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How to grow your driving school with SMART goals

By: Jackie Kass Posted in: Management

How to grow your driving school with SMART goals

July 12, 2019

Would you like to know how to grow your driving school? It’s as easy as ABC when you set up, strive for, and achieve SMART goals. So, what exactly are SMART goals and how can you put them to work at your own driving school?

The evolution of SMART goals

Throughout time, humans have been ambitious. It took 22 years to build the amazing Taj Mahal, considered one of the greatest architectural achievements of all time. The Roman Empire built the Colosseum in 70 A.D, without any modern tools or machinery.

These gleaming structures are examples of setting goals and achieving them, no matter how long it took. The builders had goals, but were they SMART goals?

Nope. They were not. SMART goals were first referenced by Dr. Edwin Locke in 1968 when he published a paper called “Toward a Theory of Task Motivation and Incentives.” However, executives and business owners only recently put a spotlight on SMART goals.

George T. Doran is credited as the founder of SMART goals. He defined the first, cogent way to define, measure and ultimately achieve goals.

The definition of SMART goals

SMART Goals Drive Scout

Quite simply, SMART goals are measurable things that need to be achieved in order to move a company or organization forward.

SMART is an acronym

SMART is an acronym for the following.


A specific goal has depth. It doesn’t say, “I want to grow my driving school.” Instead, it should say, “My driving school sales will grow by 20%.” It’s important to be specific so that you know exactly how a goal will be achieved. Think of it as a benchmark.


SMART goals must be measurable. That means you must be able to track and quantify the goal’s progress and ultimate achievement.

Instead of saying that you want to grow your mailing list, a SMART goal is “I will grow my mailing list by 25%.” Do you see the difference? How can you track a goal without including something that is measurable?


An attainable goal is one that can actually be achieved. It’s not a pie-in-the-sky goal. You may want to increase sales by 50%, but is that actually attainable with your current driving school operations? Probably not. An attainable goal should be high enough that you have to work to achieve it, but not too high that you will quickly get discouraged.


Relevant goals are goals that will help you progress. If you want to be the highest rated driving school, it makes no sense to take accounting classes. It will waste your precious time and won’t help you achieve your goals.


The best goals are those that can be achieved in a designated time frame. Adding time constraints keeps you on pace to actually achieve your goals. Setting goals is similar to creating a to-do list. You have things that you want to accomplish today, this week, this month or this year.

In order to achieve, you can grow your driving school by setting SMART goals.

How to grow your driving school:
Set SMART marketing goals

How to grow your driving school with Smart goals

According to Entrepreneur, developing marketing strategies is the quickest way to fuel the growth of your driving school. The first step is to set SMART marketing goals. You should think about how to get your message to the right audience and do it effectively.

How to scale the marketing mountain

The “Marketing Mountain” is the process used to move your ideal client from not knowing anything about your driving school to becoming a loyal and happy customer. It can be quite overwhelming, but if you break the mountain into a series of mounds, it can be done by setting SMART marketing goals.

Setting SMART marketing goals can actually move mountains, if done correctly.

Related: How to improve driving school marketing and ROI

How to grow your driving school with SMART marketing goals

Remember – all of your marketing goals must be SMART (specific, measurable. attainable, relevant, and time-bound). Not only should your SMART marketing goals address profitability and sales, but they should also increase your brand awareness in the marketplace.

Set SMART revenue goals

charts and spreadsheets

Driving schools sell services, not products. Therefore, they increase sales and profitability by selling services such as Driver’s Ed packages, driving lessons, defensive driving and DUI classes.

Below are a few examples of SMART marketing goals that focus on revenue.

  • Increase sales of Driver’s Ed packages by 20% by the end of 2019.
  • Increase sales of adult driving lessons by 20% in six months.

Are the above goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound? Yes, they are, so they are SMART goals! That wasn’t hard, was it?

Related: Top 5 driving school marketing tips to save money and grow sales

Marketing SMART goal examples: Brand

Build your brand Drive Scout

While it’s very important to increase sales, it’s also critical to increase brand awareness. By doing so, more potential customers will know about your driving school. When they are ready to make a purchase, your school will be at the top of their mental shopping list.

More brand awareness equates to a bigger audience of potential customers. If they don’t know your driving school even exists, how will they choose it? They will not.

Below are a few examples of SMART marketing goals that focus on brand.

  • Increase blog subscribers from 500 to 1,000 in 6 months
  • Attend at least three community events in 2020

The above goals are SMART because they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Ah ha! Now, you’re seeing the light.

Related: How to create a driving school brand to rise above the competition

How to grow your driving school:
Set SMART operations goals

Just like you can set SMART marketing goals, you can also come up with SMART operations goals. By doing so, you’ll learn how to grow your driving school through goal-setting and achievement.

Quite simply, your driving school goals will keep you moving forward and set the stage for on-going success. SMART operations goals will help you become leaner, meaner and more profitable. That sounds great, right?

Examples of dumb operations goals

Goals won’t work if they are not SMART! However, setting operations goals can be a bit tougher than setting marketing goals. Below are a few dumb operations goals.

  • Reduce on-going business expenses
  • Hire more instructors
  • Improve customer service
  • Launch a new service
  • Open a new location

While the above goals are certainly worthy, they’re not SMART. There’s no direction or path to success. They are not specific enough. The goals don’t mention something quantitative to measure success. They may be relevant, but are you really ready to open a new location?

If not, you might want to set a more attainable goal for the immediate future. Finally, they are not time-bound, meaning you have not set a deadline to achieve the goals.

How to grow your driving school with SMART goals – Operations

Here’s how to turn the above dumb goals into SMART goals to grow your driving school.

Reduce expenses

The dumb goal was “reduce on-going business expenses.” So, how can you turn this unclear or “dumb” goal into a SMART one? See below for SMART goals to reduce expenses.

  1. Perform a line-by-line audit of all business expenses by February 1, 2020.
  2. Review each vendor and price shop all supplies by March 1, 2020.
  3. Create a new Excel spreadsheet with all vendors (new and old) by April 1, 2020.
  4. By December 31, 2020, reduce all on-going business expenses by 20%.

Hire more instructors

This “dumb” goal is specific, measurable, attainable and relevant. However, it is missing a plan of action and lacks a deadline. Here is are SMART goals to hire three new instructors.

  1. Write a help wanted ad by January 1, 2020.
  2. Research the best free online options to advertise the positions by February 1, 2020.
  3. Interview at least 10 candidates by March 1, 2020.
  4. Complete background checks and drug tests by March 15, 2020.
  5. Hire three new instructors by April 30, 2020.

Related: How to schedule instructors: The ultimate guide for maximum results

Improve customer service

Customer service is all about establishing a good relationship with your customer. If your office staff is knowledgeable and pleasant to work with, it can and will pay big dividends for your driving school.

The goal to “improve customer service” is simply too vague and will not show you how to grow your driving school. Sharpen up that “dumb” goal by turning it into a SMART one by breaking it down into smaller bite-size goals with deadlines.

Start sending out customer service surveys

One way to improve customer service is to see what your customers have to say about your driving school. Implement a monthly online survey and send it to customers who have recently used your services.

Sample questions for your customer service survey
  • When choosing a driving school, what is the most important factor?
  • How did you hear about XYZ Driving School?
  • How do we rate on the following attributes?
  • Office staff
  • Classroom teachers
  • In-car instructors
  • Convenient class times
  • Customer service
  • Price
  • Communication of student’s progress
  • Convenient drive times
  • Overall, how pleased were you with XYZ Driving School?
  • How likely is it that you would recommend XYZ Driving School to a friend or colleague?
  • Do you have any suggestions for improving our customer service?

The power of customer surveys

Not only will you get an insight into your customer’s opinion of your customer service, but you will also gain valuable data. Don’t just assume that you’re providing great customer service, ask your customers for their feedback.

Customer Service SMART goals

Once you’ve implemented customer surveys, you can branch out and develop SMART goals to improve customer service. Below are several examples of SMART goals related to improving your level of customer service and customer satisfaction.

  1. Increase our customer service score by 5% within 6 months
  2. Improve all scores by 10% over the course of one year
  3. Improve our “Communication of Student’s Progress” score by 20% within one year by implementing an email program and student report cards.

All of the above goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely, meaning they are SMART goals.

Launch a new service

One sure-fire way to increase revenue is to offer a new service. Options include defensive driving, DUI classes, adult driving lessons, senior driver evaluations and online driver’s ed.

Before you add a new service, be sure to perform a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. A SWOT analysis will identify internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as its external opportunities and threats.

If you want to add senior driving lessons and evaluations, run a SWOT analysis. If it comes up with lots of strengths and opportunities and only a few weakness and risk scores, it’s a winner.

SMART goals to launch a new service

  1. Train an instructor to provide senior driving lessons and evaluations within three months
  2. Launch a new page on your website for senior driving lessons and evaluations within 4 months.
  3. Launch a new PPC campaign that targets “senior driving lessons” and “senior driving evaluations” within 5 months.
  4. Track success and report on results of new service one year after the launch.

Open a new location

open road sign

Your current driving school is a success, so you’re thinking about expansion and possibly opening one or two more locations.

Is this a good idea? It all depends.

A new location will certainly expose your driving school to a new pool of potential customers. However, do the benefits and opportunities outweigh the risks and weaknesses?

Before you open a new location, it will be critical to perform a SWOT analysis. You should also analyze the following assets of your current driving school.

Factors to consider before expansion

Leadership team

Your driving school expansion dreams might have an incredible marketing plan or a stunning new website, but without good leadership, your business can’t expand successfully.

Scalable infrastructure

Scaling your driving school for growth and expansion is no easy feat. Most driving schools remain small because they’re not scalable. Before expanding, you have to delve deep into your internal structure to prepare for growth.

Customer research

When considering opening a new school, it’s critically important to know your customer and their consumer behavior. Assumptions will NOT work. You need hard data when making a decision about when and where to open a new school.

Competition & Demographics

If you’re interested in opening a new driving school location in a particular area of town, be sure to study nearby high schools.

Do they offer Driver’s Ed in school? If so, this might not be the best area for expansion. Also, look at the demographics and income of households in the area. You can usually find this information on the city’s Chamber of Commerce website.

SMART goals to open a new location

  1. Analyze your leadership team in two months to determine who can manage the new location
  2. Research demographics of new area within three months
  3. Perform a competitive analysis within four months
  4. Perform a detailed SWOT analysis within five months
  5. If all factors are positive, open a new location within one year.

In review: How to grow your driving school with SMART goals

  • SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound
  • Set SMART marketing goals
  • Establish SMART operations goals
  • Set new SMART goals all the time

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