In order to earn a good living, you should not need to have large, costly adverts in local newspapers and telephone directories. These are expensive and will make a large dent in your profits.
Try to find a ‘unique selling point’: this is something that only your driving school will be offering locally. It could be that you specialise in teaching especially nervous customers. You may state that you are more than happy to take on middle-aged customers. Perhaps you could have an on-board video camera to record and playback the driving lessons, if the client wishes. One free hour of Pass Plus could be offered to everyone who passes the test with you. Free logbooks could be offered to all customers. You may use Graphic Briefings to get your points across clearly and quickly. Give these matters some serious thought and give your imagination full rein. Do not be a follower of fashion, be a leader.
We believe that you need to be seen out and about all the time with a roof sign showing your driving school name and contact details.We recommend that you have brochures and business cards to hand out to on-the-spot inquirers. The brochure can take many forms. A newsletter format works well. You can include general information about the driving tests, useful websites and information about your prices, about who you are, your code of practice and terms and conditions. Give the newsletter a number. This will give the impression of an established school. Desktop publishing software (DTP) is ideal for this. We recommend Serif Page Plus. Although this is not expensive considering what you get, you may be able to find even cheaper (older) versions on Ebay. You could respond to telephone inquirers by sending this brochure through the first-class post or by dropping it through their letterbox the same day. Posters, business cards and flyers You can easily produce advertising stationery on your computer.
We recommend that you have a good supply of business cards in the car and in your wallet or purse. Not only will people knock on your window but they will also stop you in filling stations to ask for details. Give each of your clients five at the end of their first driving lesson and when they pass their test to give to friends and family members who are, or may soon be, looking for a driving instructor. This type of recommendation is the best form of advertising. Think about advertising on school and college noticeboards. Don’t forget to ask for permission. If times are hard, consider a lesson fee reduction to clients, for every new client they bring to your driving school.
At the start you may need to place adverts in your local newspaper. Keep them brief. If you do use the newspapers make sure your advert appears where you want it and not in some throw-away motoring supplement. Choose the right day. Think about when your potential customers and their parents are most likely to be looking for a driving instructor. Fridays and Saturdays are probably the best, when they are away from work/school and have the time to discuss driving lessons and read adverts. When you place your advert, ask if there is a three for two price offer. If you do not want your competitors to know why you are advertising, be astute.
Use the Internet to show the world your business details, your CV, your driving lesson fees, terms and conditions, courses, general information, etc. A web presence in this day and age is very important, if not vital. More and more people are Googling when they are shopping around. We now receive more inquires from Googlers than Yellow Pages. If you do not have a website customers may draw their own negative conclusions.
You can produce your own website using software such as Microsoft FrontPage. These programs may take a little bit of time to understand but it will be time well spent. It is usually just a process of trial and error. If you can learn how to design and manage your own website this will save you a great deal of money, now and in the future. You will be able to access your website and update it whenever you want, rather than having to employ an IT ‘expert’. Once you start working on your new website you may find that it can be very interesting and absorbing. To obtain some ideas, look around at other websites. Do not get carried away with lots of coloured pages, busy fonts and too many pictures, which will take an age to download. The customer may become bored and move on to the next driving school website before your very attractive but slow-loading pages materialise.
Look up articles on the Internet about how to optimise your website in order to get your site on the first couple of pages of Google. This should not be too difficult for a local driving school. If you are in the early stages of becoming an ADI and you are still employed in another job, you could try designing a website now so that it is ready to upload when you start your business. Hopefully you will not have as much free time when you qualify. Using a web designer If you do not feel you have the time or interest to create your own website, then you will need someone to do it for you. Shop around and look at the ADI forums. You may find there are people there who will be happy to help you for a moderate fee.
If you want to be seen as successful and you want to develop your business locally, regionally or nationally, then a website is essential and will become more and more so as the Internet becomes the standard information tool for all households. If you wish to expand your business, you could use your website to advertise for other ADIs, stating the standard that is required from them. Inform them whether you operate a franchise, a commission or a set fee for each client they receive from you. Say whether you provide a car or not, and give any other details.
These are quite popular with those searching for driving schools in their area. Look for the free ones. Other local instructors will be using these directories so, in order to stand out from the crowd, choose your advert with care.
Our advice is to place a small box advert in Yellow Pages and the Phone Book. People may notice your driving school name as you drive by but may not be quick enough to take down your contact number. Others may hear your name but not know how to get hold of you. You might consider placing a lineage (often free) in both your driving school name and your actual name as a driving instructor in order to attract more custom – especially if you operate both manual and automatic cars. If you are a member of an instructors’ organisation, you can have your details included in their corporate advert. This will give the impression of a well established driving school. Be careful to purchase an advert size that is related to the amount of work you want. The public are influenced by the size. They will probably believe that, the larger the advert, the better you are, and this will therefore increase the chance of them contacting you. Beware, that the advertising rates in these directories are rather high.
A car roof sign gets your driving school name noticed most of all. Show your name and phone number clearly and boldly. If you can afford it, obtain a telephone number that is easy to remember. Do not use 0800 or others that cost you money each time someone calls. If the general public have any sense, they will not use a premium number that costs them more money.
Signs on the rear bumper or tailgate, showing the courses you offer and your website address, should be enough. Too many magnetic signs can look untidy and tacky. Consider how many signs you actually do need and think very carefully about whether signs on the sides of the car, which have to be quite large, are necessary.
Professionally applied signs can look very attractive and will certainly make the car stand out. This will, of course, be more expensive and, if the car is used as a family car, you will always be on duty. If you show permanent signs on your car that other people or you drive on your days off, the general public will expect the driver to be dressed smartly and your car to be clean and driven correctly. Also, when the time comes to change your car the signs will have to be removed, which may, due to fading, leave a mark on the paintwork. The more established you become, the less you will have to rely on advertising.
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Note: This article was sent to us by: Donnie Tierson at 01172010
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