As the year comes to an end, DRIVE 321 has reached the impressive milestone of five years in business.
Since starting in 2018, DRIVE 321 has gone from strength to strength and has been able to amass over 100 driving instructors nationwide while competing with a challenging and ever-changing industry.
DRIVE 321 was founded by Anthony Johnson, a driving instructor in Milton Keynes who has been helping learners to drive since 2005.
We spoke to Anthony Johnson to find out how he was able to begin a new business and tackle an ever-changing industry whilst also juggling a new business with his existing driving schools.
What made you start up DRIVE 321?
“When 2018 started, the driving instructor industry was incredibly different to today’s landscape, and I don’t believe many instructors would imagine the position we would be in after the past five years.
“I made the decision to start DRIVE 321 as we saw a gap in the driving instructor market that we could capitalise on. We were having lots of enquiries from people wanting to become driving instructors, and we couldn’t accommodate this with our current driving school.
“To tackle the number of enquiries we had, we began DRIVE 321 with the intention of helping train up driving instructors, creating a fleet of Grade-A driving instructors that would help learners pass fast and with confidence.”
How was the growth of DRIVE 321 when it began?
“Having been in the industry for over 13 years, I had several contacts jumping at the opportunity to move up in their career and become driving instructor trainers.
“Being able to start the company from scratch allowed us to create an environment and ethos that would see the business flourish and grow. We only brought on instructors that matched our vision. We made this decision in the early stages of the company as it allowed us to expand into new locations without the fear of the quality of lessons that our driving instructors were providing.
“Thanks to the marketing we were doing, we were able to get these instructors busy quickly, and within a year, we were providing driving lessons in London, Milton Keynes and Birmingham.
“Unlike many new companies that start up, we got off to a tremendous start with the best possible team, which propelled us to success.
What difficulties did you encounter over the last five years?
“For the first two years, we were able to go from strength to strength and had learners nationwide want to start with us along with instructors wanting to join our driving school franchise.
“However, that suddenly changed in 2020 when COVID-19 hit, and the country went on a nationwide lockdown. At the time, we had only been in business for two years and dealt with the growth at a comfortable rate, but that all slowed when the majority of lessons were cancelled.
“Thankfully, we were able to continue teaching in a limited capacity by offering driving lessons for key workers, and whilst this allowed some work to continue, we could continue taking bookings for when the lockdown was lifted.
“During this time, we needed to ensure that we were both keeping with the current lockdown conditions while also helping our instructors stay calm and confident that things would improve in the future.”
What takeaways have you got after five years in business?
“The main thing that we have learned after five years is that you have to continue to adapt and evolve; otherwise, the business won’t continue to grow. We have had a great five years where the company prospered, and we will enter 2024 on the up.
“We are only in this position as we have continued to build up a team that supports and develops our instructors. All of our team members have a shared value and commitment to growing the company, and we all share in its success.
“If I were to restart the company or offer advice to new businesses, I would always make sure that the first thing built up is the team around you, as they are the reason DRIVE 321 has gone from strength to strength.”
DRIVE 321 celebrates five years in business