In this the first of a two-part series, we will look at digital transformation within Australia, and how this has accelerated during Covid-19. Technology is a tool, and you need to be using it to make your business as efficient and competitive as possible. Driver training is no exception and is arguably one of the business areas undergoing the most rapid changes in Australia and abroad. I will share with you some of our observations in how the industry is adopting technology both here and overseas.

Growth of Online (and yes that includes Driver Training!)

We have all heard and read plenty of stats regarding online retail and purchasing. I personally do not concern myself with exact numbers, but the trend is the same across all the sources – Australia’s online purchasing is growing rapidly and in many ways Australia punches above its weight given our small population. And yes, “online purchasing” includes the Driver Training industry. The services sector generally has moved online. It makes a lot of sense – it gives you broader reach, efficiencies, supports growth of your business but most of all because your customers expect it.

A few stats anyway…
1. Australian Ecommerce market value will be A$35.2 billion by 2021.

Australia is currently the 10th largest ecommerce market in the world by revenue.
Ecommerce in Australia will continue to grow over the upcoming years. The market size will be about A$35.2 billion (US$ 25.2 billion) by 2021. (Source: Statista)

2. Eight out of ten Australians shop online.

By 2020, every one out of ten items will be bought online. As of February 2019, 80.8% of people in Australia are shopping online and very soon one out of every ten items will be purchased off ecommerce stores. By 2021, the ecommerce market penetration rate will reach 85.2%, and the number of people buying online will be 22.0 million. (Source: Statista, Australia Post)

3. Third-party mobile and online payments are gaining popularity.

Currently, 47% of online shoppers in Australia use credit cards to buy products online. 29% of Australians use services like PayPal. While these are the 2019 standings, third-party payment systems or E-wallets like PayPal, Alipay, or Amazon Payments are seeing a rise in the future. By 2023 about 37% of online payments will be processed via e- wallets.(Source: Statista)

As an aside on this point, we’ve observed a significant % increase in credit card payments for driving lessons during the Covid-19 pandemic. And this is not a bad thing – as we’ll see later, getting your payments in electronically provides superior customer service and experience as well as saving you time and increasing profitability.

Covid-19 has Accelerated the Pace of Change

Australia, as is most parts of our planet is midst a societal pause, like most of us could ever have seen coming or likely to experience such an event again. In recent times our leaders have had the tough challenges of balancing the well-being of our nation by enforcing social distancing, opening and then having to close borders whilst maintaining some direction across multiple industries, non the less our driving sector which has been heavily impacted with test centres having to be shut down and in some cases closed again.

The real cost financially and emotionally to so many is hard to comprehend. What this shutdown has demonstrated is that it will take some time to get back to ‘normal’ but importantly whatever our view of ‘technology’ was before the pandemic, we have all experienced in many ways how technology has helped keep us all ‘connected’. Technology continues to transform our life and our businesses. The future is already here as we explore unchartered digital waters with the need to learn more about how emerging technologies are reshaping our world and our industry.

In my local area in Brisbane, I’ve seen businesses pivoting offering the ‘online appointment’ channel. For Hairdressers, Doctors, Physiotherapists, Therapists – online bookings has long been the norm, and coffee shops, restaurants, delivery services to mention a few, have all found new ways to survive. Leading Driving Schools of all sizes are transforming their businesses with technology, should you be doing the same?

What Should You Focus On?
In my opinion, technology is a great tool and can be used to help your business at several levels, including:
1. Customer Experience – lots to do here
2. Efficiency – start automating the tedious manual things that hold you back
3. Marketing – improve your online presence, ratings, and product offerings Focussing on these areas and leveraging technology will help you remain  competitive and grow your business.

7 Ways to Kick-Start Your Business with Technology

Customer experience is your customers’ holistic perception of their experience with your Driving School. Their experience is the result of every interaction they have with your School, from navigating your website, selecting and paying for their lessons through to receiving the service they have bought from you. Nothing can replace the human element and your education expertise, but you want the tasks around this to take place seamlessly.

Typically, ‘Cloud’ based software allows you to access everything in your business 24/7 from anywhere on any device and will be automatically backed up.

1. Customer “experience” – is the overall perception of your driving school. Comparatively, customer “service” refers to specific touchpoints within the “experience”. Start by looking at how your customers find you and then interact with you to do business. Look at your end-to-end business process and consider using a cloud-based Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system that is compliant, stores your student’s personal information securely and is backed up, and not in your paper diary, your mobile phone or in standalone calendar such as Google or iCal. Don’t get me wrong, these standalone calendars can be a good starting point, but they only perform one function in your business, and are not fully integrated with your end-to-end business process and therefore unable to provide the type of customer experience or efficiencies an integrated driving industry solution provides overnight.

2. Online Bookings – as much as 35% of online bookings are done outside of core business hours as customers demand tools to make their lives easier to book driving lessons. These days, this can be easily done by adding a booking widget to your website or your Facebook page meaning you providing multiple digital channels to your customers allowing them to book lessons 24/7. This means they not having to wait for returned phone calls, sending multiple SMS’s, and emails to be returned or, for you to finish your driving lesson. Think of the stress this will take out of your busy training schedule?

3. Compliance – as our industry is rapidly moving to digital away from cash, ensure your payment gateway integrates across your business, from your website, through your CRM, right through to your cloud-based bookkeeping systems such as Xero for your BAS reporting.

4. Marketing – as we truly embrace the digital era, many will know that paying for AdWords is not a long-term sustainable strategy to generate leads. Many schools pay significant costs to Google each month to compete for new leads as the competition tightens so start investing in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) skills.

You would be surprised that with a little consistent effort you can rank well in Google and build your brand online and not have to rely on AdWords.

5. Put your driving school on autopilot and automate repetitive daily tasks such SMS notifications for your bookings and reschedules. If you count the number of hours spent texting in one year, it is staggering so value your time: remember why you went into business and that is to create a lifestyle for you and your family, not to be consumed by the business: time equals money or relaxation.

6. Stop paying unnecessary bookkeeping fees and allow your bookings to flow seamlessly into the latest cloud-based bookkeeping software making your life easier in an instant. Save countless hours in manual data entry by providing a faster more reliable and accurate way to report your BAS.

7. Enhance your online brand through integrated technology to provide better ways for customer engagement. Good industry solutions will have other “value add” options that you can utilise as your business grows, to offer more to your customers and thereby increase lesson fees, market share or both.

Use a General Booking System or Technology Designed for Driving Schools?

Full disclosure here, I am Managing Director of YLOODrive, a state-of-the-art cloud-based technology platform designed for the driving industry only which integrates with your existing processes and give you the ability to manage all aspects of your business. I have also built a driving school and taught many hundreds of students myself. As such I am in favour of industry specific software rather than generic booking systems, and these are my top reasons for saying so:

1. We should all be committed to improving road safety and standards, and only an industry specific solution has the functionality and continued regulatory focus to help support this.
2. You are not a hairdresser, so using a generic hairdresser (or whatever) system is not going to cover all the intricacies in our niche industry. Nor will it give you the ability to differentiate yourself from the competition.
3. The industry is moving rapidly here and overseas, and only a software partner who is committed 100% purely to the driver trainer industry will develop its platform specifically for our industry, giving you the best base for building a robust, sustainable driving school businesses, and improving road safety.

Don’t leave your success to chance or let the competition leave you behind. I recommend you start your transition from offline to online today.

Next Article…
In the next article we will explore some themes in more detail, plus share observations on current trends within Australia and Overseas.

About the author: Dion Changuion is Managing Director of YLOODrive, a speaker, a passionate trainer in road safety and an active participant in the ADTA where he actively is helping address the industry’s need to change to the digital era. For more information visit:
https://www.yloodrive.com or phone (07) 3841-6665