Independent CFI questions?

astec

Well-Known Member
Hey all,


So I'm looking at becoming a CFI in a medium small city in the southeast US. I would be the only instructor in the city, therefore all flight business is mine. I'm wondering what you all would recommend as far as how to go about teaching people. Should I make my own curriculum? Or should I just go by what the PTS says for that particular student. What would you all reccommend? Also, what's a fair, resonable rate to charge for instructor fees? You know, to tack on to the aircraft/fuel rental price.

Thanks Alot Guys
 

jrh

Well-Known Member
First, are you *sure* you're the *only* instructor in the city? Even in a small town there are usually one or two independent CFIs floating around. The reason I ask is because it's always a good idea to get to know your potential competition, as well as what the local scene is like for independent instructors. It seems as though there are always a lot of politics at airports, so you want to make sure you're not stepping on any toes with FBO owners, other CFIs, etc. before you start doing a lot of instructing. Stay on everybody's good side as much as possible.

As for your curriculum, I'd standardize it as much as possible. Have everybody get the same kit from Jeppesen, or King Schools, or whatever you prefer teaching from. No reason to reinvent the wheel by making your own. I know an independent CFI who cobbles together lesson plans and a syllabus for each student he works with, based on whatever books they already have when they come to him. I'd drive myself crazy if I tried to do that. Unless a person is most of the way through their training, have them get whatever materials you tell them to get and base their training off of that.

For instructor fees, I wouldn't work for less than $40/hour, but you could go as much as $50 or $60/hour if you know what you're doing. Whatever you do, make absolutely certain you're not undercutting local guys who have been around longer than you.

Any other questions? Working as an independent CFI can be very rewarding, but it's also an up hill battle at times. You're essentially a one man flight school and have to treat it with the same level of professionalism.
 

astec

Well-Known Member
First, are you *sure* you're the *only* instructor in the city? Even in a small town there are usually one or two independent CFIs floating around. The reason I ask is because it's always a good idea to get to know your potential competition, as well as what the local scene is like for independent instructors. It seems as though there are always a lot of politics at airports, so you want to make sure you're not stepping on any toes with FBO owners, other CFIs, etc. before you start doing a lot of instructing. Stay on everybody's good side as much as possible.

As for your curriculum, I'd standardize it as much as possible. Have everybody get the same kit from Jeppesen, or King Schools, or whatever you prefer teaching from. No reason to reinvent the wheel by making your own. I know an independent CFI who cobbles together lesson plans and a syllabus for each student he works with, based on whatever books they already have when they come to him. I'd drive myself crazy if I tried to do that. Unless a person is most of the way through their training, have them get whatever materials you tell them to get and base their training off of that.

For instructor fees, I wouldn't work for less than $40/hour, but you could go as much as $50 or $60/hour if you know what you're doing. Whatever you do, make absolutely certain you're not undercutting local guys who have been around longer than you.

Any other questions? Working as an independent CFI can be very rewarding, but it's also an up hill battle at times. You're essentially a one man flight school and have to treat it with the same level of professionalism.
Yes.. I am sure I am the only one. There are a few with CFI's.. but once is a chief pilot for a major lead/trucking/plastics corporation based in this town, and the other works for execujet. And as far as FBO's go, there are none. All that's on the field is the airport office, and they have one 172 which is rented out. However, I'll also be working as a aircraft cleaner/waxer while doing instructing on the side. And just the fact I'm involved with this company gets me presidence over anyone in the town.

As far as cirriculum. would you suggest making them buy the kit? or would u reccommend I provide the one I have for use? I have the entire Kit, and most if not all the materials are un opened/unused. I'm just wondering, because I do not want the fact that they need to buy the expensive kit to drive any business away.

And for pay, what price would you recomend? The previous guy who was doing some training.. just BFR's, IPC's, stuff like that, charged 30 an hour. But that's the reason I'm heading out there, because he would prefer not to do any primary training.

By the way, I'm 18, and a newly certificated CFI as of 11/24

Thanks Man!
 

Douglas

Old School KSUX
And for pay, what price would you recomend?
Thanks Man!
He already answered you on that. You need to charge what the market will bear.
Once you get a good reputation and your ink dries a little on your certificate you can charge what ever you deserve. You got some sage advice when he said don't under cut people.


if they can't afford a training kit they can't afford you or the airplane either.
 

bap327

New Member
"I'll also be working as a aircraft cleaner/waxer while doing instructing on the side"

Sounds like you are a full time cleaner and a part time CFI. Why is that?
 

astec

Well-Known Member
"I'll also be working as a aircraft cleaner/waxer while doing instructing on the side"

Sounds like you are a full time cleaner and a part time CFI. Why is that?

well it'll be more of full time both.. I mean.. I guess technically that's right. It'll just depend on the demand of my services.
 

Stratopilot

Well-Known Member
Hey all,


So I'm looking at becoming a CFI in a medium small city in the southeast US. I would be the only instructor in the city, therefore all flight business is mine. I'm wondering what you all would recommend as far as how to go about teaching people. Should I make my own curriculum? Or should I just go by what the PTS says for that particular student. What would you all reccommend? Also, what's a fair, resonable rate to charge for instructor fees? You know, to tack on to the aircraft/fuel rental price.

Thanks Alot Guys


STEP 1. BUY THE SAVVY FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR!
STEP 2. JOIN NAFI!!!
STEP 3. JOIN 3-4 FLYING CLUBS
STEP 4. MARKET MARKET MARKET!!

Use a standardized commercially avaliable cirrumculum for liability purposes for now (jeppesen is pretty good). Once you get more experience at being a CFI and get some street cred, develop your own to help you get your MCFI, which is a must if your going to be a successful indy. As for reasonable rates, I would research and make it comparable with a city of similar size and cost of living. If you live in LA, its perfectly acceptable to charge 60-80 per hour. If your in Dallas like I am, 35-40 is what the market is going to bear at this point.

About 10%-15% of your income should go towards marketing. Post cards are ok IF you have a way of determining they are sucessful and only use them if you can target them to people that can afford it. I use a website, it might take a while for it to register on Google and such, but I get about 3-5 students a month from it. Oh and Discovery flights, Discovery Flights Discovery flights!


Hope this helps. If you need any other suggestions PM me.
 

astec

Well-Known Member
thanks guys for the great advice. I'm hoping I really do well in this town haha. With this company, I should also get some baron, piper commanche, and possibly some bonanza time on the side. They own a fleet, I mean fleet of planes, from B-25, to a 3/4 scale P-51 which is wicked fast, to 2 G-2's and a Citation.


So thanks guys, and I'll hit yall back up if I have to with any questions.
 

jrh

Well-Known Member
As far as cirriculum. would you suggest making them buy the kit? or would u reccommend I provide the one I have for use? I have the entire Kit, and most if not all the materials are un opened/unused. I'm just wondering, because I do not want the fact that they need to buy the expensive kit to drive any business away.
Yes, have them buy the kit. As has been stated, if they can't afford the kit, they can't afford to fly. Simple as that.

Besides, if you lend out your kit, how are you going to teach more than one person at a time?

Oh, and one last point to make in general--selling flight training on price alone is rarely a good strategy. Sell it on value. You can charge more because you work harder, you're more prepared, your schedule is more flexible, your location is closer, you have access to better planes, etc. than the competition (even if that competition is in the next town over). Don't worry about being the cheapest guy in the area, because somebody will always come along and find a way to do it cheaper. It'll turn in to a race to the bottom where everybody loses. Instead, strive to be the best *value* in the area. If a person can't understand value over pure price, they aren't worth flying with.

And for pay, what price would you recomend? The previous guy who was doing some training.. just BFR's, IPC's, stuff like that, charged 30 an hour. But that's the reason I'm heading out there, because he would prefer not to do any primary training.
If the last guy charged $30/hour, I'd say $35-$40 is reasonable. Whatever you do, don't drop your rates if somebody balks at you initially. When I was working as an independent instructor I moved to a new town and one guy's jaw dropped when I told him I charged $45/hour. He said other CFIs were charging $25/hr. I basically told him, that's fine, I'm $45/hour, and he can choose to fly with somebody else if he'd like to. He never flew with me, I made money from other clients, and hopefully both of us were satisfied...I know I sure was.

By the way, I'm 18, and a newly certificated CFI as of 11/24
So? You're a CFI. You're a professional instructor. Let me say that again. You're a ***professional*** ***instructor***.

It might be oversimplifying it to say age and experience don't matter, but in a way, they don't. If you act like a true professional (always come prepared, on time, looking sharp, friendly, etc.) there's no reason you shouldn't charge accordingly.

I see CFIs sell themselves short all the time. They think just because they haven't been doing it for as long as another instructor that they must be worth less. It's nonsense. The only reason they are worth less is because they tell themselves they are. If you roll out of bed in the morning and tell yourself, "I'm worth $40/hour because I'm a darn good CFI," you'll carry yourself in a completely different way than if you say, "I'm only worth $25/hour because I don't really know what I'm doing."

Now, all of that being said, there is a certain value in experience. That's not to say young instructors are worth less, it's that experienced instructors are worth more. Maybe you should start out at $35/hour, but with a clear understanding in your own mind from Day 1 that every 500 hours of instruction given, or six months, or one year, or whatever you think is fair, you're going to give yourself a raise up to $40, $45, $50, and so on.

Good luck with everything. It sounds like you have a lot of opportunities in your area!
 

bap327

New Member
jrh great post. I think this should be a must read for all new CFI's.

astec, good luck with the great opportunity, sounds like you found a gem!
 

astec

Well-Known Member
ya JRH, thanks for that insight... and bap thanks... i hope i do end up doing well.. i'm pretty excited....

thanks all...
 

usphsfnp

Well-Known Member
Stratopilot-
I was looking at your website, and I was wondering about the aircraft you have available. Are you affiliated with an FBO up there that allows you access to their aircraft? Are flight schools more ammicable to having independent contractors rather than employees?
 

Stratopilot

Well-Known Member
Stratopilot-
I was looking at your website, and I was wondering about the aircraft you have available. Are you affiliated with an FBO up there that allows you access to their aircraft? Are flight schools more ammicable to having independent contractors rather than employees?
Most flight schools will give you access to thier aircraft as an independent if you supply your own students. Money is money to them and they really don't care where it comes from. They may want a small cut of your instruction fee but its not really that much. There are one or two places around here that are pretty persnickity about who flies thier planes but all in all every one I've approached has been open to the idea.

I'm on with Lonestar Flyers out of Addison right now, and I also instruct for a partnership as well, and I'm going to be joining a flying club at during the first quarter of next year.

Lone Star is a very bare bones operation without a lot of overhead which is why the aircraft are so cheap. It also allows them to focus the money on where the money really needs to be spent, the upkeep and cosmetic appearance of the aircraft. Its ideal for me, great airplanes, and no boss to tell me what to do or pressuring me to fly. I make as little or as much money as I want. :nana2:
 

usphsfnp

Well-Known Member
Good info, thx.
I'm getting ready to start my CFI next month, but I'm still going to keep my full time non-aviation gig. So, I appreciate the information from an independent CFI.
 

Stratopilot

Well-Known Member
Good info, thx.
I'm getting ready to start my CFI next month, but I'm still going to keep my full time non-aviation gig. So, I appreciate the information from an independent CFI.

Keep your full time job, CFI'ing is anything but consistant. Get IFR students for the weeknights, and private/commercial guys for the weekends.
 

astec

Well-Known Member
hey guys, another quick question,

how is it that i collect fee's for flight instruction? since i'm independent, and not everybody pays in cash, how does that work?

thanks
 

Stratopilot

Well-Known Member
hey guys, another quick question,

how is it that i collect fee's for flight instruction? since i'm independent, and not everybody pays in cash, how does that work?

thanks
Paypal, check, cash, quicken also has an option for credit card processing.
 
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