Post-Pandemic Pupils

 Common Sense - Dilbert by Scott AdamsMost ADIs will be aware that there is a huge backlog of people wanting to learn to drive right now. So much so where I am that I’m turning them away – I simply do not want to end up working from 8am until 10pm again, which I often was before the pandemic.

An increasing number of email enquiries are coming via DVSA’s website. The unexpected advantage of this is that you get enough information to help you be selective and decide whether to reply ‘sorry, I’m full up right now and can’t take on new students’ or take things further. For example, I got this one the other day:

I work shift patterns but should usually have 3-4 full days off per week (sometimes midweek/sometimes weekends). I have driven before so we will not be starting from scratch, I hope to pass within 20 lessons if possible.

I just don’t want that hassle anymore. It’s bad enough when it turns up out of the blue, like the young chap several years ago who – after his tenth hour, having never driven previously – declared ‘I am ready for my test’.

I said ‘What? Are you telling me you’d only ever planned to take ten hours and then go for your test?’

‘Yes’, he replied.

I said ‘Well, you really should have told me that at the start. I’m sorry, but you are nowhere near test standard and I am not taking you in my car’. I explained how I could lose my licence if I take bad drivers to test, and told him ‘I think you need to find another instructor, but I wish you all the best’.

Other emails are so short and terse that they also get a polite rejection:

I found your name on the DVSA website and was wondering if you can take new students right now.

When you get one like this, there’s every likelihood they are not local, or want automatic lessons – I get that even with referrals sometimes. And in most cases with email enquiries, they will have sent the same question to a dozen other instructors and are really only looking for the cheapest price – which won’t be me, so I’m not going to waste my time entering into discussions over it. As I said, I don’t need to chase work.

And then there was this one:

I have my test next month and I need an instructor to take me.

Guess what I did with that one.

On a slightly different note, I’ve mentioned before that I offer a free lesson to anyone who refers someone to me who commences taking lessons. I don’t advertise it, but casually mention it. That has always worked, but it did bite me a bit recently.

I was teaching a young lad and told his mum about the offer. She told me his sister would soon be turning 17 and she’d use it then, which she did. But she then referred someone who had three kids, who all commenced lessons at the same time (their dad paid for 30 hours for each of them upfront), then someone else, then another one!

I honoured the arrangement, particularly as she had brought in so much extra work, but I think I’ll have to be a bit more careful about that in future.

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