The timely nature of intensive driving courses does present the potential for disappointment if pupils do not achieve the goal within the specified time. This blog from Tara at Sales within BIG TOM Driving School expands on how these expectations are discussed with our customers.
Q. Why does this problem even exist, surely if a pupil isn’t ready, they just aren’t ready are they?
A. Well, no – that is not really understanding the problem here. There is sometimes an image that goes with intensive driving courses, in the minds of some customers, where they think that by attending an intensive driving course it guarantees that by the end of the course, they will be ready to take the test. And quite simply, that is not always going to be the case.
Q. But I thought the guarantee was one of the reasons people do intensive courses?
A. People come on to intensive courses for a variety of reasons. Here at BIG TOM we have an enormous appeal to customers who are 30 mins + away from big towns and cities because our service includes pick up/drop off from the customers home. Many other businesses who do intensive driving courses make their customers travel to them you see. But this concept of there being a “guarantee” of a particular outcome by the end of the course is really unhelpful.
Q. How do you mean…. unhelpful?
A. Customers come on our courses with a wide range of previous experience. Some have had previous goes at the driving tests and keep failing, some have never sat in the drivers seat before. Some have road sense of riding on bikes, scooters and some have not. As such, it is entirely unrealistic to expect the SAME outcomes for every customer from these differing starting points, for the SAME number of training hours. When I speak to our customers, one of my important jobs is to spend time understanding where the customer is in that wide spectrum so that we can grade the risk?
Q. Grade the risk? What risk is that?
A. It’s not in our interests as a business to have customers who are disappointed and frustrated with themselves for not achieving the standard that they were expecting. You see, this is not a given, it is not like going into a shop to buy something. This is all about learning, and I know from my own experience at school that my progress as compared to my friends was massively different.
Q. But in effect that is what the customer is buying isn’t it? A full driving licence?
A. It is offering a range of resources to our customer so that they are assisted in learning to drive. It all comes down to standards as the end of the day.
Q. When you say standards, do you mean the standard of driving?
A. Yes. It is having the ability and confidence to drive on any country roads, in any town, on the faster roads and not to forget the reversing bits either. I don’t get involved in the actual training bit, but the important bit I do is to find out how far down that path the customer is before doing the course, so that we can grade their expectations.
Q. How do you grade them?
A. Quite simply here at BIG TOM we have a traffic light system whereby we listen to our customers, we hear what their previous experience is, whether they have any particular concerns due to perhaps previous nasty accidents they experienced, and we also try to establish how they like to learn and whether there have previously been any obstacles to learning in the past. This is all very relevant information and helps us to grade the risk associated if a customer is unrealistically expecting to achieve something that is highly unlikely.
Q. That sounds actually pretty sensible. Doesn’t everyone do that?
A. Well it’s not really for me to comment on what others do, but all I can say with certainty is what we do. The training that is provided for BIG TOM customers is based around the DVSA Driving Standard where there is an opportunity to experience lots of differing driving conditions and develop into a safe and confident driver.
Q. What is the relevance of this Driving Standard?
A. This is a bit more of a Tom subject to be honest [Tom is the owner of the driving school]. But what I know is that it is not a case of training someone in a short time just to drive on test routes to pass the test. Instructors are trained to deliver a much better standard of training than that, because once someone has passed their driving test, they could be driving literally anywhere you see?
Q. I see, but what if someone only wants to just pass their test, not being interested in this Driving Standard?
A. If customers are ready to take tests because they have a really good grounding of training then yes we let them go to test. Our social media has got loads of examples of previous customers who have turned it round in the 5 days of the course. But the point is that is because they are truly ready for the test.
Q. I see where you are coming from with this Tara. You are in effect being quite open with customers?
A. Absolutely! Like I say, it is not in our interests for a customer to come on our course with a completely unrealistic expectation of what they will be reasonably able to achieve….. all that would do is create resentment and bitterness. At BIG TOM we all work hard to create successful results, not disappointment. It is a 2 way process though, and it is important that customers give me honest information so that I can grade the risk accurately.
Q. Ok. So I guess my next question is what happens if someone is not ready then?
A. Well we do have plenty of customers who just want to take a week off work, and get a really good grounding of driving training with a well respected instructor. So they don’t come in thinking of tests, they just want to enjoy some good quality training and then see where they are then. But for those who have told us this is important to them, that will have been picked up in our grading process, and we can provide very good advice about what is still to achieve. In our experience, customers are happy if they know where they are, and that is why we offer this service. It would even enable a customer to take that assessment and go elsewhere for more training if they wanted. That doesn’t happen that often but at least our customers are given the opportunity to make that decision. This is one of the reasons why I like working with BIG TOM, it is a very open organisation which can only be good for customers.
Tara is the first point of contact for BIG TOM customers and would be happy to answer any questions either on this blog or direct on 0775 607 1464