Safety Publications/Articles

Was I wrong?

Things changed, and I was caught

Well, I am guilty. Worse yet, I have been caught!

My last column ("Professionally Speaking: Selling Flight Training," November 2008 AOPA Flight Training) suggested that perhaps the best way to market flight instruction is to have one professional who sells, leaving CFIs to instruct.

A few of you asked me if I know of a school where that is done. I said certainly. Then they asked the obvious: the names of the schools, their locations, and whom to contact for advice.

Let me tell you, I was excited! Somebody was finally going to consider one of my ideas. Maybe they would even implement it. Eagerly I went through my records, hunting such schools.

To my great embarrassment, I found no such schools! I found schools that had done this; old and admired friend Jim Hackman had seen this work very well at Sawyer Aviation, but Sawyer had long since been bought out. I found other schools that had used this marketing method, but none that uses it today.

Was I wrong? How come all the schools I know of had quit doing this? Was I totally wrong about this?

Being a stubborn soul, I am convinced that there must be flight schools out there that are using the professional-salesman technique today, and using it successfully. I'd like to hear from them. If your school is doing this--or you know of other schools doing this--will you please ask them to contact me by e-mail through the Web site below? To make it a good test, let's stick to only those schools providing primary flight instruction. I look forward to hearing from you.

Now for a total change of subject. In the last 18 months I have had three eye surgeries, three steroid injections in my backbone (I am thus forever banned from competing in the Olympics), and also experienced several other medical procedures. All of these were done not in hospitals but in outpatient surgical centers or medical centers.

I quickly noticed that the centers are unbelievably friendly at all points and all times. The lady at the reception desk couldn't be nicer. That is also true of the nurses and other aides, as well as the physicians who actually do the procedures. Frankly, the service has been much more pleasant than I have experienced in hospitals. So, what's the difference?

Well, in many cases the physicians own all or part of these centers. They have an interest in the outcome, and they actually seem to realize that the patient is a customer--a customer who has family and friends who might need medical treatment. The physician/owners work right along with the other staff, and their proprietary attitudes rub off.

How many FBO owners work in aircraft sales, fuel sales, and charter, but not in the flight school? Could it make a difference?

Ralph Hood, an aviation speaker and writer, has been flying since 1971 and has more than 3,000 hours of flight time. He is a multiengine commercial pilot with an instrument rating. Visit his Web site.

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