January 8, 2018
The key to your school’s success is to discover how to drive more customers through your doors to increase sales and top line revenue. Small businesses are always searching for ways to find new customers.
For driving schools, it’s an even bigger challenge because your customer base is very defined and narrow. Plus, it always changes. Driving schools are not a one-size-fits-all business, like Amazon or Walmart.
Think about it for a minute. Customers are loyal to their favorite stores, so they shop those particular business more frequently than others. They become repeat shoppers. With driving schools, it’s an entirely different scenario. Customers purchase your services and they’re done.
One and done
Customers don’t return in a different season. Yes, you might see them again when their other children turn 15 or 16, but that could be years. Driving school owners ALWAYS need to find new customers.
There is no magic bullet to solve the question “How to get more driving school customers.”
If you follow my steps and advice, I am certain that you will build your customers base and increase sales.
How to get more driving school customers: Step #1 – Define your customer
When I started marketing my first driving school in 2009, I assumed that I knew exactly who my customers were. I thought they were moms and dads of teenage kids. I was a little right, but I was more wrong.
We used Customer Surveys to get to know our customers. My Marketing Director sent out monthly surveys to parents after their kids went through our program.
Below is the list of questions that she utilized. The last two helped us determine exactly who our customers are. The first questions gave us great customer feedback.
Questions for your driving school survey
- When choosing a driving school, what is the most important factor?
- How did you hear about us?
- How do we rate on the following attributes (1-5 scale, with 5 being the highest)? We then asked our customers to rate us on customer service, classroom teachers, in-car instructors, office staff, convenient class times, convenient drive times, price, and communication of student’s progress.
- Overall, how pleased were you with our services?
- Would you recommend us to a friend or colleague?
- What is your gender?
- Which category describes your age? (under 18, 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, over 55)
My marketing manager wrote monthly reports, but also compiled an annual survey report. Because answers can vary month-to-month, it’s important to look at an entire year for averages and trends.
Who is your lowest hanging fruit?
In marketing, low-hanging fruit refers to those consumers who are easiest to attract to your business. Focusing your efforts on this group maximizes the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.
The results of your surveys will give you an accurate picture of your customers, your lowest-hanging fruit. In our case, our surveys showed us that moms were the main decision makers and purchasers when it came to choosing a driving school. In fact, 89% of our respondents were women, while only 11% were men.
Our annual survey report also uncovered that 55% of our customers fell in the 45-54 age range and 15% were 35-44. That meant 70% of our customers were age 35-44 and close to 90% were women.
Market to your lowest hanging fruit
Once you know who your lowest hanging fruit is, how can you get more driving school customers? First, adapt all newsletters, email communications, brochures, and even your website copy to speak specifically to your customers. When creating new Ads (print or digital) – position the messaging, copy and design to be aligned with these customers to maximize the ROI on your marketing expenses.
How to get more driving school customers: Step #2 – Fish where and when the fish are biting
The best marketing advice I can offer to get more driving school customers is to “fish where and when the fish are biting.” In other words, identify where your consumers look for information about driving schools, and know when they might be the most receptive to specific messages.
When we opened our first driving school, I used to market it 12 months a year. I figured that I always had to try to attract new driving school customers, even in the slow months. After a few years of trial and error, my thinking changed.
My Marketing Director convinced me to “fish when the fish were biting.” We’d spend the majority of our marketing budget in March – June to capitalize on the seasonality of our business. Follow this theory to attract more driving school customers when and where they are willing to purchase your services.
How to get more driving school customers: Step #3 – Generate qualified leads
Driving school customers come and go, so it’s important to always generate new qualified leads.
Sponsor local high schools as a business partner
By doing this (for a cost of $250-$1000 per school), my driving schools were allowed to attend football and other popular sporting events. One event, we generated 400+ leads by offering a free Driver’s Ed package to parents walking by our booth.
Parents LOVED talking to us and they completed our registration form 99% of the time. Next, the office staff called ALL of the leads to discuss our services and we included these contacts in our monthly newsletter. This back-to-school lead generation program was a huge success.
Add a “Contact Us” button on your home page
As posted by Loginradius.com…
Having strong but relevant calls to action on your website will help you grab the attention of your website visitors. This will help increase user interaction while achieving business goals like: email subscriptions, sales, sign-ups, and so much more.
Many small businesses have a “Contact Us” page on their website. However, it might be buried and not easily accessible. For your website, have a designer add a simple “Contact Us” call-to-action button on the home page. Make sure the form is simple to complete. Before you know it, you’ll be generating leads right from your website for FREE.
Start blogging to get more driving school customers
A website usually has only one main door to enter it. To increase website traffic (and ultimately sales), it’s important to open other windows and doors. That’s what blogging does. It directs more traffic to your website, improves your website’s SEO, and gives you more inbound links (which Google loves!).
If your content is timely or relevant to your core customer base, it will drive traffic to your website. At the end of every blog post, invite readers to subscribe to your blog. More importantly, you also get their email address and they become qualified “leads” because they’re interested in what you have to say.
Post your blogs on social media
Every blog post that you publish should be shared through your social media channels. This gives it more traction and an even larger audience. If you’re looking for more driving school customers, blogging is one way to expand your reach.
How to get more driving school customers: Step #4 – Offer a customer loyalty program
Your best customer is a happy customer. Happy customers will refer your driving school to their friends and colleagues. Plus, they will use your driving school again for other children. Therefore, a good loyalty program will thank past customers for their referrals. Think customer referrals aren’t important. Check out these facts from Hubspot.com.
- 1 in 3 people come to a brand through a recommendation, and customers who were referred by loyal customers have a 37% higher retention rate.
- Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions, especially when considering a first time buy or something relatively expensive.
Are you harnessing the power of your brand advocates to get quality referrals? If not, you are missing the boat and leaving money on the table.
After a student completes your program, send out a “Congratulations” email. Offer a $50 “sibling discount,” to encourage parents to use your driving school for all their children.
How to get more driving school customers: Step #5 – Think outside the box!
The goal of ANY marketing campaign is to maximize both reach (the number of potential customers) AND frequency (the number of times potential customers see your message).
Know the purchase cycle
According to Zipcodemagazines.com, a consumer goes through a similar process every time they consider a purchase. The higher the ticket price or the more personal it is, the longer the buying cycle. A typical buying cycle a new advertiser must take into account is:
- Awareness – Before a potential customer even enters the buying cycle they must know you exist. This means they will consider your company once they enter the cycle and also allows you the ability to bring potential customers into the purchase cycle for your product or service (See #2).
- Interest – After your customer realizes you exist; you have the opportunity to then influence the buying cycle by creating interest in what you are selling.
- Need – If you have done a good job of creating interest, it will push the customer to determine if they have a need for your product or service.
- Comparison – This is the point at which knowing your competitor is crucial. The value of the product and buying risk for the customer will determine how thorough this stage will be.
- Purchase – The customer has satisfied the previous four steps and makes the purchase.
- Satisfaction – Once the purchase is made the customer then enters post-purchase mode, in which they determine whether the product lives up to their expectations.
- Referrals – This is also a post-purchase activity, but extremely important with the rise of websites like Yelp (a recent study showed nearly 90% of customers are influenced by a positive review online). If everything is as “advertised” customers will gladly send their friends and family to you. Momentum begins from this point.
Reach and frequency
I’ve talked to many driving school owners that invest in a costly print or digital ad. When it doesn’t achieve the desired results, the owner doesn’t repeat it and deems it a failure.
Remember, the more times a potential customer sees your ads, the more likely they are to make a purchase. Even if they are just shopping around, your driving school will be at the top of their mental shopping list when they ARE ready to make a purchase.
How to get more driving school customers: In Review
Follow these steps to attract more driving school customers. Then, watch your sales grow!
- Define your customer
- Fish when and where the fish are biting
- Generate qualified leads
- Offer a customer loyalty program
- Think outside the box