Your flight school business shares something in common with every other flight school business—the need to continually bring new customers through the door. There are myriad options for how to do that. Print ads, radio spots, television commercials, word-of-mouth advertising, and of course, putting a big sign by the side of the road. All these methods work to one degree or another. Some are relatively inexpensive while others are quite costly.
The key is to find a method that truly works for your business, not a cookie-cutter template that you can theoretically plug in anywhere and get specific results. That’s just not realistic and may well end up costing you more than it generates in sales.
Just as in life, having a partner can make business a more satisfying and stabilizing experience. It can also open up your business to new customers who may not have considered your services without a small nudge in your direction. Consider these alternatives for mining new customers who are close by, but haven’t found their way to your counter yet.
Airport restaurants often offer discounts or bonuses to customers who buy fuel or purchase maintenance services while on the field. Consider reciprocating by offering restaurant customers a discount on a discovery flight, a flight review, or on printed materials available through your business. That discounted price may entice a few customers a year who weren’t otherwise likely to come talk to you. Even transient pilots seeking a $100 hamburger may avail themselves of your services because they’re competitive or less expensive than those offered at their home field.
If there is a hotel on or very near your airport, you might explore the possibility of the hotel advertising an introductory flight lesson at a reduced rate for their guests. That promotion allows the hotel to offer a perk their downtown competitors aren’t providing, while sending you a trickle of out-of-town customers who very likely would not have realized such an adventure was available to them.
Boy Scout troops abound, and Boy Scouts love adding a new merit badge to their sash. You can always offer your local troops the opportunity to spend an afternoon at your facility so they can earn their aviation merit badge. While they’re on site you can share with them that you offer a reduced rate on intro flights and flight instruction given to active Boy Scouts. That may bring you a new student or two each year. Extend that offer to active Boy Scouts and their immediate family members, and you may expand the number of new customers this partnership provides.
The cost of these offers ranges from zero to very affordable, with the only real expense being the printing bill for cards or fliers. All in all, partnering with neighboring businesses of all sorts provides you with the opportunity to serve new customers who were very unlikely to become new customers if not enticed through some special means.