by AA Driving School
last updated 23/06/2021
Passing The Test
by AA Driving School
last updated 23/06/2021
For Jacky Dobson, her AA Driving School franchise has been a dream come true
When Jacky Dobson pressed the ‘Start’ button on her AA Driving School business in July 2020, it was the culmination of a life-long ambition. In the UK, where she had worked in the transport and trucking industries, she harboured a love for driving and a desire to teach others. However, her career plans were interrupted by a decision to emigrate down under in 2011.
In New Zealand, Jacky gained her instructor endorsement while working as a health and safety adviser for a car rental company, then applied for a part-time instructor franchise with AA Driving School. Her world was turned upside down again when Covid-19 struck and the rental car industry was hit hard. Redundancies quickly followed, but Jacky wasn’t deterred.
‘I asked the AA if I could upgrade to a full-time franchise, and to my delight they said yes,’ she smiles. ‘Just two months later, I was finally “living the dream” with my own AA Driving School car and franchise in Christchurch.’
Up to speed
Despite being a first-time business owner, Jacky found getting her business up to speed proved to be relatively easy. ‘Taking on something new, something that you’ve never done before, can be daunting, but in the franchise, it’s reassuring to know that there is always somebody there supporting you in every aspect of the business – not just the AA team but Suzuki and the finance company, too.
‘My AA Driving School area coordinator, who is also an instructor herself, is brilliant. I know that if I’ve got any questions or if there’s anything I need, I can go straight to her.’
She says the training was excellent. ‘Of course, like any new job there’s some apprehension at first, but I spent time observing other AA instructors teaching their students, and this proved invaluable. I think my background in health and safety, as well as doing Lifeline counselling, helped me understand how people go about learning, and I have a check-sheet that I go through after each lesson with students, to find out how they think they’re doing.’
Rewards and flexibility
For Jacky, taking a student from zero driving experience to a fully-qualified restricted driver delivers enormous satisfaction. ‘But for me, it’s all about safety. It’s not about just getting the student through the test process; it’s about knowing that once they’ve been through that test, I can sleep at night safe in the knowledge that they are safe on the road. Students thank me for giving them that confidence – I find that incredibly rewarding.’
And she also loves the flexibility the business brings with it. Jacky chooses how many hours she works, dovetailing those hours in with family life. ‘If I want to take a holiday, I simply arrange for no bookings to be taken for the required days off – simple!’
A typical workday for Jacky normally starts after 9am when she’s taken her dog for a long walk. ‘That puts me in the right frame of mind, and I also limit my number of lessons to five a day to ensure each student gets the quality of service they deserve.’
The AA Driving School is currently looking for new franchisee instructors throughout the country, says Roger Venn, the brand’s General Manager.
‘Investment levels start from $30,000+gst, which includes training, your annual brand fee and vehicle. Top instructors can generate income of well over $80,000 a year, and we have many successful part-time operators too.
‘When you join the team at the AA, you will be working with an iconic brand and you’ll also have amazing benefits available to you, including a fully-equipped Suzuki with dual controls and in-car cameras. And, as Jacky has found out, there’s a centralised booking system and call centre that handles the flow of leads coming in.’
In a good place
Jacky says there are many qualities that help define good instructors, ‘But it helps if you’re personable, open to different people and age-groups, and respectful of all ethnicities. You’ve also got to be a fun person. I like to have a bit of a laugh with clients when the time is right.’
And after almost a year in business, Jacky is happy to report that her franchise has more than met her expectations. ‘I’m in a good place. I absolutely love it, I know what I’m doing, I’m making good money and I’m confident.’ She plans to grow her business further, and has already had the opportunity to undergo advanced driving assessment training.
She particularly enjoys the variety of people she teaches – from teenagers to senior citizens. ‘There are so many interesting people with such wonderful stories to tell. I can’t ever see myself doing anything else – I’ll never go back to working in an office.’
Roger says there are plenty of opportunities around the country for new part- and full-time AA Driving School franchisees, ‘So if you are motivated, commercially-minded and have the right qualities, this is a chance to join the most respected brand in New Zealand motoring and build an enjoyable and rewarding business. Contact us today or visit the website to find out more.’
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