This is an extract from an article that first appeared in MSA Newslink March 2015 by Tony Phillips:
Upgrading your status
As per my last editorial, I’m on a sort of crusade to see if somehow we can improve the image, status and consequently, financial situation for our industry. I desperately want the majority of us to stop accepting the status quo that basically puts in an ascending line of status starting at the bottom level with cockroaches, climbing through rats, raising up to mini-cab drivers with us just, but only just above.
This I believe has to be addressed from various directions which would include business skills, marketing skills, and customer relations skills with last but certainly not least, improved driver training/educational skills.
I remember many years ago when working at a driving instructor training company an occasion which brought this to light. I was conducting a Part 2 driver development training session for a PDI who was using his own car, a Ford Ka. It was quite new and naturally in good condition and I remarked on the fact that once he had qualified, he could use this car as his training vehicle. His response to me was that he didn’t want to use it as he would go to a driving school and use their car for free…(!)
As I have previously advised, my background was in shipping and because of this I understood just how the money is created and spent in a company. Therefore once I became a self-employed driving instructor I was under absolutely no illusion on what can really be considered earnings; the difference between turnover and earnings and costs there are to be covered. This poor chap was going to have a very short sharp shock once he qualified, I thought. So I spoke to the various trainees that I was looking after and found out that many of them just didn’t have a clue about the practical, business, every day working and money life of our industry.
Accordingly, I formulated a series of 2 hour evening classes for them so that they could come along and learn about tax and national insurance; simple book keeping; selling lessons; running a diary; getting new customers; car costs and of course, how to work out what to charge based on what to earn, etc. Not in great detail and, it must be said, not with a great deal of expertise, but at least enough to open their eyes about things and start learning for themselves.
A course like this could go a long way to helping new entrants into the industry from trying to get business by undercutting other local ADIs and therefore not making the others around them have to feel that they must reduce their prices to compete, couldn’t it?
Sue McCormack on the other hand wrote a very good article about the GDE Matrix in our last edition of Newslink and has been giving some great contributions about CCL, Standards Check etc over the last year or so.
You may recall (if you actually do read my contributions???), that some years ago I wrote some pretty caustic articles concerning coaching within driver development although in my defence, I did actually make the point that I was curious about it and wanted to find out more.
Well I did. By taking the Tri-Coaching Partnership’s (which includes Sue McCormack) BTEC 4 coaching course, I discovered a whole new way (well actually, ancient way that we seemed to have forgotten about to be accurate) of helping people to be educated. To be honest, I took it on hook, line and sinker as the saying goes and I now conduct their BTEC aCCeLerate courses as one of their contracted trainers. The point is that in Sue’s latest contribution in a series concerning the GDE (Goals for Driver Education) matrix and its importance to road safety, the main point she is making in this article is the one that for me is the most relevant.
We might remember when learning to become ADIs such phrases as Alert, Direct, Identify when giving instructions. Well this was done to help US to do something rather than our clients. In the same way, the GDE matrix is there to help US to help our clients become more self-responsible drivers and road users. There isn’t any point in them studying it, as for them it’s virtually meaningless, albeit interesting possibly. Therefore it is for us to understand what it’s all about and how to use and incorporate the framework into helping our clients absorb, learn and become more self-aware and develop safe driver attitudes.
In the same way, we need to somehow get ADIs to understand that just knowing what they have to do to improve their earnings, without of course, resorting to long and dangerously tiring working hours isn’t enough. They have to go and do something about it and learn more about those things I mentioned in the first paragraph above. They also have to become self-aware.
Before I became an ADI, ever the enthusiast I was an ‘observer’ or ‘assessor’ for the Institute of Advanced Motorists (I.A.M.). In effect, I was an amateur driver trainer; giving up my free time on a Sunday morning to help to improve the driving performance of our associate (I.A.M.) members that hadn’t passed the (advanced driving) test yet.
On one occasion, my delegate driver asked me a very simple but searching question. What did I think was the most important thing that a driver needs to improve their driving up to the advanced test? Well, I had to think about it, running my mind through ‘Roadcraft’ the police driver’s handbook, however my answer was also simple. “Attitude” I said triumphantly. I went on to remark that anyone who had come along for training, giving up their Sunday morning in the process was already displaying this just by this simple act of effort.
When I became a driving instructor though, this idea about attitude concerned me, because I realised quite early into my career as an ADI that most, if not all my clients, and this includes those that were training to become ADIs themselves, left me feeling concerned for their future both in terms of safety and especially for the PDIs their success as well as road safety, including those that they would go on to teach.
It seemed to me that for the most part, they were really mainly concerned with doing just what they really needed to do to pass their tests; be it the learner test or the ADI part 2. Their attitude was that these tests were, for want of a better expression, a hurdle. In other words, they achieved a level whereby they could get over this hurdle and then afterwards, they could just drop down the other side and carry on regardless as they were before.
Now of course, this was different for each of these two groups of people because obviously, whereas the learner drivers started generally from a point from not being able to physically drive the car up to achieving good car control skills, the PDIs of course could already drive and it was a case of really ‘cleaning up’ their performance to get through their particular test. However the level each had to achieve was not only to do with car control skills but also staying within traffic regulations, typically not exceeding speed limits, slowing down or at least reducing speed on approach to traffic lights and crossings etc. Complying with these regulations and the associated good behaviour generally keeps us safe, however, were they complying in order just to pass the test or were they complying because they had ‘bought in’ to the idea that by complying with road regulations and the associated behavioural requirement for the test, we generally maintain better road safety?
My concern therefore was always, what’s going to happen once I’m not there with them anymore? How can I as a driving instructor get inside their heads and most importantly help them to re-consider their view of the world; at least, when it comes to their behaviour as drivers?
This was a problem for me for a very long time until I started to read about coaching within driver development. I had already been introduced to business coaching and life counsellors and had discovered that their skills were very similar. The differences being in the type of subjects their clients were dealing with and the required results from these particular clients. Logically therefore, the application of coaching was more to do with bringing out the results from the person being coached or counselled rather than the coach and/or the counsellor knowing what the answer should be!
I then went on to consider sports coaches such as in tennis, golf or of course football. In his day, no one could plant a cross field pass like David Beckham however, like all professional sports starts, he had a coach as well. So what could this coach do that was better than what David Beckham could do? Surely if the coach could do it better than Beckham, then the coach should be in the team instead shouldn’t he?
The penny dropped. So coaches bring out results already within the client by some way of, well, coaching that we can’t necessarily achieve as instructors; educators; trainers; call it what you will. And they do it by doing something different from what we are, or at least I was, already doing!
Where to get this new skill though? Well I had met Sue McCormack previously on a few different occasions and more than anything, grown to trust her. I had already had positive dealings with John Farlam who was one of the founders of Tri-Coaching and decided that at least here were a couple of people that I believed in, at least when it comes to delivering something that they truly believed in.
However, I’m also a qualifications collector. I had been let down in a previous life and one of the reasons was because I didn’t have any genuine, certificated qualifications. So for me, any training has to have universally recognised certification behind it, hence taking the Tri-Coaching Partnership’s BTEC Level 4 Professional Award course in Coaching for Driver Development. BTEC is a universally recognised qualification level, no matter what field of professional endeavour it’s in.
So I took the course, along with my partner Lesley who’s also an ADI. Having achieved this, it’s changed both Lesley and me in ways that we didn’t expect. Yes of course, our training sessions are more successful plus our clients learning experience and so are our businesses. However it’s also changed each of us as a person, and at the ripe old age of 64, who would have thought that that could happen?
So be very careful if you’re considering taking up one of Tri-Coaching Partnership’s BTEC 3 or 4 courses. It might take you somewhere that you didn’t expect!!!
For me it all started after leaving the fire service as a retained leading firefighter and qualifying as an ADI around five and a half years ago - it was, I felt, the natural road to go down (pardon the pun) . I spent my first year with a big franchised company, before deciding to go independent and run my own driving school - I have not once looked back with regret on that decision.
I have always had a desire to keep improving myself and after completing various other qualifications, I came across Tri-Coaching Partnership. Originally I was enquiring about the BTEC Level 3 Award in Coaching for Driver Development but after speaking with someone I decided to go for the BTEC Level 4.
I started the course and learnt about communicating effectively, structuring coaching conversations, using feedback for development, and setting goals. I tried out all these techniques in my lessons and I saw some good results and feedback.
After completing the course and achieving the grade, doors opened in different directions. I have become an aCCeLerate trainer for the BTEC Level 3 course in Coaching for Driver Development. Also the BTEC qualification allows me to deliver BTEC Level 2 courses in Driving Science and I am a Drivermetrics Coach.
My lessons are no longer ‘instructor-led’ but have become fun, constructive and, as all my pupils say, thoroughly enjoyable. This has changed the way I teach and the way my pupils learn. I have given up telling them what gear they need, what speed they should be travelling at, or where to stop and, instead, ask them how will you approach this junction, what do you need from me, and by using scaling before and after there is a noticeable effect on their learning.
I have embraced the change and it shows in results, I have a waiting list for lessons two months ahead, and at the end of last year I achieved Grade A on my Standards Check .
I would definitely recommend this course to anyone who wants to improve and develop themselves.
I qualified as an ADI in 2004 and, in 2005 became a full time instructor.
Having recently moved into a totally strange area I decided to join a large national franchise, which I did for 3 years, until I had established a fairly steady flow of referrals. It was at this time I decided I knew where most of the cul-de-sacs in the area were (I had unwittingly investigated most of them!) and it was time to leave the franchise and become more independent. I joined with a friend and colleague who had just left the same national franchise to start a small group of her own.
As an instructor I did not always have complete job satisfaction, I felt something was missing. I wanted to let pupils develop their own uniqueness as drivers and not just churn out the same clones that I believed the DSA wanted. MS-PSL became a nightmare instead of something I could do in my sleep!!
I think it was about 4 years ago (I stand to be corrected on that) my colleague, friend and mentor mentioned the fact that she was interested in doing a new course on the market, BTEC level 4 with the Tri-Coaching Partnership. She asked if I would like to join her, and so, one morning we left home, headed toward Coventry to begin an adventure which has altered my life.
The first day of the course was like a whirlwind, information coming at me right, left and centre. It was a day on communication and, at the end of the day, I realised that I had been ‘talking’ to my pupils but NOT communicating, this was the start of what I had been missing!!
There were three other classroom days spread throughout the year. Each of the four days had assignments to be completed, which I must admit I found tough to begin with, it was a long time since I had been in education.
As the time went by instead of telling my ‘pupils’ how to drive, I allowed them to drive and then tell me whether it felt right or wrong, good or bad, scary or comfortable. All these things allowed my ‘clients’ to develop their own personality in their driving, and, by communication and allowing them to think for themselves, they became a part of the process of learning to drive.
Having completed the BTEC 4 opportunities have opened up for me in other ways. My clients look forward to, and enjoy their sessions as they have control over their own learning. The prices that I am able to charge has increased and I can command some of the highest rates in my area. I have never been busier! It has an impact on my personal life, with higher rates can come, if you so desire, shorter hours. My diary can be almost fully booked up to three months in advance, plus a waiting list! I have become an aCCeLerate trainer for the BTEC Level 3 course in Coaching for Driver Development. Also the BTEC qualification allows me to deliver BTEC Level 2 courses in Driving.
There are more and more avenues into which I am looking.
There is no doubt in my mind that without the BTEC 4, my missing link, I would not have had the courage or confidence to do much of what I am now involved in. I do not always get things right, but I have learnt to reflect and look for alternatives, to learn what my mistake was and how to find a solution.
I am sure that without BTEC 4 I would still be saying, “Clutch down, into gear 1, set the gas…………….etc,etc”. Instead it is now, “How are you going to understand this best? Would you like to give it a go? How did that feel? What do you think, if anything you need to change? Would you like to try that again?”
Thank you BTEC 4
On Wednesday Finn passed his driving test, just two months since turning seventeen. On Friday morning we went to pick up his car. On Friday evening he had his first 'incident' ....
It is so easy to judge - I would be doing so myself if it weren't my son I was talking about. So I do want to make some excuses. Finn has been manoeuvring my car and my husband's truck in and out of the driveway for years. At one point we had quite a large driveway and he became really proficient at judging space. His two older brothers both have their driving licences and he has been passionate about learning to drive for as long as he can remember. He took to driving like a fish in water and drove almost everyday for at least 20 minutes. If I was away working then we made up for it when I came home.
He possesses great self-awareness and has an amazing sense of fairness and justice even at his young age. He is able to speak out in defence of others and also can calmly and reasonably argue his own case. He is not a huge risk taker and spends most evenings at home playing music.
So what, you might be thinking? Well, this is about the way he thinks because safe driving is all about being self-aware and taking responsibility. So what happened last night?
At about 8pm he rang to say one of the tyres had popped ... I noticed the passive language and asked him to explain. It turns out he had been in a car park and had steered sharply bashing a kerb so hard that the tyre burst ... He got this all sorted and rang me a couple more times to update me on his whereabouts.
When he came home he admitted that he had been messing about in the car park. He said words to this effect, 'It just happened so quickly and easily. I'm pleased it happened because it has knocked my confidence. I feel crap and recognise the burden. How would I ever live with myself if I crashed and killed one of my friends?'