Driving Instructor Interview
Mike Spooner, iDrive and ADI Events Ltd

Mike Spooner iDrive Driving School and ADI Events Ltd

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Mike Spooner on the origin of The Driving Instructor Show

We sat down with Mike Spooner, driving instructor and organiser of The Driving Instructor Show, ahead of the free event for everyone in the driver and rider training industry. We chatted through his history as an instructor and why he felt the industry was missing a proper big trade show.

To kick us off, how long have you been a ADI?

It's been about 9 years now.

Why did you become an ADI?

I was sort of forced into it, made redundant. I ran an antique business, one in Portobello Road in London and even in the Bermondsey Market. This is quite a rough place. Interesting fact, this is where most of the illegal guns in the UK are kept!

I used to go and collect the rent and I had a minder - a big guy called Steve. He had the idea of training to be an ADI.

As an organiser I was responsible for everything, but the industry shifted and became more bitty, which I didn't enjoy, so, I wanted a bit of a change.

I trained with the AA, passed all the bits first time, miraculously. Took a franchise, and they kicked it all off for me.

A friend said, If you get 30% of your business without the AA, you should look at going independent.

Other industries have these exhibitions and our industry doesn’t.

What was the inspiration for The Driving Instructor Show?

Two reasons I suppose, I was happy just being an ADI, but when I look back at when I ran events, I knew they were always free to go to and meet key players in the industry.

Other industries have these exhibitions and our industry doesn't.

I wanted to learn about new products in the industry. I want to go up to someone on a stand and speak to them about their product!

The second reason, it was a little extra cash!

Gentleman using driving simulation at the 2018 Driving Instructor Show

When did you start The Driving Instructor Show?

February 2016. I contacted the DIA and they very enthusiastic about the whole thing and were keen to sponsor it.

What has been the biggest achievement of The Driving Instructor Show?

You're only as good as your last show. The 2018 show was good. Lots of exhibitors and I filled out the larger hall too.

Where do you want to take The Driving Instructor Show?

Continue to do exhibitions along the same lines. Although there is a possibility that I might branch out into other industry as well.

For learners, before they get in a car for their first lesson, what 3 things would you like them to know?

  • The price of my lessons
  • Learning to drive is a skill and not a right
  • This is a dangerous machine and you have to careful with it

What’s your biggest horror story from teaching someone to drive?

I had a pupil 3 years ago who, if he panicked, would lock his arms and wouldn’t do anything — He would face straight ahead and keep his arms locked.

I had to grab the wheel and jump in... he did pass first time though!

In the last 5 years, what do you think is the biggest change in the industry?

The price. In Essex, the price has gone up. When I started teaching people to drive we charged £20 per hour. I now charge £30 - that’s quite a jump.

What do you think will be the biggest change to the industry in the next 5 years?

Many more people using electric and hybrid cars. Having to teach people automatic cars. More instructors will be doing this.

2 women enjoying their time at the 2018 Driving Instructor Show

In your experience, what are the top 5 traits of an ADI?

  1. Patience
  2. Perseverance
  3. Calm attitude
  4. Professionalism
  5. Continuously improving, getting better each year

What’s your advice for new PDIs?

Don’t be put off by what people say about it. See it as a profession that, unfortunately, you won’t earn millions from, but you will make a lot people very happy and that will make you happy to.

It’s a great feeling seeing lots of people pass.

Mike Spooner's Driving Instructor Show is on May 19th in the Kent Event Centre. You can get your free ticket today. See you there!

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