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Hanging on to good flight instructorsHanging on to good flight instructors

In the Sept. 22, 2015, edition of Flight School Business, we gave you six tips for hiring the very best flight instructors you can find. In this installment, we share five tips for keeping those flight instructors around.

Five tips for retaining good flight instructors

1. Know in your DNA that your instructors are your most valuable assets. Treat them like professionals. Don’t take them for granted. Understand that the reason your customers stay with you is largely because of the instructors, not because of your pretty lobby, fancy logo, or tidy airplanes. Your competitors have those, too. It’s your people that make the difference.
2. Train them. Create an ongoing training program that keeps your instructors moving forward. Go over the best way to conduct a ground training session. Show them how to demonstrate maneuvers, and how to review a student’s performance so that he or she leaves each lesson feeling excited about coming back next time. Train them on everything from greeting a customer to filling out an 8710 form.
3. Give them the tools they need to do their job. Make sure all your CFIs are using the same syllabus, and train them how to use it. The best programs have an online tracking component so you or your chief CFI can monitor each student’s place in the instructional curriculum.
Make sure the aircraft are well maintained and ready for service. Flights that get cancelled because of maintenance issues frustrate students and instructors alike. Don’t cheap out on anticipating the need to replace a tire or fix a bad radio. Just do it.
Provide a quiet place for pre- and postflight briefings. Crowded, noisy rooms full of people doing different things disrespect the learning and teaching functions. Create an environment conducive to learning.
Bottom line: A supported instructor is a happy instructor.
4. Hold periodic progress meetings. Ask each CFI to report on the progress of each student, and identify problem areas or learning plateaus. Encourage other CFIs to chime in with suggestions. This not only aids the students in learning, but also keeps the CFIs focused on their students’ progress and gives them a gauge by which to measure their own performance.
5. Pay them fairly. Nobody gets rich teaching people to fly, but CFIs shouldn’t feel as though they’re being taken advantage of, either. They know what it cost them to get their certificates and ratings, and they know what other instructors are earning. Make sure you’re competitive. Money isn’t everything, but it’s an important factor in job satisfaction. Be fair.

A relatively small investment in training, supporting, and retaining good instructors will more than pay for itself in reduced turnover. Think of your CFIs as customers. After all, they’ve made a big investment to get where they are, just as you have, and they want and deserve to be treated with respect. Doing so will go a long way toward creating the kind of environment that all flight schools and business owners strive to maintain. All it takes is the will to do it.

William Woodbury is a flight instructor and freelance writer in Southern California.

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