Wow! This is going to be boring, it's what my average day is like as a driving instructor. Its impacted quite a bit by Covid-19.
BEFORE LESSONS - PREP
After walking our dog Herbie, saying bye to the kids going off to school, i have breakfast and look through my diary and see what the day will bring. Preparation is important, i can't just turn up for driving lessons.
My diary reminds me what the lesson plans are for each customer and my driver record reminds me what happened the lesson prior. These basic details jog my memory and make sure i repeat something if that's needed or start on the new subject.
Whilst i'm not overly proud to keep my car's exterior immaculate, i cannot work in a grubby interior and so the car gets a little freshen up before i set off for my first client. I'm nearly always early so i have time to wipe down the high touch points of the car - steering wheel, switches, gear selector, seat belt, seat adjusters, interior mirror, grab handles and so on. Luckily my car has a heated steering wheel so it dries out fast. The seats are heated too - nice! I'm dressed appripriate as we have to have the windows open for ventilation. I bought wind deflectors so the windows can still be open without getting either me of the customer wet when its raining. Once I had a puncture on a dual carriageway, i couldnt fix it. Me and my customer had to wait on the otherside of the barrier for the breakdown services. My customer called her boyfriend and was home inside 10 minutes. I had to wait 90 minutes for the breakdown without a coat. It was November!
DURING THE LESSONS
I normally text my customers to say i'm here or ready when they are. As they approach i'm listening for any coughing and i'm quite polite saying hi, how are you etc etc. Whilst my customer is settling in and making seat adjustments, i start reminding them of what happened on the last lesson and what we planned for this one. Sometimes the customer wants to do something different. So for example, the lesson planned may have been parallel parking but the customers just doesnt fancy doing that so we do something else.
So before the lesson, i have to wipe the touch points and the same again after and then again before the next customer. Its quite repetitive and i hope it does keep us as safe as possible. I'll feel safer when i have been vaccinated.
On average i have 3 maybe 4 customers a day, thats 6 hours work or 7 if you include travel time and toilet breaks. Toilet breaks are a pain in these covid times as there are fewer open and queueing.
I'm quite predictable on lessons, if its a new subject i ask the customer what they know already, i brief the customer, i check understanding and then we set off. Some customers do better on the move rather than reading or watching. I mix it up however is preferred. Hopefully non of my customers worry about asking the same questions over and again. Its my job. However, sometimes rather than just giving the answer "Yes, this road is a 30mph", i might say "what do you think it is" or "can you see any signs"? I use questions to check understanding and watch what happens and comment on it.
Sometimes during lessons i help with steering or help by braking, got to keep everyone safe. Sometimes we switch seats and i demonstrate so the customer has no pressure at all. Learning a particular skill can be quite repetative.
10 Questions i'm asked all the time
Q1. When will i be ready? Answer. You will know when you are ready because you'll no longer need help from me. But roughly i suggest it will take X number of hours from the point you are at.
Q2. What's the hardest thing about being a driving instructor? Answer. After 14 years in this career i know whats going to happen way before it has so there's not much that surprises me. But the hardest thing is managing a customers' expectations. Some people breeze through learning to drive and some dont for a lot of differing reasons. But everyone wants to pass next week...
Q3. Do you get frustrated? Answer. I'll never show it if i am. Customers get frustrated with themselves, when that happens, move on to another subject and then come back to the one causing trouble later. The most annoying thing is when customers look at me when i'm talking to them... whilst they are driving lol.
Q4. What is the craziest thing a customer has ever done on a driving lesson? Answer. I asked a customer to turn right at a roundabout and they tried to go the wrong way around the roundabout! Cars were coming, i couldnt emergency brake due to traffic behind so i had to wrestle the steering back the correct way.
Q5. Have you ever given up on a customer? Answer. No. But I am honest. If a customer is really struggling i will tell them that this is going to take a long time. Sometimes they leave, sometimes they stay for the long haul.
Q6. Whats the funniest thing anyone has ever said during a driving lessons and how did you respond? Answer. There are lots of laugh out loud moments with customers in my car. Once a customer asked me if i needed tablets and alcohol after her lessons. I replied, NO, I take them in advance! You had to be there to see how funny it was and the speed of my reply.
Q7. Do you care if someone passes or fails? Answer. Yes. I feel responsible but obviously i'm not. If you stop caring in this job, it is time to find another job. The best passes are with those customers who have really struggled and theyve put everything into it.
Q8. Where do you go on holiday? Answer. Anywhere where there is no phone signal sounds good to me. Usually Scotland.
Q9. Do you trust the decision of the examiner? Answer. Of course. I hear lots of stories about quotos and the examiner didnt like me but its all nonsense. If you dont make any serious faults, you will pass. And my goal is to make sure you score less than 5 faults.
Q10. What is the worst part of the job? Answer. 1.) Things happen in life and it cannot be helped. Short Notice Cancellations are the worst, especially if they are in the middle of your working day. 2.) Toilet breaks can be hard to come by especially during Covid. Full bladder and speed bumps is not nice.
I have to clean the car again, take toilet breaks, snack or eat lunch. I'm tight, i dont buy lunch, i have a packed lunch like at school, only i have to make it! Whilst on break i call back any missed calls and contacts, i also update my driver records otherwise i will forget whats happened. Breaks between lessons are important and being late for customers is just poor so always try my best to be early.
Drive home and try to forget about driving lessons until tomorrow. If only it was that simple, I answer the calls, emails and texts for all SuperDriver Driving Instructors so i have to do that job. I also need to do my books, visit the post office with any cash takings and work on my website. If you leave your website, your rank dips and so do the calls from new customers. Sometimes it can feel like i have no time to myself. I chose it so i cant moan about it. But I do!