Rating products and services is all the rage these days. It’s big business. Consumer Reports can impact the sales of cars with their ratings and who hasn’t heard of Angie’s List? Plumbers, doctors, contractors, maybe even attorneys are all held up for scrutiny. Amazon and many other online stores allow people to rate the products they purchased.
Some years ago, as AOPA was discussing the coming challenge regarding flight instruction and what appeared to be at least some dissatisfaction with the flight training process, the conversation turned to rating flight schools and CFIs. The opinions split between “Good idea – accountability should improve things.” to ” How will someone who has little experience in aviation be able to rate a business as complex as this?” As we have all learned, if it’s on the Web, it must be true — or perhaps not!
It is harder to rate a service especially where the outcome is a process that is delivered over months, in the case of sport, recreational or private pilot. Look at public education. Some professionals blame the teachers, others the administration, still others the families and the economic background of the students. Could it be that the student has a motivation problem or as simple as if the student didn’t learn, the teacher didn’t teach?
We often talk about the chemistry between CFI and student. There were some people I connected with immediately who were diligent and committed. They tended to progress well and if I had been rated by them, would have gotten 4 or 5 stars. Others might have rated my efforts at 1 or 2 stars. From my perspective, I couldn’t deliver what they were paying me to do since many flew only once every 3 weeks and showed up for lessons ill-prepared even though we had discussed what they should review. In their view, I might have been a crummy instructor.
So here’s a question for you? Should we, the industry, set up a rating system for flight schools and CFIs? If yes, what factors would you put into it? Should there be some sort of vetting and arbitration so that competing schools couldn’t just flame the other operation? How should we deal with the occasional or disgruntled customer who has two left feet and a bad attitude? Obviously, you want to look to coordinated, smart, committed and well-gruntled flight students. (Before I take you on, please fill out this 50 question assessment…)
I believe Will Rogers, our great American humorist, noted that if you wanted to learn about someone, to find somebody that worked with them. It’s much easier today — the question is ” Will the commentary be accurate?”