Drive Scout Blog
Driving school supplies: How to save time and money
By: Jackie Kass | Posted in: Operations
August 17, 2017
It may seem like a mundane and even minuscule task, but managing your driving school supplies can actually save you thousands of dollars and hundreds of manpower hours. In fact, how you order supplies can affect your cash flow and long-term success.
First, go take a peek at your current supply inventory. Is there a stockpile of supplies – maybe a year’s worth? Excess supplies equate to money just sitting there. Do you not have enough supplies? This may affect how your business runs.
Balance cost with quality
When I opened my first driving school, we had no system for ordering supplies. If we needed something, we ordered it. I often ordered supplies with the lowest price tag, but this wasn’t necessarily the best solution.
Cheaper doesn’t mean the best. When it comes to driving school supplies, you need to balance cost with quality. A more expensive product will probably last longer, thus costing you less over time.
Develop a system for driving school supplies
After being in business for a year or two, I came to the realization that my supply system was simply non-existent. I just didn’t have one. When the proverbial light bulb went off, I decided to spend some time researching my supplies.
First, I needed a system that would be easy-to-use, repeatable, and cost-efficient. Plus, as we started to grow, I needed a system that someone else could learn quickly.
Where did I turn to first? Excel! Spreadsheets are the way to go to stay organized and efficient. I typed in all of my driving school supplies that I ordered on a weekly, monthly or annual basis. Everything from paper clips to safety cones were included.
Then, I researched prices and quality for everything I needed to operate my driving school. Although price played a huge role in my decision making, it wasn’t the only factor I considered.
Quality also came into play. I could pay $99 for a cheap printer, but it would probably stop running in a year or two. If I chose a better-quality printer that had good reviews for $250, it might last for years. Immediate cost savings doesn’t always equate to the best choice in the long run.
Spreadsheets for all vendors
After doing my due diligence, I then took my master supply spreadsheet for driving school supplies and broke it into separate vendor spreadsheets. For example, we used a supply spreadsheet for every supply we ordered from Costco, and a separate one for every other vendor.
My office manager could then pull up the spreadsheets and order supplies with just one click. It’s quick, easy, budget friendly and efficient.
Review every two years
We reviewed all of our supplies every two years to make sure we’re still getting the lowest cost without sacrificing quality. I would suggest that every owner do this also when it comes to driving school supplies.
Remember, supplies = money. You don’t want too much lying around, but you always want the right amount to keep your driving school humming efficiently.
Benefits of a supply system
Businesses can be destroyed by out of control spending – even on items as small as office supplies. A good management system will allow your driving school to manage your supply costs rather than just purchasing items on an annual or as-needed basis. It will help cash flow, keep costs down and minimize potential employee theft.
I literally went through months of trial and error to develop this system, but you don’t have to. Below are the individual spreadsheets I utilized for various categories of driving school supplies. Feel free to use them for your own school to start saving time and money.
Driving school supplies: Costco
Costco is the country’s largest membership only warehouse club. It’s also a great resource to save big time on driving school supplies. A Business Membership is $60 annually or $120 for an Executive Business membership. Both levels include one household card. The higher level offers an annual 2% back reward.
The best thing about Costco is its cheap prices, followed closely by its 48-hour business delivery. We used Costco for most of our office supplies – pads, paper clips, staplers and staples, tape, markers, push pins, pads, and more. We’d place our order on a Monday and its delivered by Wednesday. Quick + easy + cheap = a supply source winner.
Driving school supplies: Amazon
Amazon is our go-to place for affordable electronics. That’s why my driving school purchased our computers, printers, software, headphones and more from this online giant. We also pay the $79 annual fee for Amazon Prime, which means we enjoy free two-day shipping on everything we purchase.
First, simply start an Amazon spreadsheet, then add the items you want to order online, and set-up a one-click re-order system for purchasing future driving school supplies.
Driving School Supplies: Got Print
I have used local printers in the past for brochures, postcards, signs, and business cards. In fact, I like to support local businesses whenever I can. However, in the case of my printing needs, no business can match the quality and cost of Got Print.
I never worry about quality because Got Print uses state-of-the-art Heidelberg offset presses. Plus, due to the sheer volume of printing, Got Print can offer prices that are almost impossible to beat. Plus, you can place your order, upload your designs, and approve proofs all online – making it a snap!
Driving school supplies: Superior Promos
When you want to order promotional products imprinted with your logo or driving school name, Superior Promos is a good choice. They will print your logo on just about everything from fidget spinners to pens and everything in between. We have ordered many times and are always pleased with the quality and prices at Superior Promos.
Driving school supplies: Traffic Safety Store
The Traffic Safety Store is a great online resource for traffic cones, parking blocks, safety vests, barricades, speed bumps, and more. They offer same day shipping and live customer support, making it quick and easy to place an order.
Driving school supplies: Drunk Busters
This online store offers quality products at reasonable prices and provides great customer service. We have used Drunk Busters for pedal cars and drunk goggles for our students. They also offer a drunk challenge activity mat, student driver magnets and an assortment of videos. Everything comes with a 5-year warranty and your shipment arrives in 2-3 business days.
Driving school supplies: WEX (formally Wright Express)
When I opened the doors of my first driving school, I used to reimburse instructors for gas at the end of every month. Eventually we switched to WEX, a fuel card that makes it dramatically easier to track and control fuel expenses.
Each instructor has a PIN number and each vehicle has its own WEX card. If you’re not using a gas card system, I highly recommend that you look into WEX.
Driving school supplies: Drive Right and AAA
We used the “Drive Right” textbook by Pearson at our driving schools. The 11th edition is the most recent version. Driver instruction is combined with the most up-to-date, hands-on technology to engage today’s novice drivers with real-life scenarios.
AAA offers “How To Drive,” a 40-hour curriculum that’s aligned with the ADTSEA standards and meets most state requirements with little or no modification.
Driving school supplies: Dual Brake
Extra brake and accelerator pedals are necessary driving school supplies because safety should always be your top priority and #1 concern.
We used DualBrake.com to purchase our rear view mirrors, plus extra brakes and accelerators. This driver education supply company has always been reliable and offers competitive prices.
In review: Driving school supplies
As you can see, it’s not hard to develop a system to manage your driving school supplies. Below is a brief recap of my tips and recommendations.
- Take an inventory of your current supplies. Do you have too much or too little?
- List everything you order on a master Excel spreadsheet
- Research quality and prices on what you order.
- Create separate spreadsheets for your vendors.
- Create a one-click system for reordering supplies
- Review your list of vendors and prices every two years to ensure you’re getting the best prices.