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Build a better relationship with your customersBuild a better relationship with your customers

There’s no lack of marketing advice for small businesses on the internet. The problem is, about 98 percent of it doesn’t really apply to flight schools.

But flight schools can excel at building relationships with customers. If you provide good customer service—something that’s sadly lacking at many businesses—you’re likely to keep a customer from student pilot through ATP.

This list of 101 small business marketing ideas originally published by About Money has a section on relationship building that’s worth a look. Can you apply any of these tactics to your business?

  1. Send out a customer satisfaction survey. SurveyMonkey and other free survey websites can help you create a simple survey to shoot out to your clients (you do have an email list, right?). Keep it short—three to five questions—and be sure to ask your customers to list areas where you could improve.
  2. Ask for referrals.
  3. Make a referral. Is your client looking for a type of specialized training that you don’t provide, for example tailwheel training? Keep a list of providers you know and trust.
  4. Help promote or volunteer your time for a charity event.
  5. Sponsor a local sports team.
  6. Cross-promote your products and services with other local businesses—for instance, putting out lobby cards at a skydiving business, or even something as simple as making sure you’ve posted a flyer for your flight school at the airport restaurant.
  7. Join a professional organization.
  8. Plan your next holiday promotion. Got something in place to prompt your customers to rent aircraft over the long Memorial Day weekend? What about Independence Day?
  9. Plan holiday gifts for your best customers. If you need suggestions, About Money has some for you.
  10. Send birthday cards to your clients.
  11. Approach a colleague about a collaboration.
  12. Donate branded prizes for local fundraisers.
  13. Become a mentor. 

Jill W. Tallman is editor of Flight School Business.