I went onto Amazon this morning to finalise the purchase of six albums I had placed in my basket. I decided I wanted the physical CD for these, as opposed to download MP3 only and had accepted I would have to wait for the albums to arrive in the post. So, I placed my order and then discovered I could download them instantly to my personal library where I can listen on my PC - NOW! No waiting for my CDs to arrive, I can listen to them straight away, any time, anywhere! And at no extra cost. Wow! In the past you might have been offered an extra service of this sort, but you would have had to pay for it. Today so much is available for free.
But that got me thinking about our job as driving instructors. Our learners have been born and brought up in this 'instant' society. They are not used to waiting for anything - why wait when they can have it all now? And although they accept they have to pay for this service, they expect it to be as cheap as possible - and the industry obliges! How on earth are we to educate the public that a driving licence is a privilege, not a right, if we sell our hard-earned services for peanuts?
Learning to drive
So how do we get the message across that the one thing that really is worth waiting, and paying for, is a driving licence? After all they see the intensive driving courses being advertised, cheap as chips, and believe it is possible for them to gain their licence, and be as safe as any experienced driver on the road, in a matter of a week! Mind you, I have much to thank these companies for as I have gained a lot of work because of them! But do we really want this? Why do we persist in the belief that we have to reduce our prices to compete? I raised my prices, significantly, and have had full books ever since! And I'm about to do it again because the competition is catching up! Good. That means I can keep raising mine to keep ahead of them and maybe, finally, reach a realistic level for the service we offer.
Can you justify your high prices?
Now, one thing I have to say about the raising prices strategy is that you absolutely must be able to justify why you are the dearest in your area. It's no good offering exactly the same as everyone else:
- 1-2-1 tuition;
- pick up from home, work or school;
- no 'piggy-back' of pupils;
- fully qualified;
- modern dual-controlled car.
This is a given - I never mention any of this! Of course I'm qualified, but then I tell them about all the other qualifications I have. I justify why I can use the phrase 'patient' and why I am suitably quailfied and experienced in teaching nervous and dyslexic drivers. And I explain what 'client-centred' is, and how it's been part of my working life for over 30 years! So, what is your USP? If you haven't got one then perhaps you need to upskill and find your particular niche? The Dile can help you to do that so, if you're not a member yet, then give us a try, free (there's that word again!) for one month. Check out all the webinar recordings (these are the online equivalent of 1hr workshops at conferences) and find out what webinars are coming up so you can book onto a live event. Talking of events, there's also a list of upcoming events around the country, the ones we know about at least, and all the documentation you want from the DVSA is on there too, saving you time searching their website. One instructor in my local test centre wanted to know why the DVSA hadn't informed him what the new standards check was all about! He only knew the check test had changed but knew no other details as the DVSA hadn't told him! You can definitely be several steps ahead of this guy by joining the Dile and make sure you don't make any statements like this in the test centre!