Will you save money if you have cheap driving lessons? Is a cheaper driving instructor necessarily worse than a more expensive instructor? How can you tell?
A driving instructor must be qualified as an ADI (approved driving instructor). This means that they have done the training required by DVSA to teach people to drive, and they are legally allowed to charge money for it (something that people who aren’t ADIs aren’t allowed to do). A driving instructor should build your confidence and skills, explain the consequences of your driving, help you with both the theory and practical side of driving and may have extra tools such as worksheets to help you learn.
But, there’s quite a bit of difference in the prices. Some drivers offer package deals which are very cheap. Let’s first have a look at the different types of instructor:
Employee – this type of driving instructor works on a salary or hourly rate for a driving school or other educational organisation that teaches driving.
Franchised or licenced driving instructor – this instructor will have purchased the rights to use a specific logo and company name on their vehicle, but they’re not employed by the company. They may have to pay either a per student or a yearly fee to keep using it, but the company supplies them systems and marketing in return.
Independent driving instructor – this type of instructor could run just one car or motorbike, or they might also employ driving instructors. They are responsible for all aspects of their company’s operation.
People choose these different routes for different reasons:
An employee driving instructor might value the regular pay packet and the holidays. A franchised driving instructor might want to be their own boss but recognise that it’s good to be part of a bigger entity that can give them support. An independent driving instructor might already be experienced in business and could be looking to build a team of other employee driving instructors so that they have more control over their earning potential. The type of driving instructor does not necessarily influence the quality of the teaching.
How do driving instructors set their costs?
An instructor trades their time teaching you for pounds in their bank account. They deserve to make a living for the time they invest in training, and they have some additional costs.
Vehicle and fuel costs
An instructor must first buy or lease a vehicle, then have it signwritten and fitted with dual controls. During the lessons the vehicle suffers wear and tear, and fuel is used. Therefore, instructors often try to buy fuel efficient vehicles that are reliable and easy to maintain.
Cost of living
An instructor living in London is likely to have a higher cost of living than one living in a small town. They have a mortgage or rent to pay, and they will be stuck in traffic trying to get to lessons and that reduces their productivity.
Local demographic mix
If the local area is impoverished, there will be a limit to how much they will pay for lessons. Instructors will have to meet the market or look for business in a different area.
Amount of competition
If there is a lot of competition, i.e. a large number of other driving instructors competing for new business, this means that prices might naturally be lower. If they drop so low that instructors can’t make a living, some will drop out of the market and hopefully a balance is restored.
An instructor working part-time for a bit of extra money (e.g. in retirement) might settle for a lower hourly rate than an instructor with a young family to support.
Skill and reputation
Some driving instructors gain an excellent reputation either because they are truly excellent or they are good at convincing people they are excellent. They are more in demand. Conversely, an instructor that gets a poor reputation may find it difficult to attract clients and therefore might need to discount their rate in order to stay busy.
Choosing a driving instructor
Choosing a driving instructor is a deeply personal thing to do. You should be the one that chooses, not your parent or guardian. You must feel comfortable with the instructor both personally and professionally.
Choosing an instructor because they are cheap is not the way to choose. Choose the instructor that you think will teach you in the best and most efficient way, and then you will need fewer lessons.
To find out how to choose an instructor, read our guide to choosing a driving instructor.
Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.