Owning a driving school in South Africa is a great responsibility. You are not only teaching someone a vital skill, but how well you teach them will also impact the safety of others.
In South Africa, it is common for most people to learn how to drive once they turn 18. Unfortunately, fatalities linked to car accidents are one of the highest in the world. As a driving school owner, you can contribute to reducing these fatalities by improving your training, taking safety seriously, and improving the overall value of your business to customers.
Here are our top tips on how to run your driving school in South Africa.
Start by improving your business
Learning to drive a car is a big step for many people, and it can be a very stressful milestone in life.
Teach your students how to remain calm under pressure and help them deal with any other mental blocks that may impact their driving ability. Improving your communications skills will help students feel comfortable. If you’re assisting your students with a learner’s license, you could teach them methods to memorise the K53, or provide useful study methods.
Another way you can improve your business and stand out from competition is to cater to every driver’s needs by including all relevant driving code licenses, including minibuses and trucks. By catering to the needs of everyone, you would be able to attract different customer segments.
Likewise, if you haven’t already, consider becoming a member with The Southern African Institute of Driving Instructors (SAIDI).
Take the success of your students seriously
Choosing a driving school can be daunting for a learner as there are so many out there to choose from. Stand out by demonstrating that you take your business and students’ success seriously.
Ways in which you can reassure clients that you will add value is to demonstrate client testimonials. This would show clients that you are a real business that provides quality service.
If you have many years of experience running your driving school, let your clients know this through your marketing. If you are new to this business and have many years of experience driving, you can share this experience too. Always include certifications and training that you’ve achieved or completed. It will make people feel safer and assure them that they’ve chose the right driving school.
Make sure you're qualified
In order to be classified as a legal driving instructor you need to register with the provincial department of transport. You’ll need to take a written test, and you will be referred to the MEC (Member of the Executive Committee) for approval. If you are approved, you’ll be given a permit.
If you have been driving for at least two years and can provide a tax clearance certificate you are eligible for advanced driving instructor training.
Keep analysing your competitors
The most effective way to look into your competition is through primary research. Search for driving schools in your area, analyse their websites and social media pages and look for the following:
- What courses do they offer?
- Do they employ any new technology in their teaching methodology?
- What is their pricing?
- How are they marketing themselves?
- What are they putting forward as their unique selling propositions?
Alternatively you can also call them and ask them about their services as a prospective client.
Uber services are your competition too, as many young people are choosing to use these types of services instead of owning a car.
This is due to the high price of petrol and instalments fees on a car. As a result of this, you need to manage potential threats posed by their services and economic trends. You could also use this research in marketing campaigns to promote your brand.
Understand your growth potential
In South Africa, driving school instructors charge between R130 or R240 per hour. That means that as a solo operation, you can make close to R38,400 per month, depending on your rate and assuming you are working 8 hours a day, 20 days a months.
Of course, you can turn your driving school into a franchise. Driving schools are franchiseable, and it can allow you to expand your operations, and invest some of your capital into other resources.
Ramp up your marketing
- To compete successfully in this industry you need an online marketing strategy that will attract new clients.
- Make sure your website is optimised for search engines.
- Post testimonials on your website and social media pages.
- Offer clients a discount if they post videos on their social media pages for you and tag you in them.
- Create a competition for clients to win a prize if they post their experiences at your school.
- You can also go further by creating training videos for certain aspects of driving, which you post to your social media pages.
- Use flyers. In South Africa, people still respond well to flyers being handed out at traffic lights. Make sure that the flyer catches people's attention and add an incentive for them to contact you, such as adding a discount code, or offering a free lesson to the first 10 responders.
- Contact schools and ask them if you can visit them to talk to their matric students about the importance of certain aspects of driving.
- Post adverts in school newsletters.
- Attend business networking functions.
Always have an exit strategy
You may have only started this business as a stepping stone to gain financial freedom to build something new, or you may want to eventually retire after a certain number of years. Either way, preparing your business for sale is a crucial part of your business journey – even if you don’t plan on selling it any time soon.
If you get to this stage, you can choose to sell a portion of it, or the entire business. Either way, your clients, contracts and goodwill will be valuable assets.
If you have built a large company with many instructors, you could offer them an opportunity to buy shares in the business or the whole business. We recommend finding a business broker to assist you in the entire selling process, including the negotiation stage.