The father-and-son instructing team reveal how they created and grew the award-winning driving school, WrightStart.
Created by the father and son team, Andy and Lewis Wright in 2013, WrightStart has been a huge success story, culminating in winning a place in the Small Business Saturday 100, the annual event that celebrates the very best in British small business.
Theory Test Pro talks to the father-son team about their business and how being related has helped boost their company’s fortunes.
How long have you both been ADIs? Lewis: I qualified in September 2012 and Andy shortly after in March 2013. We formed WrightStart in 2013 so we’ve been officially working together for nearly four years now and going from strength to strength!
What was the inspiration behind becoming ADIs? Lewis: I always wanted to become a driving instructor ever since my first driving lesson. I knew from an early age I wanted to be a teacher of some kind and when I found out I was a natural at driving, I knew it was the right career choice for me. So I enrolled onto an ADI training course as soon as I was eligible at 21. My father Andy then saw that it was a good move and decided to have a career change.
Andy: I had previously been working as a computer engineer, a job that I enjoyed but I knew that there was more to life than putting in a lot of work hours for little credit. Several people had suggested to me over the years that I would make a good driving instructor because my previous job had entailed teaching and training. Having seen what was involved as Lewis went through the process, I decided to take the plunge and have a complete career change.
What is the appeal of the job for you both? Lewis: I thoroughly enjoy sharing skills and knowledge with other people and seeing their learning progress plus it’s great to be your own boss and not be stuck in an office environment.
Andy: I knew the benefits and pitfalls of running my own company as my brother had run his own business for over 30 years and it seemed the right time to make that big commitment before I reached the age of 50.
How would you describe your teaching style? Do you differ from one another? Lewis: I would say that we are very similar in teaching styles as we were both trained by the same instructor. We also regularly discuss techniques and ideas and use the same lesson plans although I prefer my way of teaching the parallel park to Andy’s. Also, having similar teaching styles works really well if one of us is off sick or working away as we use the same cars and can cater for the others pupils in our diary when necessary.
What’s your favourite and least favourite part of the job? Lewis: I love teaching anything I thrive at and showing others how to do it. I would probably say the worst part of the job is the constant car cleaning although I normally pass the buck on that one.
Andy: I find the best part of the job is the end result; a confident pupil who has a good understanding and application of the skills of driving, all culminating in a test pass with as few minors as possible. My least favourite part is probably having to say ‘sorry we can’t fit you in”. I always like to accommodate where possible but even I need a break sometimes!
When and why did you decide to go into business together? Lewis: Two brains are better than one and we obviously have the benefit of both youth and experience, which works incredibly well as we can bounce ideas off of each other. I knew from a young age I wanted to run my own business and to have the opportunity to do that with the support of my father was excellent!
There are many benefits to working together as a duo; we can share amazing ideas and spread the risk when introducing new services which solo instructors can struggle with. I do have to say though that when we are at family events, we sometimes struggle to switch off!” – Son Lewis Wright on working with his father, Andy.
How do you run the business together? How do you allocate responsibilities? Lewis: Over the last few years as we have started to grow in size, we have found more and more jobs need doing so dividing up responsibilities has been essential.
Andy: Generally, Lewis works on business growth and development along with looking after our sister company WrightStart Experiences, which is a junior driving school for under 17s. I manage all pupils and bookings plus vehicles and networking with our affiliate companies.
What is the current state of your business and your plans for the future? Lewis: Business is currently booming, we have a constant stream of pupil referrals and long may this continue. In fact we need two instructors at present to join our growing team. There are some big plans for the future – we are launching something in the New Year which could change the face of the driving industry but for now we’re keeping our cards close to our chest.
Why do you feel you have been so successful? Lewis: Success is hard to achieve and has taken a lot of time and effort; we are still working hard to get where we really want to be. I feel the reason behind WrightStart’s success so far is consistency, professionalism and our market-leading website that our pupils can utilise alongside lessons.
Andy: Being a father and son team definitely offers a quirky edge that works in our favour too!
Tell us more about the Small Business Saturday Award you won this year. Lewis: Small Business Saturday is an exceptional example of collaboration and co-operation with small businesses teaming up in communities around the UK. It is all about working together and promoting local suppliers and companies instead of using large national chains and brands. It is so refreshing to buy from local people and know that it is making a difference to a real person and their families.
What do you believe were the main reasons for winning a place in the Small Business Saturday’s Small Biz 100? Andy: As a driving school, we strive to work as a business that partners with other local people to promote driving products to our customers. We look after all our customers even after they have passed their tests by providing help and guidance on their driving needs and putting them in touch with trusted professionals. This is a key part to Small Business Saturday.
What advice would you give to ADIs who want to expand their business and broaden their horizons? Lewis: I would definitely encourage instructors to treat their job as a real and proper business; it has to be profitable and creating a thorough business plan is essential to achieving this. Stick to what your good at, move with the times and ensure you know exactly what your target market wants. In other words, do your research.
As a long term user of Theory Test Pro, how do you find the system helps your students? Andy: We have been with Theory Test Pro for a number of years now and cannot fault the system and the support behind the scenes. It is a fantastic tool which is fully integrated within our website and is actively used among our pupils. The software is definitely a key part of helping our students learn.