If you don't already have a website for your flight school, then you may want to seriously consider starting one. Securing your place on the Web is a necessity in order to keep up with technology, competitors, communication with students, and marketing to prospective students. As an added bonus, your flight school's website could actually generate additional income by aligning with website affiliates.
There's no need to let computer angst stop you from merging your school onto the information superhighway anymore. Website developers charge hundreds to thousands of dollars, but you don't need them. Reputable companies, such as Mastersuiteapps and Homestead are reasonably priced and make it incredibly quick and easy to get your own website up and running in less than an hour and for as little as $4.99 per month with free set-up. By providing all the tools you need, such as themes and templates for the designs, their step-by-step guidance will help you to get your site up with ease. These sites can provide each staff member with their own company email address, feature your site in hundreds of search engines on the Web, as well as assist in setting up easy payment processing so your students and clients can pay their accounts online.
Nothing builds unity more than sharing in a group project. By building and designing your website as a team-building activity, your crew will become a more cohesive community by working together toward a common goal. Once you agree on a general overall theme, specific staff members (or committees if you have a larger operation) should be assigned to the task of designing, maintaining, and updating specific pages based on their talents, knowledge, and interests.
While some may want to build a site that provides the basic About Us, Contact Us, and Directions pages (known as “brochure” style), encourage your staff to go a step further to add unique, exciting, and even whimsical types of pages that catches the attention and compels the visitor to spend time exploring your site. Some very successful pages, links, and tools to include on your site are:
- Webstore—You can earn money by selling merchandise through your site without ever having to maintain an inventory of virtually thousands of aviation-related items by partnering with website affiliates such as Amazon and Mypilotstore.com.
- Blogs—These are useful tools for sharing updates on important information about your school, like special sales and promotions, new merchandise and equipment, weather conditions, special TFRs, student accomplishments, staff kudos, and more.
- Photo galleries—Showcase those gorgeous aerial shots that remind those who dream of flying what they're missing on the ground. A photo gallery displays the joys of triumphant students, the humor and camaraderie of staff, and the bonds that develop between staff and clients. It also markets the professional atmosphere of your equipment and facility and shows your commitment to the local community and charities your staff supports.
- Facebook—Get visitors to “like” your site, which in the social networking world can be a huge boost to your advertising and exposure.
- Guestbook—This allows your visitors to leave questions and comments; it's an invaluable way to get prospects. You should be quick to answer any questions, solicit discovery flights, or simply to thank them for visiting your site.
- Videos—You can link them to thousands of aviation related videos, anything from humorous pilots to inspirational stories about learning to fly. For those students who may need extra support, or for those who are visual learners, links to instructional videos are excellent resources during training. You could even include some of your own.
- Polls—You can conduct online polls, such as the popularity of airport FBOs, fly-in dinners and events, equipment reviews, and more.
- Forms—By including copies of all forms you would have students or clients complete ahead of their scheduled time, they can arrive fully prepared without wasting valuable time. This also comes in handy for job applicants, as well as FAA required forms.
- Staff Bio Page—It's important for prospective students to see a friendly human face to make that personal connection. It really can make the difference in their selection of which flight school to visit. Make sure you include a great photo and short professional bio for each member of your staff, including their company email address and their Facebook and Twitter info (if they choose to share it).
Many of these companies have a free trial period so you can give it a test drive. By taking some time to add, remove, tweak, and alter your website using the tools provided before going live, you'll get a good feel for how simple the task really can be.