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Accessing the next generation of customersAccessing the next generation of customers

Small businesses can inadvertently run a long-term risk as a result of focusing too intently on the short term. In fact, business people often become so focused on their present circumstances, they fail to take notice of the long view at all.

Consider these two questions. Who will your students be in the future? Where will they come from? If you can identify an answer to those two questions, your future will brighten, no matter what the present looks like. Fortunately, as an aviation-oriented business, many of your future students have already made a real effort to identify themselves. If you take the opportunity to notice and start courting them now, you may find your company thrives in the future because of the groundwork you laid today.

Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Civil Air Patrol cadets, Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) cadets, and Explorers are a great place to start. Admittedly, some of these kids are too young to be current customers for the average flight school, but their parents aren’t. Many of these teenage prospective customers have connections to family members and friends who very well may become your customers, at least partly because they became aware of your business after seeing how enthusiastically a potential future customer spoke about it. Add to that the potential for these teenagers to grow up to become customers themselves, and you have what you might call qualified leads with legs.

Knowing where to connect with these potential customers is important, of course. Luckily for you, they all advertise where they are. After all, they are looking for new members to repopulate their ranks, too. They also have the common denominator of being involved in an organized educational system. Said another way, the members of these organizations all go to school. Although individual students may be difficult to find, the school they attend is easy to locate, and they will often make their students available to professionals who have something of value to share.

In many cases, step one will involve contacting the local elementary school, high school, scout organization, or Civil Air Patrol unit. An offer to make a presentation about career opportunities and the educational requirements needed to succeed in those jobs is often met with real appreciation. You will also find that many schools have adopted a STEM curriculum (science, technology, engineering, and math), which fits perfectly into a discussion about aviation as a career or a hobby.

If a science or math teacher will allow you or your staff to make a presentation to his or her class about practical applications of STEM in aviation, you may find that your educational discussion parallels nicely with an implied sales presentation that could well pay dividends in the future.

Given the opportunity to talk to prospective customers about how aviation is a good fit for them is a good thing. Regardless of their age or gender, your time will be well spent whenever you have the opportunity to put your company’s name and line of services in front of a motivated audience who just might walk through your door one day, checkbook in hand, asking, “Can I schedule a discovery flight with you?”

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