I want to touch on this side subject of equipment and instructor recommendations.
Originally Posted by oldschoolskier
I feel that one of the things needed to be a higher level instructor is being trained as equipment fit experts. Not so much as making a boot fit perfect to tuning a ski perfection, but more to recommending the type of equipment changes are required to best suit an individual skier to achieve the best results in the type of skiing that the student does along with the skills need to make that particular equipment perform.
Ski design and application is significantly more complex than before. 25-35 years ago a good GS (SL) ski could do just about anything from powder to bumps to trees to ice. Ski selection was primarily limited to GS or SL for varying degrees of ability for the consumer market. GS being more towards the shapes of today just not as exaggerated.
Today we have park, front side. gs/sl, cheaters, masters, powder, bc, fat skies, all around not to mention the technologies involved in the skis.
Boots no different in that regard from soft and comfy to stiff, tight race boots.
Being guided to the right ski and the boot to match is more important than ever. A park boot on a race ski will never give the performance expected.
Tuning same thing....1/3, 1/2, 0.5/4 or whatever not to mention base grinds and waxes.
The people that see this are instructors and they should be trained to recognize these issues and encouraged to speak up and make recommendations.
So in addition to teaching skills on modern skis, identifying the correct equipment match is just as important. Now if only students would listen .
PS Sorry to the instructors don't have a good formula to get you compensated for equipment/tuning recommendations you make. Maybe a possible ticket system that allows some sort of compensation from skis shops based on the report that you write say $5 to $10 paid to the PSIA/CSIA by the ski shop and forward to the instructors at the end of the season as either monies or credit to the following years membership fees?
All of the above is true, although I don't personally think that skiing skills change that much with equipment. If you are a strong skier with a decent technical foundation moving between ski types won't be a big deal.
We don't have a formula to get directly compensated for advice and recommendations. To me that is part of what a student is paying for when they book a lesson. I am happy to provide the best information I can about skiing, equipment, tuning, restaurants, and life in general before during and after the lesson. JHMR does have a program for recognizing instructors who refer business to their retail outlets. I'll comment more on this farther down.
Originally Posted by markojp
Not being prickly, but it seems you're assuming equipment issues aren't addressed by instructors. IMH experience, this isn't true. Any L3 and most L2's can help. The basics of ski type, etc.... is covered in both the manuals and testing. I've taken clients into the boot fitter that the bottom of the hill to have work done, and have gotten more advanced skiing clients to take out a different pair of skis from the mountain shop demo fleet if it was appropriate for the conditions. Would a spiff be nice for me if my effort resorted in a purchase? Sure, but in my mind this is a part of the 'I get pro deals' obligation. We promote both the skills and the equipment necessary to get to the customers' desired outcome. I don't think I've ever had a private where gear didn't come up at some point. In a beginner lesson, it might be introduction to the parts of the ski and what they do. If there's an obvious gear problem, I can take a client into our rental area an get them a ski and or boot. Where there could be more education for many instructors is basic foot fit and foot anatomy. It's something that any staff trainer has to know, but there's so much product, unless one's spent significant time in a shop fitting boots, you're unlikely to be able to narrow down boot choices for a client very effectively yet alone have the skill set to alter boots as necessary. The more important part is to know which questions to ask, how to determine if a boot is too big or small (both length and volume), recognize equipment issues when you're watching them ski and move, and most importantly, know WHO and WHERE you can send your client to for timely help.
I agree with all of this and have made plenty of gear recommendations that did and didn't result in students buying gear. I happen to believe that most instructors I know have spent a large amount of time as "civilians" before turning pro and have pretty specific ideas about what makes a ski good. This is of course a fairly personal bias. I would agree that a pro with 10 years of full time experience is better able to make recommendations for a "student" rather than for themselves in ways that a first year instructor probably can't. Most people who care enough about skiing to turn pro do know a few things about gear. Witness all of the gear threads on Epic that are mostly populated by non-pros. Mark is exactly right when he says the biggest thing isn't the ability to make specific recommendations as much as it is the knowledge of where to send a client so that client gets the best service and advice from a professional sales person.
Originally Posted by fatbob
I'd think so too re professionalism, I was thinking more of the limited need to sample/demo others when you're a one brand guy and get a killer deal on it
In my world people who are legitimate pros have no trouble getting pro pricing from industry reps, or even shops. It's not just one guy offering discounted skis out behind the dumpster. If I want anything, I can find out who the local rep is, contact that person, introduce myself as a professional, and make a deal. The first time I took advantage of a pro deal, I walked up to the shop owner and asked him what he could do for me. It was easy and awesome to get exactly what I wanted and be treated like a valued professional while getting a great deal.
Originally Posted by scadvice
I think this could be a good idea, especially if there was a method of some compensation with instructor pay being as low as it is. Say a tag with the recommendations checked off, this also would act as a finders fee commission slip plus a 5% discount to the customer for making the purchase. I suspect that the only way a resort would be interested in promoting something like this is if they were first promoting products carried in their local (resort owned) shop or with some sort of agreement to participating local shops in the program. Presented properly to the public, and with the right instructor training, I can see this as an excellent method to provide revenue and service that would draw customers to the resorts to make equipment purchases on the hill, rather than the big box stores down the hill.
We don't want to forget services, tuning, waxing, and boot fitting either.
I have seen some absolutely downright bad selections in their own gear made by Level I's, and even some Level II instructors at times, so I'm for a separate training certificate to allow an instructor to do this, and further to have it incorporated into the Level III program as a standard requirement.
This training should not be designed to circumvent the ski shop people but to augment the services they provided. Instructors with the certificate should be required to familiarize themselves with what the local shop/s equipment and services are before they are allowed to function in this regard.
Originally Posted by oldschoolskier
No I'm not assuming that of the good instructors because they do, given by example of those on this site, however, a lot of instructors don't because they have insuffiecent knowledge and/or experience as there is a cost attached to this.
The intent was to support the fact that instructor play an even more important role in this especially with modern equipment more so than ever before, besides teaching skills.
The only question becomes how can instructors be compensated to take the extra effort required to gain this knowledge/experience as there is a high cost to it as it is only fair (besides of course the self satisfaction of having a student progress and the love of skiing as these don't offset those extra costs).
On the instructors side on this one .
I have a "special" relationship with JH Sports and have basically unlimited access to demos. I am pretty sure that any instructor could get free demo time just by asking, provided that they aren't asking during a rush period or trying to demo the hottest new powder ski on a big powder day. I have wanted to ski the whole wall for about 5 years and never quite make time to get through all of them. I'm going to try a bit harder this year, but it is a pain to demo skis on days when I'm working. I will often take out a free demo if my student demos. JH Sports used to have hourly demos up on top of the Gondola and sometimes my students would take advantage of those. Like drug dealers, the shop offered the first hour for free for MSS students and $5/hr after that and it was a quick in and out to swap skis. My students almost never got charged for any extra time. Sadly this is going away this year. The word is that there will be a new food outlet where the mid mountain demos used to be.
Originally Posted by markojp
Again, I wonder where the idea the instructors don't know or care about gear originates. Does a new or first season L1 know what's going on in the gear world? Unless they've worked at a shop or come from a gear intensive discipline of the sport (racing, park,etc...) it's unlikely they'll have a thorough knowledge base. And yes, Ihad to give a gear and boot blurb during my L2 exam as required professional knowledge. Sure, some L2's make poor gear choices, but this is infrequent in my experience. At some point a trainer or SSD will comment on this if an instructor's gear is getting in the way of their skiing. The interesting gear crux for many L2's is finding a ski and dialing in their boot fit to do their L3. I don't know a successful candidate that hasn't given a fair amount of thought to this.
By the time an instructor is a viable L3 candidate, they have been around the culture of skiing and gear long enough to have become capable of talking about skiing and gear for ridiculous amounts of time. Just ask my wife and some of the other spouses who have endured listening to conversations move into this realm and linger there without warning .
Originally Posted by yogaman
I was in a lift line with a fellow instructor one day several years ago and was introduced to his student. His student, a gentleman probably in his 60's, was all excited about his new ski boots. At the top of the lift we went our separate ways but a short time later I noticed this instructor and his student skiing under me as I rode the lift again. Having a fair bit of experience with boot alignment I watched the skier in his new boots. It appeared to me as though his boots were very poorly set up for alignment as I watched him ski. I'm thinking the skier was around a level 4-5 skier. Later on when I saw the instructor again, I mentioned the skier and the apparent alignment issues I saw. Sadly, the instructors response was that he teaches skiing and didn't really know much about the subject. The skier was so proud of his new boots, that the instructor said he would have been hesitant to say much anyway. YM
If that person was my student, I would first complement them on finding a boot that they love. I would share my observations with them and tell them specifically how I think that getting the new boot even more dialed in and perfect will improve their skiing and their overall satisfaction with the boot. I would point out that most reputable shops will adjust boots that they sell with no additional charge. If it wasn't my student, I would let the other instructor know that they will get better lesson results and likely better tips and return customers if they learn how to better serve the needs of their clients.
Here is the run down on the "compensation" for instructors where I work. We have a referral program which tracks sales of all kinds that are referred by employees. As an instructor, I have more direct contact with the public than a parking lot attendant or most other employees, but all employees can participate. We get a direct kickback of 5% of every $500 that is linked to us. This is paid in the form of "Mountain Money" which is loaded onto a card they give you and can be redeemed for what ever you want at any company store. I use it to buy lunch when my students don't pick it up. You get $0 for $499, $25 for $999, and $50 for $1,000.... etc.. It is a nice perk, but not enough to make me want to hard sell anyone. These numbers apply to all sales including gear, rentals, tunes, food, etc. What the guest gets is a 10% discount for using the referral. This 10% will sometimes be applied on top of sales prices. Season pass holders get 15% by using the referral. Within this program the people who have the most gear type referrals get additional perks. I was very surprised to find out this fall that I am the number 3 guy over the life of the program. I have gotten a free loaner set of skis and bindings of my choice every year for the last 5 years. I am always surprised to be in the top tier for sales because I don't hard sell or even really try to sell at all, I only make suggestions and always try to explain specifically why I am suggesting something. I hate the idea that we should be trying to separate people from their money and usually only offer suggestions when asked or when the gear is so wrong that it really is holding someone back. I also don't push people towards "my shop" if they have a good relationship with a shop at home or have desire for product that "my shop" doesn't carry. I am always willing to personally walk students into any shop and introduce them to a bootfitter or other sales person, but don't that often. I think that most people think it over, go in on their own, and I reap the benefits. This year, they made it a bit harder to get free skis and I thought that I might not be getting a pair. I had asked for a pair of Fischer Motive 95s based on the glowing report of my primary shop contact. Because of my interest in a Fischer ski and my use of Fischer Vacuum 130 boots for the last three seasons, the Fischer Rep decided to give me a second pair of Fischer skis this season. I haven't signed anything that says that I can only ski Fischer or that I will only recommend Fischer and don't plan on doing either of those things, but I am grateful and excited for the opportunity to ski Fischer this season. I have always been up front with students about where I get my skis and will continue to be as transparent as possible. I have been selecting Rossignol for my personal skis for the last 4 seasons and have happily steered clients into other brands that I thought might be better for them. I view myself as an advocate of my skiing guests and not a shill for the shop or any manufacturer. I think that people tend to take my advice because I am not really trying to sell them something and am really only trying to help them by giving them the best advice that I can and they can tell. I think if I got greedy and motivated to sell them something, they would also be able to tell. I think we have a Kick Ass system going and everybody is winning. One of the reasons the shop likes me so much is that I get pretty high sales numbers one pair of goggles or gloves at a time. There are a few people who get clients who go in and buy thousands of dollars worth of stuff at a time. I tend to have a higher number of low dollar sales that add up. They like my consistency.