Drive Scout Blog
7 Mistakes to Avoid Doing This Summer
By: Steve Jones | Posted in: Management, Operations
June 28, 2021
It’s almost July 4th – a historically busy and festive weekend – and you’re already understaffed. Suddenly you find yourself teaching, answering the phones, cleaning the facilities, maintaining the vehicles, and doing all you can to help out!
Sounds like the typical summer season for most driving schools, right?
Well, luckily it doesn’t have to be this way. Follow these 7 tips for things to avoid doing this summer to make your work life as a driving school owner a little easier and stress-free.
1. Don’t Forget to Prioritize
To quote Benjamin Franklin, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
Try to find time each day to be proactive and prioritize important tasks, instead of always reacting to the demanding customer or employee of the day.
In addition, take 30 minutes every Friday to plan your next week out. This routine will help reduce stress while allowing you to start back fresh on Monday with a great game plan to execute.
Personally, I use Trello to manage my “to do list.” I spend 10 minutes at the end of each day to revise and adjust, where needed, my schedule for the following day. This way, I know exactly what I’m working on and can prioritize ahead what to spend my time and attention on.
Of course, things happen and plans might need tweaking. In that case, I simply adjust the date/time of that task or project.
2. Don’t Forget to Create a Vehicle Maintenance Plan
Do you have your vehicles on a maintenance plan? Or do you wait for something to break and just bring it to the shop?
Staying proactive and scheduling those oil changes, tire rotations and all other maintenance helps ensure that your fleet is safe and operating efficiently to minimize downtime.
Do you have a backup vehicle?
I recommend having at least 1 back-up vehicle per 5-7 vehicles in your fleet.
There is nothing worse than when a car needs unexpected repairs or maintenance, forcing you to cancel a few weeks of driving lessons because you were not prepared.
3. Don’t Forget to Order Essential Supplies & Computer Upgrades
Tip number three… Don’t forget to order supplies and tune-up your computers!
Running out of toilet paper, paper towels or hand sanitizer is not only embarrassing, but it is also a nuisance as sometimes these products can be difficult to find and replace quickly.
To avoid getting caught without the essentials, make sure to create a standard operating procedure for ordering and maintaining proper inventory levels for all your supplies.
Also, chances are your computers are running slow which probably bothers your staff while reducing their productivity.
I recommend having all your computers scheduled for a “tune-up” by a local IT professional to ensure everyone’s devices are running perfectly. Functioning equipment increases both employee morale as well as productivity! It’s a win-win.
If you’re not on-site, this work can be scheduled remotely and it should not cost more than $50-$75 per computer.
4. Don’t Overbook If Your Schedule Is Full
One way to reduce your stress and prevent problems from arising is by avoiding overselling driving lessons if your schedule is full.
Are you already scheduled out more than 60 days and still selling? Or even worse, you’re scheduled out 90+ days before your next driving lesson opening?
If so, stop selling until you can hire more staff and catch up on your backlog of students who have already purchased.
Sure, it may be tempting to keep booking new students and accept a few 1-star reviews during the summer, but taking this approach will hurt you more than you think.
Word of mouth is, and will always be, the #1 driver of business for your driving school. Mismanaging your customer’s expectations by having a massive backlog of students is a quick ticket to your reputation’s ruin.
How can you stop overselling?
To avoid this, remove the function for students to purchase online via your website until you’re caught up. Add a small blurb letting customers know you are sold out of your services and when to expect availability.
Use this opportunity to capture new emails and let your customers know when spaces become available again!
You can also add a “for sales press 1” option to your phone system and then pre-record a message letting customers know that you’re temporarily sold out to avoid paying the office staff to relay the same message.
Parents will be so appreciative of this transparent and proactive approach. Ultimately, it will help your driving school stand out from the competition too!
5. Don’t Waste Away Your Marketing Budget
If you’re overbooked, then don’t forget to stop or slow spending on marketing if classes and driving lessons are full.
To expand on our fourth tip above (since you might stop selling for a few weeks, or maybe even months depending on your backlog), be sure to turn off all of your PPC ads and other marketing expenses.
Otherwise, you will be burning money on marketing if you’re already at capacity. Save it for later!
6. Don’t Forget to Keep Tabs on Your Cash Flow
Something you definitely shouldn’t forget to do this summer is paying your estimated taxes and keeping cash available.
Have you made your estimated payments for taxes yet? If not, stop reading and do that now.
It’s tempting to overspend when cash flow is strong during the summer months, but by keeping plenty of cash after paying your estimated taxes will ensure that you have extra money in the bank during the slow season.
7. Don’t Forget to Keep Hiring
Too often, driving school owners think they have hired enough instructors and so they stop hiring during the summer.
Don’t make the same mistake!
Keep hiring to ensure you’re never understaffed. In fact, you should always be hiring.
If you find yourself overstaffed (bravo!), you have the luxury of spending lots on marketing to help fill those schedules.
Alternatively, you can replace or reduce the hours of a few of your instructors who consistently get complaints with a few of the new amazing staff that you’ve just hired. Don’t settle for less!
Final Thoughts – 7 Mistakes to Avoid Doing This Summer
The summer is an exciting yet stressful time for many driving school owners.
I hope you find the tips above helpful and have your most profitable and successful summer yet!
To summarize, here’s a quick overview of what we learned!
- Don’t Forget to Prioritize
- Don’t Forget to Create a Vehicle Maintenance Plan
- Don’t Forget to Order Essential Supplies & Computer Upgrades
- Don’t Overbook If Your Schedule Is Full
- Don’t Waste Away Your Marketing Budget
- Don’t Forget to Keep Tabs on Your Cash Flow
- Don’t Forget to Keep Hiring