Friday 15 April 2011


I get a large number of phone calls and emails from companies trying to sell me one kind of marketing or another. Some are upfront about it, usually because they have no choice, some are more subtle. However, they are all basically selling the same thing - promoting my business.

Hence I find it staggering that most of them have given absolutely no thought whatsoever to the nature of my business. It is generally accepted that 95% of business for a driving school comes through personal recommendation, usually from a family member or friend. Therefore any marketing thrust is effectively working for 5% of your pupils. They also seem totally oblivious to the idea that in order to justify the cost of their advertising, you work out the cost in terms of pupils. For example, if the cost of the advertising is £100, that equates to around 5 lessons. On that basis I won't even start to make money until the 6th lesson with that pupil, unless I get more pupils from the same advertising cost.

Of course none of these companies will give any kind of a guarantee of business coming my way. They will say that they are confident that I will see a lot of business as a result of their promotion but they never actually guarantee it. Every time I get in the car with a pupil I put my money where my mouth is but it's interesting that marketing companies never do the same. Is that because I know I am good at what I do and I don't rip my customers off but they know they are crap and the con is what they are about?

I have advertised in local newspapers, magazines, digests, shop windows, community noticeboards, flyers, Yellow Pages, Thomson Local, Google Adwords and Facebook. The most successul of all of these has been shop windows where I have picked up 2 pupils over the last year - it also happens to be the cheapest! For most of the other methods I have seen absolutely no results at all, in spite of some of them being very expensive.

All the rest of my pupils past and present have come through personal recommendation and contact e.g., seeing the sign on the car, talking to people in social settings.

My view is that marketing is a complete waste of time and money in this profession UNLESS you are willing to pour lots of money in on a long term basis - i.e., multiple thousands of pounds over years. Of course as a single independent driving instructor, this is something I simply cannot afford to do.

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