It takes a lot of money to run a driving school. I pay federal, state and local taxes and licensing fees, the retail cost of fuel and vehicle repair, various annual fees to the Department of Highway Safety, money for ongoing mandatory training through the Department of Highway safety and many, many more bills.
Four months out of the year (May - August) I make my profit. The remainder of the year I break even.
Several, before me, have tried to start a behind-the-wheel school in this area. Each has failed because of the high cost of running this kind of business and because this market is considered too small for a private driving school.
Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties are among the lowest when it comes to income per home and only a small percentage of parents in this area see the value in securing professional driver's training for their children. As one man told me, "Why should I pay for anyone to teach my kid to drive? He's been driving for three months and he ain't killed nobody yet!"
However, I have run several business in my life and I know where to save money without cutting service. Still, it is very difficult to earn the amount of money it takes to keep this business going month to month.
So, on a personal note, I really appreciate it when someone cuts me some slack when it comes to pricing. It cannot be done for less and still be a viable business in this area. My prices for my Courses are only 1% more today than they were in Sept 2009. And, as stated elsewhere, if a driver takes advantage of the reading material, my charges for the amount of progress are less than most diving schools.
When a prospect's first question is, "How much does it cost?" -- I know he or she has two things already set in his/her mind. The person thinks I already know what he or she want me to do for him/her and, second, the prospect has a concrete financial number in mind from which he/she will not move.
The first thing I say is, "What is your highest driving goal that you would like to reach as a result of the driver's training?" Responses range from, "Just tell me if you think I need any professional driver's training," to "Teach me to drive safely in all driving conditions and among all kinds of drivers."
Before I give a price I state the benefits. That is "Good Business 101".
Here are the FREE benefits offered to every Student-driver that takes one or more lessons:
1. Training Materials (free download). $8 value.
2. An email after each driving lesson clarifying the driver's progress in that lesson. $10 per lesson value.
3. An evaluation card at the end of every driving session showing a "score" reflecting the driver's progress.
4. An invitation for any Student-driver or Client to call anytime 8am to 11pm, or email any question.
5. A self-study Course designed to reduce your cost for behind-the- wheel training by up to half.
NON-BINDING ESTIMATE OF PROGRESS
At the end of the first lesson I will tell you how many more lessons, if any, I think it will take for you to reach your driving goal or goals. For most lessons, beginning with lesson two, I will provide a written lesson by lesson progress report so you can measure your progress against that Estimate of Progress.
If your progress falls below your minimum expectations, then just quit training.
One mistake that is often made is that experienced drivers expect new driver to progress faster than most new drivers progress. We, as experienced drivers, forget how difficult the task of driving safely in traffic was for us. Anyone can accelerate, brake and steer but when, where and how much in traffic is the key to safe driving.
Do you have a clear and pleasant telephone voice? I need someone to answer the phone Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 9:45am to 4:30pm and schedule lessons. The work is repetitious. Paid by the phone call. No selling. Work from your home or anywhere you can take a cell phone and a calendar. Learn or read the scripted answers to the five most asked questions. If the phone rings and you are busy or don't feel like answering it, let the call go to voicemail and call back when you are not busy, feel like it or within two hours, whichever is first.\
The pay is not good because you are paid by the phone call and not the hour. If you are looking for more than pocket change, do not inquire. If you do well and want to work more, there may be more work as the business changes and/or expands. Good people are hard to find and I try to keep them if I can find them.
Call 850 981-3355 or email JodaCollins@aol.com for more details.
The information on this page may be a more personal than one might expect a business
owner to share. I do this to better facilitate my working relationship with you.
Personal to You
Parking and Three-Point Turn
I am always amazed when a Student informs me that he or she is willing to "drive around" but not willing to do any self-study (homework). That comment tells me the student thinks driving crash free is only about being able to control steering, acceleration and the brake and that they do not understand what is involved in learning to drive crash free.
Imagine, if an English student went to a professor and said, "I will come into your class and I will speak English, but I am not going to read anything!"
What if a medical student told those that sat on the Board of Applications/Review, that he or she would come to medical school and "do medical stuff" but "I ain't going to read anything!"
Imagine the law student who is willing to do "court room stuff" but refused to read anything about the law. How long will it take that student to graduate law school?
My dear Student,
It is absolutely mandatory that every driver knows the rules of the road and the meaning of signs, signals and pavement markings in order to drive with reasonable safety. I am happy to teach you these things while you pay me for behind-the-wheel training or you can learn these things for FREE on your own time from my book and/or from the Florida Official Driver's Handbook (the one you studied to test for your permit).
If you enroll in the Defensive Driving Course, It is better if you know the 12 Offensive Driving Skills and the 23 Defensive Driving Techniques, before you practice them behind-the-wheel. I am very happy to explain the 12 Offensive Driving Skills and the 23 Defensive Driving Techniques to you during behind-the-wheel training. Each takes me five to eight minutes to explain and I have to explain each before I ask you to DO each.
Twelve plus 23 equals 35 very specific driving skills. Thirty-five times five minutes each is three hours. Thirty-five times eight minutes each is about five hours. You can learn these things for FREE on your own time or pay me between $300 and $500 to tell you them during paid behind-the-wheel time. That choice is yours to make. While I will take the additional $300 to $500, I prefer you learn these things for FREE.
Some students say they "don't have time to do driver's self-study." May I suggest that you give priority attention to whatever is more important than learning to drive without killing other people or killing yourself and when you have time to devote to driving safely, to do so.
Some drivers simply don't want to do the self-study and are happy to pay the extra money to learn book study material during paid training. If so, I am happy to receive the extra money. However, it is important to understand that it takes up to twice as long for a driver to reach his/her driving goals because I will be spending a lot of the driver's time in the vehicle clarifying the important an necessary information I have put in print for reading. I just want you to know why progress behind-the-wheel might be slower than you anticipated.
My offer is to get you well-trained behind-the-wheel with the least amount of financial investment on your part. That is why I have written and offer FREE self-study materials. Whether you do or do not avail yourself to those self-study materials is your decision, alone.
BEWARE OF THE "OSMOSIS THEORY" OF LEARNING TO DRIVE WELL.
What is “learning by osmosis?”
What do I mean by learning by "osmosis?"
Osmosis is a scientific term relating to the flow of fluids through a semi-permeable membrane. With respect to learning, it means a gradual, unconscious process of assimilation;…"unconscious learning."
When we first learn how to speak, we learn from being around other people and simply picking it up by repetition -- by osmosis -- from people who already know how to speak. Most of us do not have to go to school to learn our native language. We simply pick it up because it is all around us. What everyone else is speaking, we automatically pick up that language when we are children.
Have you ever been walking down the street only to find a song playing in your head? In this case you are mentally hearing a song that you heard somewhere else. That is an example of ‘osmosis’ learning.” It is passive learning.
Osmosis learning is real learning, but it is not time-efficient learning. See
http://EzineArticles.com/136515 and http://ezinearticles.com/?Does-Learning-by-Osmosis-Really-Work?&id=136515
Learning the rules of the road, the meaning of traffic signs and signals, pavement markings and traffic patterns by osmosis is possible, but it takes a very long, long time. It is, also, very dangerous because the driver takes the wheel unprepared for driving challenges but remains that way for an inordinate amount of time.
“Good driving is the ability to control the vehicle in accord with the rules of the road, the meaning of traffic signs and signals, pavement markings, traffic patterns and drivers within the crash zone of your vehicle.”
The crash zone is a driving area within 10-driving seconds of your vehicle in all directions.
To be the safest driver with the least out of pocket expense, a driver must know the rules of the road, the meaning of road signs, pavement markings and traffic signs and signals BEFORE getting behind-the-wheel of a vehicle.
Trying to learn all of these fundamental and crucial things while driving is like trying to learn to learn to sky dive by just jumping out of an airborne airplane with your jump instructor free falling beside you and then asking your jump instructor what to do next.
There is much to learn about sky diving BEFORE jumping out of a plane.
Being a good driver is not starting the car, pointing it in the direction you want go and hoping that everyone else around gets out of your way.
By law and by common sense a driver is supposed to know the rules of the road, the meaning of road signs, pavement markings and traffic signs and signals BEFORE jumping behind-the-wheel and hollering, “Geronimo.” A driver should not get behind-the-wheel empty-headed and hoping nothing happens that will cause him or her to have to drive in accord with the rules of the road to avoid crashing.
It is best not learn the rules of the road, the meaning of road signs, pavement markings and traffic signs and signals WHILE driving. It is best to learn these things BEFORE you start driving. That was the entire purpose of securing your permit before driving.
Sometimes drivers (parents or the spouse of a driver) want me to spend behind-the-wheel time teaching a driver the rules of the road, the meaning of road signs, pavement markings and traffic signs and signals at a per minute charge. I am happy to do that. However, that is not the definition of learning safe and/or defensive driving and that is not the definition of learning how to pass the State Exam.
Defensive driving is applying 23 very specific driving techniques behind-the-wheel when in traffic, not learning the rules of the road. The purpose of securing a driver's permit is to learn the rules of the road. If you did not learn the rules of the road when you studied for your learner's permit, it wise to revisit the Official Florida Driver's Handbook and learn the rules of the road and the meaning of signs, signals and pavement markings before getting behind the wheel.
Learning to pass the State driving exam is more than learning the rules of the road, the meaning of road signs, pavement markings and traffic signs and signals. It is learning 12 very specific driving skills that keep a driver from causing crashes.
If a person wants to learn the rules of the road, the meaning of road signs, pavement markings and traffic signs and signals during behind-the-wheel training, that is fine; however, that is the “Rules of the Road Course” and in the Rules of the Road Course, only a few defensive driving techniques are taught and only a few skills necessary to pass the State driving exam are taught.
Before a driver is ready to be taught the 12 Safe-driving skills required by the State to secure a license, the driver should first know the rules of the road, the meaning of road signs, pavement markings and traffic signs and signals.
Before a driver is ready to take a defensive driving course and learn the 23 defensive driving techniques, the driver should know the rules of the road, the meaning of signals, road signs, pavement markings and the 12 safe-driving skills necessary to pass the State behind the wheel exam.
If you do not know the rules of the road, the meaning of road signs, pavement markings and traffic signs and signals, learn them as soon as possible and then begin your behind-the-wheel training.
Do not jump out of an airplane without being trained on how and when to pull the cord and how to land safely. Do not be caught in a driving emergency and not know what the driving rules are that cover that driving need.
Learn the rules of the road, the meaning of road signs, pavement markings and traffic signs and signals by yourself, with a tutor or take a behind-the-wheel course that is specifically designed for that purpose before you think in terms of securing your license or taking a defensive driving course.
First things first. Crawl, walk, then run.
Because we do not itemize information for different people, please DO NOT provide to us contact info (email, telephone number or mailing address) for any person NOT authorized to receive info from us about your account, including but not limited to financial info and Evaluations (Driver's Progress Reports).
Even though evaluations (Progress Reports) are shared with Driver's and Clients (unless instructed not to do so), the primary purpose of the Progress Report is for Mr. Collins to review the Driver's positives and needs before each lesson so he can be better prepared to train. Therefore, Evaluations can be pointed, curt and will focus more on driving needs than driving positives. Those faint of heart should not provide us an email address.
I ask Student-drivers to consider using their own vehicle for parking and three point turn (turn-about) training because it does not damage the power steering of a vehicle when turning the steering wheel with the vehicle stationary a hundred times or so, but my vehicle manufacturer warned me not to allow students to turn the steering wheel with the vehicle stationary because after about one thousand times times it can damage the power steering. In addition steering with the car stationary about 200 times does throw the front tires out of alignment. I will do that, easily, within any given month.
A driver's training car will make a thousand turns of the steering wheel for parking and three-point turn every six to eight months.
It costs about $1,100 to replace my power steering. Because I use my car every day for parking and three-point turn, the chances of the power steering failing due to that excessive use is high.
Turning the steering a hundred times or so with the vehicle stationary does not hurt the vehicle, but when doing more often, it does or can. Plus, excessive stationary steering knocks the front end tire alignment out of adjustment which requires aligning the front tires every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Plus, tires wear out faster. All of these things are unnecessary and easily avoided expenses that I do not incur and do not have to pass on to clients.
I do not include in my training fees the cost of replacing my power steering or avoidable re-alignment expense. If I did, I would increase the charge to every driver about $11.00 per lesson.
I am happy to use my vehicle for parking and three-point turn practice, however, when using my vehicle a Student-driver must learn to parking and do the three- point turn in a manner that does not require the vehicle to be stationary when turning the steering wheel. Most drivers find that more difficult and it takes longer to learn. Some cannot do it.
On average, if a driver memorizes the simple steps for parking and three-point turn before practicing in the vehicle, I can teach parking and three-point turn in 15 to 20-minutes.
It takes about two to three hours for most drivers to memorize the steps for parking and three-point turn whether they do that memory work in the vehicle during paid driving time or on their own time. The difference is, it costs $108 to $125 per hour (depending on financial variables) to memorize the steps for parking and three-point turn during paid driving time, but nothing to do so during the driver's free time. That decision is yours, alone. However, I just need to know your decision BEFORE providing parking and three-point turn training.
Drivers have the option of learning these steps on their own time for free or paying by the minute to memorize these basic steps during behind-the-wheel training.
There is more to parking and the three-point turn than these steps, but these are the basics to memorize in preparation for behind-the-wheel training. The remaining steps add easily and immediately to these basic steps.
When using my vehicle for parking and three-point turn training, please memorize the red print below (not the black). When using your vehicle for parking and three-point turn, memorize the black print.
There is more to parking and the three point turn than is revealed below, but this is the "skeleton" on which to hang the remaining minor information.
Steps to memorize when using the driver's vehicle for parking and three point turn training.
Entering a parking space:
Go slow, get far right, when safe, signal left, stop.
Turn steering 90% left, when safe, coast.
Straighten wheels, stop
Exiting a parking space:
Put in reverse, when safe, back up, stop.
Turn wheel full left, when safe, back up, stop.
Put in drive, turn wheel full right.
When safe accelerate.
Three point turn:
Go slow, get far right, when safe signal left, stop.
Turn steering 100% left, when safe coast, stop
Put in reverse, turn steering 100% right
When, safe coast, stop, put in drive
Turn steering 100% right, when safe, go.
Steps for entering a parking space when using the Academy vehicle:
Go slow, get far right, when safe signal left, stop
When safe, coast at .5 mph, quickly turn steering 90% left.
Straighten wheels, stop
Steps for exiting a parking space when using the Academy vehicle:
Put in reverse, when safe back up, stop
When safe back up at one-half mph and quickly turn steering 99% full left, stop.
Put in drive, when safe, accelerate.
Steps for a three point turn:
Get far right.
When safe, signal left.
Stop and turn wheel 100% left.
When safe, coast and stop at curb.
Put transmission in reverse.
Turn wheel 100% right.
When safe, back up and stop at curb.
Turn wheel 100% left.
When safe, accelerate into your lane.
For more details about parking and three point turn, see the Agreement Page of this web site, column one.
USE OF PERSONAL VEHICLE
I (Joda Collins) prefer to use the Client's/Student-drivers vehicle for parking and three-point turn training for the reasons noted above. The question is asked, "When is parking and three point turn training provided?" I provide parking and three point when you ask for it. Not before. You, the Driver or the Client must initiate the parking and three point turn training when you want. If you do not ask for it, I will never provided it.
I prefer not to use a Client's or Student-driver's vehicle for open road training because I do not have a second brake and I am unfamiliar with the configuration of the vehicle controls. Therefore, when on the road, we are much safer with me training in my vehicle. In an emergency situation, it is not the familiarity that the new driver has with their vehicle that will save us but the second brake and the familiarity I have with my own vehicle that will save us. A new driver may be "initially more comfortable" driving his or own vehicle during open road training, but I am "less comfortable" and we are both in much more danger. In a short time the driver we become "comfortable" with my vehicle because he or she will "get accustomed to it." However, I will never be "comfortable" in the Student's vehicle, because I will never have a second brake.
I have trained more than 1,400 drivers. I have never had a crash in my vehicle. I have had one crash in a client's vehicle. She froze behind-the-wheel and did not respond to my three commands to use her brake. I could not stop the car.
Parking lot training is faster in your vehicle. Open road training is faster and safer when I train in my vehicle. Safety first! When I am training a student in a vehicle without a second brake, I can NEVER put a driver in a situation that will teach the driver or challenge the driver more than the smallest amount because I do not have a second brake. So, training is slower. All of my "guarantees" for progress are based on the reality that (except for parking and three- point turn) I am training in a vehicle with a second brake and a vehicle that I know.
I am not adverse to open road training in a Client's vehicle as long as the following is understood:
1. The Non-binding Estimate of Progress should be increased by 25%.
2. There is a greater chance of crashing in that personal vehicle.
3. Your insurance must cover all training and the vehicle owner is 100% liable for all damages beyond the maximum coverage of the vehicle insurance.
4. The progress of the student will be slower and more expensive.
5. If or when I feel my life is in too much danger, I will decline further training and refund all unused fees.
If you ride please do not assume the responsibilities of teaching in my place or teaching with me or over me. Those are very dangerous things to do. The new driver should not have to try to listen to two people telling him or her what to do. It is confusing for the driver and confused students are more crash prone. The back seat can be a frightening place.
Second, I am trained in how to give driving instructions in ways that are safe. For example, the word "right" is never used in place of "correct," but only as a direction, as in "right turn." The location of a driving move is always provided before the direction of the move, such as, "At the upcoming light turn to the left." The word "next" is never used to mean upcoming because some drivers think "next" means "the one after the upcoming." Another example is I never ask a driver to do anything that is too far above their driving skill. I never yell at a driver unless doing so is the only way the driver responds or unless the driver does not give me control of the vehicle when I ask for it. I never show frustration towards the driver unless driver does not give me full control of the vehicle when I ask for it.
These are but a few of the professional teaching skills that I possess. These skills keep me, the driver and you alive. It is unfair and unkind to me, you and the driver to infuse in the instructions communication that can get us in a crash.
This is my car, my business, my insurance and I am 100% responsible for the safety of us all. It is against the State law for any person not licensed by the State of Florida as a driving instructor to give driving instruction while in a driver's training vehicle that belongs to a State licensed driving school. If you do that, and we crash, I can lose my license to instruct in the State of Florida.
Any parent or spouse that wants to give instructions during training is free to do so as long as we are in your insured vehicle and I have a signed waiver excusing me from all responsibility. However, if it becomes too dangerous for me, I will excuse myself from the training.
If you accompanied the Student-driver to an English class, would you interrupt the English teacher in order to provide your version of how English should be taught? If you accompanied the Student-driver to a class on art appreciation, would you interrupt the teacher in order to teach the class? Of course not. I am asking for the same consideration. While I invite and welcome parents and spouse to ride, the fact remains that interrupting my teaching is not something I welcome, any more than you would if you were the teacher and I told you to shut up so I could teach instead or spoke over you in place of you, which mandated you to shut up.
If a parent or spouse insists on being the driving teacher, I do allow it however (in the client's vehicle), but I never put the driver in any driving condition that he or she cannot do easily what is asked of him or her. That means the progress of the student will be near zero for that lesson. I cannot afford to challenge the student to improve knowing that at any moment the parent or spouse can issue an order that can cause us to crash if the driver is the least bit unsure.
Teaching over any teacher is rude. In the case of doing so in a moving vehicle with an unsure driver behind-the-wheel, it can be deadly.
Thank you for letting me be the only teacher in my vehicle. I tell all young students, "If your parent disagrees with anything I tell you to do, then your parent is correct." I tell all wives, "If your husband disagrees with anything I tell you to do, then I suggest that your husband is correct."
In all of my teaching, I have had one parent and one spouse that insisted on assuming the teaching of the driving session, off and on, during the 75-minute driving session. Each had two driving sessions. In those four sessions, I had two close calls (near crashes).
One near crash was when the mother of a driver was trying to explain to the young daughter that changing lanes on the freeway can be safely accomplished even if a vehicle can be seen in the side mirror. "Just because a vehicle can be seen does not mean the vehicle is so close that a lane change to the left is unwise," said the Mom. The mother was trying to make the point that if you waited until no car was visible in the rear view mirror, one would find it nearly impossible to change lanes, so when you see a clear opening, change lanes in a timely manner before oncoming traffic consumes the adequate and available space to your left. She summarized her position by saying, "Change lanes fast!"
As soon as the mother said, "Change lanes fast!" I grabbed the steering wheel, however, the daughter in nervous obedience to her mother, steered quickly to the left before I was able to reach the steering wheel from the passenger's side. I quickly forced-steered back into our lane. We miss that front right tire of the 18-wheeler by inches.
The second near crash was when we were approaching a light that had just turned yellow. We were in a 45mph zone, so the yellow light lasted 4.5 seconds which was plenty of time for us to clear the intersection before the red light appeared. I calmly instructed the driver to "continue through the yellow light" because we had a pick-up truck tailgating us. When the father realized the light had turned yellow, the father yelled, "STOP!:" The Student driver slammed on the brakes. The pick up truck driver behind, also, slammed on his brakes and with all four wheel skidding and smoking came to an abrupt stop about four or five inches behind us.
So, here are the statistics. When doing all of the teaching I have had two near crashes in about 6,000 driving sessions in which I was the only instructor. In four lesson where the parent or spouse insisted on co-teaching with me, I have had two near crashes.
This means my "driving safe" rate when I am the only instructor is 99.9999999%. My "driving safe" (without a near crash) rate where I am one of two teachers in the vehicle is two out of four lessons which is 50%.
Spouses and parents are invited to ride, as observers and mild and occasional conversation is, certainly, acceptable. I realize the back seat can be a fearful place, but everyone is much safer, if you let the professional trainer do the training. Please. I will never put you, me or the driver in a dangerous situation. However, if a dangerous situation arises, we are much safer if you let me handle it.
If doing the teaching or taking control from the back seat is something you feel you must do, please, let's use your car, where the crashing will not effect my vehicle or my insurance rate.
Thank you for understanding. In reality, I am not asking for any more consideration or respect than would be expected towards any teacher in any other profession. In my classroom (my car), I am the teacher. Parents and spouse are welcome in the classroom but are not welcome to take over the classroom teaching. I do not think I am asking too much. My life is on the line, too. After teaching more than 1,400 students and being crash free in my vehicle during training, please know we are safer without me having to second guess what a driver will do when instructed by a parent or spouse.
When I am in a vehicle where someone else is doing the teaching and I am in the co-driver seat, I spend 90% of my time and energy focused on what the co-teacher is saying trying to be ready to counter the driver's dangerous moves in response to the driver's misunderstanding of the co-teachers' directions.
The training should be about me "training the driver" not about me "analyzing the teaching implications of a parent or spouse".
When others do the training, I am not able to train much, so my contribution is near zero. It does not make sense, to me, to hire a professional trainer, and then put him in a situation where he cannot train? Seems like a waste of money.
Finally, my "guarantee" is based on how long it will take me to get a driver to a certain skill level. If I am the co-teacher, that voids the guarantee and I will submit a revised "guarantee" based on how log it will take to get the driver to the desired skill level without my assistance. I do not "co-teach" much. Where there is a second teacher, mostly, I listen to the other teacher and try to keep the Student-driver from crashing as a result of the co-teachers teaching flaws. I do not battle the other teacher for teaching time. I get paid to keep the co-teacher from causing a crash.