Member Spotlight: Whistler Driving School
July 19th, 2021
Whistler Connection provides dependable, versatile, and efficient travel options between Vancouver and guests’ chosen accommodation in Whistler. Travel restrictions resulting from the pandemic presented huge challenges, and inspired the team to adapt their business to suit the needs of the community here in Whistler.
The Whistler Chamber recently spoke with Dan Harmon, General Manager, to catch up and learn more about their recently launched Whistler Driving School!
What is your business’ purpose?
The Whistler Driving School exists to improve road safety in the Sea to Sky and help people gain the skills and qualifications needed to work for activity and transportation companies in Whistler.
All photos by: Clint Trahan
What are your business’ values?
Safety, service and attention to detail are our key values:
- Safety – this is paramount to our industry and the position from which we begin all training.
- Service – we help people become better drivers and learn the skills necessary to get their class 4 (unrestricted) licence. Typically this includes more than just teaching, often we are emotional support for people on their journey to new qualifications.
- Attention to detail – Whistler Driving School instructors help you cut through the noise and focus on the important things, starting with vehicle inspections and moving on to observational skills.
What do you think makes your business unique?
The Whistler Driving School is the first carbon neutral driving school in BC. We calculate the carbon output from our operations and purchase carbon offsets to counter the effects of what we do. Trees are planted in British Columbia by a registered charity on our behalf. In doing so we support the RMOW Climate Action Big Moves strategy.
Why did you decide to start your business in Whistler?
The Whistler Driving School was developed out of a combination of demand for class 4 (unrestricted) driver training in Whistler and the need for our parent company (Whistler Connection) to diversify in the face of the pandemic. Activity providers, bus companies and remote communities all benefit from having better access to qualified drivers and there is a continual demand in our region.
How have you been forced to adapt your business during the pandemic? What lasting lessons will you take away?
Our parent company, Whistler Connection, relies on international visitors to Whistler. Faced with closed borders and the consequent drop in demand for travel, we began to look for ways to diversify. The reaction has been to create two new businesses to serve the local community and help keep our team members employed:
Our lasting lessons are that the Whistler Connection team is resilient, resourceful and capable of creating new services to meet the demands of the market. We will continue to promote this ethos long after the pandemic is over.
What is your business’ vision for the future?
The future of the Whistler Driving School is to build a steady flow of qualified class 4 (unrestricted) drivers entering the regional workforce and expand our activities into teaching car driving lessons and specialist driving courses. Moreover, the Whistler Driving School is a pilot project in carbon neutrality for our broader business. Our vision is to take knowledge gained and use it to make Whistler Connection the cleanest, safest, carbon neutral transportation service in BC.
What one piece of advice would you give to current or aspiring Whistler business owners?
“Perfect is the enemy of good.” It’s an often quoted phrase but the most important thing you can do is get a product to market, convince a couple of people to buy it and then listen to what they have to say about what you are doing. Working this way has helped us quickly iterate new ideas and services, plus people love to give their (often helpful) opinion on what you’re doing.
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