Driving Instructor Interview

Mian Qasim on learning from your community and teaching yourself new skills during Coronavirus

GoRoadie CEO, Michael Carr, checks in with Mian Qasim of MQW Driving School on how he's coping during the COVID-19 pandemic and how he's sharing much needed information.

Today I'm joined by Mian Qasim of MQW Driving School from Leeds and we're going to be talking about how Coronavirus has effected his business and anything else that's on his mind. How are you doing today, Mian?

I'm fine. Not bad. Yourself?

Really good. Just working away, trying to stay productive and keep focussed.

Yeah, that's what we're all trying to do.

How has Coronavirus effected you and your business?

Coronavirus had a huge effect on the business. I'm very close to Leeds University, the news spread around and the students know they're not going to have tests going on and exams are cancelled. Their parents knew flights were to be cancelled, so all my students have flown back to their countries — to their home towns and cities. The Universities are empty and almost half Leeds city is empty.

So, actually, that started before it was announced things would be shut down. I don't see myself having business, which started since the 1st of March. With the kids scared and the parents are scared, I don't know when they will come back and when the business will come back as well.

What we've made in the last 1 or 2 years [as instructors], is also going out. I've tried to do many things at home. I started making a theory test workshop online to give online workshops. I'll give that in the classroom too when the students come back. Give it once or twice a month for a full day.

I started making videos for my YouTube channel and my subscribers are increasing.

Why have you started giving theory test workshops?

It's distance learning, one of the things many people are doing right now. They want to learn, but they don't want to be with you. Remote learning is distance learning and these workshops are made very easy for people to understand, from the basics to the top. So, if you do these workshops each day, you won't need to spend so much time going into the different apps, completing one, then going for another app until it says "You have to pay for the full version to get the full hazard perception".

A problem is, when people come for driving lessons, they say "I've passed my theory with full marks" and then when we drive in the car and they don't stop for the zebra crossing and I ask why they didn't stop, they say "Oh, did I have to stop there?". You're thinking; "That's a theory questions. Didn't you say you passed your theory with full marks?". I'd expect them, by now if they've passed their theory — repeating it again and again — to know this by now.

My objective for my students in MQW Driving School is to give them a chance to come to my theory workshops online or in a classroom. I will teach them every single thing they need to know to pass their theory, or do their practical driving test, in a very easy way.

That's why I decided to spend all my COVID-19, staying at home in isolation time, to do something creative, to help my students along.

I think that's fantastic. What else are you doing with your time?

The second thing I'm doing is I started making videos for my YouTube channel and my subscribers are increasing as well. On my channel, MQW Driving School Ratings are going up, views are going up.

I'm showing people what to do in the test, the kinds of roundabouts they will find around the test centres, what the Leeds routes look like.

What would be your advice to other instructors?

First, I'd say to stay connected via Facebook Groups. All the instructors, all the mentors, all the coaching trainers, they're all there to help you.

I think we are surviving because of the good things we've done in the past. Sharing how to run the business, how much money to keep from lessons, for insurance, saving for your rainy days. I'm almost happy to show my diary to anyone to see how I'm doing on past days — It's not just driving instructor work, it's a business. You have to learn how the business works.

How do you think the driving instructor industry will change after the Coronavirus?

We have 40,000 driving instructors registered. Some people are new. If you just came in to this business and see that on average we charge £25 per manual lesson. But it's not £25 per lesson. Initial expenses first, all the business costs, then the remaining money is the actual money you take, which many say are £11 or £10. So, think about your calculations when you come to the industry.

My advice is think before you come into the industry.

How are the DVSA doing in your eyes?

I think they're doing very well, in that they're pushing more the ORDIT trainer. You can still train with anyone, but the ORDIT trainer job is not just to make you pass Part 1 or pass Part 2, but they have the responsibility to teach you everything from zero.

In this stage of the Coronavirus they cancelled the driving test, that's a good thing and gave 3 months time. I think the DVSA should have, like with other driving tests, just say everything is stopped until a certain time period and they will resume at another time. It looks very different for the students, as they're ringing us up, asking us everything, but we don't have the true answer.

Is they anything else you'd like to share?

Stay safe when you go back. Don't forget to your pupils: Did you ever lockdown yourself? Was anyone in your family at the hospital for this? Have you been hospitalised and recovered? Have you been positive for the virus and recovered? Ask all the questions you can on the phone before you meet them and make up your mind.

Have extra gloves in your car, a box for you and one for your customers. Two hand sanitisers, one for you and your customers. Use the gloves, sanitisers and masks as much as possible. You don't want to on any germs into your house from your car, from anyone. You don't want to pass on the germs to someone else.

Thanks for your time and I'll catch up with you soon.

Thank you.

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