Many people find paying for a driving instructor is outrageous, even when it is less than a plumber. People will pay $90 an hour for a clogged drain or toilet but $90 an hour for a driving instructor teaching a life skill is too much, but that should and would be a reasonable price.
Fortunately not every person thinks this way, but in a society that was given so called free driving lessons for years, (there is no free driving lesson it was paid through taxes, tariffs and thickets) ,it is hard for that society to adjust to the concept of paying for driving lessons.
Of course the other part of the story is that most parents believe they can teach their child to drive correctly and safely, even though as they drive on a daily bases they comment on the other bad drivers, those drivers are parents also. As a veteran of 33 years in the industry I can assure you nothing is further from the truth. Just because you can brush your teeth does not make you a Dentist or a dental hygienist. Just because you can administer aspirin and cold medicine or clean a cut and put a Band-Aid on does not make you a doctor. Just because you can saw and hammer does not make you a carpenter. I could go on and on but I am sure most of you are getting the picture.
So, why do so many people resent paying for driving lessons, that administered well could reduce financial losses in their future not to mention issues of life and injury. My guess is they just do not give it enough thought, because if they did they would know that if the professional is good it is worth every penny, but there lies the rub. How do I tell if a school or professional is worth what they are asking for?
Here are a few pointers and red flags you should be looking for.
1. Anything less than 8 times minimum wage should be suspect
a. any instructor making minimum wage about $8-9 per hour cannot make a living and will not stay with the job and become a professional.
b. Even at twice minimum wage if they are not working 35-40 hours a week they are struggling.
2. Gas per hour in a lesson runs any where from $4-6 an hour between lesson time and coming and going.
3. Commercial liability insurance is required and is far more expensive than personal liability insurance.
4. Car payments can run on new cars between $250 to $500 a month depending on variable factors of interest rates money paid down and cost of car and years of payments.
5. Schools operating with old cars or second hand cars should be a concern and scrutinized closely. Some are in good condition, many are not.
6. Advertising costs vary and are expensive, they can add on average $15 to $50 an hour on a rate per hour.
7. Office expenses, and staff for an office are expensive, but the public never considers them as they are rarely seen, they think all they are paying for is a car and an instructor.
8. City tax is paid on gross earnings, State taxes and Federal taxes are paid on net earnings, if there are any earnings after all is said and done. This is an area that is often abused, by schools as it is not easily detected without audits.
9. Administrative costs such as licensing and bonding fees with the Department of Motor vehicles.
10. Communication devices ie. phones, GPS systems, and I-pads.
11. Vehicle maintenance and up keep.
All of the above cannot be delivered under an average of $50 an hour in this day and age, unless it is a sole provider working out of their home. Other than that SHORT CUTS are being taken, some legal, some not, some you may not care about, some you might. This of course does not take into consideration making a profit that all companies generally are trying to achieve. So here is the issue most professional schools are charging in the area of $55-$70 an hour presently in 2012, and depending on their particular over head in today’s market it is the going rate for a school trying to stay in business legitimately. Any sole and sustained prices under $50 an hour are suspect and really should be scrutinized by the public more closely.
Look for DSAC (Driving School Association of California) schools, get referrals, but above all do not base your choice on price or “the instructor was so nice”, what about competent and nice. Above all do not ask why some one is so expensive, ask why someone is so cheap.