For all who have just finished their ski instructor training and are now out in the real world this article is essential. New Generations most requested ski instructor Gordon Porteous takes us through what he thinks are some of the key things you can do to try and generate more requested work. Requested work will not only pay better but can help you fill those quieter weeks.
Below are ten tips I thought would help you all get requested and build up your own client base in what is a challenging economic climate for selling ski and snowboard lessons. There are others of course but these are the ones that work well for me.
1 – Have a passion for skiing
“Gordi I’m telling you, I just love skiing.” Was this a little 5 year old or a beginner on their first day? No this was our very own Verbier legend Jamie Heywood after a couple of beers on his birthday. This is so important and I think some ski instructors genuinely forget this which is such a shame. We are really lucky to be doing what we do. You could be in an office.
2 – Know your mountain’s terrain inside out
If you take a beginner down a red run on day two chances are they won’t request you again. I teach in Verbier and the terrain for beginners and low-end intermediates can be challenging at times. Wherever you end up teaching, you need to know your mountain and understand when it’s a good time of the day to ski certain areas and how long it takes to get back from these areas. There is no worse feeling than getting lost when you are teaching.
3 – Integrate well with your local community
New Generation 1650 resort manager and BASI trainer Dave Morris gave an awesome talk at our welcome weekend. We are guests in some great ski resorts in the Alps. The locals were here long before us and contrary to some media reports, are wonderful people. Of course they get a little grumpy when you don’t speak the local language. Wouldn’t you?
4 – Be courteous to EVERYONE
How many of you shake the lifties hand or give them a wave in the morning? This also applies to restaurant staff and even ski/snowboard instructors/guides from other schools too. It goes a long way.
5 – Phone numbers
It is really important to store all the phone numbers for the mountain restaurants on your phone. It is part of the job being able to book your clients into restaurants or other facilities. You never know, they might even invite you!
6 – Go the extra mile
Ski lessons are expensive and rightly so. We are all qualified to ISIA standard and above in New Generation Verbier and it is hard to get to this level. However, if you have a three hour lesson and your client is struggling with something, spend an extra 20-30 mins if you can and help them. This goes a long way to getting re-booked. If you get on well with them go for a beer after work. I’ve been invited to my client’s summer chalet in the South of France. Lucky I know.
7 – Always try to improve your own skiing and teaching skills
It doesn’t matter if you are a BASI trainer or a BASI level 1 ski instructor. It is so important to keep improving what we are all good at. I ski with three kids from the same family who are better than some BASI level 2 ski instructors. If I wasn’t inspiring them then their parents would send them to someone else and I would miss out on almost 200 hours of work.
Don’t always teach to one “system.” It is good to understand different ways of teaching. BASI are great but so are the Swiss or Canadians for example. I’ve learned a lot from these instructors.
8 – Keep yourself fit
I am not Tom Waddington! I cannot squat a juvenile crocodile although I can manage a respectable fledging pacific walrus. http://whatanimaldoyoulift.herokuapp.com/
This is important. I see many ski instructors who are shattered by the end of a ski season. It is tiring and it can be very physical especially if you are training for exams. You need to look after yourself. A good example of this is a good friend of mine, Remy. He must be in his 60’s by now and I was chatting to him at the top of Mont Fort (an off-piste run in Verbier). It was the 16th of January and he hadn’t had a day off since 8th December. Here he was having a ski with his wife on his only hour free!
9 – Horses for courses
You can’t win them all. I once had a corporate group who were really unhappy that I wasn’t a female blonde and good looking. I am neither and it was a long lesson!
Joking aside, sometimes you might not “click” with everyone.
10 – Don’t be afraid to recommend others
This is linked with point 9. I had a client once who wished to have a lesson with me but I was already booked. I had no hesitation in recommending him to Tom and Jon from New Gen. I also recommended him to Jordan from another school who also did a fantastic job.
By recommending people to other instructors and even mountain guides (should they wish to venture somewhere you aren’t allowed) you will find, in time, that this helps your reputation.
Written by Gordon Porteous: BASI Ski Teacher Level 3 ISIA,UKCP Race Coach 2, Coach for New Generation BASI 1 & 2 Programmes