Driving school business productivity series – minimising orphan time could make you $15,600 pa!


If you have gaps in your daily schedule which is insufficient to fit a standard appointment but more than your required travel time you have lost income represented by the unused productive time. This phenomenon is most prevalent in multiple-channel driving schools which means that the instructor is not the sole appointment scheduler. Multiple channel driving schools may have a booking office, and/or an online self-service booking systems.

As an example of the financial impact that arises from orphan time lets assume that your standard lesson price is $65, the required travel time is 30 minutes and the gap between appointments is 1 hour, your orphan time is 30 minutes and $32.50 has been forgone as a result of the poor scheduling. Furthermore, if the there were no further instances of orphan time during the daily schedule there will be a loss of time at the end of the day. Accordingly the best result will be a loss of income equal to $65.

Repeat more instances of orphan time throughout the week, month and year and the financial impact of the lost income opportunity is significant. An hour lost each day equates to a staggering $15,600 pa!

Scheduling to avoid orphan time is a fundamental business best practice requiring a booking process that inherently reduces the opportunity for orphan time to creep into the diary. It also requires discipline of scheduling staff to ensure that the structured booking process is followed, and that a rules based algorithm for the online booking system is used to ensure that customers do not create orphan time.

The booking process that Elpo Technology Pty Ltd developed for my own driving school and then implemented in drivingschoolmanager.com.au is based on determining the optimum time slots each day and offering customers those times. It is a rules based system designed to optimise productivity.

Customers are generally flexible so it does not make much difference if the start time is 2pm or 2.30pm for example. And this is the case even when they ask for 2pm! However for the instructor the productivity gain of ensuring optimum utilisation is worth a considerable financial benefit.

Of course, there are always exceptions to any rule and drivingschoolmanager.com.au allows operators and administrators to override the standard allocated time slots based on business rules, to meet requirements of the business, for example back to back bookings for siblings at the same home.

However, a self-service online booking system should not allow customers to determine start times as so many available schedulers allow. This approach is a sure way to suffer the financial losses that arises from orphan time.

Tony Commisso FCA, BA (Accounting) Tony is a an experienced business adviser and chartered accountant and former a partner with Deloitte. He has operated a successful driving school in Canberra, Australia and through application of his professional skills and passion for excellence has developed a range of specialist skills in the successful operation and growth of driving school businesses. He has co-founded Elpo Technology Pty Ltd a developer of a comprehensive online business solution for driving schools which includes a customer ecommerce interface and leverages modern cloud technology for managing a mobile workforce of driving instructors.

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Posted in Blog, Business processes, Customer service, ecommerce, Online bookings, Software

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