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So, just how profitable is a ski school? - Page 2

post #31 of 53
Well Pete, you're right, there are lots of ways to run a restaurant. This is the way we think ours ought to be run.

The answer to your question is simple: accountability. Because of the way the school is tied into the area, we feel that we can provide a better, more complete service, have a better eye on the safety practices and training of our pros (although we can't ever guarantee safety), and work our training so that normally if you move from one pro to the other you should get a unique version of the same product.

Now we aren't always as good at all of this as we'd like to be. But we feel we're better at it than any of us would be on his or her own. One simple example, if a pro gives great lessons on a consistent basis then we as a group can put that pro out in front of more people. On the other hand, if a pro is a constant threat to the health, happiness, and sanity of a guest, we can terminate the job, and forbid that person to teach (and turn off more guests). Also, we can make sure and give the guest, at our expense, what he or she paid for the first time.

If you pick up joe pro off the streets, you're guaranteed none of that.
post #32 of 53
Sorry, get across there a lot, but only to LA ... and I know that's not the States
post #33 of 53
Oboe, I've been working more than forty seasons for "the man". I worked for LTV when they owned Steamboat. All the people in that company loved skiing and ski instructors and they were fine to work with. I worked for the Blakes in Taos Ski Valley, and they loved skiing to a fault. Ernie Blake used to cull out the customers that he didn't feel would "fit" in the Valley. I worked for the Mt. Cook Company in New Zealand, when Sir Henry was still alive, and Sugar Robinson ran Coronet Peak. They were both rough and cantankerous--and kinda tough on the customers sometimes--but they loved skiing and really tried to help the instructors. I now work for the Crowns here in Aspen, and their commitment to skiing, the school, and the valley is huge.

So please understand when I reject your generalization. Sure, many areas treat their pros badly, but not all do. I've been fortunate, but maybe I've just picked my places.

But a corporation is not devoid of ethics just because it is a corporation.

[ April 19, 2002, 08:27 PM: Message edited by: weems ]
post #34 of 53
Weems, snopro, WVskier,nolo; VP, Robin in another thread, I highly respect you and what you stand for and I've given you enough grief in these threads, but I do think we brought to the forefront many issues which needed discussion.

Often I forget that I'm not just talking to a few folks here but that the whole world could read what I write and I fear that readers who are new here and don't know me as many of you do would take me for SCSA junior (or senior ).

I just wish that this ski instructing would pay enough, say up to a highschool teacher's salery in public school. I realise it will never happen.

But I can wish.... ....Ott
post #35 of 53
I've been following this thread and others that have discussed many of the same issues with considerable interest but no comment.

One issue that continues to crop up in all these threads has me baffled.

Getting paid only when actually teaching is the issue.

In my profession I have the employee v. contractor discussion with clients in certain industries all the time. I discuss the differences and have been known to refuse to accept as a client those that are treating there help as contractors when they are really not.

The difference is not relavent to this thread except taht I can't help but wonder how an employer can pay someone just for the hours teaching.

Makes no sense to me. Maybe because I have not heard the whole story yet.

When in private industry, I used to have the following discussion with a sales type every single time he failed to earn enough commission to cover his draw. (He was not a very good salesman).

Him: "I didn't even make minimum wage"

Me: "How many hours were you scheduled?"

Him: "I worked 316 hours this week"

Me: "How many hours were you scheduled?"

Him: "25"

Me: "What was your draw?"

Him: "$250"

Me: "You earned $12 in commissions, am I asking you to repay the $228 difference?"

Him: "No, but I was here 316 hours, that's 79 cents an hour"

Me: "How many hours were you scheduled?"

And so on, and so on.

The point is that he got paid for the time he was REQUIRED to be at work, and actually pretty well for the time, early 80's. $10 per hour scheduled plus commissions in excess of draw. He worked hard as well, just was lousy at selling.

My question is what are the general ground rules for instructors? I acknowledge that is a loaded question and one that may indeed vary by location.

Are instructors generally required to be at the hill and ready to teach a specific number of hours per week?

Has this pay only for time teaching ever been challenged in court? Or by the NLRB?

post #36 of 53
Ott. I don't care what others may think. I think your questions and challenges are totally well stated and appropriate. These are questions that have to be asked all the time, otherwise we tend to fall asleep in our beliefs and all of a sudden they become irrelevant. All metaphors should be challenged on their own terms.

Also, these questions and challenges coming from you, with your experience, wisdom, and credentials, just beg real attention.

One thing for sure, you've made me think through my own logic and beliefs. Furthermore, one of the things I really love about this forum is that it really stimulates me to be more aware and gives me an opportunity to engage with others in all parts of the ski life.

If I can explain some different points of view to them, that's great. But by far the greater value has accrued to me: the opportunity to listen.

If I listen well, I can continue to co-design a school that will be worthy of its pros and its customers. And THIS is my real goal.

I'll tell you an interesting thing. I have been really close to quitting management recently, because I love and miss teaching so much. This thread and other threads of the forum have convinced me that perhaps there is more for me to do in my present position.

--signed: Weems, Corporate Suit [img]smile.gif[/img]

[ April 20, 2002, 06:09 AM: Message edited by: weems ]
post #37 of 53
Originally posted by skier_j:
Are instructors generally required to be at the hill and ready to teach a specific number of hours per week?

Has this pay only for time teaching ever been challenged in court? Or by the NLRB?

At our school, each commits to a schedule at the start of the season, and there is a huge variety in these commitments (part time, full time, peak time, etc.)

If you are scheduled to work and don't get work you get paid your "default" rate and we call it guest service pay. We ask the pros doing that to be available when they are there to help guests out around the base area, or "taxi" one student from one class to the next, etc. They usually get that pay for an hour, but sometimes, if we have things for them to help with, they get it for several.

This rate is the same as the rate we pay them for training, and varies according to their pay level.

We do not ask them to show up for free. As far as I know, we've never been challenged about this.

However, it is interesting to watch the ones who are entrepreneurs. They show up and make themselves available, even when not scheduled. If they don't get work, they go out and find it. After awhile, they often build great businesses of their own. And they don't ask for "show up pay" for this.

This is where I really agree with Nolo. "Showing up"--literally and figuratively--is where fulfillment lies.
post #38 of 53
OK, weems, I'm glad I contributed.

skier_j, the standby pay that weems is talking about is offered by maybe a dozen large resorts out of 500 in the US, in the rest the instructors are scheduled to show up certain times for which they have contracted and if there are enough lessons to go around they get one or more, if not, they are required to hang around and be available, which often means not out skiing somewhere on the mountain, just in case a busload of skiers shows up to take lessons.

I have equated this to the Manpower system, only in that system the worker only has to show up if he wants work, and if he doesnt get work within an hour or two can go home, but many ski instructors don't get a lesson and have not a penny to show for the time they were required to spend, often all day.

I offer this just as a fact, I have no stake in this since I am retired from instructing.

post #39 of 53
Ott is correct.

I'm glad our company is willing (and able) to offer this benefit. This is one of the reasons I choose to work here. It's not a big benefit, but it does add up, and it establishes a principle that we believe in.
post #40 of 53
I agree.

For us, the longer a pro hangs around each day, the more he/she makes in show up pay.(max is $40, if you stick around til 2pm) If the individual is a contract, then there is the guarantee of 4 hrs pay at teaching wage. (but if a contract, then why aren't they finding their own work?)

We are fortunate to have this benefit. During wage negotiations many years ago, we fought long and hard to achieve this bene.

I realize that different states have different regs regarding this issue, but it shouldn't have to be regulated by the state. The ski areas should do what's right by their employees. At least a little bit!

post #41 of 53
It is a fine line most schools walk, mostly depending on regional norms and state law. Some states (like California) are awakening to the show-up issue.
Here are a few other tidbits of info in Cali. If you are required to provide your own tools...ie, skis, you must be paid twice the prevailing minimum wage....$13.50! You must be paid two hours for the first line up and the pm session (Bear mtn. case, settled), and if required to wear a company issued uniform, paid 15 minutes before and 15 minutes after for change-pay.
I love being a private contractor, paid on a matrix system and understand why pro's decline scrubbing toilets for their show up.
Issues such as required or implied unpaid training, when workers comp is honored etc are all issues slowly being addressed through court precedent.
Dailies, clock punching sucks...big $ days rock...thats what I get from the line...always have.
post #42 of 53
WOW! It sounds as if Calif is finally getting it together!
When I left Calif, I was a 5 day /week supervisor, for $1200 per month at Kirkwood.
I hope things are picking up for the Western pro's. They deserve it. But so does everybody!

(Maybe we should email this thread and a few others to all the ski areas in the country...) [img]tongue.gif[/img]

post #43 of 53
I hope you are kidding about the toilet scrubbing part.
post #44 of 53
I thought you'd all like to see an excerpt from an on-line application we just received from a Russian ski instructor. Aw hell. I'm gonna hire him and triple his pay.

Most recent place of
> employment:
> Ski School Olenj in Kiev, Ukraine.
> Protasov-Yar
> Kiev, Ukraine., x
> Date started: 1999
> Starting salary: Each month $50-
> Date ended: Still working.
> Ending salary: Present salary is $100- each month.
> Position upon leaving: Present position ski instuctor and teacher

> Description of duties:
> Teaching all levels of skiing.
> Reason for leaving:
> Experience and carier development.
> Work History (1)
> Place of employment:
> Skol Max. Ski School.
> Svatopetrska 260,
> Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic.,
> Date started: This last Winter Season 2002.
> Starting salary: Each hour $2.50
> Date ended: April 1,2002
> Ending salary: $3.50 per hour
> Position upon leaving: Ski instructor

Kinda puts things in strange perspective doesn't it?
post #45 of 53
He's lucky he gets paid with money instead of bottles of vodka. Or socks!
post #46 of 53
interesting post Robin,

I assume that applies to full timer's and a few other conditions.

You mention something about required to have their own tools. I suspect several resorts have a policy that says you may "use the rental equipment" at the ski school. To avoid the 2x minimum wage. I can't think of anyone who did that exclusivly but several of the instructors did take advantage of the skis on most occasions to avoid the wear and tear on their own equipment.
post #47 of 53
Thread Starter 
Ending salary: $3.50 per hour
> Position upon leaving: Ski instructor
At Waterville Valley, NH, a Level II earns about $7.00/hr.

Yes, it does put it into perspective...
post #48 of 53
Yes, dchan most areas find a way around it, like offering free use of rental equipment. Or, if you want show up, be willing to do anything...even scrubbing toilets. Like the joke says, "There are somethings even an instructor won't do"!
To me it is only a matter of time when the chickens come home to roost.
post #49 of 53
Here's a twist. In Montana the area ops went to the legislature and got a law passed that exempts instructors not assigned to a class from Workers Comp coverage on accidental injuries.

Nice statement for them to make, one class of humanity to another.
post #50 of 53
Yeah, nothing like a draconian policy becoming a draconian law.
post #51 of 53
Being a ski instructor and ski school director I think I can weigh in on this discussion. I, like many others in this thread don't agree with the current rates of pay in the industry but consider this; A ski school bills instructors out at about $50-$80/hr (at most larger resorts), here in Canada that's about the same amount that you pay for labour when you take your car in for service. Now consider the training that a mechanic goes through, 2 years in school in this country, almost another year as an apprentice. The average starting pay rate is about $10-$12/hr. Now consider the training a ski instructor goes through. A level 1 course in Canada is 3 days long, 20hrs on snow and indoors, that's it. Starting rate of pay is about $8-$9/hr. A level 2 course is 5 days in length, 32 hours total. Starting rate of pay for a level 2 is about $10-$12/hr. So after a total of 52 hours of training you can earn the same base rate as someone who trained for 3 years. If you include additional training that a ski pro may need to be successful on their level 2 course it's a matter of going skiing(hard work!). That's my management perspective on rates of pay.

My instructor perspective is slightly different. Like Ott said earlier in this thread, I too remember starting at a much better rate of pay 14 years ago. When I started as a level 1 in Ontario I was paid $11.50/hr, we start our level 1's at $8.50/hr, a $2/hr decrease over 14 years! There aren't too many industries where this has happened.
post #52 of 53
Ski Doc

It is evident too, that "people" will pay much more for their posessions than they will for such intangables as "instruction" . Human services are not big $$ programs for those delivering the product.

Heck! People will kill people for stuff, Have you ever heard of such strong emotion over a ski lesson.

On the other hand, Don't get in the way around the lifts on a powder day!

post #53 of 53
Originally posted by CalG:

Heck! People will kill people for stuff, Have you ever heard of such strong emotion over a ski lesson.

I've taught some pretty moving lessons.
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