Because in this way advantage is taken of the capital you have invested in the different branches and the overheads for secretaries, rental, advertising and so on. These costs exist from the moment you open the door. When you buy heavy vehicles the only fixed cost you add is the monthly repayment of the loan to purchase them (for 5 or 7 years).
On the other hand, the pupil and their circle of friends and relatives stay with the driving school, building up loyalty and generating a solid customer base. Everybody is aware that the pupil "belongs" to the last driving school they went to rather than to the one which put more work in on their initial training.
Finally, the real business of a driving school is the driving practice classes for any of the licenses. Just teaching the HGV theory courses is like keeping the cherry and throwing away the cake.
Trucks and buses provide a way into the vast world of goods and passenger transport.
The opportunities begin with the CPC or Certificate of Professional Competence (obligatory from 11th September 2008 onwards for bus drivers and from 11th September 2009 for truck drivers). This certificate calls for an initial training of 140 or 280 hours and a refresher course every 5 years.
The next line of business involves licenses to carry hazardous goods under the ADR (European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road). Like the CPC it requires initial training and then a refresher course every five years.
Finally there are professional refresher courses connected with transport such as courses in loading, for fork-lift truck, excavator and crane drivers and endless possibilities for initial and continuing training in the world of transport.
The way to start is with trucks, for the simple reason that there are more trucks on the road than buses. In general terms, there are more job opportunities in goods transport and there will therefore always be more pupils interested in this type of license.
However, it is worth looking at competing driving schools. It may be the case that all of them started off with trucks, forgetting the market for training bus drivers. In this case it would be advisable to start with a bus with a highly striking appearance: this, backed up by aggressive advertising aimed at potential pupils and bus fleet operators, can provide a successful start with heavy vehicles.
It is also important to get to know the area where the driving school branches are situated. For example, in the centre of large cities there are likely to be pupils interested in driving a bus and less potential trailer truck drivers.
Absolutely not. These are very much minority licenses as pupils can usually go for a higher class of license for the same cost. In the very few cases which might arise the pupils must be allowed to go to one of the ever fewer driving schools which still have vehicles for these licenses. From late 2013 onwards it will be almost impossible to find a driving school with a "C1" truck in its fleet as this is when the extension period ends for all-purpose vehicles for the three license categories "C1", "C" and "C+E" registered with the driving school before 19th October 2004.
Without any doubt an articulated unit or trailer truck is better than a road train. There are two reasons for this:
The first reason is that with a road train it is almost impossible to do the track test on a closed circuit. This is because the unit has two articulation points: the coupling on the truck and the front steer axle on the trailer. While backing during any of the manoeuvres, the trailer will jack-knife so quickly that the pupil will have no time to make any corrections.
The second reason, no less important, is that it is more difficult to drive a road train than an articulated truck. This is due to the minimum sizes of the vehicles: a road train is made up of an 8-metre long truck for the "C" license and a trailer with a box measuring 7.5 metres which, added to the 1.5-metre drawbar, comes to a minimum overall length of 17 metres. When you drive with a road train you watch the rear wheel of the truck but it is hard to see whether the rear wheel of the trailer is about to mount the kerb. It is very common to hear it said that a trailer with a front steer axle follows the truck’s wheel track and this is true in cases where the trailer has a body of about 5 metres in length as required in the 1997 driver regulations, but not in the case of the current regulations which insist on a 7.5-metre box. The trailer of a road train currently has a wheelbase of about 4 metres, which makes it "eat" corners unless an expert driver can turn out further so that the rear wheel of the trailer does not mount the kerb.
On the other hand, the minimum length of a trailer truck is only 14 metres (3 less than the road train), which makes it easier to control as it is only necessary to watch the wheel of the semitrailer as it goes round corners.
Of course. The investment can be made in two stages, but doing it like this has two disadvantages:
The first disadvantage is that the pupil has to do more than twice as much driving practice for the "C+E" license as for category "C" (both on track and in traffic). This means that if you do not have a vehicle for the "C+E" category when you start out in the HGV sector you will be wasting the best opportunity for business with heavy vehicles. While it is true that there are always more pupils for category "C" than for "C+E", the latter generate more profit than the extra cost of buying an all-purpose trailer truck for categories "C" and "C+E" as compared to a straight truck for "C".
The second disadvantage is losing the "C+E" pupil to a competing driving school. If you do not have a vehicle for category "C+E" you are handing over both the pupil and their circle of friends and relatives on a plate.
The choice will depend on the number of pupils expected within six months of starting. If the answer is 30 or more (adding together those in categories "C" and "C+E") you will have to buy specific vehicles, i.e. a straight truck, a tractor truck and a semitrailer, or even better a set consisting of an all-purpose trailer truck and a straight truck. The reason for this is the maximum of 8 pupils per vehicle allowed by Spanish traffic authorities and one test a week, which comes to 30 a month. Above this figure two motorised vehicles are needed. With these, not only is the capacity doubled but also it is easier to fit the driving practice into the hours where all the pupils are concentrated.
For the few cases of a large starting volume, there is another even better alternative: to buy a "C" and "C+E" all-purpose trailer truck and a "C" straight truck. With this pairing you will have the most efficient combination, as the trucks will always be working. As there are always more pupils for category "C" than for "C+E" (we estimate the ratio to be 80:20), you can have both trucks working for category "C" and one of them will work only some of the time for category "C+E".
If the option of specific vehicles is chosen, the trailer truck is condemned to being inefficient. In all probability there will be more than enough hours of driving practice and capacity for the truck in category "C", while the articulated truck will lack pupils and may be idle for many hours.
There are three:
trailer truck with a self-supporting trailer: this is the combination of a semitrailer and a tractor truck, the latter having a box with 4 legs which, when it is on the tractor truck, hides the fifth wheel and is coupled to the chassis by four twist-locks.
"Covered wagon" trailer truck.- This is a unit made up of a semitrailer and a tractor truck, the latter featuring a bed with side plates allowing ribs to be slid into place to take a tarpaulin which is stored behind the cab to allow the semitrailer to be coupled up.
All-purpose European trailer truck.- This is a unit made up of a semitrailer with two closed boxes. The rear box is fixed to the chassis of the semitrailer while the front one is secured by automatic locks to both the tractor truck and the semitrailer. It is operated by a remote control and features retractable underrun protection and an automatic alignment system. This system is patented by AUCAR TRAILER and, as well as complying with current regulations throughout Europe, is the only one to allow vehicles for both "C" and "C+E" licenses to be taken to the test track in a single journey.
This is the system used in Spain since 1997, when the first all-purpose trucks with folding sides appeared. The new all-purpose trucks of the time avoided the main defects of all-purpose vehicles with a self-supporting box:
· Two journeys are required to take the units necessary for the two test categories from the driving school parking area to the test site. If the school only has one trailer of this type, it is practically impossible to put pupils in for both test categories on the same day, as the box must first be taken to the test centre, dismounted and left there, then the truck has to return to the parking area, hitch up the semitrailer and make a second trip before 8 o’clock in the morning, which is when tests begin.
· Unhitching the self-supporting trailer takes time and effort: lowering the legs, releasing the twist-locks, operating the box lifting mechanism and moving the tractor truck out from under the box not only involves some risk of accident but also calls for physical effort and much more time than any other type of all-purpose system.
An all-purpose vehicle can be made out of any tractor truck with a wheelbase of between 4,100 and 4,600mm, approximately. Unfortunately most tractor trucks have a wheelbase of 3,600mm, which means this has to be lengthened in order to equip them as an all-purpose vehicle of whatever type.
All-purpose vehicles with a self-supporting box trailer are a different matter. This type of all-purpose system really belongs in driving school prehistory. Nevertheless, they are still made as they are the only all-purpose units which can be built using a tractor truck with an ordinary wheelbase. Having said that, they can only be fitted by means of a trick which belongs to the stone age of the business. For a tractor truck with a wheelbase of about 3,600mm to serve as the base for a box which has to make the total length of the truck up to 8 metres, the only solution is to fit an empty box mounted on the front bumper. This "fiddles" the load distribution as it involves coupling up a self-supporting box which is smaller than the proper one so that the rear overhang of the truck does not exceed 60% of the wheelbase, which is the standard of good engineering practice to make sure the load distribution does not make the truck tip backwards.
Fortunately, the Ministry of Industry is becoming involved in the issue by not allowing vehicle testing centres to accept modifications whereby projections (false or otherwise) add to the total length of the vehicle. While restrictions of this type are in force the purchase of vehicles of this kind should be avoided because they can only lead to headaches and difficulties in selling the tractor truck in the future.