Do you want to start a defensive driving school? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a self defense driving school business with NO money and no experience. A self defense driving school basically has to do with teaching drivers- especially rookies, some important lessons about being behind the wheels. It is a driving skill set that allows a driver to defend himself against possible collision caused by bad drivers, drunk drivers and poor weather.
Defensive drivers are able to avoid dangers on the road by putting to use their learned safe driving practices. To start this kind of venture, you would first have to be certified by the state authorities you want to operate from. Starting a defensive driving training school, just like starting any other business might not be entirely easy to start, but one thing is certain, it is a straight – forward business that can generate huge and steady profits if well positioned and properly managed.
People often think that starting a defensive driving training school does not require serious technical or professional skills; in as much as this is true, you would still need to learn the art of defensive driving, acquire good business and of course customer services skills if indeed you want to build a profitable business.
Lastly, before launching your defensive driving training school, ensure that you read this article and you will be well equipped. You can start your defensive driving training school from a small town in the United States and if you are consistent and creative, it won’t be too long before your brand becomes a nationally recognized brand and your business network spreads across the length and breadth of the United States of America.
18 Steps to Starting a Self Defense Driving School Business
Table of Content
- 2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- 3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
- 4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
- 5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
- 9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
- 10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
- 11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
- 12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- 13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
- 14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
- 15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
- 16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
- 17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
- 18. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
1. Understand the Industry
Defensive driving training school falls under the trade and technical schools industry and establishments in the industry offer vocational and technical training in a wide range of technical subjects and trades. The training offered by trade and technical schools often leads to job-specific certifications.
Instruction may be provided in diverse settings such as the company’s training facilities, the workplace, the home or through distance-learning methods. Key areas in this industry include music schools and musical instrument training, cosmetology and barber schools, flight training, defensive driving training, apprenticeship training and other technical training.
The Trade and Technical Schools industry that defensive driving training school is a part of is indeed a large industry and pretty much active in countries such as United States of America, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Holland, Switzerland, Australia and Canada et al.
Statistics has it that in the united states of America alone, there are about 8,876 registered and licensed (accredited) trade and technical schools scattered all across the United States responsible for employing about 127,260 people and the industry rakes in a whooping sum of $13 billion annually. The industry grew at -1.1 percent annual growth within 2011 and 2016. It is important to state that there are no establishments in this industry that has a lion market share.
A recent report released by IBISWorld shows that the industry exhibits a low degree of market share concentration. IBISWorld estimates that only Roadmaster is capable of garnering a noteworthy market share due to their 13 locations across the country. Beyond Roadmaster, the industry is comprised of many small driving schools operating on a local or regional basis. Driving schools with fewer than 10 employees are estimated to account for over half of all establishments.
Due to the fact that it can be somehow stressful to get government accreditation for a standard vocational school in the United States, it will be safe to say that the industry is under saturated. It is important to state that entrepreneurs who are into training people on various trade/skills such as how to drive, how to play musical instrument, how to cook and how to dance et al can easily be found without stress.
Over and above, starting a defensive driving training school requires professionalism and a good grasp of the skills you want to teach people. Besides, you would need to get the required certifications and license (accreditations) and also meet the standard for such business before you can be allowed to start a standard defensive driving training school in the United States.
One good thing about defensive driving training schools is that there is a readily available market for their services because everyone who drives would want to be safe on the road hence the need to enroll in any defensive driving school that is closer to them. So, if you are well positioned and you know how to impart defensive driving skills to students, you will always smile to the bank.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of those who require the services of defensive driving training schools cut across males and females who want to learn how to drive safely on the road and who want to acquire driver’s license.
So, if you are looking towards defining the demographics of your defensive driving training school, then you should make it all encompassing; it should include every adult in and around the location where your defensive driving training school is located.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
It is important to state that there is no niche area in the defensive driving training school line of business. This is so because defensive driving training school is a niche area in the driving school cum trade and technical schools industry.
Basically, defensive driving training schools are involved in running licensed defensive driving instruction programs, certified defensive driving instruction programs and accredited defensive driving instruction programs. Most defensive driving training schools run offline, but in recent time, there are loads of online defensive driving schools and they are doing pretty great.
The Level of Competition in the Industry
Driving school business generally is a competitive business because it is not difficult to start and any entrepreneur who intends to go into this business should ensure that they carry out thorough feasibility studies and market research so that the risks associated with this type of business can be greatly minimized.
The first thing to consider before launching this business is to know how to secure all the required licenses and permits needed to successfully run this type of business in your country, the road network in your chosen location, the ideal insurance and the type of cars needed to run this type of business.
The truth is that no matter the level of competition in an industry, if you have done your due diligence and you brand and promote your services or business properly, you will always make headway in the industry. Just ensure you are good at carrying out defensive driving, you can deliver excellent customer care services and you know how to attract and reach out to your target market.
But over and above, there are several defensive driving training schools scattered all around the United States. So, if you choose to start your own defensive driving training school business in the United States, you will definitely meet stiffer competitions amongst other defensive driving training schools. Besides, there are larger defensive driving training schools that determine the trends in the industry and you should be ready to compete with them for customers.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
In the real sense of it, in every industry, there are always brands that perform better or are better regarded by customers and the general public than the others. Some of these brands are those that have been in the industry for a long time, while others are best known for how they conduct their businesses and the results they have achieved over the years.
These are some of the leading defensive driving training schools in the United States of America and also in the globe;
- A-1 Action Defensive Driving
- American Defensive Driving School
- Safe America Foundation
- ABC Defensive Driving School
- Defensive Driving America
- USA Training Co Inc.
- America Driving School
- United States Truck Driving School, Inc.
- US ONE Driving School
- Defensive Driving USA, LLC
- Defensive Driving School
- All American Driving School
- The Driving Academy
- PCCS Defensive Driving and DUI School
When it comes to starting a defensive driving training school, you just have to get your feasibility studies and market research right before venturing into the business. It is good to mention that starting a standard defensive driving training school is not for rookies; it is for professionals who have successfully gathered the required experience and expertise to train people and organizations on how to drive defensively.
Starting this kind of business definitely entails that you acquire the required technical skills and profession certifications, government approval/accreditation and also build good working relationship with stakeholders in the industry. If you are already a major player in the trade and technical schools or driving school industry before venturing out to start your own defensive driving training school, this might not be an issue.
You will be expected to hire the services of experts that will help you with comprehensive economic and cost analysis and the profitability of the businesses within the location that you intend launching the business. If you get your economic and cost analysis right before launching the business, you may not have to stay the long before you breakeven.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
Come to think of it, there is indeed no rule when it comes to choosing how you intend starting a business. Basically, you should be guided by your overall business vision and mission statement.
When it comes to starting a business of this nature, it is okay to buy the franchise of a successful and well – established defensive driving training school as against starting from the scratch. Even though it is relatively expensive buying the franchise of an established defensive driving training school brand, but it will definitely pay you in the long run.
But then again, if you truly want to build your own brand after you must have proved your worth in the driving school and Trade and Technical Schools industry, then you might just want to start your own defensive driving training school business from the scratch.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
No matter the part of the world that you reside in, if you decide to start your own defensive driving training school today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established defensive driving training schools and also regular driving schools, CDL training schools and freelancers who also teach people how to drive defensively. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market; you can start by targeting high school leavers in your immediate community.
Some other threats that you are likely going to face as a defensive driving training school operating in the United States are unfavorable government policies, the arrival of a competitor within your location of operation and global economic downturn which may affect businesses. There is hardly anything you can do as regards these threats other than to be optimistic that things will continue to work for your good.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
Generally, you can either choose a general partnership or limited liability company for a defensive driving training school. Ordinarily, general partnership should have been the ideal business structure for a small – scale defensive driving training school especially if you are just starting out with a moderate start – up capital and with less than 4 training cars in a small community handling a handful of students per time.
But if your intention is to grow the business and have students both corporate and individual from all across the United States of America, then choosing general partnership is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC will cut it for you.
Setting up an LLC protects you from personal liability. If anything goes wrong in the business, it is only the money that you invested into the limited liability company that will be at risk. It is not so for general partnerships. Limited liability companies are simpler and more flexible to operate and you don’t need a board of directors, shareholders meetings and other managerial formalities.
These are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your defensive driving training school; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners, investors’ expectation and of course taxes.
If you take your time to critically study the various legal entities to use for your defensive driving training school, you will agree that limited liability company; an LLC is most suitable. You can start this type of business as limited liability company (LLC) and in future convert it to a ‘C’ corporation or an ‘S’ corporation especially when you have the plans of going public.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
The general practice is that when it comes to choosing a name for a business, it is expected that you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. Usually it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend operating from when naming their business.
If you are considering starting your own defensive driving training school, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;
- Stay Safe® Defensive Driving Training School, LLC
- SKD® Defensive Driving Training School, LLC
- Smart Class® Defensive Driving Training College
- Bob Noel™ Defensive Driving Training College
- Watch My Back® Defensive Driving Training Center
- Gab Taylor® Defensive Driving Training School
- Green Life® Defensive Driving Training School
- Jake Alexis and Sons® Defensive Driving Training School
- Good Life® Defensive Driving Training School
- Libra Generation® Defensive Driving Training Academy
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
In the United States of America and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policy covers that are required by the industry you want to operate from. So, it is imperative to create a budget for insurance policy covers and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your defensive driving training school.
Here are some of the basic insurance policy covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own defensive driving training school in the United States of America;
- General insurance
- Auto Insurance
- Collision Damage Waiver
- Personal Accident Insurance
- Personal Effects Coverage
- Commercial Auto Liability
- Risk Insurance
- Health insurance
- Liability insurance
- Workers Compensation
- Overhead expense disability insurance
- Business owner’s policy group insurance
- Payment protection insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
If you are considering starting your own defensive driving training school, usually you are required to file for intellectual property protection/trademark. This is so because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to challenge organizations and individuals in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties (training manuals that you produce).
So also, if you want to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even jingles and media production concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
Irrespective of the results you produce as it relates to training your students on how to drive defensively and to obtain the appropriate driver’s license, professional certification is one of the main reasons why some defensive driving training schools stand out.
If you want to make an impact in the driving schools/trade and technical schools industry, you should work towards acquiring all the needed certifications in your area of specialization. Certification validates your competency and shows that you are highly skilled, committed to your career, and up-to-date in the competitive market.
These are some of the certifications you can work towards achieving if you want to run your own defensive driving training school;
- Certified Defensive Driver – National Safety Council
- Professional Defensive Driving Instructor Certification
- Degree or Diploma in Transportation and Logistics Related Courses
Please note that you cannot successfully run a defensive driving training school in the United States and in most countries of the world without necessarily acquiring professional certifications and business license (accreditation from regulating bodies) even if you have adequate experience cum background in the trade and technical schools industry and as a defensive driver.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
The crux of having the necessary documentation in place before launching a business in the United States of America cannot be overemphasized especially a business such as defensive driving training school. It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentations. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hand of the law catches up with you.
Here are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own defensive driving training school in the United States of America;
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Federal Tax Payer’s ID
- State Permit
- Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
- Accreditation Letter
- Business License and Certification
- Business Plan
- Education/Training Curriculum
- Non – disclosure Agreement
- Employment Agreement (offer letters)
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Insurance Policy
- Consulting contract documents
- Apostille (for those who intend operating beyond the United States of America)
- Company Bylaws
- Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Apart from the required certifications and hands-on experience, starting a defensive driving training school can be cost effective. Purchasing training cars, equipment and tools and paying your employees are part of what will consume a large chunk of your start – up capital.
No doubt when it comes to financing a business, one of the first things you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business or to partner with you.
Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for start – up capital for your defensive driving training school;
- Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
- Raising money from investors and business partners
- Sell of shares to interested investors
- Applying for Loan from your Bank
- Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from donor organizations and angel investors
- Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
If you are looking to start on a small scale, then you may want to consider starting from home. On the flipside if you are looking to go out with a bang, then you may choose a location of your choice. Defensive driving training school and most training and educational based type of businesses require that you see physically with your clients (students) hence it must be located in a good location; a location that is prone to both human and vehicular traffic and a location that has an appreciable number of school leavers and growing population if indeed you want to enroll loads of students in your defensive driving training school and maximize profits from the business.
The fact that you can operate your defensive driving training school from any part of the world does not mean that location has little influence on the success of your school. If you have taken your time to study the trade and technical schools industry, you will realize that defensive training schools and related skill acquisition centers are willing to pay expensive rents in order to stay in a busy educational district; a place where there are loads of students.
So, if you are looking for a location for your defensive driving training school, ensure that it is a place that is located in an educational hub in your city, a place that is visible and easily accessible. Of course, you would not want to locate this type of business in the outskirts of town. Your students should be able to drive down and locate your school facility with little or no difficulty.
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
On the average, there are no special technologies or equipment needed to run a defensive driving training school. All you would need are different types of cars and the necessary adjustments needed. The options available are outright purchase or leasing; outright purchase is usually more expensive than leasing. You will also have to decide how many cars you intend to start with, bearing in mind that the higher the number of cars and professional drivers your business owns, the more earnings your business makes.
The cars have to be well maintained so that you can enjoy high turnover. You can decide to contract the maintenance out, or hire your own maintenance staff, which can prove more expensive for your start-up business initially. In order to run a small administrative office, you will definitely need computers, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture (chairs, tables, and shelves). These cars and instruments can be purchased as fairly used especially if you have limited finance to meet your budget.
When it comes to choosing between renting and leasing a facility for a defensive driving training school, the size of the defensive driving training school you want to build, and your entire budget for the defensive driving training school should influence your choice. If you have enough capital to run a standard defensive driving training school, then you should consider the option of leasing a facility for your school; when you lease, you will be able to work with long – term planning, structuring and expansion.
As regards the number of employees that you are expected to kick start the business with, you would need to consider your finance before making the decision. Averagely, you would need a Chief Executive Officer/Principal Partner, School Administrator, Teachers/Instructors/Coaches, Business Developer, Accountant (Bursar), Customer Service Executive/Front Desk Officer.
Over and beyond, you would need a minimum of 5 to 10 key staff to effectively run a medium scale but standard defensive driving training school. Please note that there will be times when you are expected to go out of your way to hire experts to help you handle some high – profile students especially from big corporations.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
Defensive driving training schools and skill acquisition centers are established with the aim of teaching students technical and trade skill set. In essence, a student is expected to enroll in a defensive driving training school if they have the trade or technical skills he or she wants to acquire in the list of their courses.
As it relates to defensive driving training school, any student that enrolls has two basic aims for enrolling in the school. Firstly, they want to learn how to drive defensively, stay safe while driving and secondly to be able to qualify and obtain their driver’s license. So, when a student pays for the training, they are expected to achieve the above within a stated period.
Please note that a defensive driving training school may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them efficiency and flexibility; the above stated defensive driving training school business process is not cast on stone.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
In other to capture a fair share of the available market in your location, you would need a strong online presence. You need to set up a good website and ensure that it is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) compliant if you intend to achieve a good number of visitors that would want to enroll in your defensive driving school.
The truth is that your website ensures that your business remains visible to your existing and potential customers. This means that you should maximize the use of your website by ensuring that you make it interactive for your target market. You can even ensure that your customers get to book and pay online so as to make it more convenient for them.
People and organizations will only enroll in your school or hire your services if they know that they are going to get the required skills they want to get.
So, when you are drafting your marketing plans and strategies for your defensive driving training school, make sure that you create a compelling personal and company profile. Aside from your qualifications and experience, it is important to clearly state in practical terms what you have been able to achieve in time past as it relates to defensive driving and the organizations you have trained in time past. This will help boost your chances in the market place when sourcing for students and corporate clients.
Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your defensive driving training school;
- Introduce your business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to all the corporate organizations, haulage companies, transport and logistics companies, trucking companies, high school leavers, churches and other religious centers, local community, aspiring entrepreneurs, and households within and outside the city you are operating in who have the capacity to pay for your services
- Advertise your defensive driving training school in relevant magazines, radio and TV stations (make yourself available for commercial truck driving skills related talk shows and interactive sessions on TV and radio)
- List your defensive driving training school on local directories/yellow pages
- Attend international vocational education expos, seminars, and business fairs et al
- Create different packages for different category of students and clients in order to work with their budget
- Leverage on the internet to promote your defensive driving training school
- Join local chambers of commerce and industries around you with the main aim of networking and marketing your services; you are likely going to get referrals from such networks
- Engage the services of marketing executives and business developers to carry out direct marketing
17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
One key factor that will help you offer your defensive driving training services at a price that is highly attractive is to ensure that you source your start – up capital from sources that won’t put pressure on you or give you high interest rate. So also, it is important that you purchase your training equipment, tools, instruments and materials directly from the manufacturers or from wholesale distributors.
Another strategy that will help you offer your defensive driving training services at the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum, and channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name. Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, it will also help you get the right pricing for your products and services.
18. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
If your intention of starting a defensive driving training school is to grow the school beyond the city where you are going to be operating from to become a national and international brand, then you must be ready to spend money on the promotion and advertisement of your brand.
In promoting your brand and corporate identity, you should leverage on both print and electronic media and also social media (the internet). As a matter of fact, it is cost effective to use the internet and social media platforms to promote your brand, besides it is pretty much effective and wide reaching.
Another strategy is to sponsor relevant community based programs, TV and radio programs, advertise your business in relevant magazines and newspapers. Below are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand and to promote and advertise your defensive driving training school;
- Place adverts on educational related magazines and newspapers, radio and TV stations
- Encourage the use of word of mouth publicity from your loyal customers
- Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Google+ and other platforms to promote your defensive driving training school
- Ensure that you position your banners and billboards in strategic positions all around your city
- Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas in and around our neighborhood
- Contact corporate organizations, high school leavers, churches and other religious centers, local community, haulage companies, transport and logistics companies, trucking companies, aspiring commercial truck drivers, and households within and outside the city you are operating in who have the capacity to pay for your services by calling them up and informing them of your defensive driving training school and the services you offer
- Advertise your defensive driving training school in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site
- Brand all your official cars and trucks and ensure that all your staff members and management staff wears your branded shirt or cap at regular intervals