Instructors cars require plenty of maintenance

At the moment I am sitting in a waiting room while my tuition vehicle is having the brake discs, break pads, and new tyres fitted to both sides on the front.

Driving instructors will recognise this as just part of the grind whereby as well as potentially losing income from pupils who are not able to take other available times a large bill will have to be settled.

If you have ever queried the lesson price charged by an instructor then these are just some of the hidden costs that you may not have considered to be included with that price.

Happy motoring!

Happy New Year!

A few days later than most quite possibly but I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a healthy and prosperous 2019. If you can manage healthy and prosperous then happiness will be a lot easier to achieve.

Have a great 2019!

With regret I shall not be delivering any driving lessons on snowy roads this year

This is a decision I made after the last snows melted this past winter. I have always taken pleasure for offering pupils the opportunity to learn how to drive on the snow and ice when those conditions became available.

The plan was always simple: scrap the current lesson plan and educate about how to keep themselves and others safe in the current weather conditions. Those were great lessons! My pupils all said that they benefitted from the experience and were really glad that they had taken the opportunity. For my part I not only enjoyed the variation in work, I know full well that at some point in the future those past pupils will have woken up; drawn back the curtains and boom: snow! Not a problem for them, in fact some of them probably smiled.

I have seasonally watched as other instructors fled from the roads to the safety of home where I am now being forced to join them. My current crop of pupils are not the problem. They too would benefit from the experience. I have not changed my mind on the matter. I absolutely believe that the variation in experience is as good for the pupils as it is for me.

I am sorry to have to say that the reason for my decision was, and remains, the sorry deterioration in the general standard of driving that I witness on the roads in and around Nuneaton on a daily basis. Last year after conducting driving lessons on snow and ice I returned home happy to have made it back safely because of near misses. Near misses that should never have occurred in the first place and that myself and my pupil played no part in the creation of and could not have avoided had they hit us.

I have witnessed the gradual decline of driving standards as have others but for me now the point has been reached where I feel the need to underline this most enjoyable and beneficial part of my job and say, with deep regret, no more. I know for a fact then if or when it snows this winter I shall remain at home instead of jumping gleefully into the car and heading off with a smile on my face.

I really did enjoy those lessons!

Driving instructors are planning for the Christmas season

Or at least those of us who have any sense are…

Being self employed, which all driving instructors are, has it’s advantages. A regular dependable income is not one of them.

Christmas is the time of celebration, presents, dressing nicely and merriment. All of which costs money! From early December driving instructors will hear a steady stream of, “I won’t be able to book any more lessons now until January i’m afraid. You do understand don’t you?” We understand perfectly. Pupils don’t always understand quite so much when I respond with, “Totally understandable! However should anyone ring for lessons I will have to sell them this timeslot. You do understand don’t you?”

In business as with driving forward planning is the key to a successful journey. The wise instructors are squirrelling away a few pounds now to see them through. It would be nice if pupils did too but, ah well; that is life.

Why do driving instructors wave to each other?

“Do you know all of the other driving instructors?” I am often asked. In reality no. Certainly over the years I have met a large number of driving instructors from Nuneaton and the surrounding area in the Nuneaton driving test centre but to say I know them all would be an exaggeration.

There is another designation of road users who frequently wave to other members of the same group even though they are strangers and that is motorcyclists. Motorcyclists share a common bond because to be a motorcyclist is to experience a common set of problems that would not be immediately apparent to other road users; among which the two primary ones are a commonly held stereotype and the fact that both sets operate in isolation. Believe me, I am not on a social excursion when I am on the road with pupils. I operate in professional isolation.

It is nice to get together with other instructors, which I do once a month at the NADDIA group. As road users go driving instructors are an amicable and fairly friendly bunch from literally all walks of society. As with any section of society there will always be the odd one who prefers to maintain a professional distance (as we say when we are being polite) from the others.

Being self employed is about so much more than just the work

The life of a driving instructor I am told is carefree and easy as pie. Simply tell folk where to go and make sure they check the mirrors frequently enough. Well you don’t need my opinion on that perspective, just suffice it to say that it is far from the mark.

I have spent a considerable amount of time recently tidying up the Findley’s Driving School website. The Privacy policy is a common one for driving schools to miss and how many driving school websites in your area do you think have a Terms and Conditions page/section available? Not that many I should guess, especially the independents.

I would encourage all independent driving instructors to take a look at their online presence occasionally and breath a little fresh content into it.

Do you work weekends?

The issue of working weekends can be contentious amongst driving instructors. Well some of us anyway. Most are laid back enough to live and let live. Franchised or not we are all individual self-employed bods who do our own thing.

The issue for me is that I have never wanted to work weekends but because of necessity I was in a position of needing to for years. I used to work seven days a week. Not full days at the weekend but I regularly had folk booked in seven days. Then I dropped to six and for over twelve months now I have been rejoicing in merely working a five day week. To be honest, I worked seven days for so long I am still not accustomed to having weekends off.

As you can see from the Availability page on my website I hardly work standard office hours. I feel like I definitely do my bit, but not at the weekends.

Having said that you may see me out at the weekend with the roof sign on. It can happen. Whereas I will not answer the telephone to a new pupil and book them in for weekend lessons; there is the odd case of an existing pupil who can no longer make their regular time due for example to a change in working circumstances. Sometimes I let them go. “Sorry, don’t work weekends”. This has happened. I am not without sympathy though for the pupil who has attended quite a few lessons regularly and suffers a change in circumstance. It has happened, and probably will again, where I will offer the option of a weekend lesson to help them out.

The secret is that I have to offer the option. Asking is pointless!

Why I will not teach driving instructors any more.

During my time as a driving instructor I have taught a further six people to qualify as ADI’s themselves.

Teach is not really a descriptor that I am comfortable with. I do maintain that to qualify as a driving instructor you need to find a caring human being with the necessary personal qualities. Such people do not need to be ‘taught’. You simply guide them through their development.

I never marketed myself as an instructor trainer, it was purely word of mouth recommendation and they all passed so I must have been doing something right.

I do enjoy my job and I am grateful for that. What has changed immensely is the working conditions, the pay, the way we are viewed by officialdom and our day to day treatment by the public and our pupils.

In short this is no longer a profession (my view of professional status will be the point of a subsequent post) that I could, with an open heart, recommend to a friend.

From an ethical point of view therefore I am not prepared to take money off others.

Nuneaton And District Driving Instructors Association (NADDIA)

As a professional driving instructor I am always open to the thoughts and ideas that other professionals are prepared to share. What could be better for this purpose than a regular monthly meeting of Approved Driving Instructors (ADI’s) and Provisional Driving Instructors (PDI’s) at a central venue? Beats me, that is why the Nuneaton And District Driving Instructors Association (NADDIA) exists. Nobody knows everything and it is beneficial to share.

We are a friendly bunch who discuss issues from the national, regional and local perspectives which is why this meeting is officially recognised as beneficial to your Continuous Professional Development (CPD):

Nationally we are affected by legislative changes which obviously have a bearing upon our day, institutional changes such as within the DVSA which can have a significant impact upon both our own administration and that of the practical driving test. News and information brought back from conferences that our members may have attended is of interest and can bring a new perspective to previously held discussions. Surveys come our way which allow us to share our thoughts and opinions (of which we have many I assure you) to a broader reach than we normally would.

Regionally is more at the kind of level where we start to interact with the DVSA more on a face to face basis than via channels of communication. Regional managers over the years have always taken a ‘my door is open’ approach which facilitates not only clarification of issues which may arise from either side of the conversation but occasionally a port in a storm; which from time to time we have been very grateful for.

Locally is where we come into our own. Who knows the roads and road traffic system in the Nuneaton area better than anyone else? Since between us we probably spend more time driving around professionally observing what is happening around us that any other group of people then I submit that we do! Problems that instructors are experiencing are discussed and useful suggestions are forthcoming. Road Safety is a regular topic and from time to time discussion about Instructional technique can get a bit lively. The practical driving test itself is of course discussed, how it is conducted by local examiners; who are sometimes invited along (Hello folks), unfortunate occurrences and how this all ties together from the perspectives of our pupils, the examiners and ourselves are all relevant topics of discussion. Sometimes, quite unexpectedly, the best discussion of the evening comes out of nowhere from the last item on the agenda, ‘Any other business’.

You have to be there to share!

If you are an interested ADI or PDI who might be local enough to find a monthly trip to Nuneaton appealing then please join us:

When?

The first Tuesday of every month,
Start time 8:30pm

Where?

Chilvers Coton Conservative Club,
Bridge Street,
Nuneaton

CV11 5UD

See you there!