Types Of Driving School
A driving school can come in all sizes, from the big national brands to the one-man (or woman) band, with almost every size in between. But did you know that there are very few driving instructors who are actually employed by a driving school? 99.9% of them are self-employed even if they work for a large driving school.
Large, National Driving Schools
Many of these are brands that are well known to you. They have hundreds of cars, right across the country. Like all multi-car driving schools they work on a franchise basis. So, their driving instructors pay them an amount of money every week. In return they get a car with livery, office support and advertising.
If you go with a large driving school, they will assign an instructor to you. It might not be the same instructor that your friend passed with while learning with that driving school. There’s also more chance of having a change of instructor part way through your lessons, due to your instructor leaving that school. This might be a good thing (if you don’t like the original instructor) or a bad thing (if you don’t like the new one!)
Historically, the national driving schools have tended to be the most expensive for driving lessons. Because they need a high number of new students to keep all their instructors happy they will sometimes have tempting introductory offers. It’s best to be a bit careful with these as they can often have terms and conditions that will try to tie you in to using that driving school right up until your test. They do this by holding back a couple of hours from your initial block of driving lessons for the driving test. If you leave the driving school, you lose those lessons!
You might think you have extra protection with a well-known brand if things go wrong. Remember your driving instructor doesn’t actually work for the big driving school, he’s self-employed. Just like practically every other driving instructor whether they ‘work for’ a large or small driving school.
Smaller, Regional or Local Driving Schools
Some of the smaller multi-car driving schools will have ambitions to become national driving schools, while others will be happy to stay local. You’re much more likely to get a more personalised service when talking to head office than with a national driving school. They are also much more likely to value their local reputation.
Like with the larger schools, their driving instructors will pay them a franchise fee each week and get office support, advertising and possibly a car in return. Obviously, all franchised instructors have to earn enough to pay their fees each week before they start earning for themselves. This might mean they have to charge more, or it might mean they have to cut corners during driving lessons, to earn a decent wage. Or they might just be very grumpy!
Single Car Driving Schools
These are just driving instructors by another name! You’ll know who you’re getting as an driving instructor, because there’s only one! The single car driving school also has the lowest overheads of all the different driving school types. And they will usually be keen to carefully nurture their local reputation. The downside is that if they’re ill or you don’t like them then you don’t have a driving instructor. You may have to find a new driving school in this case.
How To Choose The Right Driving School
Like with most things when buying a service, ask around your friends and family for recommendations. Although, just because your mate liked a particular driving school doesn’t necessarily mean that you will.
What if you don’t know anybody who’s just learnt to drive, or you don’t like their suggestions? Then your best place to start is probably with your favourite search engine. Once you’ve found a few driving school websites check out their customer reviews, just like you would on Amazon. If the driving school has no customer reviews think about moving on.
What else does their website say about them? Does it look professional? Can you find the prices of driving lessons? Many don’t display prices in order to get you to contact them. When you talk to them they’ll try to talk you into taking lessons with them. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just I personally find it a bit annoying when I’m trying to price something up and the website doesn’t have prices. Especially if it’s 11:30 at night!
When you do decide to contact a few try to talk to your potential instructor if possible. Then you’ll get an idea of whether you’ll get on or not. Of course, this will probably be easier to do with the smaller and single car driving schools. It’s likely the instructor will may have to ring you back due to giving lessons to other people. Or you’ve texted at 2:30 in the morning and they’re fast asleep!
Changing Driving School
If you’re with a large driving school, you may be able to change instructor without changing driving school. Of course, this only applies if it’s the instructor you’re having problems with.
But if you do change driving schools, what should you expect off your new driving school?
If you left your original driving school because you didn’t like the driving instructor, hopefully a driving instructor you do like!
Ideally, your new instructor should be able to build on what you’ve already learnt. They’ll probably want to chat for a while. Finding out what you’ve covered. Where you’ve been. How you covered it. Anything you feel you need to work more on and anything you feel you’re fine with.
Then you can expect an assessment drive, so they can see you in action! Don’t stress over this, it’s not a test!
It’s likely that your new driving instructor will go about things in a different way. But if you have a method of doing something, and it works, why change it? There’s no point in reinventing the wheel! If they insist on changing things that are fine, then you may have jumped from the frying pan into the fire!
Whatever decision you come to when choosing your driving school, good luck!
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