Bill Plant Driving School and C&A Mackie Insurance Brokers are pleased to reveal the results of the Driving Instructor Survey 2019. In the Autumn of this year, the respective market leaders conducted a wide-ranging survey to provide the industry with several new and interesting insights. The survey was also designed to help individual instructors, both old and new, learn about new trends and understand gathered opinions surrounding topics that would influence their careers both in the short and long term.
The first key analysis looked at demographic figures. The study highlighted the gender and age range of participants, which varied from 21 to 60+ and conveyed that 3 out of 4 who answered were male and 65% of those queried were over the age of 50. In terms of location, respondents were evenly split across the UK, with the highest proportion, 16.8% based in the South East of England. Regarding ethnicity, our findings mimicked the national 2011 Census Data to a large extent, with one key outlier – 12% of respondents identified as “Asian” or “Asian British” – which reflects a 6% increase in the professional in comparison to the general population.
Driving Instructor Training
The second element of this research project assessed the more emotive factors linked to the decisions of those who decided to train and learn how to become a Driving Instructor and the general approaches they took for their respective careers upon qualifying. We found that 28% chose to become a driving instructor predominantly due to the flexibility afforded to them by being self-employed, while 13% decided on the vocation because they enjoy teaching. A further 8% decided on this career path because they wanted to improve the driving standards of the next generation and over 10 respondents claimed being a Driving Instructor was their dream job.
Our survey showed 71% opted for a Trainee (PDI) Licence instead of going straight for their Part 3 Exam. Their driving instructor training was done across a mixture of large training organisations, such as Bill Plant Driving School and freelance independent trainers. The major reason individuals chose to go with their training provider was their reputation, the course’s location and due to them being part of a driving school upon qualifying. Interestingly, the least important decision-making factor, was the speed of the course to qualify.
Starting out as a Driving Instructor
Upon completion of their training, overall 61% opted to join a franchise, with this majority concluding that this choice was the clear natural progression route to follow. Other key reasons to choose a franchise included the tuition vehicle (24%), the brand (21%) and the overall all-inclusive nature of the franchise offering (i.e provided pupils, a car, insurance, maintenance, Instructor Support etc) (20%). For those within a franchise, weekly fees ranged from less than £100 to £301+, with 9% not wishing to disclose their franchise fee. In addition, 41% stated their franchise was great or fantastic value, with a further 26% stating it was good value. In terms of recommendations, 79% would refer other instructors to their franchise, which is demonstrated by 37% receiving the perfect number of pupils from their driving school and 23% fully booked.
Of those who chose to go independent and stated they didn’t want to be part of a franchise (with associated payments/contracts) – the highest reason to not go with a franchise outside of these factors was being able to manage their own diaries (55%) whilst having their own choice of vehicle was surprisingly the lowest reason at just (19%).
Professional Development (CPD)
Further assessment looked at those who had undertaken CPD courses to enhance their careers. Whilst 81% of those who took part were not ORDIT Trainers, 41% of the total questioned had received a Grade A in their last standard check. With the DVSA’s recent changes, which requires individuals to have attained a Grade A to become ORDIT Trainers, it is exciting to note that our findings highlight to instructors nationwide the fact that huge gaps and opportunities are available for individuals looking to develop their careers through this aspirational route.
Tuition Vehicle – Transmission, Fuel & Manufacturer
Concerning vehicle transmission statistics, automatics accounted for 40% of all cars purchased in the UK in 2017, up from 34.8% in 2017 and double the proportion from a decade ago. If those purchase habit trends continue, automatics should in theory surpass manuals for new car sales by the end of 2019. Despite these figures, from those surveyed, less than 10% of driving instructors currently drive an automatic tuition vehicle. Of even more interest, was the general reluctance from driving instructors to make the transmission transition, despite the largely growing audience for automatic driving lessons around the country, with only 18% having made the decision to change over on their next change of car.
Of new cars registered, statistics show petrol as a market share in 2019 was 62.4%, with diesel operating at 24.2%. Petrol has remained relatively static year on year, yet over the same time period diesel has declined by 31.5%, so in number of registrations diesel is down 28.3%.
Interestingly the highest growth in fuel registrations has been the Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle (MHEV) which has had a 378.1% increase in registrations in the last year. Forbes in 2019 stated, “Millennials consider social responsibility and environmental friendliness when considering their purchases” therefore, Driving Instructors should consider this moving forward given the main demographic of their customer base.
We also found 37% of participants change their vehicles after 3 or 4 years, 23% changed their vehicles every 2 to 3 years and worryingly, more than 10% of instructors are changing their cars every 5+ years. 74% of instructors are choosing the buy their vehicle outright.
The study queried instructors on their tuition vehicles, which highlighted Ford as the most popular manufacturer with 22.5% of respondents using them as their car of choice, which is in line with the top selling cars of 2019, with the Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus and Ford Cougar being present in the top 10 year to date. Second was Vauxhall, with 13.6% of the total and Volkswagen third, with 8.1%. Interestingly, Renault, Toyota, Citroen and Peugeot don’t feature in the best-selling manufacturer year to date, however, 28.1% of driving instructors that were questioned are teaching in these relatively “unpopular” new cars.
On the topic of dash cams, new research from Aviva found that only one in four drivers nationwide currently use a dash cam, which compares unfavourably with our results showing that 58% of instructors currently use these technical appliances. Dash cam footage is now accepted and regularly used by both the police and UK courts, resulting in lower insurance premiums.
Driving Instructor Insurance
As to the major insurance providers in the market, C&A Mackie Insurance Brokers were chosen by 21% of respondents, Adrian Flux by 17% and Instructor Cover Plus by 9%. Insurance was included within the franchise for 7% of people and the remaining percentages made up of other insurance providers each respectively commanding figures lower than 9%.
Of those respondents who answered the question on annual insurance costs, the average premium was £525. The lowest claimed premium was just £250 whilst the highest £2050. Furthermore, nearly 5% are paying over a thousand pounds per year. Depending on your driving school franchise, this cost could be included within the fee, hence not all of those who completed this survey were able to provide this figure.
A separate set of questions examined the hours worked, lesson prices and revenue generated by individual instructors. On average, instructors worked between 26-30 hours per week, with an average lesson price between £26 and £30 per hour. At any given time, an instructor generally has 20 pupils. On hours worked, the range of responses varied from 10 to 15 hours per week to 51+. The data showed us that 14% of instructors do 10-15 hours per week and 8% do 41 hours and above. It was fascinating to see that 15 respondents state they are regularly working 51 hours a week or above! Moreover, 2% are charging less than £20 per hour and 3% are commanding more than £36 per hour.
Methods of Payment
With regards to payment methods, 86% most commonly take cash as their preferred method of payment. This is in spite of the fact that in 2018, card payments overtook cash payments for overall transactions in the UK – yet only 8% of Driving Instructors offer to take their payments by contactless card payments. It has long been observed that people generally spend more money on card payments than by cash.
Mastercard reported that consumers that are able to pay using contactless methods spend 30% more than those who don’t – with the prevailing theory being that contactless removes the “pain of paying” – the psychological effect of payment. Use the card and it doesn’t feel like your giving anything up to make the purchase, unlike paying cash where you have to hand over money. It is further more so for contactless, which has overtaken chip and pin, which makes the paying process even easier, increasing consumer’s willingness for individuals to part with money.
From the instructors assessed, a third stated that the average age of their pupils is 22 years old and above. Most pupils are first time drivers, with only 4% of instructors offering test covers. Approximately a third of instructors did state that their pupils have had previous lessons with a professional driving instructor. Whilst instructors are clearly using various methods to track calendar appointments and lesson progression tools, the physical diary remains the overwhelmingly dominant preference, with 75% of instructors still using one. Even with the technological developments seen in the industry, only a quarter of respondents use online tools of any kind.
In terms of the methods employed by Driving Instructors to acquire students, word of mouth remains the presiding means to source pupils. Facebook is the second highest source, even though the social media platform has been haemorrhaging users under the age of 34. According to Techspot, who published a report on social media user behaviour in March 2019; in the last 2 years, there has been a 22% decrease in users under the age of 34, whilst there has been an overall growth in Facebook users, which has come from those who are 55 and above.
This demonstrates the reason why Facebook is losing younger audiences to newer “hip” platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram and Tik-Tok, which didn’t feature in how instructors source students. Independents generally tend to use the traditional means of acquiring students through word of mouth and people approaching the car.
Conversely the methods employed by these individuals are less flexible and adaptable to changing digital market conditions than those who operate larger driving school franchises, who have wide access and expertise on utilising other means of pupil provision.
What should you be looking at in 2020?
Based on our findings, these are the seven key questions you should be asking yourself to help improve your driving instructor business.
- Consider automatic. 80% of the pupil enquiries Bill Plant Driving School turn down, due to instructors’ diaries either being fully booked or no availability, are for automatic driving lessons. Do you know the demand for auto in your area?
- When should you consider moving to a hybrid/EV tuition vehicle – Will that decision be made for you by the pupils of an environmentally conscious, green-thinking generation or the government themselves?
- Increasing revenue through alternative payment methods – For those wishing to increase their revenue next year, rather than simply looking at the unit cost of a driving lesson (lesson price) – should you look to more strategically assess the payment methods you have available, based on our highlighted psychological findings.
- Fit a dash cam – Given the benefits we’ve outlined, if you haven’t already got one, 2020 is the year to fit a dash cam!
- How to source pupils – Expand upon your current methods of pupil sourcing, don’t get left behind as an independent by not paying close attention to newer digital marketing trends.
- Career development – ORDIT training not only gives you more reliable income and diversifies your teaching portfolio, but also provides you with the unique opportunity to develop the next wave of driving instructors for future generations. Consider ORDIT training as a route of progression in the New Year!
- Finding the right work life balance – Remember why you became a driving instructor in the first place – the flexibility and lifestyle benefits. As you are planning your approach for 2020, consider reflecting on the hours you work and the way you tackle teaching. Mix up your daily routine by including physical activity, such as gym or yoga sessions and add regular meet ups with other local instructors or those within your franchised driving school to improve your social wellbeing.
We trust you have enjoyed reading the results of the Driving Instructor Survey 2019. Do please share via the buttons below and do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your Driving Instructor Franchise.