The last few years have been good for the driver education business. Between pent-up demand driven by Covid-19-related school closures and a lack of qualified driving instructors, schools able to provide services have received a consistent flow of customers. This demand, however, may be slowing down. New drivers that waited to get their licenses during the pandemic have now done so. In addition to supply approaching demand in the short term, we’re all aware that the economic winds are shifting due to the uncertainty we see across most markets in the United States. Whether this uncertainty means a recession is imminent or just a downturn, families nationwide may look at ways to reduce expenses. For many, this could mean waiting to buy that new car or sending their child to driver education.
Here at DriverZ, we’re preparing for the pool of new drivers to shrink significantly in the next 12 months. This reduction means increased competition for fewer customers – a challenging equation for any driving school. 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. Like an investment portfolio, diversifying helps protect against risk and gives you more potential avenues for profit. Now is the time to start thinking ahead, so we’ve put together these diversification tactics for you to consider.
Diversifying Your Course Offerings
You’ve spent a lot of money, time, energy, and effort acquiring your customers and providing them with exceptional service. The question is, when they finish your course, what’s next? When an Amazon customer goes to them to buy something as simple as a pencil, Amazon works diligently to ensure they’ll come back to buy $ 1000’s in other merchandise. As a driving school, your options for product offerings are significantly more limited, making your acquisition cost very high, but what if you can offer those same customers, or their friend and family network, additional services?
For example, you provide driver education for new drivers. Generally, these will be teenagers getting their licenses for the first time. These teenagers, however, have friends and family members. These friends and family members may need driver training services. Services like the following:
- Insurance Discount Courses: Most states have laws that require insurance companies to offer a discount on premiums for policyholders that have completed a state-approved course. Expanding your services to provide insurance discount courses is a great way to reach additional demographics and raise revenue.
- Traffic Violator: They say nothing is certain except death and taxes, but judges, police officers, and driving schools know this list includes traffic violations. Traffic violator programs offer a consistent supply of new customers. If your state doesn’t yet have a state-wide program, you should engage your local court system to see if they are open to sending traffic defendants to your school.
- Fleet Training: Think about your market. Who are the large employers that maintain a vehicle fleet? Or employ multiple drivers? From your local utility company to that popular pizza restaurant, these kinds of employers need to provide training to their drivers. Training that you can provide.
The best part about adding courses to your school’s catalog? You have the option to provide all of the above courses online. Online courses mean there’s no need to hire additional trainers, no increased strain on the services you’re already providing, and you can roll out these new offerings quickly and inexpensively.
Develop a Marketing Strategy
Once you have diversified your course offerings, develop a marketing strategy targeting the different personas interested in these courses. Here are some suggestions:
- Target Parents: When marketing teen driver education courses, emphasize the importance of providing their children with a safe driving education. Parents want the best for their children, so if you can show them that your course can help their children become safe and responsible drivers, they will likely enroll them in your course.
- Use Your Existing Student Base: Reach out to your current students and let them know about the other courses you offer. For example, a teen driver education student may have parents or other family members needing a defensive driving or insurance discount course. By providing these courses, you meet the needs of your existing students’ families, expand your customer base, and increase revenue.
- Offer Discounts: Offer discounts for multiple courses or referrals. For example, if a student takes a teen driver education course and a defensive driving course, offer them a discount on the second course. Also, consider offering a discount to students who refer their friends or family to your school.
- Speak to Your Local Courts and Employers: Building relationships in your community is essential. Cultivating relationships that bring you a steady supply of new customers can change your business.
Tapping into Your Community Contacts
In addition to marketing your courses to potential customers, you can tap into your community contacts to attract new ones. Consider the following ideas:
- Local Unions: Many businesses require employees to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and may turn to local unions to find qualified drivers. By establishing a relationship with local unions, you can offer fleet training courses to their members and potentially attract new customers.
- Court System: People who have received traffic citations or have been court-ordered to take a driving course may be looking for a school to fulfill their requirements. By contacting local courts and offering your traffic school courses, you can provide a solution to their needs and potentially gain new customers.
- Insurance Agents: Some insurance companies offer discounts to drivers who complete defensive driving courses. Connecting with local insurance agents and offering these courses can attract new customers looking to save money on their insurance premiums.
- Community Events: Participate in local events, such as fairs and community gatherings, to showcase your driving school and the courses you offer. Consider setting up a booth and offering discounts or giveaways to those who enroll in your courses at the event.
Partner with Local Businesses: Form partnerships with local businesses, such as car dealerships or auto repair shops, to offer their customers discounts on your courses. In exchange, you can offer their customers discounts on their services.
By diversifying your course offerings, developing a marketing strategy, and tapping into your community contacts, you can attract new customers to your driving school and grow your business. Adopting online training is a great way to expand your services quickly and cheaply while accommodating more students and additional buyer personas than you can in a traditional classroom setting. With the right approach, you can stand out from your competition and become the go-to driving school in your area.
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.