Finding the right driving instructor for you

So you’ve turned 17 and received your provisional license in the post, exciting times ahead! With so many driving instructors and schools in your area, which one do you choose, and aren’t they all the same? In this guide we look at some of the factors you should consider when looking for a driving instructor and what questions you might want to ask them before you decide. Remember, not all driving instructors and schools are the same. By doing some research and asking the right questions, you’re more likely to find the best driving instructor for you. Here are some of the factors you should consider to help you find the best driving instructor for you.

Recommendation or referral. You may have been recommended an instructor or school by a friend or relation. Whilst in most cases this is a safe option, remember the instructor may have been great for them, but that does not guarantee they are the best instructor for you! Also, your friend may be receiving a financial incentive for the referral so it’s worth doing your own research.

Google it! This is probably the first point of call for the majority of us. It is advisable to do some research and read reviews from previous customers before making a decision. Be mindful of what you search for, if you search for cheap driving lessons in Leicester, you may just get that – cheap and possibly substandard driving lessons. Also be aware that Driving instructors and schools also pay to advertise on the internet so a business that appears at the top of a search engine may not necessarily be the best one for you.

Franchise or Independent? We feel this is a very important factor to consider when looking for a driving instructor. What’s the difference? A driving instructor could be part of a national or local franchise, for example BSM, AA, Red or Acclaim are a national franchise. One of the main advantages of them is that you will have a dedicated customer service call centre in case you encounter and issues. From a driving instructor perspective it provides convenience in terms of running a business as customers are provided to them for a fee. Whilst there is nothing wrong in going with a franchise driving instructor, it’s important you do your research on the instructor who will be actually providing the lessons. They may not be the best instructor for you. This is particularly important when going with local franchise instructors as they may not be governed or managed like the national driving schools. Remember, if you are not happy with your instructor, contact the driving school to ask for another instructor.

Independent instructors run their own business so it is a much more personal experience. The person you communicate with will be the person providing the driving lessons. Most independent driving instructors and schools mainly get work through recommendations. Again we strongly advise you to do your research before making a decision. You may want to do a trial lesson before making any commitments. At Panchal Driving Academy – driving lessons Leicester, we encourage and welcome customers to do a trial lesson before making a decision. We are confident that you will not be disappointment with our customer service or quality of lessons.

Are they a fully qualified driving instructor? Surprisingly this question hardly gets asked! You’re probably asking yourself, aren’t all driving instructors fully qualified? An Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) would be fully qualified and registered with the Driving & Vehicles Standards Agency (DVSA). Many companies also use trainee driving instructors known in the industry as a PDI – a potential driving instructor. A PDI pink badge licence is given to driving instructors who are still in the process of their training. A potential driving instructor must complete three tests that are set by the DVSA before they become an approved driving instructor. An ADI will display a green badge license in the front windscreen of the tuition car.

Whilst there is nothing wrong in learning to drive with a trainee instructor, you as the customer should be aware of this so you can make an informed choice. Remember all ADI’s were trainees at some point so it’s not necessarily a negative thing to go with a PDI trainee instructor.

Are the lessons on a one-to-one basis? You may be thinking aren’t all driving lessons on a one-to-one basis! Unfortunately some driving instructors may use your lesson time to pick up the next student who in turn will then use their lesson time to drop you off. In our industry this is referred to as ‘piggy back’ lessons. At Panchal Driving Academy, we think this is totally unacceptable as the student lesson time is being utilised to benefit the instructor both financially and by saving time! Remember you are paying for a one to one service, so it’s important you ask them the question. Surprisingly, many students think it is normal practise for driving instructors to do ‘piggy back’ lessons.

Will you be having regular weekly lessons? It is important to clarify that the instructor will be able to schedule and provide regular weekly lessons for you. This could typically be 1-2 hours per week. If they can only offer you ad-hoc lessons then that could possibly suggest they have over subscribed and ultimately that will mean it will take you longer to pass your driving test. You should also discuss the duration of the lesson. Most driving instructors will be flexible and offer anything between 1-2 hours. At Panchal Driving Academy, we offer 1-2 hour lessons as well 1.5 hour lessons to provide total flexibility.

How many hours do you need and can you take a test by a certain date? We get asked this question quite often and a typical response from an instructor would be “how long is a piece of string”? Whilst no instructor can give an exact figure, the DVSA state that on average, it takes 45 hours of professional instruction and 22 hours of private practice to learn to drive. It is ultimately dependant on the students ability but it’s also important that your instructor facilitates learning by monitoring pupil progress in some form or other. You should ask the driving instructor how they intend to track your progress because at the end of the day, you don’t want to be aimlessly taking driving lessons without no purpose! At Panchal Driving Academy, we use our app to monitor student progress which is automatically emailed to our students after each lesson.

How well does the instructor know the test area? Most instructors and schools will be very familiar with the area. Whilst most instructors will argue that it’s not important where you learn to drive, it would certainly be advantageous for the you to get familiar with the area you will be doing your driving test in.

Does the instructor have an additional charge for using their tuition vehicle for the test? Some driving instructors and schools in Leicester have an additional charge they apply in addition to the cost of the test and lesson. Typically, on the day of the test, the student will have an hour lesson before the test and an additional hour which forms part of actual test itself. So you will be paying for a 2 hour lesson and the cost of the practical test (currently £62) which is paid directly to the DVSA (check here for the latest cost). We’ve heard some students being charged as much as £150 to use the instructors tuition car for the test, so it’s important you ask this question when you enquire for driving lessons. Panchal Driving Academy do not apply this charge extra because we feel it is justifiable or ethical to do so.

How much do they charge for the lesson? Some of you may be wondering why this question is so low down on the list but without knowing the service you are going to receive, the price you get quoted may not be comparable with others. Price is a very important factor to consider as you need to ensure it’s within your budget. Some driving instructors and schools will try to entice you with attractive and sometimes unbelievable offers! It is important you do your research, ask the right questions before making a decision. Prices and offers vary amongst instructors, schools and even regions but nevertheless, you should always establish what you are paying for. The cheap lesson you pay for may end up costing you much more!

Hopefully this article will help you ask the right questions when enquiring for driving lessons and ultimately help you find the best instructor for you. Panchal Driving Academy aim to provide quality driving lessons in Leicester, Loughborough and surrounding areas. Please feel free to get in touch with us if you have any questions.

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