They say nothing beats word-of-mouth marketing. This principle is doubly true for driving schools. As a driving school owner and/or operator, you know you’re not selling a traditional product, like clothing, that your customers will purchase repeatedly. Outside of courses for an auto insurance discount, most driving school students will take a particular course once in their lifetime. That being the case, your best way to leverage an existing student is to have them provide you with a new customer opportunity.
You already know the benefit that a satisfied student can have on customer acquisition. They may leave a positive review but also recommend your school to friends and family through that invaluable word-of-mouth promotion. However, what if you didn’t have to rely on students making recommendations out of the goodness of their hearts? What if you had the means to actively encourage them to refer you to their friends and family and everyone in their social media network? If this idea interests you, look no further than a reputable referral program.
Let’s take a look at what a referral program is, how it works, how you can leverage it to drive growth, and DriverZ’s recommendations on services you can use to get started generating new business through referrals today!
The first step for driving school owners to create a referral program is to decide on the rewards they will offer students who refer new customers to their school. Since cash incentives are a popular type of referral reward, owners can consider offering them to their students.
This program is where the unique aspects of your business may dictate a different strategy than other industries. As discussed earlier in this piece, yours is not a business model that makes much of its revenue on repeat business. As such, it isn’t easy to incentivize a referral based on course or product discounts. However, when it comes to one form of incentive that’s always attractive to your students, nothing beats cold hard cash.
Think of a cash referral program as a paid marketing opportunity. Unlike traditional paid promotions, however, you only have to spend when a course is registered and purchased. Instead of sending your hard-earned dollars into the ether hoping for a return, you only have to invest when and where you’re already making a profit. Cash referrals go to students that refer new customers who have already paid, taking the risk and guesswork out of that portion of your marketing budget.
Promoting the Program
Finally, you’ll need to promote your referral program to your current students. You can do this through various channels, such as email marketing, social media, and in-person conversations.
One effective approach is creating a landing page on your website that outlines the referral program and provides instructions on participating. You can promote this landing page through email campaigns and social media posts.
In addition to promoting the program to current students, consider reaching out to past students. They may be willing to refer new customers to your school, and offering a reward can be a powerful motivator.
Creating a sense of community
A healthy online presence, effectively promoting your business within your market, and other traditional methods are reliable ways to find new customers. Once you have a referral program in place, consider some more old-school means of getting your students to recruit new customers. What is this methodology from yesteryear? It’s actively fostering a welcoming culture that encourages a sense of community!
The more welcoming the culture you can create around your business, the more likely students are to refer new customers your way. An overlooked way to accomplish this in the post-Covid era? In-person get-togethers!
Consider hosting events or social gatherings outside of the classroom setting. For example, you could organize a social outing, student appreciation night, or group graduation celebration. These events can foster relationships among your students, increase satisfaction with your business, and encourage them to recommend your school to others.
You can use many referral services to incentivize former students to recruit their social circle for your school. Here at DriverZ, by IMPROVLearning, we utilize ReferralCandy. While it takes some setup and integration with your school’s systems, ReferralCandy is a powerful tool to generate student referrals, track them, and ensure each referrer is compensated for completed and paid registrations.
Depending on the size and scope of your business, there may be viable alternatives for you to consider:
Birdeye: Requiring less setup, Birdeye is a good option for companies that don’t mind spending a little extra for a more turnkey solution.
Mention Me: Another pricier option, Mention Me doubles down on the word-of-mouth model to deliver valid referred leads to your business.
Smile.io: Based on a rewards point model, smile.io might be the best option for your business if you want to create a larger referral footprint.
A referral program can be a highly effective way to bring new business to your driving school. You can incentivize word-of-mouth marketing and grow your business by offering rewards, tracking referrals, and promoting the program to your current and past students.
When creating your referral program, determine your rewards, set up a system for tracking referrals, and promote the program through various channels. With the right approach, a referral program can be valuable for driving school owners and operators looking to generate more business.
At DriverZ, we know there are few more valuable avenues for growth than encouraging new business brought in by existing customers. The right referral program removes the guesswork from the equation and actively incentivizes satisfied students to bring you new business. Talk about a win-win.
Liam Hoch researches and writes about safe driving for DriverZ.
Having been a passenger in multiple near-catastrophic vehicle collisions, Liam knows first-hand the dangers of distracted, reckless, and unsafe driving.
Passionate about our core principles of helping to make safer drivers and, ultimately, saving lives, Liam stays at the forefront of driving safety innovation and research.
So, how can you stand out in a crowded field? What steps can you take to protect your business from economic uncertainty? One strategy to strongly consider is diversifying your course offerings as much as possible.