When you review your business performance it is easy for emotion to play too big a role in the appraisal. It is often heard that there is no room for emotion in business, for good reason. The number of business owners who allow their emotion to affect their decision-making, with fatal consequences will be huge. In our line of work of providing driving training, the end goal is quite clear.
We want to provide the best training that we can so that our customers go on to be safe, thinking drivers capable of further improvement as their experience increases, while also running a successful business.
There will be many aspects to that overall goal and it might be fair to assume that each of us will have different ideas as to what it means. You could for example choose to work with one pupil at a time, putting the best of your efforts into every driving session that you provide for that one pupil. This approach won’t offer you a highly profitable business model, but in your mind, you are running a successful business.
And that raises the question of what is the best training that one can offer. What is the balance to be struck between the number of pupils we work with within a typical day, the ideal length of training period for each pupil, and the best approach to keep the training environment safe while also offering the maximum amount of value to the pupil? How should one measure “value”? Is it valuable to offer a pupil an extremely safe and enjoyable experience at the cost of learning potential, or is there more value in offering a more challenging experience where the learning potential is far greater but the pupil’s enjoyment reduced?
There will naturally be conflicting interests at play here. You will no doubt have noticed that to increase your business performance, there will need to be some tough decisions to be made about how you go about your working day. Retailers are very used to the concept of compromising the profit margins on a particular “offer” for the greater good of increased business. A highly profitable classroom training environment with 20 pupils naturally dilutes each pupil’s potential learning if the training was 1:1 instead. A pupil who receives shorter driving training sessions will naturally receive reduced scope or depth of driving experiences purely on the limited distance they can travel in the session. Driving instructors will often fall back on the perceived “norm” of providing training, really not giving it much thought, oblivious to how this affects the balance of effectiveness of their business performance. A newly qualified driving instructor who joins a national driving school will be unconsciously conditioned to providing an hourly or two-hour service for customers, without there being any thought as to the limitations that might have on “value” to the customer or efficiency to the business. Without experience behind the instructor, many resort to complying with what the masses are doing, not even questioning how the customer might prefer to learn. The method in which a service is provided for a driving lesson is entirely more flexible than the method for providing a haircut but how readily the driving instructor just makes assumptions based on not much more than “this is the way they have always done it”.
But just as important to consider regarding the goal of providing the best training possible are the knowledge, skills and ability of the trainer. We all have our instructional strengths and weaknesses even if our awareness of them will vary. And yet, how interesting it is to hear driving instructors making assumed links between the length of time they have been in business and their ability. It is a very common thing to observe, especially once your awareness of it has been heightened – look out for contributors on forums and social media groups who will fall back on this when their contribution is in any way questioned.
The link being covertly implanted into your mind via the wording in the post(s) is that more experience equals more ability – which does raise some interesting ideas. The balance of knowledge, skill and ability is key when considering performance. For sure, if a driving instructor continues in their working years to pay attention to improving knowledge and refining skills, these are undoubtedly assets. Still, it does not necessarily increase ability. Cast your mind back to extremely experienced teachers or university lecturers that you have observed in the past, it does not automatically make them more competent. With time it is very easy to resort to the mindset that the increased experience must in itself mean that one’s competence is automatically improving. This approach can easily result in complacency that harms effectiveness.
As is often the way when you are on the receiving end of lower levels of competence, it is not necessarily what is being said, but rather how it was said. This is true in hospitality too; not so much about what is being cooked and prepared for customers, as how that work is conducted. And so it is in our work, there are many ways in which a driving instructor although being technically correct in what they say, loses the potential for learning by how they say it. But would you even know? Therein lies the problem. The truth is that when you run a successful business, you will receive feedback from customers that corroborates competence – sometimes we all have to be a bit more willing to listen to the feedback.
Where the BIG TOM Franchise is so different to others is in the support it provides for increasing the “how” skills. Our regulator has done their work in raising the skills in knowledge for newly qualified instructors, but here at BIG TOM, we pay so much more attention to how learning happens. Customers come to BIG TOM because of how we provide training – just look here at the words our customers use about their experience of receiving our training. Our courses are not “cheap” and we refuse to limit driving training to test routes only, but we excel in how we provide our training – that is the value that customers will happily pay for.
If you would like your review of 2024 to look much more positive than 2023, then do get in touch and we can explain how we can help you to make more of a success of your business in 2024.
Have a happy and safe new year!