I was reading a post on a Driving Instructors forum recently when someone asked is it possible to earn £30,000. If you look on many driving school pages they will say there are potential earnings of well over £30k, in fact one large school advertises that it is easy to earn £40,000. As an Approved Driving Instructor since 2003 I can confirm it is certainly not easy to earn £40,000. What driver trainers and schools tend not to mention is the costs associated with running your business.
They don't allow for holidays. Tax. National Insurance. Sickness. The franchise alone for some schools can be upwards of £200+ per week. A franchise from a large school would typically provide a car, maintenance and possibly some students, along with office support. It's important to mention that driving schools and instructors who sell driving instructor training courses are unlikely to tell you the real earnings. Its a big selling point.
What are the costs?
Most driving instructors will have similar costs, they will vary but for many instructors the costs of running their business will be the same.
The costs of a franchise tend to be much higher, but larger schools also tend to charge more than independent instructors. What you will find is in the first few years of starting your business the costs are much higher. For example I have reduced my insurance premium by over half that of when I started. Here are a list of the main costs involved in running your business.
Driving School Vehicle
Continued Professional Development (CPD)
It's possible that your costs in the first few years of starting could amount to 80% of your overall turnover.
Supply & Demand
Whilst the register of approved driving instructors appears to be strinking, this is only moving with market focuses. You could say the Boom years are well and truly over. Covid -19 is bringing its own problems with many students leaving learning to drive till later once the pandemic blows over. Some areas of the country remain busier, but generally speaking the demand is much less than previous years.
Work the hours you want This is a very odd statement and one I see used by many driving schools. I'm sure most people would be like myself. I'd love to start work at 9am and finish soon after lunch. The reality is I cannot do that, and it would be very hard to find students who would fit around those times. If you want to earn money you need to put the hours in. If you put the hours in and work when your clients are available then you will not be working the hours you want.
Your diary needs to be flexible. Of course the more hours you work the greater your income. There is a fine balance. As too many hours will start to show in your performance, and its possible you will stop giving value for money. I would suggest to maintain a healthy work life balance you should be looking to provide around 30 hours professional training per week with some flexibility. So for example you may have a student who has a few days off work and wants to take extra lessons. Be prepared to work a few more hours. I estimate for every hours tuition on road you will require at least 1 hour of time spent in your office doing paperwork/marketing etc. So a 30 hour tuition week is a 45 hour working week.
Some of the pitfalls to consider
Driving tuition has its ups and downs. 2020 has taught us that nothing is certain and Covid-19 has hit many businesses hard. A large proportion of your business will be young adults looking to start on the road to driving. Students tend to have very fixed hours that will involve working around school/college. Many also run 2 week timetables.
Another problem is that students from the same school or college in the same year tend to have the same free periods. If student A & B are available after school at a given time/day you will need to work around this dilemma. Work can be very seasonal. The summer is a busier period than winter. Like many people they don't always like starting driving lessons in the darker winter months. You will have a proportion of students that want lessons during the evenings and weekends.
It's entirely up to you how you manage your diary but limiting your hours will limit your income. One of the biggest pitfalls are cancellations. Each instructor will have a different approach to cancellations, but for many they will need to suck up the costs. It's very hard to charge for lost time when someone is sitting at home with a mug of Beechams and a Hot Water bottle. It's possible in bad weeks to lose upto 25% of your business through cancelled lessons. Due to the nature of our work we cannot fill slots, unlike other businesses that may have walk-in clients, people require regular lessons, so you cannot fill a regular slot with just a one-off lesson. It would be the same for peoples holidays. If a student takes a 2 week holiday then you will not be able to fill that space with another client.
What does a driving instructor really earn? People don't become driving instructors for the money. The costs are too high and the job requires you to work long hours. Taking everything into account and the potential realistic earnings are around £20,000 per year.
Of course this includes all the costs mentioned above. But it is a long way off from the suggestions some of the larger schools make.