Originally Posted by volklskier1
When I read comments on this board. All I hear about are the benefits of PSIA incluyding the great training. But if this is so, why are people walking away?
Isn't it time that when our organization is asked about retention that we stand up and tell them to start paying a living wage? What are we scared of?
Once could just as easily ask
"We do people maintain their membership after they stop actively teaching?"?
But then one would be just as guilty of not listening to what was being said and hearing only what one wanted to hear. Per previous publicized studies, there are many reasons why people drop their PSIA membership. Most do it because they stop actively teaching, some do it for financial reasons and some do it because they don't like how PSIA is run. If you read between the lines, the point of the article is NOT that there is a problem with more people dropping their membership. What has changed is that the rate of new member growth is no longer significantly exceeeding the dropout rate. If it is understood that the majority of the drop out rate is due to people no longer actively teaching, then the benefits of trying to retain members leaving for other reasons are going to be limited. When one understands that PSIA membership represents only 50% of the working US instructors, it makes sense that the focus for getting the membership numbers to grow should be placed there.
This does not mean that PSIA should forget about improving customer service to its membership. As you've pointed out, little things like putting their publications online could be improved. But with respect to big things, PSIA has agreed to disagree with the members that would like to see PSIA serve as a union in an attempt to raise compensation industry wide. From the presentations I attended at National Academy four years ago, I learned that PSIA has been working behind the scenes with NSAA executives to support general programs that would raise instructor pay, but:
1) the primary role of PSIA's influence on raising instructor pay was to help raise instructors skills so that they could earn more pay by delivering more value
2) studies comparing total compensation between top instructors in the US and Europe showed that pay was comparable.
The bottom line here is that until there are enough members who believe that PSIA can raise instructor pay by force such that they can influence elections, there will be no "union" kinds of activities done by PSIA. The perception of the leadership is that the consensus of the membership is that the current efforts are more beneficial to the sport than "union" like activities would be.
Sure, it is awfully tempting to respond to resort management requests for recruiting assistance with a "d'uh, what did you expect?" response. But that would be another example of not listening to the person asking the question. When one only offers a simple solution to a complex problem, one usually is not setting the stage for success. There have been lots of pilot programs (e.g. guaranteed pay at Hunter, bonuses for getting first timers to return at Whitetail, premium private lessons that provide higher wage rates to certified pros at several mountains). When you look at the financial pressures that resort management typically operates under, it's easy to see why they hesitate to simply double or triple pay across the board for ski school with the hope that quality will improve and retention will be higher. There simply is no significant return on their investment in higher expenses over the kinds of planning horizons they operate under. In the past when my resort has needed more staff, small changes in pay to make pay comparable to fast food wages have been effective in attracting younger staff and policy changes have been effective in attracting older staff. Why spend more money than you need to? When you look at most ski schools, many instructors already have the opportunity to double or triple their income simply by building a private lesson customer base. It's understandable that management would be skeptical of a general pay raise program when they already have a program that is available for pros who want to work that is being under utilized. The point here is not to say that hiring foreign workers to work as instructors is the right solution. The point is to say that a simple "raise the pay" solution is not as intuitively obvious to management as it is to instructors. Offering help to work with ski area management is a much more successful strategy than simply telling them they are wrong because you are creating an environment of constructive dialog. This will be much more successful over the long term, even if short term solutions (e.g. hiring foreign labor) turn out to be ineffective because it sometimes takes patience and a close working relationship to communicate a message that someone does not want to hear.
Is it a surprise that $250 season passes sell more than $1000 season passes? Is it a surprise that some instructors would view a $750 reduction in the value of their compensation as a disincentive to continue teaching? The consensus reporting is that the cheaper season passes have been a boon to the industry. The benefit has clearly outweighed the damage done to ski schools. Is it a surprise that resorts have not simply given instructors the cash difference between the old and new pass prices? Now is it a surprise that there are no easy answers?
It's not a matter of fear. It is a matter of contributing solutions instead of contributing criticism. If you don't have the patience to see this process through, then you are probably better off walking away from the problem.