and have a qualification that people understand - NOT 5 DIFFERENT ONES.

Lets have 1 standard that we can all aim for - a standard above the L-test that all drivers should have to attain before they can use their driving at work. Maybe we should all have to display our standard when driving - L-plates, FLH, Advanced, etc. Then people could decide whether they want to get into a car with someone who hasn't got the advanced licence yet.

Maybe we should have to display our insurance too - and make this obvious - so that those girls can see if they're getting in a car with someone who isn't insured.

Then with some serious education, lets get people thinking that risk taking in a car is really pretty pathetic (small dick syndrome - I reckon someone should do scientific studies - I reckon we could prove this one!), and that there's an easy solution - get out of the car driven by the pratt.

One final suggestion - make advanced tests of all types accessible. Let people get on a skid pan and get scored on it. Get more people to take up track days - settle the "who's fastest" thing once and for all. Score people on their control skills, their observational skills. Begin a "Britain's best driver" contest. Have a national league table that people can log into and see how well they're doing. See the people who take training rise to the top, and the loons fall to the bottom.

Reward the ones who win.

Prove who is the best - accurately.

Make the ones who feel they're better than they are face the truth.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Driving Instructor Pass Rates

Yep, that old chestnut is beginning to rear it's ugly head again.

People have just realised that the DSA seem to want to publish our pass rates along with all other info about us they can dredge up. The argument may never be held unless someone starts shouting about it, so maybe I'll start.

If someone phones me up and asks my pass rate I tell them it's frickin awful.

Then wait for the gasp of astonishment.

I ask people what they've been quoted and I get replies of 75%, 90%, 95%. When I tell them that the best "official" pass rate I've ever had hard evidence of was 72%, and he really screened his customers - no girls, no learning difficulties, and as soon as he caught any nervousness he tried to fob them off on another ADI.

The average pass rate for a good ADI is around 60% in reality, because we can't take the test ourselves and I know some OUTSTANDING instructors whose pass rate is around 30% due to the way they work.

Specialist instructors for people with disabilities, instructors who deal with nervous customers, auto instructors who mainly get women and people who struggle with handling a car all have lower pass rates than the average, but often are better instructors with more experience.

So next time someone asks you your pass rate - tell them it's shit! Maybe then we'll start getting people away from using that as a sales point.

Unfortunately when the DSA start publishing pass rates we may all be in trouble! If this is done without some serious caveats attatched I will stop teaching learners and move completely into FLH training. I'll miss it, but at least I'll have a 100% pass rate!

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Guaranteed pass driving courses

Why oh why do people think that these can exist.

Every other day I get someone trying to search for these winding up on my site.

Do they think that we can take the test for them? (Knowing some driving instructors even that wouldn't be guaranteed!)

In what way can we guarantee a test pass? Do they want a full moneyback guarantee if they fail? That's hardly going to happen, or people would deliberately fail, then take it again, saving themselves a grand or so.

I've had people ask me if they can buy a licence, if I can just "sign them off", and even if they can just prove that they've driven in their own country for so many years!

I was just undertaken by two people who had obviously been driving in another country for years today (foreign numberplates, left hand drive, luggage completely obscuring the rear view) - and they were still driving as though they were in another country - psychotic, stupid and completely illegal I suspect.

Well there is one way you can guarantee a pass:
Drive how you've been taught.

It really is as simple as that.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

I think the bubble is about to burst.

I'm not normally one to be pessimistic (yeah right!), but I reckon that there is a tipping point coming in regards to our business.

The saturation of ADI's/PDI's is continuing, as is the constant advertising for new people to join the industry.

Every ADI who is getting frustrated with learners is thinking of becoming a trainer (if you let learners frustrate you - you'll never survive PDIs!), all looking to encourage more punters to join the business.

And what many people may not have recognised is that with the new 1 year learning rules coming in, many learners will be priced out of the market completely.

Very few learners can afford to insure a car privately, and very few parents want to supervise, so the majority of the heralded 100 logged hours driving will be with driving instructors. Simple maths will tell you that this will mean spending around £2000 before test fees, if not more.

At the moment, many of our customers start to learn with no understanding of how much it will cost, just thinking that £20 a week is ok, and well, da sez it'll only tek a coupla month. By the time they pass, they've spent nearly £800 without realising it. When they are told they MUST learn for a year and MUST take 100 hours, then even the least mathematically minded will understand that it'll be £40 a week until this time next year!

That may just make the difference. It's a lot of money to many people. We may find ourselves losing customers to public transport, and once people get past 20 without driving they tend to stay non-drivers unless their situation changes.

Will there be enough work?

There will certainly be enough driving instructors!

How are you going to get through it?

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Too much work - do I franchise it out?

Yep, it's true.

I've turned down 6 learners in the last fortnight.

I've dissuaded 3 people from taking intensive courses.

I've given a lot of information to a potential driving instructor in the hope that he will do a lot of research. Then I gave him my competitor's number!

And I still haven't got enough time to think...

And no. I'm not earning the fabled £30k a year - some of us simply can't do that many hours - we go slightly mad, or feel terrible that we're not offering value for money.

It does raise the question though - should I start a franchise? Should I charge someone £100 or more a week just for doing the same stuff I do for myself? Should I just find an ADI who wants to pay me an intro fee for customers? Should I take on a PDI and train them up "in my own image"?

Or should I just stick to being the one man band, be glad that I can pick and choose my own customers (not take all the dross that phone up with the same stupid questions), and just keep raising my prices until it settles down?

I'm voting for the easy life guys, sorry. I promise I'll pass on the work if you're good. If you're not, you just won't get a mention.

Oh, and if you want driving lessons - don't ask the price as your first question - there's more important things when choosing a driving instructor. If you ask the price you'll immediately get the brush off from me, because I reckon you've probably done very little research (prices are published on my website) and from experience you'll mess me about, won't listen to my advice, and you'll cancel on me when I really don't need the trouble.

I'll stick with the people I like the sound of.

(PS: Apologies for guys out there who're struggling - I guess I'm lucky - give it time and either you'll be busy too, or I'll be hoping you refer someone my way!)