There's a huge opportunity for driving instructors right now!
And it's available to you if you're prepared to do things a little differently.
Here's what I found working with a small local driving school, and how they managed to create so much demand that they now have a 3-month waiting list and bookings up to six months in advance.:
When I started consulting with Passmaster driving school in Salisbury, over a year ago now, they had six main competitors in the area. Now, on the first two pages of Google alone, there are 18. The cost of keywords on Google Ads are rising steadily, and competition to hit the coveted 'top-spot' on Google search is extremely high. In fact, the top-spot is usually reserved for the larger, resource-rich, national driving schools, making it very hard for local schools to get seen.
Step One, Engaging Socially:
I'm sure most of you have a business account for your driving school on Facebook already. If you don't, then by the end of 2020, you'll be struggling, and by 2023 you'll be out of business. I'm sorry to be blunt about it! But if you take into account how saturated the driving instructor market is, and how your target demographics are now using technology, then it's a no-brainer.
It's time to get really serious about your social strategy.
The good news; it's very straightforward! All you need to do is invest a bit of time each day and follow the advice I'm giving you here.
I know you're busy, but if you're serious about creating a flood of new and dedicated clients, then this is a must. I also don't want to hear; "but I just don't understand technology, I'm too old" or "social media doesn't work, I've tried it". All you're doing by affirming these statements is digging the grave a little deeper. Social media can seem daunting, but there are thousands of resources out there to help you learn. Check out Youtube and Udemy for fantastic tutorials!
Your new social strategy:
We're going to be focusing entirely on Facebook because it's just so powerful! For this to work, you need to commit to posting every single day!
One thing you must understand is that your Facebook page is not the place to advertise to your audience, not directly anyway. I know this is counterintuitive to most of you, but let me explain...
For you to stand out from your competitors and create an army of devoted followers, you need to build value (more about the value part in a minute).
Facebook is a place where people go to be entertained. And this is what a lot of businesses don't understand. If you submit engaging content, then Facebook will reward you with coverage. Facebook's primary goal is to keep people on their site/app, if they supply boring or valueless content to their audience, then people will leave. Simple when you know, right?
So, how do you use this insight to hack your social growth?
It's simple; supply engaging content.
And here are some excellent ideas to get you started:
- Publicly answer the questions you get asked the most.
- Post dashcam footage of tricky situations and explain how to react in those situations. (If you have some juicy footage this has the potential to go viral).
- Ask highway code questions and get a conversation going in the comments section.
- Make it contextual! Talk about things happening in your area to engage and target people locally. Post footage of local junctions and roundabouts and how to navigate them.
- Talk to your audience. Most of your potential clients are 17 - 25, talk about the stresses of being a young person learning to drive.
- Find your voice. There are so many ways to engage people through social media, find what you're comfortable with. Try video, text, infographics, audio etc. Canava.com is free and excellent for creating engaging graphics. Remember that talking into your phone camera (not while driving!) can work just as well as a professional video.
- Share relevant news and information from other sources.
Here's a promise I will make to you. It won't make you clients instantly! It won't make you rich overnight! But when done consistently, it will create a dependable flow of high-quality clients for years to come. And if my past results are anything to go by, you will need a year-round waiting list!
Now let's look at some ways to drive powerful and meaningful engagement with your target demographic. And these are the tips that'll help you stand head-and-shoulders above your competition...
Step Two, Empathy:
Don't just know your audience, truly understand them!
Understanding the problems and anxieties your potential clients face is crucial to becoming the most demanded driving instructor in your area.
When creating your content for social media, you should always speak on the level of your audience.
By now, you should have a pretty good understanding of teenagers and young adults. So now's the time to start putting that to use.
And here are the things you need to do to connect profoundly with your perfect clients:
- Don't just show you understand; show you care. To make significant strides on social, and drive client signups (pardon the pun), you need to be genuine. In your industry, more than most, in fact, your clients need to feel safe. Show them that you understand their anxiety and help them overcome it!
- Show gratitude. This is powerful! Shout about your student's success and show gratefulness for their hard work, it will be reciprocated with glowing reviews and honest word-of-mouth referrals. It will also attract the type of clients you want to work with. They'll be motivated, reliable and dedicated.
- Listen to what your clients are saying. There is a constant murmur of problems being discussed on social media. If you can tap into that and offer the solutions, you'll be king of the road!
Step Three, Value and Context:
If there is one thing to take away from this guide, it'll be the motivation to create value. It'll be your mightiest ally while building a successful driving school.
To understand, we need to look at your competition.
How many times do you see ads and post from businesses that sell, sell, sell? This is the norm in our society. And it get's really annoying! So much so that we are switching off to it. And here lies your most significant advantage.
Here are some copy and pasted headlines for driving schools near me...
'SP Salisbury - Driving Lessons in Salisbury | RED Driving...'
'Driving lessons/instructor Salisbury. Grade "A". 14 years experience. £30 saving with first 4 x 1.5hrs. Guaranteed fixed price for any future lessons.'
'Driving lessons in Salisbury Topham Drive provide both theory and practical training in Salisbury. We Offer Pay as You Go Lessons, Semi-Intensive, Motorway ...'
And the list goes on and on and on!
Really!! These types of headlines are a waste of pixels and mean absolutely nothing. You have the opportunity here to swoop in and grab all of the attention and be a breath of fresh air in a world where this type of BS is standard.
So how are you going to achieve this?... Offer value!
Today I decided I wanted to reach out to Driving Instructors in the UK and grow awareness of what I do. I had two choices:
- Make an advert with some sort of 'satisfaction guaranteed' or 'x years experience' headline.
- Create a piece of content that will bring value to you and demonstrate (not exclaim) my knowledge on the subject.
Let me ask you; which would you be more likely to engage with? I think the answer is clear!
A quick disclaimer; I'm not here trying to sell you anything, and I'm not going to withhold any information in exchange for your email address. If you're interested in what I can offer you, great, feel free to get in touch, but I'm wholeheartedly writing this to help you, just as people helped me when I was starting out.
So the lesson from this; value always wins!
Don't try and compete with the dull and repetitive local ads. It'll be a fight to the bottom. Instead, write some content or record a video that offers value and put it out for free.
And here are some high-value content ideas:
- A guide to becoming a confident learner driver
- 5 mistakes learner drivers always make and how to avoid them
- The most critical advice for passing your driving test
- How to spot a lousy driving instructor and what to do if you get landed with one
- How long will it take to pass your driving test? And how much it'll cost you.
You get the idea.
To really ramp up the effectiveness of our high-value content, we need to start adding context. This is the secret to engaging potential clients in your area.
So here are my five attention-grabbing headlines again, this time with context:
- A guide to becoming a confident learner driver in the London area
- 5 mistakes learner drivers always make in Liverpool, and how to avoid them
- The most critical advice for passing your driving test if you're under 25.
- How to spot a lousy driving instructor in Plymouth, and what to do if you get landed with one
- Just turned 17? How long will it take to pass your driving test? And how much it'll cost you.
Now we're really on to a winner! Not only have we created an attention-grabbing headline, but we're 'calling out' our ideal clients!
It'll probably take you a few hours to create your free content, but it can be used over and over again. It is totally worth it!
Bonus - Advice on Ads:
Again, I'm only going to focus on Facebook here, I think Google ads will overly complicate things, but the same rules apply for both.
Facebook Adverts have the potential to get you in front of your target audience quickly, and if you know what you're doing, relatively cheaply.
It'll take me too long to walk you through how to set up a Facebook Ad in this guide. But if you're interested, drop me a DM, and I'll make a walkthrough video showing how I'd create an ad for the driving instructor industry.
For those of you who are confident with Facebook ads, or are willing to give it a go, here's the truth:
- Only advertise your free high-value offer. This will make you stand out from the competition and sky-rocket your engagement rates. Don't advertise your services but make sure you leave details on how people can contact you with any questions or enquiries. You'll find that you'll be signing up new clients without needing to offer discounts because you'll already have their trust!
- Use context in your ads to 'call-out' the right people. It'll boost the engagement rate and stop you from wasting money engaging people who aren't potential clients.
- Don't forget about the parents/guardians! I see all the enquires going through the Passmaster website, very often it's the parents making enquires for their children. Targetting parents on Facebook is easy and can be extremely productive. '5 ways you can help your teenage son/daughter pass their driving test in Manchester'.
- Use ads to build your Facebook page followers, not just make sales. A big following on Facebook is like an ocean that you can keep returning to for more business. Ex-clients that have benefitted from the value of your service will become your most prominent ambassadors when connecting with new clients.
- If an Ad isn't getting you results, turn it off and try something different. Also, make sure you test several ads against each other to find the best one.
And Finally... Scale:
Now that your toolbox contains the tools you need to create a permanent and dedicated client base, you can start thinking about scale.
When the line is out the door; you're going to have a narrow window to get them learning. Your devotees will be eager to pass and won't hang around forever. So why not bring in more help?
Just looking through the search results in my area, I can see a lot of self-employed instructors that are going to be struggling for clients, maybe that's you right now?
Approach them! Tell them that you have clients out the door and that you don't know what to do with them. You can generate a line of income from a new instructor on the team, and they'll get new clients and be able to put food on the table. Win-win.
I'm not knowledgable in Driving School business models so that's something you'll have to investigate for yourself. But I do know that my advice for growing your client base is entirely scalable. All you have to do is work out the logistics of having too many clients! An excellent problem to have.
I sincerely hope that you'll try out the techniques listed here to see just how effective they are. They have served my clients and me incredibly well for close to five years now. I'm confident that you'll reap the rewards that social media has to offer over the coming months and years if you invest the time to make it work.
I love to hear feedback, negative and positive, and I'm always happy to answer questions so please feel free to comment below or send me a message.
Wishing you every success in 2020 and beyond,