September 20, 2017
When it’s time to create your monthly driving school schedule, do you dread it? Does it take more than two hours? If so, you’re not doing it right. Follow these driving school scheduling tips to save precious time and end frustration.
Believe it or not, 90% of all driving schools go about scheduling their instructor shift workers and office staff using a backwards approach. They hire employees first and then ask when they can work. This method is not only inefficient, but it also does not maximize your fleet utilization.
Driving school scheduling tips: Create a master schedule
Think about a popular local restaurant. Its tables are just like your cars. A restaurant needs to fill its tables just like you need to keep your cars busy and on the road at all times. A good restaurant manager determines how many tables a waiter can handle at peak times. He then creates morning, afternoon and evening shifts. If the restaurant has 50 tables and a waiter can handle 5 tables, then it needs 10 servers per shift.
Now, think about your own fleet of cars. How many shifts do you need to maximize your fleet utilization? If you have 8 cars and want to run lessons from 6 am – 9:30 pm (in 2 hour increments with 30 minutes between lessons) during the busy summer season, then how many shifts do you need?
Example 1: 6 am – 10:30 am, 11:30 am – 4 pm, and 5 pm – 9:30 pm. To maximize your fleet of 8 cars, you would then need 24 instructors. If you went with two shifts (Example 2) of 6 am – 1 pm and 2 pm – 9 pm, you would need 16 instructors. Both examples assume your instructors work seven days a week which is not practical. Often, you’ll see full-time instructors work 4–6 days a week and part-time staff 2–3 days a week. Hence, you’ll probably needs closer to 30 instructors for example #1 and 21 for example #2 depending on how many shifts each instructor works.
Driving school scheduling tips: Determine shifts first
The key to effective and efficient employee scheduling is to plan your shifts ahead of time. This should be your very first step when creating a master schedule. After determining your shift needs, then you can think about plugging employees and instructors into these shifts. This plan will ensure that you have the right instructors in the right cars at the right time.
Hire employees to fill your shifts
Now that you’ve determined the shifts for your master schedule, it’s time to hire your shift workers. You should also follow this scheduling plan for your office staff. Of all these driving school scheduling tips, this is the most important. During the interview process, ask your potential employees when they are available to work, and when they are not. For example, a driving instructor might not be able to work on Sundays.
Create a master list of when your employees can work. Next, plug them into your available shifts. If certain shifts aren’t covered, hire employees to work these specific shifts. Once you know everyone’s availability, you’ll save major time and eliminate frustration when it’s time to create a new monthly or weekly schedule.
Assess your resource pool
After creating your master schedule and filling your shifts, it’s important to assess your resource pool. Do you have too many instructors? Do you need to hire more? In a perfect world, you now have just the right number of instructors to cover all of your shifts. You don’t have to ask them when they can work because you already know. Bringing people onto your team who are a good culture fit for the company is also essential to success. Shoot for this gold standard.
Change your way of thinking
If you create monthly or weekly schedules by asking everyone when they can work, it’s time for a change. Yes, you may get some kickback and some resistance, but you’re the owner. Simply explain that things are changing. They can either adapt or leave.
You want employees that can adapt to change, right? Right! In the long run, your new employee master schedule will define what resources are needed, when and where.
Driving school scheduling tips: Manage change
You think your new master schedule is perfect. Congratulations. However, you’re unrealistic if you think you won’t need to make changes. Life happens. Your most dependable instructor may need to take off unexpectedly for a doctor’s appointment or if her babysitter fails to show up. It happens!
As a driving school owner, you need to be firm with your schedule, but also flexible. No matter how perfect your schedule is when it’s released, it will require frequent tweaking to accommodate last minute changes. So, what’s the best way to manage unexpected changes?
Make sure that all of your instructors have 24/7 mobile access to your schedule. Also, make sure that they can easily text or call other instructors or their manager when a last-minute shift change is needed. According to Shiftboard.com, employees with the ability to manage schedules in real time are 6x more satisfied than those without.
Driving school scheduling tips: Automate your schedules
With the right software, you can quickly create a master schedule and make changes even more quickly. Software, like Drive Scout 🙂 streamlines the scheduling process, giving you more time to focus on driving sales and helping students.
Driving school scheduling tips: Analyze, adjust and learn from your mistakes
According to The Balance, employees value work schedule flexibility more than anything. That means that you have to create a master schedule that meets your staff’s needs and available hours, but is flexible enough to make last-minute changes.
Yes, it’s entirely possible to set schedule boundaries that blend flexibility and predictability. There are lots of reasons why work availability can change: people get sick, family emergencies happen. If you use a technology tool like Drive Scout, you can easily adapt your schedule at the drop of a hat without having to text/call/email your office and instructor staff.
It’s also important to learn from your mistakes. For example, if a particular instructor calls in sick more than others, it might be time to evaluate if this employee is good for the long-term success of your driving school. On the other hand, if an instructor is always reliable and flexible, you might want to reward that employee with a pay increase or more shifts.
Driving school scheduling tips: In review
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be. Just follow my driving school scheduling tips and in time, this tiresome task will become much quicker and easier. You’ll love how my plan empowers you to be structured with your schedules, while allowing flexibility at the same time.
- Create a master schedule
- Determine shifts first
- Fill shifts
- Assess your resource pool
- Manage change
- Automate your schedules
- Analyze and Adjust
- Learn from your mistakes