A rainy day is coming. In this case the term, “rainy day” is not an analogy for hard times or dark days. It literally means there will be a day in the not-too-distant future when the skies open up and precipitation will fall onto the parking lot, ramp, and runway where your business is based. That day will be a proving ground for some of us. For others it will be a satisfying reminder that providing a high level of customer service is often easier and less expensive than some might think. It often results in a handsome payoff, too.
That next rainy day could provide any flight school business with an excellent example of how nothing illustrates the expression, “little things mean a lot” like a random person offering you an umbrella when the only other option is to get soaking wet.
Add an expensive suit, top flight leather shoes, or a recent visit to the hair salon to that scenario and the value of that freely offered umbrella rises faster than the Dow Jones after the release of an encouraging jobs report.
Customer service is a full-time endeavor, as every businessperson knows. But having the foresight to be prepared for inclement weather in advance of the wind and rain arriving at your door says something important to your customers. And what it says most often is, “I'm glad I do business here. They take good care of me.”
There is an umbrella stand at the door to the ramp at my local FBO. Half a dozen bumbershoots await an opportunity to use them. When an airplane rolls up during a shower, a line-service worker trots out to the aircraft with protection in hand, offering it to the pilot and passengers as they deplane. You better believe that simple gesture elicits smiles and sincere appreciation from the new arrivals. Similarly, if they're scheduled to depart and a shower pops up, that same line-service worker accompanies their customers to the airplane, keeping them dry as they saddle up for the flight.
Nobody likes sitting in wet pants and shirt for an entire flight. Thanks to a forward-thinking FBO manager, a willing line-service staff, and the investment of less than $100 in foul weather gear, you and your business could make an impression that lasts a long, long time on your customers. And oh yes, you can rest assured your customers will tell the story of the time they received Citation level service from your crew, even though they were only flying a Cessna 152.
Of course, the level of service is what’s important, not the specific act. In Phoenix, it might be the offer of a water bottle after coming back from a lesson. In Fargo it is a pre-heated airplane prior to a lesson. In Buffalo, maybe the wings are clear of snow and frost before the student arrives.
You can’t buy advertising like that. Or rather, you can if you think ahead, prepare, and commit to making your customer’s experience a good one, even when the weather doesn’t cooperate with his plans.