Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Spur of the Moment

Sometimes, right when I get to settle in for what I expect to be a slow afternoon, it suddenly picks up.

After lunch, I started shuffling some paperwork around, and got a phone call for an air-ride. There are a few pilots around who have only a commercial license but no instructor certificate, so I try to give those flights to those guys, since they can't conveniently earn hours any other way. Got that set up, then a guy showed up in the office asking about lessons. He was referred by Phil, a former instructor here, who now flies for Colgan Airlines (contracted regional airline for US Air).

He wanted to know when we could set up an introductory flight, and was surprised when I said we could do it right then.

My philosophy concerning intro flights is different than many schools have. Many, I've noticed, tend to worry that they will lose money on the flight, so they cut corners. They all want to be in the listing, because it is free advertising. The catch is, they have to offer an intro for only $49, which makes it difficult to take any profit from that flight. Some schools cut the flight short just a little bit in the process, to save a few dollars.

I think that is the exact opposite of what they ought to do. The owners of the aircraft here are the only people I report to, and we all agree that the better way is to be willing to take a small loss on that flight, in order to make the customer happy, and more likely to return. If the customer walks away happy because he received good value for the money he spent, he is likely to come back. And you just never know how much that customer is worth in the end. At some times, we have offered free introductory flights.

We decided as a company, that we are willing to lose a few dollars for a customer that is potentially going to be giving us $30,000 in the future. That is a no-brainer, but one a lot of businesses miss.

This guy is a reasonable prospect, and very interested. For that type of customer, I am willing to spend the time to answer all the questions, and really discuss it.

So I didn't fly much today, but I think it was still profitable.


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