From time to time I hear complaints that driving lessons are too expensive and that instructors are 'ripping off' those who wish to learn to drive. "£20 per hour is exorbitant - they're making a fortune!". I've had potential pupils haggle with me, trying to get the price down and occasionally encounter the attitude that they are doing me a favour so I should be grateful. It's time for the instructor to bite back :-) or at least have her say on the matter.
As with any small business I have running costs. Fuel is a variable which will change depending on the lesson content but on average I do about 20 miles per hour's lesson. The fuel consumption of the car is not at its most efficient, as the driver is a learner and there tends to be some over-revving, incorrect gear usage and sitting by the side of the road. I also have to travel between lessons which sometimes can be quite a distance. According to the statistics from last year, it worked out overall at £3.90 per hour. I lease my car, which costs me almost £350 per month but does include servicing and road tax plus insurance at £450 per year, comes to £4.88 per hour. Other expenses, including marketing, materials and phone comes to £2.58 per hour, in total £11.36 per hour's tuition. So assuming I get £20 per hour, I will actually make £8.64 per hour. Of course, in reality, I don't actually get £20 per hour when you consider discounts etc. - the actual amount per hour earned last year was £17.67 thus reducing my earned income to £6.61, not that much above the minimum wage!
In addition, the business of being an instructor
starts long before a pupil ever sits down in the car and finishes long
after they get out. Yes, they may only be paying for an hour of my time
but the work that I do on their behalf goes well beyond that hour.
I start work on a lesson by reading up
my notes from the previous lesson, possibly more than one, and looking
at the subject of the current lesson. The lesson may consist of
something new, consolidation of something recently learned, dealing with
specific problems, revisiting something learned some time ago,
practising roadcraft, preparing for a test or, frankly, anything in
between. This is not something that can be done on the fly - some
forethought needs to be applied and that is best done before setting out
to pick the pupil up. I plan the route, at least in part, considering
where I want to be to teach the subject matter of the lesson.
so planning the route is easy, isn't it? Well, no, not always. If the
most direct route to the target area means going across, say, a
horrendously tricky roundabout and the pupil hasn't yet tackled such
things, then an alternative route may have to be chosen. This is not
because I do not believe that the pupil would be able to handle the
roundabout, particularly with guidance, but because the roundabout may
cause the pupil's confidence to be shattered or fear to set in, neither
of which will help in the long run. So, an alternative route may be
necessary - the roundabout can wait for another day!
the lesson is over, I then have to update the records to show what has
been done. This extends to confirming that the most recent lesson has
fulfilled its purpose, making notes about any problems that have arisen,
detailing the areas driven and the subject to be covered in the next
So, having done these 'before' and 'after'
activities, all that I then have to do is the lesson itself - phew!
That's alright then. So my £6.61 per hour actually ends up covering probably 2 hours allowing for pre- and post-lesson activities, planning, travelling to and from locations so that's just £3.30 per hour.
Why on earth do I do this job then? Well it's because I love it. I get
a huge amount of job satisfaction and the joy of helping people to
achieve success by passing their test is just brilliant.
So, the next time someone suggests that driving instructors must be raking it in and are charging exorbitant prices, you can now put them right and tell them that we do it for the love of the job :-D