What driving school?
When it comes to choosing a driving instructor-you will be spoilt for choice. With the vast array of driving schools on the market-how do you choose which instructor is best suited for your needs? There are several types of schools you can choose from- a national driving school to deliver your training, a regional driving school and of course a local independent school. But, what are the advantages of each? Below I set out the pros and cons of each.
National school: National schools such as BSM, RED and AA are highly branded schools-they have stood the test of time and have been around for years. They are usually more expensive than your regional or local schools as their overheads are far greater. They operate on a franchise instructor system-whereby the supply local instructors with work for a weekly fee. All instructors are self-employed and are not employed by them. Many national schools accommodate the training of driving instructors- who becomes ‘trainee’ driving instructors within the school. They are known in the industry as ‘pinkies’ or ‘trainee driving instructors’.
There are pros and cons to this system. It enables the driving instructor to earn whilst they train and gain the valuable experience of teaching whilst under the umbrella of the national school. However, learner drivers aren’t always aware that they’re being trained-by an un-qualified instructor and the lesson fee remains the same. This system has been an on-going debate for many years within the industry and the government has recently released new proposals -which will help improve the driver trainer industry. AA however; is one national school that DO NOT use ‘trainee’ instructors and freely advertise this on the training vehicles.
National schools often have a high turn over of driving instructors, as they tend to operate high franchise fees. Once a driving instructor has gained the experience and base of pupils they need-they often leave to start their own driving school.
Regional school: there are many regional schools on the market. Up and down the country you can find many regional schools that are very popular within counties. Drive dynamics started of in Leeds, Drive Johnsons of the Midlands, and of course Kelvin White in the South West of the country. These kinds of schools have a high turn over of pupils-often advertising ‘cheap’ deals-just to get the customers in. There Is wide spread acclaim within the industry as to how these driving schools are exploiting vulnerable driving instructors, and yet again normally operate a high turn-over of driving instructors. Very often they have other deals to entice the learner driver; like ‘free’ lessons and ‘free’ theory test training. However, this kind of school does attract pupils who ‘deal’ hop, and this sometimes results with an instructor having a low retention rate of pupils and a lower referral rate due to the high turnover of pupils within their business. One advantage is that a learner driver will normally be able to get an instructor at short notice and there are ‘freebies’ on offer.
Local school: Local driving schools are the bread and butter within the industry. Normally they have been ‘franchised’ instructors- whether it with a national school or a regional school. A local school usually is an independent instructor running a humble business. They usually charge a lower lesson price compared to national schools, but usually can’t compete with the regional schools ‘cheap’ deals-but often operate a ‘fair’ deal on bulk lessons. They often market and advertise their own business online and offline, and work harder to keep a solid referral base. The retention rate is normally higher and most independent instructors are well known within the local community-and very often go on to teach generations of the same family. One of the negatives of using a local driving school is that you have nowhere to go if you have a problem with your driving instructor. Unlike the larger schools -who have a customer service department.
So, when choosing what school to join- there are many things to consider when making that decision? National, regional or local school driving school? The choice is up to you.