Thursday, January 28, 2016

New England Fly Fishing Lessons: Business vs. Education, Part Two





























In part one, I discussed several concepts that focus on your purchasing decisions.  You learned about the features and benefits of two distinct educational models.  You were reminded that your goal should be to purchase the best educational model, taught by the best teachers, at a fair price. Speaking of price, the purpose of this post is to compare our pricing model to the standard industry model.  

Our Pricing History

When I became an instructor, I immediately saw the industry was dominated by a business model that favored large classes, and big profits. The educational value of this model, at least for me, is just about zero.  So, to do what I thought was best for my teaching style, and my angling community, I created an educational organization based upon a Donation Only Payment System.  I wanted FCFF to be an educational resource for all people, regardless of race, gender, age, and most importantly, wealth.  With essentially a ground floor price of $0.00 and a ceiling of, only pay what you can afford, you would think I would be teaching classes 24/7 -- 365. I even offered FREE time/lessons for anyone who would become a member or donate to Trout Unlimited and Three Rivers Stocking Association (local NH non-profits). I did everything possible to revive an ailing angling community, and welcome newcomers into a dying sport. Guess what?  The donation only system FAILED, and after five years, not one single person became a member, or donated to TU and Three Rivers.

I found the situation to be both interesting and frustrating.  I asked people in my angling community why the model was not working.  This what I was told:

  • Consumers do not understand the concept of donation only payment.
  • Consumers believe your quality of service must be poor, or a donation only service must be some type of gimmick.   

To challenge these thoughts, but to keep my mission statement in tact, over the past two years, I changed the pricing system to a suggested minimum donation system. To be economically fair, I priced specific lessons as low as $5.00 per person.  Again, if you understand the educational value of my services, you would think that I would be teaching 24/7 -- 365.  Guess what?  It FAILED! How can an educational, community based model, purposely designed to be the best overall value for the consumer, fail?  How is it possible that a licensed guide, an IFFF certified instructor, who offers one-to-one and small group instruction (scientifically proven to be the best model), be flat out rejected by his angling community and the marketplace?

Compare Pricing Models

I think most people would agree that my donation only model did not fail due to high prices.  But, just to make sure, let's compare models to see if it was a scam -- a trick designed to cheat you out of your money, and for me to make HUGE profits.

Industry Standard Model:  Lessons

Typically, there two are types of teaching models.  One is large group (10 or more), highly manualized textbook instruction, with the highest student to teacher ratio.  The other model offers small group lessons, ranging from one to four people.

Example A:  Standard large group two day class at nationally recognized schools.  Rates range from $500 - $600 per person.  For this example: ($500.00 per person X 10 students or more = $5,000 or $385 per hour gross) Based on 13 hours of instruction.   

Example B: Private Lesson Small Group. ($65 per hour X 4 students = $260 per hour X 13 hours of instruction = $3,380 total)

FCFF Model: Lessons


Our educational model is built upon proven science. We offer non-manualized instruction, and the lowest student to instructor ratio. As licensed guides and certified IFFF instructors, we believe our skills are as good as anyone else, if not better!  Our rates are significantly lower because of our value system -- mission statement and teaching philosophies (please read, located in the About tab).  

Example A:  On Land Beginner Lesson

  • (1) Angler $20 per hour. Compare at 13 hours X (1) Angler = $260
  • (2-3) Anglers $10 per hour, per person. Compare at 13 hours X (3) Anglers = $390
  • (4) Anglers $5 per hour, per person. Compare at 13 hours X (4) Anglers = $260

Note: We charge by the hour, not the person.  In other words, our goal is to make $20-$30 per hour. We think this is a fair price to stand on land and teach you to cast a fly line!

Example B:  In Water Intermediate Lesson (not a casting pond)
  • (1) Angler $25 per hour. Compare at 13 hours X (1) Angler = $325
  • (2-3) Anglers $15 per hour, per person.  Compare at 15 hours X (3) Anglers = $585
  • (4) Anglers $10 per hour, per person. Compare at 15 hours X (4) Anglers = $520

Note: We charge by the hour, not the person.  In other words, our goal is to make $25-$40 per hour. We think this is a fair price to stand in water and teach you how to cast a fly line.

Proven Value

There are a number of ways to convince potential clients that your services are the best value.  For some entities, when you have a recognized brand- logo, it's a bit easier sales process.  Other' sell fear -- a gutless tactic in my opinion. Overall, consumers are trustworthy, and at the same time, blissfully blind to what is a real educational value vs. a perceived educational value.  All I can say is that our programs are built upon proven science, our pricing is more than fair, and we have clients raving about our style of instruction.
  1. Our pricing model is designed to foster progressive, sequential learning.  In other words, our rates are lower per hour, so you can take more classes over a period of time -- not a one to two day, 10-15 hour cram session, costing you twice as much as what FCFF charges.
  2. Science proves that students learn more in dynamic, one-to-one or small group environments -- not a large mega group with one instructor.
  3. Client Testimonials:
  • "I have used many guides in my 30 years fly fishing career.  All in all, my experiences have been good, however, this weekend in NH, I experienced the best guide I have ever had."   
  • "I could not have asked for a better guide and instructor."
  • "Great teacher! I am a new fisherman, and brand new to fly fishing, and Mark was the perfect way to start."
  • "Yesterday, I finally took a fly fishing casting lesson from Mark Foley a local New England guide.  Let me tell you that this was the best money ever spent on anything I have bought in the fly-fishing industry." 
  • "You are a gifted teacher and coach that has helped me transform from a fisherman to a FLY FISHERMAN. Thank you!"
  • "Thanks for all your help! You were the best teacher ever!"
  • "Mark is one of the most generous teachers I know."  
  • "He is an inspirational teacher."
  • "He is a great instructor and makes learning easy!"
  • "Mark is a great teacher and clearly loves what he does."

Final Words

If you are shopping for fly-casting and fly-fishing lessons, your goal should be to purchase the best educational model, taught by the best teachers, at a fair price.  FCFF was built upon these core principles -- not a 20th century model, built upon profit and loss.  I welcome you to learn more about our programs at:

New England Wild Fish:  http://firstcastflyfishing.blogspot.com/p/new-england.html

Standard Lessons - Guiding: http://firstcastflyfishing.blogspot.com/p/lessons-guiding_22.html

Thanks for reading and hope to work with you in the future.

Mark

PS.  I have been told to raise prices and more customers will come.  What do you think?  Seriously, I would love to hear constructive feedback.  In the meantime, I will keep teaching and guiding because it's just what I love to do -- obviously, I am not doing this to get rich!

















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