When it comes to selling the dream of flight, the last thing you’d think a potential client would want to see is a lot of figures. It’s all about the fun, the satisfaction, the pure joy of parting ways with the Earth and seeing the world from 3,000 feet. Right?
Well, usually. And yet, there’s a place for cold hard statistics in your sales and marketing efforts, and that’s what Greg Laslo pointed out in a 2011 article he wrote for Mentor, the publication of the National Association of Flight Instructors.
Laslo produced a laundry list of 21 ways to sell flight training. Many of his ideas are concepts we’ve explored in this newsletter: answering customer contacts quickly and personally; create social media conversations; build rapport with customers. But two other specific suggestions jumped out.
“Compile statistics on hours to certification.” We know student pilots can obtain a pilot certificate in 40 hours under Part 141, but in reality they can be chalking up 100 or even 200 hours to get there, thanks to a variety of reasons.
“There’s no verifiable empirical data that describe the mean time to certification for student pilots in the United States,” Laslo says. Student pilots find this disconcerting and frustrating because they can’t determine what kind of a commitment they’re signing up for, and how they measure up, he says.
“While your school can’t do much about industrywide numbers, taking the time to collect actual data for your school on average time, average for different demographics for students, and factors that contribute to above- and below-average performance gives customers critical information they can use for planning purposes,” Laslo says. It also creates transparency that overcomes concerns that instructors are inflating training times to log their own flight time, he adds.
Think about that. The next time a customer asks, “How long will it take me to learn to fly?” you will have something to say other than “It depends.” Instead, you can say, “Well, it varies by individual. But I can tell you that students at my flight school average 55 hours.” And if your customer is a late-bloomer—someone a little older, who might take a little longer—you can tell him or her that while the average student gets a certificate in 55 hours, people in a certain age range average 65 hours, or whatever that number is.
“Compile statistics for individual instructors.” Laslo suggests you look at your flight instructors and compile data on pass rates, training times, and the number of customers who pursue additional training. This gives customers perspective, particularly if they are reluctant to train with brand-new or low-time instructors. (And, he points out, it gives you some insights into the performance of your flight instructors that you can use to develop best practices, continuing education programs, mentoring, promotions, and merit pay.)
The entire article is worth a look. You’ll find it online.
Jill W. Tallman is editor of Flight School Business.