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Are Shoreham flying schools so busy.........

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Are Shoreham flying schools so busy.........

Old 9th Apr 2016, 14:18
  #41 (permalink)  
 
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Yebbut it helps if the customer walks in with a smile and a nice word for the poor underpaid woman who has to sit at a reception desk all day taking crap from the world and his dog.
True, but the customer is not obliged to be courteous. That's his choice.
The service provider better be, if he wants to stay in business.
And how much is the receptionist making, or how much crap is dealing with is certainly not the customer's concern.
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 14:37
  #42 (permalink)  
 
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You folk stuck on the "the customer is king" mantra are still missing the point. Yes the CUSTOMER is KING, but the OP was not a customer - he was an enquirer who was looking at several alternative schools. You do not inconvenience your paying customers or disrupt productive activities to entertain an unknown enquirer. Sure, rudeness is unacceptable and a polite welcome should be the order of the day - if it was inconvenient to deal with the OP at that time then making a revised appointment to meet later would have been a good idea.
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 15:06
  #43 (permalink)  
 
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Heston

Semantics ! You do not know - how could you - the true intentions of every customer who walks into your emporium. You hope or, should hope, that by your pleasant attitude and friendly manner, you can roll out a bit of red carpet and that they will be sufficiently attracted by what you have on offer, to then buy whatever you are selling.

That is usually how it works. It's apparent from your comments that you are suspicious of some of your would be customers ultimate commitment. That's a mistake ! Of the first ten customers thru' your doors the first nine might be complete Mitty's and are looking for a chat. The tenth delivers gold and signs up thus making the exercise worthwhile.

If your business is flying training, then you are in fact, nine times out of ten, dealing in dreams, which you and your staff thru' their skill, expertise, and friendly demeanour turn into reality.

As a youngster, I, along with countless thousands of others had my dreams and flying was to the foremost. in the face of some degree of poverty, my dreams became reality because of the kindness and patience of my instructors at Biggin Hill, a benevolent flying club and my ability to live on fresh air and use the money saved to pay for my lessons.

One gets much more out of people with a kind word and a smile - try it !

By the way, the OP was/is a potential customer and therefore 'king'.

Last edited by Capt Kremmen; 9th Apr 2016 at 15:09. Reason: Add on
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 17:06
  #44 (permalink)  
 
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first ten customers thru' your doors the first nine might be complete Mitty's and are looking for a chat. The tenth delivers gold and signs up thus making the exercise worthwhile
Yes of course - and I agree with most of the rest of what CK says in the last post. But all small businesses are just that - small with few staff. If they are busy looking after existing paying customers then they mustn't allow prospects to disrupt the work of serving those customers: if they do we'll be seeing posts on here saying things like
"I'm going to change my school. Every time I've got a lesson booked its late because my instructor is off doing something else like chatting to prospects at the counter. I expect to be treated better than that."
So I'll say it again - politeness costs nothing and its easy to politely make folk feel welcome and wanted, but it may be the case that they need to be asked to wait or come back another time (assuming they have just turned up un-announced of course).

The bit I dont agree with, then, is
the OP was/is a potential customer and therefore 'king'
He's only a customer and "king" once he's paying for something. Before that he's a prospect and takes second place to paying customers.

Anyway that's enough free business advice from me - I get paid to help people sort out these kind of issues normally.
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 17:42
  #45 (permalink)  
 
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Red face

What a bizarre thread and opinions.

Maybe if more 'prospects' were treated as 'kings', they would become 'customers' instead of remaining 'prospects'.

How is a 'prospect' to know how he will be treated when he is a 'customer'. All he sees is how he is treated as a 'prospect'

Maybe one reason there are so many 'tirekickers' around is that they get treated like 'non-kings'. If they were treated properly from the beginning, they might become customers...

Sure, prospects can be time wasters, but so can customers.
And all customers will sooner or later finish their custom - and if you have not converted any 'prospects' to 'customers' by that time - you're stuffed.

Like many on here, I run a business and I'm pretty pleased with my churn, retention and conversion ratios - but I guess I am not paying consultants to help me get it 'right'.

B.
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 18:08
  #46 (permalink)  
 
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And we wonder why GA is contracting and not expanding !
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 18:45
  #47 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Heston View Post
if they do we'll be seeing posts on here saying things like "I'm going to change my school. Every time I've got a lesson booked its late because my instructor is off doing something else like chatting to prospects at the counter. I expect to be treated better than that."
But we do hear that from time to time - the school who delays/cancels a regular customer to give precedence to "trial flights", on the theory that the regular customer is almost certainly going to come back again some other day whereas the "trial flight" is a one-off.
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 19:19
  #48 (permalink)  
 
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He's only a customer and "king" once he's paying for something. Before that he's a prospect and takes second place to paying customers.

Anyway that's enough free business advice from me - I get paid to help people sort out these kind of issues normally.
Several years ago, my boss at the time gave me a small piece of advice that proved itself time and time again.
He said that once the business (it was a restaurant) is all set-up, by far the hardest, most difficult task was to get new people to come through the entrance door, and once inside to keep them inside.
In other words, to get prospective customers to come in and stay in.
I will pass his sound advice onto others that want to take it, since obviously Mr. Heston knows everything there is to know about running a business.
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 21:26
  #49 (permalink)  
 
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I have been following this thread and have become overwhelmed with confusing ambivalence.

When I learnt to fly, things were very different and really in no sense comparable with the current scene. I suppose that makes my comments irrelevant.

Back then, the cost of operating an establishment suitable for ab initio training was low - fabric-covered aircraft, usually war surplus, were cheap to buy and maintain. The clubhouse was an ex-army hut with the CFI (often the only I) officed at one end and the clubroom kitted out with an ill-assorted collection of easy chairs in various degrees of disrepair; the club provided little else beyond a few Brylcreem-lined leather flying helmets. The quality of training was variable but most instructors were ex-services and inculcated competence and a sense of responsibility when the world was a very much simpler place. Things were basic but for a block booking, you could borrow a kite for less than 50/- an hour which now sounds like peanuts but as the national wage was less than £10/week, one had to be pretty keen to get in the 40 hours to PPL. Of course, this was years before the adoption of the "positive customer experience".

Today, this shoestring type of operation has been legislated out of existence to be replaced by what effectively is an academy devoted to the teaching of law, communications, avionics and all the stuff which was thought superfluous to VFR flight more than 50 years ago.

Modern private flying aircraft by comparison are sophisticated machines and correspondingly expensive - sadly, whilst allowing you to acquire the abilities necessary to obtain a basic licence, they will not teach you to fly. Business costs are astronomic compared with a notional rent for a small hut in a corner of a grass aerodrome of times gone by and I'm sure the expectation of would-be pilots now is increased in accordance with this advanced sophistry.

Whereas in the past, running a flying club was a largely amateurish affair and all manner of what might now be regarded as "non commercial" practices were commonplace, the exigencies of modern business militate against these. Frankly, I'm surprised that anyone would want to operate a flying school in this country.

My confusion is caused by my seeing both sides of the argument - I can only conclude that I'm lucky to have been able to take off my four bars before the whole business became stifled by an overbearing beauracracy.

Sorry, that doesn't advance the discussion much, does it?
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 22:19
  #50 (permalink)  
 
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All too believable, I'm afraid. But Darwin's theory of natural selection also applies to businesses.......
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Old 10th Apr 2016, 13:02
  #51 (permalink)  
 
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I still don't understand this notion of "putting prospects" whether before or after "current paying customers" I really really don't understand it.

90% of the time when I walk into any flying club or flying school, if they do have a receptionist, or an instructor manning "the desk" they're twiddling their thumbs, going on the internet, waiting for the phone to ring and in my opinion doing rather little else! Someone I know has the time to do monthly updates on the website, research better SEO for the club website whilst manning the desk on his bi-monthly shift, as well as sort out his normal duties. For the remaining 10%, they're often busy doing invoices, charging credit cards, making tea/coffee or dealing with reservations & cancellations / phone calls.

So yes, I am a little baffled. Why does one need to be put in front of the other? Surely the person who walks in the door first gets a first go, and the second waits a little before being helped out, in the (unlikely) event that they're busy!

I think it is the attitude that staff have when anyone walks through the door that matters most. Something else I find worth remembering, is the fact that they may not choose to do their training with you today - and go elsewhere for their first a/b initio. However, had they had a nice experience coming in, they may very well come back for further training later on down the line, such as IMC / Night / IR / aerobatics / renewals... etc...

I don't think you have the need to have a 90+minute conversation, but a courteous 15 minutes chat and if they're still interested, a quick look at any of the planes if any are sitting on the ground makes a world of difference.

The staff I meet who can't be bothered to even chat to you, let alone welcome you, regardless of the tea/coffee being offered is like shooting yourself in the foot.

Something I found fantastic was when someone once came in inquiring about learning to fly. The receptionist made him feel really welcomed, and spent the 10minute chat with him, showed him one of the planes, got the prospect all excited about learning to fly. Then came back in several minutes later to find there had been a cancellation, offered it the prospect who jumped up and paid for a trial lesson. I am not sure if this particular person returned to learn to fly with the club, but surely that is a win/win situation for all concerned is it not? Had that person been turned away after the initial 4minute chat (especially after travelling sometimes hours, to get to the airfields) the prospect would have gone home disappointed, and the club would have lost out on an hour of flying, so would the instructor!

Anyway - rant over.

Last edited by alex90; 10th Apr 2016 at 13:04. Reason: typo
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Old 10th Apr 2016, 15:00
  #52 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by PA28181 View Post
Unbelievable..
The proverb "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" would ring a bell, wouldn't it?
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Old 10th Apr 2016, 15:14
  #53 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Gipsy Queen View Post
Sorry, that doesn't advance the discussion much, does it?
It definitely adds to it. If we are unsure, why the good old days are gone, maybe it's worth to check what was not working so well those days.

Perhaps the shoestring operations were forced to industrialize in order to "tame" the GA training/traffic and make room for the explosive growth of commercial air traffic (and the collateral increase of pilot training needs). The aeroplane design and production techniques advanced because they offer less laborous flying (Garmin 1000 vs. VFR charts?), lower maintenance costs, longer life cycle.

Same as the black vinyl records. Those were great in their times, with unparellelled sound quality, but everyone moved onto CD and nowadays MP3 because of the ease of access, ease of use. Inferior in quality and music experience, but the new inventions offered so much more (e.g., freedom of location for listening), that the shift was unstoppable. Life moved on, that's all
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Old 10th Apr 2016, 20:38
  #54 (permalink)  
 
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I'm a little disappointed to hear people defending discourteous behaviour from flying schools on the justification that courtesy is to be granted on the basis of potential profit. If they’re not actually giving us money then we can’t afford a smile, least of all a cup of coffee.

Like the people that don't think to hold a door open for you, and don't say thank you or even smile when you hold a door open for them, presumably as you’re not paying them.

Of course there may be a limit to how much time a business can give to someone that isn’t a customer and isn’t likely to become one. But a lot of courtesy really does cost very little. It makes both the giver and the receiver feel better.

Courtesy isn't a business decision; it’s the mark of a civilised society.
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Old 11th Apr 2016, 08:16
  #55 (permalink)  
 
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Courtesy isn't a business decision; it’s the mark of a civilised society.
I agree and I think if you read through the thread carefully you will find that no-one has been defending discourtesy on any grounds at all - I certainly haven't. There is no excuse for rudeness.

What I am saying is that it is unrealistic for an unknown person to turn up unannounced at a busy flying school and to expect employees who are busy looking after their customers (ie they are teaching people to fly or handling all the admin that goes with that) to drop everything for a lengthy conversation and a look round.

If you'd taken your car to the garage to be serviced and agreed to pick it up at 4pm, you'd be pretty upset if it wasnt ready when you got there and the excuse was "Sorry we didn't do the work on your car because we were busy talking to someone who dropped in to ask about how we do things."

You'd expect the garage to have prioritised your work (as a paying customer) over chatting to prospects. You'd quite rightly go somewhere else next time and you'd tell everyone you know about the bad experience you'd had.

Back to flying schools - if you want to find out whether you like them, please give them a call beforehand and make an appointment - then the right person will be able to answer all your questions and everybody will be happy.

Oh and if a school has got paid employees sitting around doing nothing (not on a break I mean) then its got bigger problems and I'd be inclined to go elsewhere simply because of that. A good school should be a busy school. (I'm not working today btw, so I'm not wasting my customers' time by replying to this thread)
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Old 11th Apr 2016, 08:36
  #56 (permalink)  
 
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FREDAcheck

What an excellent well thought out reply !


Heston

It seems that any excuse will do. Glad I'm not an investor in your business. If I was, I'd want some changes in attitude.
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Old 11th Apr 2016, 11:33
  #57 (permalink)  
 
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Student are the best Sales People

Itís good to know that some things donít change at Shoreham. It sounds very like my first attempt to get flight training in 1991. Despite the big friendly sign outside the school door, no one approached and asked if they could help when we walked in. Members at the bar stopped and stared, then carried on with their discussions. Two lots of Ďpaid up frontí training money (yes, my then girlfriend and I were dumb enough to do that) walked out the door. Probably leaving everyone in the club to lament the lack of new PPL starts and the generally parlous state of flight training.

The thing that those of us who have been in light aviation for longer than is good for our health or bank balance tend to forget how off-putting it is to take that first step. Perhaps folk these days join internet forums and generally get themselves well informed before they venture in to the actual world of the flying school. I know that when I started it took some determination and in the end a blind leap of faith. If anyone remembers the Air South adverts in the flying magazines they will know what I mean.

One thought that comes to mind, particularly in the light of the Ďmy staff are too busy to deal with walk-in puntersí operation, is to ask some of the present crop of students at the school talk to the Prospects. They may well not have all the answers and possibly not stick to the party line, but will be full of enthusiasm. They will usually know more than the prospect and can always ask an instructor if they donít know the answer.

Prospect: ďI use Flight Sim, can I do CAT IIIc approaches in this Cessna 152?Ē
Student: ďEr, I'm not sure, we donít normally take our pets flying. Iíll ask the instructor when he gets backĒ.

I've no proof that the student is your best salesman approach works, but the number of times Iíve spoken to people who were put off or snubbed (as they saw it) by the school and later went on to do some flight training, makes me think itís worth a try. If your school is so busy that you canít afford any Ďofficialí time to talk to prospects, you are obviously doing well (or are very under staffed). Itís not going to cost anything. If you donít talk to the prospect you will loose them anyway. Besides, the student will feel good about showing their knowledge and helping recruit another student to the organisation.
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Old 11th Apr 2016, 12:26
  #58 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
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I'm puzzled by this continuous reference to 'prospects'. At which point in our busy and exciting lives did customers become 'prospects' ?

Once someone walks thru' the door of your business they are a customer. They are not even a 'prospective customer' unless they are outside your business. If we use innaccurate descriptions there is a tendency to provide misleading justifications and excuses for poor or non existent service.

For the guilty among you; don't dig your heels in just because you're the boss and you wish to show your exasperation. Offer your time and a smile to those coming thru' your front door. Your business will be the beneficiary.
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Old 11th Apr 2016, 13:09
  #59 (permalink)  
 
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Heston,

With an attitude such as portrayed in this thread - how are you still in business?Do you manage to survive on a bunch of 'old boys' who did their PPL back when you first opened the school, to take an occasional flight with an instructor for renewal / an occasional local trip? Surely that type of attitude cannot possibly get you any new business!

It doesn't take long to be nice to them, explain to them how it works, and get them booked in for a trial flight! Convert prospect to business in order to convert a failing to a prosperous business. A whole 10minutes and you've got yourself a potential recurrent customer who will spend £10k+ with you over the next year!

Again - in your garage, why do you need to delay the works on the paying customer's car? It only takes a few minutes and you don't get many new customers through the door!

I agree with Capt Kremmen on this.
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Old 11th Apr 2016, 13:45
  #60 (permalink)  
 
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Many moons ago, it was habitual at the gliding club where I flew to slot in trial flights (air-ex, whichever) as soon as was humanly possible. Club members were inconvenienced a little, but most recognised the logic and as WKW has said, could be usefully deployed as well. Results: money for club, good PR and new members, obviously at a conversion rate concomitant with many such experiences.

It wasn't a really a walk-in sort of place, being, like many gliding sites, far from the beaten track, but booked flights would arrive with family or friends and it was these that often led to the increased membership.

The important thing, whoever walked through the door, was a warm welcome and at least being shown the gliders if the day was poor. We didn't have many members like our Polish chap who was driving along the main road, saw a glider in the air and followed his nose to find the field.
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