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Instructors-Do You Market Your Services?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I know we have a quality group of instructors here who are serious about their profession and the sport as a whole. We talk continuously about getting more folks interested in taking lessons and becoming repeat customers. That said, what do you guys do, if anything, to market your services to the consumer (prospective students)?
post #2 of 20
Personally, I just kinda mention it, but there are a good amount of people who basically whore themselves out trying to drum up business.

Where I work we deal with a lot of "program" lessons (1-hour lesson, set time and day, once a week for 6 weeks - school and rec programs - this includes colleges) and we also have a fair number of "adult program" punch card type setup, no set time or expiration for the lessons, just come in when you want. Typically, if I do anything to try to get some lessons, I just hand out a business card with contact info (so I can book it - get my $3 more - yippie).

However, normally, if I random pick up a private, I'll usually prod to see what they think of the lesson and how they feel, then if it seems like they're learning a lot from me, I'll try to drum up some repeat business, if not, I explore what worked and didn't and often recomend possible other perspectives (if I don't get the repeat private, someone else should).
post #3 of 20
in the course of a lesson, I always tell a client I'm avail for privates, give them a card, etc..

Except for beginner lessons, I always try to write down a tip or 2 for the client to practice. (I put this on my business card). I also explain to them I'm happy to discuss any skiing questions in the future and encourage them to email me if they want. Since the email address on my card has the domain name epicski.com I steer as many as I can to our forum as well.

DC
post #4 of 20
Not usually. I used to have a job doing commissioned sales, and I hated it. On the hill it just feels like shameless self promotion. I'm sure that if I did it, I could get more request privates, but it just feels "icky".
post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnH
Not usually. I used to have a job doing commissioned sales, and I hated it. On the hill it just feels like shameless self promotion. I'm sure that if I did it, I could get more request privates, but it just feels "icky".
It's a question of perspective. If you don't believe at all in the product you're selling, then you have to live with your conscious. However, if you recognize that there isn't a product\service in the world that is perfect- they all have positives and negatives- and you believe you can do more positive for a customer than bad, why feel "icky" about it? If it puts food on the table for the family... even better!
post #6 of 20
That's just it for many of us. Our pro pay does not put food on the table. So selling our services is "work" that we do not need to do.

Some of us let our teaching sell request privates. Handing out our cards when there appears to be some interest is a soft sell approach that gets enough "sales" to keep us happy. I personally like the scheduling freedom that few privates allows me. Teaching 1 hour privates back to back all day long, ending exactly at the top of the hour is too much work.
post #7 of 20
This is a good question, and begs another: what do you mean by marketing?

The most important self-marketing I do is on the job, delivering the lesson. The other stuff--advertising, promotion, salesmanship--is superfluous compared to the marketing punch of providing an exceptional experience that combines learning, achievement, camaraderie, and excitement. If you serve the right blend of those four ingredients, it's likely that your students will be back for more and will tell their family and friends about you.

There is no better marketing than a strong recommendation from someone the prospective student knows and respects.

I don't bother with cards much since the popularization of email. Email's a great way to stay in contact with students. I think getting students' email addresses is far more effective than giving them my card.
post #8 of 20
Yes have an active web sight. Also direct mail to returning guests each year. One thing I have seen is customers seem to change resorts. Breck this year, Deer Valley next year. I see about a three year turn around and they end up back at breck. The other thing is the timing of the spring breaks, never the same for different ages kids even in the same family, hurts bissiness. All seems to work out in the end.

It is great that the skier count is up this year in Co.!
post #9 of 20
My "real job" is as a commisioned sales rep selling advertising and marketing including doing web sites for people. Nothing icky about it if I am matching a customers need with an appropriate solution and voila they get their problem solved, I get a happy customer and also referrals. The best sales training I ever got was getting certified as a ski instructor when the emphasis was more on communication skills and holistic learning. I have my ski instructor business cards and a website but also a "trick" I developed very early in my ski teaching career when I was getting $6.50/hr for group lessons and $17.50/hr for privates was to ride a double chair with each of my students during the group lesson and pick out one thing that I knew I could genuinely help them with in a private and sell it like this: "Mary you are doing something with your knees that is just a lot of motion without movement. I'd love to see you on the dancefloor at the disco tonight (did I mention I started teaching 20 years ago) but on the hill it isn't really helping you. I don't want to address it in the group as it is kinda just for you and it may confuse the others, but if you could book me for an hour tomorrow morning before the group class then I could help you with that." Next ride diffeerent student with a different problem but the same proposition. The ski school director could not figure out why after every group lesson of eight, I had three or four privates being requested for the next day. Then after that one successful private the student either wanted more or was bragging about me to the rest of their friends and family which again generated more business. It has been said in different ways in the posts above, the reward for doing a good job is more work.
Getting the students email is a good idea but it is better if they email you first. Some spam filters may block your message if you are not on the approved senders list. Also include links (the full URL including the http:// because different email programs may need it to make it an active hyperlink) to your personal and/or company website in your signature. Most people will never use them but some who genuinely like you and are interested may follow those and WOW two birds with one seed.
Thanks Again,
Paul W. Hartn├Ągel
a.k.a. Stache
Call Paul Promotions
Phone (518) 454-8269
http://www.CallPaulPromotions.com
http://www.SiteByStache.com
http://www.ThatSignGuy.com
http://www.WindowChalk.com
http://www.SkiWithStache.com
http://www.SpookGroup.org

Independent Marketing, Advertising, and Sales Consultant
"One Entrepreneur Helping Others"
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo
This is a good question, and begs another: what do you mean by marketing?
I mean "market" in every sense of the word. That is, what do you do to solicit, inform, or encourage prospective or repeat clients, on a small or large, formal or informal basis?
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo
This is a good question, and begs another: what do you mean by marketing?

The most important self-marketing I do is on the job, delivering the lesson. The other stuff--advertising, promotion, salesmanship--is superfluous compared to the marketing punch of providing an exceptional experience that combines learning, achievement, camaraderie, and excitement. If you serve the right blend of those four ingredients, it's likely that your students will be back for more and will tell their family and friends about you.

There is no better marketing than a strong recommendation from someone the prospective student knows and respects.
.
So true Nolo.... my favourite instructor had enough bookings last season - that he or ski school had taken - at the start of the season to book both himself out for the season (bar a few odd slots) & another instructor for the busy times....

he does nothing more than teach good lessons & take an in interest in clients progress..... pure simple enthusiasm for his job & they return in droves bringing friends & family.....

he is not the best skier in ski school... but technically strong & a good basis in physics/biomechanics... so you get technically sound advice with some alignment etc... (he skis like a truck - he is a big strong guy.... I would say his weakness is probably that he CAN use so much strength he lacks subtlety in his skiing)
post #12 of 20
Q: How do you know there is a ski instructor at a party?


A: He will come up and tell you.
post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 
I agree that the best "marketing" is a happy client that passes the word on to family and friends. That said, I think that reaching out, demonstrating a genuine concern for, and connecting with a student takes a little more effort than just teaching a good class. For many of you, that may be standard operating procedure and therefore you may not recognize that you are making the "extra effort" as compared to your peers.

I guess most of the answers I've got here, both in numbers and content, reflect what I anticipated I would get. I posted this question out of sheer curiousity based on all the talk I've seen here about why people don't take or return for lessons, how the Ski Schools are concerned primarily about their bottom line, and how PSIA has failed to reach out and promote and protect their members. I guess my motive was to see what effort folks were making to help themselves.
post #14 of 20
I love all the comments that include taking a real interest in your students.

Do you learn, remember. and use their names often? Do you notice them on the hill later and say hi, or shout from the lift "Hey Mary you are doing great!"
Add to that making sure they remember your name and being easy to contact and easy to do business with (business cards with email or web site address).

PS. It also helps if you have a handlebar mustache and a nickname to go with it. "Ladies don't try this at home, I am a professional"
post #15 of 20
Stache,

It still makes me feel icky. Maybe it's because of the stuff I sold in some of my prior lives (such as selling pagers to drug dealers), or the fact that I live in an area of over caffinated, mo money-mo money-mo money, road raged suburbia, over loaded with marketing ads for the latest Lexus, wealth management firm, $1.5M house (an hour from the suburbs and 2 hrs from the city), where everything I see and hear seems to be trying to part me from my money, that I get a bit short tempered with sales people.

That's probably why I don't sell any more (I made a fairly good living at it) and why I can't bring myself to say "Now Mary, If you book a private lesson with me tomorrow...... Yes, I know it costs 3x what a group lesson costs......". See now it's becoming a hard sell, and the student leaves the lesson in a bad mood, only remembering the sales pitch and not what they learned.

Oh yeah, then there's the fact that our guests don't return "tomorrow" because we are a mid atlantic day ski area that doesn't have a hotel or even a bar (it's in a dry town!).

I actually had a great return rate when I worked at Breck. I'd get a Monday morning group and keep no less than 4 of them for the entire week. But I kept them as a group lesson, not as privates. At that time, we were paid the same hourly rate whether it was a group or a private or a request private. As long as at least 2 of your students came back from the day before, you could keep the same group - although they may add some to the group.
post #16 of 20
The best sales pitch is a good product, like Nolo said. There is nothing wrong however, with bringing attention to the idea that more progress stills lies ahead, and that you are available to help with the progress. Later, Ricb.
post #17 of 20
OK JohnH,
But when you find a product or service that you really believe in and can't wait to turn the whole world onto your new find (or at least all of those that would truly benefit from it) then you are a salesman! Those that are just taking money and delivering product regardless of the "match" are thiefs. Sad to say there are too many of them flying falsely under the colors of a professional salesperson. Think about it, aren't you selling your students on skiing the right way???? What is wrong with getting that deal done?? Do you feel icky when they say "Wow, nobody ever explained or showed that to me before, Great Lesson!!" Kaching you just made a sale!!
post #18 of 20
A friend of mine who teaches at Aspen Highlands uses email quite effectively, by sending out a few current photos of beautiful skiing days at the area with short notes of what you are looking at and a "wish you were here" kind of message. He treats his clients as friends not so much clients that he is trying to sell anything. I like this approach but of course he is an awesome ski teacher as well.
post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnH
Not usually. I used to have a job doing commissioned sales, and I hated it. On the hill it just feels like shameless self promotion. I'm sure that if I did it, I could get more request privates, but it just feels "icky".
That, and what nolo said too.

There's only been 14 days this season I haven't had request privates. I find the less I try to drum up business, and just concentrate on doing a good job, the more requests I get.

The people who genuinely want to ski with you again will make the effort. A business card is sometimes a good reminder, but if you haven't made enough of an impression that they don't remember your name........ I only give them out when asked.
post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnH
Not usually. I used to have a job doing commissioned sales, and I hated it. On the hill it just feels like shameless self promotion. I'm sure that if I did it, I could get more request privates, but it just feels "icky".
But, JohnH, based on your comments here, you'd be doing them a favor!
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