7 Top Tips for Easy ADI Diary Management

adi-diary-managementADI Diary Management and Diary planning is an art form in itself. Learning to plan your diary efficiently can help maximise your time, boost your profits and reduce your fuel costs.  It also enables you to ‘work to live’ rather than ‘live to work’. Many new instructors struggle with diary management, so here are 7 tips on how to manage your diary more effectively, based on our own experiences.  We hope you find the ADI diary management tips useful!

ADI Diary Management – Top 7 Tips

TIP 1 – Decide on your hours of work… and STICK TO THEM!

OK, this sounds pretty obvious I know. When you have a ‘normal’ job (i.e. in employment), you have a specific start time and finish time.  You also know the days you have to work and the days you have off. Why make an exception now that you’re your own boss? For many of us, it’s the main thing that attracted us to becoming a driving instructor in the first place – working when we want to!

adi life moves fastSo what day(s) off do you want? What time do you want to start and finish work? Ok, so you may have to make the odd exception to fit in that new pupil on their birthday but having strict parameters will help you keep work contained within the times and days YOU want.

TIP 2 – Pre-plan your diary

Organising your diary into set time slots will avoid pupils requesting awkward lesson times which prevent you from fitting in other people… leading to more dead time! So for example, if you do 2 hour lessons, your regular slots might be something along the lines of 9.00am-11.00am, 11.20am-1.20pm, 2.00pm – 3.00pm, 3.20pm – 5.20pm and 6.30pm – 8.30pm (granted, you may occasionally have to deviate from these times for test bookings). Let pupils choose the best time for them in the slots available rather than allowing them to book when THEY want. A pupil deciding they want a 10.00am lesson can effectively cost you the first working hour of the day if you would normally start at 9.00am.

Pupils will fit in with YOU if you choose to run a structured system.

TIP 3 – Encourage pupils to take longer lessons

Many instructors offer lessons lasting 1 hour.  Others have a minimum duration of an hour and a half or even 2 hours.  Encouraging your pupils to take longer lessons will increase their rate of learning, decrease ‘dead time’ or travelling time between hourly lessons – thus maximising your work time and profits.  A profitable  ADI Diary Management tip.

TIP 4 – Book pupils in for several weeks in advance

If a pupil usually has the same time each week, it’s a good idea to forward book the same lesson time in the upcoming weeks.  Booking pupils in only one week in advance can be a real headache and prevents you from planning further ahead and can result in regular pupils losing their normal slot. Also, changing a pupil’s lesson time each week will often lead to them forgetting their lesson or cancelling at the last moment. Just pencilling in the pupils first name, or highlighting the reserved lesson in a different colour on electronic diaries will keep it reserved until the pupil confirms their regular booking. This will make it harder for you to double-book or give a regular slot away by accident and can be done for many weeks in advance. It’ll also help you identify what spaces you have left for your shift workers and new pupils.

TIP 5 – Subtly manipulate your diary

It’s can be a real pain when a pupil wants their driving lesson smack bang in the middle of the day when the rest of your day is free, especially if your other pupils are already booked in! Or perhaps you have a couple of lessons in the afternoon and another pupil books the first lesson of the day leaving you with a gap in the middle of the day.  There’s an easy solution to this…

If the pupil can’t see your diary (if you’re using your phone, for example) then just offer the times you want to fill first, “I have either 10.15am or 1.45pm available on that day”.

If you use a tablet or paper diary and your pupil can see it, this becomes a bit trickier and they may point to the middle of an empty day asking if they can have that time. To help you make sure pupils book the lesson slots you want to fill first, and to make your diary appear busy (great if you’re starting up), add ‘fake’ names or shaded areas to areas of your diary that you’d like to fill last.  This will mean pupils wanting to book in only have the opportunity to take the available time slots you want to fill first. For example, if the last lesson of the day is empty and you still have availability earlier in the day, use a fake pupil name and the pupil will have to choose one of the other available times. If it ever backfires and the pupil can only do the later lesson, you could always say you will ask if the other (fake) pupil will swap, (which they always will of course!) and it looks like you’re going the extra mile to accommodate your pupil.

On another note, putting any “serial cancellers” as the last lesson of the day will occasionally net you an early finish! You can work on replacing any of these pupils with more reliable ones as you get busier.

TIP 6 – Manage your coverage area

iStock_000013048926XSmallTry to narrow down your coverage area, where possible.  Yes, that’s easier said than done for some people.  If you’re a new ADI, you’ll probably have to start with a wide geographical area and narrow it down as you get busier. Or it may be that you live in an area that’s not densely populated.

Either way, if you cover lots of areas, is it possible to give lessons in one area on one day and another area on another day to avoid longer travelling times and higher fuel costs?

TIP 7 – Learn to say ‘NO’

saying no is okI know what you’re thinking… “Say NO? You’re kidding right?!”

If you’re building up a new business, this isn’t normally an option. But if you’re working your socks off and you get yet another customer wanting to book lessons with you, you have a choice. Start work earlier, finish later, work your day off OR simply choose to not take on the work at that time. You could start a waiting list – if the pupil definitely wants to learn with you, they will wait. Even if they don’t wait, the supply of new pupils won’t come to a complete stop because you said no, there will always be more!  Finally, saying ‘no’ is proof of your popularity – any pupils that you turn away because your waiting list is full will still be more than impressed by how great you must be!

down arrowLet us know what works for you. Do you manage to get the time off you want? Do you find yourself hanging around in between lessons? We love hearing from you, so please add your thoughts and other ADI Diary Management tips in the comments below.

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