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A blog about our thoughts on aviation, business, teamwork, our services, the web and all things interesting.

New Billing & Point of Sale now open for beta signup

We're excited to announce that the new Billing & Point of Sale module is open for beta signup!

Watch the video below to see what it's all about :)

 

All this for only $39/month + credit card processing fees!

Click here to Register for Beta (Open Signup for the next 48 hours)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four Ways Flight Schools Can Attract Students Without a Big Budget

By Kathryn Creedy

Bigstock-Successful-man-looking-up-to-s-118563500With all the reasons there are to learn to fly, it is not easy for a flight school to know exactly what it is that will move someone from observer to pilot. But there are many low-cost opportunities a flight school can use to fill those classrooms and get those planes in the air!

Flight training can seem a daunting prospect to a prospective student. Most of what they hear is that learning to fly is costly, time consuming, and “a rich man’s sport.”

However, they will also hear how rewarding it can be if they join a community of like-minded enthusiasts who take flying over golfing any day, and hear how flying gives them an unprecedented freedom no other activity can deliver. Actually, rewarding doesn’t begin to describe the feeling when, during a day of “touch and go” practice, your instructor opens the door of the plane, gets out, and says, “You don’t need me anymore, it’s time for your solo!”

So how can flight schools attract more students and help them experience this special moment?

Have any tips you’d like to share? Comment below to post your ideas on attracting new students

1) Share, Interact, & Listen Online

Today any business has to rely on a lot more than word of mouth. They have to establish and increase their visibility online. Social media is a very cost-effective way to reach your target market. It can be done by someone on your staff, or if you have a very small or busy office, it is not that expensive to outsource.

The secret sauce in social media is not creating content, although you want to do that, too, but curating content. That means posting articles of interest to people who are considering flight lessons. There are great sources of material on the internet that you can link to and comment on.

The important thing is to be consistent – with small but consistent efforts to collect great stories and tell them on your website and social media will associate your brand with positive results, and build a large and loyal audience over time!

To attract potential students, share stories about the wonders of becoming a pilot, and put it into context with the costs of other career preparation or recreational activities. Also, share stories about why people should learn to fly – there are benefits far beyond the cockpit. A recent story by Kassy Coan provides great fodder for aviation schools about how piloting skills spill over into every day work and play.

Sample Topics for your Flight School’s Blog or Social Media Channels:

  • Congratulate successful students - Introduce new students celebrate first solos, exams passed, ratings earned with a photo & short write-up.
  • Highlight your staff - Introduce your instructors & staff with a photo & short bio.
  • Document Events! Take photos of your hangar barbecues, open houses, and other events.
  • Tell the stories of your airport - One flight school regularly published photos of the deer that visited the airport. This became an incredibly popular feature.
  • Share success stories – Write longer articles about how aviation changed the life of a student or staff member.
  • “Borrow” news stories– Link to and comment on a story from the aviation magazines you read – AOPA’s Learn To Fly blog has great material for recreational AND career minded students. Airline Pilot Central publishes news of interest to future Captains and First Officers

You want to post these articles (or videos) first on your own website, to attract people who are searching on Google, Yahoo or Bing, and then, to get the most “mileage” out of your investment of time, you should also publish short excerpts on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Once you develop a following on your website and social media, you can publish special deals that can prompt somebody to get off the couch and into the aviation classroom.

2) Create and Share Compelling “Act Now” Offers

Create a powerful limited-time only offer that your ideal customers can’t resist. You can publish your offer on your website, social media, via postcards and many other advertising venues. One particularly effective way to present your offer is to distribute your offer to large audiences via Living Social or Groupon.

Offering a deal for an open house or event that introduces your program might be just the thing to move someone from “I’m thinking about it.” to “Let’s get started today!”

Sample Offers:

  • Discover Flight Lesson – You’ve heard about this, but are you distributing this offer in a way that people can actually respond to it? Is it compelling, attractive, and limited-time?
  • Flight Lesson for Two – Includes an hour of ground instruction and a short flight
  • Flight Training Intro Package – Multi-day ground instruction with a flight near the end
  • Sightseeing Flight for Two with Mimosas – If you could throw in 6-month subscription to your favorite aviation mag, it might help encourage them to come back.

Keep in mind, the goal is to make contact with serious students rather than the weekend bargain hunters and impulse-driven thrill-seekers. We’ve seen many flight schools offer a free or drastically reduced “discovery flight,” which tends to attract bargain entertainment shoppers rather than students interested in pursuing a pilot rating. So make sure the cost of your promotion comes with a benefit that covers such things as fuel, instructor pilots, and wear and tear on the aircraft, which are not cheap.

We’d recommend offering an educational event or a ground school promotion that keeps the emphasis on serious students that are the most likely to pursue (and finish!) your program.

3) Share your Passion for Aviation Locally

There isn’t an aviation geek alive who doesn’t like to talk aviation and this is your opportunity. If you can be strategic and organized and about targeting local groups, in your community, you can raise awareness about your programs, and the advantages of learning to fly. This is a little used technique for enhancing the visibility of your organization and making your services an accessible option for those seeking a different recreational activity.

Every month Rotary International, Chambers of Commerce, technology groups, libraries, schools, organizations for retired executives, business women and minorities in your area have meetings and events and are always looking for interesting and unusual speakers and presentations. Becoming a pilot is something many business professionals and entrepreneurs would love to learn more about. Aviation provides an unusual and sexy program.

There is also a significant push by aviation associations such as Women in Aviation, which hosts annual Girls in Aviation events throughout the country. There is also the University Aviation Association to attract youngsters to aviation. They have worked with local youth groups and have developed merit badges for completing activities related to aviation. Aviation schools should reach out to these organizations to connect what they do with what you do. After all, you are attracting their parents as well as the students. Imagine the headline when a father/daughter or mother/son team finish your course.

There is a critical need to attract new people to aviation and this presents aviation schools with an opportunity to help raise awareness of aviation as a recreational or career option. Local schools are also pushing STEM (an acronym for Science, Technology Engineering and Math) activities and pushing aviation as a great STEM activity will both enhance the awareness of aviation but aviation in their community.

But don’t just talk about your business. Focus on the adventure and benefits of becoming a pilot and raise awareness of the importance of aviation to the community and the nation. This puts such speeches on a higher plane :) than a self-serving pitch about your business. Talk about all the flying resources in your area, including flying clubs, businesses, maintenance, tourism, industry, and the economic impact they bring to your community.

For any keynote presentation, you want to generate business without being overly “pitchy” or “salesy.” You can do this by including printed handouts for each participant that have one of your Special Offers (tailored to the group) printed on it. Refer to it in your speech, but don’t make it sound like a pitch. “If you’d like more information, there is a special offer in your handouts for the first ten Lion’s Club members that would like to take us up on this. I’d be happy to answer any questions about that after the event.”
Here again, businesses often say they don’t have the time to do this, but creating a presentation and researching local organizations can be inexpensively outsourced. (See the Sidebar for more presentation ideas!)

4) Explore Partnership Opportunities

If your program is a good fit for career-minded students, you may be able to acquire all the students you need without ANY advertising, by forming partnerships with airlines or universities.

Contact the HR Department of the nearest regional airline. It may take some work to find the correct person to talk with about their staffing needs, but here are some questions you could ask to get the ball rolling: Do you have trouble keeping a full roster of pilots? What are your biggest staffing problems? What training could we offer/emphasize to help you?

If you’re open to training foreign students, a partnership with a university in your target country can provide a great pipeline of business, particularly if your school can offer services that would be attractive to foreign students like condensed, intensive training schedules and room and board packages for students while they’re in training. (You can partner with a local hotel to provide this.)

If you don’t have time to handle all the arrangements but can offer great services for career-minded students, you could contact a Matchmaker Service like Airline Pilot Gateway www.AirlinePilotGateway.com They find good partnerships between airlines, students and flight schools.
So, next time your student roster seems a bit thin, and your advertising budget is even thinner, try one (or all) of these strategies to keep revenues flowing in and satisfied, qualified pilots flowing out of your program!

About Flight Schedule Pro v4

We think you'll agree . . . Flight Schedule Pro v4 is our best product yet; redesigned and completely re-imagined from the ground up. The upgrade process has begun and we're not far from making v4 available to everyone. With over 90,000 flights booked already, we believe v4 is going to be a huge success!

Here's more about what's coming and the release plans.

So what's new with v4? Pretty much everything.

  • Modern, Easy-to-Use Interface
  • Responsive Web UI: Works on Desktops, Laptops, Tablets, and Smartphones
  • Drag-and-Drop Scheduling
  • New Pilot Records Management
  • New Aircraft Maintenance Tracking
  • New Billing and Point of Sale
  • Student Curriculum Tracking (in Private Beta)
  • All New Reporting
  • And lots of other goodies.

With many thousands of hours of research and development, it’s impossible to sum up v4 in a single blog post. However, here’s a few of the main features and benefits . . .

Clean & Simple Design

Let's face it, it's a real challenge to make things simple. Most software teams aren’t able to achieve this, but doing so makes people’s lives easier. At Flight Schedule Pro we think that’s something to be proud of. Our goal with version 4 has been to make complex features more intuitive for all.

Works on Desktops, Laptops, Tablets, & Smartphones

Today's user is on the go, accessing information from all sorts of different devices. Products that aren’t mobile friendly will be a thing of the past in the not so distant future. We designed the new Flight Schedule Pro to play nice with hundreds of different devices. The new responsive Web UI is a thing of the future! Best of all, this means you, your staff, and your customers can do things while on the go. Book it, dispatch it, pay for it . . . from right where you are.

Drag-and-Drop Scheduling with Instant Updates

At the core of v4 you'll find powerful new drag-and-drop scheduling that makes booking and rescheduling appointments faster than ever before. Just click-and-drag an appointment to the new slot and confirm the change . . . it’s that easy. The schedule now updates live in real-time. New appointments or changes to appointments will “pop” onto your screen without needing to refresh. We’re also planning a few new scheduling views we think you’ll really be excited about.

Better Pilot Records

The future of Flight Schedule Pro is an easily searchable index of pilot and student pilot documentation. We completely redesigned the user profile and pilot records! Document forms are easier to fill out and document status is now more visible to both staff and end users. Best of all, keep your records up-to-date automatically by requiring specific document be filled out prior to booking or dispatch. All reservation and dispatch checks can now be customized per Activity Type (previously called “reservation types”). Here’s a video with more info. It’s a bit long but provides a good overview when you have a few minutes. About the New Pilot Records in v4 (13 min - best viewed on desktop)

Flight Logging w/Self-Dispatch & Check-In

Logging flights in Flight Schedule Pro is the start of many great things: Better pilot and aircraft records, better maintenance status, and less paper. It’s also the key to a bright future of getting paid faster. We really wanted to streamline this process for you here: so it just works. If you want to allow pilots to dispatch and check-in their own flights, just give them the permission to do so. The new version makes this easy via smartphone, and we think you’re going to love it.

Improved Aircraft Maintenance

With v4, aircraft maintenance status is becoming more and more visible. As always, you have complete control over who can see and manage this information. The new aircraft profiles provide clean maintenance overview for anyone you grant access. We made it easier to log aircraft squawks during check in, and managing / resolving squawks is much more user friendly. Maintenance personnel will love the new color coded status of reminders which enables them to review the status of the entire fleet at a glance. We made a few good strides here and more features yet to come.

Billing & Point of Sale (In Progress)

Customers have processed millions of dollars worth of transactions using Flight Schedule Pro already, but we have an entirely new and exciting vision for this module. Driving sales is often about removing friction and making it easier for people to pay you. Our v4 Billing & POS module is all about helping you get paid faster. . .and more often. We want running your business or organization to be so easy and profitable that you actually enjoy it. Stay tuned for more progress in this exciting area.

Student Curriculum Tracking (In Progress)

Student retention is a real sore spot in the industry. What if you could increase your completion rate by 10 or 20%? That could be a real game-changer for your business and for the industry as a whole. Nothing can replace the importance of instructors having quality interaction with students, but we think our new student curriculum module is a huge step toward better retention, less paper, and more reliable records. We’re getting interest in this new module from both Part 141 and 61 schools and everything in between. Join the discussion, read more about this exciting new module here.

When will v4 be Ready?

We’ll be posting preview links for Administrators in version 3 soon so you can try it out.

If you’re an existing Administrator, we’ll be communicating the release plan via email or large banners you'll see when you login to version 3 (you won't miss).

You don't need to reach out to us beforehand - just keep an eye out for future messages regarding the upgrade.

Here’s a general release timeline for v4 (subject to change):

  • December 28th, 2015: Upgrade available for private beta participants and new customers (complete)
  • April 1st, 2016: Upgrade available for customers that do not use Billing & Invoicing (complete)
  • June 1st, 2016: Upgrade available for all customers

Upgrading to v4 will be a smooth process!   There's no data migration or installation necessary. v4 has been in use for over a year now and has already logged over 50,000 flights! To upgrade your company, we'll simply flip a switch on our end that redirects users to v4. It’s that simple!

Did I mention you *don't* need to contact us about this upgrade? We'll be sending more info to Administrators at a later date, so please stay tuned :)

Send us your Feedback, we are Listening!

We designed the improvements in v4 by listening closely to customers like you. We’ll be posting preview links for admins in v3 soon. Please try the new version. If you see something that’s not right or an area we should improve in, please let us know. 

Thank you for using Flight Schedule Pro and for telling your friends about us! We're excited to show you v4 and we're confident these new updates will have a positive impact on your business. Please let us know your thoughts . . . we are listening!

All the best,

Jasen Barnes

Co-Founder, Flight Schedule Pro

 

We reached 25,000 app downloads

IPhone-iTunes-smlThe Flight Schedule Pro app hit 25,000 installs!

At FSP, one of our important goals is to help your business achieve and maintain relevance in today's mobile landscape. We think this iPhone app is a step in the right direction!

Don't have the app yet? Download it here

New features released in v4 private beta

A lot of new features have been added to v4!

. . . here are a few we thought you might like to hear about:

New Aircraft & Instructor Profiles

You'll find a new permission when editing roles in v3 called "Can View Resource Profiles". If users have this permission they'll get read-only access to the new aircraft and instructor profiles which have been completely redesigned for v4.

New Instructor Work Schedules

Work schedule management in v4 has been redesigned for mobile friendliness. In addition, time off / on can now be booked via the schedule in v4.

New Read-Only Maintenance Reminders

You'll find a new permission when editing roles in v3 called "Can View Maintenance Reminders". If users have this permission they'll get read-only access to view aircraft maintenance reminders in v4.

New Warning Period for Maintenance Reminders

You can now define warning periods for maintenance reminders in version 4. Fill out warning periods to bring awareness to upcoming reminders that are not yet expired.

Will you use any of these features? Comment below to let us know what you think!

Powerful new Pilot Records

Bigstock-Carry-Pile-Of-Paperworks-7701942In the world of aviation, maintaining and enforcing pilot records and documentation is a major hassle for today's operators. Managing pilot documentation is an important requirement for running a safe aircraft operation.  However, its one area that's proven a major challenge for even our brightest and most successful customers. 

This is why we're completely redesigning how pilot records are stored and enforced in Flight Schedule Pro. Imagine pulling a pilot's digital record and having everything you need at your finger-tips.  An organized store of information that you need about the people you do business with.  Not only will you be able to store this information, you'll be able to enforce document requirements and setup reminders in Flight Schedule Pro to keep things up-to-date.

This is not a a far off feature for The Jetsons, we've been working on it for a few months and are tying up the loose ends as I write this post. Thank you for your interest and please stay tuned!

 

Our visit to Aspen Flying Club

AFCLogo

 Every once and awhile, we highlight a customer we're really impressed with. We visited Aspen Flying Club last fall and thought you might like to hear about them.

For starters, Aspen Flying Club has a great location within flying distance of the Rocky Mountains near Denver, Colorado.  Location is a big factor but we think its team and diverse fleet of over 40 aircraft is a big part of the club's success.  At Aspen, they're not just training pilots, they've created an atmosphere where people can connect and have fun together as they pursue their passion.

It's main location is at Centennial Airport (KAPA) and through their recent partnership with Alliance Flight Training, members of Aspen Flying Club also have access to the rental fleet at Front Range Airport (KFTG).  No longer do students who obtain their license have to go elsewhere to fly.  With such a comprehensive fleet, students are assured they will have a plane to rent at Aspen Flying Club. Through monthly club fly-outs, many of the students and pilots team up to fly together. 

Why does Aspen Flying Club use Flight Schedule Pro?  "With such a large and diverse fleet, it’s important we have a system that can keep up with our demands.  We log well over 1000 hours each month.  Without a robust and automated system like Flight Schedule Pro, we would never be able to schedule and dispatch so many flights. Our members like Flight Schedule Pro because of its simple and intuitive user interface.  There’s no need for training.  After setting up an account, our members can easily figure out how to schedule flights on their own.  They also love the iPhone App." - Chris Dillis, President, Aspen Flying Club.

Be sure to visit Aspen Flying Club's website,  www.aspenflyingclub.com, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/aspenflyingclub.

For more information about Flight Schedule Pro, please visit our website at http://www.flightschedulepro.com/.

 

Latest iPhone app release


If you're one of the thousands of people who have installed the app, we think you'll be a bit happier with the latest version.

What's New in this Version?

  • We've made it a lot easier to get around the schedule with new larger buttons for easy navigation
  • You can now see aircraft make and model if you have permission
  • Click to call or email people on a reservation
  • We added support for the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus

To install the latest version, click here using your iPhone.

We are committed to making mobile friendly products that are easy for you and your customers to use. We hope you enjoy this update.

We reached 15,000 app downloads!

IPhone-iTunes-smlMost iPhone apps don't hit 1,000 downloads in their first year, much less in the first few months. And the Flight Schedule Pro app just hit 15,000 downloads after only a few months on the app store!

We couldn't have achieved this without you and the support of so many great customers in our community. So, we extend our congrats to you and your team as well!

At FSP, one of our important goals is to help your business achieve and maintain relevance in today's mobile landscape. We think this iPhone app is a step in the right direction!

Flight Training Student Syllabus / Student Curriculum Tracking (in Private Beta)

We've heard it time and time again: there is no simple, flexible, web-based system that makes student record keeping easy. Paper is often inefficient, error prone, hard to read, and can disappear all at once.  FSP is committed to providing a solution that offers easy-logging, easy look-up, great reporting, and peace of mind so you know your records are safe.

We're excited to announce that we're building the next generation of pilot records management.

Let us know you're Interested

We need your feedback to make it great!  Please answer our brief survey to show your interest and tell us more about your operation.  

Take-Survey

What we think you'll love about FSP's new Syllabus Tracking...

Green-Checkmark Easy-to-Use  (And we're not just saying it)

Green-CheckmarkOffline iPad app for Lesson and Task Grading

Green-Checkmark Customizable solution that supports both custom and "off-the-shelf" syllabi

Green-Checkmark Satisfies Part 61 and Part 141 requirements

Green-Checkmark Customizable to meet the needs of our customers located in over 30 countries  (FAA Transport Canada, CASA, EASA, CAA, DGCA, etc.)

Green-Checkmark Track Student Course Enrollment  

Green-Checkmark Student Progress Reporting

About FSP

Flight Schedule Pro offers Easy-to-Use Online Aircraft Scheduling and Business Management Software. Over 300,000 pilots in 35 countries create more than 5,000 new reservations every day using Flight Schedule Pro. Learn More

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