Coronavirus Price: Unlike DriverActive, I simply can't afford to give this away free but for until the end of April I'm discounting by 70%.
It's too late for Profit-Buster to help with the current crisis - but it could make a massive difference when the next 'crash' comes, giving you more of a financial buffer. Nobody wants to be off work - but with Profit-Buster you can at least make some productive use of your time.
Case Study: Ken, an instructor from the South East, mailed me to say that after completing the 'Business Health Check' in Profit Buster he realised that his real hourly gross earning figure was not the £28 that he thought it was, but nearer £24.50... Now he recognises where the issue is, he is taking steps to improve his profitability and estimates that it could bring in an extra £4500 per year when resolved - without a price increase.
With a price increase? Another profit Buster customer, Bob, recently mailed to tell me that within eight weeks of starting profit buster he has increased his prices to £35 per hour.
Although you have 'shut down' for the duration, the info about 'if you are still working' below is still valuable both in understanding your marketing generally and selling lessons in the early days of the 'bounce back' - things won't return to normal overnight when this is over.
In this article I'm considering things that you can do to ‘keep your business afloat' through the next few months – even if you are unable to work.
Coronavirus continues to deeply affect the world economy – some businesses have already closed their doors for ever. Possibly there are UK driving schools amongst them and if not it's only a matter of time.
There are no figures available about how the virus is affecting driving instructors but social media and anecdotal evidence suggests that many have stopped working and those who are carrying on are working greatly reduced hours. I've no wish to be alarmist but rather, as in my other coronavirus info here and here, to encourage people to take action to help themselves.
It's possible that there are some instructors who have been able to carry on with ‘business as usual' but I suspect that they are a small minority and looking at the experience in Italy, Spain and France it's probably only a matter of time before instructor's and other ‘non-essential' workers are forced to stop work.
Your work might be essential to you, but unless you are teaching doctors, ambulance drivers or other care providers it's unlikely that your work is essential to the country at this time.
If you are still working and haven't already done so, send an email to, or call, your customers to to assure them that you're doing everything you can to protect their health when they come for lessons.
Explain how you are following strict hygiene measure in the car and not teaching anyone who has any symptoms, however mild.
Also let them know about any changes to your cancellation policy during the crisis period.
There are three main reasons why customers will cancel.
1. They are fearful of the virus
If this is the case, making sure that they fully understand the measures you are taking might reassure them. With this in mind it's important to mail all of your customers – even those who might have already cancelled.
2. They can't afford lessons
This might be because they have been laid off. There is not a lot you can do here, but if you really know and trust some customers you might consider a deferred payment deal up to a limited ‘credit ceiling'.
Let's say you charge £28 per hour – you might reduce to £24 per hour and only take £18 up front, allowing them to pay the balance when things pick up. Be aware that there is a risk of bad debt with this…
Ask yourself what the minimum is that you can work (allowing that Government allow work to continue).
At this point you might be thinking I'm crazy suggesting that you cut you rates and offer credit – especially when a lot of my work is aimed at helping instructors to charge £30 plus. But desperate times call for desperate measures, earning something is preferable to sitting at home worrying about how you will manage on a meagre Government handout.
3. The have money but are fearful of spending.
If this is the case you might be able to tempt some customers with an attractive ‘block booking' deal. You can place conditions which will help later as thing start to recover, such as lessons at off peak times.
However, a word of caution… Be very careful with your money management otherwise risk cash flow issues as things start to recover and you are delivering the pre-paid lessons after all of your money is spent. I only recommend this approach if coupled with strict financial planning.
This might sound very mercenary – but there might be potential customers out there who want to continue with lessons but can't because their instructor has stopped working. Getting active on social media is a good route to help any prospective customer to find you.
The first thing I would do at this point is to look for a job. See this news report.
If you are unable to get a job, or are forced to stay home to look after the family you need to think about future business and possible ways to keep earning – even if you are only earning £20 or £30 a week by working a few hours.
When this is ‘all over' things might return to normal for your business fairly quickly – but you can't take this for granted.
For example, some learners have already been seen on social media with messages like “My instructor has stopped working, does anyone know of an instructor who can offer lessons?”
By keeping in touch with customers you are more likely to see them back in your car when things start to return to normal (or a new normal).
Keep in touch via text or e-mail and social media. I would suggest at least once a week, ideally more. Keep them up to date with news surrounding driving and driving lessons, give learning/driving tips… It doesn't really matter what is in your communications – the important thing is that you communicate.
With around 40,000 instructors out there might well be some innovative ideas in the ‘community', with this in mind monitor industry news and industry social media regularly.
From Monday I'll be making my DriverActive learners site free to all for the duration of the crisis. I'm doing this more for instructors than learners…
DriverActive is free to MasterClass Gold Members and many use it to assist marketing and help the sale of courses rather than lessons, using it as an adjunct to their training.
But DriverActive can serve a different purpose if you are not able to work over the next weeks/months – the content can help you to keep in touch with customers or potential customers during the crisis.
Take a look through DriverActive and familiarise yourself with the content and then put together some email tips around specific areas of content.
For example you could e-mail customers about roundabouts with a link to the relevant DriverActive page and a bit of info about your local roundabouts possibly with a link to video – shot from your dash-cam and posted on You Tube?
Click here for a document that has reference links to the key lesson subject in DriverActive.
(The info on the page talks about using the links with lessons - you would be using them as described above.)
Run online theory sessions and/or driving tutorial sessions (based on the DriverActive thoughts above).
Pure theory might work, but will limit your market – for example if you have 30 customers and 15 have already passed the theory test your potential start-up market is already cut by 50%.
But… Delivering theory as a discussion topic relating to roads and situations in your own area and introducing DriverActive as an additional resource you could probably attract most of your current customers. Make sure you give your service a snappy name!
You first need to think about a delivery platform – if you are Facebook savvy you might set up a private group and do live video, answering questions that come through comments (I'm still a Facebook absolute newbie so don't ask me how), there might be other social media platforms that allow you to reach a private group live. But ideally you will run webinar classrooms that are interactive.
If I was setting this up I would probably use Zoom. Zoom is a webinar platform that you should be able to learn quickly and easily – the free version would probably be OK but it has a 40 minute limit per meeting (up to 100 attendees) – the single user paid version is around £12 per month and would allow longer sessions. (There are other platforms available - Google.)
You can get learners to pay using your current online payment or credit card facilities and then send invitations via Zoom for the sessions. The customers don't need Zoom software – they can access from a web browser.
Best case scenario: If you start with 30 of your own customers and charge £20 per month for say, four sessions a week you would get 30x20=£600 per month for perhaps 4 hours a week plus admin time. If you are proactive and the only person doing this in your area you could double or triple the numbers via social media marketing. Get current attendees to post about it on their social media – boost your posts to your target demographic in your region.
Worst case scenario: You get 10 customers paying £15 per month… But if you are struggling for money £150 additional income allows you to keep up extras like Netflix, food or keeping the house warm…
Have a great week (allowing for everything that's happening).