New Flying School - Input Requested

Discussion in 'Hangar Flying' started by Wayne, Mar 17, 2019.

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  1. Mar 18, 2019 #21

    Pops

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    There is a lot to be said about the benefits of starting on the bottom and then moving up one step on the ladder at a time. Learning on a 1940's taildragger, ( Cub, Champ, T-craft, etc, etc.) on a grass strip and starting from the beginning of knowing what the rudder is made for. Then moving up and flying from a county airport with a paved runway, runway lights, VASI light, non-precision instrument approach flying a C-152/172. Then flying from a Class B airport in a complex single and light twin. Flying from each long enough to feel completely at home. And stopping on the ladder where you want. Have fun.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
  2. Mar 19, 2019 #22

    TFF

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    I like the idea of grass and tail draggers. Insurance will say no to a school, I bet. Insurance coverage really is a problem for doing many things that make sense.
     
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  3. Mar 19, 2019 #23

    pwood66889

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    See General Aviation News from February 21, this. Pages 11 and 15.
     
  4. Mar 19, 2019 #24

    Topaz

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    I haven't read the other replies, so forgive me if this is a repeat.

    But you'd go a long way better than most flight schools of my own personal experience, simply to have a genuinely friendly person at the front counter, who greets every single person as soon as they come in the door.

    Not a bored teenager who is texting until the customer gets up to the front desk.
    Not a bored instructor on "desk duty", who is back in the flight-planning room on the computer until the customer says, "hello??" a couple of times up front.
    Not a sign that says, "Back in 15 minutes."
    Not a room full of instructors and/or admin staff who are too busy talking to each other for any one of them to say "hello" to someone coming in the door until that new customer manages to get all the way across the room to the front desk.

    I've personally experienced every single one of these scenarios myself over the years. And believe me, these all say a LOT about your company, loud and clear: "We don't care about you, we just care about your money. Maybe. When we get around to it."
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
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  5. Mar 19, 2019 #25

    jedi

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    There is a lot of good advice on details but being new to the business you need an overall big picture approach.

    You are a pilot and I assume you know how to fly. Treat your business like a new,to you, airplane.

    1. Don't screw up. Do no harm. Don't crash. Many ways to say it but do not do it.
    2. Know that you can and will make mistakes. Search them out. Avoid the big ones and fix the little ones the best, quickest, way possible.
    3. Determine the limitations. No airplane can do everything. Know your plane (and business) its systems and and its limitations.
    4. Follow the regulations. Don't exceed the limits but explore the edges carefully.
    5. Fly the plane. Stay in control of the business. Use it as intended and enjoy the flight. Find new uses without exceeding your limitations.
    6. Don't run out of gas. Finances are limited. If you are going for max range, have a backup fuel stop planned.
    7. The flight is not over till the aircraft is secured.
    8. Do the required maintenance but if it ain't broke don't fix it.
    9. Do post and preflight checks.
    10. Plan to come back and fly again with a goal of doing even better the next time.

    You will need to fill in the details of the above. For example:

    #3. You don't fly a J 3 the same way you fly a Cirrus. Some customers will do better at another facility. Send them to that location. The J 3 pilot may move up to the Cirrus when ready or the Cirrus pilot may want the challenge and fun of the J3. Force either in to the wrong environment and the customer is gone. Know your customers, your community, and your facilities (airport). Is a Lyons Club or Chamber of Commerce pancake breakfast a profitable possibility. Every customer is an individual with specific needs and desires. Find what he/she wants/needs and help them make that happen. Is it necessary to please the family or just the customer? Is social outreach important? Do you need to find customers or are they already looking for you? How can nearby airports add to your fields limitations?

    #6. Some customers have more time than money. Others have more money than time. Tailor the training to the customers needs. The 172 has 4 seats. A young student can learn a lot from the back seat at no additional cost. Invite a drop in wanabe pilot for a demo flight with another student to see how you operate but chose wisely. Warn the student that the passenger my have motion sickness problems. It will increase his awareness of stick and rudder skills and may improve his landings. Good practice for after the PPC check operations. Fuel for the business is revenue, keep it flowing but conserve it and expect that it could quit.

    #9 Determine customer expectations and ask if expectations were met and how you can improve your service.

    The what ifs can go on forever. Continue with the follow ups.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
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  6. Mar 19, 2019 #26

    Topaz

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    In short, you're starting a business that happens to sell flying lessons. You're not giving flying lessons and also earning some money at it. Understand that distinction, and you'll do much better.
     
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  7. Mar 19, 2019 #27

    Victor Bravo

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    ^^This is a gem right here^^.

    One of the things you can do to expand on this is to have someone sit down with the potential student in the beginning (and again after a few lessons) and do a detailed real-world needs/wants assessment. One size does not fit all in virtually every aspect of life.

    Develop some sort of an aviation training matrix, or flow chart, or logic/decision tree, or whatever the correct cubicle-speak term for it is. Then develop an educational plan for each student based on their unique needs, using this tree.

    Importantly, make a big !(#&*$ deal out of this in your advertising, website, and brochures... "We develop the most relevant, most time-efficient, and most cost-effective training experience for YOUR specific goals... not a 'one size fits all' approach. Your time and money is spent more on what you want and need. Schools with only one type of aircraft or one type of training cannot offer this... like a car dealer that sells only one make and model. "

    This will attract more customers, retain new customers, and build a reputation.

    Then, you gotta live up to it :)
     
  8. Mar 19, 2019 #28

    Dan Thomas

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    That one I have to disagree with. If you wait until it breaks, you get cancelled flights and possibly emergencies. When I was director of maintenance at a flight school (as well as flight instructor for a time) we replaced things on a schedule, usually one recommended by the manufacturer. If we were finding that their interval was unreasonably short, we extended it. Doing this, we had almost NO flight cancellations due to unforeseen breakdowns, and NO inflight emergencies.

    Among the most common failures that ground airplanes or cause a bunch of sweat in flight:

    Magnetos and alternators, both of which need internal inspections at 500-hour intervals. Alternators in airplanes spin much faster than they do in cars and that wears out the brushes. Magnetos have points and cams that burn and wear. Not only can they result in an emergency, but they can eat themselves if they're left until they act up, and now you're buying a new one instead of a simple inspection and minor parts replacement.

    Wheel bearings need regular attention. Most still use felt seals, something the automakers abandoned around 100 years ago. Water gets in and starts some radical corrosion as it combines with the grease and reacts, with the metals, to form acids. The bearins can fail at speed on the runway.

    Vacuum pumps fail if they're left long enough. Buy Tempest or Rapco pumps; they have the inspection port for checking vane wear. They won't fail if you replace them when the wear is at the limit.

    Keep the nosewheel linkage tight and free of slop, and get that nosewheel dynamically (not statically) balanced. Balancing it will stop shimmy and the subsequent wear of expensive parts. Stop expecting the shimmy damper to do that. It can't. It's a poor setup.

    Don't buy old airplanes. Even low-time old airplanes have age issues: corrosion, cracks, worn-out cables (from being tied down in the wind) and worst of all, expensive and scarce parts.

    There are many other bits of advice. Consult an older mechanic.
     
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  9. Mar 19, 2019 #29

    jedi

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    Agree. All your comments come under the "required maintenance" heading. Required by good practice and experience. I don't have good aircraft examples but adding fancy wheels to a working car would be an equivalent. Probably more relevant example would be changing a business model that is working for something more expensive that does not add value or save money. In other words don't waste time or money on projects that do not have a return on investment. That could include buying a more expensive trainer (Icon A5) when a less fancy trainer (currently owned and popular Sea Ray or J3 on floats) would do.
     
  10. Mar 20, 2019 #30

    pwood66889

    pwood66889

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    Please remember that "Most aviation businesses fail for Business Reasons, not Aviation ones."
    And that cost/volume is like Weight and Balance; pivotal to staying in the air!
    All the best, Percy
     
  11. Mar 20, 2019 #31

    Wayne

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    Hi all!
    Well what a fabulous set of responses. I could not be more grateful. We have had an absolute flood of business these last few weeks and it has been exhausting and fun at the same time. My daughter is helping us on the front desk which has been invaluable and we are very happy to have her. She is already suggesting we teach her the "pitch" so she can help directly with the customers. The atmosphere at the school is very up-beat and people are thrilled with the change so we are starting on a high note.

    I think our philosophy is on track especially in the light of your comments. Our acquisition of the school has removed the last "silo" at the airport and we are both sales/businessmen from the corporate world so are heavily focused on customer satisfaction and supplying a high quality product. We are running the school like a business and are indeed making sure to differentiate between customer types. I have been chatting with the CFI's about this as well. Some people are there to ram and jam their way to the airlines, and some are bucket listers looking for personal fulfillment of a dream/goal. Radically different types of people.

    I love the idea of integrating the Aeronca Champ into the mix somehow per your comments. We have a very enthusiastic CFI who just loves the thing and I totally get the point you guys made about it being pure flying. For some of our students it could be a real eye opener. I think I'll get my tail-dragger endorsement this year in it as well. I think I forgot to tell you guys I picked up a really nice, almost finished, Pietenpol in the Fall.

    For some reason I feel that it would be a great benefit that, once I get my Cruzer done, I can take "receptive" students up for a ride in it for free just to have fun and help them see there is so much more to flying than just learning. These would be the lifestyle students mostly I'm guessing, and we have a lot of those.

    We got the Sim room painted up and cleaned it looks great. The Redbird will be up and running March 25th. and we have picked up a bunch people who were driving past us to other airports because of the horrible experiences they had. Gotta run, but more later. Thanks for being so willing to share your thoughts, I'm documenting and we are looking at every single one.

    Bathrooms quite clean, especially the ladies room !!
     
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  12. Mar 20, 2019 #32

    Victor Bravo

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    "Under New Management" sign that people see next to the road as they drive by. Maybe another one on the front door, but definitely have one on the street that people are forced to see as they drive by. People who have previously heard unpleasant things won't walk up to the door until after they have learned about the change. So the front door sign is secondary to the street sign.

    Throw a big grand opening BBQ and make sure everyone in the area knows about it. Cough up a little more than minimum level money, and buy better quality hot dogs (big brats, or polish sausages, all beef large size Hebrew National dogs, whatever). Larger and better quality burgers. Get better quality cookies and brownies, and use the nicer plastic disposable plates. Go up a couple of notches on everything about this BBQ. Send a subliminal (and tase bud) message about quality and class. Cans instead of pour-your-own soda bottles.

    At your grand opening BBQ, find a way to get to the local TV news people and print media people. Do a bunch of Young Eagles type flights, but present it as a flight school event not an EAA chapter event. Make sure that the local TV and print media run a story about how flying directly fosters better life outcomes, school attendance, careers, etc. Cash in some favors if you have them, or even spend a little money and hire a hungry local PR agent to get you the news coverage. Incentivize the press agent, they get half of the $500 for doing the work to get this "considered" by the news, and the other half of the $500 if the story is actually printed or broadcast. PR agents are really good at saying they earned their money by submitting or presenting something, but cannot guarantee anything. Make sure they have an incentive for you to get your outcome, not just that they checked the box and "did the best they can".

    Find a press agent that represents some local B-list celebrity or wannabee movie star, or represents some A or B list local politician. The politicians frequently have press agents (called a "flack" in old-school terms) to make sure they are kept in the press. That little PR rodent will see an opportunity to get paid a few hundred extra dollars to put their existing paying client in front of the camera (which is what the client paid them to do already) and make them look like a hero. A win-win for the rodent. (If this were Los Angeles I could bring you a rat or two, but alas...)

    Take the local politician or wannabee movie star up for a quick intro flight lesson, making sure that the news reporter is in the back seat and a little Go-Pro mounted in the airplane can put all of their faces on camera. Then have the PR guy/girlcreate an opportunity afterwards where the politician or celebrity can sit there on camera with the kids that flew the YE type flight, and compare how they felt about flying, what they saw from the higher vantage point, the feeling of freedom, yada yada yada. That should giive the PR people enough horsepower to get this on the air... unlessof course one of the Kardashians changes their toilet paper brand that morning.
     
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  13. Mar 20, 2019 #33

    Pops

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    I helped a friend to get a local flight school started. Up dated all the aircraft with new paint jobs and radios, all had low time engines. Grand opening day. Started a week before with local radio spots for the Grand opening and FREE airplane rides for the Saturday and Sunday. Also the free BBO, and soda and desserts, (Had to send people for more food). Also got published in the local newspaper. We wasn't prepared for the results. Sat morning started with 2 aircraft, I was using my Piper Cherokee and gave rides for 8 hrs each day, about a 3 mile circle of the airport. Before noon it went to 3 airplanes. Sunday it ended up with using 8 single engine airplanes and 2 twins. I gave 175 people rides in the 2 days. VERY, Very hard work. We were swamped with people the both days. I took one man of 90 years old for his first airplane ride and that was worth all the work.

    If you get the word out of the new ownership, be prepared for anything. We were not.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2019
  14. Mar 20, 2019 #34

    Toobuilder

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    Late to the party here but a big Plus 1 to aqusition of a very basic taildragger for initial instruction through solo. NORDO is a plus! Should be something older with some adverse yaw and horrible brakes. Even if they never fly a tawheel again, that first 10 hours will stick with them forever
     
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  15. Mar 21, 2019 #35

    bmcj

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    My suggestion... don’t be this flight school:
     
  16. Mar 21, 2019 #36

    bmcj

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  17. Mar 21, 2019 #37

    bmcj

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    Apparently, everyone who controls airspeed with pitch and altitude with power has been doing it wrong all along. It says the only way to maintain positive control is to use power for speed and pitch for altitude. So much for those old EVIL “stick and rudder” techniques.

    (I tried to edit the first post, but the edit function isn’t working.)
     
  18. Mar 21, 2019 #38

    proppastie

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    Must have hanger and full time mechanic or mechanic available "right now ". The only way to survive is to "keep them flying ".
     
  19. Mar 21, 2019 #39

    BJC

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    That is the method that Air France and a couple of foreign 737 MAX8 operators learned. “We are falling, pull back harder!”


    BJC
     
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  20. Mar 22, 2019 #40

    BBerson

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    That attitude flying is a joke, right?
     

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