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"Full Time" Instructing

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I couldn't find a good spot to interject this in the "instructor wages" thread, so I'm just going to create a new one.

I have a season coming that is on the tail of the worst winter ever. Employee numbers area-wide (not just Ski and Ride School) are at their worst, and I fear they only may get even more sparse. The reasons are many... including things like low wages, bad winters (5 of the last 6), and the de-motivation of some of the management staff.

All that aside, I was wondering if any of you out there are working for, or have seen, a ski/ride school that employs "true" full-timers. With hours being paid just for being there, whether teaching or not. Last season I didn't have enough people mid-week to handle the lesson-load. The mornings consisted of School Groups that were booked in October, the noon Private lessons were very good, and the PM Group lessons seemed to always catch me with my pants down.

The major problem I had was that the mid-week staff tends to have other jobs, or college classes, and many could only come up for 1/2 days... leaving my PM clientele with no product to buy. I would like to start up a contingent of Instructors who would have the opportunity to be paid full time without:

1) Killing my labor to revenue. (I've already pushed my boss to allow for a
pretty healthy chunk of revenues to go to my staff)
2) Pissing off the part-time and weekend staff.
3) Having instructors standing around on slow days while being paid.

Pretty healthy order, eh? If any of you have any ideas that I might be able to add so that I can make a strong presentation to my superiors, I would be grateful.

Is anyone out there still skiing? (I miss it so....)

post #2 of 19
Even though my business isn't a ski school (I wish it was) I have a similar problem. I employ full-time employees all of whom need full-time pay but have "down-time" due to availability of billable hours (we do software consulting).

The solution that I have come up with, and may be relevant to your situation, is to have a base pay somewhat lower than the market with a bonus paid based upon personal productivity that brings total compensation to a rate of pay slightly higher than market.

This would seem to apply to a ski school environment as well. You could establish a base hourly rate that was less than the market (whatever that might be) to act as compensation when not assigned, and then an additional rate to be paid on class hours.


post #3 of 19
I've heard that at some places you get paid for lineup time. !5 minutes of pay for just showing up. That might be an incentive for some instructors.
post #4 of 19
Hunter has/had a program where they guaranteed hours to some of their pros so that they could commit to working full time. The number of hours guaranteed by the school was set at a percentage of historic/pre-booked lesson hours so that the risk of paying for idle time was small and that the actual amount of idle time paid out over the season was absorbably small.
post #5 of 19

Ski Liberty ski school full time employees

June 15, 2007

Hi Spag:

Since you were soliciting information on what other SS do, I 'll like to put in my 2 cents worth. Note that I am and have never been with the Liberty SS, but since I've been a pass holder for the last almost 30 years, I know much of what is going on there. What I say could be wrong, so if any SnoTime employees (holding company of Ski Libery, Ski Roundtop and Ski Whitetail) note any errors, please jump in and correct me.

Anyway for what it is worth, all Liberty full time instructors get paid $50.00 (?) each day they show up. This is in addition to any monies from privates which they have priority assignment. Demand privates, they get half the sum and I'm not sure how much they get from walk-up privates. It is more than what part time instructors get for class lessons though. I don't know whether they get paid for a class lesson. For part time instructors it is the princely sum of around $10.00. I think full timers get paid this as well, just not sure. These full time people are usually there during the daytime hours and after 4:00 or 5:00 pm, there are enough part-timers who come in and take over for the PM lessons. Note that for a small mountain (600 ft) Liberty has 300-400 (?) instructors on its books with 95% of them being part timers.

One benefit which was voted on by the instructors a few years ago was a choice between a higher pay or more clinics. The choice was for more clinics. Liberty has scheduled clinics every day of the ski season (even on weekdays) with many un-schedule clinics offered when there is someone free to lead the instructors who are not giving classes. This is something which Liberty is well known for and which I believe the instructors REALLY appreciate. It is also why Liberty has a high proportion of Level II certified instructors.

I know that most SS have a problem with instructor shortages, so good luck in your search for a solution.

post #6 of 19
the places that I've worked the last 3 seasons pay show-up time for 15 minutes once in the morning and once in the afternoon - that is not really the incentive for full-timers. However, the two resorts I've worked during this time give full-time instructors priority for lessons over the part-timers. Let's face it, lots (most?) part-time instructors are in it for a ski pass and some teaching time.

Makes good sense for the instructors and for SAM; you get a committed cadre for whom instructing is a job as well as a profession, and have the part-timers for overflow on the weekends and holidays. (I'm full-time, btw.) The part-timers I know don't depend on the money they earn as instructors, in fact, most of them spend more money supporting their instructing habit than they take in from teaching. Full-timers, on the other hand, use their teaching income to pay their bills.
post #7 of 19
Consider a minimum wage type hourly pay for the day with a commission for lessons taught. The minimum wage can cover time spent doing things like hauling race gates around, cleaning the snowsports school facilities, setting up for group events, processing paperwork, and training. You can vary the commission based upon type of lesson/certification/years of service, etc.

Have you asked your personnel what they'd want? Maybe free lunch for everyone who stays for the afternoon program? Maybe family passes or free tickets for friends. Maybe ticket coupons they can sell in the parking lot.
post #8 of 19
The school that I'm attached with does this. Full-timers are paid a base rate of $225 per week. For that the mountain takes the first 15 hours of work that they do, either lesson time or non-teaching duties. (Obviously it is to the pros advantage to make sure that the bulk of those hours are non-teaching). For hour 16 and above they are paid an hourly rate, averaging around $10. Most FT pros are working 30+ hours per week, working 5 days and a couple of nights each week, Monday through Friday. They can work Saturdays, but do not have first priority. Request privates are not counted against the base 15 hours.
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 
Sweet. Thanks for your replies. I'm seeing some intriguing ideas there. Keep 'em coming if there are more.

Just goes to show how truly great this forum is.

Thank you all again.

post #10 of 19
Pagers----or cell phones if good service. Dont make instructors come back from free skiing (because they took off of their real full time job to either work or SKI) to stand in a line up for free.

50% of lesson fee(s) If 8 in a group paying $40 per lesson, thats $160.00 Not $10.00 or less for the hour.


When the buss boy makes more than a ski instructor---the problem is not with the ski instructors....
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
Couldn't agree more, Greg. Thanks.

post #12 of 19
Originally Posted by GregGaspar View Post
50% of lesson fee(s) If 8 in a group paying $40 per lesson, thats $160.00 Not $10.00 or less for the hour.
Which mountain puts 8 students in a class?

I want to know so I don't sign up for group lessons there!

I've never been in class that has more than 4 student to 1 instructor, sometimes even fewer students.
post #13 of 19
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post
Which mountain puts 8 students in a class?

I want to know so I don't sign up for group lessons there!

I've never been in class that has more than 4 student to 1 instructor, sometimes even fewer students.

Really? Of the beginner or level 2 lessons I taught this season, I would say 4 of the perhaps 15 had less than 8. Generally we don't get more than 4 in any level above 3.

I have had 10 a few times, 12 once or twice on really busy Saturdays---beginners, not skiers.

While I always try to seek the positive, when I start feeling down due to class volume I look peers and SAM are out there too...teaching and making people laugh.

To my peers at Liberty, Roundtop and Whitetail....we train more beginners than most hills---definitely as measured by per skier visit. Not statistically proven at this time....Great work ALL>
post #14 of 19
In the west (or, at least, the Rocky Mountains), 8 or more in a class, especially a learn-to-ski lesson is not unusual at all. The only adult lts lessons that I've ever taught with less than 8 students were at either the beginning or end of the season. I have personally taken high-level midweek lessons with 8 students (including moi) in the group.
post #15 of 19
My record in Australia was 21 beginners in one class... after splitting it with the guy who had 43 to start with.

All Chinese.

Two spoke some English ... as in "hello". And, er, that's it.

It was interesting.

Park City Mountain Resort runs a kids programme guaranteeing no more than five kids in a class (age 6-14) or three (3-5yo). It's a doddle by comparison.

Mind, when you're being paid $84* for the day and the mountain is taking $189 per child, you need something on your side ... oh, yes, you get lunch.

*That was after the pay rise, of course. Started off at $72, went up as high as $87.
post #16 of 19
Thread Starter 
8 in a group lesson is not unusual at all. A group of 8 in a two-hour lesson is easily handled more often than not. We strive to keep the student numbers at 8 or less for ski, 6 or less for snowboard. Many areas see the group lesson as an inexpensive, introductory amenity, and therefore don't put restrictions on the group sizes. I've seen groups at the area I used to work push 20 regularly on the busy times. The real service was seen as a private lesson, and people gladly paid the extra dollars to avoid the monster groups. Trouble then was, we ran out of instructors quickly, so those who didn't get in early for the privates were forced to go on their own or join the giant group.

On busy times I steer the instructors toward selling privates at non-group hours (9, 12, and 3:00) and fill their group slots completely. (If I see that an instructor will be available after all, I arrange to push their 12:00 private to 10:00 and sell them for two more privates before the 1:00 groups. Most people are happy to get their private moved forward rather than back!) It becomes a juggling act, but the system doesn't have a lot of variables in it, so it can be handled. On slow times the instructors are free to sell whatever they like... as long as it isn't crack.

If all times were "busy times" there would be no need for my original question. Everyone stays busy and makes an all right chunk of scratch. Too much "feast or famine", though. I'd like to see it turn into more of a "Feast or at least get a bowl of rice" type of situation.

"I take my oath I'll go no more to a dance on Peter Street." (maybe I'll explain that quote later.)

post #17 of 19
Spag, If I were to take a lesson with you, would you get me comfortable with drops?
And if so, What kind of tip would you expect? I'm a chicken!
post #18 of 19
Thread Starter 
I could certainly show you how NOT to do them! (JJ)

There are certainly ways to get into those sort of things. Step number one isn't getting comfortable with the hang time, it's getting confident on the terrain that happens AFTER the drop! You'll want the skills to negotiate that terrain at the ready, cuz the drop in isn't the part that hurts if you screw up!

That is unless you are talking about eye drops. If that's the case just tilt your head back, keep your right foot on the ground and let 'er rip.

...and THAT is unless you are talking about dropping acid. In which case, uuuhhh, I guess that's pretty much the same as the eye drops one.

As far as tips go... a hearty "Never fry bacon when you're naked" would be much appreciated.


"The captain from the quarter deck condemned me with a frown, sayin' 'Jack I'd buy a better suit'n that for 30 pounds.'"

PS. Trekchick, also keep in mind that chickens don't fly worth a Sh#@!
post #19 of 19

Our full time day staff is paid per-dium and almost always someone doesn't teach at one line-up. The problem was staffing the night crew. The policy is they get paid for 2 lessons wheather or not they teach, but have to make line-ups at 4:00, 5:00 and 6:00 to get the 2 lesson mininum pay. If they teach more that twice, the pay is increased for the third lesson. To get the 2 lesson minumum, thay also have to be scheduled to work those nights.

Maybe something like this can be adopted to fit your situation. Good luck!

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