Is the traditional “pay-in” approach relevant to the digital age?

It’s how it has always been done, so I am told! Instructors collect payments at the time of the driving lesson and pay the driving school a share of the proceeds, often called a commission.

There are some variations of this business model which may include the driving school being paid directly, usually for a gift voucher or a prepaid package deal, in which case the driving school pays-out a commission to the instructor.

The weekly ritual of the instructor and driving school proprietor meeting to summarise and confirm the pay-in or pay-out would appear to have missed the digital age!

Those same instructors, driving school owners and their customers use the internet daily for banking, shopping, socialising and consuming information. so how is it that instructors and driving school owners do not see the relevance of ecommerce to their business?

Digital capability for driving schools is multifaceted and there is the need for;
1. a website,
2. digital marketing,
3. a scheduler/diary,
4. accounting and banking,
5. communication system
6. Instructor management, and
5. Ecommerce.

Customers want the convenience of shopping online. In the context of a driving school this means booking, paying, cancelling, rescheduling, nominating start and end addresses, transmission preferences etc. but is also means making package deals available which are a common industry sales technique to increase the average number of lessons, and commit customers to a program.

To provide self service as a viable option to customers there is a need to ensure that the system is simple to use. It is the built in intelligence that ensures that nothing can go wrong including double booking instructors or cars; booking the wrong transmission type; getting the wrong start and end addresses; booking the right lesson type; booking a lesson when not available or in an location that is not serviced by the business; and finally not taking phantom bookings increasing no shows and cancellations.

So if an online customer portal could deal with the above concerns, how would it handle payment options in an industry that predominately still requires payment at the time of the lesson and a weekly commission reconciliation and “pay-in” by the instructor to the driving school?

The answer lies in a flexible and responsive solution to customer payment preferences. This means that customers should choose their payment method, unless they book directly online in which case they should pay at the time of the booking. And therefore any business system should be flexible enough to facilitate multiple options.

Customers should enjoy the choice of paying by credit card, cash to the instructor, eft to the driving school, cheque, cash to the driving school, redemption of package and gift vouchers etc.

This customer focused approach requires all stakeholders (administrators, instructors and operators) clearly know the payment option so that there is no confusion or uncollectable debts as a result of not getting paid by the end of the lesson! provides a unique enterprise system not only being able to provide absolute customer choice, but also integrated accounting systems to keep track of customer transactions and receivables, commissions due to or from instructors based on who collected payments, reconciliation reports etc.

Not only does provide a better customer experience, reduced unpaid lessons, simplified reconciliations and reporting on commissions, but it also unlocks growth potential.

A well designed integrated software solution can flexibly provide many alternatives methods for receipting. The system will show clearly which customers have outstanding fees and who is to collect them and who did collected the fees and then account correctly for commissions.

Tony Commisso FCA, BA (Accounting) An experienced business coach and adviser, Fellow Chartered Accountant that makes a difference to SME's seeking operational improvement and systemisation, profit improvement or exist strategies. As a natural leader he drives people to achieve their goals.

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Posted in Blog, Business processes, ecommerce, Online bookings, Software, Technology

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