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How to Prepare Your Business For When the COVID-19 Lockdown Lifts

As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the country and with self-isolation measures in place, almost all driving instructors have been forced to down tools and stay home. With test centres closed for all but key workers, there’s not many lessons going on. It’s a tough situation and many have looked at other ways of receiving income, either going back to old trades or applying for temp jobs.

The government has a grant that allows many of the UK’s self-employed — as most driving instructors are — to receive up to £2,500 per month from their Income Support Scheme. HMRC are aiming to contact eligible people by mid May 2020, meaning you don't need to contact them.

When the dust settles however, there is going to be a boom in learner drivers looking for a driving instructor. Perhaps more than usual, as public transport may feel uncomfortable after getting so used to 2 meters of social distancing.

Now is the time to prepare your business for that boom in learners, so you fill your diary quickly.

Here are our top 9 tips to prepare your business for the end of the COVID-19 lockdown.

1. Show Learners The Real You

Today’s learners are more independent and switched on than anyone. They’re looking for a driving instructor that suits them. It’s not enough to just say you’re a driving instructor with years of experience.

Show learners your teaching style. If you like to have a laugh and make things fun, or you’re direct and clear.

2. Display a Photo of Yourself

Learners can get anxious imagining their first lesson with a driving instructor. They’re about to sit in a car for around an hour or more with a stranger. Help calm their nerves by letting them know who they’ll actually be meeting. Simply adding a nice photo of yourself to your website and online profiles can have a big impact.

It’s important that your photo is decent in quality. The cameras in modern smartphones are excellent, however and if you want to splash out on professional shots, remember that they’ll last you years and can really set you apart from the competition.

Here’s our tips for taking a great photo:

  • Smile
  • Wear nice, clean and ironed clothes (the kind you teach in)
  • Take the photo during the day when there is lots of natural light
  • Put yourself in context, beside a road, in a nice, idyllic street
  • Avoid a cluttered background
  • Fill the frame with your face and top-half of your torso including your shoulders

3. Proudly Share How Much Your Lessons Cost & Any Discounts You Offer

We’ve spoken with thousands of instructors over the years and we know that a big concern is, if you share your prices, the next instructor will undercut you and win all the business.

The reality is that, while cost is a primary concern for some learners, it isn’t for most. When you make finding out your prices hard, it starts to feel like you are doing it because you’re not confident in the price, or you charge prices that are too high.

If someone can see what you charge and you demonstrate well your skill as a driving instructor, you’ll win the business regardless.

Some instructors will always be cheaper than the market expects, simply because it’s common to come across veteran instructors who are essentially retired, but still teaching to give back to their community by teaching this life skill.

Something we do at GoRoadie is let instructors know if they’re charging lower than their local counterparts, helping increase their take home earnings.

4. Show Photos of Your Past Pupils

Learners want to imagine themselves out on the road after passing their driving test. Help them visualise that by sharing a photo of your past pupils celebrating on passing their test.

You can use our tips on taking a good photo from earlier, just this time you’ll want them to be showing their pass certificate. Just be sure to blank out any private information from their certificate.

5. Make Your Available Hours Known

Learner drivers come in all types, with varied lives and situations. To save time and ensure you get better quality leads be sure to show the hours and days that you are available for lessons.

It’s a simple and effective way to show you’re available when they need straight away, saving you both time.

6. Gather and Display Reviews or Testimonials

Similar to showing happy past pupils, learners seeing reviews and testimonials from happy past pupils are also super effective in helping potential pupils choose you as their instructor.

We’re often surprised when we hear an instructor isn’t gathering reviews, or at least a quick testimonial.

Ask for them, gather and share them. No need to wait until your pupil has passed their driving test, nor leave them to do it on their own back. After a particularly good lesson — a few lessons in — send them a message asking for a review.

This is something we at GoRoadie do automatically for our instructors, so that they don’t need to proactively remember, but it never hurts to ask or remind a pupil. There are other platforms out there too, such as Trustpilot (who we actually use for reviews), but be aware that unless you regularly have reviews, your Trustpilot score will drop over time.

7. List the Services You Do and Don’t Offer

Learners and parents want to see what services you do and don't offer because, like showing your work hours, it’s also super useful to understand if you’re a good fit for each other.

Do you do refresher courses? How about offering UK familiarity courses for international drivers? Are you experienced teaching those with hearing difficulty?

You probably offer a lot more than you think you do. Take some time to think through all the types of training you’ve offered, or would like to offer, and make sure potential pupils can find them.

8. Use Language and Terms that Learners Will Understand

This is a common one. You’re a qualified, Grade A, ADI and super proud of it, so you start your online profile with “Hi. I’m Joe. A fully-qualified Grade A ADI…”. Turns out however, that people outside our industry have no idea what “Grade A” and “ADI” mean!

It’s super simple to fix though. Either, you can still say that, then quickly roll in to “…what this means is…”, or simply tell your story using language they will understand. “In 2019, I passed my mandatory driving instructors standards check exam at the highest level”.

9. Bring Everything Together into a Great Online Profile

These tips will help get your business ready to receive an influx of pupils after the crisis from COVID-19 settles and beyond, but they will do no good if you don’t put them out into the world and make yourself discoverable.

Did you know that more and more learners are starting to look online first, before choosing an instructor? Even if they know the instructor they want to go with — due to solid word-of-mouth — these savvy young people are not so quick as to dive right in. They do their research.

If they don’t find you online, or worse find you, but it puts them off, you’re risking losing a great lead for your next pupil.

It’s all about putting your business in it’s best light and providing all the information that a potential new pupil needs, to help them say “yes” and choose you.

Of course, yes, you can use all of these to build a great profile for your business on GoRoadie — and we’d highly encourage you to do so. It’s completely free to sign up, so there’s no risk and while COVID-19 is causing nation-wide lockdown, you can accept pupils for free, too — but these tips are universal. If you have your own website or online profile, use these tips there too.

Stay safe, wash your hands and get ready to make your business shine!