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Selling private lessons?!

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
How do you guys sell private lessons? I"m always reluctant to push these onto people, the price is silly and if they buy a group lesson midweek, it's a virtual private lesson anyway.
Are there any minimum-impact techniques?
post #2 of 21
I usually don't "try" to sell private lessons. I talk to people, help them with their understanding of skiing if it is apropriate or if they ask. Where I work a half day or full day private permits up to 5 people. This is a selling point because it allows family and friends go stay gather at only a slight price premium.

Generally, if I am available to the public ( and approachable,not standing around in an intimidating instructor clique) the customer will walk up and just ask how to get a private. Also just helping skiers out on the mountain has a way of resulting in a private.
post #3 of 21
There are two approaches I've seen used successfully if you view being booked up as the measure of success:

One is to be available off-slope to potential customers. Hang around the rental area and offer advice/help. Or hang around the bar and recruit. I have a friend who basically "lived" off these tactics.

The other takes longer, but is a bit more tasteful. It involves getting the name and address of every customer you have in classes, rotation privates, clinics, etc., and send them an off-season card to remind them of you and invite their return as a customer. I have another friend who used this approach for years and now is booked up frequently, sometimes with the children of folks who used to get birthday cards from him when they were children.
post #4 of 21
I don't take group golf lessons, because I want undivided attention, and immediate feedback. And I can improve more in 3-1 hr private lessons than I can in a 3-3 hour group lessons. And my time is worth something to me. I don't care what other people need for them, I do care what I need for myself if I am paying (money or time).

I am the same way in ski lessons. You may be the opposite. And that is OK.
(Ant, "you" is meant to be a third party "you". I don't mean to imply critique on your abilities.)
The point being some people may want different things than you do. And that is OK. Understand what they want! It may be undivided attention, and that costs more. It may be avoiding embarassment in front of others. It may be conversation with the instructor.
If you don't feel you are worth $115/hr, then improve your teaching/skiing/conversation/mental attitude until you know you are.

Ask the highest requested instructor in your ski school, the question you posed in the forum. He is bound to give you the perspective you need to answer your question.

Also, read Dale Carnegie's book "How to Win Friends, and Influence People". This should also give you insight.

All else being equal, I want a Private Lesson when I am working on my own skiing. When I am working on my understanding of others, I want a group lesson.

Best Regards,
Breckenridge, CO

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 06, 2002 09:45 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Jonathan ]</font>
post #5 of 21
the price is silly

See PT Barnum.
post #6 of 21
Whoops, you're not from America. PT Barnum was the man behind a great American circus, and his most famous quote was "There's a sucker born every minute".
post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 
Well, if I thought they were suckers, it'd be easy to flog them what I regard to be expensive lessons! But most people I teach are rather nice. And I just have trouble recommending something like that to them, but ski schools seem to chart your success by how many of these you sell. I just don't feel comfortable with that concept.
post #8 of 21
Private lessons are cheaper than group lessons because you need fewer of them to reach the same skill level.

This is with the caveat that some resorts charge obscene prices.
post #9 of 21
Ok, I might get yelled at for this but here goes anyway.

The cost of an all day lesson with me is amoung the highest in the nation. And I'm worth it. Every penny. Plus lunch at the best restraunt on the hill and a nice tip. I work very hard on many different fields to do what I do as well as I do it. And like it or not how much someone is willing to pay for my services is one measure of my success. One of the smaller measures but still its there, after all I do have to make a living.

post #10 of 21
At the start of the winter I sort of started out thinking a little like Ant. It is an Oz thing, getting value for money and the fact that all day privates are a really rare occurence back home.

Now after a few months of lots of work and paying attention to what is going on around me I know I am worth the money people are paying. I am with Ydnar on this one.

I have sold Privates on the Gondola, in bars, on the bus and whilst having coffee up on the mountain on a day off. No hard sell required just a little humour, intelligent conversation and a natural way with children if a family is concerned.

Selling the initial Private is not the goal. Turning 1 hour, 3 hour and single all day privates into week long bookings is the real goal. My clients are not silly. They only pay if they get the service they expect. Most of the time a friendly, knowlegable manner + some solid ski skills will get you through.

My tip during lesson:

Make sure you make sense from start to finish and ask the client if you are.

Let the client run the lesson structure & continually micro manage the lesson format to suit the clients structure.

Be humble and become an integral part of the ski holiday experience not just an add on.

Go for it Ant. You can do it.

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #11 of 21
You are selling you knowledge & service & the area is setting the price. If the customer is willing to pay the price they have determined its worth in advance. Now it is up to you to maintain the value. Tips may or may not prove you have done so.

post #12 of 21
I use the internet and business cards. I give my cards out to everyone I teach and to almost everyone that I meet on or off the hill.

I provide every student with my e-mail address on my card and ask them to contact my address the night after the lesson. I give them a recap online and a lesson plan of drills to practice.

I also give links to things written here that I deem to be applicable.

This may not work as well at a "destination" resort, however, it works great at Eldora. Our market is largely Boulder/Ft Collins/Northern Denver. It is the folks who want 1200 or so of vert, no crowds, and no interstate.

I end up spending an hour or so online with students every evening. I have the highest rate of "return" business at our SS and stay fairly fully booked from Wednesday thru Saturday (I take Sunday and Monday off).

It seems to work. I guess I agree with all that you have to put your heart and soul into your teaching.

One last technique.

I refuse to work "under the table" and I often refuse a tip and ask someone to reinvest in another lesson. I give a lot of free twenty minute lessons before work, during my lunch break and late in the day. I have the blessing of my supervisor and SSD to do this and they know I'm not being unscrupulous. I have given folks a free half hour and "hooked" them on our teaching methodologies.

The next time you see someone scarving on a pair of $900 skis show them an uphill arc with a little inside foot steering!
post #13 of 21
Differnt perspective here: I'm not an instructor, I'm a consumer, of privates. I resent the idea of being "sold".

the goal should be to create a student who appreciates gains in ability, and has the desire to learn and improve, not to "sell" me on needing a lesson. Or, to create a desire within that student to improve.

What can I say? I knew when I outgrew group lessons, and needed to do advanced clinics and privates. Now, I've outgrown what the guys on my local hill have to offer... not that they are bad, I just need new input. I knew when I was in Canada that it was a perfect day for a advanced bump lesson, and I walked in and ordered one. No one had to sell me on any of it.

An attitude like mine is what you should strive for, and if your students don't have it, you might need to look at what/how your teaching. I can honestly say that the teacher on my home hill that I started with gave me enough good stuff that I wanted more, and more.

post #14 of 21
In an attempt to drive up the frequency of tips I started using the PSIA free printed "Skier's TIP of the day" single fold cards. I ordered them from the online catalog, printed up some business card using Avery forms to put inside the single fold cards. Not only do I get a tip from 2 out of every 3 people I hand them to but I also have received a few requested privates from returning customers and referrals.

post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 
Some good advice here, and some interesting perspectives! I can see how it all works - Man from Oz probably hit on it, being an Australian thing.

Sigh. At the other end of the spectrum, we are getting busy at Keystone, with large numbers of never-ever skiiers in church groups from southern states. Today, with 20 pairs of eyes gazing at me, I did an experiment. "So, why have you bought yourselves a lesson today?"
answer: "beecuz it was part of the package, with the rentals and lifts and where we staying".

It turned out many in their group had bailed on the lesson anyway, and had gone straight up the mountain (they were ALL beginners).
I'm not sure these are great candidates for private requests!!!! might be an intersting challenge.

None of them intended buying any more lessons. Why? Well, after the lesson, they could ski, y'see?! Why would they want more lessons?

I retired to the locker room and my packet of ramen noodles.
post #16 of 21
There really are some great answers here, and the common denominator I read from the ones who are selling the private lesson are:
1. deliver of the product and
2. create a relationship through great service and commitment.

Then the lesson sells itself.

However, it is really baffling to me that so many instructors refuse to mention anything about their availability for the next lesson--either private or class. Simple phrases like, "I've really enjoyed skiing with you today. The next time we ski together, we can really build on what we did. If you feel like you need some more help, I'm available whenever... etc. If note, well just have a great time, and come back and see us soon.

When you're an instructor, the area is your home and gracious hospitality includes an offer to return.

As for price, look at it this way.

Just because I can't afford to pay that much, doesn't mean I'm not worth that much.

Secondly, if you don't think you're worth that much, you better start training or get a different job because you're ripping off the guest and the company.

Third, if I could afford it, I'd easily pay much more than the daily all day price of a lesson for a day of skiing with, say Bode Miller, or Janica Kostelic. If I've done my training and paid my dues as an instructor, then I have the ability to offer my clients the same relative benefit that Bode would offer me.

Victor Gerdin used to tell pros to take a good look inside at the end of the day and decide whether they were worth the money. If so, great. If not, fix that.

Lastly, don't under-rate yourself or the product you offer. Humility is important, but the joy and benefit that great pros offer is priceless. And on top of that, the guest gets lift line privileges. Wow. What a deal!
post #17 of 21
Hey weems,

Ever heard of Scott Strickland? He hangs out at Highlands.

What I really loved about what you wrote is this:

"At the end of day, ask yourself if you were really worth what the guest paid" (well, it's not exactly what you said, but close enough).

Them, are great words.
post #18 of 21
I recently met Mike Williams at the Beav.

Mike, is a real pro. What he told me the other night on the shuttle was something like this:
"SCSA, I've been here for 8 years. I love what I do and I enjoy the relationships..."

So what I'm saying is that I got the feeling Mike is real big on creating a relationship with his clients.

People come out to the Beav every year. You can bet that while a family is in New York or somewhere, talking about their pending vacation, Mike's name comes up in their conversation - "And we can't wait to ski with Mike...".

The relationship Mike has with his clients really helps. And of course, it helps that Mike really "gets" ski instruction and that he's good at it too.

So how to sell more? Create relationships!

post #19 of 21

Yeah, Scott Strickland is an outstanding guy and skier.

I'm glad you feel the way I do about that relationship. The words you admired were those of Victor Gerdin, and I've always remembered them.

They also imply the need not only to create a relationship, but to be fully presentand available to your people for the entire day. That is why ski teaching is so damn hard and so damn rewarding. There is a lot of giving in it.
post #20 of 21

I skied with Scott on the epic Saturday (3-9) at Highlands for a few hours. That guy, can really rip.

If you see him, say hello for me.

I'm starting to meet a few ski instructors. The best ones (from what I can see), combine the relationship with the teaching.

Like Mike. You could tell that clients love him. He loves what he does, he's great at it, and he loves people.

The relationship - very important.

post #21 of 21
Great comments!

One of the methodologies I've been incorporating into my lessons of over the past two season is a series of "mini recaps" as we progress through the lesson. This serves two purposes. The first and most obvious is checking on understanding and continued building as the lesson develops. It also serves to shorten the wrap up at the end of the lesson. Therefore, it allows me time to do a teaser of where we would go next in the last few minutes of the lesson. For example, if I have some solid wedge turners, I'll show them wedge christies and explain the matching at the end of the turn is the beginning of becoming a parallel skier and this is something we could work on in the next lesson.

Of course if they're from a church or school group- forget about it. You'll never see them again.

edited for spelling

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 18, 2002 07:23 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Ski&Golf ]</font>
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