Tuesday, 14 February 2017

No pressure...

This is a post about the business of driving instruction.

There's been a bit of coverage lately about what's been termed "the gig economy"

If you delivered mail, like I used to do 25 years ago, you were an employee. You got paid, minus tax, and were entitled to certain rights, along with your obligations. We've moved increasingly towards a way of doing things where people are self employed. They contract to work, generally get paid a higher rate, but are responsible for their own tax, and don't get such things as sick pay or holiday pay.

It's nothing new. It's just been vastly extended over the last decade or so. If you were a small businessman, such as a roofer or a taxi driver, it's generally been that way for a long time.

And so it is with driving instructors. There are companies out there that will employ qualified instructors, and give them a wage, buut for the vast majority, they're working for themselves, and are expected to sort out their own tax and all the other gubbins you have to deal with as a self employed practitioner of your skills.

Getting work can be difficult, particularly at first. You advertise, or you pay the owner of a school to provide you with clients.

We're all prostitutes really, except we don't have to suck cock every day. We're friendly, often with people that we would not, in the ordinary course of events, choose to be friendly with, for money.

Helen, who's been paying me a nominal franchise fee for a good few months now, has got a full diary. She's now got people paying up front for blocks of lessons. Yet she's got a ticking time bomb in her life.

When working on a trainee license, you are confronted with 2 seperate limits. One is a limit on the number of times you can attempt to do your teaching test. (3 times). The other is a time limit. You must complete your training within two years of passing the first of the three tests you are required to sit. There is some leeway. If you've booked a teaching test before they time limit, but the test date lies beyond the time limit, it will be honoured. The entitlement to teach, on a trainee license lapses upon the expiry of the time limit though, regardless of anything else.

Helen's time limit expires in April. She has her first attempt at her final exam in early March. She's taken close to £1000 in up front payment for lessons over the last week or two.

She's stressing about this, although she's also done the sensible thing and banked the money, so that if she doesn't get through the test, she can pay back anything she's unable to honour.

I also think that the fact that people have chosen to give her hundreds of pounds up front says something about where she's got to as an instructor.

One thing I've wanted to do for a while has been to get her sitting in on a lesson with an absolute beginner. I'd managed to organise something a couple of weeks back, but unfortunately, she was ill, and couldn't make the session. Today though, I managed to get this to happen. I think she'll get a lot from it. Not just in terms of how to do a beginner lesson, but in terms of how to structure and pace things.

Being able to do the job, and getting through the teaching test are not one and the same, There are some potentially excellent instructors that, because of nerves or whatever, never manage to clear the hurdle. There are a whole lot of shit instructors out there that ticked the boxes and got through.

Still, having a good solid grounding in the real life nitty gritty job is going to give you a better chance of getting through.

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