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Success through symbiosisSuccess through symbiosis

Let’s start with a common vocabulary. The word, “symbiosis” describes an interdependent relationship that exists between two people, or groups of people. A subset of symbiosis is known as mutualism, which characterizes the symbiotic relationship as one of mutual benefit to both parties.

A prime example of mutualism in nature exists between the saguaro cactus of the southwestern United States and the white-winged dove. The dove benefits by gaining a ready supply of food. It eats the fruit growing on the cactus. The cactus benefits when the dove redistributes cactus seeds throughout the desert by moving them through its digestive system. The seeds grow more cacti, which in turn feed more doves. Everybody wins.

This is a valuable example of mutually beneficial success that owners and operators of flight school businesses can apply to their own circumstances, relatively easily and with little to no additional investment.

Imagine the benefit to your business if you could bring new customers through the door and retain them for years thanks to a symbiotic relationship with a group they already belong to and feel comfortable with. Then imagine expanding on that model by adding connections to multiple groups which each have dozens of members who may one day become your customers.

Thankfully, it's possible to do just that. And you can do it without spending a fortune on print, radio, Internet, or television advertisements. You can do it without hiring a marketing professional or assigning one of your key employees to new full-time duties. It just takes some imagination, some determination, and a willingness to reach out to untapped local markets with a handshake and a genuine smile.

The groups you can draw new customers from are already there in your community, just waiting for a unique opportunity like the one. Is there a Rotary club in your area? Or a Kiwanis club? Do you know where the Lions meet, or the VFW, or the League of Women Voters? You can even extend the offer to troops of Boy Scouts, or Girl Scouts. Even the local college is fair game.

Offer to extend a 10-percent discount on flight training, flight reviews, and aircraft rentals to any member of that group who shows up at your door. In return, you ask that the group not only makes your offer known to its membership, but that it uses it as a carrot when recruiting new members.

There's the symbiosis of it all. You gain new clients who are incentivized to remain your customers for many years to come because they enjoy discounted rates. Simultaneously, the group gets to sweeten the pot for potential members by offering a deal on services the potential member can't get on his or her own.

It's creative, it's inexpensive, and it works. Symbiosis. It just might be the key to new business for those who are bold enough to seek it out.

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