So you’re looking for a driving school.
Your mates have recommended someone. Your parents friends have recommended someone. You’ve seen adverts on telly. You’ve looked up driving schools in your area on Google… you may even have looked in the Yellow Pages (remember that?).
You have a short list of driving schools and you want to find out which one to take lessons with. You grab your phone (or laptop) and you give the first one a call (or email).
…and you ask…..
“Hello mate. I wanted to find out about driving lessons.”
“OK. No problem. How can I help?”
…here it comes…..
#1: “How much are your lessons and do you have any discounts?”
#2: “What car do you teach in?”
#3: “How many lessons will I need?”
…and my favourite (not!)
#4: “I’ve got a test booked next week can you fit me in for a lesson every day?”
Alright. Before I get complaints, I know there are some circumstances that mean you need a driving instructor for a test in a week… or you miss out. But some people just book the test without giving it a second thought. Weeks pass and then at the last minute they decide they’d better get an instructor. OR… they say, ‘my instructor can’t take me for test’… if that were me and I REALLY couldn’t take you for test… I’d find someone who could. If a fellow instructor phoned me and asked if I could take one of his/her pupils next week… I could probably fit them in.
But I digress. The real questions you should ask are:
#1: How long have you been an instructor?
#2: How many hours do you need to teach an average pupil to test standard?
#3: When are you available for lessons?
#4: What other help can you give me?
It’s the last question that is my ace up my sleeve. I have a massive library of articles and videos online that all my pupils have free access to. There are video lessons from scratch up to dual-carriageways and manoeuvres at VirtualDrivingSchool.co.uk and videos of all the tricky parts of the test routes in Coventry at DrivingTips.co.uk/coventry. No other instructor (in Coventry at least) offers all this for no extra charge.
You don’t have to be one of my pupils to benefit from the online training though. Anyone can sign up for a small fee – Take a look for yourself.
As for the other questions… you want to be sure you’re getting an experienced instructor, not just a cheap one. You could pay as little as £15 per hour, but you’ll most likely need 80+ hours to get to test, whereas an instructor charging £30 per hour might very well get you there in 30. You do the maths.
The question of ‘what car?’ is an interesting one… in fact I might do an entire article on that one. But what do you think? Does it really matter what car you learn in? Maybe it does. Let me know. If you’ve been learning in a mini with one instructor perhaps you want to stick with a mini – fair enough. But I had one person specifically looking for a ‘blue’ car! I mean, seriously, come on people.
The final question is about the INSTRUCTOR’S availability… NOT yours. OK I know it needs to be convenient for you, but I get one comment all too often: ‘I need weekend lessons because I work all week.’ – News flash… SO DO I. And you know what… I work longer hours than you. I start at 9am and get home at 7pm Monday to Friday, plus a few hours on Saturday morning. I know there are some ADIs who seem to work 24/7, but personally I like to see my family every now and then. So ask your potential instructor when THEY are available… and try to fit in. You’ll get on a lot better and progress a lot quicker. Trust me.
If you have any other concerns about choosing an instructor, or concerns about the instructor you have already chosen… leave a comment and let’s hear it.
That’s it for this week. Next week I’ll have had THREE tests to report. Pass or fail I’ll give a rundown and see what we can all learn from their mistakes …if any 😉