Flight School Student Retention

AeroT

Well-Known Member
Anybody have any good ideas for how to keep customers who are currently training or after they get their certificate? It seems these days people fly to get the "license" and then drop off the face of the earth or they just can't afford it. I'm looking for ideas on how to keep people around and flying and staying active in the GA community!
 

NickH

Dank Meme
Bring them into the community... Set up a flying event with a few planes and pilots. Plan a flight to and day at an aviation museum, pair up the pilots (I went for similar age) with one flying each way, and splitting the rental cost, and try to get as many planes going as possible.
 

Murdoughnut

Well sized member
I've seen flight schools operate a "club" that's still for-profit, but gives a discount on rentals for club members (maybe an annual fee).
 

Houston

Well-Known Member
Give them a call once in a while. Send a postcard. Establish an email group list where you give aviation updates, tips, and special offers. I.E., stay in contact without covering them in spam.
 

BCTAv8r

Well-Known Member
I'm not sure what to do about the students who simply can't afford to fly, as I'm currently in that position and short of significantly cutting down flying costs, there just isn't much that can be done.

Otherwise, I've noticed that the chief instructor at my school occasionally calls inactive students and tries to get them to schedule a lesson. It seems to work.
 

tomokc

Well-Known Member
Keeping them current is a big deal. When they get past 90 days and can't carry passengers, then it adds a recurrency flight to the one they had planned.

Be very active in social media. Take photographs of students and renters doing fun & unusual things (solo, checkride, rental to an interesting place), aerial photographs of downtown skylines, four people standing in front of "Sky King's Burger Barn" on a $100 burger run, night shots of fireworks, and short video clips.

When they see other people having fun in an airplane, they'll want to have fun in an airplane.
 

HVYMETALDRVR

Well-Known Member
One of my students would occasionally meet some stripper and promise her a "bay tour" but Wings was never quite able to get a full code share going with the Pink Pony.


Sent from my TRS-80
I hear that's a pretty sweet corporate gig, though it would make for a lot of 'slpainin' on subsequent interviews if you moved on! o_O
 

SixAlpha

Well-Known Member
Organize fly outs to a local $100 hamburger joint, pancake breakfast, air show, etc.. That way people can split the costs of flying.
 

X-Forces

Big Black Guy
One of my students would occasionally meet some stripper and promise her a "bay tour" but Wings was never quite able to get a full code share going with the Pink Pony.


Sent from my TRS-80
Ah......

The memories of Bliss Showclub after successful course completion. Never had such motivated students!
 

jrh

Well-Known Member
jrh has done quite a bit of research on this stuff.
Actually, all of the previously mentioned ideas are pretty much what I would suggest. You need to find a way for the customer to have fun and feel like they're a part of something bigger than themselves. Some of it will depend on demographics...stuff the college student crowd will find appealing might not mean much to a 50 year old businessman with a wife and kids, or vice versa. Although I must say, I'm surprised by how effective social media has become across all age groups in recent years.

One additional point to consider--try to mentor your instructors on how to teach people to have fun. It might sound ridiculous, but the way an instructor approaches training will play a role in how the customer flies after they get their certificate.

For instance, some instructors are all business....learn the PTS maneuvers, do it as quick as possible, take a checkride, get done. They're excellent at getting people done quickly and with minimum cost, which is certainly a consideration, but it tends to lead to boring flights after they have their license....unless the customer is the type of person to actively search out fun on their own (participate in internet forums, watch YouTube videos, etc.).

Their are tons of ways for instructors to add a bit of fun to their lessons. During cross country training, go somewhere with an aviation museum or restaurant on the field. Schedule a lesson on a Saturday morning and stop somewhere in the middle of it for a pancake breakfast. When teaching short field landings, demo a landing yourself, with a specific touchdown target, then make it a friendly contest to see if the customer can do better than the instructor. They might be more likely to participate in a spot landing contest or amateur cross country air race in the future if they've tasted competition.

Heck, even the way an instructor talks about flying will make a difference. When I was teaching, I loved telling customers about some cool new airplane I got to fly, new avionics I played with, an air show I flew to, or whatever. Hopefully that sort of talk will inspire them to get checked out in a different airplane or visit somewhere new after they have their certificate, because they heard me talking about how cool it was.

Sometimes money really is the limiting factor after a person completes training, but sometimes they don't fly simply because they don't know what they can do! Make sure they're not in the latter category.
 

skypilot6

Well-Known Member
Once a month my local flight school does a "Hangar Flying" event, just a few hours to get together have some food (hot dogs and Hamburgers and what not) and just share stories and hang out. There is usually a topic of discussion as well and sometimes a guest speaker that is local in the community. Now this may not bring in students or keep them flying, but it brings like minded people together and helps keep an intrest in aviation.
 

scooter2525

Very well Member
Bring them into the community... Set up a flying event with a few planes and pilots. Plan a flight to and day at an aviation museum, pair up the pilots (I went for similar age) with one flying each way, and splitting the rental cost, and try to get as many planes going as possible.
I like that idea. Bet it might go over up here.
 

Whatusername

Drive hard and NEVER lift.
Just a few things to add here.

1. Reduced rental rate incentives: This can be done a number of ways. You could offer a reduced rental rate for a student that aces a written or passes a check ride. For example if you have a student pass a PPL written he gets x amount off his rental on his next lesson. You can also do this for people that have not flown in a while too.

2. In addition to having a breakfast/lunch run XC try lining up a tour. This could be of an FSS or a corporate flight department.

3. This is more of a ground school thing. But take some of your students to the mx area to see avionics being worked on or a plane in the middle of an annual.
 
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