Monday, 11 May 2015


holy shit, I've been busy. Had 64.5 hours work in my diary this week, although that subsided with some late cancellations to somewhere around 55.

In part, this was due to taking a holiday. The caseload had to be crammed into the following week.

In part, it was because I had 6 driving tests this week. People tend to put in a few extra hours in the week or so before their tests.

In part, this was because one of those tests involved an intensive course. - someone putting in about 10-12 hours in the week before their test.

That someone passed, and passed well, despite, or perhaps because of a mistake early on in their test. Convinced that he'd failed, he relaxed and just got on with it without expectation or pressure, only to find the examiner had viewed the error as just a minor fault.

And as he goes on his merry way, another intensive course looms.

But still, I finally submitted the content for my website to the guy who does this stuff for me, and he'd promised to get it sorted this week.  There are two blocks of content. One relates to instructor training, the other to franchising. The first is a way of diversifying, of adding variety to my role. The second is a way of earning money without having to put so many hours in on the road. It's also about trying to build something. Turning my successful one man operation into something bigger and more complex. Training instructors may also lead to people working under my name, although in the short term, it means more hours working.

And I finally got the backgammon board finished, apart from a few minor bits and bobs. I will get the chance to use it in anger at the end of the month.

Edit: Yup. Site down again. This almost certainly means work is being done.

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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Instructor training - the big idea

This post starts about 12 or 13 years ago.

I was doing agency work in various shops and factories, and getting heartily fed up with it all.

I've always enjoyed driving, and thought of myself, as I suppose most people do, as being a good driver. At the time, the jobs pages in the local free press were full of adverts.

"Become a Driving Instructor! Be your own boss! Earn a zillion quid a year for sitting on your arse!"

So I made enquiries, and ended up going to a building in Birkenhead where they took me out for a test drive, and had a brief Q and A session with me and a few other people. then we talked about money. For about £2500 they would train me. I was enthusiastic. I went home, full of excited determination. I was going to do this!

Not so fast, Bren advised. You don't know if this is a good deal or not. Shop around, and make a few more enquiries before you commit yourself (and a huge wad of our cash)

To cut a long story short, I ended up speaking to a guy in Lancashire, Neville, who I instantly got on well with.

He didn't have a building. He just operated out of a car park in a macdonalds on a quiet industrial estate. No classroom. No big shiny adverts in the press. And no money up front. Just turn up. Do a few sessions and if you like it, take it from there.

So I went, one sunny sunday. It was about 30 miles away, and a bit daunting, not really knowing what to expect.

There were perhaps ten people there. One was Neville. Another was a fully qualified instructor. The rest were all trainees at various stages of development. It was all roleplay, and the focus was almost entirely on the teaching aspect. Neville organised things but it wasn't that hierarchical. Everyone was just bouncing off each other. Trying stuff. The other fully qualified guy would play the role of pupil, while a trainee tried to get him to learn, and in the back would be 2 or 3 other trainees watching what was going on, and commenting and questioning. Sometimes Neville would be involved, either teaching or in the role of pupil, but mainly he just organised everyone else. Person A, go with Person B and do X. And persons C, D and E can you sit in and watch? People who had passed their advanced driving test would teach those working towards it. People who had become fully qualified would come and be a part of things. Trainee instructors working on a trainee license would bring their own pupils along so that it was as real as it could be.

It was a wonderful fluid system, and because of the nature of the teaching test, one that prepared us well for what was to come.

There were other benefits too. We'd sometimes get people who'd been learning with one of the major training companies, and they'd spent a lot of time in a classroom, basically learning scripts. We ran rings around them. We were teaching. They were reading scripts out of a book. I got to spend time sitting in the back of Neville's car as he taught real students. He was teaching them the same advanced techniques he was now teaching me, right from lesson one.


Normally, this job pays by the hour. I give a particular period of time to one other person in exchange for a particular sum of money.

Neville was spending 4 hours every sunday at this location, regardless of whether 3 people turned up or 33. With minimal overheads, and this way of getting paid for the same time slot by lots of different people, rather than just one, he could afford to do two things that other trainers couldn't. One, make his prices far lower, and Two, offer unlimited hours of training. No skin off his nose. He's there anyway. I ended up spending hundreds of hours training, and it helped me to hit the ground running when I finally got my green badge.

Even MacDonalds were happy about it, as we'd have a break half way through, and go and buy coffee.

 So right there is my model. I have set aside sunday afternoon/evenings (people who are not yet driving instructors often work monday to friday) to do this.

I'm doing it from a pub car park, close to a place where lots of learners go. I'm offering it far cheaper than others, and I'm offering the same unlimited hours deal.

I currently have three people potentially doing this. One has already been doing it with me on a one to one basis. Another had some refresher lessons with me, and my competence and enthusiasm inspired her to consider becoming an instructor herself. The third contacted me today through my website. He wont be able to make it to our first session this coming Sunday, but has promised to try to get to the one after that.

The first one though may just be me and one other.

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Saturday, 25 April 2015

Midnight oil

It's almost 430am here and I can't sleep. I have to be up early to tidy up, check out, and drive back to merseyside. I really don't need this right now.

What's Bugging me is the disconnection of my website. The more I think about it, the more I think it's way out of line. The guy's main business is tinting vehicle windows. So here's an analogy: I take my car to him, and he tints the windows in exchange for money. I am impressed by the work, and at some point, I contact him to let him know I will soon be getting another car, and that I will pay him double to tint the windows in this new car too. Time passes, and I don't get around to getting the new car. Then one day I come home to find he's been to my address, and removed the tinting from my windows. Actually, he leaves me with no windows at all.

It's possible of course that some technical issue has occurred, and since there has been no contact, he's unaware of it.

Clearly I need to get in touch with him and find out what's going on.

... Sent email, apologising, explaining and enquiring. Now I wait. Goodnight.
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I've been playing around with the bbc's coalition building game.

From what I've seen of the polls, it does look like it's going to be a close run race again.

I'd like to think a more radical Labour Party providing a clear alternative would streak to victory, but then I think of how the vast majority of the media would react to such a thing.

Anyway, it does seem that a coalition government is the most likely outcome. Ironic that one of the big bad bogeymen used to defeat the yes camp in the proportional representation referendum was the spectre of such a many headed beast.

From the random figures generated by the Bec game, if Labour can get up too perhaps 270 or so seats, they can most likely form an alliance with various nationalists, greens and assorted left wingers such as Respect and the SDLP. The conservatives need a bit more ,as they only really have the DUP, the libdems and ukip.

I suppose I should vote labour myself, but i can't bring myself to do so.

I will waste my vote on a green instead.

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