Flying club members are a proud people. We know there’s no question that our club is great, and we don’t care who knows it. That may be true, but how do you show prospective members how great your club is? This month we will take a look at our clubs from the outside in to find some ways we can attract new members who will contribute to our club in a positive manner.
Web Presence: Sometimes Less is More
Having a website is a great way to introduce your club to new members, but make sure you are sending the right message. We discussed some dos and don’ts for club websites in Episode 2 of Flying Clubs Radio, but a few points bare repeating:
- Make sure your content is up to date - Having a website with stale information is almost as bad as having no information at all! Be sure to appoint a Web Master in your club to keep things fresh.
- Keep it simple - Don’t feel the need to provide links to every aviation weather website known to man. Instead, keep your content focused on the basics of your club and club aircraft.
- Don’t advertise flight training! – Too often, we see “Learn To Fly Here” language on flying club websites. Don’t do it! Remember that flying clubs are not flight schools and are prohibited from advertising flight instruction by the FAA. Click Here and Here to read the FAA rulings on the topic.
- Don’t overdo it – Don’t feel like you need to have a fancy website with all the latest web design trends. Keep it simple and relevant to your club. Click here to see an example of a simple but effective club website.
- Have good contact information – We put a lot of work in to keeping our Flying Club Finder up to date, and we can’t tell you how many times we have tried to contact a club from the information on their website to no avail. Make sure the person or people listed as contacts on your website are still active members and are responsive to inquiries from potential members.
- Have a good contact person – The club member responding to new member inquiries has an important job. Make sure they are up to the task and will show your club in a positive light.
If you do not have a club website but still want to have some online presence, use our Flying Club Finder! The Finder is a free resource that allows your club to be searchable at your home airport on the AOPA Airport Directory. You can use your club listing to provide the basic club details and contact information. The same rules apply here – make sure your information is up to date!
Open and Honest
Once a prospective member gets in touch with you, they will likely have a bunch of questions about your club and its fleet. It is easy to oversell the club at this stage, but it’s best to be open and honest with potential new members. Here are some topics to discuss with prospective members:
- Aircraft Availability – If your new member is used to renting from a flight school, then they are naturally concerned about scheduling. Discuss how your club schedules flights and any scheduling rules it has. Chances are your club aircraft isn’t as “booked up” as the local flight school. Points for you!
- Aircraft Equipment – Everyone wants to know what’s under the hood. Be prepared to describe the avionics and other equipment installed.
- Maintenance – How does your club handle aircraft upkeep? Do you do any owner maintenance? A well-run maintenance program is a great selling point for your club.
- Buy-in, Dues and Rates – Check with your treasurer periodically to make sure you have up to date amounts for your buy in and flying rate. A new member is looking at making a significant financial commitment with your club, make sure you have a good grasp of your club financials.
- Plans for future upgrades and overhauls – Be sure to disclose if significant down-time is expected for overhauls or upgrades.
- Member responsibilities – Make sure your new member understands that a flying club is a commitment and not just an airplane for them to fly. If they seem averse to participating in club activities, maybe a club isn’t the right fit for them.
Invite Them Along
A great way to market your club and get to know potential new members is to have them come out to social events, plane washes and club meetings. You will be surprised to know that some people don’t mind washing airplanes and are willing to help wash one they can’t fly (yet)! A new member who has had the chance to hang around the club will get a better idea of how the club operates and can quickly get up to speed once they fully join the club. If your club participates in the Wings for Clubs Program, be sure to include potential members on those presentations as well. What is Wings for Clubs? Glad you asked! Check out Flying Clubs Radio Episode 8 to learn how to make your club safety meetings even more beneficial to your members and your club’s safety culture.
Welcoming new members to your club is an exciting prospect, make sure you have procedures in place to make the process easy and safe for all involved. Check out this month’s Safety Section for some tips on new member checkouts. If you have any questions or comments about this question of the month, feel free to shoot us an email.
As always, fly lots and fly safely.