Safety Publications/Articles

Young CFIs

One of the challenges that young flight instructors face is that they often appear young to their prospective students. Not every young CFI has a problem with this. Those with boyish or girlish looks, however, often aren't prepared to cope with the questions posed to them by their students.

I started flight instructing when I was very young, and I looked it, too. An older student would ask me, "How long have you been instructing?" To which I'd honestly reply, "Oh, eight or nine [long pause] weeks."

The prospective and mature student might then ask, "With your limited experience, why should I train with you over someone older and with more flight time?" That was an honest question and one I was unprepared to answer-at least until I prepared an answer. Every good salesman knows that you must always be prepared to handle customer objections and turn them into advantages. From then on, when asked, I'd say something like the following:

"Actually, Mr. Jones, the recency of my training is very much to your advantage. Like every other CFI, I am fully certified by the FAA to train beginning pilots, advanced pilots, and even flight instructors. You'll benefit from my being trained on the latest equipment, using the latest techniques. You will also find that I do not have any 'This is the way we've always done it' attitude to get in your way. Your comfort and success is my greatest interest, so let's get started, and if at any point you don't feel I'm doing the best possible job for you, I'll help you find someone more to your liking. Is that fair enough?"

There you go. One quart of lemonade, fresh squeezed from the customer's lemons. You've taken what the customer saw as a disadvantage (your inexperience) and converted it into an advantage. It worked for me, and should do the same for you.

By Rod Machado

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