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Finding flight students

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No One Special at all
Apr 28, 2002
Howdy folks!

Our flight school has just signed up with BeAPilot.com along with a few other flight school referral services. Our first list of leads arrived with AOPA's Flight School Business Magazine.

I'm staring at this list of 20 people from all over the southern part of the state that signed up for a $49 introductory flight lesson. How do I market my flight school's services to them?

Send a letter? Stating what? A brochure? Both? :confused:

Has anyone on this forum signed up for the intro flight certificates through the beapilot website? If so, have any flight schools contacted you, or did you have to hunt down a school yourself?

What do other flight schools do for marketing? I know the local competitors advertise in the local airport business magazine and in several aviation magazines. One up north advertises on radio and TV. These schools also have larger budgets and sell aircraft.

Ideas are appreciated.

Jedi Nein
If you have a number, make a personal call. Offer to answer any questions, and be at the schedule pad to "pencil in" their intro ride. Sell the pride of accomplishment, the freedom to travel long distances quickly, and becoming a member of an elite group.

Stress that it is easier to do than most people think, that there are sallie mae loans, etc. Mention the signifigant number of 17 year olds who become pilots every year, and the many college programs. Most of all, sell the FUN!!

TV: I created a TV spot for my local cable, and received ZERO calls. Spend that money somewhere else.

Good luck.
I'd send both a letter and a brochure. I'd introduce the school in the letter and allow it to show a genuine interest in being the school of choice for the student. I assume the brochure would already have most of the marketing material to promote you guys and maybe even the airport where you're located (like being conducive to good radio skills! :D ).

I've never used beapilot.com, but as a renter for coming up on a decade, I can tell you that my favorite schools are the ones that are proactive with me. I had one school recognize that I like flying their more capable cross country machines and sent me a letter when they acquired a Comanche 250. It's no big deal - I know. I would have found out about it anyway when I flew that weekend, but it makes me feel good to know that the school is willing to do the little things to keep me there. Lots of schools I've rented from never seemed to care whether I was there or not, and the front desk people looked more annoyed than happy when non-pilots walked through the door asking questions about getting into aviation.

It seems to me that as long as you make the prospective student feel like you're taking a genuine interest in him/her - you'll be fine. Word of mouth will then be your best friend. I'd bet that many people thinking about being a pilot will more likely talk to a local pilot about schools than just look one up in the paper. Lord knows I've given countless recommendations to people about the schools around here. And of course the schools that have taken care of me are the ones that benefit from the new students I send their way.

Good luck with it!
Just a question as well; my flight school insists they never get actual students from those intro flights, just people coming in for the cheap flight to pull your chain. Anyone actually have luck with them?
Yes, we had luck with the newspaper ads mostly. When the interested party calls set up a chance to meet in person. This is your opportunity to sell the fun of flying and being an airport rat. I would not treat it as an actual lesson. Let them get comfortable with an airport tour and brief discussion of what to expect on the flight, along with the challenges and rewards of flying followed with the intro flight. I would let them fly as much as they were comfortable with, or simply stare out the window if they preferred. Just because they don't touch the controls on that first flight doesn't mean they don't want to learn to fly. I remember two intro rides that looked out the window the whole time and never touched the controls on that first flight, and who did become students.
Of the initial responses, roughly 1/3 started as students. These students also didn't initially have as high of motivation to learn to fly as some. Be prepared to keep the fire lit under them! Always try to schedule the next lesson while they're still excited from the flight.
Good Luck.
We just had our annual open house. It turned out well. I'm not sure if any of our intro flights were sold, but I sold a lot of quick thirty minute flights. It also gave the public a chance to see what really goes at a smaller A/P.
I used beapilot.com. Actually I saw the commercial on tv first.

I think most people don't fly because they don't have the money. So I agree with the person above who said to stress sallie mae loans.

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