It’s not easy and unfortunately there’s no simple quick fix solution. Unfortunately the majority of pupils don’t know that you are losing money when they cancel. But is this any different to you? Are you aware of the money lost when you cancel a dinner reservation or fail to turn up? Do you even think about it?
Unfortunately cancellations are the only certain thing in every driving instructor’s career. They happen and they will continue to happen.
You can never stop last minute cancellations 100%, but what you can do is minimise their frequency and minimise the negative effects for you and your pupil.
So how do we reduce the rate in which you have pupils who cancel at the last minute? As we mentioned at the start you could charge them a fee, but you risk never seeing that fee or future income from that pupil again. Just as you wouldn’t return to a restaurant to pay a cancellation fee on a table why would or should you expect the same from a pupil?
The first thing you can do is educate your pupils. Let them know that through cancellations you end up losing money. This isn’t to say that you should lecture pupils on this issue but this can be done in a subtle way as part of natural conversation.
You could even be creative and incentivise pupils to always turn up to every lesson.
For example, when a pupil of yours passes their test and has never cancelled a lesson last minute you could give them a £10 voucher from Halfords to spend on kitting up their first car. If that particular pupil has never cancelled a lesson at the last minute with you then you will have made £10 (if your lesson fee is £20).
You could mix this with increasing word of mouth recommendations. For example, a free lesson to a friend if the pupil completes 30 hours or more without a single cancellation. That way you’re minimising the risk of lost income through cancellations and increasing the chance of getting a new pupil!
There are plenty of ways you can tackle obstacles that you face as a driving instructor. Be creative and think of ways to benefit you and your learner mutually, that way you’ll always be on to a winner!