What’s the difference between a pint of Peroni and a driving instructor?

It’s been said many times that if you were to line up 5 driving instructors and ask a learner to choose, how would they know the difference between them? In the end, we all do the same job. We take a nervous 17 year old who has limited driving knowledge and experience, and we train/instruct/coach them to be a competent driver who we hope will be safe on our roads. How the heck are they supposed to choose and know the difference between us?

What’s normally the first question you get when you answer the phone with an enquiry about driving lessons? – How much are the lessons? – If you’re charging above the average rate, I can hear your sighs now. For those who are charging the industry bottom prices (I heard of someone recently charging £14 for a driving lesson!) you’ll be rubbing your hands together when the price question rears its head – yeah well done, you got them. You won them over by being cheaper than everybody else – well done you – how many hundred hours a week do you work?

For those of us that charge a higher rate, you know the phone call is generally only going one way.

So how do you go about justifying charging more for driving lessons?

Now, this might sound like an odd analogy, but it came to me one night whilst in a hotel, the night before going on holiday. A driving instructor is like a pint of beer – told you it was an odd analogy! I enjoy a beer, a lager to be more precise, and I’m quite picky, I like a nice quality lager. At my local pub I often enjoy a nice cold pint of Peroni, it’s pricey at £4.20 a pint, but I enjoy it, and I enjoy the atmosphere of the pub. I’m sure I could get it cheaper at the local Weatherspoons, but it doesn’t have the ambience I’m looking for, and certainly isn’t a place I’d go to for a nice drink with my family. Last night, in the hotel bar, I was pleased to see they served Peroni, so I went ahead and ordered one. The Peroni there cost £5.10, roughly 20% more than I’d pay in my local pub.

So why does it cost more?

It’s still the same amber liquid I could purchase from many establishments across the UK. The difference is the package. At my local, my Peroni would sometimes come in the custom glass the brewery made for the drink. Sometimes, if all the good ones had been stolen, I’d get it served in a generic glass, which although it still tastes the same, it’s just nicer in a proper glass. Sometimes I’d be served by the landlord who’s quite chatty, other times it might be the new girl who couldn’t care less. At the hotel, the barmaid was professional and courteous, the hotel bar was spotless, there were free nuts poured fresh if you wanted them (not the same pot everyone’s had their dirty hands in), and the furnishing was comfortable and modern as you’d expect from a nice hotel.

So what’s my point? If you put a pint of Peroni from Weatherspoons, my local, and a nice hotel all side by side, they’d all look and taste the same. The reason the prices are different is because of the service that is offered around the pint. As a driving instructor you are the pint of beer, to the untrained eye you’re no different from the rest of us. The potential learner generally doesn’t know about the ADI grading system. Your driving school is the establishment – your package – and this is the key to unlocking your earning potential. Do you want to be Weatherspoon’s School of Motoring charging £14 an hour, or do you want to be the Nice Hotel School of Motoring charging £30+ an hour?

I know which one I’d prefer to be, and I’m working hard to achieve it so that I, and the other instructors that are with my franchise can earn a decent living. How you go about becoming the top class school is entirely up to you, but think outside the box, think about how you can add value to your lessons, and about how you can exceed your learners expectations – give them an experience they can’t forget!

I wish you all the best with your business, but I challenge you to be the best!

Dave Shannon

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