A flight school business is like any other business in at least one very important way—you need to sell something in order to make a profit. For most of us who are involved in the general aviation industry, that seems to be a pretty obvious connection. And it should be. But are you really running your business as if sales are as critical as they truly are?
Consider this. Forty-eight percent of sales people don't follow up with prospective customers. Even when a prospect walks through the door, asks about how much it costs to learn to fly, how long it will take, and if your company can help them reach their goals, a shockingly high percentage of sales people make no significant effort to reach out and contact that individual again—ever.
This is important because the vast majority of sales occur after the prospect has been presented with the idea of making a particular purchase between 5 and 12 times. Some believe the required number of contacts is higher in GA than in the wider world of products and services. This at least suggests that your sales team needs to make it a point to follow-up, to follow-up again, and to follow-up again. With each new contact your team needs to make a sincere effort to serve the potential customer, answer their questions, and set their sights on helping that individual make a responsible decision they can be comfortable with in the long haul.
Knowing more about the importance of making sales is important, there is no doubt. But that brings many flight school businesses to a new question. Do you have a sales team at all? You may have instructors and dispatchers, line service people, and a bookkeeper, but do you have a dedicated sales person? It's not imperative that you do. For many smaller flight school businesses a dedicated sales person may be impractical. So what’s a small businessperson to do? The answer is simple. Train and encourage your entire staff to be in sales.
Encourage your people to be knowledgeable. Give them the flexibility to share their enthusiasm about what your company does with potential customers. Make prices and terms available to them so they can share accurate information. And encourage them to consider themselves salespeople, no matter what their title or primary work responsibilities might be.
Remember, if nobody on your staff thinks they’re responsible for sales, your business can suffer from a severe limitation. Conversely, if your entire crew knows they’re capable of doing sales, and that you appreciate the effort, you just might find your sales increasing along with the value of your business.
And remember, smiles go farther than most people think. Even on the phone, a caller can tell if the person who answers your phone is smiling or not. So encourage your team to be upbeat as a matter of course. It’s a great habit to get into, and one that will pay off for you and your business in the end.