Smiling? I must have been thinking about the actual flying part!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

aviation frustration

aahg! Sorry so long in between posts, I've been knee deep in other work. I still need to finish part two, and will do it today or tomorrow, but right now I have a bee in my bonnet, and I'm about to exterminate it! Well, I wish it were that simple actually, but at least I will have said my piece on it. There is such a demand for commercial pilots right now that required times are at an unbelievable low. SO if you are looking to start applying for those positions, strike now, the iron's HOT! This leads me to the overall condition of flight schools today, and in my city, wow, poor is an understatement. The demand for quality pilots really can't be met if the schools are going to continue on with the apathy they currently demonstrate. Yeah, you can go to NDU, or Embry Riddle, or Westwind etc, pay through the nose and owe that loan for a good long time, (unless of course mom and dad are paying) since starting pay for pilots is pathetic and inexcusable. (that is another complicated subject entirely which will be addressed later in this blog, at least a couple of weeks down the road) Of course you will come out of these schools not just owing alot of money, but unfortunately, also thinking you are Gods gift to the industry, driving your regional training classmates to the brink of insanity with your boring prattle about how much better you are than them and how you can't believe you are even in the same classroom with the likes of them. Let me first say this, not ALL of you come out like that, but most do, and frankly you are viewed as the spoiled child, and found to be completely intolerable by the pilots who suffered and saved and flew their butts off as CFI's to get to that regional classroom! So if you are reading this, think about that the next time you address a pilot who didn't have the option to attend that high end school; and try on a little respect, you'll find that a little bit of humble goes a long way with these pilots! Ok- now to the issue on my mind today. WHAT THE HECK is going on with the schools? It's been a downward spiral in these parts for a while but now they are just at an all time low on caring. The owners are either not involved but still sticking their noses in just enough to really irritate the management to the point of throwing it away for another line of work, or they are on serious burn out and really don't give two hoots about what the student needs. I hope that the owners of these businesses read these words, because the students needs are more important than your greed! Students, please read this over and watch for these things, this is valuable information for you! This is a business that involves peoples DREAMS! Their aspirations! This is not a McDonalds where you don't have to see that customers broken dreams. You are not selling hamburgers that really won't matter if it's right 2 days from now! The students you are seeing now are wanting one of two things,
A. Quality instruction for the personal enrichment of someones life,
B. Quality instruction for the student who dreams of flying commercially.

Category A. Ok, these guys and gals want to have fun, they want to enjoy every moment of their training, they are doing this because they want to enjoy it.
Category B. This group has an entire lifetime of this wrapped up in what you provide them with. They have goals which need your assistance to be acheived.

Without regard to the type of student you are dealing with, you are responsible for ensuring some very important things. Maintenance and FAR's aside, obviously these are at the very core of training. I want to talk about your CFI's, managers and customer service. YES, customer service! Are you keeping track of what is happening with each student? Do you know if they are happy with the quality of instruction? Did you match them with a CFI that is right for them? Are they frustrated? Here's a good question for you, are you more interested in their money than their success? There is a frighteningly high percentage of students who never finish; because they are FRUSTRATED! I am not suggesting anything is free, or that someone who can't make their payments should be allowed to rack up a bill. What I AM saying is that you are dealing with people and personalities, emotions and dreams on a long term basis. Do you want to be responsible for another human beings failure to acheive their dreams? Do you care? Do you pay attention to your CFI's? Do you notice if they are providing good instruction? Do their students feel they are free to talk to management about how they are doing? How long is it taking your CFI to complete a student? Are they taking too long? If the CFI doesn't have the skills to give good training, or they are mismatched with a student who's learning style doesn't match the teaching style, they will quickly find that they are paying more than they had anticipated, and may very well give up. I cannot stress enough how important the student/CFI relationship is. Learning and teaching styles have to match up, CFI's are able to make or break both the student and the business!
More on CFI's, are your CFI's happy? Yeah we all know the majority are teaching for time building, but that doesn't mean you should treat them like a disposable commodity. If you are good to your CFI's, if you respect them and get involved with care and understanding that they are also trying to reach a dream, they will be better instructors! Don't over staff ! Your CFI's are trying to make a living at this and need enough students to pay the bills! YOU as management and/or Cheif Pilot must set the tone of your school, and the customer and CFI's are your bread and butter. Set a tone that is happy, celebrate every accomplishment of your customers and CFI's, and do it because YOU care! Give your CFI's a bonus when they have a student pass the checkride, show them you are proud of them when they solo a student, take pictures for the student and put them on your website! Tell your students they are doing well! Ask them how they are feeling about the training EVERY TIME you see them, find out if they are having problems before they throw in the towel, save that dream and celebrate the benchmarks! People sense insincerity, if you don't care, go into another business, do us all a favor and get out of Aviation, and go sit in a back office somewhere where no one ever has to be a victim of your apathy and greed. One final thought before I am done, Chief Pilots, flight school owners and managers, please, acknowledge the beauty of a CFI that loves to teach, they are rare, and needed. Don't let your own frustration ever be taken out on your CFI's, they are not your personal crap catcher! Treat them with respect and they will treat you and their students the same way!
DEEP BREATH IN, and let it out. I'm better now that I've said all that--

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I couldn't have said it better myself! When a student or renter (i.e., the customer) chooses to spend their disposable income in aviation [which can be in the thousands of dollars], they deserve far more than what many get. As with any business/industry, customers talk. If a customer is happy, everyone within earshot will know. Likewise, if they are unhappy (due to poor customer service, poor maintenance/upkeep of airplanes, hard to schedule planes or flight instructors), everyone will hear that too. The majority of customers are not stupid. Regardless of whether they ever say anything (and many won't), they pick up if a CFI is there for them as a customer or merely to add to their logbook totals, whether or not management really wants their business (or just their money), and whether or not the front desk person is glad to see them or could care less that they're there.