by Meredith Holladay
January 18, 2017 — As a mom-and-pop flight school, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is very important to us. Like most business owners, we want to stay busy, remain profitable, support our family and save for the future. It’s also critical for us to carefully manage our schedule so that we build in enough time for exercise, play and rest. This is especially important in our role as flight instructors, where staying healthy and energetic is essential.
Our office is closed Mondays so that we can enjoy a relaxing day off, though we often find ourselves at the airport for a few hours on Monday mornings catching up on behind-the-scenes administrative tasks like cleaning, billing and invoicing, and updating maintenance records. As we enter our fourth year of operation at Craig Airport, we are proud that our business is thriving. In fact, we are at the point now where we conduct a weekly audit of the student roster to evaluate whether it’s feasible to take on new students. Customer satisfaction is very important to us, and if we’re too busy to fly with new students, nobody will be happy.
Dana and I are the only instructors you will fly with at our school. We often get asked if we are going to hire additional instructors to build the business, and the answer is, probably not. The reason for this is because we are fiercely protective of our hard-earned reputation for providing the highest quality and safest flight training experience available, and as such we are reticent to farm our services out to people we don’t know. We truly enjoy flying and teaching, and frankly don’t have the time or the desire to manage and administer employees. We are happy with the status quo and think are customers are, too.
The downside is that this limits the number of people we can train at any given time. Currently we have the capacity to serve our existing student roster with one or two lessons per week, but we can no longer accept students who want to conduct an “accelerated training program” on a more frequent, compressed schedule. It’s not fair to us or to our existing customers.
Our training schedule is also limited by the reduced daylight hours in the winter months, and the availability of quality child care for our soon-to-be 4-year-old daughter on the weekends. This is why Dana and I “tag team” on Sundays, with only one of us available to fly unless we can find a babysitter, which can be difficult. Still, inasmuch as we feel we’ve established an efficient daily workflow, we’re always looking for ways to work smarter, not harder. To that end, we’re going to implement a few scheduling changes that we hope will offer more options for our customers, while still satisfying our needs as a family.
The first and perhaps most important change is that starting April 1, Dana will only be available for lessons after 6 p.m. two days a week. Last year, Dana often worked three or four 12-hour days in a row just to meet customer demands. This left him exhausted and with no time or energy for exercise. We are committed to our new family health and fitness routine, and the only way we can stick to it is to block ourselves off the flight schedule accordingly. The FAA wants us to stay healthy, and we do, too!
The second change you’ll notice is that effective January 24, Meredith will be available until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, allowing for two, 2-hour lessons after lunch (1-3 pm and 3-5 pm) instead of just one, 2.5-hour lesson (1-3:30 pm). While we still feel that a 2.5-hour block is ideal for most lessons, the 2-hour block is sufficient for local flights to practice maneuvers, takeoffs and landings in the traffic pattern, and ground lessons. This staggered schedule should present minimal conflicts since we have three aircraft available and two instructors.
A successful flight school is a team effort, and our customers are part of that team! We are hopeful that our new weekly schedule will ensure a positive experience for everyone who flies with us. Thank you for your continued patronage and we look forward to flying with you soon!