Instructor Support Update – 15th March
In line with the UK Government’s roadmap out of lockdown and recent communications from the DVSA, we are continuing our planning towards 12th April as the date driving lessons can resume in England. We are expecting further information in due course regarding driving lessons in Scotland and Wales and will update our instructors in these areas accordingly as we learn more.
As part of the return to work, we are announcing three major developments regarding your driving school franchise:
- Successful introduction of the pupil pre-payment system
- Completion of substantial investment in a new e-commerce system
- Driving lesson price increases and introduction of regional pricing
Pupil prepayment system
In July 2020, Bill Plant Driving School introduced a comprehensive pupil prepayment system. This development was “Stage 1” of a plan to significantly enhance our franchise proposition with the following stated goals:
- Consistently generate pre-paid students, remove the “first hour free” taster lesson, increase franchisees’ overall income and maintain overall pupil supply
- Reduce the time instructors spend communicating with learners who are simply querying pricing or chasing pupils who do not answer calls and emails
- Reduce cancellations and no shows and ensure greater commitment from new students
- Reduce cash handling due to the Covid-19 situation.
We are pleased that all of the goals stated above have been achieved. Reports of no-shows and cancellations are down dramatically. Instructor earnings, the number of diaries closed (currently well over 50%) and pupil commitment levels were significantly increased during the periods driving lessons have taken place. Due to this success, we are continuing to invest in this area of the team, having brought in a new Bookings and Customer Services Team Manager and new Bookings Agents during this current lockdown. We have also proceeded with two further major developments.
We are delighted to announce that earlier this week, we completed the development of our mobile-optimised, driving lesson E-commerce platform on the billplant.co.uk website. Having introduced the pupil prepayment system in July, all initial driving lesson payments were previously taken over the phone.
However, through large investments in technology and systems, we are now able to take initial lesson bookings online, 24-hours a day, 7-days per week, for all our driving instructors.
This significant development means that pupil numbers will increase, as potential students are now provided an additional, streamlined booking process, whilst also being able to purchase lessons outside of Head Office working hours.
As pupil demand increases nearer to the restart date, we anticipate this new booking method to have a large positive benefit across the driving school, maximising instructor earnings. We have already noted very positive results this week since its implementation.
Please note, the pupils you receive through this new channel will continue to be sent across via text and email to book in as usual. The process for verifying payments is exactly the same as it was before.
Driving Lesson Price Increases and Regional Pricing
In consultation with instructors, we have made the positive decision to remove the driving lesson price cap and introduce a regional pricing model for driving lessons.
It is our strong belief that once lessons resume, your services will be in extremely high demand. We are confident this is the case because:
- When driving lessons resumed from lockdown in July, our prolonged marketing activity ensured the driving school broke its bookings record numerous times.
- The proportion of instructors with diaries closed rose from 31% pre-lockdown to a record high of 68% in August.
- We are set to resume in the spring, a typically busier period as weather conditions improve
- There is an extraordinary backlog for driving tests, with hundreds of thousands of tests cancelled due to covid restrictions
- Every day during lockdown, 4,000 newly turned 17-year olds were unable to start their learn to drive journey
To that effect, with 2020 having been an extraordinary difficult year, our number one priority is to ensure all our driving instructors return to successful businesses with increased earnings.
Our newly recommended driving lesson prices are based on geographical location and range from £28 to £33 per hour and we will be securing new pupils for instructors at these higher lesson prices. It will be at your discretion whether to increase your lesson pricing for both new and current students or just new students.
We have taken a data-led approach to reach these figures and it is extremely important to note that these prices are subject to change, either increasing or decreasing (but not lower than £28) depending on numerous factors. These include levels of demand, the number of instructors fully booked in the area and seasonality, amongst other factors.
We are sure there will be a lot of questions on this subject, so please note that your Relationship Manager will be in touch with you directly over the next few weeks (we will be contacting every single instructor in the driving school) to discuss a personal, comprehensive, return to work plan, which includes our newly recommended pricing.
5 for £99 Introductory Offer Removal
We understand there are benefits to cheaper introductory offers, so we will not be removing them entirely, but we want to better reflect our quality of tuition in terms of pricing. We are therefore removing the 5 for £99 deal and replacing it with 4 hours for £99, as the baseline introductory offer for those who choose to opt-in to it.
Covid Secure Driving Lesson Guidance & Instructor Support
Whilst the Covid-19 situation in the UK appears to be improving, we would like to take this opportunity to remind all instructors on the importance of adhering to all the relevant guidelines for conducting Covid-secure driving lessons once we resume.
The full guidance notes can be found here: www.billplant.co.uk/post-lockdown-driving-lesson-guidance-notes/
As ever, we are here for you, please contact the Instructor Support Team on 01765 643374 should you need any assistance.
We are extremely grateful for the continued support of all our driving instructors and will continue to do all we can to reciprocate for our Instructors, Trainers, Trainees, Staff and Pupils.
Head of Instructor Support