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Once You Get a Student Keep Them

February 14, 20140 Comments

valentines day

It’s Valentines Day today, so lets talk about love! When I say love, I mean looking after your clients.

You work hard getting students, so you need to work even harder to keep them. In this video blog Blaine talks about his thoughts about retaining your students, such as professionalism, level of instruction and more.

Happy Valentines Day everyone.

Video Transcription

Hi and welcome to this Valentine’s Day blog – don’t panic, don’t panic, it’s not going to be like that!

I would like to talk to you about retention, your pupils feeling the love by coming back for more lessons, staying with you rather than finding another instructor and just generally looking after your pupils.

There are a lot of obvious things we can do but like all of these blogs, you might just hear one thing and think ‘well maybe I could improve on that’ and it would really make a difference to your retention rates. There are few things I would like to mention.

Being professional

This would include turning up for a lesson on time and dropping your pupil back on time. You may think this sounds a little weird as you may have been held up in traffic during the lesson and would like to add a few minutes on at the end.  This, however, could muck up your pupil’s whole day as you may not know what commitments they already have.  So always check with them first.  This is about being client centred and giving your pupil or customer what they need.  For example, if you went into a restaurant you will be asked what you want rather than the waiter assuming.  It shouldn’t be any different with driving lessons.  You do not necessarily want to ask them what they would like to do today as this can throw up problems but you could ask them what they would like to learn or improve on.  You could ask them what their aim for the lesson is and what achievement they would like to make.  They may make suggestions and like ‘well I want to stall less’ so you could focus the lesson on why this happens.  They may like to gain more confidence with roundabouts so you can tailor the lesson around the pupil’s needs.

Level of instruction

I believe that the main reason why instructors lose pupils, based on feedback I have received from pupils that have come to me from another instructor, is down to the level of instruction given.  What I mean by this is that the feedback from the pupil is that the instructor shouted or said “I’ve shown you this before.  Are you thick or something?”  Believe it or not, instructors do do this!  It might be that the pupil is doing a manoeuvre that has already been taught but the situation is slightly different.  For example, it could be the first time on a roundabout with someone behind them.  The instructor needs to go back a level of instruction as if it is the first time teaching a roundabout.   Your pupil maybe perfectly efficient at traffic lights, for example, but as soon as they have another car behind them revving their engine or possibly beeping the horn it can be unnerving so go back a level of instruction and talk them through it.  If you are teaching a pupil that has left another instructor ask them the reasons why they left so you can avoid falling into the same traps.

Find out what your pupil wants, what they are scared of and what they want to improve on.

Have a flexible cancellation policy

Some instructors have a 24 or 48 hour cancelation policy and stick to it vigorously.  You can, and you’re running a business, I understand that but it is no use to you if you lose that pupil for the next 30 hours because your cancellation policy was not flexible.   For example, if a pupil does cancel at short notice you could just charge them half price for that lesson and then via text put a half price offer or 25% off out there to all of your other students to fill that time slot.  Being a little more flexible and how you deal with cancellations can retain your pupils.

Being professional

Think about what the pupil wants from you as they are the customer.  Things like booking their test for them is a nice thing to do.  Particularly booking the practical as it gives you some control over which day and time they will do the test.  Your pupil will see this as an extra benefit but actually it is a benefit to you too.


Communication is king!  If you have a new enquiry you need to get back to them as soon as you can.  Maybe look at using a diary management service and call answering service so the potential customer doesn’t go to the next instructor they have found on google if you don’t answer your phone.  If you need to cancel a lesson do it early and set a good example to them.  I find that my pupils treat me as I treat them.  If you could not book them into the diary as you did not have a space then make sure you get back to them as soon as possible.  Don’t leave it as they will go somewhere else, that is guaranteed.  For example if you are waiting for a carpenter to get back to you about a job you would give them a few hours and then move on to the next carpenter.

Manage your diary well

If your diary is managed well then you are looking at booking them 3, 4, 5 or 6 weeks ahead.  You can book them for the same time each week which is good for you as it is much easier to know what you are doing in advance and book in other lessons within the area.  There will be another blog on this in the future.   But also, managing your diary well is good customer service because if you do it week to week like I used to in the past it can mess around your pupils.  For example, I had a pupil on a Wednesday morning that asked to do the following week’s lesson in the afternoon.  As I was only booking a week in advance I agreed but it really messed around my regular Wednesday afternoon pupil.  This can have a knock on effect on all of your pupils if your diary is quite full.  This is not good customer care.  You can allow them to move their lesson if they need to but this can be done without upsetting your other pupils.  With good diary management you can reduce the amount of travel distance and time between lessons.  This is then good for business as your profit will increase.


So there are a few tips about retention.  The bottom line is to keep pupils you must look after them.  They are the customer, be flexible where necessary and be nice.  Be friendly but not over friendly; be professional.

Author: Blaine Walsh


Photo Credit on Flikr, unchanged: Care_SMC


Filed in: Teaching Learners
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About the Author ()

Antony Wilson is a small business marketing consultant helping businesses with the websites and getting results. As well as this Antony is an ADI, so has experience at the sharp end of the driving instructor industry, so knows what marketing strategy works and what doesn't!

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