Case studies

"These Case studies reflect our understanding as at January 2011." (Driving Instructor Services)

Case study 1 - a driving school

Experiencing rapid growth within first 18 months

Subscriber "A" took over a 5/6 car school on the south coast in 2007 and became a DIS subscriber early the following year.

The school consisted of several long-established instructors who were set in their ways and were resilient to change. The new owner recognised the struggle he had trying to expand the school using the systems and methods he had inherited from the previous owner, but was keen to improve the service given to pupils. He also wanted to provide better value for money to his instructors and formalise the ad-hoc "understanding" that had previously existed between the school and the instructors.

Initially somewhat guarded, the owner came to appreciate the advice and direction offered by DIS. With the supply of bespoke Agreements for services initially introduced only to new instructors this clarified things and set the business on a clear footing. After a year or so, the original instructors were also absorbed into the new more efficient way of working under the new agreements.

During the first 18 months, with DIS call handling support, "A" was able to expand sufficiently to reduce the number of in-car hours he personally had to work by more than 50%, enabling him to concentrate on recruiting instructors to his brand. "A" was able to do this effectively whilst "on the road" by using his iPhone to keep on top of the day-to-day matters he needed to attend to in person.

The school has since grown to over 30 instructors and, "A" now uses DIS for legal advice when occasional issues arise with errant instructors. He now finds it easier to deal with such problems quickly and effectively and has a new confidence. "A" now rarely works in-car and has opened a small office from which to administer his business. "A" hopes to expand his brand further using Business Format Franchising with DIS advising on developing the whole concept, including producing a Franchise Information Memorandum pack and the preparation of a comprehensive Franchise agreement.

Case study 2 - a sole trader

Looking to provide a high quality, well priced service

Subscriber "B" is a Sole-trader driving instructor, simply aiming to provide good service at a fair price.

As with many of our sole-trader instructors, "B" was particularly concerned about missing calls whilst he was conducting lessons. He also wanted to avoid spending much of his time after work in having to call pupils back or deal with some of the daily admin that accumulates when an instructor has been out of contact for any period of time.

"B" has always been very keen on using his iPhone to access his messages "on the move" and uses the End of Lesson routine in the car to complete the pupil's Lesson Syllabus, Next appointment and Payment details before sending it as an email and text receipt to the pupil, (who sometimes receive it when sitting alongside the instructor in the car at the end of the lesson!).

"B" has also found the DIS designer website feature a great boon and this has saved him several hundreds of pounds, particularly important when first starting out. "B" purchased his own domain name for around 10 and simply points that to the DIS hosted website, where his pupils regularly log on to rearrange their lessons and check their progress another innovative DIS feature that he has found to be very well received by his pupils.

Case study 3 - a multi-car school

Looking for cost efficiency

Subscriber "C" is the owner of a small multi-car school based in north London who had tried operating from an office on the High Street but had found the cost prohibitive. Although there was some benefit from walk-in trade, the vast majority of pupils booked over the telephone and the overhead costs and paying someone to man the office even only part-time was crippling. In 2009, "C" became a DIS subscriber and closed his office.

Happy to continue his business using a loose licence arrangement with his instructors rather than following a strict contractual hierarchy, "C" continued to arrange the marketing of the school throughout the local area. Instructors retained a large degree of autonomy, insisting on dealing with all of their day-to-day messages directly themselves, although it was obviously important that they were still offered a share of the work that came in. The main difficulty for "C" was getting instructors to update their diary regularly so that new bookings could be properly allocated.

"C" decided to act as a "filter" between the DIS call centre and his instructors. One of the many strengths of DIS is that all transactions are copied to the owner, so although a diary has been created for each instructor and appointments are made for new pupils by DIS using those diaries, any arrangements can easily be altered by the owner, even reallocating pupils to another instructor altogether if necessary.

Although "C" needs to keep a close eye on daily transactions and, as a result, is having to work more "In" the business than "On" the business - he hopes that as individual instructors become more aware of the various elements of DIS support that are available to them personally, such as the automated text routines and the annual accounts package, this will encourage them to embrace the system more fully themselves.

Case study 4 - a sole trader

Now going it alone

Sole trader subscriber "D" had previously used DIS but had left to join a national franchise and, after a difficult break-up with his partner, he struggled as the promised work failed to materialise. After a year, he decided to "go it alone" again.

On rejoining DIS, "D" started to market a range of special prices that helped increase the number of enquiries that were generated. Although DIS does not advertise or market instructors in any way (except by providing and hosting professionally designed websites on their behalf), "D" knew from previous experience that even if DIS only booked one or two calls each month that he might otherwise have missed, the monthly subscription would be well worth paying.

Because "D" is on the road so much, the DIS call centre regularly deals with price enquiries for potential new pupils and also alters lessons on the pupils' behalf or takes messages for the instructor. As well as therefore being cost effective, DIS has proved to be a true partner by relieving much of the pressure that sole-trader instructors can often feel.

Another mobile-phone user, "D" is able to keep track of his business quickly and easily between lessons. He uses the Not-rebooked pupils list to try to recover ex-pupils when sitting in the test centre waiting for his pupil to return or passes the details to DIS for them to contact the pupil on his behalf whilst he is conducting lessons. All in all, "D" is able to increase the likelihood of new pupils being booked and, at the same time, ensure that the pupils that he has on his books are properly looked after and accounted for.

Case study 5 - a driving school

Looking to do things their way

Subscriber "E" is based in the Midlands and started his driving school with 2 instructors.

Initially, mentoring was very important and DIS gave advice on branding and the format that the business should follow. A legal framework was established and DIS supplied appropriate documentation to help the school grow. In 3 years' "E" has expanded to over 50 instructors operating in a number of different geographical areas.

Because "E" wanted to keep direct control of the bookings and arranged for instructors to take turns at receiving calls on behalf of the school. DIS developed a feature that allows multi-car school owners to nominate one or more of their own "operators" to deal with callers, using DIS booking systems to record the booking data and allocating it to an appropriate instructor within their school.

"E" now runs the business with a small number of trusted operators and finds that DIS' online office systems are ideal at allowing individual instructors to control their own books whilst enabling the school to have an overview of how the business is running. When his own operators are taking calls, the same transactional records are stored, so that everything that is done for the business can be traced back to the original person who dealt with it. This gives complete accountability and "E" now only diverts to DIS when an own-operator is not available. This is roughly between 10-20% of the time.

In particular, "E" was also very keen to capitalise on a web booking facility that allowed pupils to book directly with an instructor that would be accessible 24/7. Almost 25% of the work generated by the school is now originated via the driving school's own website often using DIS back-end programming to enable potential new pupils to book directly into one of the available slots in one of the instructor's diaries. A message is still generated to the owner each time a new pupil is booked (whether via the website, DIS or by one of the owner's own operators), and the same text alert is sent to the instructor, prompting even the most tardy of instructors to check their own Online Office for full details of the booking.

Case study 6 - a sole trader

Specialising in intensive courses

Subscriber "F" specialises in providing intensive courses. Although advertised throughout the UK, his pupils travel from far and wide to his home town, where accommodation is arranged and driving courses are conducted.

Due to the nature of intensive courses, each pupil has to have a training course tailor-made and this is beyond the normal scope of DIS call handling staff. (Although experienced in giving general advice about licensing and learning to drive, they are not qualified to give bespoke professional advice in detail in the same way that a driving instructor would be.)

"F" therefore subscribes to DIS Lite service, which allows DIS staff to give out the details of the various courses that are available and offer a basic guide as to which course might be most suitable (or, more importantly perhaps, those courses that would not be suitable). If the caller needs specific details about current course availability or test dates, the name and contact details of the caller are wrapped into a text message and sent immediately to the owner. DIS advises the caller that their enquiry will now be dealt with personally by the owner "within 2 hours", (as per "F"s instruction) and "F" then contacts the prospective pupil to confirm precise details and take a deposit.

Because pupils have been dealt with by a "live" person, and they know that they are only waiting for a short time before being dealt with by the owner in person, the rate of pupil-loss is almost non-existent. By distilling genuine callers like this and filtering out random sales calls, "F"s administrative workload is greatly reduced as he only needs to deal personally with "hot leads".

Using the Lite option, "F" does not enjoy many of the additional benefits available to Full subscribers, but text reminders to pupils and the tracking of lesson appointments and charges are less important in the specialist field of weekly intensive courses.

Case study 7 - a driving school

Keen not to lose opportunities

An aspirational sole-trader driving instructor, "G" was keen to expand his driving school in central London but had no infrastructure to support that objective.

With a background in sales, "G" was confident he could attract interested instructors to his brand and generate work for them, but he was concerned that his fledgling business would miss calls and lose opportunities for sales leads that he had worked hard to generate. He also couldn't think of a way of ensuring that instructors made the best from the pupils they were allocated, so needed to be able to monitor what was happening after a pupil had been allocated to a particular instructor.

After spending some time discussing how he planed that his school would operate, DIS provided a bespoke Agreement for services, for use with instructors, and gave an overview as to how DIS could be used to provide the support he would need. The postcode areas he wanted to cover were divided into price bands (complicated a little by the fact that congestion charging applied to some of his areas) and a series of products was created. DIS' flexibility allowed different rates to be charged in the different areas and provision was made for lessons in both manual and automatic cars.

"G" began working with the system himself and initially had difficulty in keeping DIS up to date. He like so many sole-traders before him forgot that he was now working with a team that needed to understand his instructions and be kept fully up to date with his diary schedule in order to work effectively behind the scenes.

Sole-traders are often so used to making decisions "on-the-fly" that they forget how difficult they can make things when there is someone in an office behind the scenes trying to support them. This led to some misunderstandings in the early weeks but the regime of spending a few minutes updating records via the online diary soon led to "G" appreciating the need for good practice.

"G" is now well placed- both in his mental approach and in his business infrastructure and support to realise his ambitions plans for expansion.