How does being a self-employed driving instructor work?
The simple answer is, very well. Almost all driving instructors are self-employed. They are responsible for their own tax and national insurance etc. This is an easy process and a good driving school like 1st 4 Driving LTD would help you with this. There are huge advantages to you and the school. For you, you will pay less tax and keep more of what you earn. You claim expenses against all your fuel, car and anything needed for your business. It’s a very easy process and you don’t need an accountant if you do not want one or we can recommend one for you on a fix fee basis. For the school and the pupil VAT is not payable on the lessons making lesson prices at least 20% cheaper, we do not need to worry about compulsory pensions and all the PAYE stuff and cost incurred. Taxi drivers and many other professions alike operate similar.
What about sourcing pupils?
All driving instructors pay the school a franchise fee for the services that the school provide. These services vary greatly between schools. Franchise fees can range in price too from £70-£300 a week 1st 4 Driving LTD current fee is just £80 A good school will get all the pupils for you, some schools charge an additional fee for pupils of around £30 however 1st 4 Driving LTD do not. There can be other fees from other school too so look out for the hidden fees. A school should be able to source enough pupils in an area reasonable for you to work. Many schools will not tell you about the seasonal trend of pupils. During the summer holidays the new pupil supply will drop as it will around Christmas. Bare this in mind when starting up. You need to be flexible, my article written a long time ago talks about opening your diary up at first and then closing postcodes and times as your diary fills. Let your school know in advance when you think you’ll need more pupils. Some instructors let us know after their pupils have passed their test and it can take a week or so sometimes to fill the places.
What about the car?
There are a few choices when starting up about your car.
Your own existing car.
If you have a suitable car, clean learner friendly and not too old then this can be a great option to start with. Getting dual controls fitted is very simple and can sometimes be found second hand too. Insurance is not as expensive as you think. The greatest risk to any car is theft and who wants to steal a fully sign written driving school car?
Lease a car
My personal preferred choice as the whole of the lease fee is tax deductible. There are many specialist suppliers to the driving school industry and we can get someone to contact you with some preferential rates. Leasing is simple, for a fixed fee and a small deposit usually one month in advance a brand-new car or almost new is delivered to your door. The car is already fitted with dual controls and can come with insurance. I recommend shopping around for insurance as with your own you get your own no claims discount each year and can be cheaper. After 12-24 months they change the car for a new one.
You can buy a car and if you have a car or cash saved as a deposit this can be good. Go speak to the car dealers as many offer special deals for driving instructors and some car dealers do their own lease deals too. Citroen, Ford and Peugeot are some I know of.
Why do you have to pay for training?
Remember all driving instructors are self-employed. The trainer that will train you quite simply needs paying. They will have taken additional training to teach instructors as the methods are very different from teaching learners. All 1st 4 Driving LTD trainers have the benefit of training with Dave Foster one of the highest most successful trainer trainers in the country and owner of 1st 4 Driving LTD. There are schools that offer ‘free training’ but you will be tied into a lengthy contract and the franchise fees are considerably higher. Remember, your trainer who is self employed will need paying like you when you deliver lessons. There will always be a cost to training whether hidden or not.
Training fees are an investment in your future. Most things in life you pay for and it’s about the return on investment. I do not know many things that you can invest in and get your money back in the first month. Maybe one day you will become a trainer of instructors and you will get paid to teach others.
The best we can do is offer to spread the training cost over a few months. This often means we are paying the trainer for training not yet paid for as we pay the trainers as soon as each session is completed. If you are flexible with training, it is possible to get it all done in a few months and therefore we can pay the trainer first.
How long does training take?
How long is a piece of string LOL. If you are flexible and keen it can be done very quickly. It is down to your commitment. Some people chose to take a while when working alongside an existing job and others are not working and want to train quickly. It is certainly in the school’s interest to get you trained quickly as the school need you to start teaching the pupils they are turning away. (assuming they are turning away pupils). Speed is also down to the DVSA and the test availability. Occasionally tests are not as readily available as we would like. With 1st 4 Driving LTD we will be trying to book your part one for you almost as soon as you join so you get this out of the way and the part two requires about 5 x 2hrs sessions usually and can be done in conjunction. If you are waiting for a part two test we will look to starting the part three in readiness to stop any delay in you starting work.
Here are a few questions answered but there are more detailed advice in everything in becoming a driving instructor on my website dedicated for trainee driving instructors and the section called ‘The Successful Driving Instructor’