Over the years that I’ve been running my own businesses I’ve learned a lot. In particular I’ve learned that there are a lot of aspects of running a small business that I dislike, for example: I dislike giving credit – I’d rather run a cash business, than spend my time chasing payments; I’d rather sell hot dogs than bespoke software – everyone knows what they are getting when they buy a hot dog, whereas few people understand what they are buying when it comes to bespoke software; and I’d rather sell something that people need to buy, than something they want to buy, especially if it’s something they need to buy regularly.
Sadly there are few businesses that satisfy all of my criteria but becoming a driving instructor comes very close. It’s a cash business, everyone knows what one/two-hour driving lesson is and in this day and age nearly everyone ‘needs’ to be able to drive.
How to become a driving instructor
To become a driving instructor you’ll need to contact the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and apply to become registered as a Potential Driving Instructor (PDI). Once you’ve done that you’ll need to take three parts of a qualifying exam, if you pass you’ll become an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) and can they either start looking for some driving instructor jobs or better yet start your own business as a driving instructor.
Becoming a qualified driving instructor is just the first step though. Having qualified you’ll need acquire a suitable car for instructing in and arrange suitable insurance for both the car and you as a driving instructor. If you need more guidance on these topics you’ll find them covered in a number of driving instructor training courses.
Next find yourself a car. Think carefully about what car you get, there are a number of reasons for this:
- It’s your place of work, you’re going to spend most of your day sat in it – make sure you like it and are comfortable in the passenger seat.
- Your car is going to be one of the most important parts of your marketing, some people will be put off by a car that is too flashy, too girlie or too big. You’ll also benefit from a car in a colour and style that will be easy for sign-writers to brand for you.
- Your car is also going to be your main cost, whether you purchases it outright or lease it the more expense the car the higher your costs. Equally you’re going to be using a lot of petrol/diesel so the more efficient the car and the cheaper it is to service the lower your running costs are going to be.
Marketing yourself as a driving instructor
Once you’re qualified and whilst you’re waiting for your car to be ready (you’ll probably have to buy a new car and have it converted to dual-controls) it’s time to begin marketing your new driving instruction business.
Firstly get some branding lined up for your car, keep the message simple i.e. name and phone number (and L plates etc as required by law). Make sure they are big enough to be seen from a distance.
Once you’ve done that make a start on the following list of marketing ideas:
- Get some business cards made up to hand out / leave in strategic places.
- Make some referral cards for students to give out to their friends – perhaps offer a free lesson for every friend they introduce.
- Get a simple website made and get it listed on Google Local and be sure to SEO it for local driving instructor related keywords.
- Ask for referrals from other businesses, friends and family.
And when you’ve done those check out my list of free marketing ideas for more inspiration.
- Become an Approved Driving Instructor: And Set Up Your Own Driving School
- Practical Business Skills for Driving Instructors: How to Set Up and Run Your Own Driving School
- The Driving Instructor’s Handbook