Hello from the frozen shores of Georgian Bay. As I was shoveling out the base for the third time this week, a friend stopped by and asked if I was enjoying my semi-annual winter retirement. After I threw a snow load at him the thought struck me that this topic is article worthy material.
Here is what we are currently working on, and this is in no particular order, as every entrepreneur’s day tends to be all over the map.
Developing our latest marketing strategy – much like any relationship or dating, you have to stay current and fresh. Nicole took advertising at Georgian College before she met me in flying school at Confederation College. This has proven invaluable over the past decade and a half. If you stick with the same communication strategy year after year a certain amount of complacency will set in and your efforts will be overlooked. This year we are going with some highway billboards and a more focused less just get it out there approach with magazines. Designs are being worked on in-house using an overall vision that incorporates our brochures, posters, and web site’s theme.
Winter maintenance on the fleet has been finalized and all tracking systems and manuals are continually updated. She is the Chief Pilot and Operations Manager and I am the Maintenance Manager. The people at Transport Canada in our area are fantastic to work with, understand how small operations work, and demand nothing less than our best. We believe that this is time well spent.
Not so glamorous stuff like bookkeeping and accounting are done in house and burn the hours away. The idea is, one, save money where you can, and two, always have a very good idea of where you are financially and compare that with past years.
Revising our one, five and ten year visions happens all year long. Global trends such as economy and politics play a hand and must be planned for. I feel that we are not maximizing the potential of our water front property and are trying very hard to figure out how to get a restaurant at the GBA base. Nicole does not like the cold weather like her hubby from the Northwestern Ontario bush does and is working on expansion in the warm salt and sand regions of North America.
The fun work like presentations to colleges and universities across Ontario covering subjects such as business, tourism or the float flying industry have to be built, booked and delivered. Maintaining relationships with those organizations takes phone calls, meetings and time. Realizing that we are all in this together makes it easier to accomplish and is more like dealing with old friends, which most of them have become.
The gift certificate rush that happens for the last two weeks of November right through to Christmas was solid and we thank you for that! Taking your calls and emails, pricing out your trips and getting the gift certificates into your hands for Christmas gets us excited for the upcoming season too. Our day-to-day flying schedule takes us all over Ontario and Quebec, and this is a window to see where we might explore next!
Our float school is busy taking bookings, answering pilot questions and delivering packages and seminars. We are really proud of what our school has become and work hard at it. We hold a spring refresher course at the GBA base every year. It is a Transport Canada sanctioned event that helps pilots dust off the winter rust and think about topics they might take for granted. Glassy water, cross winds and cold weather ops are some of the subjects that are covered. We usually have a guest host come in a talk about reading weather, insurance, Transport Canada etc. Home made moose chili, some ice cream and specialty coffee put the finishing touches on this free event.
Other duties include:
I am currently the Deputy Mayor for Parry Sound and a second term Town Councilor. That post has me on ten sub-committees along with regular council meetings, budget meetings etc. I am currently trying to stimulate business growth aside from all of that, which means getting developers, landowners and business types in the same room to find common ground. If Parry Sound grows, we all grow!
Nicole is in her fourth year as director of Explorers Edge (a government funded regional tourism marketing group) and is still fighting the good fight. Nicole also created and runs SOS Media, which is a social media solutions company. More presentations, meetings, business coaching and time well spent.
Our three kids, two cats and a dog seem to want our attention as well! Since we go so hard during the flying season all of the above takes a back seat when three o’clock rolls around and the bus pulls up! Home cooked meals, kids sports, story time family trips and living life are what really drive us. Nicole and I agree that our children are the greatest adventure that we have been on so far, even in the wee hours during sickness or nightmares, I still really dig being a dad.
Instead of giving this long-winded answer to my buddy watching me tunnel through the snow to the base so the nice mail lady can do her job, I threw a second load of snow at him.
See you at ice out!