How to get students?

Goldmember

Well-Known Member
Well, got the CFI, big relief, now I've got no students! Well, that was to be expected but the phone at the FBO has been deader than dead and I've put out more brochures and fliers than I can remember, and all I have is one guy coming in for a discovery next week. All the older CFI's are all talking about how dead everything is and it's getting me a little worried, especially after sitting around all Sunday staring at 6 other CFI's all waiting for something to happen. Anybody have any good ideas to get students? Where to go to put out fliers etc... All ideas welcome, just looking to get some sky time.
 

esa17

Well-Known Member
The first thing is couch time, always be available for your prospective students. After you get a few students and you work hard you will make a name for yourself. Its not going to happen over night so don't become impatient.
 

Low&Slow

Ancora imparo
A little while ago when I seriously started thinking about becoming a CFI, I read a book called, "The Savvy Flight Instructor". If you haven't read it yet, I recommend you buy it at half.com, amazon.com, your local bookseller, or wherever you can find it. It is full of great ideas, suggestions, encouragement, and guidance to help you and your company grow. Read it in your downtime (it is definitely work-related) or at home, you won't regret it. Make your boss read it too.

I have just started studying at home on my own and plan to employ a CFI after I have the writtens out of the way. I don't have anything to gain from you purchasing the book, I am just passing on a useful informational resource.
 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
Well, got the CFI, big relief, now I've got no students! Well, that was to be expected but the phone at the FBO has been deader than dead and I've put out more brochures and fliers than I can remember, and all I have is one guy coming in for a discovery next week. All the older CFI's are all talking about how dead everything is and it's getting me a little worried, especially after sitting around all Sunday staring at 6 other CFI's all waiting for something to happen. Anybody have any good ideas to get students? Where to go to put out fliers etc... All ideas welcome, just looking to get some sky time.
I started flight instructing in a crappy market, but if you focus on being professional, prompt and more knowledgeable that your competition, you'll generate loads of students.

If you have the "I'm just here for the hours" attitude, it's going to be rough. Know your market, try to knock it out of the park on a consistent basis and you'll do fine.
 

upup89

Well-Known Member
Moving to a bigger flight school could always fix the problem too. Depending on your situation.
 

jrh

Well-Known Member
:yeahthat: to Doug's comments, and to the suggestion of reading "The Savvy Flight Instructor." I read that book several years ago when I first became a CFI and the knowledge is gold. A few weeks ago I bought the book just to keep as a reference around the office and encourage other instructors at my school to read it in their spare time.

Another idea you might try is to teach a free ground school class. I've done those before with great success. Although I received pay for teaching the class, we used it as a promotional tool for the school, so talk to the owner of your school to see if he could pay you something and take it out of the advertising budget...and if there is no advertising budget, that's another rant of mine for another time ;)

Advertise the class as free if they buy their own materials and promote it as a good way to learn about flying if they're unsure about flight training. Don't stress out about trying to cram every detail about flying in to their heads (as in, don't try to prep them for the written exam like a lot of ground schools), just teach them as much as you comfortably can and make it fun and interesting. Show pictures, tell stories, use video clips, use PowerPoint, etc. Try to convey what it's like to be a pilot, not a student.

Not only will it get them excited about flying, but it builds a rapport with them so that when they do start flying, they'll want you to be their instructor.

The last class I taught like that I had 7 students and three of them became full time students of mine, with another one signing up to fly with a different instructor at my school. So 4 out of 7 is a pretty decent recruiting tool!
 

jrh

Well-Known Member
All the older CFI's are all talking about how dead everything is and it's getting me a little worried, especially after sitting around all Sunday staring at 6 other CFI's all waiting for something to happen.
This is another point I wanted to mention...

The older CFIs are sitting around waiting for something to happen? That's half the problem right there. Things don't just happen by chance. How many businesses do you know of that are successful because everybody sits around and "waits for something to happen"? You've got to go make things happen, which is why I suspect over the long run you'll be more successful than those other guys.

Be it putting up fliers, teaching ground school, doing fun discovery flights, returning phone calls from prospective students, checking in with clients you haven't seen in a long time, whatever it is, go do *something* because you certainly won't get anywhere by doing nothing.
 

killbilly

Vocals, Lyrics, Triangle, Washboard, Kittens
Another idea you might try is to teach a free ground school class. I've done those before with great success. Although I received pay for teaching the class, we used it as a promotional tool for the school, so talk to the owner of your school to see if he could pay you something and take it out of the advertising budget...and if there is no advertising budget, that's another rant of mine for another time ;)
I know a couple of CFIs who have done exactly this. It works.

Something else you could also consider...

Talk to your local community college and/or high school about teaching an elective ground-school class. My CFI taught ground at the local CC and that funneled a lot of students to him. Also, my high school did have a ground school taught by one of the coaches who was also a CFI.

Selling your business is about creating opportunities. Doesn't matter if you're a CFI, a widget salesman, or a carpenter or whatever. Market creatively.
 

majorityof1

New Member
At my old school we got in touch with the local high school and planned a field trip out to the airport. Some of the students were enrolled in an aviation elective course and some of them were physics students. They came out and we had a Tower guy talk to them, a CFI talk to them, and an Air Force guy talk to them. Then we showed them the planes. We ended up scheduling a bunch of intro flights and got a few full time students from it.

Keep plugging away, hope it all works out well.
 

Goldmember

Well-Known Member
Thanks for all the input guys. I'm definitely not a guy just in it for the hours, but sitting on my butt all day never sat well with me. I got 3 calls from my fliers today and a father-son walk in that all got scheduled up for discovery flights so today was a kick butt day!
 

bdhill1979

Gone West
All good suggestions so far

as to the free ground school, I did something similar last year but charged $20 per person for an 8 hour Saturday BFR prep class at the library (free conference room). I put up fliers all over the place. About 15 people signed up and all $300 went to me. I did 4 or 5 BFRs out of that class and got 3 instrument students. In fact a guy from that class just called me a few weeks ago to instruct his son.

It was so successful that the flight school I worked at stole the idea and now does a monthly $20 for a full day class deal.

In this business cheap is almost as good as free, if you can't afford to work for free, work for cheap and you will be surprised what it can do for you. As has been said many times, this business, like most others is about knowing people. If people know you as a quality instructor, you won't want for students.
 

Prino

Well-Known Member
where were all you guys when i was taking lessons??? my instructor was horrible, cant tell you how many times he said 'i dont know ill get back to you' and never did. i thought taking lessons from a 141 school would be better than 61. boy was i wrong
 

HeyEng

NAHB Doesn't Give a Crap
where were all you guys when i was taking lessons??? my instructor was horrible, cant tell you how many times he said 'i dont know ill get back to you' and never did. i thought taking lessons from a 141 school would be better than 61. boy was i wrong

I feel your pain, my initial instructor was horrible and a career, older CFI at that. You know, the one that should REALLY give a hoot?!? Yeah, whatever.

It is my intention to get the CFI stuff done and do the freelance thing in my post-Air Force retirement days (only 4 years to go!!!). I like the self-employed idea and actually providing good service!!! Probably in Oklahoma to boot...:D
 

Douglas

Old School KSUX
Don't do any work for FRee!

If a person is serious about dropping thousands of dollars of training; twenty dollars will not be an issue for a four hour intro class around the airport.

I am trying to get all my city's cfi's together. As of now we all charge the same price. I would like to see all of us to raise those prices at all airports in the metro.
 

bloodhound96

Well-Known Member
I am trying to get all my city's cfi's together. As of now we all charge the same price. I would like to see all of us to raise those prices at all airports in the metro.

Isn't that, um, collusion? you know, price fixing? I'm pretty sure that's illigal.
 

mhcasey

Well-Known Member
Do you have access to airplanes, or are you hoping to pick up student's with their own airplanes? Here's a few suggestions:

1) Talk to every CFI you can find. Someone out there has too many students and might help you out.

2) The Ground School: Charge a decent rate, but put everything you've got into it. You've probably paid >30k to get certified. Charge and act accordingly. Your own advertising efforts will make or break this, but with the right students you really only need a couple to keep you busy.

3) Keep washing airplanes and doing b**** work. I stopped eventually when I had enough students, but it's a great way to meet people with nicer airplanes, or that guy's friend with an airplane, or his other friend interested in getting started, etc.

4) Make good business cards and leave them everywhere you go.

5) Is there a university in Louisville? Better yet, a private university (aka someplace that has a ton of kids with money and spare time?) Better yet, a private university with an Aerospace or other engineering program? Talk to profs, give a speech to a class, or at least hang up some flyers (college kids are not real likely to respond to flyers...but nobody else is either).

6) I knew a guy that tried to get something set up at my local community college to actually offer PPL training as a course. I'm not sure what reqs the school would have for you, but from what I could tell it was only this guy's incompetence and lack of professionalism that prevented him from doing this.

7) If you are at a flight school, see if any former instructors left contact info for their students...your management (did I say management and flight school in the same paragraph?) might have a master list or something too. Call everyone on that list.

Like with anything else, face time and a professional demeanor go exponentially further than flyers, business cards, etc. That said, I'd go with everything short of a radio ad until you get a few bites. Good luck!
 
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