The dealership began partnering with John’s Driving School in 2019. Since then, the school has administered roughly 1,000 drivers’ tests and some of those new drivers have become customers.
Jason Fidishun, left, and Beth Beans Gilbert, right, formed a partnership after her daughter, Paige Gilbert, took her driver’s test at John’s Driving School.
Trying to get driver’s license certifications for her children in Pennsylvania was an “unbelievable” experience for Beth Beans Gilbert, vice president of Fred Beans Automotive Group.
Road tests in Pennsylvania must be taken through the state’s Department of Transportation or an approved third-party business. Gilbert described signing up for the test through PennDOT as a “terrible process” where she had to often wake up in the middle of the night to attempt to schedule an appointment through the online system.
It felt like a lottery system, Gilbert said, as the number of new drivers eager for a test outnumbered the available test spots. People often pay driving instructors to navigate the system for them to secure an appointment, she said.
Then Gilbert learned of Jason Fidishun, CEO of John’s Driving School — one of the small number of businesses allowed to administer driving skills exams in the state — and sought his help for her children.
Driving new customers
Fred Beans Automotive Group partnered with John’s Driving School to create a mutually beneficial learner’s program to operate out of multiple dealerships. It has administered roughly 1,000 driver’s tests so far and opened up a new market for new drivers.
She struck up a partnership with Fidishun, with the family-owned auto retailer giving a congratulatory first-aid kit and a Fred Beans dealership coupon to his students who passed the course. But then Fidishun came forward with an even bigger idea.
According to Gilbert, Fidishun said, “Hey, I have permission to open up one of these driving bases in Doylestown … I can’t find land.”
He asked if he could run his school out of the Fred Beans Nissan dealership in Doylestown, north of Philadelphia. Fred Beans Automotive Group sells 18 brands through 20 dealerships and sold 13,145 new and 14,097 used vehicles in 2022.
Gilbert quickly realized it could be a mutually beneficial arrangement. Kids could easily schedule their driving tests there, Fidishun’s business would grow, and the Beans dealership could gain potential new customers in a different market: brand-new drivers.
“This is a win-win for our two companies,” Fidishun said in an email. “We’re able to expand the footprint of our testing sites into a location with instant notoriety because of the reputable Fred Beans name. For Fred Beans, this is an out-of-the-box approach that will help bring drivers into their dealership, which is especially important in this digital age.”
Fidishun and Gilbert then struck up the same deal at Fred Beans Volkswagen of Devon, about 45 minutes from Doylestown.
Since partnering in 2019, John’s Driving School has administered roughly 1,000 drivers’ tests through the dealerships. The numbers were impacted when the pandemic began roughly a year into the partnership, but Gilbert said it’s been beneficial. Students have come in for tests and ended up buying a car, she said. John’s Driving School also has bought vehicles, Gilbert said.
When students pass, they receive an emergency first-aid kit for their car and a $250 coupon toward a vehicle purchase at a Fred Beans dealership. The dealership also offers employee discounts on driver’s tests and driving training.
“This is a kid’s most exciting time in their life. They got their driver’s license, it’s happening in a car dealership — that’ll be their memory,” Gilbert said. And, she adds: “Maybe while they’re there, the mom or dad sees a car deal they like or the kid buys a car.”