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I saw this story in The Sun (online) today – the YouTube video is actually titled ” Worst Woman Driver I Have Ever Seen “:

She takes 4½ minutes to park – on yellow lines and in a taxi rank – in a space which is easily big enough to drive forwards into in a single smooth movement. She then reverses backwards and forwards without actually getting any closer to the kerb – in fact, she gets further away and causes an obstruction on the main road. Even when she does get the back wheels closer to the kerb, she’s too stupid to turn the steering wheel and bring the front in. She finally gets it almost (but not quite) straight.

This apparently took place in Coventry and was filmed by student Ian Kane from his student digs overlooking the road.

According to the article, the clip is being used by driving instructors as a lesson in how NOT to park. The woman has never been identified. Well, that would be like looking for a needle in a haystack :-D

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I love this story from the Daily Mail today! 

Umit Tuncel Alongside BSM Fiat 500

Umit Tuncel Alongside BSM Fiat 500


Umit Tuncel is 7′ 1″ (seven feet one inches) tall, has size 15 feet, and he is learning to drive with BSM in one of their new Fiat 500s. 

When you look around the BSM forums, and listen to the rhetoric in the test centre waiting rooms, you’d be forgiven for thinking that only people under 5 foot can even get through the door. An inside leg measurement of greater than 22 inches and you’ll be crippled for life – and a hundred Polar Bears will die if you try. Oooh. And several hundred metres of Arctic ice will disappear. 

What nonsense! 

Umit Inside The Fiat 500

Umit Inside The Fiat 500


The pictures clearly show that even someone this big can safely drive a Fiat 500. However, I’m sure some of the ex-BSM-know-it-alls will explain to us (via the forums) that he can’t possibly drive the car safely… just by looking at these photos. 

If Umit can drive one, just about anyone can! If someone really does have problems driving a Fiat 500, I suspect they’d have trouble in quite a few cars. 

Umit’s instructor says he is a good driver, and he has his test booked for February. Good luck to him. 

EDIT 30/12/2009: What IS funny is that this story hasn’t been picked up on the normal forums (with one exception, and even there people are persisting with the ‘Noddy car’ gag). I guess it is because it goes against peoples collective beliefs – they want to believe the Fiat 500 is rubbish because they want to believe BSM is bad. But it does show that you have to be careful what you listen to when you scour the Internet. Information can be very one-sided as a result of this bias.

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I’m keeping this one updated into 2010… originally posted just before Christmas…  

Snowflake ImagesReading some of the forums, you always find a load of smart arses who – if you can believe a word they say – never cancel lessons because of snow.

They are idiots. Or liars. Or both.

Up this way we haven’t had much snow – just a dusting over the last two nights. The problem, though, has been the temperature. It’s been down to -5°C, and as I said a couple of posts ago, the Nottingham City and County Councils still appear to be in conference deciding which roads to grit (and now its weekend, they won’t finish deciding until next week).

Yesterday, I took a pupil out at 8am – he’s at the stage where he needs to know how to drive in less-than-perfect conditions. However, we had a problem with the windscreen washer water freezing in the pipes (and that is with plenty of antifreeze in – but obviously no enough: I added a bottle of methylated spirit last night).

This morning I had a 9am lesson. The extra dusting of snow was treacherous on just about all roads (most of which still hadn’t been gritted). Even at a crawl I was slipping (ABS kicking in), and on downward slopes there was considerable movement no matter how slow you went. At one point I went over a roundabout on a slope and felt sideways movement – yet no discernible speed was shown on the speedo! The pupil’s road was as bad. She is a relative beginner, so I decided that one shouldn’t go out.

I used the opportunity to take the car into a hand car wash – I chose the hand wash because all the drive-thru washers in this area are out of action due to being frozen solid. It took the guys 25 minutes to get the water through – all their pipes and jet-wash machines were frozen solid! When I drove out the water on my mirror was sheet ice, and any droplets were formed into icicles immediately.

Then at 3pm this afternoon, I parked outside another pupil’s house. It had been sunny all day, but it suddenly went very dark. Just as she came out it began to snow heavily. She has a problem with harsh braking and steering – taking her out in that weather would have been stupid, so we cancelled the lesson.

And I had one booked at 6pm this evening. She is a beginner, and although the snow has stopped, it is lying on the ground and will freeze as the temperature falls (-2°C is forecast tonight). Again, at this stage she’ll gain nothing by driving in such hazardous conditions.

So today has been a total washout – I’ve lost £140. But it would have been irresponsible to put that above safety.

NOTE: This was originally posted on Sunday, 20/12/2009 – I lost the last three posts when I upgraded the database, so added them again today.

EDIT 5/1/2010 #1: I’ve been getting hits on “what happens next when a test is cancelled”.

Well, up until the end of that day your test will show as “taken”, but when the examiners finish for the day (which could be very early if they all go home because of a full day of cancellations) they will log your test as cancelled and you will automatically get a new date through the post. You should also be able to look online and see your new test date either later that day or the following day. If it still shows as “taken” call them up straight away – sometimes they forget.

Usually, you (or your parents) will go ballistic when you find out how far in the future your test is! You might be lucky and get a fairly early rearrangement, but it often goes in at the earliest normal bookable slot. Just phone up and moan, or keep looking for cancellations on the DSA’s web site.

If you do go for a cancellation, be very careful. I have had people whose tests were cancelled just before Christmas find early cancellation dates for this week. Now look out the window or listen to the weather forecast and see if they made a wise decision by doing that…!

Don’t forget: the weather isn’t the DSA’s fault. They are perfectly entitled to cancel for safety reasons if there is ice (or fog, or high winds, or heavy rain) around even if you or your parents have looked in your garden and decided there isn’t! And your Test Centre cannot do anything much about your test booking – you must call the normal booking line, not the Test Centre. At best they will do what would be much easier for you to do and phone the main booking line.

EDIT 5/1/2010 #2: I spoke with the Colwick Test Centre today and all tests were cancelled both yesterday and today (Monday and Tuesday). Bear in mind that we had a smattering of snow last night followed by -5°C and it was treacherous on most roads first thing, and side roads throughout the day.

It is 6pm now and it has snowed (it still is a little) – not much, but it has covered the bare ground again. I don’t know if we will have much more, but lows of -3°C are forecast once it blows over. Anyone with a test at Colwick tomorrow really ought to phone first and expect it to be off. The morning ones in particular.

I was up there this afternoon with a pupil who has a test next week and at 2.30pm instructors were turning up for afternoon tests! A phone call would have saved a lot of wasted time.

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This is a very old article. Cameras have come a long way since I wrote it. However, I still haven’t found one I am completely happy with.


EDIT: I have updated the VholdR links below – the website is now under the Contour name and the old website no longer exists. Sorry for any confusion.

VholdR Contour HD 1080p Action CamcorderI think I mentioned in a previous post that I had tried various camera systems in my car. The last one was a 550 line bullet cam – great video, but a real pain with the cables (plus the separate recorder: I started with an Archos hard disk unit, then experimented with a SanDisk V-mate memory card recorder).

I saw this in one of my computer magazines last month. It’s the VholdR Contour HD 1080p (actually, the one in the magazine was the 720p, but I did a bit of reading first).

It is a full-HD camera, and it records directly to a micro SD memory card. At full HD (1080p) a 16GB card will hold around 4 hours of video (it comes with a 2GB card), and it also has several resolutions – various 1080p sizes, 720p (so a 16GB card will hold 8 hours of footage), and WVGA (16 hours on a single card). It is battery operated, so no cables to worry about.

Windscreen MountIt is tiny… it just about sits in the palm of your hand. There is a range of accessories – the one I have been waiting for is the windscreen mount (and it came while I was writing this). My car is in the garage for a recurring fault today so I haven’t been able to try the mount properly yet, but it is extremely solid (made of metal and plastic). I’m also waiting for a 16GB card to arrive.

VholdR (now under the Contour name) – the company which makes the camera – is based in the USA and specialises in extreme sports. The Contour is designed to be wearable – it is supplied with several mounts allowing you to fit it to your helmet or goggles if you are skiing, skydiving, or bike-riding. You can also get a handlebar mount – and one which I like a lot is a waterproof mount so you can take underwater videos!

If you have a look at the VholdR (Contour) website you can see the quality of the footage it takes. There are lots of videos taken by extreme sports enthusiasts (and people who aren’t so extreme – when I used to go skiing I did scarier stuff than that by accident). Seriously, though, you can see how useful it is being able to wear something so small which delivers such high quality. You can also download VholdR’s own software for editing the video.. It isn’t cheap – not in the UK, anyway. The 1080p costs £350 everywhere! The 720p is £250. The official UK distributor is Madison. However, if you look around – and if you don’t mind ordering from overseas eBay sellers – the 1080p only costs $330 (which currently converts to £205). I suggest Easy Does It Customs (in Pittsburgh, PA). EDIT: They don’t list on eBay anymore. Google for “Contour HD” and you’ll find it for as little as £119 in the UK now (as of July 2012) – or the Plus version with GPS at around £300.. .

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What’s all this about, then? I’m getting hits on the search term “aa cockpit drill “.

Assuming it isn’t something to do with flying, and people who can’t use search engines properly, just bear in mind the following.

  • the cockpit drill is not usually assessed as part of the driving test (though it could be)
  • it’s got bugger all to do with the “AA” or anyone else’s name
  • the AA doesn’t have its own version
  • nor should anyone else – and if they do, it isn’t “official”
  • all the cockpit drill does is push you towards driving safely and under control
  • it doesn’t really matter what order you do it in as long as the final result means you are sitting comfortably and can see easily all around you

Commonsense, however, suggests that the cockpit drill is most effectively completed as follows:

doors >> leg reach >> arm reach >> mirrors >> seatbelt >> head restraint

  • shut the doors properly
  • for leg reach, you want to be able to push the clutch all the way down to the floor without stretching
  • for arm reach, you want to be able to hold the 10 to 2 position with a slight bend at the elbows so your arms don’t get tired – a good way to gauge this is to reach out over the steering wheel (whilst sitting normally) and your wrists should rest on top of the steering wheel
  • for the mirrors, you do not want to see half the car – nor do you want to be unable to see the car at all
  • don’t forget the head restraint with the seatbelt (two safety devices together)

I say “commonsense” simply because there’s no point adjusting your seat after your mirrors, because your head position will change. And you’ll need to fiddle with the leg and arm reach together to get the best position, because moving your back forward after your legs are positioned might move your legs a bit so you’ll have to re-adjust. But as long as people get there in the end, it doesn’t matter. A half-decent ADI should be able to run through this for the first time in a few minutes – then they can get on with teaching people to drive. It just needs a recap for the first few lessons until the pupil automatically gets themselves ready each time.

I should also point out that holding the wheel at the 10 to 2 position isn’t mandatory and you won’t fail because of not doing it as long as your steering is in control.

It isn’t rocket science.

What is the official cockpit drill?

There’s no such thing. Just make sure everything is adjusted properly and your seatbelt is on and you’re there.

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I was on my way to a pupil last night during the rush hour. I was travelling south along the Nottingham Ring Road, just at the junction with Nuthall Road – here, the road is temporarily three lanes wide (or four if you include the right-turn only lane towards the M1), but it merges back to two as soon as you get past the traffic lights. I was in the 2nd lane.

The lanes were just merging when I saw this dark grey or black Volvo V70 approaching at extremely high speed in my mirror in the outside lane (reg. no. YP09 ZTF ). The guy driving it literally forced me into the left-hand lane. He had no intention of stopping or of giving way.

Obviously, I used a variety of hand signals to explain to him the inadequacy of his genitals and the absence of anything between his ears. He seemed to understand this, because when I passed him he was holding his finger up in such a way that he recognised what he was. I should also point out that his physiognomy was most typical of his kind.

"Crybaby" Jim Breaks

"Crybaby" Jim Breaks

I don’t know if anyone remembers a wrestler in the 70s called Jimmy Breaks (nicknamed “crybaby”). I don’t want to be disrespectful to Jimmy, because he was a great entertainer, but he did have a certain appearance which went in tandem with both his image and his profession. Essentially, he had a face which looked like it had just encountered a wall at high speed.

Well, the zygote driving this Volvo had exactly the same appearance – small and inferior-looking, with piggy little eyes close together. He also had the kind of hair and fringe which looked like someone had run some masking tape around his head, then farted on it whilst suffering from the biggest dose of the galloping gazungas ever encountered. You know what I mean: cropped short, dead straight fringe with no deviation, extremely dense (just like what was underneath).

But the speed he was doing in that 40mph zone must have been close to 60mph (they do it between the speed cameras when they try to queue jump in heavy traffic) and his driving so dangerous that if it were caught on film he would be looking at a jail term. Seriously, you had to see it to believe it! Oh, yes. And he had a woman in the car with him. I bet she was dead impressed.

Now, I know that this sort of behaviour is a growing problem – especially with the sort of pondlife which drives like the guy in the Volvo (reg. no. YP09 ZTF – I’ll mention it again so the search engines pick it up well). But I was out with a pupil today, and bearing right at Trent Bridge to go down Radcliffe Road there was this woman in a blue Renault Scenic (reg. no. FD07 POJ ) who was in the left lane, and she forced us out in order to get past parked cars without stopping.

Once again, I used hand signals to explain the obvious weakness with whatever it was which passed for intelligence in her species – but I don’t think she saw because she was deliberately not looking in the mirror (like they do). I caught a glimpse of her face and she, too, bore a striking resemblance to the guy in the Volvo (with the exception of longer hair and no doubt something defining her femaleness (which would need to be determined in a laboratory, seeing as it wasn’t that apparent otherwise).

At the Lady Bay traffic lights she got behind another learner. I can imagine the cursing which was emanating from her front orifice – she had what appeared to be a young girl in the passenger seat – and when the lights changed she forced her way across several lanes to both over- and undertake at more than than the 30mph speed limit in force on that road.

These kinds of people – who really should be prevented from breeding – are a frighteningly growing phenomenon on our roads. They aren’t just dangerous, but dangerously illegal in their behaviour. Something really needs to be done about them.

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I’ve been getting a few hits from people asking what happens to AA driving instructor cars once they go back.

From what I have been told by AA instructors, the cars are supplied by a company in Kent called Ambrosetti . Until a couple of years ago it was via a company in Leicestershire. The AA pays for the cars, but no one seems to know how much or if they actually buy them or just lease them.

Instructors keep the cars for 6 months, and then they are collected by Ambrosetti when the new one is delivered. The old cars are auctioned off, but I don’t know who to or the mechanics involved. Since Focuses hold their value quite well (and are expensive to begin with) I would imagine that there is little financial loss as far as the interested parties are concerned. After all, the AA charges its franchisees around £200 a week and is unlikely to be paying anywhere near full retail prices for them, and Ambrosetti would be able to sell the cars on for probably more than was paid for the 6 month lease on each car.

If anyone is genuinely interested in getting hold of one, the best thing to do would be to contact Ambrosetti to start with on 01304 611023 (the webpage seems to be down as I write this).

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I’ve noticed a new and worrying trend amongst certain drivers as I’m travelling around each day, involving sat nav devices.

The manual for TomTom sat navs is quite clear on how and where to mount the unit, and why.

Tom Tom Sat Nav ManualI am seeing more and more people with these things mounted right in the middle of the windscreen – presumably so they don’t have to move their heads to look at it. Only last night I was behind a woman in a black Mini Cooper and the sat nav was mounted right in the vertical centre of the windscreen and considerably to the right side of the rearview mirror.

The problem is that it always seems to be a certain kind of person – a development, if you like, of the chavs and boyracers. I guess the boys like to think they’re riding around the universe in Fireball XL-5 or something. Not sure what the girls do it for (I won’t say anything about navigational ability here).

Joking aside, it’s only a matter of time before someone has an accident and it is lack of visibility that has contributed. The girl I saw last night – and she is one of several this week – flew through a 20mph zone at well above the limit, and zoomed around a corner at traffic lights in typical try-to-rip-the-steering-wheel-off-and-do-it-on-two-wheels chav-like style.

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NOTE: THIS IS AN OLD STORY FROM 2009 AND 2010 – IT HAS NO RELEVANC E IN 2013 AND ONWARDS…

I haven’t found an official announcement yet (I have now – see the edit at the bottom of this article), but on this forum a BSM instructor is saying that their cars are changing to FIAT 500s.

So, all the doom-and-gloom halfwits were wrong (as usual). BSM is still going to survive, and it will be with FIAT 500s instead of Corsas and Astras. Good luck to all BSM instructors.

The only people still mouthing off are the usual morons who think they know it all. Seeing as a lot of instructors teach in Yaris and other cars which you’d expect to see parked outside an Old Folks’ Home, they can’t really shoot their mouths off too much about FIATs, can they?

If I find anything else about this I’ll add it to this post.

EDIT 23/07/2009 #1 – I didn’t know FIAT were in the frame for the BSM contract, but whilst doing a bit of scouting I found this from May. FIAT is offering free dual controls on cars to instructors in a bid to increase their use as school cars. It isn’t directly connected with the BSM deal (which I haven’t seen officially announced yet), but it does tie in if it is true about the deal.

I must admit that the 500 does look a bit small, even though it is a nice car otherwise. But you have to face facts: a Corsa wasn’t exactly big, and no one complained about those. I’m sure there will be plenty of complainers.

I’m not sure if the car FIAT will be supplying is a 3- or 5-door, but either way it raises some interesting questions about the proposed requirement for all ADIs to sit in on candidate tests. It is likely to be a tight squeeze in most cars for many ADIs, but a small car like the 500 just doesn’t seem to be designed for an ADI (and possibly the examiner’s superior doing an assessment) sitting in back during a test. Maybe the DSA will see sense and change its plans for this to be a requirement of all tests…

EDIT 23/07/2009 #2 – The BSM Instructor Academy site refers to the 500 and Grande Punto, and that they will be discussing the launch this evening (23/07). Maybe it isn’t just the 500 ADIs will get. More information as it becomes available.

EDIT: 24/07/2009 – I notice that the BSM site has taken off the announcement of the launch it was doing yesterday (which makes sense as it is no longer going to happen, as it has happened), and still there is no official news that I can find.

EDIT: 27/07/2009 – I found some more references on the  FIAT Forum here. From what people are saying the car that will be issued has no air-conditioning, and will be the basic 1.2L model. Longer-serving instructors will get the ‘sport’ edition (I’m guessing this will have aircon).

As usual on a web forum, there are the usual crop of ‘experts’ telling you how bad the cars are. I noticed elsewhere someone questioning the ‘reliability’ of these because he’d heard a single story of a clutch going after 12,000 miles. I guess he conveniently forgot (or didn’t see) the raft of stories over the years about Corsas and other cars’ clutches sometimes going after 9,000 miles. It happens and is not an indictment of the car. No one will sell a car which has a clutch that fails after 12,000 miles on every one sold!

It’s a car, for Heaven’s sake. The only issues I can see are no aircon and its size. But lets not forget the huge number of ADIs who don’t use the aircon anyway (because it costs money, though there’s usually some other reason given), and the fact that only the largest of ADIs won’t fit in the 500.

EDIT 28/07/2009 #1 – At last we have something official. This is from The Times.

Apparently, FIAT will supply 14,000 cars over 4 years – although it doesn’t say if BSM will be paying for them or not (the Vauxhall ones were free, and it appears that Vauxhall trying to charge was a main cause of the breakdown of the original arrangement). BSM franchisees can expect to start seeing their new cars within 3 weeks – again, it isn’t clear if the roll out is as the existing car lease expires or an en masse replacement to get rid of the Vauxhall stock as soon as possible.

On the basis of new drivers tending to buy the model of car they learnt in, FIAT is offering a discount on new cars of £500 to those who trained with BSM.

It’s interesting that some of the comments on the forums were that it was ‘a girlie car’.  According to the Times story 60% of BSM’s pupils are female.

The story also suggests that the new deal will result in a significant loss of market share for Vauxhall, which is already experiencing difficulties.

I think there are still some details which BSM franchisees will be interested in missing from that story, but at least it gets things out into the open.

EDIT 28/07/2009 #2 – And there are now further news sources picking up on the story…

BusinessCar, AMOnline, Sky… in fact, take a look at Congoo for dozens of news stories. But remember that you read it here first. Several days before, in fact.

EDIT 13/10/2010: And BSM scraps the FIAT deal to return to Vauxhall after one year!

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I’m getting a lot of hits on the search term ‘franchise free adi ‘ or similar. I’m not completely certain what people have in mind, but I suspect they’re after information on becoming an independent ADI.

  • First of all, 99% of ADIs are self-employed, whether they work with a franchise or not. It is important to bear this in mind, as it means that an instructor driving around in a BSM car isn’t ‘working for’ or ’employed by’ BSM. The same goes for The AA and many other schools.
  • Working with a franchise doesn’t automatically mean you cannot advertise using your own business name. I know that The AA, for example, expects its franchisees to freely advertise and build up their business themselves. The only thing a franchisee cannot do is use The AA’s logo or livery in that advertising (it can mention it by name, though). Many people use this to build up a business, then leave and become independent.
  • Some smaller franchises expressly forbid you to advertise in your own name. For all practical purposes you’ll be working for someone else (i.e. trying to expand their new driving school enterprise), even though you’re self-employed and have none of the associated security that comes with working for someone.
  • Being with a franchise means they do the advertising and you get the pupils. How many pupils you get depends heavily on how many ADIs are competing for the available ones in your area and how good/big the franchise is.
  • If a big franchise can’t supply many pupils – especially in this present economy – don’t automatically assume that you could do any better. Don’t even assume that you could do better than a small franchise in this respect. You almost certainly couldn’t.
  • In essence, if you choose the correct one all a franchise does is provide you with a car, some pupils, and certain security if you have problems. That security isn’t available to you without extra cost if you are independent.
  • If you are independent (or on a very cheap franchise) you still need to get hold of a car. Assuming you’re not going to drive an old banger which you own outright, you’ll either buy one or lease one. It’ll typically cost you about £100 a week to keep a car which is less than 3 years old on the road (sometimes more, sometimes less – but not much less). Insurance is likely to be another £10-20 a week. Note that large franchises typically replace cars automatically every 6, 12, or 18 months, whereas if you buy one outright you’ll probably be keeping it for several years.
  • The older a car is, the more can go wrong with it – and a learner car gets a lot asked of it! At the very least it’ll do more miles than average, but the tyres and clutch (and other parts) will get more wear and tear than average! Larger franchises get preferential booking when the car needs servicing or repairing (otherwise it is replaced for you). If you own it or it is leased, chances are you’ll have to fight for a place in the queue at the garage…
  • The less you pay for a car, the more money you’re likely to end up paying to keep it running. If it breaks down you may find yourself without one to teach in whilst the garage tries to sort it out. Large franchises usually just replace it – typically within 24 hours – if it is unusable.
  • If you don’t have a franchise behind you then every single pupil is going to have to come from your own efforts. That means advertising .
  • Advertising is a continuous operation. Todays full diary is tomorrow’s empty one, so you have to keep the ball rolling.
  • Advertising is not cheap. If you think it is, or that a few postcards in shop windows will keep you in full employment until you retire, you’re not going to get very far.
  • A small ad in Yellow Pages will cost about £800 for the year. There is every likelihood that it will generate ZERO enquiries.
  • An small ad in a local free pamphlet is likely to cost around £150 for three entries over a quarter. There is every likelihood that it will generate ZERO enquiries.
  • A larger ad in a newspaper or glossy magazine is likely to costs many hundreds or even thousands of pounds for each entry.
  • You need a website. But don’t think that doing it yourself is automatically enough – if it looks like it was scraped off a boot after a walk through a field full of cows, it’ll attract little interest. Admit your own limitations – you’re a driving instructor, not a web or graphic designer (probably: some might be), so most will have to pay for someone to build a site for them if they want a decent one – another £200 or so. And still there are no guarantees.
  • To get sufficient work most people will be spending at least £1,500-2,000 a year on advertising, and it will take at least 1-2 years for most people to get enough work from that source alone. That’s assuming it gets you any work at all – I stress again: there are absolutely no guarantees.
  • Even if your ad is successful, you’ll have to pull it to prevent having to turn people away,  but put it back in again when the diary starts emptying in a few months. A continuous battle, like I said.
  • People get too greedy! They imagine that they’ll be charging £25 an hour and tot this up for a 40 hour week over 50 weeks a year (£50,000 turnover). All that money will be in their pockets if they can avoid that pesky franchise…
  • Reality strikes home! As independents with no reputation or established pupil base they can only charge £19-20 an hour (maximum £40,000 turnover). They may be forced to charge even less if undercutting is rife in the area. And work is harder to get than they thought, so the average week is only 30 hours (£30,000 turnover). Or possibly less than 20 hours (absolute maximum £20,000 turnover).  Or even less! And still they haven’t accounted for their car, fuel, and other essential business spending (total around £10,000 for car and fuel, plus that £2,000 from advertising). Before you know it, all the household bills have got to be paid with £10,000 or less!!!
  • There are independent instructors out there who have literally no work at all, even thought they are trying hard to fill their diaries. Don’t assume that you’ll be the one who discovers the Holy Grail: that hitherto untapped source of guaranteed work. Every ADI who ever existed has looked for it. Many foolish new ADIs have insisted they have found it. Most probably aren’t ADIs anymore – but this doesn’t stop other newcomers from jumping off the same high cliff!
  • Ignore claims from those who say they have discovered that magical source of pupils. They may well be in an area where there is a lot of work and they’ve manipulated their business well enough to exploit it, and I’ve mentioned elsewhere that instructors aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer (they nearly always think that what they do or experience should be done or experienced by everyone else). What matters is whether or not you have the same scope in your area and good enough marketing skills to achieve a similar result. It won’t happen in places saturated with instructors, no matter how much you think it will.

This job is very simple from a business perspective…

Balance Sheet For ADIs

Balance Sheet For ADIs

…you add up how much money you take in from your pupils (your turnover), and you subtract from it anything which is absolutely essential for keeping the business running (e.g. the car, fuel, insurance, advertising, etc.). What’s left is your gross profit – on which you are taxed.

So the main things anyone thinking of going independent needs to consider is how they are going to maximise and maintain ‘money in’, and how much they are going to spend under ‘money out’ in order to achieve it. Oh, and there is the unknown ‘risk factor’: will my advertising work?

If you have pupil enquiries coming out of your ears then being independent is undoubtedly the best way to go. Otherwise, be very careful… and don’t listen to idiots who think that because they have a full diary in London then you will too up in The Orkneys. It isn’t that simple.

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