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Private coaching/consultation, market question

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Looking into putting together a private coaching, conditioning, and on-hill service for the upcoming season. Really interested in 'bears' thoughts on the subject.
post #2 of 21
Interesting question. I was going to do the same for snowboarding. I had coached in the past at a pretty strong program for alpine and boarderX. I also have a pretty deep university teaching background in fitness and movement studies. I was also going to include T-Board and Freeboard riding over the summer. I was going to charge a token fee for this year round. So, I built a website, developed a year-round program that included a thorough individualized fitness analysis, with monitored off-season training. I was going to advertise it in the local "offbeat" paper, when several Bears pointed out the fellow who got sued by, if I remember correctly, Steamboat. I showed the thread to my lawyer, who said, depending on the federal lease that Steamboat had, they could sue the guy, even though it was an extremely nasty thing to do to just one guy. You know, one poor guy facing a big corporation with very deep pockets. So, I decided, knowing the local resort owner like I do, not to do it. I'd rather enjoy my winter rather than get involved in bickering and possible litigation. I could join the local resort's ski/board school but I really don't need what would be regressive training and the politics at this stage of my life. The politics were why I left the program I used to be with, anyway. Life is too short and both boarding and skiing are simply too wonderful to screw up with hassles.

I would add, though, if the local resort would tolerate it and you really want to do it, go ahead.
post #3 of 21
Rambling thoughts from someone who doesn't teach: Great idea in theory. In addition to resort issues, I'd worry about personal liability as well, a lot, and talk to small equipment co's among others about their experiences with litigation.

Also, what is your target market? I ask because most people in most sports are interested in "band-aid" instruction, not comprehensive improvement on a season-long basis. Maybe segment your product offerings to attract people looking for band-aids, 1 to 3-day outdoor experiences similar to the 3-day adult camp format, and season-long coaching?

"From Zero to Hero in 12 Months," by Oliff is an interesting, if self-promotional, read in the golf area on long-term improvement if this would be part of your biz plan.

Also, how's your yoga, bosu ball work, etc.? Yoga and similar work with posture and breathing, and what personal trainers might call "functional" multi-planar or stability-based cross-training sell really well and might even be expected by a part of some target audiences. In fairness I think many people ski to, in part, get spiritually restored from the office world, and the personal attention that's part of the cross-training stuff is tough to replicate on the hill, so nuthin' wrong with it.
post #4 of 21
I know your wife is a great skier too, what about offering a husband/wife clinic which teaches spouses to ski together. One might be a lesser of a sker and show how couples can still have fun exploring and getting the most out of the mountain withoug pissing each other off.
post #5 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Pugliese View Post
I know your wife is a great skier too, what about offering a husband/wife clinic which teaches spouses to ski together. One might be a lesser of a sker and show how couples can still have fun exploring and getting the most out of the mountain withoug pissing each other off.
If Phil, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and a husband/wife ski couple that don't piss each other off all see a $100 bill in the middle of the street. Who is the first to get the bill?

Seriously, thats not a bad idea if you could make it fly.
post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by onyxjl View Post
If Phil, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and a husband/wife ski couple that don't piss each other off all see a $100 bill in the middle of the street. Who is the first to get the bill?

Seriously, thats not a bad idea if you could make it fly.

LOL, I saw Chasing Amy.
post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by onyxjl View Post
If Phil, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and a husband/wife ski couple that don't piss each other off all see a $100 bill in the middle of the street. Who is the first to get the bill?

Seriously, thats not a bad idea if you could make it fly.
You all can laugh but my husband is my main ski partner!
He taught me to ski when we were dating.
Necessity is the mother of invention, If I didn't keep up, I had to ski alone. : I learned to keep up!
I am very fortunate to have the ski partner I have, and I count my blessings!
post #8 of 21
The concept is workable with a few caveats. As others have mentioned, you will need the resort's blessing for the on hill stuff. However, you can probably use your PT clinic for the conditioning. A few things to consider:

I'm not sure of what it's like in the K-Mart area, but many people (not all)who live in ski areas have strange spending habits. They will spend thousands of dollars on gear, but for conditioning, they will join a rec center where the help is only marginally qualified. However, since you are targeting the private coaching market, you are already looking at people who are serious about learning, so it might be a different story.

I have recently had parents inquire about classes for their teenage athletes. Ironically, they have no problem with prices for their kids. You are also at an advantage since the rent on your PT clinic iss already being paid by your PT clients.

In another thread, you mentioned that you have a Skier's Edge and a Pro Fitter. This can also be a great benefit, since many people want to use these machines, but are not willing to shell out the bucks to buy one.
post #9 of 21
If you are intent on coaching, be sure to have a winning track record in the sport, first.
post #10 of 21
"private coaching".......aka teaching under the table. i know of no resort in colorado that will permit you to do so.

get caught or even let them suspect you are doing it and you'll get booted off the mountain.
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty Guy View Post
"private coaching".......aka teaching under the table. i know of no resort in colorado that will permit you to do so.

get caught or even let them suspect you are doing it and you'll get booted off the mountain.
Without approval, at least, right? I assume that folks like Harald get resort approval. Similarly, the EpicSki Academy will be in Colorado this year, and has the blessing of Aspen/Snowmass, of course.
post #12 of 21
yes....without approval.
post #13 of 21
I think many resorts are being short-sighted, when they refuse to let these types of services co-exist with their ski schools.

very few, if any, resorts offer every service the guests could want. Such smaller operations, like private/personal coaching, or paraellel "ski camp" type operations, could enhance a resort's performance in the eyes of the customers.
post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ant View Post
I think many resorts are being short-sighted, when they refuse to let these types of services co-exist with their ski schools.

very few, if any, resorts offer every service the guests could want. Such smaller operations, like private/personal coaching, or paraellel "ski camp" type operations, could enhance a resort's performance in the eyes of the customers.
I agree. Aspen is doing a lot of this as I understand it, and they seem to be on the forefront.
post #15 of 21
The ski instruction monopoly the resorts have is probably bad for everybody. If the resorts would instead allow competiting services onto the land and charge them an appropriate fee to operate, the resort would likely come out ahead.

More competition would create a bigger focusing on client service and generating results. Instructor training would become a priority. Competition for the best instructors would increase leading to better wages and working conditions. Skiers would receive better instruction at potentially cheaper prices. Skiers getting better instruction would lead to better skiers taking repeat lessons and getting a lifelong involvement in the sport. More dollars going into the ski instruction industry would generate increased revenue for the resorts as fees and skier visits increase.

From what I've heard about the ski instruction business it sounds like it can be vastly inefficient. Some healthy competition would iron out these inefficiences and add value in their places. At least I hope it would...
post #16 of 21
Spot-on, Onyxjl, on every point.
post #17 of 21
The easy way to get permission to operate your private coaching service is to work with group sales at your on hill location. Before you give up on your dream, you should make a few calls. Many coaching services get started as an Epic style multi day camp, but there are also alternatives to bringing in groups of 15+ on a single date. You can become a group by agreeing to buy tickets in bulk or you can negotiate discounted tickets. Most group sales people are blissfully ignorant of ski school competition issues and most ski schools don't have the political power to say NO to group sales after the sale is made. If you behave and don't blatantly cross paths with ski school business (e.g. the Steamboat story), you won't have trouble bringing your customers in. You might be surprised how much encouragement you can get from a group sales person.

As mentioned in other threads, if you are operating a business on Forest Service property, the government is supposed to get a cut of your revenues. If you get permission from a resort permit holder, the relationship can be structured so that either the permit holder is supposed to pay the fees or you get your own permit and pay the governement directly. I suspect that most of the camps that are operated on Forest Service property use the former approach and the resort conveniently forgets to pay the fee on the camp revenues. You may find it less complicated to deal with a resort operating on private property.
post #18 of 21
I run an instruction program at a local mountain, and the mountain not only allows it, they give us discounted lift tickets for it. I think most resorts allow some kind of outside coaching programs. There's ESA, PMTS, race camps, freestyle camps. You could probably find a couple of dozen if you looked, but you need to find them before you leave your house, and you should expect to pay a premium for that kind of instruction. What you won't find is different schools at the mountain competing for your business when you show up at 10am Saturday morning. That doesn't make any sense as a business model.
The truth is that the market for ski instruction is just not large enough to justify much more than what the mountains are doing, but there's plenty of high quality coaching and instruction for anyone who makes the effort to look for it.

BK
post #19 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bode Klammer View Post
The truth is that the market for ski instruction is just not large enough to justify much more than what the mountains are doing, but there's plenty of high quality coaching and instruction for anyone who makes the effort to look for it.
(ahem) Well, yes and no. Every year at my resort, we're looking for more teaching staff. As a staff trainer, I currently spend less than 10% of my teaching time training staff. I'd like to spend 25%. Although I'm fully convinced that if we had more staff we would teach more lessons and attract more lessons via a higher quality product, I understand the resort management's logic for why we are staffed at the right level. During January and February we turn away people looking for private lessons almost every weekend because we don't have the staff to cover them. We routinely get busy days where we have to ask upper level students to "come back later" after we've dealt with the flood of beginners. Our school/resort has done an excellent job developing and addressing the beginner to lower intermediate market. However, IMHO we have tapped <10% of our potential in the intermediate to advanced market. I know of 4 different private coaching groups that already come to our resort on a regular basis. We could easily handle 20 without denting ski school business. However, this would still be way less than 10% of the ski school business. So yes, it's not much more than what ski school does. But there is plenty of room in the market for private coaches to do business.
post #20 of 21
This has been done successfully by many forward thinking individuals.

First:

Establish your goal:
Are You "coaching" as in racing, or are you "teaching" as in instructing?

Second:

Put a prospectus together which outlines your organizational methodology. Print a hard copy.
Have a notary sign/emboss the hard copy establishing your authorship.
This isn't synonymous with copyrighting, but it does establish your precedence in any chain of custody of the material you've authored.
This dissuades any resort or individual from copying your prospoectus and simply running an identical program using their own staff.
(This does happen)

Third:

Consider several less auspicious resorts who might see a benefit in hosting a semi private program.

Fourth:

Meet with the Director Of Marketing to establish possible interest on the part of the resort, then meet with The Ski School Director.
Do not discuss details via telephone or email.

Fifth:

Agree to act as an employee/department under the umbrella of the Ski School, for purposes of indemnification and income tax transparency.

If you would like to operate separately, you can 1099 and request insurance coverage through the resort.
This actually protects them as well as you.

Sixth:

With the resort's blessing and final approval of all associated PR, print sheaves of fliers, launch a yahoo or google webpage (even simply a domain-name placeholder for under $5.00 your first year, which allows you to post specific bullets and contact info) and subscribe to a dedicated, private telephone number for the venture.
This ensures fewer communication issues such as inexperienced telereceptionists losing messages, etc.

I wish you success with your venture.

Persistence pays.

Hem
post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTKook View Post
Rambling thoughts from someone who doesn't teach: Great idea in theory.[snip]...
A couple people have made me aware that the start of my prior post can be read as attacking someone else's credentials. To be clear, I am the one who doesn't teach, and also the one who rambles.

Anyway, interesting thread.
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